The cycleway debate – next up, K Road.

In response to my December Ponsonby News column, I received from ratepayer Dave Lyons the following email. It was so compelling I thought I should share it.

…I am a Westmere resident and have watched in horror as they dug up Richmond road and Garnet road, spending millions and what do we get, nothing. Well, fewer car parks. I honestly have never seen such a waste of money as the Garnet road cycleway. The section that has been completed is an absolute joke. They built it across the grass berms outside peoples houses, which is exactly where the residents park their cars…And did they ever stop to ask the people who live here if we wanted this? No… And we dont!!!

So as we sit here, wondering why we have raw sewage rolling into the streams and into the harbour, we can sit back and look at the totally un-useable cycleway, which nobody wanted, and no-one will use. What a great use of our rates money. 

But seriously, when will AT have their heads pulled in? When will they stop this ridiculous war on cars, and when will they stop the absolute wasting of our money…Talking to you probably doesn’t highlight anything that you don’t already know, but the question still remains, why are they getting away with this? What do we, as in local ratepayers, have to do to get some common sense policies applied? As we seriously need to do something.

I mean how can any councillor or the mayor seriously stand there and say the council has no money, when we have this wastage happening all around us? How can someone have the bare-faced audacity to increase taxes (talking petrol tax here) when we have over $600 million being spent on cycleways? Really? I mean seriously? …My 6-year-old son would do a better job of prioritising initiatives than this. Its not rocket science. If we want to build trains then fine, spend the $600m on trains, but cycleways? Really I mean yes, lots of people cycle. But 90% do it for fun. Not for transport. So spending this sort of money on a leisure activity is crazy. Now I am not some overweight car lover, I cycle two or three times a week (only for fun), and ride a motorcycle to work every day, so I am not saying this out of any selfish desire for more roads, as such. But I mean 99% of people want to drive. 

Anyway. Rant over. I just feel absolutely disgusted with the way these organisations operate, with their bullshit business cases and international best practices. We need to stop this craziness…

Meanwhile Auckland Transport is pushing ahead in the face of growing public opposition. Over Christmas the focus shifted to Quay Street where 15 pohutukawa trees are being removed to make way for a cycleway extension. Protesters from Grey Lynn lent their support to the Urban Tree Alliance fighting to save these trees. But it is not just protesters, the Parnell Community Committee (PCC) an eminently respectable organization with the backing of the Parnell community have been trying to save these trees and the ‘canopied boulevard’ they form for months now. PCC is not against the cycleway extension but AT’s continued use of Quay Street as an all-day bus park. Actually AT and Council plans for Quay Street from the Strand bridge to Albert Street are a nightmare – a jumble of bad decisions.

Grey Lynn business woman Soala Wilson protests the felling of an avenue of pohutukawa trees on Quay Street.

The next area to watch will be Karangahape Road where AT plans to build cycle lanes on both sides of the street, potentially taking out dozens of car parks and loading zones at peak time. K Road retailers who are bravely prepared to put up with several years’ disruption caused directly or indirectly by City Rail Link construction (they have already lost a bunch of car parks and taxi stands due to relocated bus stops) are worried, given what has happened to businesses in Victoria and Albert Street and West Lynn, that this could be the last straw. Led by manager Michael Richardson (a cyclist himself) the Karangahape Road Business Association (KBA) has sent a well-argued submission to AT pointing out that the cycleway could be of ‘limited value to K Road businesses as the area would be ‘a thoroughfare rather than a destination.’ Meanwhile a ‘K Road Action Group’ with the slogan ‘Don’t kill K Road’ has joined the fight. K Road people are not anti-cycling or reactionary. Actually they are probably the most progressive, avant–garde set in the country. They argue for alternative cycle routes on or around K Road that don’t destroy parking that retailers especially depend on. Given the impacts of the CRL, not to mention light rail, the KBA is making a plea to AT to delay the cycleway until these regionally significant projects are completed. It’s not an unreasonable request given what at stake – the livelihoods of hundreds of small businesses and the viability of historic Karangahape Road itself as one of Auckland’s iconic shopping streets.

This article appeared in the February 2018 issue of Ponsonby News. 

Post Script. Fast forward to late 2019. Undeterred by the objections of K Road retailers AT is proceeding with its cycleways, taking out dozens of car parks as part of the project. Blaming the loss of car parks iconic menswear store Leo O’Malley has closed its doors after nearly 100 years on the corner of Karangahape Road and Pitt Street.

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