Relief is at hand for cyclists frustrated at the long delays for the cycleway between Rosedale and Unsworth Heights in the Shore, even though it took a few months longer than expected told to sort out the stormwater/wetlands issues.
But finally, the continuation of the interrupted path (old photo at right) is at hand, and Auckland Transport is inviting everyone who cycles in the area to the opening event:
Saturday, 22 June, 1-3pm, Unsworth Reserve
There will be “guided and group bike rides along the new path, a community BBQ being held by the local community police and a ride ‘n’ repair station for bike maintenance, safety checks, along with other helpful advice and tips”. Sounds like it might be worth a family visit, especially if the weather holds on the day. Details here.
But even more important is that there’s now a good-quality link all the way through the reserve, and to points much further north, as shown in the map image to the right (plus cycle facilities on Barbados Drive, which aren’t shown on the map, to link up the paths). We hope lots of locals and cycle commuters will be using this link in the years to come.
Guest blog by Jala Shekho, NZTA
Kia Ora – It’s Jala Shekho, representing the NZ Transport Agency on the Grafton Gully Cycleway project. Great news! For those who cycle, walk or drive past the construction site you can see that the first section of the path is paved, and is on track to be opened for use in July.
Construction kicked off late last year and now the team are excited to be able to let people use the first section of the cycleway. Going from the bottom of Alten Road to the top of Grafton Road, this 300metre section will be the connector to the shared walking and cycling path once the project is complete. [Editor's note: the cycleway works will also include improvements to the crossing at Alten Road / Stanley Street to make it easier and safer to use for cyclists - these are mostly separate works by Auckland Transport and may not yet be done by July - please use the existing pedestrian crossing instead].
Now I know many of you will be eager to take the title of first user – and we are thrilled at the enthusiasm, however a quick note of caution about safety. The team will be continuing to work in the area, most notably on Churchill Road, so we ask that you stay alert of and look out for construction vehicles which will still be around. They should be well clear of the actual cycleway, however we do want to raise awareness about their presence. There will also be safety audits done once construction has been completed, and prior to opening it up this 300metre section.
For those of you keen to know more, the NZTA website has more info on the project and artistic impressions of the completed cycleway.
Enjoy the addition to your journey and if you come across any issues, or see any way we could make things better or safer, please feel free to contact me at email@example.com. Keep an eye out for more information as I’ll be updating you on the progress we make on this cycleway – Jala
We chatted yesterday with Bevan Woodward, SkyPath’s project director, and our conversation also drifted into the various groups that still resist the project. We can’t discuss all we talked about (especially as some of the opponents aren’t as public about it as others), but it’s good to hear that they are also collecting new supporters – particularly important when the project is still being required to provide study after study on top of all the work (and voluminous reports) that has been done already.
So it was good to hear that Russell McVeagh – one of the most prestigious NZ law firms – has agreed to provide pro-bono legal assistance to review & advise the project (they are Resource Management Act specialists, so highly useful to have them on board). Also, the Ministry of the Environment has just agreed to provide $193,000 to fund some further studies – and access design – that had been requested. Read SkyPath’s press release here:
Today’s announcement by Ministry for the Environment of $193,000 funding for SkyPath is a real boost says project director, Bevan Woodward.
“We greatly appreciate the Government’s support for the SkyPath project. For a long time our goal has been regarded as unachievable by some, but now SkyPath is increasingly seen as the smart transport solution that makes perfect sense.
“SkyPath is an exemplar project that demonstrates how we can tick all the boxes; environmentally, socially and economically. Aucklanders want safe and convenient alternatives to the private motor car. Sustainable transport in its various forms is clearly the way of the future. It’s more affordable than motorway building, less harmful to our environment and makes our city a more enjoyable place to be.
Mr Woodward says “The Ministry of the Environment’s funding of $193,000 means we can get on with design work of SkyPath’s access ramps in consultation with key stakeholders, research the consent requirements, advance the engineering details and prepare funding arrangements for construction and operation.
“This grant gives us extra confidence in the SkyPath project and will enable us to take an agreement for the next stage of work to Auckland Council’s Strategy & Finance Committee in August 2013.”
“Hence we are very grateful for the pro bono assistance SkyPath is receiving from KPMG and Russell McVeagh via Hikurangi Foundation’s Compass Network. Their expert guidance is enabling us to prepare the funding and delivery arrangements for SkyPath that will need to be considered by Auckland Council.”
“Our aim is to the obtain resource consent in 2014 and start construction of SkyPath late next year.”
