Economic benefits of cycling

By , November 24, 2014
Melbourne separated cycle path 300x200 Economic benefits of cycling

A Melburnian taking advantage of great infrastructure to save Australia money

From much of the rhetoric heard around cycling, you would think that it was an activity that required huge amounts of spending with very little economic return.

However, the clear evidence is very much in favour of the opposite view. The investment needed to encourage cycling as an everyday activity is tiny compared to roading or public transportprojects and the return on that investment is huge.

To back that up, there are a number of articles based on studies easily located by a quick Google search. Here are some that came to my attention.

In 2013, a study cited by the then Australian Deputy Prime Minister, Anthony Albanese, found that:

The economy benefits by more than $21 every time a person cycles 20 minutes to work and back and $8.50 each time a person walks 20 minutes to and from work

copenhagen cyclists bikes flickr mikael colville andersen 300x225 Economic benefits of cycling

Danes saving their country money

This is backed up by similar findings in Denmark that each kilometre cycled actually saves the country money while every kilometre driven costs the economy.

When all these factors are added together the net social gain is DKK 1.22 per cycled kilometer. For purposes of comparison there is a net social loss of DKK 0.69 per kilometer driven by car.
This takes into account social gains which goes beyond strictly economic benefits as with the Australian study:
such as transport costs, security, comfort, branding/tourism, transport times and health.

The European Union has found similar benefits from cycling in the EU.

Evidence like this is why the UK has actually started to pay people to cycle to work. Not surprising when the Department for Transport in the UK has found that the benefit cost ratio of cycling investment is off the chart – up to a 1:35 ratio.

Beach Rd photo 4 300x199 Economic benefits of cycling

Aucklanders enjoying the first real piece of high quality onroad separated infrastructure – a bargain for the price

This means that for every $1 invested in cycling, we can expect a $35 return. That’s the equivalent of backing a rank outsider at the gee-gees and having it come home in first place. This is in stark contrast to some of the anaemic BCRs coming out for the Roads of (Dubious) National Significance – such as the Kapiti Expressway.

Unfortunately, evidence based policy and actual transport policy in New Zealand are distant cousins at best. Transport investment appears to be based on ideological grounds and emotional reactions from the public.

But next time someone tries to tell you how crazy it is to “waste” money on cycling, you have a few more facts up your sleeve.


Open Day TOMORROW – Glen Innes to Tamaki Drive Shared

By , November 21, 2014

What: Open Day for proposed Glen Innes to Tamaki Drive Shared Path

When: TOMORROW 22 November, 8:30am to 12pm

Where: St Chads Church, 38 St Johns Road, Meadowbank

NEW GF GI2TD Area 2 Final v2 low 300x150 Open Day TOMORROW   Glen Innes to Tamaki Drive Shared

Below Selwyn College, looking west.

You can see a video of the proposed path here.

Our earlier post contains artist’s images of this exciting proposal for an off-road connection for cyclists and pedestrians that will follow the eastern rail line from Glen Innes Station to Tamaki Drive.

This project could move fast, with NZTA and AT hoping to start work on Stage 1 – (Merton Rd to St Johns Rd) in late March – early April next year. With a short lead-in time, your feedback direct to the team this Saturday is important.

Or if you can’t make it this morning, you can give feedback online from TOMORROW at

A Flyer with information on the Open Day is available (click here to download PDF) and our earlier posts have more background on this important project.

Cycleways for 8 to 80s – how do we rate?

By , November 21, 2014
Twin Streams 2 J Kennett  300x200 Cycleways for 8 to 80s   how do we rate?

Photo: Kennett Bros of Twin Streams

The Kennett Bros have long been leaders in the cycling sector for their publications and articles on all sorts of cycling around NZ. Jonathan has an additional reputation,  as he has been working on the NZ Cycle Trail Great Rides from the outset of the project, and went on to write the guidebook for the network of rides that make a national trail from Cape Reinga to Bluff linking in the Great Rides.

The guidebook for the Great Rides has stunning photography,good maps, history sections and advice on cafes and accomodation places that makes it a must own for anyone contemplating getting out of the city to enjoy our landscape by bike. It was top of NZ’s non-fiction top selling list for months this year, doing a fabulous job of raising the profile of cycling.

Research is now underway on the Kennett Bros next publication – their 20th! The working title is ‘Short Easy Rides for Everyone’ and is planned for the shops in March next year.

