It’s our last bulletin for the year, and what a fast year it’s been! The last time we updated you was in October, just before the election. Now we have a Mayor with a mandate, Councillors on a mission, and new Local Boards hungry to do their part. Top of the agenda: a Climate Action Plan, and sorting out transport spending for the next few years to reflect that.
On your behalf, we’ve been extremely busy meeting and corresponding with Councillors, Local Board members, NZTA, Auckland Transport (in particular the Urban Cycleway Programme delivery team, the Connected Communities corridor projects team and the new Sustainable Mobility activation team). Plus, work on the Tamaki Makaurau Safety Reference Group, and lots of site-specific focus on Skypath, Lake Road, Mangere Bridge, GI2TD, and Pt Chev, among others.
That’s a lot to cover! And we know attention spans are short this time of year as we all look forward to a very well-earned break. So we’ll zip through the updates and let you get back to wrapping presents.
Thank you for your support this year. As a volunteer-led, member-supported nonprofit with a giant field of work in view, every contribution you send our way helps us work even harder on your behalf. (Speaking of which: we know a lot of people in the industry – and firms supportive of their people on bikes – read this regular bulletin every other month. It’s a huge chunk of work for our largely volunteer team. Anyone keen to sponsor us? ‘Project Watch is brought to you by <<YOUR NAME HERE>>!’ Drop us a line if you’re interested.)
CALL TO ACTION
Give a bike lane for Christmas – in the Inner Isthmus or out West!
Feedback on the Pt Chev project closes 20 December. Take a minute to say you support it – and give kids a bike path for Christmas and give Auckland an exemplary neighbourhood so we can all see and feel how healthy streets work! Here’s our latest blog post and handy feedback guide.
Or go further west and support Panuku’s great proposals for protected bike lanes on Henderson Valley Road! Plus new road crossings, and one of the first protected intersections out west. Here’s a really lovely brochure showing all the various great things about the project – or jump straight into Panuku’s map tool where you can pin-point things you’d like to comment about on their new proposals. We ran out of time to give you a bit-by-bit account – but we can say it looks really good, and is well worth supporting.
HOT OFF THE PRESSES
Victoria Street West Cycleway – construction starts next week!
We knew this was imminent, but it came as a pleasant surprise to hear it’s starting next week, in time to count as a Christmas present!
This is another missing link being filled in, after a long hiatus post-consultation in 2017. The project will add protected bike lanes from the intersection of Beaumont Street (at New World Victoria Park) all the way along and up the hill to the Nelson Street Cycleway. On the way, it will link up with the Franklin Road cycle lanes.
It doesn’t go quite as far as originally envisaged in 2014 when it was proposed for the Urban Cycleway Programme. The eastern part has been ‘trimmed off’ for now, due to CRL works and related detours and disruptions from Hobson Street eastwards. But what remains will be a highly desirable link that will make it much easier and safer to ride between the western inner suburbs and the central city.
The design has some features not yet common in Auckland, such as the ‘bus boarders’ shown in the below artist’s impression (note that the safety gap between the bike lane and the bus stop kerb is ~80 cm, a bit wider than it looks in the picture). We understand that this design was chosen over bus stop ‘bypasses’ (where the bike lane detours around the back of the stop and the bus shelter) so as to not take up too much footpath space, particularly in the busy sections past the Victoria Park Markets and on the uphill section to Nelson Street.
The project also brings positive changes for pedestrians, e.g. three of the four slip lanes at the Halsey Street / Victoria Street / Wellesley Street West intersection are disappearing. Works are expected to start with the side road treatments for Dock, Hardinge and Graham Streets. Based on the timeline on AT’s website, construction will be relatively fast, with works (including a resealing of the road itself) finished by mid 2020.
A New Face at the Top for Auckland Transport
We’re delighted to hear that Adrienne Young-Cooper has been appointed as Chair of the board of Auckland Transport. In her previous roles, for example at Panuku, Council’s development arm for new housing, she has been keen on making strides for better and safer walking and cycling (such as the Henderson Valley Road project mentioned above). And she understands the view from the bike seat – surely a fantastic (indeed, essential) asset when leading a transport agency.
