A $23m cycleway project for the inner city suburb of Grey Lynn is on the skids after local businesses said it would destroy their livelihoods.
The Grey Lynn Business Association has thanked Auckland Transport for coming up with a new scheme to replace a $4.3 million cycleway that failed the community, but withdrawn support for the latest plans in favour of short-term fixes.
"At this very moment business resilience is so severely constrained and the magnitude of the proposed disruption simply to great to withstand," GLBA co-chair Irene King said in an email to AT.
We are all struggling and if they do any more ... none of these shops will survive.
She said local opposition was based on the "previous aborted development" continuing to impact on the villages of Grey Lynn, West Lynn and other shopping precincts reliant on parking to attract customers, retailers not being able to withstand another round of protracted road works, and the cost of the project.
"We remain committed to working with you all to develop shorter term fixes that can facilitate some remedial work, King said.
Other groups that have taken a more hard-line approach to the 3.3km cycleway project, like Occupy Garnet Rd and Business Grey Lynn, also oppose plans to rip up the one-year-old $4.1m cycleway and build a higher-spec cycleway originally costed at up to $35m, but recently reduced to between $17m and $23m.
Much of the new cycleway is just a few hundred metres parallel to another cycleway through the wealthy inner-city suburb of Grey Lynn.
A Herald time-lapse video outside the $4.3m cycleway three months ago showed six cyclists using the cycleway between 7am and 8am on a fine weekday. A further two cyclists ignored the cycleway and rode on the street.
Earlier this year, AT commissioned urban design consultants Boffa Miskell to revisit the 3.3km Richmond Rd-Garnet Rd-Old Mill Rd-Surrey Cres cycleway and established two community liaison groups, whose members have been asked for feedback on the draft plans before public consultation in November.
The latest designs include large sections of separated cycleway on both sides of the street and high quality urban design and landscaping.
AT refused to make anyone available to answer questions on the latest blow to the cycling project, but issued a brief statement through walking, cycling and road safety senior media adviser Joanna Glasswell.
She said AT is collating and assessing feedback from the two community liaison groups to help with the designs before public consultation in November.
"The business association's feedback is being considered as part of this, and we look forward to getting feedback from the wider community," Glasswell said.
Earlier this month, AT major projects group manager David Nelson called the latest designs "aspirational" that would deliver a much-improved design from the original project.
Businesses speak out
Kathleen Haimes has lost $100,000 and been told by her accountant to close her doors since Auckland Transport mucked up the parking outside her shop for a cycleway.
Haimes has been designing and selling furniture in the "Black Box" group of shops on the corner of Richmond Rd and Surrey Cres for 18 years in what has been a "really vibrant, busy, busy area".
Not any more, says Haimes: "We are all on the verge of closing. We are all struggling and if they do any more ... none of these shops will survive. They would all have to close."
Haimes said the shops are destination shops, people come and go, and need car parks. Auckland Transport removed car parks with the first cycleway project and is now proposing a roundabout or set of lights on the corner that would take away more car parks.
A dairy, currently being refurbished across the road on Surrey Cres, would be a waste of time because there would be nowhere for people to stop for five minutes.
"I would like to get some respect and some one-hour parking and then just leave everything how it is," said Haimes.
Across Richmond Rd from Haimes, Barry Jujnovich has been running West Lynn Painters and Panelbeaters for 48 years, in which time he has seen four or five accidents.
He says AT is spending millions on a cycleway that serves no purpose and is not needed. The only thing needed are some proper pedestrian crossings.
"It is going to take six months minimum to redo the stuff up they did in the first place. What's the point of doing something that has worked so well for so long," Jujnovich said.
At Siostra restaurant in West Lynn, opened in 2014 by Esther and Beki Lamb, Esther said AT had delivered a "badly designed, ugly, senseless refit of the West Lynn village that to my knowledge no one in the community asked for, except the cycleway lobby".
Esther said she was not against cyclists, but "we sucked it up, understanding that civil works are part of doing business in a city. But not twice".
"I dread another round of construction," said Esther, whose business has had a 12.5 per cent rent increase.
"We could not sustain a drop in turnover for any length of time. We are up against the wire as it is. AT should fix the worst faults and leave it as it is," she said.
Local resident and paraplegic William Gruar is unhappy with AT for creating a steep slope to go up and down in his wheelchair to a new pedestrian crossing built as part of the first cycleway project.
He printed an open letter for people to sign saying "the cycle paths should be abolished" and took it to the Grey Lynn Returned Services Club.
"To my surprise 50 people signed. I ran out of forms. The anger was palpable," Gruar said.