Jonathan spent Saturday and Sunday in Auckland riding some of our trails. His focus is on 7km rides that are consistently safe and easy for anyone in the 8 to 80 age groups. That means easy gradients and no on road sections. Orewa Basin and  Twin Streams meet these criteria, so are sure-fires for the book.

Grafton Gully J Kennett  300x200 Cycleways for 8 to 80s   how do we rate?

Photo: Kennett Bros of Grafton Gully

I couldn’t resist riding Grafton and Beach Rd with Jonathan, and did my best to win him over with Hobsonville as an alluring and unique cycling destination that soaks up time with its Banana Bridge, cafe, farmer’s market, coastal trail, 30km speed zones and comprehensive off road and shared path cycling routes. I also showed him the new bridge over the Bayswater estuary, as it’s a gem, and the new promenade nearing completion in St Mary’s Bay leading to the Wynyard Quarter.

As always, Jonathan was very complementary about the results of our lobbying for better cycling infrastructure in Auckland, but it was a wake up call for me on how incomplete some of our best cycling routes are. The Green route from Devonport to Takapuna is referred to as being a safe route, but it has sections that are too narrow and on-road sections that prevent it from meeting the 7km consistent standard for the Kennett’s new book. The new St Mary’s Bay link is similarly struggling to get high quality linkages to the rest of the Wynyard Quarter cycling facilities because of kick back over removing on-road parking.

Jonathan is returning to ride the Rotary Trail around the Tamaki Estuary, but I have warned him the route is narrow for much of its length. He knows the Tamaki Drive cycleway well, but rightly observes that the quality of the trail is pretty poor due to the tree roots, narrow width overall with the added problem of power poles in the middle of the cycle section and congestion from walkers, baby wagons and dog walkers.

If you can think of any other Auckland routes that I need to tell him about for the book?

I know the 7km cycleway linking Glen Innes to Tamaki Drive will be a winner for the next version of the Kennett Bros book – but we need to make sure we have even more. Jonathan says he has some inspiring routes from across the country – but as the big player in the country for cycling, Auckland needs to step up to offer more and better complete routes. Catering for people in the 8 to 80 age groups is where our future lies to make Auckland a truly cycleable city.       Twin Streams J Kennett  300x200 Cycleways for 8 to 80s   how do we rate?

Onward and upward team – we can do it! All it needs is a fair share of investment for cycling from Len and his team in the draft Long Term Plan that will be open for public submissions from Dec to late February. Let’s get ready to bury the Council in requests to put money into its liveability talk.

Open Day Reminder: The Glen Innes to Tamaki Drive Shared Path

By , November 20, 2014
NEW GF GI2TD Area 1 Final v2 low 300x150 Open Day Reminder: The Glen Innes to Tamaki Drive Shared Path

The path ascends Purewa Tunnel near the intersection with St Johns Road.

NEW GF GI2TD Area 2 Final v2 low 300x150 Open Day Reminder: The Glen Innes to Tamaki Drive Shared Path

Below Selwyn College.

The team at AT have shared further information and some images about the Glen Innes- Tamaki shared path.

Please feel free to email Aaron Hutchings at AT with any questions:

Walk, run and cycle from Auckland’s eastern suburbs to the Waitemata

Another key component of the Auckland Cycle Network, the 7km long Glen Innes to Tamaki Drive Shared Path, is on the horizon and it’s time to get involved and give Auckland Transport (AT) and the NZ Transport Agency some constructive feedback.

The project team will be on hand at a public open day this weekend (Saturday 22 November) to share designs, answer questions and gather feedback on draft designs. Come along, have a look at the plan and tell us what you think!

NEW GF GI2TD Area 3 Final v2 low 300x150 Open Day Reminder: The Glen Innes to Tamaki Drive Shared Path

The path crosses the rail line near Purewa Cemetery, on the approach to Meadowbank Train station.

The $30 million shared pedestrian and cycle path will follow the eastern rail line from Merton Road near Glen Innes Station to Tamaki Drive and connect Auckland’s eastern suburbs to the city centre. It will be around four metres wide and constructed mostly in concrete with timber boardwalks used for short water crossings such as Orakei Basin. The project team aims to keep gradients as low as possible to mitigate the route’s sometimes hilly geography.

