'Te Ara I Whiti' the Lightpath opens for cyclists and walkers


Nelson Street Cycleway opened to the public for first time.

Auckland's newest and highly anticipated piece of cycling infrastructure, the Nelson Street Cycleway, is now open to the public for the first time after a ribbon cutting ceremony earlier this morning.

Phase one of the new cycleway from Upper Queen Street to Victoria Street, weaves its way above Auckland's central motorway junction. It was opened by Transport Minister Simon Bridges. Representatives from the NZ Transport Agency, Auckland Council, Auckland Transport and Bike Auckland attended the opening.

Following the formal opening a group of students from Freeman's Bay School along with Hon Simon Bridges rode their bikes across the newly opened section.

Phase one includes the architecturally designed Canada Street Bridge which stretches over State Highway 1 as well as the newly revamped and magenta-coloured Nelson Street off-ramp, which includes a string of interactive lights along one side.

The project team worked with Maori artist Katz Maihi and iwi throughout the urban design stages to include Maori designs and ensure the path has a distinctly New Zealand identity. The design includes a large koru pattern. Following a recommendation from iwi the section of the cycleway which incorporates the Canada Street Bridge as well as the old Nelson Street motorway off-ramp will be called 'Te Ara I Whiti', which translates as the Lightpath.

The $18m overall project (phase one: $15.4 million, phase two: $2.6 million) which is a key part of the Government's Urban Cycleways Programme has been jointly delivered by the NZ Transport Agency, Auckland Council and Auckland Transport. It is part of $200m of cycle improvements in Auckland over the next three years.

The Nelson Street Cycleway which stretches from Upper Queens Street to Victoria Street connects directly to the existing Northwestern and Grafton Gully cycleways.

"The NZ Transport Agency is proud to have worked with our partners to combine the new architectural excellence of the Canada Street Bridge alongside the innovative use of the existing off-ramp to provide such an exciting new cycling connection for Auckland," says Mieszko Iwaskow, the Transport Agency's Project Delivery Manager.

The opening of phase one means people can now cycle in both directions from Upper Queen St to Victoria St completely separated from traffic says Auckland Transport's Walking and Cycling Manager, Kathryn King.

"Next year, the Nelson St Cycleway will be completed to Quay St where it will connect with other cycleways allowing people to move more freely throughout the downtown area. It's part of a rapidly expanding network of inner city cycle improvements that will provide more travel choice for people travelling into and around the city centre."

Auckland Council Urban Design Champion Ludo Campbell-Reid says the re-use of the old off-ramp as a walkway and cycleway was a very popular proposal in the City Centre Masterplan.

"It has been fantastic to see the partnership approach making it happen, with input from iwi and stakeholders. Aucklanders told us they wanted this to be modern and distinctly New Zealand. The result is not only stunning; it will be an icon for cycling in Auckland and will grab attention around the world."

Aucklanders and visitors to the city are now invited to enjoy the new connection whether it's on a bike or walking.

Phase 2 of the cycleway which extends from Victoria Street West to Quay Street will be open by the middle of 2016.

For more information about the project visit: www.nzta.govt.nz/projects/nelson-street-cycleway/(external link).

A timelapse of the painting of the magenta surface of the off-ramp is available at: www.youtube.com/watch?v=tK_mZodXXCk&feature=youtu.be(external link).

An animated fly-through of Phase 1 is also available at: www.nzta.govt.nz/projects/nelson-street-cycleway/videos/(external link).

To find out more about the Urban Cycleways Programme you can visit the NZ Transport Agency website: www.nzta.govt.nz/walking-cycling-and-public-transport/cycling/for-people-involved-in-cycling-programmes-and-projects/urban-cycleways-programme/(external link).