Copyright: NextspaceIf you aren’t a cycle courier, you probably think that cycle infrastructure in downtown Auckland needs some work – whether or not you have ever tried it for yourself. So how do we achieve the Council proposal to get the number of cyclists coming into the CBD from 5,000 to 26,000 (a 20% mode share of future trips!)? And preferably before 2041 (the formal length of the current planning).

So CAA was keen to hear from Auckland Transport what the next moves from the City Centre Masterplan would be for cycling. Particularly the future West-East links across the heart of the city for various types of traffic (North-South links are done by another team we will hear from another time. Sounds complicated? Well, at least it shows that they are in the middle of moving from fancy vision to actual plans and changes on the ground, street by street, and aren’t just doing “what if” concepts).

The team we were meeting with came in reasonably early in the process to give us a chance at meaningful input before its all settled and decided (great!), but that also meant we aren’t  allowed to share the documents and plans they did so far (though if you were there at CAA’s public meeting last night, you got a sneak peek via the little presentation they gave us).

However, Auckland Transport are happy to have us talk about their work, and they are asking some questions to all of us cyclists – and we had a few questions of our own.

To set the scene, there are a few bigger-ticket items in their plans for the coming years:

  • Quay Street “at the top of the map” is likely to get fewer car traffic lanes, to activate the waterfront, and provide space for much better walking & cycling
  • South of that, there will be a linear park along Victoria Street, connecting Victoria Park and Albert Park – that linear park will also take out several traffic lanes
  • In mid-town, there will also be three main routes west-east: one route that will prioritise walking & cycling, one will be mainly for cars, and one may become an “urban busway” – the team had a good idea where each route would be, but that’s one of the things we can’t take to you yet (though feel free to say where YOU would like to see them)
  • The key west / east entry points for cyclists into the City Centre would be Westhaven Drive (from a future SkyPath?), Victoria Street West, and from the east, Tamaki Drive / Quay Street, Parnell Road and Wellesley Street East (from Grafton Gully Cycleway and future links across the motorway coming from the Domain and Grafton).
  • Not high on their list seemed Wellington Street from the West, and the Strand from the East. Grafton Bridge might be formally from the East, but we’ll talk about that another time when we talk north-south…
  • The whole scheme seemed to us a bit too focused on the City Centre itself, and not enough on the “how to get into” the City Centre. However, it was confirmed that there will be yet another workstream looking at better links between the directly surrounding suburbs and the City Centre…

So here’s a few questions that popped up during discussion last night. Feel free to sound off about them in the comments:

  • What would be your best mid-town west-east cycle route?
  • How important is cycling in the linear park itself (presuming that if the route is not in the park, you get a good route somewhere nearby)?
  • What type of facility should the cycle links have? Each has pros and cons, and the AT team are apparently far from decided:
    • Slow-speed roads (i.e. normal roads, just using a 30 km/h or less speed limit)
    • Shared space (like Fort Street, where we already have it)
    • Standard cycle lanes, maybe with kerbed protection from cars
    • Two-way dedicated cycleways (like Beach Road will get)
    • Shared paths are definitely out… wrong environment
  • Most people will ride to, not through, the city centre. Would it be appropriate to have one type of cycle facilities in the “heart of the city”, and another type of facilities once you are a block or two further away from, say, Queen Street? Or do we need one consistent route all the way across the City Centre?
  • Another point to discuss would be what kind of other infrastructure do we need? Where do we need more cycle parking, for example?
  • Lastly, what do you think is most urgent to work on – some of these projects may take 5-10 years or more to come about, but what is key now?

Hope this gets you all thinking – CAA will provide our response to AT in a week or two, so sound off, to get your views added into the mix.

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11 responses to “The West Side, East Side (Cycle) Story

  1. Funny you should mention Fort Street. Riccardo and I went down to Customs Street for a coffee and a catch up after last months meeting on the red light running. Our route went right through Fort Street and Gore (or was it Commerce). I have been down south for the last half year so I was really struck by the shared spaces down there. Cars moved slower, pedestrians moved more freely, and it was pleasant to cycle through.

    Honestly I think these types of streetscapes are great for cycling and where they exist you really don’t need cycle lanes. In many cases I think I rather have a shared space than a old fashioned road with a cyclelane on it.
    Thankfully more shared spaces is the way the new people friendly CBD is going so thats great.

    So for me cycle lanes work better and are more necessary further out in more carcentric areas.

    Its perfectly appropriate to have a mix of facilities and having ‘one consistent route’ across the city centre seems a bit daft as people will inevitably be biking in different directions for different purposes to different destinations.

    My best east>>west route would probably be Quay street if only because its the flattest – especially if you compare it to somewhere like Wellesley. But as above I honestly don’t know how many people are actually likely to be travelling specifically from Parnell to Ponsonby.

    Low speed (30Kph) shared space network connected cycle lanes on the bigger busier roads for me.

  2. Why do you say people will only cycle “To” the city centre and not through? As a city centre resident I am constantly wanting to cycle through and around the centre but am constantly stopped because of how damn unpleasant it is. Queen Street would be a very convenient and easy cycling street if any attempt were made to rid it of its car domination.

