The West Side, East Side (Cycle) Story

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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