Auckland: Our Cyclist’s City

Auckland is a city suffering. Needlessly.

We currently operate under the yoke of chronically inefficient and terrible transport system that undermines our true potential as the economic powerhouse of New Zealand. The woes of transport are felt by many, directly by the hours caught in an inefficient transport system, to those indirectly caught up in the dead weight through lost economic, cultural and environmental opportunities.

It is my view that Auckland City, under the stewardship of Auckland Council and Auckland Transport, an Auckland Council Owned Organisation, is lacking vision and is poorly managed. This is not only from a leadership point of view, but a lack of real understanding of what is directly eroding our quality of life.

Auckland is a beautiful place, however its beauty is being marred by the extensive roading programmes that simply get people from point A to point B. Chronically less and less efficiently, and at a higher and higher cost to the ratepayer, who in turn demands higher rent from our increasing numbers of rent-for-life tenants.

There are proposals to increase our spend on rail, and such. But, do you know what the real cost per individual is to take the train? I couldn’t believe it myself when I read a recent – let’s crunch the numbers study, as below. Buses are better, but not exempt..

I believe people are too reliant on the current systems to provide what they need and want. We need efficiency. We need space. We need clean air. And most of all, we need as much time with our families as possible. The grind of work is hard enough, we don’t need a daily prison to, and from, work to exacerbate our suffering. We don’t need our precious, and certainly squandered, time to be wasted looking at the back of someone else’s head or indeed – cage – sorry I meant car!

Our population problems are not going to get better. We are forecast to experience more urban-ward migration, both from overseas people looking for a new home, and from New Zealanders streaming into Auckland also looking for a better life. Christchurch is ailing from a terrible catastrophe, suggest; mostly out of sight out of mind for most Aucklanders, but have you noticed how many people say they are from Christchurch? I believe I have at least 3 friends in Auckland, from Christchurch, who are refugees in their own country.

Certainly, our central city population is bulging, and let’s be honest, we don’t have the central city space that we need. We are hemmed in by sea and suburb. We are building up and up. Our old buildings are being razed, sometimes with great loss to our heritage. This is happening as quickly as as they are being poorly designed, and subsequently built.

Thus, our streets are getting tighter and tighter. Everybody is sharing space, and of course this includes sharing with our spacing gobbling precious vehicles and their prime position car parks.

We need a plan to sort these issues, and I believe that the plan below would go along way to helping us to help ourselves, I propose we consider the following, as items to consider, to be implemented together, as a holistic solution:

  1. AK 2020 = Cyclist’s City

  2. Direct, Dedicated & Protected

  3. Cycle > Ride > Cycle >

  4. Central City Cycles Only

  5. Huge Cycle Parking

  6. Slow Modes 1st

  7. Bike Costs Subsidised

  8. Everyone & Family

  9. #1 on Transport Plan

  10. Inter-mode Harmony

Have a look at this short YouTube video showing the points above in a fun, relevant way:

Also have a look at
– Cycling Advocates Network – CAN Do – Sam Finnemore
there are also a number of other videos from members talking about their perspectives on cycling in Auckland and New Zealand.

In combination with evidence from other cities, like and unlike ours, I humbly offer some suggestions and notes:

AK 2020 = Cyclist’s City

Wouldn’t it be great if 50% of our journeys around our central city precinct were done via cycle and public transport, and around the central city a full 100%?

Well this can happen if:
We remove cars from the central city,and replace our roads with shared spaces for pedestrians and cyclists.

At least, let’s allocate from Customs St – the bottom of Queen Street to Mayoral Drive as allocated to cyclists and pedestrians, and perhaps even trams like in recent, NZ Herald Article – Little room for cars in Auckland tram plan By Mathew Dearnaley extent of the allocation is also examined in:

Pedestrianising Queen Street

Intuitively up to Mayoral Drive seems right, but what would be super great, is a fast link system up to K Road.Great images and comments on here:

Here we have a great little PR video about the success of our new shared spaces in Auckland Central.
We could link up the shared spaces, and then remove the cars all together.

A question I have is:

Do we do sweeping change i.e. many streets all at once, or bit by bit?

I feel after a look at Groening, it’s all or nothing… or
– is just filled with great videos on the successes of big changes.Open Streets happening on the 12th of April is definitely a step in the right direction
Auckland Open Streets 2015

Another city example:
published by this forward thinking global NGO: with:

The 8 Principles for Better Streets and Better Cities

  1. WALK | Develop neighborhoods that promote walking

  2. CYCLE | Prioritize non-motorized transport networks

  3. CONNECT | Create dense networks of streets and paths

  4. TRANSIT | Locate development near high-quality public transport

  5. MIX | Plan for mixed use

  6. DENSIFY | Optimize density and transit capacity

  7. COMPACT | Create regions with short commutes

  8. SHIFT | Increase mobility by regulating parking and road use

They all look pretty great don’t they?

