The Wrong Side of my Car

A blog about Auckland City, its streets, and culture shock

16 Feb 2016

Auckland’s ghost cycle lanes

Let me introduce you to the map of current (red) and future (blue) cycling projects. This map also shows already existing cycling infrastructure, in solid black lines. So if you look at central Auckland it looks like it is at least reasonably convenient to cycle to the city centre.

Auckland proposed cycle network

Right? Can you guess where these cycle routes are in real life?

The keen observer already realises there is nothing there for cyclists. Here is for example Sandringham Road, the leftmost of the black lines going north to south. The next two, Dominion Road and Mount Eden Road, basically look the same.

Is this a “completed” cycle route?

Ahem. What’s going on here?

It turns out Auckland Transport considers bus lanes completed part of the cycle networks. You’re allowed to cycle in the bus lanes.

Note the parked cars in the bus lane. Most bus lanes are peak only. Do you know how dangerous it is for cyclists to weave in and out of traffic around parked cars?

And during that peak, no picnic either. Would I dare to say that a bus lane can be a bit intimidating. Buses are large and heavy. And bus drivers are on a schedule so it is rather unlikely they can afford to stay behind you. Do you know how many buses use those bus lanes on Symonds Street? I’ll tell you. Enough to have bus congestion. You don’t want to be cycling there.

These “cycleways” don’t exist. At least AT has announced that bus lanes will soon no longer being considered “completed parts”. Yes, we can call this an improvement. But the bar was just, ummmmmmm, a bit low.

The sneaky blue lines

On to our official cycle maps page. Note the focus on about a dozen of individual routes. That is not a good sign for the everyday cyclist. We have to expand the cycle maps header below to get a map. Here is the area around Birkenhead. Note the blue lines, they seem to form a nice network.

Cycle map around Birkenhead

But I lived here for a while, and I can’t remember seeing much of a network here. So what can we expect from these blue lines?

Mokoia Road.

How disappointing again. These “cycleways” don’t exist either. Some of those streets are in fact pretty hostile to cyclists. The blue lines are our ghost cycleways, just drawn on the map so it doesn’t look empty.

The actual cycle paths are the thin blue and green lines. If you look at it that way, the entire middle of the map is a big void. And note the sneaky use of colours. Although blue is often meaningless, it stands out the most against the pale beige background.

To be fair, some of the streets could be painted yellow, the colour used for “quiet streets”.

So, message to Auckland Transport: these ghost cycleways have to go. They make those cycling maps useless. Figuring this out the hard way is no fun. An accurate map, even though it may have big empty voids, will be more useful than this sugar-coated version.


PS: If you want to ride your bike and you are looking for more maps, Bike Auckland has a page of current maps. An interesting one is #AKLcyclemap, a crowd-sourced map, which tries to show actual bike-friendly routes. And that corner of Auckland around Birkenhead? Empty, as expected.

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