May was a month that brought one big story, a whole lot of handy little local links, and some continued twiddling of thumbs as we wait for solid updates on key projects to make biking better around the city. Read on to find out which projects have moved ahead, which are about to leap back to life, and which we’re still giving a very hard stare…
The big story of May was the NZ Transport Agency’s announcement of its preferred design for the Auckland Harbour Bridge shared path. This fulfils a promise by the government to take on and fund the project, giving certainty at last.
Because it attaches to the piers rather than being clipped onto the clip-ons, it allows for more width, sturdiness, and accessibility. All good news.
Two questions on everyone’s lips now: when will it be built? This depends on whether the existing resource consent can be used with a variation of consent conditions. And, given that the new design rests firmly on the shoulders of a decade of hard yards by the Skypath team, how will those loose ends bed tied up? We’ll let you know once we know more on both scores.
One piece of good news here: a contractor has been engaged, JFC (that’s the name of the contractor, John Fillmore Contracting, not an exasperated interjection!). Still no confirmed start date; AT says it won’t be before July.
Carrington Road Crossing
Hallelujah! The traffic cones went out in the nick of time before just Queen’s Birthday Weekend, so we’re claiming this one for May’s Project Watch, after three years of eager anticipation and toe-tapping.
Work has now officially begun on rebuilding this key crossing to add a raised table and bike priority.
Construction will mainly take place on weekends, and the first full weekend of work has already seen the first half of the raised table go in. It’s a pretty handy way to A/B test the claim that raised tables lower traffic speeds!
One cool thing about building a raised crossing in stages is it allows for some pretty definitive A/B testing. (This is Carrington Rd, a key link on Auckland’s fastest growing cycleway, and between Unitec and the town centre). pic.twitter.com/HJdgY0K0I2
— Bike Auckland (@BikeAKL) June 9, 2019
Take care as you travel through here, and be sure to say hello and thanks to the construction crew and the traffic management crew, especially at weekends. Also, let us know if AT’s traffic management plan is working for you.
NW Cycleway extension
A few pictures via Peter from Bike Henderson of progress on the cycleway extension towards Westgate, being completed as part of the SH16 Lincoln Rd to Westgate motorway widening project.
We especially love the photo of the cycleway offramp at Huruhuru Rd – brought (back) to you by Bike Auckland, after NZTA briefly dropped it from the plans. (You’re welcome!)
To answer your next question: timing-wise, the Royal Road bridge widening is due to be completed by August, and the full cycleway connection is scheduled for completion by October. Love to hit that Biketober target – thanks, NZTA!
AT has sent its consultants back to the drawing board on one aspect of the general vehicle lane design of the cycleway, which did not meet with final approval within AT’s processes. This has set back the overall design by two months, and AT is now hoping to go to tender for the potential contractor in six weeks. Any delay is frustrating so late in the piece, but AT tells us that they’re confident the requested design change is feasible, and the project remains on track for delivery.
New Lynn to Avondale
The tender period for the construction was extended by a week (something that is usually done on request by tenderers, or to give all tenderers time to react to additional information) and should be about to close soon now. We’ve seen and given feedback on recent designs, which include new raised crossings, and a slight redesign of the underpass near St Georges Road in response to safety and security concerns about needing better sightlines in (and into) the underpass. Good stuff – can’t wait to see it move to construction!
Waitemata Safe Routes
Early indications are that feedback on last year’s consultation was clearly positive. However, the final consultation report is still moving through the system, and is set to work its way up through AT’s senior leadership and the Board before coming to the public.
Why is it taking so long, you might well ask? The consultation on the redesign took place almost eight months ago, so what’s the hold-up? The best take is that AT probably wants to be sure that when the consultation results go public, they come with clear answers about where and when the project will progress. Logically, they’ll be settling questions around how fast the project can be delivered, and whether anything more is required in the form of detailed design, consents, and tendering before it can start.
Meanwhile in related news: the High Court has rejected an appeal by a local group who wanted to overturn Wellington City Council’s planned redesign for the Island Bay Parade, featuring a parking-protected cycleway and many other lovely features. The Island Bay Residents’ Association wanted the option of putting the street back the way it originally was, but the judge has ruled their case had no legal merit.
