SkyPath BridgeWe were as excited as anyone when the AHB Pathway Trust team lodged their resource consents for SkyPath last month.  The jewel in the crown of Auckland’s walking and cycling network is rapidly approaching a reality, and we can’t wait! Even John Key‘s keen to get a cycle path over the Harbour Bridge.

So it’s timely to discuss how people will connect with SkyPath, and what they’ll do. This post looks at the northern end, with a focus on cyclists of course, but not forgetting our walking friends who are just as excited as we are.  And the southern side?  We’ll post on this too in due course.

So who’s going to use SkyPath?  Your immediate response might be commuters, and you’d be partly right.  We expect not just existing cyclists who queue up at the ferry terminals every morning, but many North Shore residents will be lured from their cars with the promise of a cheap, healthy, scenic, stress-free and congestion-free trip to town and back home again.

Click to access Google map

But if you look at the research conducted by the Trust, they predict tourists and recreational users will outweigh commuters by four to one!  That’s huge, and it begs the question – where are these people going to go,and how are they going to get there?

This post will focus on recreational SkyPath users who find themselves in Auckland City, making their way north across SkyPath, and landing in Northcote Point. What are their options, and how can we best cater for them?  What route are they going to take to return to the city?

The stars on the map show local attractions that are easily accessible by bike or on foot. We haven’t extended too far beyond Northcote and Birkenhead nor have we dwelt on the attractions of Takapuna and the Devonport peninsula – they’re pretty obvious.

Looking at Northcote and Birkenhead, the primary attractions for tourists and recreational users are:

  • Cafes and associated eateries, perhaps even a movie
  • Beach, playgrounds and bush walks
  • Heritage appreciation
  • Shopping opportunities at the vibrant multi-cultural Northcote Shopping Centre, or the trendy shops in Birkenhead and associated Highbury Centre.

So what routes do we need to promote and enhance to make this both a safe and pleasant experience for pedestrians and cyclists, and provide commercial opportunities for businesses close to potential paths?  Let’s take them in turn, from west to east.

The immediate return trip
Ok – we’ve done SkyPath, now we want to go straight back again.  So either back through the turnstiles, or even better a wander around the fascinating Harbour Bridge superstructure, taking in the city views from Stokes Point Reserve, then down a path to the Northcote Point ferry terminal for a cruise back to the city.

The only requirement here is for the path between the SkyPath terminus and the ferry terminal be suitable for cyclists, pedestrians, and the mobility-impaired.

The walking route to the Birkenhead ferry via Little Shoal Bay
Nothing much to be done here as the footpaths are already in place.  Cyclists can use a variation of this route too, but many recreational cyclists will find the Council Tce/Maritime Tce hills a bit of a challenge. The cafes and shops of Northcote Point and lower Hinemoa St are within easy reach of this route.

 Photo credit: Reset Urban Design
Photo credit: Reset Urban Design

Cyclist route via Onewa Rd
The Northcote Safe Cycle Route comes into its own here, providing protected cycle lanes all the way to Onewa Rd, although many will choose to dog-leg through Faulkeners Rd and Church St to miss the big Lake/Queen intersection.  But Onewa Rd?  Isn’t that a heavily trafficked main road with no cycling infrastructure?  Yes – it is at the moment, but here’s the plan.

AT is planning a westbound T3 transit lane to cater for the afternoon peak, but to do so would make the uphill westbound trip difficult and hazardous for even experienced on-road cyclists. So part of the plan is to create a shared path along the southern side.  Cycle Action has previously endorsed this approach, and has also proposed the same treatment be applied to the northern side as well for eastbound cyclists.

So the requirement here is for shared paths on both sides of Onewa Rd, with additional consideration for the Church St leg.

Cyclist route from Highbury to the Birkenhead ferry terminal
The future of this route hinges on the plans for the renovation of the Birkenhead Town Centre, which will significantly improve pedestrian and cyclist safety around Birkenhead Ave, Mokoia Rd and Hinemoa St.  How Hinemoa St is treated, and the extent to which the works go will determine the best option for the remainder of the route to the Birkenhead ferry terminal.  Options could include traffic calming (perhaps with a reduced speed limit and sharrows), the removal of pinch points around the cafe area where parked cars constrict the roadway at raised central medians, shared paths or buffered cycle lanes.

Northern route to Northcote shops and northern Takapuna
Here the Northcote Safe Cycle Route is the perfect answer. Thanks AT!

