Beyond Bikelash: Building and maintaining momentum

I was impressed with the momentum underway in Wellington.   Just as Sara mentioned in her presentation councils can keep delivering and we must support our council leaders to do just that (submitting on plan, presenting at council, emailing decision makers).

I was really delighted to be a speaker at the conference. I’ve been attending 2 Walk and Cycle since my first conference in Taranaki in 2009 originally as an advocate and then as an elected member over my 12 years on Auckland Council.  I always learn a lot and feel energised by the people power in the room.

Headline in the Press following the Asia Pacific Cycle Conference 2017

I first met Sara at the Asia-Pacific Cycle Congress in Otautahi in 2017 when it felt like the sting was coming out of “Bikelash” for both of our cities. As it was reported from the Congress “A national rash of cycleway projects is making some motorists grumpy. But the cycle lobby seems to have its strategy sorted” .

It goes on “But now – impossible to believe, she (referring to me) agrees – Auckland is in the middle of a $200 million investment in 52km of dedicated cycleways. “There’s been a radical realignment of our cycling universe.  One of Auckland’s political advantages is that the cycleways are an Auckland Transport-run programme and so less susceptible to rate-payer pressure, she says.” (ha!)

Incredibly those projects in 2017 I said where “safely in place” are still not delivered 7 years later, 6 years behind schedule. At the 2Walk and cycling 2021 I asked the question Why is it taking so long to deliver an urban cycling network?  Leadership, sexism, the claylayer, the overplaying of community opposition were all factors and continue to be barriers.

Meola Road, Pt Chev to Westmere, under construction March 2024

What I would call a “bikelash” local government election in 2022 and budget cuts further threatened the programme in particular three routes covering the inner west of Auckland including this one in the photo.

It took an exhausting campaign by a well resourced community – 7 schools, 50 organisation, local residents associations, 3 business associations all in support- has got AT back on track but only just.

Stop de Kindermood protest in the Netherlands in response to rising road fatalities in the 1970’s

I often look at this photo – its on the wall of the Big Street Bikers office –  and wonder what it will take in Aotearoa to really push through on delivery after so many delays.  What will be the NZ version of the Netherland’s stop  de kindermoord (stop child murder) protest movement.   Do we need direct action to turn government policy and force delivery by agencies like Auckland Transport.? Does every lever possible need to be activated?

Clearly it is not just bikelash we need to move beyond but a full on culture war.

Community advocates
Radha Patel, Western Springs College student leader, Newtown School parents presenting to Auckland Council, Boopie Moran presenting to the AT Board

From my time council I know the importance of playing the council influence game – present, lobby, submit.   Showimg elected representatives the evidence  and support should be enough.

Boopsie Moran, extraordinary community advocate taking the time to present to the Auckland Transport Board on Katoa, Ka Ora Auckland’s speed management programme

Mums who just want their kids to get to school safely fronting up to speak at council

Students like Radha who petitioned for a safe crossing to school and advocated for the project .  It should not be this hard and exhausting for volunteers but we know how essential it is.

What I think is going to have the biggest impact on the decision makers as Sara covered is from the momentum gathering pace around the country of people taking advantage of safe infrastructure and jumping on active transport.  The majority of households have a bike- increasingly an e-bike, the majority want to be able to walk, scoot, wheel and cycle. (Waka Kotahi, NZTA Understanding attitudes and perceptions of walking and cycling survey 2023)

Politicians cutting the ribbon on cycling projects Top Left Glenn Innes to Tamaki stage 1; Bottom left Te ara i whiti Lightpath. Right Quay Street temporary cycleway opening with John Key, Simon Bridges and Len Brown

Famously it was the feedback the focus group from boomers who had experienced the Otago Rail Trail that convinced John Key to invest in urban cycling back in 2014 ( and if you look carefully from these cycleway opening pics the common denominator is a Minister of Transport and now Waka Kotahi board chair Simon Bridges). This is normal transmission and it needs to resume.

Mayor Wayne Brown riding on the footpath, ACT leader David Seymour with his e-bike; Quote from Richard Prebble


The decision makers (and in the case of the quote our elder statesmen) are so close to getting it!

I want to end on a positive note.  This is a giltch .

It is not normal for the Minister of Transport to decline to attend the conference,

It is not normal for senior agency leaders to not attend.  It is not normal to be “othered” when active transport is just what everyone does at some point on every journey and kids want to be able to get to kura safely.

It is not normal for leaders to pivot to road building priorities so readily (and change course off the back of media releases ) but not to have provided the same service for active transport – in the case of Auckland over 12 years of a progressive, supportive council!

Cover of the draft Government Policy Statement on Land Transport 2024

It is not normal during a climate emergency for a GPS that is so ill-informed, incoherent and lacking in any credibility.    Whatever your political persuasion the draft GPS (consultation closed on 2 April)  Zealand’s transport system and the communities it serves, now or in the future.