This judgement (which you can read in full here) resonates well beyond Island Bay, with the judge noting that any proposed designs for consultation needed to meet Council’s safety targets, and that a consultation is not a referendum: “the Local Government Act does not impose on the Council an obligation to accede to the views of a majority of a community or the majority of any part of a community.” Of course, as noted above, we understand that in the case of Grey Lynn and Westmere the clear majority supports the design, so AT will not be required to argue that particular aspect. A couple of other key moments from the judgement:
“Provided the preferences expressed by the participants were given due consideration, the Council was entitled to have regard to other factors. Those other factors included the expert engineering advice it had received as to the viability of reversion to the original cycleway (effectively Option E), as well as to its overall aims in relation to the creation of a network of urban cycleways.”
“Also relevant here is the obligation in s 77(1)(a) LGA to identify all “reasonably practicable outcomes”. Neither the status quo nor the original cycleway could be said to be reasonably practicable options given the safety concerns and issues of non-compliance that had been identified with them.”
“No Court is going to direct the Council to go back and consult on options which cannot be implemented because of issues to do with safety or regulatory requirements.”
Northwestern Cycleway Upgrades
We‘ve been shown the first cut of plans for proposed separation of walking and biking on the Northwestern Cycleway shared path section between Nixon Park and Takau Street. Sorry, we’re not yet allowed to share the designs with the public – but let’s just say we are excited at what we have been shown!
In the meantime, a participatory signage project from AT is helping get the message out that this section of cycleway needs to be treated like the shared village path it is, even – or especially – if we’re just passing through. On a recent ride just after school got out, we saw children proudly checking out the signs they’d helped create. It will be some time before the path reflects and reinforces full safety for them, so for now it’s in our hands. Let’s read the room, and heed the signs!
LOCAL LINKS ON A ROLL!
Te Atatu Missing Link
Big ups to Bike Te Atatu for campaigning for this link, and the Henderson-Massey Local Board for delivering it. This short stretch of concrete path will make all the difference to those heading towards the east side of the peninsula. By connecting the existing shared path past Harbour View Park to Danica Place, it saves people from having to cross the busy main road or ‘salmon’ the wrong way up the painted bike lane. In particular, this will be a key link for kids biking to and from Te Atatu Intermediate.
Burswood Bridge, Cascades Shared Path
Another local project with outsize benefits – in this case, the bridge linking Burswood and Golflands. In future this will be one of many key links delivering people to the AMETI Eastern Bikeway.
The Tamaki Greenway
We’re seeing delighted reports from readers who’ve checked out the Tamaki Path, a shared greenway that runs along the west side of the Tamaki River, from Tahuna Torea to the Panmure Yacht Club.
You can access the path from the Point England beach entrance at the northern end, or Panmure Wharf at the southern end. A final link north of Point England is next to come, with a bridge over Omaru Creek to Kiano Place and onto Taniwha St.
The path itself is reportedly smooth and well-shaped, with lovely new plantings alongside, and you can ride uninterrupted, well away from traffic. More about the origins of this project, including maps, over here. What a boon for the eastern burbs!
Tried out the new Tamaki Path on Sunday afternoon. Great ride & views. pic.twitter.com/JP5X6UA2HL
— Grant (@Grant_AAA) June 10, 2019
A LATE-BREAKING SAFETY FIX
Just to hand, confirmation of an initial safety treatment for the Canada St entrance to the Lightpath, where a combination of poor sightlines and downhill speeds from both directions has led to at least one bike-on-bike crash. AT and NZTA have been working on a fix, with the former looking at the signage and surface, and the latter investigating changes to the physical layout.
AT has confirmed their contractors will be installing the markings and (bike-friendly) rumble strips ASAP.
TICK, TOCK… CAN YOU HEAR THE CLIMATE CLOCK?
We expect certainty soon about the prioritising and funding of the long list of overdue and incomplete Urban Cycleways Programme projects. Goodness knows we’re eager to see AT deliver these connections so we can all enjoy the network effect.
We’re also awaiting updates from NZTA and AT on the major GI2TD project (Glen Innes to Tamaki Drive), which hasn’t made much headway lately, beyond the completion of the boardwalk widening.
(And to the reader who asked about the Queenstown Road safe crossing along SH20 – sorry, we have no new news from NZTA on that one, either.)
Now onwards into June, which will see discussion by Council about whether to declare a climate emergency; also, the adoption of Auckland Transport’s Statement of Intent through to 2022, which contains a target of building up to *checks notes* 28.5km of cycleway over the next three years. That’s a long piece of string, but just a tiny fraction of the city’s roading network.
With 2019 so far looking like a slow year for delivery of the promised bike network, will our city find smarter and faster ways to bridge the gap between what’s needed and what’s being delivered? We’ve got some ideas. As always, watch this space.
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