Visions on wheels – AT’s big cycling plan for the next 3 years

Have you seen Auckland Transport’s proposal for cycling for the next three years, to be presented to the Board this coming Tuesday? These are the projects we heard about at Kathryn King’s presentation a few weeks ago and couldn’t wait to share with you. Now they’re available for all to see.

The full PDF is here, and TransportBlog has the nitty-gritty (and a vigorous discussion). The programme boils down to this:

  • $207 million invested in cycling over the next 3 years, if fully delivered
  • $179m of that spent on dedicated cycle projects
  • $20m +/- on cycle facilities delivered through other projects
  • $8m+on programmes to encourage people onto bikes
  • 53km of new cycle routes and an increase in annual cycle journeys from 900,000 to 2.5 million per year

There’s a strategic focus on areas that are currently most likely to cycle and would be even more likely to cycle more, given better investment. This echoes Kathryn’s experiences in London, planting ideas where they’re guaranteed to flower, and getting quick wins to gather energy for the longer-term ones. Bravissima!

Be reassured: this is serious bike infrastructure, not just green paint. Many of the facilities will be protected on-road cycle lanes (the Great North Road ridge, for example) or shared paths. What’s also exciting is the way the plan creates links to projects that are yet to come – click to enlarge the accompanying map, and spot the blue line through St Mary’s Bay towards a future SkyPath!

AT-proposed-cycleways-2015-18

Cycle Action applauds the big visions at play here, and has been closely involved over the last three or four years in getting these ideas off the drawing board and closer to the actual world. Sometimes projects float around in the ether for a while, and they need someone to grab them and pull them down to earth, which is why you need people who can see what bike infrastructure can do – and for whom.

Remember Janette Sadik-Khan’s Auckland Conversations talk? A packed house was spellbound by the visionary projects she and her team had been able to achieve with paint, plants, and pilot projects — plus a healthy dose of political courage and “just do it” attitude.

Anyone who was there that night will remember Dr Lester Levy spontaneously expressing a desire for more “statements of imagination” – and will recall Barb Cuthbert, in the Q & A, jumping up and offering the Nelson St Project as the perfect example (relive it at 1:10 in the video).

It really was the perfect “And here’s one I prepared earlier” moment! Our tireless Max Robitsch and Barb and others had worked that project up, and then brought NZTA and AT together to discuss it, in a mere handful of weeks before Sadik-Khan’s visit. It probably helped that there’s something very “High Line” – super New Yorky – about transforming a disused motorway offramp into a green shared path to bring people down from the K Rd ridge into the very heart of the city.

So of course we’re gratified that Nelson St is officially under way, and is one of the major projects on AT’s 3-year list. As of writing, it looks like Stage 1 (the truly exciting bit!) is scheduled for completion by the end of this year. Fingers crossed, we’ll be walking and biking on our own stretch of High Line by Christmas!

Canada St Bridge (pic: NZTA)
Canada St Bridge to Nelson St (pic: NZTA)

Ditto with the GI to Tamaki shared path (timeline for completion: 2017). Again, this is an example where Cycle Action helped bring AT and NZTA together to creatively use this greenspace as a corridor from out east to downtown. This amazing project will not just link Glen Innes with the city centre, but also has the potential to reconnect the two sides of the valley that the cycleway will travel through.

Ascending Purewa Tunnel near the intersection with St Johns Rd (pic: Auckland Transport)
Ascending Purewa Tunnel near the intersection with St Johns Rd (pic: Auckland Transport)
Path crossing the rail line near Purewa Cemetery.
Path crossing the rail line near Purewa Cemetery.

It’s also fantastic to see the inclusion of the Te Ara Mua/Safe Streets Project (see also TB’s piece) around Mangere Town Centre, as that’s an up and coming bike-friendly part of town. We can already picture Teau’s fleet of bike-savvy kids helping launch these protected bike lanes.

Te Ara Mua artist's impression (via Auckland Transport)
Te Ara Mua; artist’s impression (via Auckland Transport)

And that’s just a sample of what’s on the list. Back in February, Barb said “I’ve been telling media recently that 2015 has to be one for major cycleway delivery,” capitalising on the Urban Cycleway Fund and getting things moving. She was right! This is a blueprint for the future. Each of these pilot projects will deliver big-time, and will leave the rest of the city asking for more. We’re so excited to see these projects built, and Cycle Action is thrilled to have been the “yeast” to bring them bubbling to life.

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