December 3, 2015
The first segment of a cycleway (a special path intended primarily for use by bicyclists) was opened in the city of Auckland on New Zealand’s North Island. This route, which is known as the Nelson Street Cycleway, also includes sections that can be used for both bicycling and walking.
This initial portion of the Nelson Street Cycleway starts at Upper Queen Street and continues via Canada Street to a longtime and previously unused off-ramp on Nelson Street that had been built for motor vehicles as part of Auckland’s Central Motorway Junction. This link in the route is followed by a stretch that runs along the left side of Nelson Street for three blocks and has been partitioned from motor vehicle traffic to help guarantee greater safety for bicyclists.
The Nelson Street Cycleway came into existence due to widespread demands for more cycling infrastructure in that region of New Zealand. Simon Bridges, minister of transport, added the development of the Cycleway to his department’s list of projects in January 2015. The partnership for creating it consisted of the NZ Transport Agency; the Auckland Council (the city’s governing body); and Auckland Transport (a council-controlled organization responsible for transportation services in Auckland).
Those people giving speeches at the December 3 inaugural festivities for the Cycleway were Bridges; Ernst Zöllner, the NZ Transport Agency’s regional director for Auckland; Chris Darby, a member of the Auckland Council; and Barbara Cuthbert, chairperson of the advocacy group Bike Aukland (formerly called Cycle Action Auckland). Matti Maihi of the Ngāti Whātua tribe on North Island performed a blessing on the new route.
In his remarks that day, Bridges told the enthusiastic crowd that the Nelson Street Cycleway would be the “jewel in Auckland’s crown.” He also said, “This is a great day for Auckland’s inner-city cycling network. The cycleway, which has been built in the midst of Auckland’s central motorway junction, is New Zealand’s most ambitious piece of urban cycling infrastructure ever built.” After a ceremonial ribbon was cut, a group of schoolchildren rode their bicycles on the newly opened cycleway. They were soon followed by adults traveling on the path by bicycle or foot.
Without question, the most unique feature of the Cycleway making its debut that day is the refurbished surface of the former motorway off-ramp. This curved surface, which continues to serve as one of the cycleway’s major linkages, was painted bright pink and fitted with flashing LED lights. This juncture of the Cycleway remains a popular fixture and is widely referred to as Lightpath or the Pink Path. Another noteworthy feature along the route is a 520-foot (160-meter)-long bridge connecting the former off-ramp to Canada Street. This structure has become widely known as the Canada Street Bridge.
The Nelson Street Cycleway has become a heavily traveled route for active transportation in Auckland. Less than a year after the first segment of the cycleway was opened, an average of 750 bicyclists were riding on it each day. The cycleway has been the recipient of several awards. In 2016, for example, the New Zealand division of the Institute of Public Works Australasia presented the team responsible for building the cycleway with an Excellence Award in the category of Best Public Works Project. That same year, the architects who designed the Canada Street Bridge for the cycleway received the Chicago Athenaeum Museum of Architecture and Design Award.
In 2017, the Nelson Street Cycleway was extended to Victoria Street West in Auckland. Additional plans to extend the route even further are still under development.
For more information on the Nelson Street Cycleway and the opening of its first segment, please check out https://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=11555287 and https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nelson_Street_Cycleway.
A video about the cycleway is available at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=61m9wzkxgXg.