Two-third of Aucklanders (65 per cent) believe cycle lanes are good for the city and welcome them in their own communities, according to the results of an annual survey commissioned by Auckland Transport (AT).

Support for cycling overall is at 57 per cent, with 34 per cent saying they are "very supportive". Those not supportive of cycling are at 11 per cent, with 8 per cent "very unsupportive".

Those figures suggest cycling supporters outnumber opponents by five to one. But they also show that most people in either camp feel strongly: they're likely to be very supportive or very opposed.

The survey was conducted online among 1459 respondents during April. Responses were weighted to ensure a representative spread of age, gender and location.


AT has been conducting the survey for the past five years and several trends have become clear.

The biggest involves the general attitude towards cycling. In 2015, just 22 per cent said they felt "positive about the overall state of cycling in Auckland". Nearly half (48 per cent) had a negative view.

In just four years those figures have completely reversed. Now, 47 per cent have a positive view and 22 per cent have a negative view. The percentages of those who are "neutral" or "don't know" have remained at 16-18 per cent and 10-12 per cent respectively.

Kathryn King, AT's manager of walking, cycling and road safety, said she thought cycle lanes were critical to that.

"We've built a lot of infrastructure in the last few years," she told the Herald. "Cycle lanes, shared paths around schools, all those things. They make a positive difference to how people feel about cycling."

The Herald asked her if they didn't also make more people angry.

"They attract critics, we know that," she said. "They're very vocal. But the survey suggests there aren't nearly as many of them as you might think from the noise they make. And their numbers are falling, not rising. There's a lot more support now for what we're doing."

Over half a million Aucklanders (38 per cent) now identify as cyclists, meaning that they ride a bike at least occasionally. This is up from 20 per cent in 2014: that's almost double in five years.


The proportion who say they own a bike is even higher: 51 per cent.

And it looks like "Mamils", or middle-aged men in lycra, might soon be an endangered species. Half of 18-34 year olds in the survey were cyclists, and a third of all respondents were women.

Meanwhile, the proportion of people who said they had "rejected" the idea of cycling as dropped from 47 per cent in 2015 to 41 per cent now. The proportion who said they used their car at least once a week was down by 6 per cent in the past two years.

Growth in the number of cyclists has occurred throughout the city. It's been particularly strong in the north, where it's risen from 30 per cent to 42 per cent since 2015, and in the east, where the jump has been from 31 per cent to 44 per cent.

These are not people on a bike every day, but they are people who ride at least some of the time.

King said the figures reflect new cycling infrastructure like the Glen Innes cycleway, which will eventually follow the railway line to link to Tamaki Drive.

"We also know lots more people are riding a bike to connect to public transport," she said. "We can hardly keep up with demand for bike stations at the ferry terminals and Northern Busway stations."

Throughout the city, the proportion of people riding a bike to connect to public transport has grown from 5 per cent in 2015 to 14 per cent today. Cycling to work has also grown, from 12 to 19 per cent.

Commuter cycling, rather than recreational or other kinds of cycling, is leading the changes in behaviour and attitude.

The survey also asked people about barriers to cycling or cycling more often.

"I don't feel safe because of how people drive," was identified by 52 per cent of respondents.

King said all these things added to the case for building more dedicated cycle lanes. "We know more people want to cycle, and want to let their kids cycle," she said. "But they want to feel safe about doing it."

Other safety concerns also ranked high, including cycling in the dark (41 per cent) and not enough cycle lanes and separated routes (28 per cent).

The survey suggests e-bikes will bring further big changes. Only 3 per cent of respondents said they own an e-bike now, but 33 per cent said they were "thinking about" buying one in the next 12 months. The figure is higher (50 per cent) among frequent bike riders.

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