East-West-Study-AreaWhen AT and NZTA approached us about the “East -West Link“, we were a bit sceptical – what did this have to do with cycling? After all, this project – a last-minute addition to the Auckland Plan – was all about freight on trucks. Trucks between Onehunga, Mangere and the airport in the West, and East Tamaki in the East, to be more precise (white area at right).

And indeed, AT and NZTA are currently considering a whole range of new/widened roads in this area – some rather massive. Auckland Transport Blog discussed it, and it’s fair to say that they had concerns (link 1 and link 2) – mostly about the cost, and the impacts on surrounding areas.

During the presentation that AT & NZTA gave to a CAA public meeting some week ago, they clarified that the project was led by, but not exclusively for freight, however. There would also be substantial PT and walking/cycling packages in it.

Okay – so nowadays new roads usually come with cycling improvements, something we have battled for a long time. Sometimes we win big, sometimes we win some substantial concessions, sometimes we lose on points. But still – if new roads get built, we now expect cycling to feature, with certain minimum standards.

So it was interesting to hear that the walking/cycling and PT parts of the project would not necessarily have to overlap. I.e. if it made more sense withing the project area to improve the East-West cycling connections by plugging a gap in the existing cycle network, then that would be considered too (and would come out of the project budget, not the ever-cash-strapped cycle budget). At that point, our ears did perk up a bit.

They are now asking for input from the cycling community as to where, in the white part of the map at the top, the key needs for improvement are.

In our view, the key links that need improving would be:

  • WaikarakaConnecting the Waikaraka Cycleway over the rail line to Great South Road (and onwards to Sylvia Park) – this would turn a great recreational cycleway into much more of a regional connection. A quick sketch at right, with the missing blue links shown.





  • Onehunga MallImproving the links between Onehunga and Mangere Bridge – particularly the dreadful section crossing Neilson Street and Onehunga Mall south of Neilson Street. CAA tried hard 3 years ago to get at least basic cycle facilities included here, but was rebuffed. Maybe this time, “connectivity” will be the watchword? After all, Mangere Bridge’s bridge is in the Top 10 of Auckland’s cycle count locations – and is the ONLY “South Auckland” site in the Top 30.


  • Highbrook PathsConnect the fragmented Highbrook Path sections – as few people will know, there’s an existing cycleway on the eastern side of SH1 in Otahuhu/Highbrook. Nice – but pretty useless, as the onwards links simply don’t exist, or are very poor. We have thrown a few possible improved links in blue onto the map for discussion. This also features as part of the Tamaki Trail Greenway.


  • Providing a high-quality cycle link between Mangere & Otahuhu – Various routes would be obvious connections. In an ideal world, we would get them all cycleable, including a foreshore path on the southern side of Mangere Inlet (along Favona). But it seems that (unless AT/NZTA really go for the option of pushing a large new road through this particular area), the most obvious route would be providing good cycle facilities on Massey Road.


  • Provide a high-quality cycle link between Onehunga and Penrose along Mt Smart Road / Station Road – Its all nice to have the Waikaraka Cycleway further south, but that is too out of the way for many, unless you are going long-distance/ recreational. So we think the RCN plans for a cycling route along this route need to be dusted off and proceeded with. It would also help link towards the SEART Cycleway to Sylvia Park.

So those are our priority items we are considering to provide to AT/NZTA in a week or so. Have we got it right? You tell us.

We will also highlight a variety of concerns with the plans:

  • There is to be bus priority on Massey Road, Coronation / Kirkbride Road and Church Street and Mt Smart Road. All good – but as we all know, bus lanes help only a small fraction of cyclists & potential cyclists. For the big majority, they may as well spell “here be scary monsters”. How will AT/NZTA ensure those don’t become no-go routes for cyclists?
  • One of the big issues that the project is to deal with is west-east freight routes. What about locations like Onehunga Mall / Neilson Street intersection getting even more trucks – how do cyclists cross that? Do we need grade separation for cycle paths here?
  • Where cycle routes WILL go along future new roads / roads upgraded for freight – how will cyclists be buffered from truck traffic? Will we get protected cycle lanes?
  • How much funding are we talking here? The usual 1% of the project budget for cycling? Or is there a more significant effort proposed to be really multi-modal?