    I assume the 3 East-West links will be following: Customs Street for cars, Victoria for pedestrians and Wellesley for buses? That’s pretty much what AT have been talking about for some time now.

    But 2040 as a timeline for all this work is a joke, I’ll be close to retirement by then and most people working at council will be retired and/or dead, so basically it’s just a way to kick the ball down the road.

    1. Hi bbb – We said “most” cyclists using these facilities will want to go into the city, rather than through. We didn’t say (or mean) no cyclists would want to use these routes to cross. Also, there’s no argument that a continous through route will be needed – the question was about whether that route needed to be one design, one specific type of facility, for the whole length.

      The 2041 timeframe is what the City Centre Masterplan goes to – it doesn’t mean that a lot won’t have changed in 10, or even 5 years. We think it is fair enough to have a long planning horizon when you are talking of hundreds of millions of dollars, and roading changes that are going to be around for 50-100 years. We wish the planners of the motorways imprisoning the CBD had thought that far ahead – they might have realised some of the consequences of their actions!

      Hope that clarifies it a bit.

  3. Cycle parking is fairly reasonable as it stands in Auckland, it’s really the inability to get to any of it that hinders people at present. I think we should move away from the current council’s focus of advance stop boxes which do nothing for cyclists but make cars aggressive at people using them and bicycle rings which while nice to have don’t solve the real issue facing cycling and that’s the complete lack of facilities.

  4. OK.. great 3D images, and good Qs.

    But I think the Q about the best mid-town east/west route is a trick question?! The answer of course is that there isn’t one! Even if the mid cross streets were perfectly designed for cyclists I’m not convinced they would be so popular, because of the gradients. In 7 years here the only routes I’ve ever used to cross town are Quay St and K Rd. Except once I went down Symonds and left into Wellesley to go somewhere.

    My other thought at this stage is to agree with Alan about shared spaces being surprisingly good. But then that is before we’ve had the chance to compare them for real with actual CBD 2-way 2-lane bike lanes, like Beach Road. The drawings for Beach Road look fantastic, and, thinking about European cities with such lanes, I’m bound to say I will prefer those.

    Then again, it’s important that whatever design is reached doesn’t overly disadvantage recreational or “fast commuter” cyclists.. by which I also mean “distance commuter” cyclists. I used Tamaki Drive for years as a commuter and only rarely used small parts of the cycle lanes there.

    So for me thie route that would be most critical is Quay St, even though it’s not mid-town.. but it’s a short ride up from the waterfront. Quay St (and Tamaki Drive) is of course used by any number of cycling groups and commuters. Not to mention triathlons, even the world champs. I love the renditions showing fewer car lanes and pictures of trams / light rail (for which there will be plenty of vocal opposition from motoring lobbies and the St Heliers residents who think they’re still living in a village in the 1950s etc) and the wonderful wide shared boulevard, which looks like Brisbane south bank to me, which is fantastic…BUT if that meant I couldn’t hare along Quay St / Tamaki Drive in the morning or evening (with or without the traffic) with the wind at my back at 40-50 k and not having to worry about pedestrians, toddlers, dogs, rollerbladers (or tram tracks)..or if the sole traffic lanes are so narrow that I’d have an SUV on my back wheel whenever I used the road (or worse, that bikes were not even allowed on the road) then I might be tempted to prefer the status quo.. ugly urban motorway that it is.

    Actually I wouldn’t prefer the status quo. Anything to make that cycle path better is a good thing. But I worry that in the minds of the planners, they fixate on only aspect of cycling, you know, the image you see in the artists’ impressions.

    Maybe I’m an exception in that I usually ride through the CBD not to it.. If the new routes were connected, and able to accommodate sufficient segregation between vehicles and bike, and bikes and pedestrians, that would be my vote. This is standard practice in many countries in Europe.

    1. Hi Ross

      Yes, in an unrelated project, AT is currently looking at the walking and cycling environment on The Strand, and how to make it more useful. We did actually discuss ideas pretty close to what you show with the engineer in charge of the project (who is himself a commuter cyclist).

      So while we can’t tell you yet what the report says (its not written yet) or when something will happen on teh Strand, there’s at least something in preparation.

  5. When I cycle across town I use Beach Road and Quay Street. That’s unlikely to change even if other roads become safer simply because of the topography.

    However, for those who do need to head to mid-town, perhaps a route starting at the new Parnell station, linking to the Uni and the Northwestern Cycleway, then south to Wellesley and Mayoral Drive would work?

    One possible route and the approximate elevation profile is shown in this image:

    The maximum gradient is about 10%, and only for a relatively short distance. I think that’s about the best you can hope for in central Auckland!

    1. Hi Ross

      The idea is to do something very similar – though the cycle route will likely follow Nicholls Lane and then the Grafton Gully Cycleway to Wellesley Street East.

  6. I have a couple of preferred east-west routes. One is along Quay St to get to the bottom of Ponsonby (Curran St). The section between the viaduct and Tangihua is too busy for cycling, other than the section of shared footpath on the northern side. The fact that it doesnt go past the Ferry building is diasappointing.
    For travel at the top of Queen St I use the Auckland Domain and Grafton bridge. From there it is a stressful ride along K’Rd. I doubt there are currently any safer routes to get from Parnell/Newmarket to say Ponsonby.

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