Amelia Wade is a court reporter for the New Zealand Herald

Cyclists gear up as city embraces bike paths

Network of inner-city paths is already proving to be more popular than Auckland Transport hoped.
Auckland's Nelson St Cycleway. Photo / Dean Purcell.
Auckland's Nelson St Cycleway. Photo / Dean Purcell.

Eventually, Aucklanders will be able to cycle from one side of the city to the other on an intricate labyrinth of bike lanes which weave through suburbs, past beaches and over gullies.

More than $20 million has been allocated to building key sections of the network over the next three years with routes open to public feedback and others set to be opened later this year.

The projects under consultation at the moment are the 3km Seapath from Esmonde Rd in Takapuna to Northcote Pt, routes through Grey Lynn out to New Lynn and from the CBD to Glen Innes.

These sections are links to key transport projects and part of the Urban Cycle Programme which will be delivered by 2018.

Walking and cycling manager for Auckland Transport Kathryn King said these projects have been developed because research shows they'll have the greatest benefit, as coming into the city for work or study is usually people's most frequent journey.

The new cycle paths have been more successful than Auckland Transport was hoping - 30 per cent of those using the Grafton Gully cycleway are new to cycling who were encouraged by all the new infrastructure.

The Nelson St corridor averages about 1000 trips a day and the Lightpath, the magenta-coloured Nelson St off-ramp, which includes a string of interactive lights along one side, is set to have its 100,000th journey at the start of next month.

"It shows that we're starting to build the right stuff to get people out and cycling."

As well as the obvious health and congestion benefits, building cycleways offers residents options for other forms of travel.

Mrs King used the example of a breakdown on the Northwestern Motorway. Currently there is no way for people to avoid being stuck in the backlog but if there was a shared path, they could ditch their cars and know exactly how long it would take them to get into the city on cycleways.

"That helps us grow our resilience as a city and makes our city more attractive to people moving to or investing in our city.

"It's a key aim of ours to become a more liveable city, a more healthy city."

Over the next three years, the Government and Auckland have committed to spend $20.3 million just on cycleways and beyond that there has been a total of 300km of network proposed.

Transport Minister Simon Bridges said the investment is so large because they wanted to "really do something special" and it's "what Auckland really wants".

"Besides the economic and the tourism benefits, it's the sense of excitement and buzz [the network] creates for a city."

Photo / Chris Gorman
Photo / Chris Gorman

Before construction of the current cycle lanes, Mr Bridges said people questioned whether they would actually be used. However, the uptake had been so positive it was hard to argue that Aucklanders don't cycle.

"If I was a businessman and not a politician, I would be thinking very seriously about getting a ride-sharing and cycle rental business going in the heart of Auckland because it seems to me that it's going to take off."

And it seems there will be no shortage of new riders set to make use of the increased cycleways around Auckland.

TradeMe spokesman Logan Mudge said they'd seen the number of cycling listings increase by more than 35 per cent between 2014 and 2015 across the country.

And in the year to February, there was a 16.5 per cent increase in the number of items sold in the cycling category while the average sale prices ticked up 4 per cent.

"We expect to see some pretty healthy levels of listings and sales this year," Mr Mudge said.

"With continued issues and complaints about traffic and an event like the Olympics highlighting the competitive options in cycling, we reckon there will be a host of Kiwis giving two wheels a go (or another go) this year."

And for all the motorists who want cyclists to "get off the road", the cycle network is doing just that, Mr Bridges said. Eventually, only small sections of the labyrinth will require cyclists to share the road with motorists.

- NZ Herald

Get the news delivered straight to your inbox

Receive the day’s news, sport and entertainment in our daily email newsletter

SIGN UP NOW

© Copyright 2017, NZME. Publishing Limited

Assembled by: (static) on production apcf05 at 21 Feb 2017 23:39:16 Processing Time: 764ms