CAA will keep working with authorities to make sure some real cycling change comes out of this, even if it very much starts out as a trucks project.

UPDATE: We are aware that some people see this post as “support” or “endorsement” of the East-West-Link project – and its potentially quite destructive effects on large areas of housing in South Auckland. To make it clear – we do not endorse the project, even though we are admittedly keen to use it as a chance to fix some key missing links in the cycle network.

However, on projects like this, CAA always faces a hard choice. If we fundamentally oppose them, and have nothing to do with them, then we have no ability to provide input closely to the planning teams. We could hope that overall opposition was strong enough to simply not make the project happen at all. Our experience of the last 5-10 years has sadly shown that that never seems to be the case – mainly due to pressure from Wellington, these projects happen. On the other hand, where we DID get involved, like on Waterview, we won substantial concessions for cycling, and we and others are building on them.

We are aware that to some, such compromises make us “beyond the pale”. But they are not compromises we make easily.

Auckland Transport General News Infrastructure NZTA South Auckland
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23 responses to “Where will cyclists go in Auckland’s biggest freight project? [UPDATED]

  1. May be a pipe dream but to really complete the Waikaraka to Sylvia Park link it would be fantastic if it somehow crossed the water to Pakuranga or East Tamaki. I’m thinking that would open up a large commuter corridor that at the moment is quite awkward to navigate.

    1. Hi Paul – some of the options considered by AT/NZTA include big new bridges over the Tamaki River. They would be an enormous spend on new roads to build these, so far from unproblematic – but as a small drop of positive, they would include cycle facilities…

    1. That’s a very real reminder of the impact of big civil engineering projects. Thanks Kirsten.

    2. We welcome this wider perspective on the social and housing disruption caused by this project, and ask if it is fair to see us at the target for this motorway. We agree the project is a repeat of the Waterview project, compressed into a crazy timeframe, and ‘on steroids’ because the Govt wants it sorted before the next election. We do not endorse the project.
      Cycle Action has made the call to identify how to plug the major cycling and walking gaps that exist – IF THE PROJECT IS TO BE BUILT IN SOME FORM. We are focused on this, because we are the only group mandated to do it. We took this position at Waterview – where the Community came to the Board of Inquiry in collaboration with us, and were superbly organised, staunch and represented by their Local Board in stating their total opposition to the project. At the same time they argued that if they couldn’t stop the project, their #1 priority was to achieve desperately needed top quality walking and cycling improvements that the Auckland City Council had been ignoring for years. We pulled together at the Board of Inquiry, and won this result over sustained opposition from the NZTA.
      We suggest pulling together is better model than infighting.
      We hope local residents will call their Auckland Council and Local Board reps to account to stand beside and represent them – especially as we go into October’s election.

      1. I don’t think that was the aim of the post Barb, more to serve as a reminder that these big projects can carry some significant repercussions for nearby communities. I agree, that if it has to happen, we need to make sure walking / cycling are right in the mix, to the highest standard.

        1. Hi bryce – Barb was actually mainly responding to posts people have made on other websites about this article, and emailed us about, expressing their frustration that CAA was “endorsing” the scheme.

  2. Did you know that the Maungakiekie Community Board- around 2006- approved concept plans from then Council on the best link option for Cycle/ Walk way to continue beyond the current Hugo Johnson Drive end point across Anne’s creek to Gt Sth Road- (using designated rail corridor if I remember correctly).
    I have the plans for the 3 options offered from my time on that Board- I think Barb Cuthbert has them also.

    You guys are doing a great job for all us cyclists! thanks again -for all you do- and for keeping us cyclists in touch!
    ps- I am enjoying my break from your very hard working committee!:)

    1. Hi Barb – hope you are having fun taking time for your family! Yes, we are aware that plans for the link over the rail line have long since become “respectable”. Heck, they are in the Regional Cycle Network plans – statutorily approved and all that…

      The issue is – unless someone steps forward with funding, “on the plans” is were they may well stay for a lot longer… so that’s one of our hopes for this project. It has funding, the cycling budget hasn’t.