Electric Bikeshare Comes to Auckland!
Lime has been squeezed out and Auckland’s waved goodbye to Wave, with three scooter companies to zip into place in the new year: Neuron and Beam will join Flamingo on the streets.
Most interestingly of all, an e-bike share scheme, JUMP by Uber, will be leaping into our city too. We’ll be keenly watching this development. Bike share is an essential part of a resilient and functional transport system, and electric bikes make short order of the city’s hills and ridges, so they’re a natural choice.
Also: the bikes are dockless, which underscores the pressing existing need for more and better bike parking, something we’ve been pushing AT to be faster and more tactical at.
Speaking of E-Bikes
The government has announced a scheme starting next year, to make e-bikes more affordable to people working in the public sector, including District Health Boards. Bulk purchase discounts and payment schemes will enable people to buy e-bikes at up to 50% off, and pay them off over time.
This is a public service version of the employer scheme announced by NZTA (other large employers are taking it up, and smaller businesses could hypothetically band together to do the same), and we expect to see it take off. With e-bike and e-scooter imports continuing at exponential pace, the potential is huge. Just gonna need some better infrastructure…
Just your periodic reminder that the sales of electric bikes and scooters are exploding in NZ.
130% YoY growth in the imports in November, with nearly 9000 units.
For context, we registered 563 electric cars.
The future of EV's is here, hidden in plain sight. pic.twitter.com/24iYyYwI81
— OLIVER BRUCE (@oliverbruce) December 13, 2019
LOOKING BACK TO LOOK AHEAD… A YEAR OF PROGRESS
The Auckland Harbour Bridge Shared Path & SeaPath
Progress continues, with expressions of interest for the AHB Shared Path invited in early November. We’re very interested, and we can think of a few hundred thousand other people who are too! The official bulletins still speak of a start to early construction works no earlier than late 2020. After decades of waiting, each extra year feels looong, but we see good faith and real progress. See the latest update here.
The Big Picture
We’re starting to see some good strategic language from the various agencies (NZTA, AT, and Local Boards) and political leaders about what the plan is for cycling investment and how it all fits together – starting with some quality maps that highlight how things connect, like the one above.
Where the gap remains, to our eyes, is in telling a great, compelling, human story of why this is all happening, and showing the progress towards the big goals. As advocates, we spend a lot of time plugging that gap, as well as being the logistical glue bringing together all the parties working to deliver the goods.
In 2020 we’d love to see a lot more concerted planning and storytelling, so the public can see and share the vision. More than just stats about investment and ridership, people are keen to understand what it all means for how we live and get around. We all need stories we can see ourselves in.
Bikes and Light Rail
You’ll recall that in 2018 we championed proper bikeways as part of delivery of light rail on Dominion Road (see blog posts here, here, and here). We proposed a design for how the street could prioritise public transport and active travel (not just bikes, but scooters and other kinds of micromobility appearing on the scene), and we surveyed you about your experiences and needs.
Alas, throughout 2019 there’s been little visible progress on light rail at all – and rising concern about how the projects are being framed for discussion and scoped for delivery. So we’ve joined the AA, Greater Auckland, Generation Zero, the Employers and Manufacturers Association and Heart of the City in calling for greater transparency and more proactive public engagement. Maybe a bit of an unusual alliance – but one that only underscores the need to get this right. Watch this space!
The extension to Westgate opens this week! Of course we’re delighted by the extra connection, which extends the length of the original long-distance cycleway (read about its origins here) to almost 20km from the far west to the central city.
To answer the most Frequently Asked Question: WHY is there no underpass at Lincoln Road or Royal Road? Bike Auckland pushed hard for an underpass or even a bike bridge here, but at the time NZTA didn’t see the need. Of course, we know they’d do it differently today. At least, we hope so!
The big design design decisions for this NW Motorway project were made as far back as 2011 during the consent process – before any of the other big NZTA projects such as Grafton Gully, Lightpath etc. Despite best efforts, we did not have as much influence with NZTA as we know we’d have today.
