Creating safe connections to Lightpath

Photo: Phil Walter
Photo: Phil Walter

[Update 11 February 2016: Auckland Transport and NZTA have provided updates in response to our December Board resolution – AT’s walking and cycling team response to each point in italics below]

We can’t get enough of the new Te ara i whiti/Lightpath and Nelson St Cycleway. It is a pleasure to ride and the magenta magic is stunning (#LightpathAKL for all the images).

However we are concerned about the poor standard of connections to this fantastic cycling infrastructure. The approach roads to the Canada St entrance are not pleasant to ride on especially for less confident riders and a number of detours are expected of commuters wanting a smooth ride and direct route. There is also a lack of signage to Lightpath from K’rd .

First hoon opening on 3 December
Photo: Ronald Andreasson

We (transport portfolio of the Waitemata Local Board) have asked Auckland Transport and NZTA to follow up on a number of issues that we are already aware of since the opening on 3 December. Many of these will get fixed as part of the proposed K’rd cycleway and some are already being investigated by a NZTA safety auditor but we wanted to confirm the urgent action we think is needed on the connections to the Canada St entrance to Lightpath from K’rd, Grafton Gully cycleway and Ian McKinnon Drive. Fortunately there is a lot of road to work with and low parking demand on Canada St.  Please let us know if we have missed anything from the list below (either use the comments or email me

At the Waitemata Local Board meeting in December 2015 we passed the following resolution:

Moved by Deputy Chairperson PJ Coom, seconded by member CP Dempsey:

i) That the Auckland Transport Update – December 2015 report be received.

ii) That the Waitematā Local Board notes the public feedback analysis for the Nelson Street Cycleway Phase 2 and requests Auckland Transport provide a direct connection to Wynyard Quarter via Market Place and the Western side of Nelson St in addition to the proposed Quay St connection.

Upper Queen St missing connection to GGC
Missing crossing point between Grafton Gully Cycleway and Canada St shared path. Photo: Christopher Dempsey

iii) Congratulate NZTA and Auckland Transport on the successful opening of the Nelson St cycleway Phase 1

vi) Requests that NZTA and Auckland Transport urgently undertake measures (interim if necessary) to provide safe connections from K’rd, Grafton Gully Cycleway and Ian McKinnon Drive to the entrance of Te ara i whiti/Lightpath at Canada St including:

  1. Installation of an advance cycle box on K’rd at the intersection of Pitt St and Mercury Lane for the right hand turn on to Mercury Lane  In the short term we are proposing to trial a cycle barnes dance at this intersection which will enable people on bikes to cross the road and access Mercury Lane without conflict with other vehicular traffic.  In the longer term this movement will be improved further in the KRd Streetscape Upgrade project.
  2. Traffic calming on Mercury Lane We are including traffic calming on Mercury Lane in the reference design for the street once the CRL works are complete.  We will investigate ways of better enabling this movement in the short term.
  3. Canada St 11am 8 December 2015Treatment to provide for riders moving across the traffic lane to enter the right hand slip lane on Mercury lane to cross over Canada St to the entrance to the Canada St bridge In the longer term access to the Light Path from Mercury Lane will be addressed in the upgrade of Mercury Lane as part of the CRL works.
  4. Traffic calming on the approach to the Canada St give way sign at the intersection with Mercury Lane  An improvement to this section of Mercury Lane will be included in the reference design for the street as part of the CRL works.  We will investigate opportunities for temporary measures before the CRL works commence. .
  5. Installation of a cycle facility from Upper Queen St bridge to the K’rd intersection on the western side of Upper Queen St We plan to upgrade this section of Upper Queen Street as part of the KRd Streetscape Upgrade project
  6. Wayfinding signage on K’rd  We have included the requirement for wayfinding signage as part of the KRd Streetscape Upgrade project.  We will investigate opportunities for temporary signs in the meantime
  7. Appropriate kerb ramps for riders wishing to enter the Canada St shared path from Mercury Lane The New Zealand Transport Agency are investigating this request as part of the final safety audit.
  8. Signalised crossing from Grafton Gully to the southern side of Canada Street across Upper Queen St. This movement is currently catered for as a two part crossing over Upper Queen Street and Canada Street.  As part of the KRd Streetscape Upgrade project we will look for opportunities to improve the level of service for people walking and cycling.