  3. I ride around this area frequently as I work out at Highbrook. A couple of thoughts:

    The area around Highbrook isn’t too bad currently so I wouldn’t suggest prioritising this area. The blue lines shown north of Highbrook in Otahuhu are pretty quiet back roads that feel pretty safe to ride along. The blue line to the east has a footpath (but no pedestrians) so you can safely ride along there as well. There are also some nice off-road paths to ride along if you have fatter tyres.

    Mahunga Dr and Favona Rd would be good candidates for cycling facilities. They’re both wide and mostly on one lane in each direction so there’s ample space to add cycling facilities without taking much/anything away from cars/trucks.

    1. I agree – my too irregular cycle commute is Mt Roskill to East Tamaki so I use Mahunga, Favona and then Otahuhu backroads to the cycle path along the motorway south of Otahuhu. It wouldn’t take much at all to make that a really good on road cycle in my opinion. Highbrook is fine until my road bike is forced across to the footpath (on the side opposite the water) and then I join the quieter roads parallel to Highbrook for the last few km to work. Not a bad commute at all but a few relatively minor improvements could make a big difference I reckon.

  4. I work in the area and often cycle to / through it. There are many shortcomings but also many opportunities for improvement, both for recreational and commuter cyclists. Also a few gems in the area that we need to protect.

    Hard to know where to start to put these in writing.. I couldn’t get along to the AT/NZTA/CAA meeting.. is there any chance to get those of us interested in this area together to make sure we give it our best collective shot?

  5. I work at Highbrook and commute from Otahuhu. I disagree with the views posted here regarding Highbrook’s cycling infrastructure. For such a new development, the cycling options are awful. The footpath on the water side becomes gravel just where the road narrows and one is forced over to the other footpath which requires crossing lights and many give way signs and an entry to a petrol station. Little thought appears to have been given to cycle lanes at all. Highbrook Drive is one of the most dangerous around, narrow with a lot of trucks. I agree with Tim that it would be useful to get a group of interested commuters together.

  6. In no particular order here’s my list..

    1. agree with the Waikaraka walkway / cycle way extension, especially if this gets under SH1 at Mt Wellington Highway or the southern part of Clemow Road somehow

    2. extend the cycle way alongside the SE Expressway Eastwards into Sylva Park.. which may need little more some attention to the end of thcycleway itself, a good cycle crossing of Mt Wellington Highway (could be combined with the pedestrian crossing at the end of Aranui Road?) and some markings in the SP complex itself (and while we’re at it, how about include some secure, covered bike storage at SP rail station?)
    – then extend it further, e.g. along the footpath on Clemow Road to Carbine Road
    – then mark some decent lanes on Carbine Road north to Waipuna Road (loads of width north of the SE Highway crossing)
    – ditto heading east on Waipuna Road..
    – make the footpath exit onto the little residential cup-de-sac part of Waipuna Road a proper cycle way
    – signpost the cycle way along Watene Road to the bridge over the Panmure Basin
    – replace the old, narrow bridge and make it a cycle way and walkway……. so that this east-west cycle route joins up with the AMETI cycle infrastructure

    3. Extend the cycle way alongside the SE Expressway westwards across GSR.. almost certainly needs grade separation, but this may be do-able easily if for example the EW truck route were grade separated here.. could then provide for cycle lanes underneath?
    – then extend the route further west e.g. By using the sip road to the south of Church St and the level crossing to get to Hugo Johnson Dr
    – put in a cycle crossing of Church Road to get to O’Rorke Road? From there my preferred EW route is Mt Smart Road.. could that have cycle lanes painted through to Onehunga?

    4. Much of GSR between Otahuhu and Greenlane is a nightmare.. any roading improvements here could surely be leveraged to provide better (more continuous) cycle lanes?

    5. The McNab Motorway underpass is currently blocked due to the Transpower works.. will that be included in any formal cycle route when it’s re-opened? Currently there is no acceptable crossing of SH1 between e Greenlane cycle / foot bridge and the cycle way alongside the SE expressway. Penrose Road is the least worst and it (the bridge itself) is a hideous pinch-point.

  7. 7. Highbrook Drive, as well as linking up the existing cycle way, straighten it out and make it more rideable!

    1. I drove alongside Highbrook Drive, pretty much daily, for 3 months last year and thought ‘obviously someone who rides didn’t lay it out’. Allens and Smales Rd’s could do with some fixing for bikes. I also noted a significant (considering the lack of suitable infrastructure and the volume of fast moving cars and truck) number of riders on Harris and Springs Rd’s as well.