Well let’s focus on the cycling part.

We all know about the wonders that cycling and exercise can do for one’s health. Let’s not advocate the health benefits any more. We know. We know.

We know, that we should be doing it, but what stops us?

Well, it only requires a few stints on Auckland’s roads, to convince the most zealous of us, that cycling is a very dangerous concern. Around much of Auckland, we share our cycle lanes with buses, whom I am sure find cyclists a nuisance. Where there are no lanes, cyclists have to contend with hell-bent motorists grasping at every gap they can to reduce the time spent in the car. Which leads us to our next consideration.

Direct, Dedicated & Protected

Imagine a massive totally connected well-coded network of prioritised, direct, dedicated, and totally protected, Cycleways, Skyways and Tunnels all integrated with bike first traffic systems. Wouldn’t this help us feel safer? Wouldn’t this stop us and our motorist friends from projecting time-poverty onto terrified, (but tough acting), die-hard (and terribly so) cyclists?

Well it would, because they wouldn’t be able to make physical contact. It’s that simple. It’s a bit like two children fighting – the best thing to do is to separate them.

Ok enough with the negative, let’s think about how wonderful it would be to be able to get on your bike, and take it directly and safely, to where you want to go, all without the noise, smoke and streaming bulging eyes. How about it, in the quiet, clean and relaxed manner you deserve?

Dedicated, direct and protected; beautifully planted and wonderful art-feature appointed cycleways, could do this.

It would be an opportunity for business to service those who can actually stop, without breaking a sweat for a park.

Have a look at:
This article states regarding a study done by Beca Infrastructure Ltd of Christchurch for the NZ Transport Agency, a wonderful study in the effects of road space reallocation, in part, specifically looking at:
>> Balmoral, Dominion Road (arterial)
>> Eden Valley, Dominion Road (arterial)
>> Hurstmere Road, Takapuna (central)

RR-530-Reallocation-of-road-space – well worth a peruse if you are looking for some good two-am-can’t-get-to-sleep-reading.

As CityLab states:
This suggests that, in many cases, the benefit of encouraging more sustainable transport journeys to shopping centres outweighs the cost of reallocating space and improving the urban design in shopping centres.

Also check out this fun groovester in the this informative infographic, from the same article, by CityLab regarding the cost-benefits of parking spaces in Melbourne, Australia:

Find me a retailer that wouldn’t jump all over three times as much revenue.

Seems critical, while the good old high streets, are being sucked up by the huge homogeneous malls. Our fair city just hasn’t got the connectedness that is needs – far too many routes that drop away. There is a sense that – when it’s too hard for the designers, cyclists just have to make do with taking the hard road instead.


Some of our Dutch friends understand what it means to cycle through a city – check out this great little video:

New York has the right idea – have a look at the extensive cycleway map covering a sprawling harbourside metropolis.

This article from Metro seems to concur:

More plans and successes from cities with a passion for push power:

All this vision and evidence seems overwhelming! But, let’s not go all the way overseas for inspiration for vision.

Dear Christchurch knows what is what:

Committing to building 13 cycleways in the next 5 years:

Clearly indicating the economic benefits, amongst others:

This feels like a city that is in community with the people.

Winning international awards for it’s communication programme.

And of course the map and the plan – an actual dedicated cycleway plan! :

Cycle > Ride > Cycle >

Whilst I believe that using the bus or the train is great – (Public Transport Heros: Let’s Go!) There is a massive subsidised cost to the city. Let’s keep the public transport running, AND let’s fully subsidised those who cycle to the hubs. And charge appropriately those who don’t, i.e. those who choose to drive through their suburbs. It seems ludicrous to operate suburban based Park and Ride systems, when all we get are just minor exterior hub gridlocks instead of our good old fashion centralised gridlocks.

Transport to hubs, by bike it could be preferred option, and properly incentivised by no cost bus use. Yes, no cost bus, if you use a bike to get there! How to pay for this? Please continue and have a look at David Chaston from who wrote an opinion piece on the cost of subsidises.

After reading that, and the following documents, showing the proposed cost of railway upgrades and considering the state of the cities finances, I think having rail as our top priority is simply misguidedness, followed by poor financial analysis. And it’s not like rail ever cut the heart out of communities. Slum dwellers beware.