We persuaded the design team of the time to concept-design a bridge over Lincoln Road for the path – but clearly this was never taken forward, so the crossing is now a multi-stage traffic-signalised crossing. Reasonably safe, assuming no red-light running, but not that convenient. And in safety terms, it means people walking and biking cross paths with traffic at each stage of the crossing.
At Royal Road, too, we’d have loved an underpass like the one we won at Te Atatu during the Waterview project (if only after a big battle and the Board of Inquiry backing our request). However, when we raised the Royal Road underpass again once the detailed designs came in some two years ago, it was deemed too much of a change for NZTA to consider.
There may be a chance when the busway or light rail eventually happens – because that will definitely require grade separation, and NZTA can then put a walk/bike facility next to where the rapid transit goes under or over roads. But we know that’s ten years away at least.
On a more positive side, lobbying together with Auckland Transport, we did persuade NZTA to add protected lanes on the Royal Road overbridge, plus an access point to the new path from the Huruhuru Road overbridge. So all that hard work and engagement two years ago wasn’t wasted!
Meanwhile, at the city end of the Northwestern: consultation on the planned widening and separation through the Kingsland bottleneck took place in October, and the timeline for the start of construction is mid-2020.
That will be just over two years since we called for and proposed a solution here. With luck, the work will be finished before the three-year mark. In Auckland advocacy and delivery terms that’s a decent speed – but we’d love to see upgrades to substandard shared paths happening a lot faster. And with the bike boom and micro-mobility revolution under way, this kind of work should be proactive, rather than reactive.
Lastly, look forward to works where the NW Cycleway crosses the St Luke’s Interchange including raised crossings on the slip lanes. Again, given the volume of bike traffic on this route, these safety improvements are extremely welcome. They should be started after New Year, and be completed in February or March, all going well.
Karangahape Road continues apace!
The sections at each end are well under way and work has begun in the middle. If you want to stay abreast of detailed progress, you can sign up for weekly updates here.
Tamaki Drive Cycleway
We’ve just heard the tender award will happen just before Christmas, with construction anticipated to start in early Feb 2020. It’ll be the two-way bikeway we already enjoy past the red fence on Quay Street – but extended all the way to Ngapipi Road!
Neighbourhood bike projects
We’re picking this to be a huge topic in the coming year as communities realise the attractiveness of healthy streets projects, the transport needs of kids and the elderly, and the urgency of working together to decarbonise transport, starting with easy local trips.
Pt Chev is the nearest on the horizon, with consultation under way right now. (Feedback closes 20 December: use the form here, and our feedback guide here). All going well, pending some detailed design, construction would take place mid-to-late in 2020.
Keep your eyes peeled, too, for the Glen Innes local links around the second quarter of 2020. And keep an eye on the great work being done by AT’s Safe School Streets programme, a pilot scheme that’s reducing traffic and encouraging active trips to schools around the city.
GI2TD – Glen Innes to Tamaki Drive
We’re happy to report real progress at last to construct Stage 2, connecting St John’s Rd to the Orakei Boardwalk. The important steps are that expressions of interest were invited recently from the contracting sector, and the project will be tendered to construction companies in January.
New Lynn to Avondale
This long-awaited UCP project extends from the Waterview Shared Path through Avondale and into New Lynn – where it will connect with existing onward links along Margan Ave and Seabrook Ave (as well as – eventually – more rail paths further along the western line, and the Whau River Path).
The first task: a bridge over the Whau River at Olympic Park, where authorities, local dignitaries and the contractors – as well as Bike Auckland of course – attended a sod turning and Karakia blessing in November.
We expect that after the summer rail closure, a lot more of the first works will start to be visible to curious passers-by. Things to look forward to in the next two years include a new underpass under the railway line near St Georges Road, and links to local parks on the route.
Northern Corridor Improvements
Two positive pieces of news from the NCI team are very welcome Christmas presents:
Firstly, after a road safety audit at the SH1 Constellation Interchange, the proposed shared path under the motorway will be 2.8m wide, with a railing and raised curb to improve safety. You might remember that we reported back in March that the proposal was for a single 2m-wide two-way path on one side only – vanishingly narrow and pretty dangerous! We made the case to Waka Kotahi/ NZTA that they really could do better – and so they have. A significant win!