vii) Requests NZTA and Auckland Transport to report back to the February 2016 meeting of the Waitemata Local Board on the actions taken

At our February board meeting where AT verbally presented the updates we emphasised the need for quick fixes rather than waiting for the the improvements that are promised to be delivered as part of the K’rd Streetscape Upgrade Project (to be delivered by 2017/18) and the CRL works (2022).

NZTA has also provided this update:

The work around Murray Lane and Canada Street is being reviewed as part of the final safety audit which is due to be concluded imminently with remediation work to follow. I will provide an update on this when it is available.

Monthly Board report February 2016

This is my first report for 2016 covering updates from December 2015 and January 2016.


City of cycles

The opening of Lightpath and the Nelson St cycleway on 3 December by Hon Simon Bridges marked the beginning of a fantastic summer of cycling for Auckland.  There has been a 20 percent increase in cycling in December 2015 compared to 2014 thanks to the expanding network of safe cycleways.

cycleway-opening-ceremony_500x620Lightpath is now the second busiest route with an average of 936 cycle trips per day (pedestrian numbers have yet to be made available but it is also proving to be extremely popular for walkers, runners and skateboarders).

Although Nelson St cycleway has been a big success (and Lightpath is guaranteed to be an award winner) we have been concerned about poor connections and lack of wayfinding to the route. At our December board meeting we passed the following resolutions detailed here.

As at 2 February NZTA has advised that the work around Mercury Lane and Canada Street is being reviewed as part of the final safety audit which is due to be concluded imminently with remediation work to follow.

 Love to Ride – Auckland Bike Challenge

 I’ve signed up the Waitematā Local Board to the Auckland Bike Challenge through the Love to Ride website. Over February we are going to aim for every member of the local board and all our local board services team to give cycling a go at least once.

 City Rail Link announcement

 CRL BlessingThe Waitematā Local Board has consistently supported the City Rail Link as we understand that it is critical to the development of an integrated, efficient transport system in Auckland.  It was therefore a pleasure to mark two significant CRL milestones.

First on 21st December I attended with Christopher Dempsey on behalf of the Board the dawn blessing for the start of the CRL works (photo right).

On 27 January I joined MP Julie Anne Genter, supporters and board members for a celebration to mark the government’s announcement on CRL celebration at the Greens Officethe CRL funding. This commitment is long overdue but it is good to see the government finally respond to the overwhelming evidence that the CRL is essential to Auckland.

Congratulations to everyone who championed the CRL project and in particular the Mayor who made it his number one priority.

New Network consultation  

In January I worked on the Board’s feedback on Auckland Transport’s proposed New Network for Auckland’s Central Suburbs following the public consultation process that ran from 1 October until 10 December 2015.

The Board’s feedback is attached to the agenda.

Taxi trial on Grafton bridge

 The Board welcomed the news that Auckland Transport proposes an early end to the Grafton bridge taxi trial. We originally opposed the introduction of the trial.

 From AT’s monitoring data it appears that the introduction of taxis to the bridge had a more than minor effect as outlined in the pre-trial monitoring methodology.  The two main areas of concern are; failure to adhere to the 30km/h speed limit and, the number of recorded instances of taxis overtaking cyclists on the bridge.

We agreed with this assessment (which supported our own experience of taxis and unauthorised drivers using Grafton Bridge) and the recommendation to the Traffic Control Committee (TCC) for the trial to be stopped and for the special vehicle lane to be returned to a bus lane.

Franklin Road

franklin-road-revised-option-1-october-2015I am the Board’s representative on the Community Liaison Group for the upgrade of Franklin Road.

In December, following further public engagement and peer review of the options, Auckland Transport announced the preferred design option.

