Cycling in Auckland

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Modern cycling in Auckland is represented by new separated bikeway infrastructure largely added in the 2010s such as the Lightpath / Nelson Street cycleway into the City Centre, which are credited with being part of the reason cycling counters have experienced large annual growth over the last years.[1]
Cycling in Auckland – some areas like the very busy Lake Road in North Shore City only received cycle lanes after significant local opposition, and attempted to remove the popular lanes even after installation.[2]

Cycling in Auckland is a mode of transport which has historically had high levels of modal share in Auckland, New Zealand, like in most cities in New Zealand.[citation needed] However, the dominance of the car in the city,[3][4] the negative attitudes of car drivers[5] and general changes in transport patterns had made it a very marginal transport mode in the early 21st century, with remaining cyclists often riding for leisure and sports purposes.

While political and infrastructure initiatives are underway to revive cycling, success is still to be solidified. As of 2005/06, only 16% of the Regional Cycle Network had been completed, which also included routes that had been built before the plan for a regional network had been adopted.[6] In 2014, results showed that cycling mode share had stopped declining compared to previous census results, though from 0.9% in 2006, it had only risen to 1.2% of all work trips on census day.[7] However, statistics and automatic counters show the success of cycling where higher-quality infrastructure has been installed, with nine counters across Auckland reporting annual cycle number increases of an average of 10% in 2014,[7] a growth trend that continued in subsequent years.[1]


The first Auckland bicycle ride was undertaken on 23 August 1869, using a velocipede made to order by a local company, and ridden down Grey Street, then being one of the smoothest roads in the city.[8]


With many Aucklanders unwilling to ride on-road in hostile conditions, and with protected cycle lanes generally scarce to non-existent, another focus of cycleway construction in Auckland in recent years has been on shared paths and "Greenways" routes, away from streets.

Auckland has a much less positive popular attitude towards cycling and new cycling infrastructure than some other cities of New Zealand like Wellington and Christchurch.[9] An Otago University study showed that fear of rude and actively hostile behaviour from drivers was the main reason New Zealanders were not using their cycles more.[5] Some 59% of all respondents in an Auckland Transport study of a cross-section of Aucklanders noted safety as a barrier to cycling.[7]

This, and to some degree the hillier nature of Auckland, have caused cycling to so far remain a marginal pursuit – only 1% of all morning peak trips were being made by bicycle in the late 2000s.[10] However, in Wellington, with an even hillier topography, the cycling numbers are approximately twice as high.[11]

While Auckland City Council and the Auckland Regional Transport Authority (ARTA) have undertaken some works since the introduction in 1998 of a "Walking and Cycling Plan" for the city, cycling connections between different areas of the wider city are still often missing.[9] Some cycle lanes have met vocal opposition, mostly from locals who consider them unneeded due to the low level of cycling in Auckland and due to the removal of on-street parking for their implementation. However, Council representatives note that cycling will not gain in popularity until the corresponding infrastructure is gradually introduced.[12]


Sports cyclists on Tamaki Drive, the busiest cycling route of the city (which carries a lot of commuting bicycle traffic as well and sees over 200,000 cycling trips a year),[13] Tamaki Drive often sees conflicts between motorists, pedestrians and cyclists due to the high demand of all three groups.

While most cycling takes place on normal public roads, there are a small number of dedicated off-road facilities available in Auckland. In many other places, plans for on-road or off-road routes have been mooted, but not yet realised.[9] These include recreational mountain bike trails, pump tracks (short dirt tails) and BMX tracks which are scattered around Auckland and suit different cycling abilities. One of the largest and most well known mountain bike facilities in Auckland is Woodhill Forest, which is commercial.

Surveys show that a significant part of the population desires protected cycle facilities (i.e. off-road or separated from vehicle traffic), such facilities being desired by 55% of all respondents in an Auckland Transport study of a cross-section of Aucklanders.[7]

As of early 2014, the target in the Auckland Plan was for 70% of the Auckland Cycle Network to be completed by 2020, however with the current funding, Council estimates that only 40–50% will be complete at that time.[7]


Existing cycleways in Auckland primarily parallel motorways. They currently (as of 2010) consist of the Northwestern Cycleway, which was created along the Northwestern Motorway between the Auckland CBD and Lincoln in West Auckland (with some on-road sections on the way) and the Waikaraka Cycleway, from Wesley, Auckland to Southdown, most of it along State Highway 20 through southern Auckland City, before continuing along Mangere Harbour to the east.

Waitakere City Council also constructed a number of longer-distance off-road cycle paths, such as the routes that are part of the Project Twin Streams through the Henderson area, as well as the new cycle path along the Te Atatū Peninsula.[14]

Overall, as of early 2014, Council notes an approximate 283 kilometres (176 mi) of cycle ways, "consisting of 95 km of cycle metros, 130 km of cycle connectors and 57 km of feeder routes that comprise of varying levels of service and cycle infrastructure provision. Parts of the existing network require cyclists to use bus/bike lanes and consist of short sections of unconnected cycle lanes, which advocacy groups do not consider to be an optimal solution in terms of safety".[7]

Comparison of new cycleway per year and targets
Year New cycleway (km) AT Targets 2017 (km)[15] AT Targets 2019 (km)[16] AT Targets 2021 (km)[17]
2016 11.8[18] 7.4
2017 14.2[19] 16.4
2018 6.5[20] 28.8 10
2019 9.65[21] 2 10
2020 6.09[22] 10 10
2021 8.5 5
2022 7
2023 6