The AUT connector
With more of a commuter focus now, we need a connector from the Northcote Safe Cycle Route to AUT, both as a route for students, but also anyone who may choose to park in the paid-parking of the AUT campus.  The route will also service Awataha Marae, opening up the possibility of cultural experiences for tourists.

Recent images of the clip-on by the SkyPath Team.
Recent images of the clip-on by the SkyPath Team.

The requirement here will be for buffered cycle lanes along College Rd, which will require the loss of some on-street parking, as the road is quite narrow in places. However with the proximity of parking at both the Northcote Shopping Centre and AUT, this should not be too much of a problem.  Indeed at the northern end, it is mostly AUT students who park for free on College Rd rather than the paid-parking on campus.

Another local initiative here is a cycle path in the vicinity of Onepoto Primary School and Tonar St, which will likely develop with the Kaipatiki Local Board’s Network Connections plan.

Akoranga Drive/Esmonde Rd shared path
The existing shared path is adequate, but could be much improved.  It went in years ago when the Esmonde Rd interchange was created, at a time when shared paths were tacked on as an afterthought. But it doesn’t require much to improve it – prioritisation across the side roads coupled with specific cycle/pedestrian signals would do the trick.  A bit of sweeping every now and then would help too – funny how those concrete walls attract bottle-throwing hoons.

SeaPath
Which brings us to SeaPath, the connector to southern Takapuna and the Devonport Peninsula.  This route is currently being considered by NZTA, as much of it sits in the motorway corridor.  The route shown on the map is only approximate.  It hasn’t yet been decided exactly how and on which side of the motorway SeaPath should run, and whether it should connect up to Warehouse Way or continue along the exit ramp to Esmonde Rd. We’ve asked NZTA and Reset Urban Design who are working with them on it, but they haven’t shared their thoughts with us yet.  We’re all ears.

What we do know:

  • With its proximity to the harbour edge and Tuff crater, the path is going to be an exceptional attraction in its own right
  • It needs to be plenty wide, perhaps 5 metres, to cater for the large number of cyclists and pedestrians who will be using it
  • Gradients need to be gentle, so it needs to follow the motorway corridor as much as possible
  • Some of the area is ecologically sensitive.  The Herald article from 12 years ago reminds us just what an issue this is.

And it’s with ecology in mind that Forest and Bird are promoting NaturePath, their preferred variant of SeaPath.  We’ll take a look at NaturePath in a future post, but at first glance it’s certainly got merit.

Bus, ferry and cycling integration options

For some SkyPath users, a bus service between the Northern Busway Stations and the Birkenhead & Northcote Point ferry terminals would be a welcome addition.  To this end we would suggest:

  • A reasonably frequent service of small to medium sized shuttle buses, equipped with bike racks.  There have been a number of trials of the “bikes on buses” concept, including as close as Waiheke Island, and we see no reason why it can’t be introduced here
  • Increased frequency of Fullers ferry sailings on the Birkenhead/Northcote Point route, particularly in the weekends when recreational use of SkyPath will be higher.

Taking this concept a little further as a tourist opportunity, Fullers could sell a “tourist pass” which encompasses a trip over the bridge with a ferry ride, and perhaps an inter-linking bus to Birkenhead via Onewa Rd with multiple drop-off and pick-up points at no extra charge.  Perhaps hire bikes could be included to the mix as well.

And needless to say, the businesses wanting to most benefit from increased cyclist patronage will provide secure bike racks adjacent to their premises!

Summary
So in summary, SkyPath is much more than a route for commuter cyclists. It will be a major tourism and recreational opportunity, with the potential to breathe new life into businesses in the Northcote/Birkenhead area, and further afield to Beach Haven, Glenfield, Takapuna and Devonport for those who wish to travel further.

We’d like your feedback on the suggestions made in this post, so we can integrate them with stakeholder sessions we’ll be having with the Trust, NZTA and AT.  Fire away, but please limit your comments to constructive suggestions on how we can make a great initiative even better.  We’re aware there are some who are opposed to SkyPath and the Northcote Safe Cycle Route.  This is not the forum to relitigate those opinions.

Give us your ideas and feedback…

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Auckland Transport Cycle lanes Cycle Resources - Maps Public Transport Skypath
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41 responses to “SkyPath Northern Connectors

  1. Having walked over the bridges at San Francisco and Sydney I can appreciate the level of tourist and recreational use of the skypath. I built entire days out of going to it, over and exploring both sides a bit, mostly food places.