The key reasons given for selecting option 1 as preferred option are:

  • It balances the needs of all road users taking into account feedback from stakeholders.
  • It retains the flush median which is used predominantly by vehicles for right turn movements into side street.
  • It retains parking between trees.
  • It provides for confident cyclists.
  • It’s considered an appropriate facility for the steep gradient of Franklin Road.
  • There is good separation between cyclists and vehicles reversing from driveways.
  • It is supported by an independent peer reviewer.

Option 1 will now progress to the detailed design stage with a draft design expected in March 2016. This will include further consideration of the treatment of the Wellington Street intersection and side road intersections, and the location and design of pedestrian crossing facilities.

Physical works on stage one are due to commence in March 2016 and implementation of the residents parking zone in April. It is great to see this project moving forward after a long campaign by the Board and local residents.

More details on Auckland Transport’s website.

 Unitary Plan

I have been following the Unitary Plan debate closely and how it impacts on our communities even though planning sits outside my portfolios.

On 25th January I attended with the Chair the Grey Lynn Residents Association information evening. At least 40 people came along to Grey Lynn RSC to hear about the latest zone changes.

What is of most of concern is the out of scope upzoning that is currently proposed by Auckland Council. This has involved unilateral changes to zoning without the ability of people to have any input. It is likely that not all the zoning changes will be opposed where it has been done to correct anomalies or where there may be support for more intensification particularly on transport routes (one of the rationales for the upzoning).

However current opposition to the proposals is not a NIMBY response (as is often portrayed of the oppostion) but an objection to the process. As the Shale Chambers said at the meeting it is a “procedural abomination” that the usual rules of natural justice and the democratic process have not been applied to the up-zoning proposals.

Another aspect of the Unitary Plan process that was mentioned at the meeting is how draining it has been on community groups. The Grey Lynn Residents Association is one of the few voluntary groups that are still managing to be part of the hearing process.


Auckland on Anniversary weekend
Auckland on Anniversary weekend

The Auckland Anniversary long weekend provided a smorgasbord of amazing events. I enjoyed checking out the Waitemata Local Board sponsored International buskers festival, Ports of Auckland hosted See Port, and the new Tamaki Herenga Waka Festival in the Cloud as well as taking visitors on a bike ride along the waterfront.

It was just really disappointing to hear that so many people were let down by public transport over the weekend. Member Christopher Dempsey is following this up with Auckland Transport as there is no excuse for not being able to plan for the huge crowds that are now attracted to the city centre to celebrate Auckland’s anniversary.

I was fortunate to attend a number of events in December in the lead up to the holiday break (including the Franklin Road lights, West Lynn Street party, Grey Lynn 2030 Christmas lunch, Ponsonby Business Association breakfast). I was particularly grateful for the invite extended to all elected representatives to attend a settlement waananga and Christmas lunch at Umupuia Marae on 11 December. It was a very special day learning about the history of Ngai Tai Ki Tamaki and their recent settlement with the Crown.

Monthly Board report December 2015

This report covers my Waitematā Local Board activities from 1 November until 5 December 2015 as Deputy Chair, lead for the Community and Transport portfolios, and Chair of the Grants Committee, and with positions on the Ponsonby Business Association Board and Ponsonby Community Centre Committee and Board liaison for the Parnell Community Centre.  I was also acting chair from 15 – 19 November.

This is my final report for 2015. Many thanks to everyone who supports the work of the Board during the year.


Parnell Festival of roses 2015 zero wasteParnell Festival of Roses on 15 November

Congratulations to the team who delivered an outstanding community-focused Parnell Festival of Roses this year (the festival is now in its 22nd year).  I was particularly impressed to hear that the festival broke zero waste records. It is the most sustainable event in terms of zero waste since Auckland Zero Waste Alliance’s Zero Waste Event Project started operating in 2013 achieving a diversion from landfill of 98%.  90% of the event’s waste was composted, and another 8% recycled. Only 2% of the waste generated went to landfill.