As of September 2021, Auckland Transport has not been able to meet its targets for newly constructed cycleways since 2017, even though the targets have decreased in subsequent years.[19][20][21][22]

Bicycle rental[edit]

Auckland has a small bike rental scheme, Nextbike. It began with around 170 bicycles available at rental stations mostly in the CBD and the inner suburbs.[23] The scheme ceased operation in 2010, and restarted in 2013 with only 13 bikes in 3 locations in downtown Auckland. In 2017, Auckland Transport began to investigate the feasibility of implementing their own bike rental scheme.[24]

A dockless bikeshare operator, Onzo, launched in 2017. Their yellow bikes were deployed without any prior arrangement with local government.[25] As of April 2021, Onzo has not renewed its license with Auckland Transport and the Companies Office has attempted to remove the business from its register.[26]


Harbour link[edit]

One of the links most called-for by local cycling groups is a connection over the Waitematā Harbour between the Auckland city centre and the North Shore, where cyclists currently only have the option of a very distant detour, or of taking a ferry. There have been many recent history of attempts to provide walking and cycling access on Auckland Harbour Bridge.

The political and public relations campaign to provide a link led to one of the largest ever demonstrations of its kind in New Zealand, when in May 2009, several thousands of walkers and cyclists ignored police barriers and peacefully marched onto the motorway bridge, calling for the motorways agency to reconsider the walk/cycleway proposal.[27]

Following years of campaigning a Harbour Bridge crossing, known as Skypath, was promised funding by the Labour Party in the lead-up to the 2017 general election.[28] Once Labour was in government, the project was passed to the NZ Transport Agency[29] which released a revised design in 2019.[30]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Auckland cycling numbers grow by 8.9 per cent in a year". Stuff.
  2. ^ Thompson, Wayne (10 September 2009). "Future of well-used cycle lane in doubt". The New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 25 January 2010.
  3. ^ Backtracking Auckland: Bureaucratic rationality and public preferences in transport planning Archived 13 April 2008 at the Wayback Machine – Mees, Paul; Dodson, Jago; Urban Research Program Issues Paper 5, Griffith University, April 2006
  4. ^ Orsman, Bernard (24 October 2008). "Big steps to change City of Cars". The New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 26 September 2011.
  5. ^ a b Milnr, Rebecca (14 December 2008). "Cyclists fear the bash". The New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 26 September 2011.
  6. ^ "Annual Report 2005/06" (PDF). Auckland Regional Land Transport Strategy. Auckland Regional Council. p. 20. Retrieved 25 February 2010.
  7. ^ a b c d e f "Role of Cycling in Auckland, Report to the Infrastructure Committee" (PDF). Auckland Council. Retrieved 15 March 2014.
  8. ^ "The First Bicycle in Auckland". Daily Southern Cross. 24 August 1869. Retrieved 25 August 2019.
  9. ^ a b c On your bike – Auckland resistant to cyclewaysLG – New Zealand Local Government, Volume 43 No 12, December 2007, Page 16.
  10. ^ Shepheard, Nicola (24 February 2008). "Nicola Shepheard: Two-wheel zeal". The New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 26 September 2011.
  11. ^ Sustainable and safe land transport (from Statistics New Zealand. Accessed 2 May 2008.)
  12. ^ On your bike – Auckland resistant to cyclewaysLG – New Zealand Local Government, Volume 43 No 12, December 2007, Page 18.
  13. ^ Dearnaley, Mathew (3 October 2009). "Safety forum promotes road sharing". The New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 21 February 2010.
  14. ^ "Cycle lanes get the green light". Media release. Waitakere City Council. 10 October 2008. Archived from the original on 15 May 2010. Retrieved 1 March 2010.
  15. ^ Statement of Intent 2016/17-2018/19 (PDF) (Report). Auckland Transport. 2017. Archived from the original (PDF) on 22 April 2017.
  16. ^ Statement of Intent 2018/19 - 2020/21 (PDF) (Report). Auckland Transport. 2019. Archived from the original (PDF) on 25 January 2019.
  17. ^ Statement of Intent 2020/21 - 2022/23 (PDF) (Report). Auckland Transport. 2021.
  18. ^ Annual Report 2016 (PDF) (Report). Auckland Transport. 2016.
  19. ^ a b Annual Report 2017 (PDF) (Report). Auckland Transport. 2017.
  20. ^ a b 2018 Annual Report (PDF) (Report). Auckland Transport. 2018.
  21. ^ a b Auckland Transport 2019 Annual Report (PDF) (Report). Auckland Transport. 2019.
  22. ^ a b Auckland Transport 2020 Annual Report: Moving Forward Together (PDF) (Report). Auckland Transport. 2020.
  23. ^ Dearnaley, Mathew (17 July 2009). "Rental bike scheme an option for World Cup". The New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 26 September 2011.
  24. ^ "Auckland commuter bike rental scheme on the cards".
  25. ^ "What are all those black and yellow bikes doing on Auckland's bike racks?".
  26. ^ Junn, Jihee (10 April 2021). "Whatever happened to Onzo bikes?". The Spinoff. Retrieved 18 October 2021.
  27. ^ "People power breaks barricades". The New Zealand Herald. 24 May 2009. Retrieved 26 September 2011.
  28. ^ "Labour announces $30m boost for Auckland's SkyPath". Fairfax Stuff. Retrieved 27 August 2019.
  29. ^ "SkyPath across Auckland Harbour Bridge to get $67m in funding". Radio New Zealand. Retrieved 27 August 2019.
  30. ^ "New design for Auckland Harbour Bridge shared path announced". New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 27 August 2019.

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