Today marks three weeks since we relaunched as Bike Auckland; and nearly two weeks since Lightpath/ Te Ara I Whiti opened, along with the first stage of the connecting Nelson St bike lanes. The official opening ceremony on Thursday 3 December (see our photo album here) was memorable not just for the pink-themed outfits, and the little bike superheros, but also for the absolute bipartisan unanimity around what a great thing it is.

Speeches by NZTA’s Ernst Zollner, Minister Simon Bridges, Matt Maihi of Ngati Whatua o Orakei, Councillor Chris Darby, and our own Barb Cuthbert were a chorus of agreement. “I knew this would be beautiful,” said Barb. “I didn’t know it would have such soul, such mana. This project elevates cycling to an art form.”

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Little superheroes on our bike superhighway!

And now it’s up and running. Sure, it definitely needs some upgraded connections, and yes, there’s still much work to be done on the less shiny end of bike infrastructure – you know, the bit right outside your front door, and between home and school for those little folk in capes – but all up, it feels like a slice of the future has landed in Auckland, and we’re officially tickled pink.

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NZTA’s Ernst Zöllner, Skypath champ Bevan Woodward, Nikki Kaye MP, and our Barb Cuthbert. Lightpath up and running – Skypath next?

And not to go on about the magically magnetic quality of the magenta, but it’s pretty telling that this would turn out to be one of the most widely shared images of the morning…

Our First Hoon later that night was an absolute hoot. An estimated 600 people showed up ready to ride. Thank you for being so polite in waiting for the signal – we hope you’ll agree it was absolutely worth it, hitting the pink path just as the lights were coming on. Check out our photo album, which captures much of the joy of the evening… and then relive it via this fantastic video courtesy of Hawkins (cheers Kyle, from Resin Surfaces!):

After the ride, the Hoon organizers and friends old and new headed to Brothers Beer at City Works Depot, handily reached via the Nelson St bike lanes…

The brewing bros offered a discount to those who arrived on two wheels – an excellent reciprocal acknowledgement of the new customers the bike lanes will bring. It was also a chance to demonstrate the sheer efficiency of bike customers…

Always happy to pay our way, of course.

Some other highlights of the last week or so (and we haven’t even mentioned the third Bike Rave);

  • We loved this article about our man Max’s role in the whole thing; he’s pretty shy and retiring for one so tall, but admits he has been stopped in the street by people wanting to say thank you.
  • Pippa Coom of the Waitemata Local Board did a very nice round-up of all the people involved, and mentioned the WLB’s contribution for thirsty travellers.
  • Both Transportblog and Public Address’s Russell Brown covered the opening – and quite cheerfully renounced their earlier doubts about how it would all look. The blog posts are great but perhaps the best reading is in the comments, where all sorts of people are saying it’s this that finally makes them want to get a bike – or dust off the old one. It’s a theme that’s popping up all over…

  • And this now iconic photo by Transportblog’s Matt Lowrie truly sums up the transformative power of infrastructure: after a ride on the pink pathway, these little kids travelled by themselves in the protected bike lanes on Nelson St, while their parents (just out of shot) walked down the footpath:

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  • That weekend, Catherine Smith from the Herald wrote a great guide to how to weave the pink pathway into a great day out. Love the photo of her victorious fist-pump; she was one of the first to ride it!
  • And we all had flashbacks to British actor-turned-US late night host James Corden’s epic rant from September about bikelash, which culminates in a call to go “riding side by side in the bike lanes of justice”, which he satirically suggests painting “hot pink, magenta, turquoise!” Guess what, James: we did it, yo!

Meanwhile, some questioned the level bike lane usage. If you built it, would they come? If you stood in the lane at 7 a.m. the morning after the bike lane officially opened, would hordes of them run over your toes?

Look around you, Mike. Or just stand there a while longer.

The creativity continued via Twitter and Facebook…

…including a series of local variations on the “Where’s Wally?” theme… can you spot Mike in the opening night crowd below?

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The initial hashtag #bikehosking eventually settling down to plain old #hosking, which looks set to become a new verb to rival #quaxing. As far as we can make out, #hosking is the act of going somewhere on a bike, especially using new bike infrastructure. Try it – you might like it!

Happily, the numbers of bicycle movements over the first week and a bit (as measured by Auckland Transport’s counters on Lightpath itself and on Nelson St) suggest there’s nothing to worry about. If you build it, they will etc.

Nelson St bike movements, in the week and a bit since Lightpath and the protected cycle lanes opened.
Nelson St bike movements, in the week and a bit since Lightpath and the protected cycle lanes opened.

Spot the two slightly rainy days – harden up, Auckland! – and discount the opening day and weekend, when we simply couldn’t help ourselves riding up and down and up and down. What these numbers show is steady usage, which can only improve as the connections get better.

Speaking of looking forward – check out this beautiful image just to hand from our friends at GHD, of how the planting at the Canada St end will look in a few years’ time. Eventually, you’ll enter the pathway under a canopy of beautiful pohutukawa, drifting their red snow onto the path at this time of year. Merry Christmas, everybody!

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PS If you’re still trying to figure out out where it is and how to get to it, here’s a handy map from Auckland Transport. For maximum impact, it’s hard to beat entering from Canada St at the bottom of Mercury Lane – if you’re arriving via Grafton Gully, just go straight ahead when you reach the top. But you can also arrive from the koru end, at the top of Nelson St. Whichever works for you.

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PPS Stop press: a fresh and fabulous aerial view, this one by pilot Vaughn Davis, showing basically the inverse of the map above. We knew the pink would stand out against the grey, but isn’t it a beautiful foil for the green as well?

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General News Nelson Street
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