David Seymour MP took a big interest in learning about zero waste


Freemans Bay School think big projectFreemans Bay School Think Big project

The launch of the Auckland Kids Voice website by Freeman’s Bay School was held on 11 November at Auckland Council. The website is a Think Big project developed by the school with funding from the Waitematā Local Board earmarked for youth initiatives as part of being a UNICEF Child Friendly City.

The website includes an adult survey form adapted by the school students for kids to be able to give local feedback on Auckland Transport’s New Network bus consultation.  The project was recognised in a NZ Herald article Inner City youngsters have region’s interests at heart

Thanks to everyone who made this project happen.

Launch of the Low Carbon Community Action Plan at the Auckland Museum

Launch of low carbon plan at Auckland Museum
Launch of low carbon plan at Auckland Museum

Waitematā is the first Local Board to launch a community low carbon action plan. The plan came out of community concern about the lack of action on climate change that led to the Board in 2011 committing to develop a localised plan for reducing emissions that will focus on reducing energy use, sustainable transport options, waste reduction, local food production and more effective and cooperative use of resources and land. I acknowledge the work of the Natural Environment Portfolio team (members Deborah Yates and Rob Thomas) who have seen through the project this term.

On Wednesday 4 November the plan and a Low Carbon Community Network was launched by the Board at the Auckland Museum.  The network is intended as a loose collaboration of all those interested in climate change and forging a low carbon community. The Board aims to make the most of sharing the considerable ideas, news and events which make up our collective local knowledge.

At the launch the Museum’s Director of Corporate Services Les Fleming (pictured below with board members) described the huge success they have had in reducing their carbon footprint and took attendees on the roof to see the solar array which is contributing to their effort.

Ponsonby Rd Pedestrian Experience project

On 17 November consultation started on the proposal by Auckland Transport and the Waitematā Local Board to make Ponsonby Road more visually attractive and pedestrian-friendly through improvements to 8 side streets between Franklin Road and Williamson Ave.  Additional improvements for Mackelvie Street include a new central island with plantings and an additional raised table. Depending on the preferred design the improvements will result in the addition of between 8 – 12 on street car parks, a new pedestrian refuge for crossing Ponsonby Road and new street furniture.

The improvements are funded from the Waitematā Local Board transport capital expenditure fund to support delivery of the Ponsonby Road Plan.

I’ve previously reported on the 2 year battle the Board had with Auckland Transport to achieve a pedestrian friendly design so it is great to see this project progress.

Consultation is open until 7 December.

Grey Lynn Transport project consultation

Auckland Transport has made unnecessarily difficult work of proposals for transport changes at the Grey Lynn shops.  Auckland Transport failed to appreciate the impact of their original proposals (that started out as a project to just relocate one bus stop and improve the safety of two more in the town centre), didn’t develop a consultation plan with the Local Board and didn’t respond adequately to issues raised by the local business community.   

It is unfortunate because there are many positive aspects of the revised project (following initial community feedback) that Auckland Transport started consultation on in early November.  The new proposals include a new pedestrian crossing, relocation of a loading zone and revised changes to bus stops in the town centre, as well as the installation of  traffic calming treatments on Prime Rd and Selbourne St. The changes aim to improve pedestrian safety, create a more pedestrian-friendly environment, and improve the operation of bus services.  Importantly it is no longer proposed to remove a loading zone and substantial on street parking which was the focus of original concerns about the project.

On my request the feedback period was extended by 2 weeks (until 9 December) following the Surrey Cres working group raising concerns about the timeframe and extent of the consultation.

Update on the berm planting guidelines

Richmond Rd berm dec 2015I’ve previously reported on the feedback we gave Auckland Transport on their draft berm planting guidelines. As part of the feedback the Board requested that Auckland Transport re-write the guidelines in conjunction with Local Board Services and that the guidelines include:

  • details about why berm planting is encouraged and supported
  • sets out an empowering and enabling criteria
  • clarifies the local board role
  • identifies how to mitigate potential hazards and maintenance expectations
  • tips on working with neighbours to achieve the best outcomes for the community from private plantings in the road corridor

However Auckland Transport has advised that a new draft of the guidelines will go to Auckland Transport’s Executive Team and the AT Board, with a final version of the guidelines likely to be available in the new year. In other words AT has ignored the Board’s request to have input BEFORE the guidelines are finalised.

