Auckland cyclists are looking forward to having their own "super highway" extended into the heart of the city.
As they revelled in a new stretch of the 12km Northwestern Cycleway, opened by Transport Minister Steven Joyce in Kingsland yesterday, the Transport Agency promised to extend the facility across Spaghetti Junction to the central city by 2012.
Regional director Wayne McDonald said an investigation had started to find a suitable route for the 3km extension through Upper Queen St, across the motorway junction and along Grafton Gully to the two Auckland universities in Wellesley St.
Although the route and a budget for it will not be determined until the investigation is completed in June, the Auckland Regional Council was on Wednesday shown a potential passage for the cycleway from where it now ends abruptly at Newton Rd's onramp to the Northwestern Motorway.
The extension is likely to follow Ian McKinnon Drive to Upper Queen St, where it would use the existing road bridge over Spaghetti Junction before turning right, to follow the motorway corridor through to Grafton Gully at the edge of historic cemetery land.
It would run under the Upper Symonds St and Grafton bridges then turn left up Wellesley St, although the agency is not ruling out a possibility of extending it ultimately to the waterfront, as advocated by Auckland City Council.
The council is already planning a cycle lane up Wellesley St from Kitchener St, and hopes to eventually extend it across Grafton Gully to the Domain, although it needs the Transport Agency's permission to cross the motorway at that point.
Cyclists were yesterday delighted with the provision of the 1.24km missing link in the existing Northwestern Cycleway between Te Atatu and Newton Rd.
The 3m-wide well-lit pathway runs parallel to the Northwestern Motorway, and means they will no longer have to ride along undulating streets including four hilly stretches, one so steep that many were forced to dismount and walk.
The $3.7 million link includes a 24m bridge over Mountain View Rd, a busy street which runs under the motorway, and large piled screens which soaked up much of the project's budget to shelter neighbouring homes from traffic noise.
Five entrances to the cycleway from residential streets have been completed, and work is continuing on a sixth, above Mountain View Rd.
Although pedallers were at loggerheads with the agency last year over being unable to cross the harbour bridge, Cycle Action Auckland deputy chairwoman Barbara Cuthbert lavished praise yesterday on the organisation and Mr Joyce.
"This cycleway is hugely important to us - I can see why all the cyclists are calling it our super highway for cycling," she said.
"We've got a deluge of cyclists. Wait until Wayne [McDonald] takes us right into Wellesley St - I don't know how you are going to cope with us."
Lena Trnski, 11, and her sister Viola, 8, are looking forward to using the cycleway to get from their Mountain View Rd home to school next week.
Their father has until now ridden with them to school along a more circuitous route.