Also, where Arrenway Drive and Tirohanga Whanui Bridge connect to the main shared path, we expect to see some further improvements to the design in coming months. The team is also working on a proposed shared path on SH18 between Caribbean Drive and Rook Place, with more detail to come in the New Year.
Secondly, three sports facilities along the motorway have been relocated and upgraded as part of the NCI project: the North Harbour BMX facility (completed last year), a new equestrian centre at Wainoni Park (opened in April) and New Zealand’s leading international hockey facility, the National Hockey Centre at Rosedale, which has been built for North Harbour Hockey. This $75M facility will open to the public in early January 2020.
Among the features: a new walking and cycling bridge across the Alexandra Stream, and a 3m wide shared path alongside the facility. This connects communities to Rosedale Park and opens it up for walkers and cyclists. A footpath has also been installed outside the facility on Bush Road and a new signalised pedestrian crossing.
Safer Speeds & Red Light Cameras
Since our last Project Watch, the Board of Auckland Transport unanimously approved the Safer Speeds package. Survivable speeds are key to bikeable neighbourhoods (because thirty is less hurty!), so we were very keen to see this go through.
The final bylaw adopted also included one major change that we did sort of see coming, with some trepidation: several of the busiest streets in the City Centre were excluded from the 30km/h zone, and thus will have 40km/h limits.
Now, 40 is still is a lot less hurty than 50k – the risk of a pedestrian or cyclist dying in a crash impact at 40km/h is less than half that of an impact at 50km.h. But in itself, the risk of death still is over three times as high as it would be at 30km/h.
AT felt it would be difficult to achieve 30km/h speeds on Fanshawe Street, Hobson Street and Nelson Street (no surprise, when the plan was to leave a minimum of 4-5 traffic lanes in place). Instead, they’ve allocated a provisional budget of $5-10 million dollars for extra walking and cycling safety works on these three streets.
The immediate question is: will this lead to more protected bikeways on these routes? For example, on Fanshawe Street to link to SkyPath? And will it reinvigorate long-delayed improvements to nearby roads such as Union and Cook Street? We will see in 2020.
We’re also interested in the local rollout of safer school speed zones, in the wake of the recent Government announcement about new school speed guidelines: a maximum of 40km/h in towns and cities and 60km/h in rural areas. Buried in that announcement was further news that the ownership and operation of road safety cameras would move from NZ Police to the NZ Transport Agency.
And in related news: AT announced today that another 8 red light cameras are to be added to Auckland intersections by June next year. This cannot come soon enough: between 2014 and 2018, there were 83 fatalities or serious injuries due to red light running in Auckland, and it has become habitual driving behaviour – even by professional drivers. Bike Auckland has worked for you on the advisory stakeholder group, and will be pushing for more cameras, in more places, in particular where there are lots of people on foot and on bikes.
In a roundabout way, Auckland is getting better
Near the end of the year, four different consultations showed that Auckland still struggles with how to do safe intersections for people on foot and on bikes. But three out of four (not bad!) also gave us cause to be positive about where things are heading.
1. Crash Corner Onehunga
Another win since our last Project Watch: After an initial watering-down, AT has returned to the original design for the roundabout at the corner of Church and Victoria in Onehunga – with more substantial improvements for pedestrians (but also, by reducing car priority, giving people on bikes more safety).
This story shows how a combo of community voice, political leadership, and advocacy can refocus AT on what it’s committed to: Vision Zero, and safety for vulnerable travellers on our streets.
2. Sunset Road on the Shore
In the Onehunga case, the consultation design was positive and the (initial) outcome disappointing. But it was the other way round with a proposal to up-size (not every change is an up-grade!) an existing roundabout at Sunset Road / Target Road on the Shore. While the raised tables were good, everything else about the design put vehicle dominance first, with extra lanes galore.
After a severely critical blog, and after concerns raised by everyone ranging from local residents to Councillors, AT’s initial response was a bit… defensive. But after consultation closed, we met the project team again. A much more constructive attitude prevailed, and the updated plans we saw go a long way toward resolving many (if not quite all) of the concerns we raised in the consultation. The project team also mentioned that they’d got a lot of feedback about walking and cycling safety. So, thank you all!