I have therefore written to the CEO of Auckland Transport bringing his attention to the flawed process his senior managers are pursuing with regards to the berm planting guidelines and to ask that he takes action to ensure the guidelines are only finalised after AT has sought the input of Local Board services as requested (by Waitemata and many other Boards).

In ignoring the request for further input from Local Board Services AT is failing to recognise the Local Board’s placemaking role and desire to work with the community on this issue.  AT is also acting contrary to the governance structure and engagement agreement with Local Boards. The current process proposed by AT is unacceptable and is likely to lead to Local Boards having no choice but to draft our own guidelines together with the community.

Freemans Bay Residential Parking Scheme

The results of  Auckland Transport’s consultation on the Freemans Bay Residential Parking Scheme showed 59% overall support (78% support from residents).  However AT advised the Freemans Bay Residents Association that further consultation may be necessary due to the low response rate  (2439 letter sent out, 305 responses received). This led to over 140 emails from concerned residents to Board members asking that the scheme be implemented as soon as possible. I assisted the chair in drafting the following response to Freemans Bay residents:

Thank you for your email and for showing your support for the Freemans Bay Residential Parking Scheme. The Waitematā Local Board is very concerned about the ongoing parking issues in Freemans Bay.

We have asked Auckland Transport (AT) to implement the scheme as soon as possible.

The Board has been advocating for the introduction of the Freemans Bay Residential parking scheme since 2011 and we have actively supported the work of AT together with the Freemans Bay Residents Association to develop the proposed scheme that was recently been consulted on by AT.

One of our key advocacy areas in our Local Board Agreement 2015/16 is Auckland Transport to implement the residential parking zone scheme to manage commuter parking in central Auckland suburbs following consultation with residents.

On 3 November Auckland Transport’s parking team briefed Local Board members on their analysis of the consultation feedback. Although AT advised that they are satisfied they carried out a robust and thorough consultation process, the AT parking team raised with the Board their concern about the low response rate from residents and whether this might require further directed consultation such as door to door enquiries to ensure residents understand and support the scheme.

However we confirmed with AT that we do not think there is any reason to delay the implementation or undertake further consultation given the level of support at the public meeting we attended and that a low response rate is to be expected when the majority are favourable to a proposal.

I, on behalf of the Board, have therefore given AT a very clear direction of the Board’s support for the scheme which has also been backed up by the many positive messages of support, including your own, that we have received from residents.

The parking team confirmed that they will be recommending this month to the Auckland Transport Executive (the final decision maker) that the implementation of the scheme goes ahead based on the consultation results and the support of the Waitematā Local Board. AT have undertaken to get back to the Board with an implementation plan very shortly.

At our November Board meeting we also directed Auckland Transport to implement the scheme as soon as possible (thanks to the Freemans Bay Residents Association for supporting this work and attending the meeting).   AT has now confirmed implementation will take place in March 2016.

Community Grants

Applications for the Quick Response Round Two 2015- 2016 were considered at the Community Grants Committee meeting on 2 December. 17 applications totally $36,622.00 were received for a remaining grants fund of $53,298.58.

Details of the applications and the committee’s decision is available on the Council website under agenda and minutes.

Franklin Road lights 2015Franklin Road lights

The annual switch on of the Franklin Road lights took place on 1 December. This is a very special community event that the Board supports with a grant for the opening night celebrations and additional waste services.

Thanks to the organiser Roscoe Thorby who is to be congratulated on a fantastic opening night with record crowds and special guests Buckwheat and Tess.

Nelson St cycleway opening

cycleway-opening-ceremony_500x620The Nelson St cycleway and Canada St bridge opened on 3 December by Hon Simon Bridges. It is fantastic to see this cycleway project progress so quickly since receiving funding from the Urban Cycleway Investment fund. It is the most exciting and interesting cycling project happening in New Zealand if not the world right now. The magenta colour, lighting installation and clever repurposing of a disused motorway off ramp are sure to be award winning and a huge visitor attraction.