Before and after taking public transport, one should be able to choose to cycle.

This could be well facilitated by bike share systems.

Central City Cycles Only

Our city is a space for the people, not the space gobbling car.

Let’s, like Houten and Groening, only have service vehicles access our quiet streets, only after dark.

Let’s make that cars always have to travel round, on ring roads dedicated to four-plus wheels.

Inspirational maps of Houten:

This Draft City Centre Transport Position Paper – states the key transport issues facing the City Centre.
Agenda item 9(ii) – Closed- Draft City Centre Transport Position Paper – Attachment 1
Cycling – safe city
A high quality and connected cycle network will enable cycling to provide a significant proportion of short trips around and to the city centre. More bike parking, lower speed limits and targeted on-road facilities, along with high quality off-road paths on some corridors, will make cycling on city streets safer and more attractive.
There are several key cycling connections which will help unlock the latent demand for city centre cycling, including a Harbour Bridge cycleway and completion of the CMJ cycleway currently under development by NZTA. A central city low speed zone on key streets will allow not just for the safer mixing of cyclists and vehicles, but also assist with pedestrian safety.
This needs to take Centre stage in our Central City. It is understood on a national level with the lion’s share of the budget for Urban cycleways going to Auckland – but Auckland City doesn’t seem to get it.

I believe even our very well meaning, and versed, friends at Metro have got it wrong:

There is just not enough emphasis on getting on your bike. Actually well, not all the time:

Huge Cycle Parking

Remove all side-of-road and Public Car Parks.

Provide free and monitored, autolocking systems, together with extensive on street park and visit options.

In Houten, they can’t keep up with the demand for bike parking – let’s nail this little bug bear on the head by making bike parking fun! Well perhaps not fun, but at least easy and safe. Look how they doing it in Holland, not just in one city, but many:

Slow Modes 1st

Let’s talk about attitudes – how about living in a wonderful system of generosity and kindness? Motorised vehicles yield to cyclists, cyclists yield to pedestrians.Have a look at this case for adding cycle lanes? When people know what to do, and how to behave, everyone gets along better and things become more efficient for everyone:

Bike Costs Subsidised

Let’s introduce cycle purchase, maintenance and rental subsidies.

Let’s raise money via a stop-spend on other massive redevelopment projects for 5 years. We can reassess once the cycle programme has time to take hold. Amazingly current spend on cycling of $30mill per year is only 3% of proposed total transport budget at over a billion dollars ($1,000,000,000)! Let’s take half and spend it on ourselves, our families and our communities – not deadening roads and our boring cars.
Auckland triples spend on cycling – ProQuest
Let’s place prohibitive levies on private and business parking in high density areas. We could increase the petrol levy and add motorway tolls during the day. User pays (double).

Leave the rate-payer out of it. All that does is put even more pressure on upward rents – totally undermining the social good.

Have a look at this article on why to charge for parking:

Everyone & Family

Every abled body cycles. Or at least is given every opportunity and incentive to do so.

All demographic and social sectors enabled and encouraged to participate. All family members at all ages, are encouraged to take part. Cycle participation and safety part of school, university and work programmes.

ASB Community Trust published a summary of findings regarding Social and priorities for Auckland

It is very important to make sure that the plans to make Auckland a better city via cycling fully engage and encourage all sectors – especially those who are disadvantaged. It would be important that any social inequalities be ironed out of up take as illustrated by Inequalities in usage of a public bicycle sharing scheme

This study by Ipsos Ltd provides all the data one would ever want to wave a stick at: AT-Active-Modes-Research-Report-2014 It holds a wealth of information about cycling and perceptions in Auckland, such as:

>> It is not safe to cycle on Auckland’s roads because of how people drive
>> I would not feel safe cycling in the dark
>> There are not enough cycle lanes that are physically separated from other traffic

These are all problems that can be fixed!

And here is some more on the people of Auckland in Auckland Council’s who and where we are:
Chapters-1-7 Chapters-8-15

#1 on Transport Plan


The perception seems wrong – cycling is not just a cultural and economic issue – it is the key to the transport issue. Let’s make it as such.


Why are the cycling options not expanded upon? It seems as though the creator of this had initial insight, but didn’t expand on the vision for the future of Auckland’s wonderful possibilities via cycling.

Inter-mode Harmony

Let’s make it easy to be nice to each other.

Our problem is not so much as to how people drive around cyclists, it’s that they are sharing the same space in the first place, that is the problem. Separated and dedicated to individual modes, as much as possible, calm the roads and prioritise push power.For more inspiration have a look at Jane Jacobs: Neighbourhoods in Action:


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