We can’t ride your ghost cycleways: what’s happening with GI2TD?

Oct 07, 2019
We can’t ride your ghost cycleways: what’s happening with GI2TD?

Bike Auckland

The Glen Innes to Tamaki (GI2TD) shared path is second only to Skypath and Seapath in importance as a regionally transformational cycleway for Auckland. We long for the completion of both, to allow us to bike across Auckland from the east and north, and access the paths to the west and south. Add in Auckland’s blooming love affair with e-bikes – which is vastly extending the distance people are happy to ride, and the kinds of people who do so – and we have an exciting ride ahead of us.

GI2TD began in 2014 with a concept to develop a shared walking and biking path from Merton Rd in Glen Innes all the way to Tamaki Drive, using part of land formerly designated for an eastern motorway from Glen Innes to Parnell.

The original plan was to roll the route out progressively from Merton Rd towards Tamaki Drive, but it was subsequently broken into 4 stages to help with funding, design, consenting and construction. To date, only Stages 1 and 3 are finished and open to ride.

AT/NZTA’s official website reports what’s been going on since sods were turned on Stage 1 in early 2015, and advises somewhat ominously that Stages 2 and 4 not expected to be complete before the end of 2021. 

Bike Auckland is working alongside the project team in AT on Stages 2 and 4, and we want to see an end to the delays that have beset this vital project. It’s time to throw everything at this job so it meets a deadline of December 2021.

We’ve enlisted help from a couple of parents of students at local schools, who’ve been following the project from the start and know how impatient the community is for a fully connected route. They’re aware of the huge regional benefits the project will bring for Auckland cycle tourism and recreation, but are equally focused on how GI2TD is needed to allow locals of all ages to ride to work and tertiary study from the east into the City, to local beaches and across the Pourewa Valley to local schools.

This guest post – from Charmaine of The Burbs and Beyond one of our local experts – explains how much potential is just waiting to be unlocked.

The great Glen Innes to Tamaki Drive Shared Path (Te Ara ki Uta ki Tai) has been shining on the horizon for a while now. I was glad when the first section opened in December 2016, with much fanfare – and even though it’s short, this 1.7km of path from Glenn Innes to St Johns Rd has been really great for me and my family.

Enjoying Section 1 of Glen Innes to Tamaki Path, in the early months.

We’ve clocked up many hours of fun on the circuit this short section of path has created for us into the Stonefields wetlands. My husband and I run this circuit a couple of times a week. Once, in the pouring rain, we rode backwards and forwards along it, training for the Old Ghost Rd.

But while this section of the trail has continued to provide us with great opportunities to connect with Glen Innes and Stonefields, it hasn’t progressed any further in over two years. The only publicly visible progress towards completing the full path from GI to Tamaki Drive has been the widening and new lighting on the existing Orakei boardwalk – a positive thing in itself, but still not much use to those of us super keen for the promised safe, family-friendly access from GI and Meadowbank into the city.

The widened Orakei boardwalk, with a new balustrade and new lighting under the handrail. (Image: NZTA)

Once it’s completed, the full 7km pathway will be a vital connection for the neighbourhoods of Glen Innes, Kohi, Orakei, Meadowbank and St Johns, all the way to Tamaki Drive. It will open up recreational and commuter cycling, creating easy access opportunities for families to get out and explore their neighbourhoods and further afield more safely. It will give work and school commuters safe, quick corridors to reach work or school.

The original completion date for the whole path from Glen Innes right through to Tamaki Drive was 2018. The new project timeline now promises completion in less than 2 years, by the end of 2021.

I’m eager for the project team to nail that timeline, because an awful lot can happen in a few short years. While we’ve been waiting for the completion of the path, for example…

  • I have more grey hair and laugh lines, for a start.
  • My family and I spent four awesome weeks road-tripping round the South Island, enjoying an amazing range of cycle trails… but we still can’t access Auckland’s network of shared paths from our suburb without involving a car or a train.
  • We spent a week in the Hawkes Bay, enjoying the amazing network of trails in, around, and through Napier and Hastings, and came back to Auckland all fired up to enjoy more cycling adventures in New Zealand’s biggest city… but we still can’t access the wider cycle network from our home.
The Hawkes Bay trails connect cities and towns and destinations all over the map.

There have been sad times in the last few years, too. My Mum lost her adventure-loving cycle buddy, and while it was a terribly sad time, he was an inspiration to us all to enjoy every day. Enjoying the shared paths out west where they lived was a large part of their adventures together. After he passed away, my Mum came to live with us – so not only did she lose her cycling buddy, she lost access to familiar safe places to ride.

Charmaine’s mum and the family on the Farm Cove path.

My hopes for GI2TD are not just about recreational cycling, and go well beyond my own family’s dreams for this path.

The Northwestern Cycleway, regularly topping 1000 daily trips even in the rainiest August ever, has proved that if people are provided a safe place to ride, they will happily bike commute to work. Taking that many cars off Auckland’s motorways and local streets on weekdays has to be a win-win for all of us, including the environment.

My husband works in Avondale, and while he could safely ride through the city and the western end of his journey, there’s currently no safe connection from where we live into the city. (And I’ve heard of too many people being knocked off their bikes to feel comfortable with him riding on the roads.)

And it’s not just about adults commuting to work, either. Kids make up a huge proportion of Auckland’s cycling (or would-be cycling) population. Once completed, with strategic side links in place, the GI to Tamaki Drive path will open up connections to local schools, giving local families way more options to get out of cars for the school run, and giving local children way more freedom to walk, scooter or ride their bikes on a daily basis.

An animation showing how one single side path in the John Rymer Place area expands the catchment of the path. Suddenly destinations like Selwyn College are in reach. Note: the large areas to the northwest are technically also within reach, but this assumes a loop around, riding on Orakei Road and Kepa Road, which are currently far from cycle-friendly. (Image: Bike Auckland, from related blog post here).

For now, we’re determined not to let our lack of connection to a local path impact our enjoyment of cycling in Auckland. So we now ride to our local train station and catch the train out west to enjoy the Waterview path and Northwestern cycleway. But this isn’t a solution for commuters or school children or people wanting to make local trips.

Taking bikes on the train to explore the western paths. Once the path is complete, this will be one uninterrupted ride!

I’m impatient for progress – because I can see the lost potential as every month passes without progress. Every day, I want to ask those in charge of building it: how long will we wait to enjoy a safe connection to Tamaki Drive? Will my Mum get to enjoy the completion of the GI to Tamaki path on her bike, or will she be on a mobility scooter by the time it’s completed? And will I get to enjoy the shared experience with my children before they think it’s too uncool to ride with me?

— Charmaine Vaughan, Buzzy in the Burbs

Readers, please tell us – what journeys will the completed GI2TD path enable for you? What are you looking forward to being able to do once it’s built? We’d love to hear your stories.


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