Workshops and meetings

From 1 November – 5 December 2015 I attended:

  • Central Local Boards briefing on financial policies for Annual Plan 2016/2017 on 2 November
  • Surrey Crescent working group meeting with Auckland Transport to discuss the Grey Lynn transport project on 2 November
  • Waitematā Local Board workshop on 3 November
  • Media and communications catch up on 4 November
  • Business Improvement Districts policy workshop for Councillors and Local Board member representatives on 5 November
  • Meeting for Board members to discuss proposed Unitary Plan rezoning
  • Meeting to discuss Waitematā Local Board Grants programme
  • Auckland Transport presentation to Parnell Inc members regarding the New  Network bus consultation
  • Waitematā Local Board business meeting on 10 November
  • Ponsonby Business Association Board meeting on 11 November
  • Meeting  on 11 November to discuss Ellen Melville Hall art concept proposals
  • Waitematā Local Board workshop on 12 November
  • Meeting with Auckland Transport to discuss Franklin Road upgrade options and process
  • Presentation by 5 year two AUT students of their innovative ecological design project for Western Bays.
  • GHD hosted breakfast on 13 November and ‘Bikes are good for business’ presentation by Kyle Rowe, Transport Planner with the Seattle Department of Transportation
  • Catch up with NBA General manager on  13 November
  • Weekly update with Relationship Manager including update with Senior Advisor on 16 November (as acting Chair)
  • Waitematā Local Board workshop on 17 November
  • Transport portfolio monthly meeting with Auckland Transport on 18 November
  • Meeting at MacKelvie St  organised by the Ponsonby Business Association with Auckland Transport to discuss the Ponsonby Road pedestrian experience project consultation
  • Waitematā Local Board workshop on 24 November
  • Meeting with Julian Hulls from Nextbike to discuss bike share
  • Waitematā Local Board extraordinary meeting on 24 November
  • Community Development Portfolio meeting on 25 November
  • Inner City Network meeting organised by ADCOSS on 26 November at Ellen Melville Hall
  • Meeting to discuss Greenways route through Parnell Station
  • Waitematā Local Board annual plan presentation to the governing body (presented by the Chair)
  • Tamaki Drive (Plumer St to Ngapipi Rd) cycle route workshop organised by Auckland Transport on 30 November at Beca
  • Ponsonby Community Centre Committee meeting on 30 November
  • Waitematā Local Board workshop on 1 December
  • Attended the Step it Up conference organised by Centre for NZ Progress  opening plenary on 30 November  and with Michael Wood (member Puketapapa Local Board ) presented at the Step It Up conference on 1 December Local government elections in 2016 – Fighting for progress
  • Waterfront Forum hosted by Panuku Development Agency on 1 December
  • Waitematā Local Board grants committee meeting on 2 December
  • Local Board Members briefing on Housing Affordability on 3 December

Events and functions

From 1 November – 5 December 2015 I attended:

  • All Blacks parade in Victoria Park on 4 November
  • Launch of the Low Carbon Community Action plan at Auckland Museum on 4 November
  • Community information event for the POP programme 2016 held at Studio One on 6 November
  • Hudson & Halls at the Herald Theatre on 6 November at the invitation of Silo Theatre
  • Opening of the Salisbury Reserve playground upgrade on 7 November
  • Auckland Transport’s New Network Consultation at the Grey Lynn Farmers Market on 8 November
  • Freemans Bay School’s Think Big Project launch (Auckland Kids Voice website)
  • Armistice Day commemoration held at the Auckland War Memorial Museum on 11 November
  • Opening of the Short me Shorts Film Festival at the Civic Theatre on 11 November
  • Grey Lynn Business Association networking drinks
  • Opening of the Onehunga Foreshore Taumanu on Saturday 14 November
  • Parnell Festival of Roses on Sunday 15 November
  • Auckland Architecture Association Awards and Lecture by the chief judge Rewi Thompson at the Auckland Art Gallery on 17 November
  • Parnell Community Committee AGM on 17 November
  • The Grey Lynn Book Launch at the Grey Lynn RSC on 18 November
  • Opening of the Air New Zealand 75th anniversary exhibition at the Auckland Museum on 19 November
  • Herne Bay Residents Association AGM on 19 November
  • Launch of the Arch Hill Art Wall at Lot 23 on 20 November
  • Bike Market organised by Auckland Transport at the Pitt St YMCA Hall
  • Announcement event for the Phil Goff mayoralty campaign on 22 November
  • Civic Trust AGM at the Leys Institute Library on 22 November
  • Cycle Action Auckland relaunch as Bike Auckland on 24 November
  • White Ribbon march on 25 November
  • Ponsonby Community Centre Christmas drinks on 25 November (I received coasters as a Christmas gift from the staff at the centre)
  • Drinks with Jarret Walker , author of  Human Transit How clearer thinking about public transit can enrich our communities and our lives  hosted by MR Cagney on 27 November
  • climate change christopherGrey Lynn Park Festival on 28 November
  • People’s Climate March on 28 November (photo right with Christopher Dempsey on the Climate March)
  • Ponsonby Community Centre AGM on 30 November
  • Waterfront Forum hosted by Panuku Development Agency on 1 December
  • Franklin Road Christmas lights opening on 1 December
  • Silo Park Christmas launch on 2 December
  • Dawn blessing and opening of the Nelson St cycleway on 3 December
  • First Thursdays on K’rd
  • Grey Lynn Community Centre Christmas gathering on 3 December
  • Ponsonby Market Day on 5 December
  • Bike Rave on 5 December

The lightpath to our cycling future – Te ara i whiti

Freemans Bay primary school Auckland has a stunning new icon.

Te ara i whiti – Lightpath opened yesterday to rave reviews and a huge turn out of people excited to experience the world’s first ever pink (officially magenta) coloured cycleway created from a transformed disused motorway off-ramp.

The day started with a dawn blessing that allowed for a contemplative walk with iwi reprepresentatives along the route to admire the new art works and take in the newly created vistas of the city as the sun came up. 

opening BFm photo
Photo: 95bfm

Hon Simon Bridges with the help of super hero riders from Freemans Bay primary school offically opened Phase One that includes a new swirling Canada Street Bridge connecting to the magenta-coloured Nelson Street off-ramp that joins the cycleway that runs down the length of Nelson St to the intersection of Victoria St. Phase 2, to start early next year, will take the entire Nelson St cycleway to Quay St. 

In the evening thousands gathered on foot, on skateboards and on bikes to enjoy the “first hoon” and interactive light show that runs along one side.

It was a really happy day for Auckland and wonderful to take part in the celebrations for the magic that has been created in an incredibly short time.

Nelson St off ramp before/after - City Centre Masterplan image
Nelson St off ramp before/after – City Centre Masterplan image

Since the Nelson St off ramp closed in 2005 people have looked down on spaghetti junction and imagined what could be possible to break up the endless grey motorway that dissects the city.  The idea to re-purpose the off -ramp took shape in the City Centre Masterplan 2012 (CCMP). It was visualised as a NYC style Highline with an urban garden.  In 2013 Matter Architects installed hundreds of bikes as part of an award winning Designday installation which raised further questions about how the off-ramp could be used.

Janette Sadik-Khan inspirational Auckland Conversation presentation in May 2014 provided the platform for a challenge to city’s leaders to get behind a “quick win” transformational pilot project. Paul and PippaBarb Cuthbert and Max Robitzsch from Bike Auckland (then Cycle Action Auckland) were ready with just the right project – a concept for the off-ramp as a cycleway connected to K’rd (also supported and promoted by Transport Blog).  Fortunately the timing was perfect with a new Regional Director at NZTA willing to make the idea a reality and Auckland Transport agreeing to get on board to tackle Nelson St to provide a business case for the off-ramp as a key connection in the city’s cycling network.  The crucial funding arrived with the Government’s announcement of a $100m Urban Cycling Investment Fund in August 2014 followed by confirmation that