  8. Hi Tim

    Thank you very much for those comments – will compare with our draft and merge as appropriate.

    Sorry, not keen on another meeting right now – myself and CAA in general is currently preparing for something big to be revealed in a few weeks, and trying to keep all the other jobs (plus those things called the day jobs) afloat at the same time will be hard enough. So I’d like to keep member/friends input on this to emails/comments page style for now.

    However, I have got your email address from the comments, and will send you a draft of our response once its done, probably early next week (though if you want to comment on that draft, you’d probably have to turn any response around in a day or two at most, as our deadline for this response is coming up.

    Hope that helps you feed into it – thanks again for your comments already made, Tim.

  9. Hope I’m not too late.
    Over railway at end of Waikaraka Cycleway would be brilliant but along Syslvia Park Rd seems to almost duplicate the (needs work) cycle path alngside S-E arterial. If Waikaraka is mainly recreational, a better connect & just as commuter friendly would be to upgrade (disused road) connection trhough Mt Richmond (maybe one of Tim’s gems). Its negglected but is a great link through some horrendously busy roads. Bike traffic here would up the feeling of security of this lovely under-used park. It would then connect quite well to a ‘orphan’ bit of bike path over upper Otahuhu creek & then wide/quiet Luke & Albert streets to the poorly signed (at present) MW underpass via Water & Trenwith. You would now be on the East side of Souther MW & connec to the high employment areas of Highbrook & East Tamaki. The Highbrrok cyclepath is proabaly an awfully un-monitored mitigation aspect of the development consent. layout, camber, surface, drainage & on-going maitencance all pretty sad when it could have been so great.
    Yes, Onehunga Mall from Mangere Bridge paths would benefit for Rail connection etc – underpass to Neilson truck route would be great improvement from the roading-focussed project. Weird ‘may-be’ shared path at present needs clarity.
    The Onehunga-Penrose route for bikes along Mt Smart & Station could be good if volume of traffic is taken on other roads. Ptetty fast heavy & narrow at present.
    I like Oliver’s proposal Mahunga, Favona – links well with path under south end of Mangere Bridge.
    Thnks again Max for your collation & other work

    1. Thanks Jane – I will review each of your suggestions (I just wish I had time to ride them before I have my deadline). Some or yours and Tim’s comments mirror work we have done with the Maungakiekie-Tamaki Local Board, so we will be sure to revisit that in our requests.

  10. I work in Penrose and travel by car a fair bit within the Penrose / Mt Wellington / East Tamaki area.. lucky me! .. so I just want to say that I can see the need for all kinds of improvements to vehicle flows into and through this area. Which I believe supports more jobs than the whole of the North Shore. So it’s hugley important to 10s pf thousands of people’s livelihoods, most of whom are working in competitive manufacturing and related employment. As “moving things around” is fundamentally a non-value added activity I am in favour of improving travel efficiencies.

    That said, I’m not a roading professional but I suspect that for all the talk about new motorways along the Manukau harbour we will actually find the 80/20 rule applies and that much potential improvement in traffic flow (especially truck movements, and even more especially stop/starts) could come from a modest number of flyovers or other grade separation at intersections. Maybe a few short links could help here and there. Large tracts of this area are hard rock so construction of whole new roads will be expensive and complex (service relocations etc).

    Equally, the “one less car” rule is just as valid here as in the CBD, so there should be broad support for encouraging cycle ways in / though the area. Plus, as anyone who works here knows, there are few if any opportunities to exercise locally during the working week (in contrast to much of the rest of Auckland) so, one case, when I get the chance to bike to work I grab it.. Despite the frankly horrendous conditions. For walking as well as cycling actually. Try walking up GSR from south of Church St to catch a train at Penrose.. pleasant 10-15 minute stroll.. Not!

    Finally, I’d like to hope that as with any cycle infrastructure development, we could contribute in a few locations at least to a better sense of “place” even with all the heavy traffic roaring around. I’m not sure what this could look like in practice, but I don’t mean we throw in a few more pointless meandering rough tracks like Highbrook Drive 😉

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