Auckland cyclists say transport plan puts brakes on city of the future

6:06 am on 21 June 2018

A cycling advocacy group has labelled a multi-billion dollar transport plan as a missed opportunity that leaves the city stuck in the past.

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Photo: 123RF

The Regional Land Transport Plan details how $16.5 billion will be spent in the city - from busways to red light cameras and intersection upgrades.

Cycleways and walking routes are earmarked for some funding, but cyclists say it's not enough to change transport behaviour in New Zealand's most congested city.

Nearly two million cycle trips were recorded across Auckland between May last year and April this year.

Transport figures show that 80 percent of Aucklanders support investment in cycling.

Just under $500 million will be spent on cycleways over ten years. That includes around $150m on finishing existing projects.

But it's "more of the same", Barbara Cuthbert of cycling advocacy group Bike Auckland said.

"They need to look up and realise what Aucklanders want. Aucklanders are telling them very loudly and clearly: they don't want more investment roads, because roads haven't sold Auckland's problems."

Auckland Transport signed off the plan yesterday after an earlier draft was sent back to the drawing board because it didn't match the government's transport vision.

Ms Cuthbert said the current plan still missed the mark.

Auckland will "suffer" if they don't follow through the government's intentions, she said.

Ms Cuthbert said ferries have also lost out in the plan, which was another form of transport that avoids congestion ignored.

Increasingly, Aucklanders mix their transport, she said.

"They won't just walk out their door, hop in a car and drive from A to B, bcause the route is going to be pretty ghastly and when they get there, there won't be any parking," she said.

A transport commentator who oversees the transport blog Greater Auckland, Matt Lowrie, said cycling and walking should be priorities.

"Anything we can do to encourage people to walk and cycle in the city, is a good thing," he said.

It reduced congestion, had positive health effects and was a relatively cheap transport investment, he said.

The plan also includes widening motorways in Papakura and Drury, bus improvements in the northern and eastern suburbs, upgrades to Puhinui State Highway with public transport included, and improving major commuter routes at Mill Road and Whangaparaoa.

Mr Lowrie said the plan was positive.

"We're seeing a lot of investment in public transport overall."

Light rail and buses will encourage people to get out of their cars or give people the option of travelling free of congestion most of the time, he said.

Auckland Transport's chair, Lester Levy, said cycling and walking were critical to all new developments and were funded through the plan and other development models.

"We are satisfied where we're tracking with cycling and walking and we will continue to build the network and connect the network."

The 10-year budget still has to get final sign-off from the Auckland Council.

This plan earmarks Auckland Transports spending over 10 years within the bigger 30-year transport plan agreed to by the government and Auckland Council.

The overarching $30bn plan includes light rail to the airport, a regional fuel tax, road upgrades and a walk and cycle way on the harbour bridge.

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