Photo: Phil Walter
Photo: Phil Walter

Nelson St would be included in the programme in January 2015 (I was a member of the Urban Cycling Investment panel that recommended the programme to the Minister). Political support came from the Mayor Len Brown, Councillor Chris Darby (the Council’s political urban design champion) and of course the Waitematā Local Board! (our small financial contribution was to fund a drinking station on route)

The final part fell into place with the decision of the City Centre Advisory Board to use the targeted rate paid by central businesses to fund the WOW factor for the project.  This gave Auckland Council’s urban design champion Ludo Campbell-Reid and the Auckland Design Office the opportunity to get creative and follow through on the potential identified in the CCMP to make sure Auckland ended up with something really unique.

photo: Bike Auckland
photo: Bike Auckland

Following public feedback the concept was created by Monk Mackenzie architects and LandLAB, in association with artist Katz Maihi. Māori patterns annarrative form a core part of the designs, following discussions with iwi. The path includes Nelson St cyclewayetched carvings at intervals along the length, with a 6-metre pou at the entrance. The colour (by Resin Surfaces Ltd) represents the heartwood of a freshly cut totara, with the red and pink shades strengthened to contrast with the surrounding motorway lanes.  It includes LED lights by Iion lighting lining the safety barriers, that can interact and pulse as people pass them, as well as a strong magenta surface colour that fades out at the northern end in a Māori design (details from the Auckland Council media release).

Waitemata Local Board funded drinking station on Nelson St
Waitemata Local Board funded drinking station on Nelson St

I’d like to acknowledge and thank all who played a part in the Lightpath & Nelson St cycleway project from Auckland Council, Auckland Transport, NZTA and the many contractors (including Hawkins Construction, GHD, Construction Landscapes, PFS) who worked hard up right to the opening day. Te ara i whiti is a fantastic example of what can be achieved when the stars align on a great idea and creative people are given the brief and funding to make it happen.   


Film by iion of the first hoon

Time lapse of the paint going down

Aucklander flock to new magenta pathway into the city (Auckland Council media release)

Pedal to the new metal – Catherine Smith in the NZ Herald

Nelson Street Cycleway gets underway

Aucklanders are going to be blown away by the cycling project that got started on 23 April.  The Nelson Street cycleway will provide an off road connection from where the Grafton Gully cycleway exists on Upper Queen Street all the way to the waterfront via a bridge connecting Canada St with the old Nelson Street motorway off- ramp and a new separated cycleway down Nelson Street.  We are not far off being able to circle the city by bike. Can’t wait!

Media Release NZTA Nelson St blessing

Nelson Street Cycle Route Gets Underway

A dawn blessing has marked the start of work on the Nelson Street Cycle Route.

Kaumatua from Ngati Whatua o Orakei, Te Aki Tai, Ngati Paoa and Te Kawerau a Maki led the blessing which took place on the disused Nelson Street off-ramp.

The Nelson Street Cycle Route will link Upper Queen Street to Quay Street via the disused off-ramp and connect to the north-western and Grafton Gully cycleways, providing easier and safer access to and from the city centre.

The project will be delivered in partnership with Auckland Transport and delivered in two phases.

Nelson St blessingPhase one will see the construction of a bridge from Canada Street, connecting with the old Nelson Street motorway off-ramp and continuing as a separated two-way cycle path along the western side of Nelson Street to Victoria Street.

Construction of the bridge is first to get underway.  It will be built off-site and when completed will be put in place overnight.

Phase two will extend the separated cycle path from Victoria Street down to Quay Street and will also provide a link along Pitt Street to join Karangahape Road and Union Street.

Canada Street preparation for Nelson St off ramp bridge
Canada Street preparation for the bridge to connect to the old Nelson St off ramp

Construction of the cycleway from Canada Street to Union Street will be undertaken by Hawkins Construction. The completion of Phase one to Victoria Street is expected late this year and phase two by the middle of next year.

Canada Street bridge to Nelson St off ramp
Looking across to the old Nelson St off ramp to be connected from Canada St