A guest post from Tom Beeston. This is an image rich post so the photos are quite small. Please click on a photo to enlarge it.
I’ll start by pointing out that I don’t do this commute on a daily basis. Usually once or twice a week. Sometimes I’ll ride both ways, sometimes I’ll share a ride in one direction in a colleague’s van, and often i’ll use the train to Waitakere in one direction or the other.
The ride as far as Lincoln Road on the cycleway has been pretty well documented so I’ll start from there. Although I did want to share this photo of the one time I’ve been caught out by the tide, and presumably say good bye to that threat as they move us up to the bus lane and prepare a new path.
So you’re currently spat out onto Central Park Road and onto painted bike paths from here. This one is particularly notorious at peak times for being blocked by queueing traffic waiting for their turn to sit in on the motorway. It does look like there’s a nice new stretch of bike lane next to the motorway nearing readiness to replace the Central Park Road section.
You then follow the painted bike lanes onto Triangle Road. The first thing you have to navigate is a bridge with, in my opinion, possibly the most ill conceived bit of bike lane/road layout I’ve seen. In this direction the bridge is not wide enough to accommodate a bike lane. Fine, just merge the bike lane with the road for 100m. But no, the road markings take you onto a footbridge, and the signs say ‘bike lane ends’ and ‘cyclists dismount’.
Why can’t it say, ‘cyclists use road’ and have a ‘look for bikes’ sign. as it is it suggests to motorists that you have no right to be on the road here. Indeed, I’ve been honked several times, despite making my lane change out of the bike lane nice and early. In the return direction there is a very good separated lane on the bridge and even a small section of separated bike lane, so its quite a bizarre contrast.
Then its the slightly arduous climb up Triangle Road. Can someone remove this hill please [Ed.:
An electric bike would do it!]? Its all plain sailing up here though. A nice wide road with a painted bike lane. The roundabout at the top requires a right turn, but this only needs the most basic road cycling skills.
From this ridge theres some pretty good views, and from here on, its really pleasant country cycling.
The bike lanes run out at the roundabout with Fred Taylor Drive (an easy left turn in this direction, a slightly more scary right turn on the way home) but for the most part there’s plenty of hard shoulder. There are currently a few road works, I presume associated with the lego land style housing development, which can mean the shoulder is closed, but its a fairly quiet road at most times.
When you meet SH16 again, there’s a nice bike lane to avoid the roundabout which also cuts the corner a bit. On the way back its helped by a crossing at the island, but sometimes its a bit of a wait for a gap in the fast moving traffic.
Again, most of the SH16 stretch has a wide shoulder, except for one crucial place (In general, i think this is a very safe commute, and despite my moans thus far, i
think this bit is the only genuine threat to your safety). There is a passing lane on the climb from Brigham’s Creek, and its been squeezed in at the expense of a shoulder.
On top of this its a fair old gradient, so you’re going slow, making passing traffic pass you at even greater relative speed. On top of this the traffic is dropping gears and pushing the gas to make the climb, so it can be minor heart attack territory as some of the trucks and chelsea tractors pass you. Also I often worry that people are too busy competing with other traffic to notice a cyclist.
Having survived that, its just a roundabout and the temptation of strawberry ice cream to negotiate. Actually, there is a bike lane and crossing option for this round about if you’re that
way inclined. So just maybe stop for some seasonal veges and take in the views until you arrive in the wonders of Kumeu.
The ride from the train at Waitakere is even more pleasant. Its just 10km, with one little steep
climb, and on relatively quiet country roads. You can even pick up some amazing goats cheese if you take the slightly longer route through Taupaki. The train and ride route ends up taking just as long as the whole ride, but saves a lot of cake power, and you can do a bit of reading or indeed blog writing, or even eat your breakfast, as I do.
Sadly, when the electric trains arrive, the train will only go as far as Swanson, adding 4km and a beast of a hill to the ride. If you’re taking this route after dark, your
lights will need to be bright enough to let you see as well as be seen, there’s no street lights out here.
It really is a pleasure on a crisp evening or morning.