The Glen Innes to Tamaki Drive Shared Path will be well lit, connect with public transport facilities along the route and allow for future extensions in key areas. Constructed in four stages, the path is expected to be completed in late-2018.

Glen Innes to Tamaki Drive Shared Path Open Day

NEW GF GI2TD Area 4 Final v2 low 1 300x150 Open Day Reminder: The Glen Innes to Tamaki Drive Shared Path

Looking across Hobson Bay towards Orakei Train Station.

AT and the NZ Transport Agency are holding an open day on Saturday 22 November. Come along to meet the project team and find out more about this exciting project.

When: Saturday 22 November, 8:30am to 12pm

Where: St Chads Church and Community Centre, 38 St Johns Road, Meadowbank

You can provide feedback at the open day on 22 November, or online from the same day at

Sharing is caring – except on cycleways

By , November 19, 2014

Here Shared Paths Dont Work I 176x300 Sharing is caring   except on cycleways

Quay Street: You could make a shared path here really wide – and it still wouldn’t work well. [Copyright: Ed Kruger, CC-BY-SA-3.0-NZ]

A lot of the discussion among non-cyclist decisionmakers about whether we should build dedicated cycleways seems to come back to whether it’s really worth giving a small group a significant amount of space on our roads. Should a road of 25m width really have 4m of that set aside for cycling (for a protected cycle lane each way, for example)? After all, that’s over 15% of the space, when cycling currently is often still just 1%.

But the insidiousness of the argument is that it leads to low-quality compromises like urban shared paths – which then perpetuate the “there are not enough cyclists to justify more cycleways” circular reasoning.

The reality is that cyclists are not like cars. But they aren’t like pedestrians either. To play to cycling’s strength, a cyclist needs to be able to go at a reasonable speed, at reasonable safety – and without constant conflict with other users. Shared paths risk creating an environment in which such conflicts – with pedestrians – are built right into the design. To be safe and courteous, cyclists need to go slower than appropriate for their mode of transport. Yet even if they do, both the pedestrians and the cyclists get a much degraded experience as a result, leading to frustration in one group, and push-back in the other.

Here Shared Paths Dont Work II 176x300 Sharing is caring   except on cycleways

Maioro Street: This shared path in suburbia is a failure even with no pedestrians on it.

Now if you go through CAA’s blog, you will note that we are actually supporting – cheering on, even – a variety of shared path projects. How does that square?

Well, shared paths CAN work – if pedestrian numbers are rather low for the shared path width. Really, if they are more like cycleways on which occasional pedestrians/joggers are also seen.

The causeway on the NW Cycleway and good sections of the future Glen Innes – Tamaki Path qualify. Distances are too long, and local attractions too sparse to attract crowds of walkers.

Other shared paths are a more of a mixed feast. For example, we would have loved the Waterview Shared Path in its suburban setting to be a separated facility – a dedicated footpath next to a dedicated cycleway. But our infrastructure culture still considers that unnecessary luxury, so we didn’t even push for that when the design was set down back in 2011. And further into town, from about Kingsland inwards, the Northwestern Cycleway is really starting to struggle with the combined pedestrian/cyclist numbers.

But the real issue is shared paths in urban locations, like the City Centre, or on major arterial roads like Maioro Street.

There, shared paths are simply a totally unsuitable solution – if you want cycling to grow. Urban shared paths may have an acceptable safety record. And they will attract the occasional new “cautiously interested” person to cycling – but as soon as that person is riding on the shared paths, he/she will soon feel all the frustrations of the footpath cyclist (and may be exposed to aggrieved pedestrians!).

For those environments, we need more Beach Roads (protected two-ways), and more Copenhagen Lanes (protected one-ways – we still don’t really have much of any of those around Auckland). Designs where pedestrians and cyclists both get a practical share of the road.

Work better than most shared paths 200x300 Sharing is caring   except on cycleways

Triangle Road and IanMcKinnon Drive overbridge: Even these protected one-ways with their flaws offer more potential for long-term cycle growth than shared paths.

Urban shared paths are a great way to raise cycling’s mode share – from 1% to 2%. And then keeping it there, with a built-in ceiling. Better than nothing, but not much better.

So really, where alternatives are feasible but urban shared paths are proposed – for example to avoid car park removal by squashing cycleways and footpaths into one – sharing isn’t caring. It’s building inherently limited infrastructure.

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