    1. Exactly. To think the owner of the pub in Northcote opposes it because it will take parking spaces away from his drinking patrons.

      Somehow I dont think he will be turning away the cycle dollars when they start flowing through the door! He has an amazing opportunity to make more money and I really hope he embraces it or sells it to someone who will.

      It will be a licence to print his own money.

    2. Richard, you mean those flat, level bridges that were designed with pedestrians and cyclists in mind? And that residents who bought houses in the landing areas already knew what they were in for? Although if you’re talking about the Golden Gate Bridge, there’s a huge nature area on one side of it, so no residents to impact.

      It’s very simplistic to just say people walk or cycle over a bridge in another city, therefore it’ll work here.

      It is a nice idea, and I’d like to be able to do so as well. I just think the current plans fail a lot of common sense tests and also lack empathy for those who WILL be affected by the proposal.

      Northcote Point and St Mary’s Bay have already given up a huge amount for the motorway (noise, pollution, loss of beaches, etc), and a lot of people feel like we’ve given up enough already.

      I wonder what the reaction would be if someone proposed a second harbour crossing at Devonport? Perhaps a motorway running along the coastline? That’s effectively what happened when the bridge and SH1 was put in at Northcote.

      People bought in these areas because they like the quiet, heritage nature which will be destroyed if the proposed numbers of tourists etc eventuate.

      Businesses are already doing fine without the extra numbers people seem to think will come. And if those numbers do come, who is affected? Again, the residents. I don’t fancy not being able to get into the local cafe because there are hundreds or thousands of tourists flocking to the area. It simply is not built for, and doesn’t have the facilities for, that many people.

      I would much rather the Government or Auckland Council stump up with some money to do this properly, rather than the current proposal.

      1. “Northcote Point and St Mary’s Bay have already given up a huge amount for the motorway (noise, pollution, loss of beaches, etc), and a lot of people feel like we’ve given up enough already.”

        How many of those people you refer to actually predate the Harbour bridge and motorway construction period some 60 years ago now?
        Not many I’d be bound.

        So clearly the majority of all those who feel they have “given enough already” have most likely moved into the area with their eyes and ears open to what they are getting into, so they can’t claim to have “given enough already”. And any such claims are simply nonsense.

        You also need to realise that the people of Auckland collectively were promised walking and cycling access on the bridge long before the bridge was built, so if you want to reach back in time and claim some pre-emptive rights you don’t really have for why you are hard done by, then the rest of the people of Auckland can similarly reach back in time and claim the same for the benefits they have been promised and yet denied for 60+ years.

        “I would much rather the Government or Auckland Council stump up with some money to do this properly, rather than the current proposal.”

        And what would that “doing it properly” be, and how much would that cost?

        And please don’t say build a second harbour crossing, as no sane government on the planet would agree to that just to fix a problem only a few taxpayers or residents disagree with.
        Nor will the people accept another 10+ year delay on gaining public access to the bridge that such a proposal would entail.

        There will be public access over the bridge in the near future, be it SkyPath or something else, whether this Government or Council does it, a future council or Government will. Electoral cycles happen every 3 years, so we’ll have a crossing within 10 years.

        So if you feel so aggrieved, suggest you sell up now.

        But I assure you when your formally owned by you Northcote Point property doubles in value courtesy of proximity to the SkyPath you’ll be kicking yourself you did sell out.

        1. Well said, Greg. I liken the opposition by those in St Mary’s Bay to those living in Western Springs who have an issue with the speedway which has hosted speedway events since the 30’s. Personally I couldn’t live near that venue or a motorway, but if you have bought a property in either suburb in the past 60 years you would have known what t expect.

        2. An excellent point Greg N. The majority of people “most likely moved into the area with their eyes and ears open to what they are getting into”. And for the vast majority, what they thought they were getting into did not include the Skypath, nor the safe cycle route.

      2. Well John Key has expressed his support for the SkyPath so I don’t really think it matters what a minority of residents think.

        Your argument on slope is irrelevant. There is a small elevation and then the SkyPath itself is flat. You minority of residents opposing flip flop between saying the SkyPath will be a raging success (and so cause problems with all those people coming into your enclave) or will fail because it is poorly designed. I wish you would make up your mind.

        Actually, like all NIMBYs you just oppose any chnage. I imagine you would also have opposed the AHB, denying all the economic benefit Auckland has realised from it.

