Quay Street’s gonna be okay

The red fence gets a green path.
The red fence gets a green path!

UPDATE: Consultation closes this Friday. Have your say ASAP to make sure our new hot pink pathway has a safe connection all the way to the red fence, the whole wide waterfront, and round the bays and beyond!

Auckland Transport has finally started the public consultation on the Quay St interim cycleway! A new urban cycleway that, due to tight timeframes around the City Rail Link enabling works in the area, is intended to be constructed in the next couple of months!

So we were somewhat worried when the October consultation date came and went. We had been shown the plans in advance, and were pretty happy. What was keeping things?

We heard rumours that the traffic modelling was proving a bit of an issue – and related to that, that bus operators were worried that the two projects (City Rail Link and possibly now the cycleway) would create too much delay.

Get ready to zoom along...
Get ready to zoom along…

So we were relieved to hear, at last week’s catchup meeting with AT, that modelling had shown that the cycleway was going to have little to no impact on delays, and that consultation and construction would now proceed.

That means within less than 6 months, we will finally have a waterfront cycleway – a dedicated two-way space for cyclists, along the northern (seaward) side of Quay St, protected from vehicles by a Beach Road Stage I-style buffer.

It will close that glaring gap between Princes Wharf and the Ferry Terminal where for decades we only had the bitter choice between a crowded footpath and a busy, fast road. Further east, the new cycleway will go as far as Plumer Street at the ports. It will form a much-needed gateway into the lower City Centre for Tamaki Drive and Grafton Gully, and – very soon – for the Nelson Street and Westhaven cycle routes.

Our relief at seeing the project proceed, however, came with one frustrating caveat.

Because of consenting agreements between Council and private property owners as part of the CRL construction works, parking cannot be removed (at least not during that multi-year period, as we understand it) on the southern side of Quay St in the section between the Ferry Terminal and Commerce Street. Apparently, keeping these parking spots was offered up by Council as one of the measures to balance disruption in to Britomart Area businesses during the tunnel construction works.

What that means is that along the corresponding northern side of Quay St, for about one block – 100m or so – the new cycleway will have to be a shared path. Right past the Explorer Bus stop, which apparently also has contractual arrangements that make it impossible to shift in the short term (and it seems that Council doesn’t want those buses moved onto Queen’s Wharf).

AT’s cycle designers seem to have made the best out of those frustrating constraints, and at least the very narrow section at the bus stop itself will be modified somewhat – there will be a new buffer island which will mean that people getting out of the bus won’t step straight into the shared path. You can see it in those plan images below.

It’s not ideal – but we were told that it was either this, or not see the project happen at all, because the CRL works will start soon, and those changes need to be made now, or wait for several years. No real question how we answered that one!

It’s going to be okay – more than okay in fact. Its the next big step to a real people’s waterfront, and, in 5-10 years, a full-on Quay Street Boulevard.

What do you think – is this okay? Should we push for the bus stop to be removed/moved [even though this may not be possible in time for the initial construction of the cycleway, maybe it will be possible with a bit more thought and time]?

Quay_Horizontal 2
And this is where Quay will join with Nelson St Stage II Cycleway (it hasn’t been decided yet on which side of Lower Hobson St that one will run).

 

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