We can bring the discussion back on track and continue building momentum using every lever in our powers – I am sure this will happen including judicial review of the decision makers.  This is our street fight.  We know that it is the right thing for the health, well-being and freedom of current and future generations.

Reimaging the GPS as Transport for Life. Illustration by Carol Green

I ended by joining the call to attend the Transport for Life rally after the conference calling for a safe, fair and clean transport system and an evidence-based pathway to a healthy transport future for everyone in Aotearoa.


Quay Street Cycleway opening

It would have been hard to imagine even a few years ago politicians flocking to the opening of a cycleway.  In fact there were hardly any cycleway openings in Auckland until the PM opened Grafton Gully cycleway in September 2014.   However that all changed when serious investment in cycling got underway thanks in part to the Urban Cycling  programme. The additional government funding matched with Auckland Council interim transport levy funding  is starting to have an impact.  As the network of cycleways grows on busy routes cycling numbers are increasing with a doubling of numbers coming into the city centre in the last year.

Protected cycleways like the new one on Quay Street feel safe and pleasant to ride. They attract commuters, recreational riders, tourists and families with children.  They unleash the huge latent demand for opportunities to ride safely.  They are good for businesses , good for health & wellbeing and good for improving the liveability of Auckland*.  It is not surprising politicians of all colours want to celebrate when new cycleways open!



Auckland Transport Media Release

8 July 2016

Auckland’s waterfront will be an improved urban space and an even busier cycle route following the opening of the Quay St Cycleway today.

The Prime Minister, Transport Minister Simon Bridges, Mayor Len Brown and a large group of people on bikes, were the first to use the city centre’s newest cycleway. The opening was preceded by a dawn blessing with Iwi representatives.

A new cycle counter on the promenade, a first for Auckland, will highlight the number of people cycling along one of Auckland busiest routes.

On the waterfront side of Quay St, the 1km, two way cycleway goes from Princes Wharf at Lower Hobson St to Plumer St. The $2.18m cycleway is being delivered by Auckland Transport and has local funding and an investment from the Government through NZ Transport Agency and the Urban Cycleways Programme.

It will benefit everyone who spends time at the waterfront and will encourage more people to start cycling into the city centre says Kathryn King, Auckland Transport’s Cycling and Walking manager.

“Having a dedicated cycleway like this means there is more space on the promenade for people to walk and enjoy the harbour views. The planter boxes, which provide protection from traffic, improve this wonderful space by adding some greenery.

“The cycle route into the city centre along Tamaki Dr is the busiest route in Auckland, and this will make cycling from the east even more attractive. Providing a protected cycleway on Quay St gives people working in the downtown area greater travel choice and an excellent cross-town route that avoids a lot of city traffic.”

Mayor Len Brown says it’s another important chapter in his vision for Auckland as the world’s most liveable city as it transforms the city centre into a pedestrian and cycle friendly destination.

“This project is another example of Auckland Council, Auckland Transport and the Transport Agency working well together to achieve a great outcome.”

Bike Auckland, chair, Barbara Cuthbert says the cycleway is a great addition to downtown Auckland. “It’s hugely exciting to have a safe separated space for people cycling and those walking close to rail and ferry services.”

The three-metre-wide cycleway connects with the Beach Rd Cycleway at Britomart Pl and by the end of 2018 will link with the Nelson St Cycleway and Westhaven to City Cycleway at Princes Wharf and the Tamaki Dr Cycleway.

When phase two of Nelson St Cycleway is constructed next year, the city centre cycle loop will be complete. This loop includes Lightpath, Nelson St, Grafton Gully, Beach Rd and Quay St cycleways.

Auckland Transport is working with project partners Auckland Council and the Government through the NZ Transport Agency and the Urban Cycleways Programme on a $200m programme of cycle improvements from 2015 to 2018.

Quay St Cycleway

  • The Quay Street Cycleway is delivered by Auckland Transport and is one of the projects funded in the 2015-18 Urban Cycleways Programme (UCP).
  • Auckland Transport is working with project partners Auckland Council and the Government through the NZ Transport Agency and the Urban Cycleways Programme on a $200m programme of cycle improvements from 2015 to 2018.
  • The UCP involves central government partnering with local government to accelerate the delivery of $333 million of key cycle projects around New Zealand over the next three years
  • The $2.18 million cycleway is funded from $0.70M Central Government, $0.75M National Land Transport Fund, $0.73 million Auckland Transport. This project is part of the wider Auckland city centre package project announced through the Urban Cycleways Programme.
  • The one kilometre long, three metres wide, two-way cycleway goes from Princes Wharf, Lower Hobson to Plumer St. The majority of the route is on-road, physically protected from traffic with concrete separators (similar to Nelson St Cycleway) and planter boxes.
  • This cycleway connects with the existing shared path on Quay St in the east. By 2018 AT will have delivered another cycleway that will connect Quay St Cycleway at Plumer St with the start of the Glen Innes to Tamaki Dr Shared Path at Hobson Bay. People will be able to cycle and walk from Glen Innes to the city centre.
  • Beach Rd Cycleway connects with Quay St at Britomart Pl allowing people to cycle all the way to the Northwestern Cycleway via Beach Rd Cycleway and Grafton Gully Cycleway.In the west, people can now cycle over Te Wero Bridge to Wynyard Quarter and around the Viaduct. Ultimately it will connect with Westhaven Dr to City Cycleway and Nelson St Cycleway when they are completed in 2017.
  • When Nelson St Cycleway phase two is complete next year, a city centre cycle loop will be complete including the pink Lightpath, Grafton Gully Cycleway, Beach Rd Cycleway and Quay St Cycleway. The project team is currently working on how best to connect Nelson St Cycleway (which currently ends at Victoria St) with Quay St Cycleway.