        If anything the SkyPath may help to ameliorate some of the damage done by putting the Harbour Bridge across. As well of course as the proven economic benefits of cycle paths everywhere.

        I can’t wait to ride it!

        1. Bent, what Skypath plans have you seen that I haven’t? Skypath is flat?? It attaches itself to the bridge, and more-or-less follows the contour of the bridge, which certainly isn’t flat. In fact, it’s about a 5% gradient, for which the recommended maximum distance as per Austroads standards is about 110m. The climb up the bridge is over 500m.

          As for flip flopping over the issues with Skypath, I can’t speak for others but I think both arguments are valid. If it is the success proponents predict, it will cause significant issues for residents.

          It has significant design defects, which are also valid arguments against it.

          The other argument you didn’t mention, is that if it isn’t a success, ratepayers will have to pay for it at significantly higher rates that if the Council were to fund it itself.

          So there’s no flip-flopping on my part, my mind is made up. Skypath is a bad idea. Well, to be fair, it is a good concept – as I said I would personally like to be able to walk and bike to the city – but I just think the current design and commercial construct is severely deficient.

          I also don’t see how it will ameliorate for the impact of the bridge, because as per Skypath analysis, a lot of people will DRIVE to the Skypath to use it. So you’re actually promoting an increase in car usage. Well done.

          1. Niget

            The AHB deck is at 43 m at its highest.. Skypath will be 40 m at most, starting from around 10 m. So 30 m over 500 m.

            There are plenty of steeper and/or longer severe hills around Auckland and elsewhere and whatever the Austroads standards may say, they don’t seem to be an undue impediment to cycling.

            By comparison Skypath is relatively flat.. and traffic free.. and with a spectacular view.. and covered!

            I think we can safely assume it will be an enourmous success.

            Greg N

            Thank you for having the level of patience and tolerance to post a considered rebuttal to the string of false assertions in the previous comment.

          2. I did a bit of searching to find roads around Auckland with a similar slope and length as the bridge deck, Lake Road outside Takapuna Grammar is pretty similar and not considered insurmountable by even novice cyclists

  2. I really hope that some form of what you call seapath prevails, Having lived and cycled on the shore for the better part of my life before moving to the city I can honestly say for recreational cyclists that Northcote, Birkenhead and Glenfield are all very hilly, lots of ups and downs some of which are quite steep!
    Seapath seems to me the obvious answer, its relatively flat, in fact if on the seaside of the motorway it could be completely flat. Its generally sheltered by Northcote point from the prevailing SW wind ( as bad as hills) and it would be a fantastic scenic route to Takapuna. It would also enable those feeling fit to complete a loop to Bayswater or Devonport and return by ferry. Some of the Bayswater cycle parts are already in place and it would only need connecting from Esmond road.
    I personally think that Tourists would probably only go as far as Northcote point, and there is some nice things there already for them, The Bridgeway Theatre, Northcote Tavern and some fine cafes and restaurants. Its hard to imagine Tourists taking on Little Shoal Bay in order to get to Birkenhead or bothering to ride to Northcote mall, that will be the domain of commuters.
    Exciting times…bring it on!

    1. Tehy may be hilly and somewhat inconvenient but they are also where people live. A major problem with the seapath is that it is well out of the way of much of the population. I’m all for nice scenci paths, but I am more for useful paths where the people are and the action is. I’d suggest that next to a motorway on the edge of a large tidal flat is neither near the people nor the action.

      1. David, you are right that it needs to cater for as many people as possible, however I was thinking that it would be relatively easy for feeder roads to link into the sea path, perhaps that makes it more logical for it to be on the Onewa side of the motorway? although there is already a tunnel under the motorway at Northcote and a bridge over further along and Akaranga drive so part of the infrastructure is in place to enable the seaside version to work.
        It seems to me that it would be important to have both the Seapath and some version of the Northcote cycleway as obviously cyclists will come from more inland i.e. Birkenhead, Glenfield but the Seapath would provide the equivalent of the motorway link for cyclists to connect them with Takapuna, Devonport and the bays. I’m thinking it could at some stage continue up past Esmond road and follow the bus route North providing a backbone of fast unobstructed cycleway. I believe the NW cycleway has been an outstanding success and works in a similar way with cyclists joining it at many places along the way, or just riding parts of it in order to go from one suburb to another, it provides the safe fast arterial link that the North shore lacks.

  3. Are two cycle paths really necessary on Northcote Point? Seems excessive, especially in the face of the likely rates rises. Wouldn’t it make more sense to take the Onewa path all the way down Onewa to link with the “Seapath”?

    1. Yes they are. Just like two roads are necessary.

      The last thing you can blame for rate rises is cycle infrastructure. Have a look how much of the Council’s budget is to maintain all the roads in Auckland. Maybe we should shut some of those instead or downgrade to gravel? Cyclists could still use them after all.

      1. Ummm… but Bent, there between 2 and 10 cycles that use that route currently, and even if that doubled, or let’s be generous and say it increased 1,000%, that’s a lot of cycle path for not many people, whereas there are many times that number of people in cars, buses, motorbikes, trucks… and even one or two on bikes that currently use those roads!

        So you might think the two cycle paths are necessary, but clearly the demand for them just isn’t there.

        As for the cost of roads… they are used by cars, bikes, public transport, trucks, etc. If you look at cost per user per km, you’ll find that roads are a lot more cost-effective than cycle paths that are used by a small minority of the population, some of the time.

        1. Sounds like you think that we should be prioritising user kms per $ spent, yes?

          Where is the data that says road maintenance is cheaper than cycle/ped infra maintenance per user km?

          What about fuel costs?

        2. And how many people used the harbour bridge before it was built?

          That would be zero right?
          So you are judging a future project on current usage and declaring it a disaster?

          And on that basis you’d have said the harbour bridge was a really expensive bad idea right?

          I’m sure at least 160,000 people who cross the bridge would disagree with that – each and every day.

    2. “Are two cycle paths really necessary on Northcote Point? Seems excessive, especially in the face of the likely rates rises”

      What rate rises would these be? The ones that will happen whether Skypath or Seapath or even 1 more metre of cycleway in Auckland is built or not?
      The ones that Mayor Brown says will be 2.5% or so for the next 10 years at least?

      So because there will be rate rises (and when in the life of Auckland has there never been annual rate rises?) we should not build anything you don’t agree with?

      And yet, here you say above:
      “I would much rather the Government or Auckland Council stump up with some money to do this properly, rather than the current proposal.”

      So you object to any rate rises and yet want ore of your rates and tax dollars sprinkled liberally about like rain water to fix a problem that only you and few others have?

      Seems to be special pleading of the worst sort going on here.

      So make your mind up, do you want rate and tax rises or not?

  4. Written from cyclist persepctive, there’s probably more that can be done to improve ped priority, too.

    Onewa Rd, dogleg
    Where will this connect to for northbound cyclists? Will people feel safe cycling through Nutsey Ave and the path through to Lake Rd? What priority will bikes have at the intersection to Lake Rd, particularly for southbound cyclists (i.e. turning right across Lake Rd) wanting to take the dogleg?

    Onewa Rd/Lake Rd/Queen St
    How many legs of the intersection will peds/cycles need to cross? I know there is currently a missing leg on the west side of Queen St/Onewa Rd, can’t recall what the intersection of Lake Rd is like.

    Hinemoa St
    Remove the central median, put in protected cycle lanes. ‘Nuff said.

    College Rd
    Sounds good; don’t forget priority at those intersections!

    Akoranga Dr
    Agree there needs to be more cycle priority at intersections. How about removing some of those slip lanes?

    Not enough detail to say much on Seapath.

    PT integration:
    Would be good to see better signage from Akoranga Dr through AUT to the busway station.
    Bike racks on the NEX buses would be great!
    I understand there is already work going on with getting more bike racks at ferry terminals (and busway stations?)

    Don’t forget, the safer the infrastructure *feels*, the more people it will attract!
    http://bit.ly/1qa2TNS

  5. Northcote Point will come around to the skypath when they can’t get off the point for all the traffic grid locked on the motorway, when rush hour is 4 hours long .Then the quickest way north or south will be the seapath and skypath walking or cycling.As for St Marys Bay they are not that bright, there is only one road that cyclist will use in St Marys Bay to get to the cbd and thats Westhaven Drive,(If they don’t use the new walk/cycleway) and last time I looked the nearest house was on the other side of the 8 lane motorway .Could someone tell me what is wrong with the current design and commercial construct ……commercial construct got us the Johnson tunnels built on State Highway 1 and we pay tolls to use it so whats different ?

    1. Marty, I think the problem St Mary’s Bay residents have is that they think hundreds of people will drive to and park in their narrow streets to get to the Skypath. Even Westhaven Marina opposed the Skypath and tried to (is trying to) charge Auckland Council a large sum of money per year for people to get through to the bridge.

      1. 1) If Northcote reaidents had not opposed a busway station at the end of Onewa Rd, this would not even be of the slightest concern.
        2) Westhaven Marina Assoc do not own any of that land. The association exists to look after marina berths.

      2. thanks for that Helen I didn’t know that was there problem ,(there dimmer than I thought) why would you need to park if your on you bike ?

        1. Because the people opposing the SkyPath are people to whom cycling means “put bike on SUV, drive to cycling area, cycle – repeat to go home”. The concept of cycling as a means of transport is anathaema as someone might think they were cycling because they are poor. Imagine that!

          The constant refrain is about how we are all jealous of their wealth and want the SkyPath to spite them. Actually I do alright for myself and I couldn’t care less how much money they have. I just want to be able to ride across the bridge.

          1. Actually Ben is worse than that.
            These people think its “put bike on SUV, drive to cycling area, driving over anything in the way. Park your SUV where ever you see fit, even over the grass berm or driveway outside someones place. Have car stereo full bore and you unload bike and get ready to cycle. Cycle. Ensuring you ride cycle up and down grass verges. When done relieve yourself at least once from your cycling effort all over the neighbours plants. Eat lunch and make lots of noise and leave lots of rubbish behind. Then go home.”

            And I agree, I’d never drive to SkyPath, I’d cycle there, cycle over it, cycle around (silently) and then cycle back home the same or a different way.

            They don’t realise that most suburban cyclists these days are not “Weekend Warriors” or Park’n Hiders.

            Mind you what they might need to watch out for, is when SkyPath gets really popular, people from Hamilton and up North will drive to SkyPath to ride it as they’ve heard how wonderful it is (like people from here drive to the Hauraki Cycle trail for a day ride).

            But we’re not talking about this as a problem for tomorrow or for a long time to come and it will be a nice problem to have, when cyclists flock to Auckland to ride the superior facilities eh?

  6. For those of us who live between Takapuna and Devonport, the Seapath makes sense. There is a whole lot of unused land alongside the motorway/bus lane. What could be better than 1. the shortest route, fresh sea air (albeit brisk at times) and fewer stakeholders to get consent from.

    1. One thing that would really add to that (and funds have been set aside by the Local Board to investigate it) is a cycling/walking bridge from the end of Francis Street to the church on Esmonde Road.

      That would mean people cycling could divert down Jutland at Hauraki Corner, down to Francis Street and across the bridge. They could then either go across the mangrove area (existing path there that would need to be widened) to Takapuna, on SeaPath to SkyPath or across to Akoranga Station.

      I think that would really explode cycling in the area and relieve pressure on Lake Road. The cost would be $3-4m and I feel that would be money well spent – much better spent than widening Lake Road which will only induce more traffic.

  7. If we start seeing 500+ commuter cyclists a day using the SkyPath i wonder how well the proposed shared paths for example the Onewa road section would cope with both heavy pedestrian (school students) and cyclist usage?

    To create a safe convenient path that pedestrians and cyclists will want to use will take more than painting some sharrows on the footpaths and widening a few sections! I would hope AT put considerable effort into designing out safety issues.

    I think the Rodney Rd/Council Tce/Himenoa Street route could be another option for more experienced cyclists to take pressure of Onewa Rd. Painting sharrows on Rodney Rd/Council Tce/Himenoa Street and traffic calming if needed as a short term solution.

  8. In the longer term, Northcote deserves more safe and attractive walking and cycling routes. Once the Special Housing Area introduces intensification, there will be increased congestion on existing roads maybe even before cycle and walking access is available across the bridge. It will be good to see SteveS’s analysis of the Forest and Bird Naturepath proposal but inthe interim for anyone interested you can find the link and some commentary at https://sites.google.com/site/walkbikeridekaipatiki/home/seapath-and-naturepath.

    There are currently 3 cycle routes being considered by the local board for Northcote central:
    – the Northcote Safe Cycle Route (an AT project in the planning stages)
    – the Northcote Greenway (from the shopping centre through the back of local schools – an old North Shore council project before the local board – but stalled for funding)
    – the Naturepath or Seapath proposal (under investigation by NZTA)

    All are worthwhile – and will complement each other to make Northcote safe and friendly for cyclists, pedestrians, pushchairs and mobility scooters.

