Costs can quickly add up when you travel by car and have to cover fuel and parking prices. There are so many other options of transport available on the North Shore, and with new bike lanes well underway, it is a better time than ever to try and change habits.
Construction began last year for the Northcote/Takapuna Cycle Route, which links Taharoto Road to Northcote Point, creating a path from Takapuna to the Northcote Ferry Terminal. This project also aims to improve pedestrian areas and allows a safer route for commuters who are looking for ways to travel other than driving.
One of the many concerns that is expressed within the community is the safety of cyclists who are sharing the roads with motorists. The instalments of these new bike access areas target the safety of riders and pedestrians together, and with specific lanes marked out, the risk of accidents is lessened.
Many people in Auckland have already turned to cycling as a mode of transport, with 45,000 people having been recorded as using bikes this year alone. This figure hike has likely been bolstered by changes made to create more bike-friendly road access.
The initiative for more efficient bike lanes on the Shore is a lot more than a need for alternate transport - they are allowing a connection within communities too. The Takapuna to Northcote path will allow access to a range of different recreational locations, such as netball courts, rugby fields, Northcote Town Centre, and various schools along the way. The route also links main transport hubs with bike storage for quick journeys, with Smales Farm Bus Station and the Northcote Ferry terminal at either end.
Chris Darby, Auckland councillor and strong advocate for the cycling improvements in communities, has a vision of a future Auckland connected through cycling. He comments on the benefit of cycling as opposed to driving around your neighbourhood.
“It's not just about connecting from A to B, it's actually connecting with people on that journey. When you are sitting up on that saddle, you see the world - and I’m speaking from experience. You see your neighbourhood differently, you see people in your neighbourhood, and you connect like you don’t when you are behind the wheel of your car.“
Chris is also inspired by the city of Copenhagen, which has an advanced cycling culture and has all kinds of people on bikes at any time of day - anyone from business professionals to entire families together can be seen actively cycling and loving the benefits, no matter what the weather.
“Cycling is becoming cool culture, and it’s becoming embedded in everyday life. Great cities like Copenhagen went through this 20 years before us. Copenhagen is one of the healthiest, and happiest cities in the world. It's much talked about.”
With 2000 individual cyclists passing the new cycle lane on Quay Street in mid February, it is obvious that more and more people are acknowledging the benefits of switching to a bike. Developing safer, community-connected cycle lanes on the North Shore will further encourage this shift in travelling by bicycle. Chris is also very optimistic that the Skypath project will be added to the abundance of cycle ways, and create a corridor for both pedestrians and cyclists to have access from each side of the Harbour Bridge. This would benefit a large number of Aucklanders who travel to the city from the Shore every day, including myself and other students who are wanting to cycle to university.
The cycle routes are not only targeted towards young and active cyclists, but also to anyone in the community regardless of age or physicality. Electric bikes offer an option for people who wouldn’t usually turn to cycling in fear of it being too much of a physical challenge. E-bikes are allowing people to cycle for six to eight kilometres, compared to the average two to three kilometres that people can manage on regular cycles. This option opens the choice of using these new cycle lanes to anyone in the community.
Public transport and cycle lane improvements mean that getting from place to place is easier and more accessible, particularly for younger people who need to travel quickly and don’t have the option of a car. Cycling not only benefits fitness levels, but it also allows for a better involvement in your surrounding community.
The council has further plans to focus on ensuring that both cyclists and pedestrians have safe places to travel in their local areas, which includes the highly anticipated Skypath project. The path will provide cyclists with more access across Auckland to use their bikes, and will eliminate some of the congestion of motorists on the bridge. Projects like this will continue to develop throughout the country, which will further link our communities together with better travel choices.