Cycling in Auckland by numbers

  • 750 cycle trips per day on pink Lightpath since it opened December
  • A doubling of the number of people cycling into the city over three years.
  • 50% increase in people cycling in Symonds St/Grafton Gully corridor following opening of Grafton Gully Cycleway in 2014
  • 20% increase in people cycling on Northwestern Cycleway in May 2016 compared with May 2015.

Upcoming cycle projects in Auckland

  • Mangere Future Streets opening late September
  • Mt Roskill Safe Routes opening late October
  • Ian McKinnon Dr Cycleway public consultation starts July
  • Karangahape Rd Streetscape Enhancement and Cycleway public consultation by August.
  • Great North Rd Cycleway public consultation by the end of 2016.

Related reading

Key unlocks Quay Street – Transport Blog

A gray, sunny day for lots of joy on Quay Street – Bike Auckland

Prime Minister John Key geared up on Auckland’s Quay Street cycleway – Auckland Now

*Benefits of investing in cycling in New Zealand communities – NZTA

Urban Cycleways investment underway

Transport Minister Simon Bridges, Mayor Len Brown and NZTA CEO, Geoff Dangerfield
Transport Minister Simon Bridges, Mayor Len Brown and NZTA CEO, Geoff Dangerfield

On 30 January on the old Nelson St motorway off-ramp the Minister of Transport announced the first package of projects to receive funding as part of the government’s $100 million Urban Cycleways programme. He also announced the Urban Cycleways Investment Panel that will recommend projects to the Minister.  I’m delighted to have been appointed as one of 5 panel members representing LGNZ. 

An exciting new cycleway on the redundant off -ramp (a project included in the City Centre Masterplan) connecting Upper Queen Street with Quay St via Nelson St is one of the projects to receive Urban Cycleways funding from the first tranche of projects.

Ministry of Transport Media Release: 30 January 2015

Panel Members Richard Leggert and Pippa Coom
Panel Members Richard Leggert and Pippa Coom

First set of Urban Cycleways projects announced

Transport Minister Simon Bridges today announced the first $37 million worth of cycleway projects to be rolled out across the country as part of the Government’s Urban Cycleways Programme.

First announced in August 2014, the $100 million Programme is designed to pull together a range of funding sources to invest in expanding and improving New Zealand’s cycling network.

“This is the beginning of a programme that will change the face of cycleways in New Zealand using clever funding leveraging.

By pulling together multiple funding sources, the Urban Cycleways Programme will get high-quality projects underway much sooner than may otherwise have been the case.

The Government’s Urban Cycleways Fund will contribute $9.92 million, with

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

another $21.12 million coming from the National Land Transport Fund, and $6.26 million from local government and other contributions,” Mr Bridges says.

This year, those sources have made available a total of $37,295,000.

When completed, the Urban Cycleways Programme will have supported the investment of up to $320 million, over four years, to create a safe, user-friendly cycleway network across the country.

“The Urban Cycleways Fund will accelerate the first set of 13 projects, which will get underway in Auckland, Hamilton, Palmerston North, Wellington, Christchurch and Dunedin, and almost all will be completed over the next 6-9 months,” Mr Bridges says.

“The projects I am announcing today have been prioritised because of their value to commuter cyclists, and their additional benefits to recreational riders.

“Further projects to receive funding from the remaining $90 million in the Urban Cycleways Fund will be announced later this year,” Mr Bridges says.

Urban Cycleways Programme projects are decided by the Minister of Transport, on the recommendation of the Urban Cycleways Investment Panel.

The Panel has been selected to assess the projects and prioritise funding.

The Panel members are:

  • Cynthia Bowers, Deputy Mayor of Hastings
  • Glen Koorey, Senior Lecturer in Transportation Engineering at the University of Canterbury
  • Richard Leggett, Director of Cycling NZ and Chair of the Cycling Safety Panel
  • Pippa Coom, Deputy Chair of the Waitemata Local Board
  • Mike James, General Manager Road and Rail, Ministry of Transport
  • Dave Brash, Group Manager Planning and Investment, New Zealand Transport Agency.

For further information on the Urban Cycleways Programme the ,

Projects to be accelerated in 2014/15: