Cycling Mode ShareMore Census 2013 data has been revealed, and thanks to some nifty work of Auckland Council and Statistics New Zealand, there is a new tool available that gives you the data in graphical terms. This includes a shaded map showing where Aucklanders cycled to work on Census day.

[See map to right, or go onto the website, select the “Census area unit view” button at the bottom right, and then the “travel to work” tab at the top right]

Good news in there? Yes – overall, cycling did increase compared to 2006, by approximately a third! However, rising from ~0.9% to 1.2%, it remains low overall. Still, growth for the first time in ages, and some parts of Auckland look a LOT better. Some quick highlights we found:

  • Cycling is busiest in the (western) central isthmus, with a lot of suburbs ranging in the 2-4% cycle mode share. Why would this be? More density? Older street network and settlement pattern (distance work-home) more friendly to cycling? More cycleways than in other parts of Auckland?
  • The greatest cycling percentage however is in Whenuapai West (over 10%) – but the more typical “high mode share” suburb in Auckland would be a place like Pt Chevalier South (official census name, actually the area is better described as “Mt Albert North”) or Narrow Neck on the Shore, both with 4.5% cycle mode share.
  • The low percentages of cycling among people living in the City Centre are curious at first glance. Maybe most people in those apartment buildings don’t have bike parking, and thus no bikes? Or, more likely, their ways to work are so short, that most walk instead (some of the Central City areas have walking rates over 50%)?
  • Some of the flatter parts of Auckland, like the west and north of former Manukau City, are woeful. Especially compared with the sometimes quite hilly central suburbs that are doing a lot better, this puts a bit of a damper on the “it’s too hilly” argument. It’s not too hilly, it’s too hostile!
  • Also quite visible are some of the more important cycle routes in Auckland (or at least, we think they are part of the reason for the higher cycling levels) – the suburbs along the Northwestern Cycleway, Tamaki Drive or Lake Road are all above-average – while places like the south-eastern central isthmus have much lower cycling levels (only road warriors try to cycle on Remuera Road or Great South Road…) – It might be worth spending some time to compare the amount of cycle facility length per area with cycle mode share and see if there is a clear correlation.

Of course this data is a snapshot of one single day, and covers trips to work only – and excludes, for example, people that rode their bike to the train (because only the train trip would be counted in the census assessment, which currently doesn’t allow trip chains). So like all such statistics, it should be seen in context, and used with some caution.

What it does provide however is a great way of showing WHERE people do cycle, which is a good proxy for where we are on the right track, and where Auckland is failing it’s (potential) cyclists. That will be very valuable when we discuss future investment in cycling.

[In more serious news, the robot takeover of the planet Earth (long predicted by documentaries like “The Terminator” and “The Matrix”) is rapidly gaining ground and cycling is next. I, for one, welcome our new robot overlords. They can’t do a worse job on transport funding than the past and present human overlords.]

Update: A nice and very responsive staffer at Auckland Council provided some extra breakdowns of the cycling numbers when we asked about averages:

Auckland Region:

Bicycle 2006: 1.01%

Bicycle 2013: 1.22%

Legacy (circa 2009) Auckland City Council Area:

Bicycle 2006: 1.55%

Bicycle 2013: 2.00%

Slow going, but going in the right direction… and as suspected above, the Inner Isthmus didn’t just have higher cycle numbers, it also grew faster. First tiny signs of a “virtuous cycle”?

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19 responses to “Where does Auckland cycle (to work)? UPDATED

  1. Look at Te Atatu. Shows the benefit of both the NW cycleway and the Twin Stream project.

    1. Interesting to see the SH20 cycleway has NOT had anywhere the benefit. Of course it is much less continous and doesn’t go to city centre, so not much of a “journey to work” boosting facility. May get better with Waterview Cycleway in, though long distance to town…

    1. Well, not sure 1.9% is amazing yet… – it IS pretty awful, but obviously some brave it.

  2. Lots of dark blue areas, which looks good. It would be interesting to see more information for higher percentages. And it will be good to get higher percentages cycling in years to come. The Grafton gully cycleway seems to be making some good progress, and when finished this should help boost the numbers higher.

    1. You can go to the map (linked above) and look at the detailed percentages yourself. Sadly, it’s difficult to set up the scale well, as there’s only two settings.

      Grafton Gully Cycleway is good, but we really need to serve new parts of Auckland, i.e. southeast for example.

