Flashback Friday: Recent cycleways in Auckland

By the time this gets published, I will have hopefully made my way up to Auckland for a little weekend holiday. I don’t imagine that I’ll be having a detailed look at too many cycleways while I’m in town this time, but on previous work-related trips I have certainly taken the opportunity to see what they’ve been up to. In the past, that progress has been quite encouraging, as reported in this blog post from Dec 2018. Sadly, it feels like in recent years any further development of cycling links has been somewhat hampered by (unwarranted) fears about public or political backlash, making the cycleway network expansion slow to a crawl (and don’t get me started on the saga of SkyPath…). Can Auckland get back on track?

I’ve had a few recent trips to Auckland for work, and they’ve given me the opportunity to have a look at a few new cycleways installed around the city. Granted, the city has also encountered its fair share of “bikelash” in the past year, but they have also been quietly chipping away at a few more projects. Here are some pics:

(1) The Northcote Safe Cycle Route stretches across the North Shore, from near Takapuna (Smales Farm) to Northcote Point where the Harbour Bridge crosses. In due course it will form a valuable link for people getting to the proposed SkyPath into town.

Some separation in Northcote (not great parking though…)

This was another cycleway project that was affected by some local opposition. As a result, it’s an odd mix of facility types from one block to the next.

Northcote route shared pathway

Some of it is “old school” shared path (a long-time staple of Auckland cycleways in the past), but the new route also features various sections of paint or kerb-separated cycleways.

Kerb separation this time

Towards the southern end, that proved a bit difficult to get over the line with the locals, resulting in some traffic calmed streets with cycle bypasses.

Hmm, does this work?

Overall it’s not a bad route, although ruined somewhat by the crossing of busy Onewa Rd that has you doing some convoluted dogleg movements. Whether it’s enough to get people biking around here remains to be seen (we didn’t see too many others using it yet).

Room enough for two (just)

(2) On one of my recent trips to Auckland there was an official opening of a new cycleway link by Ian McKinnon Drive. Even the Mayor Phil Goff and Transport Minister Phil Twyford showed up.

Everyone joined in to open this cycleway

This section of cycleway forms part of the very popular Northwestern Cycleway. Prior to this addition, riders had to slog up a hill to Newton Road overhead, dogleg and cross that, then down the other side, back up again, cross another busy road…

Look up: previously you had to ride up and over that bridge

The new route shoots underneath Newton Road, minimising the extra climbing effort.

The sign says it all (note the band serenading people cycling by on opening day!)

It then reclaims a traffic lane from Ian McKinnon Drive to provide a separated cycleway towards Upper Queen St.

Heading onto the new separated cycleway (previously a traffic lane)

At the top, there is no need to cross the road again any more, the route just swings directly around onto Upper Queen St.

Previously all riders had to wait to cross over at this point from the path on the other side

From Upper Queen St, riders can access the city directly on-road, or veer off to the Lightpath (left) or Grafton Gully cycleway (right).

Cyclists and pedestrians kept separate on the Upper Queen St bridge into town.

The end result is a very good quality cycling facility (about 4m wide mostly). There might be a few pedestrians using this route as well, although many may also be pleased to have the old path on the other side of the road back to themselves.

Can’t argue with the ride quality…

(3) A project that was completed some months ago, but I only got the chance to check out recently, was the introduction of a contra-flow cycleway on Federal St downtown.

Federal St – this looks different…

What is particularly notable about this project is how quickly the cycleway was constructed  Рone week! This was achieved through the magic of paint and planters (there is a more permanent street reconstruction planned in the future).

Simple separation using some colourful planter boxes

The colourful street markings also encourage some traffic calming on the street, which is good for the many pedestrians in the area, and cyclists using the main roadway (where sharrow markings are the only other assistance).

Going dotty over this makeover…

The introduction of a “wrong-way” cycling route allows this quiet one-way street to become a useful cross-town connection. In time, the route will extend even further south through town.

Only cyclists can go this way

(4) The last project to show you was actually constructed a few years ago, but I hadn’t seen it up close until recently: Carlton Gore Rd in Newmarket. This is a mixture of buffered and separated cycle lanes along a busy urban commercial street.

Carlton Gore Rd: buffered cycle lanes

The biggest challenge to date appears to have been motor vehicles parking in the cycleway, often “just for a moment” (e.g. couriers and deliveries). Just goes to show that good infrastructure is one thing but it sometimes has to be backed up by strong enforcement too.

Parking on the other side this time

As you can see, there’s a fair bit going on in Auckland cycle-wise and a lot more in the pipeline. With a city as large as theirs, it’s a big challenge to get a comprehensive cycling network (linking with their rail network will be an important feature to make some journeys viable without a car). But the growth in numbers to date (albeit from a small base) certainly shows some good reward for the investment to date.

What do you think of these Auckland cycleways?

 

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