    A great benefit of the F&B Naturepath proposal is the proposed link under Onewa Road. This has potential as a commuter route from Northcote Point to Akoranga Drive, Takapuna and the Wairau Valley.

    However focusing on the recreational potential for tourists and locals coming over the bridge, a cyclist or walker could follow the Naturepath route to enjoy the following features:
    – travel under Onewa Road (avoiding the fumes and congestion)
    – admire the Wavebridge
    – explore Onepoto Basin with its children’s cycleway
    – view the shorebird life in Shoal Bay from the footbridge over the motorway (weblinks could show details of the threatened dotterels and other species that amazing breed so close to the city)
    – explore Tuff Crater and Tank Farm (weblinks could tell visitors about its geology and the Kawerau iwi’s history)
    – visit Awataha Marae (weblinks could complement the Marae’s activities)
    – visit Smiths Bush (a wooden walkway through a beautiful puriri forest)
    – follow the Esmonde Road cyclepath to link up with the Devonport Green route (and catch the Devonport Ferry back to join the waterfront or Grafton Gully cycleway).

    While the Skypath analysis says a lot of people will drive to Skypath for the walk over the bridge, the City should encourage visitors to park at city carparks or at Akoranga Drive – well away from St Marys Bay or on Northcote Point. Like a lot of the posts above suggest, any serious cyclist is going out for a decent bike ride. Visitors to Skypath should be able to benefit from extensive, safe, attractive cycling/walking routes with interesting stop-off points along the way. NZTA, AT and Auckland Council should encourage cyclists to reach the bridge via the growing number of planned or existing routes round Auckland such as the waterfront cycleway, the Grafton Gully/Northwestern cycleway and the proposed Northcote cycling routes.

    Pedestrians should be encouraged to use public transport or to park at downtown carparks or at Akoranga. The key is providing easy, interesting and pleasant walking access with signage and weblinks along the way.

    1. The SeaPth is one way to link to the NaturePath but it is not the only way. You champion the SeaPath on your NaturePath site as if its the ONLY real option to be used here and that on-street cycling/walking improvements have no place in Northcote point for that purpose.

      It is not the case that its the SeaPath or No Path, the AT sponsored Northcote point cycleway improvements are just as relevant and provide an option for linking to Stafford Road where NaturePath is slated to begin, when and if its built. The Northcote point cycling improvement will also delivering further benefits for those beyond the NaturePath intended audience.

      Right now only the AT proposals and the SkyPath are actually currently moving ahead, NaturePath seems stuck in the mud like any number of earlier proposals to sort out the Tuff Crater walkway and related access to/from this extremely severed area, accessible only by car or by locals on foot.

      Sorting this out requires the local board to push it forward – much as the Orakei Local Board has done tirelessly for their highly successful (and shorter) water-side Board walks in the OLB area. They are definitely helped by having the community and local iwi right behind them with this. Where is the evidence that KLB and F&B has the same degree of co-operation from locals & iwi here?

      I think that AT (and NZTA) feel that by delivering SkyPath and the Northcote point on road cycling improvements that is basically enough for now. And therefore NaturePath (and by extrapolation, SeaPath as it requires cost on NZTA’s part) is a secondary exercise left to the local board to make happen.

      So, while NaturePath is a worthwhile project I feel it is not actually looking at the broader picture which both SkyPath and AT’s Northcote point cycling improvements are doing.

      I also think there needs to be links south towards Devonport (Green route) across Esmonde road, that do not require a cycclist or walker, to divert some distance towards Lake Road in order to access the cycleways near the Bus station.

      And this too should form part of the NaturePath as well.

      Lastly I acknowledge that Northcote point residents concerns on the perceived changes are somewhat valid. And they have a right to to say them. But its does not mean that their viewes trupm all others.

      And so they also need to accept that oodles of free, unlimited, on-road, car parking is a 20th century ideal, and is not suitable for any Auckland suburb in the 21st century. They need to accept that they will lose on-street parking and that yes more people will be traversing their neighbourhood, but at the end of the day, these are public spaces, for the use of the Auckland public, and visitors and tourists – not privates spaces like their own back yards.
      For years they may have treated these public spaces as if they owned them, but those days are surely numbered, whether SkyPath, NaturePath or whatever go ahead.

      1. Thanks for your feedback; I am agreed on the following points:

        – Naturepath is not the only option. My earlier note said there are “3 cycle routes being considered” … “all are worthwhile”. Below the argument accepts that the NSCR is a given. The question is what is the next priority of cycling facilities after that.

