Build it and they do come
More people than ever cycling to the city from the west
13 Jan 2016 11:40 am | NZ Transport Agency
Viv Heslop is one of an increasing number of people who are cycling into Auckland’s city centre from the west for work or study.
The number of cycle journeys through Kingsland on the Northwestern Cycleway has gone up by more than 16% in 2015 compared with 2014. This has contributed to a growth of 7.4% of cycle journeys throughout Auckland in the same period.
The number of people cycling on this route is expected to increase further with a major upgrade to be completed this year and a city centre cycle network which continues to expand.
The NZ Transport Agency is upgrading the Northwestern Cycleway from Westgate to Waterview as part of the Western Ring Route. The cycleway currently joins the Nelson Street Cycleway and the Grafton Gully Cycleway.
Viv Heslop uses it because it is the quickest way for her to get to work. “I live in Mt Albert and work in Westhaven. I could take the bus which would take me 40 minutes or cycle, which takes me 30 minutes,” she says.
“It’s also a great way to build exercise into my day. The Northwestern Cycleway is fantastic. The more cycleways in Auckland the better.”
There are still diversions at Western Springs and Patiki Rd at the Causeway which will be in place until late February. In early February the section from McCormack Green (just west of the Te Atatu underpass) to Henderson Creek will be open with the completion of the Te Atatu Interchange Project scheduled for March and the Causeway Project scheduled for August.
The Northwestern Cycleway is one of the busiest cycle routes in Auckland says Auckland Transport’s Cycling and Walking manager Kathryn King.
“We know that these routes are popular which is why they are being improved and soon other routes will connect with them to further develop the cycle network,” she says.
“Construction will begin early this year on the Quay St Cycleway and by the middle of the year the Nelson St Cycleway will be completed all the way to Quay St. This is only the start of the three year programme of cycle improvements in the city, so to see an increase like this already is very promising.”
“By mid-2018 we will have an inner city cycle network to be proud of with great connections to the inner east and west suburbs. We are already working on plans for projects beyond 2018 which will further develop the city’s growing network of cycleways,” she adds.
The NZ Transport Agency’s Auckland Regional Director, Ernst Zöllner says the Transport Agency has a target of increasing the annual number of cycling trips across New Zealand by 10 million, or 30 percent by 2019 compared with 2015 levels.
“We’re thrilled to see these figures showing more people are choosing to get on their bikes in Auckland. There is strong customer demand for a cycling network that provides predictable, safe journeys for people wanting to cycle to work, study and for recreation.”
Barb Cuthbert, Chair Bike Auckland says she’s in awe of the stupendous increase in cycling. “We ‘specially love seeing so many families and groups of friends enjoying the city by bike. It’s a real groundswell!”
Auckland Transport has a number of counters across the city to gauge the change in the number of journeys taken by bike.
Auckland Transport, Auckland Council and the NZ Transport Agency are working together on a three year $200 million programme of investment in cycling to make it safer and more convenient to travel by bike. Central government has made a significant contribution to funding through the Urban Cycleways Programme.
This is excellent to see and demonstrates what happens when there is commitment to build quality infrastructure that is not just for the car (yes there is irony in that sentence).
I know it is in the plans but a cycle way down the Southern Motorway between Papakura and Manukau connecting to various areas like the Botanic Gardens would be cool and a piece of infrastructure I would use (the uphill stretches would get me back into better fitness than now).