      1. You can click on the numbers in the legend and manually set the bands for each colour.

        1. I just did that and bumped the top category up to 5%. Only one area over that, which was Whenuapai.

          However a lot of areas over 3.5%, mostly inner city and also the Devonport peninsula (Bayswater, Narrow Neck, Belmont Devonport etc.). Not a bad result.

          I imagine this would be distorted down by the choice people made of main mode of transport. I cycle to the Bayswater ferry and then take the ferry to the CBD. I chose bicycle to promote that mode, but I imagine most people would choose ferry.

          1. Yes, currently has only a single mode obviously, so actually, the cycle share of the Lake Road suburbs would likely be at least few percent higher yet if cycling to ferry was included. Well done.

        2. Many thanks Steve and Max, however on the library system which I am currently using, all that seems possible is to zoom in and out.

  3. I live in manukau and have been commuting to the city… but lack of decent cycle routes have put me off. You “say” its flatter, but its not, and considering from penrose to the CBD is pretty much one long hill its a wonder anyone does it,

    1. Geoff, I thoroughly recommend investing in an electric bike. That will even out the hills and put the enjoyment back into your commute. There are some great ebikes around but the guys at Bute Bikes in Browns Bay have some really good ones designed by a NZer. The 300W model goes the clappers!

      1. A lady at work has one.. To be honest, when I’m fit, I go faster than an electric bike. Its just harder. I’ve had 2 surgeries this year so I havent had much of a chance. Getting back into it now… Besides, I have a motorbike if I want to get to work on 2 wheels without expending the effort 😛 (also, 1900$ for a bicycle is a bit out of my range.. I can buy another motorbike for that)

        1. An electric bike is far from no effort and you can always turn off the motor on the flat. All it really does is flatten out the hills and turns AKL into a flat city like Chch.

          I am only 38 and pretty fit but I find the electric bike such a pleasure on the Devonport hills. And I ride it much more than I would a non-electric because I arrive everywhere fresh and not needing a shower.

          Ebikes are not cheating, they just make a great transport option even better. You cant take a motorbike on the train or ferries.

    2. Hi Geoff.. since a move last year I also now commute along part of GSR through Penrose.

      I tried cycling it various ways, taking circuitous routes, trying to fly through the worst parts at 30-40 k or avoiding them by using the footpath.. expect in places of course there’s actually no footpath.

      In short, it’s so bad that after cycling to uni and work on and off since 1984 (strewth that’s 30 years) I have now stopped.

      So I’m in the traffic in my SUV.

      Which is quite nice, but I’m not at all happy. Frankly I’m pissed off with the engineers, planners and organisations responsible for creating such a diabolical place and maintaining it. If we don’t work to change it we collude with them.

      BenL, an e-bike won’t solve the problems in this part of town.

      1. Agreed Tim, and sad to hear you’re off commuter cycling for now…

        Your case is so typical for that eastern/southeastern quadrant of our inner suburbs… comes through quite clearly in the maps too.

      2. Hi Tim
        I’ve been doing it for a few years too.. To be honest, I dont mind the traffic. I’m a motorcyclist who rides a large sports bike, and has done for 30 odd years. I’m used to stuff happening around me at warp speed so on a bicycle, even at 40kmh, I feel like everything is in slow motion.
        Its just the crappy roads and hills… its 7km from the bottom of penrose hill to market road. Thats a long hill.. I call it the incline of doom. The last bit before market road is the steepest too!
        The thing is, if you have a shorter distance to go than I (I come from Weymouth), you can go up through the domain (I have to ride UP onehunga mall for that one), or across onto Mt Eden road. For me these add too many kms, and more importantly, too many minutes (that I have to make up, leave later, and have less time with my kids at the end of the day).
        I can go GSR from Manurewa (28km), or Rosscommon, Papatoetoe through the back of the hospital on to GSR (25km), or out to the airport and either up onehunga mall or hillsbourough (30 and 33km respectively). Last but not least is along the east side of the SW mway winding through suburbia to onehunga mall (28km – its the best way home.. but not in).
        I think that by far the best solution is some kind of cycle way alongside the SH20. Its the flatest, straightest way (its 20km along sh20, dominion rd to work). Effectively its 14km to dominion rd – 14km any other of my routes only gets me 1/2 of the way. 20km is 40 mins of riding. 28km is over an hour (because of the hills).
        Another option is a cycle way alongside the train tracks. Its off the road.. hell, I’d pay a user charge to use it..

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