        – The NSCR (Northcote Safe Cycle Route) offers major benefits. Particularly on the Lake Road and Northcote Road sections. At the Northcote meetings facilitated by Jonathan Coleman and on the CAA web page, Northcote Point people have argued that Queen Street is already safe and could be made safer with reduced speed limit and sharrows. I could see the justice of some of those arguments at the Northcote College meeting. Why doesn’t AT try these options, with appropriate education and enforcement, before taking on a battle prematurely.

        – It is essential that all parties look at the broader picture. This includes presumably a wide range of cycling activities (commuting and recreational), age groups, and destinations. Until Skypath is in place, improvements on the NSCR are well justified and will help to support intensification when the Northcote SHA goes ahead.

        – Agreed that there need to be links to Devonport from the Akoranga Drive nexus. Links are also needed North to the Wairau Valley and Sunnynook and beyond.

        To clarify the priorities for the various options for improving cycling facilities for Northcote and surrounding areas:

        – I don’t see Naturepath as competing with the NSCR – as noted above this should go ahead – although with some improvements to address public input.

        – The Naturepath discussion is about what sort of route “Seapath” should be, which side of the motorway it should go along and what it should connect to.

        To provide some background on the level of local support for cycling in and around Northcote Central:
        – The North Shore City Council and the local community board worked on a project for the Northcote Greenway well before amalgamation. It hit has hit some road blocks in relation apparently to Housing NZ’s plans. But it demonstrates the interest of the local community/elected representatives in walking and cycling back then.
        – The Walk-Bike-Ride-Kaipatiki project was put together back in 2010 to advance the bigger picture of walking, cycling and the use of public transport in Kaipatiki and beyond.
        – The WBRK project had its beginnings in the meetings of the Kaipatiki Restoration Network – a grouping of active volunteer groups supported by the Kaipatiki Community Trust.
        – The WBRK proposal included a cycle/walkway from AUT through the Awataha Marae to the Northcote sports precinct – this project had the blessing of the Marae.
        – The Kaipatiki Local Board has promoted walking and cycling through its Kaipatiki Connections project.
        – The Naturepath proposal is comparatively new – it’s unfair to say it’s “stuck in the mud”.
        – The volunteers from F&B and the local community have done a heroic job reafforesting the Tuff Crater perimeter and developing the walkway.
        – The above all adds up to considerable commitment from the people and elected representatives of Northcote, Birkenhead and surrounding areas.
        – Regrettably shortage of funding has led to some prioritisation and deferments – but this doesn’t mean the projects are “stuck in the mud”.

        Why Naturepath supplements and complements the NSCR:

        – F&B’s Naturepath proposal to cross under the Onewa Road overbridge and run around the west side of the motorway offers a great recreational route for families and children. Overall the route complements the NSCR and addresses its major shortcomings – the Onewa Road and Exmouth Road intersections.
        It is possible for an adult to cycle through these intersections at most times of day – but it’s not safe; at some times it’s safer to walk across the ped Xing phase or use the footpath. Having ridden with children on many roads, I wouldn’t choose to take them for a bike ride through these two intersections. However the F&B’s bright idea of going under Onewa Road seems to me like a great idea. Most Northcote people I have spoken with support it. And it would be a great way to get Northcote Point families out cycling with their young ones.

        So to come back to SteveS’s questions about recreational cycling north of the bridge, I’d suggest that the F&B proposal has great benefits and could link up with the Devonport Green Route via the Esmonde Road shared cycle/walkway (although both could benefit from on-going improvements).
        Going north and northwest, commuting cyclists will benefit from the NSCR. However recreational cyclists coming from south of the bridge would benefit greatly from the F&B Naturepath concept – arguably more so than from a route on the east side of the motorway. The west side option is more shelted and interesting.

        A board walk around the eastern side would not be significantly flatter than the F&B proposal – and it would also be more expensive exposed. It would disrupt a natural vista and and displace the shore birds who have already survived at considerable expense one disruption from the busway and are now breeding along the motorway edge. I’ll be interested to hear other points of view.

  9. Isn’t 9 Princes owned be NZTA just like both the landings for skypath?

      1. Umm let me guess!

        Would it be stuff related to the motorway and bridge and providing access to these as it has done for 45+ years?

        1. I was on my phone so detail is hard and working long hours outside had not got to my computer. But thanks anyway.

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