Sounds great. We should applaud Bevan and his team, because the work they are doing to get us all a walk & cycleway is like combining an ironman long-distance race with a hurdling competition.
For those riding on the Northwestern Cycleway between Te Atatu and Point Chev, we have excerpted some cycleway-relevant info from a recent stakeholder meeting summary for the SH16 motorway works (which we attended in person as well, of course):
Will a noise reduction fence be provided between the shared path and the motorway?
A noise wall will be provided adjacent to the shared path along part of the length between the Great North Road Interchange and the Causeway Bridge, but not for the rest of the alignment. This is due to the vehicles in traffic lanes providing passive surveillance of the shared path as security. The swale drain adjacent to the shared path and the bus lane will provide further separation between the shared path users and the general traffic lanes. A 1.4m high general fence will be provided between the shared path and the motorway.
The cycleway in the vicinity of Alwyn Avenue is very narrow and below the relevant standards. Will this be widened and the sightlines improved as part of the Project?
Yes, the shared path will be upgraded along the entire alignment. The new nominal width will be 4m from Great North Road through to Te Atatu – this will include a 3m sealed shared path and a 0.5m shoulder on either side. The path will be 3m wide on the bridges (ie: no shoulders provided on bridges).
Will the timber boardwalk section of the cycleway near the Rosebank offramp be upgraded?
Yes, the timber structure will be rebuilt and will be wider than the existing structure, including balustrades and an upgraded surface [Editor's note: CAA asked for this to be a focus in earlier discussions].
Is there an opportunity to provide a drinking fountain at the viewing platforms? [Editor's note: CAA asked this question - it would be neat if riders that need to top up can get something to drink here at one of the several viewing platforms that will be built next to the cycleway].
The Alliance will consider this suggestion.
For the last 5 years of my work on CAA’s committee, I have often joked that I was their committee member that cycled least – generally attending meetings for CAA by walking there (since I both lived and worked in the city centre, it sometimes just didn’t seem to be worth cycling 1-2km in sometimes very prickly traffic condition, with no good bike parking at either end etc).
Since I have moved into the suburbs a week ago, I have now re-joined the cycle commuting populace.
When my partner and I chose our new house, having a cycleway into town close by was in fact one of my “go / no go” criteria, so we ended up settling near Unitec out west, and I am now adding to the daily riders on the Northwestern, clocking up some 15km a day. Half what I used to do daily for a decade some 15 years ago, but not too bad, and a bit hillier.
Some semi-random thoughts after the last week or so of riding:
- I could not have selected a worse time of year to start. Rain, thunderstorms, wind, icy cold – and pitch black on the way home. It can only get better!
- I am still calibrating my clothing – I take it at an easy trundle instead of in a rush, and ditch the outer layers as soon as I am warmed up, to sweat less, but results are still a bit mixed. Wool trousers work rather well.
- I also am learning to check all directions of the skies in the morning. I really shouldn’t have left my rain pants at home today. The clouds came east faster than I could ride! Drenched.
- I have too much gear! I never remember my misspent youth’s rides being encumbered with all that stuff. Multiple layers of clothing (see above), trouser clips / reflective bands, pump, detachable lights, lock, pump, helmet… I am still experimenting and probably will end up ditching some of that stuff for good, or fixing it permanently to the bike or helmet etc….*
- I am still with a clear minority, when compared to the hordes travelling (or crawling) along the SH16 motorway next to me. On the other hand, if we ever get congested cycleways, then places like the Northwestern will be it, so I better enjoy it now. Plus, I am sure those numbers will ramp up in summer.
- I have gotten both keen interest from other cycle commuters in my bike light (a light on a flexible stalk keeping cars a tad further away from me on those parts of the route where I ride on-road – http://www.bikealive.co.nz/) as well as a telling-off by a motoring coworker, who told me to get a better light, saying she didn’t seem me until the last second in the dark (so how did she even know it was me?).
- For all the quality of new cycleway sections like Kingsland (noise walls are great!), many of the other issues on the Northwestern really stand out if you encounter them twice daily. Particularly the uneven surface. Lets complain a bit louder, shall we? Driver’s don’t put up silently with potholes either…
- I am already feeling a bit fitter, going up those hills east of Kingsland – though that is probably mostly imagination. I still get overtaken by almost everyone!
* On that matter, can anyone point me to a bike pump that I could lock to my bike? I.e. one that I don’t have to worry about getting stolen when I leave my bike out somewhere? I saw them years ago but can’t find em anymore these days.
So much for my musings. What are your stories about (re-) starting cycle commuting?