We promised we’d let AT make their own post-consultation announcement about design changes, which may be a while, with summer break ahead. But we are quietly confident in saying that this is yet another great example of how passionate advocacy can lead to outcomes a lot closer to the best-practice guidelines than to business as usual.
3. East Coast Road / Glenvar Road
AT has decided to step back from a (previously consulted) future multi-lane roundabout at the intersection of East Coast Road and Glenvar Road, a layout that even confident riders would have braved only with trepidation.
The newer, better proposal will have protected lanes on East Coast Road leading to a traffic signal. What’s more, the traffic signal intersection is also to be traffic-calmed by being on a raised table, something that’s previously pretty much only been seen at some better pedestrian crossings.
Knowing how rife red-light running is, and how lethal it can be, raised tables are the key to ensuring drivers pass through intersections at more survivable speeds at all times, whether they obey the lights or not. We love seeing more designs like this – and using the consultation feedback as an opportunity to applaud, rather than to demand better. Bring on more best-practice designs in 2020!…
4. Royal Oak Roundabout
…just for example, in Royal Oak, where proposed safety upgrades to the notorious roundabout featured little if anything for people on bikes, despite sitting at the intersection of major desire lines and key corridors. Alert reader Dave Harton used the OIA process to ask whether cycling experts had had proper input into the design.
Inspired by the recent visit of Skye Duncan, urban design champ and tactical urbanist extraordinaire (hear her interview with Kim Hill here), here’s our first draft of a better approach. Fewer lanes, more bus priority and as a result, more space for plazas, for pedestrians, pedestrian crossings and, eventually, proper bikeways too.
LOOKING FOR ACTION IN 2020
The SW Gateway Project
This is a major mode-shift exercise, but the recent consultation exercise was kind of a schemozzle. With the goal of access for thousands of jobs in the airport area, as well as local trips of all kinds, the neighbourhoods around the project deserve more integrated planning for all modes, not a narrow-focussed bus priority project that pushes aside the needs of people on bikes. After our pushback – with support from hundreds of you, and at the last minute! – AT has committed to meeting us in the New Year to discuss options for Puhinui Road east of the station. Win!
AT has also clarified that it is ‘initiating detailed design for Mangere’ to scope the investment required for the local links in the area north of the airport – to connect up the town centres in the area, from Mangere Bridge to Mangere’s Te Ara Mua showcase walking and cycling project (much acclaimed, but still isolated from its surroundings at the moment).
Related: Mangere East and Manukau are priority areas for the next phase of the Cycling Programme Business Case, and AT says it will start working on those areas in the New Year, in conjunction with Safe and Healthy Streets South Auckland. We’ll be closely involved, as this is a massive opportunity for positive work in areas that need better transport options.
New Old Mangere Bridge
We recently attended a ceremony for the commencement of works on this project, and are impressed with how McConnell Dowell are managing the worksite for safety for those on bikes. Our thanks to Nicholas for being our man on the spot for scoping the detour path, and Jane for being our woman round the table at related meetings.
Our pop-up protection campaign
Thanks to you, to Malcolm from Generation Zero, and to our excellent volunteer Carlos, in the second half of 2019 we assembled a list of potential locations where bike lanes could be given speedy tactical protection. AT has taken that list on board and is working through a programme of projects that can be achieved under a certain budget cap. We’ll know more in the New Year about locations and timelines and will keep you in the loop.
Urban Cycleway Programme Update
Some anticipated starting timeframes for construction works, as provided to us by Auckland Transport:
1st Quarter 2020 – Tamaki Drive (The Strand to Ngapipi)
1st Quarter 2020 – Victoria Street West (Beaumont to Nelson)
1st Quarter 2020 – Herne Bay traffic-calming scheme
2nd Quarter 2020 – Links to Glen Innes Town Centre / Station
2nd/3rd Quarter 2020 – Pt Chev Project
2nd/3rd Quarter 2020 – Glen Innes to Tamaki Drive Section 2