Auckland Transport is consulting on a major upgrade for East Coast Road (between Oteha Valley Road and Glenvar Road), including two main intersections, as well as upgrades for Glenvar Road. Feedback is open until Sunday 8 December 2019.
This project is worth supporting strongly – and we’d love you to help us ask AT to fix one glaring gap. Scroll to the bottom of this post for our feedback guide, or read on for the details.
When we talked a few months ago about our hopes for AT’s new Transport Design Manual, our enthusiasm was tempered by wondering: how much of this will actually appear in reality? We know all too well that budgets, space, and sometimes just plain old-fashioned status-quo thinking can lead to designs that fall short of glossy pictures in the “best practice” manuals.
But as an advocacy group, we are eternal optimists. You don’t set out to improve the world without a healthy dose of positivity. And every time something goes the right way, you take the opportunity to celebrate it. And Auckland Transport’s newest proposals for East Coast Road and Glenvar Road on the Shore include features worth cheering about!
If you’ve been in Torbay / Long Bay recently, you’ll have seen a lot of new residential development. All these extra thousands of people have to get to work or school in the morning, and back home in the evening… leading to more and more car traffic, on roads that weren’t all that nice for people on bikes or on foot to start with. The major intersections are struggling to cope with the extra cars, and often don’t have any walk/ cycling crossings at all.
AT is proposing substantial works, which will make a huge difference to people on bikes and on foot. Note: the current timeframe won’t see construction until around 2022/23, but AT is collecting early public feedback now, before applying for funding and proceeding with detailed design.
The proposed design
- SECTION 1 & 2
- On Glenvar Road, the corridor width, and thus the works, are pretty constrained. So the bike facility proposed here is a shared path. Protected lanes (especially of a type where a fast rider could overtake a slow one) would likely require the purchase of dozens or more properties. So we are grudgingly okay with a shared path here. (And it’s not as if space that might provide for protected lanes is being spent on adding more car lanes).
- AT is also proposing to improve side road crossings for active modes. Done well – i.e. raised to slow cars down, and ideally with walk/cycle priority too – this will help with a key flaw of shared paths, namely how difficult it is to cross dangerous or busy side roads.
- SECTION 3
- The works on East Coast Road start with a proposed traffic signal at Glenvar Road, on a raised table (for traffic-calming). This is light years ahead of the multi-lane roundabout that was proposed for here and consulted on some years ago.
- The section as far south to Glamorgan Drive will have protected bike lanes on each side. Also, a solid median to reduce right-turn crash risks. The plans also include a southbound bus + transit lane, for full multi-modal benefit (albeit we think a bus-only lane might be better.)
- SECTION 4
- In this section, the protected bike lanes continue further along, all the way to Oteha Valley Road
- A northbound bus / transit lane is also included to complement the southbound one
- The proposed traffic signal with Glamorgan Drive is is proposed to also be raised, like further north at Glenvar Road.
In terms of the shared paths and protected bike lanes in particular, the plans are still at an early stage – without detailed dimensions, etc. But it is very heartening that AT is taking seriously their mandate to encourage active modes.
Looking at the two intersections proposed for upgrades, there’s a lot to like.
Overall, the proposal looks pretty great. The raised intersection helps with the one key flaw of traffic signals – that they depend on drivers obeying (or sometimes: plain noticing) the red lights. By making it much less likely that a driver catching the “tail end” of the red could slam at speed into a person crossing on the bike signal, these signals will be much closer to a VisionZero design than most other options (short of a single-lane “Dutch” roundabout – which would have been deemed too small for the proposed traffic volumes). With some minor tweaks in later detailed design, we’re pretty happy with this choice.
Going further south, here are the new signals proposed at East Coast Road / Glamorgan Drive:
Overall, a pretty good design at first glance . Until you notice that people riding to or from the residential areas to the east are supposed to duke it out with joining traffic on a multi-lane road (Glamorgan Drive). Without sufficient and safe side access routes onto new spine routes for cycling, many people will never feel confident enough to use them. And one scary near-hit can so easily put a new rider off cycling altogether.
Sure, bike facilities could be added here later. But why wait, when Glamorgan Drive is already being rebuilt for 100m beyond the intersection? The cost of adding bike facilities later will be much higher, easily several times as much as doing it properly now. And this calculation ignores the hidden costs of reduced bike patronage – or, fate forbid, a serious or fatal crash involving someone who could have been safe on a protected/off-road facility here.
This lack is clearly the biggest flaw in the whole proposal for now. But the good thing is that we’re confident this can be fixed. Which leads us to…
Please add your voice in support of this project!
Why? It’s great to see AT increasingly following the higher standards that their own design manuals encourage. But budgets are not bottomless, and some of the topography is difficult here, and some sections are narrow. Some people may object to the bike lanes, to parking removal, to the solid median, or to the bus / transit lanes.
We don’t expect that in the 2020s, AT would remove bike facilities from a design once consulted. But if there’s a lot of feedback in the opposite direction, some features might end up being watered down. That’s why we – and the people in AT wanting to do the right thing – need you to support this project.
Use the button below to open the feedback survey in a new tab, and use our suggestions below as a guide for your feedback.
The handy feedback guide
- Feel free to provide your own opinions about the current state of play here
- Question 2a – Section 1: Support the shared path. Ask for raised tables at side road crossings, ideally with bike/pedestrian priority. And ask AT to build the path wide enough to allow safe sharing (3.5m to 4m is better than 3m, even if the extra width isn’t possible along the full length), with at least 1m of grass berm (absolute minimum, 0.6m) between path and road.
- Question 2b – Section 2: Same comments as above.
- Question 2c – Section 3: Strongly support the protected bike lanes, and the southbound bus / transit lanes. Point out that the protected bike lanes should be 2m to 2.2m wide, to allow overtaking. Strongly support the raised traffic signals, and the raised tables at the slip lane crossings (with bike/pedestrian priority). Strongly support the raised central median. Ask AT to consider cycling right turns in detailed design (so people turning right don’t block people cycling through).
- Question 2d – Section 4: Strongly support the protected bike lanes and the bus/transit lanes in both directions. Express great concern that no bike facilities are proposed on Glamorgan Drive (at least up to the Kate Sheppard Ave project boundary). Also ask AT to consider right-turning cyclists here, too. Could this section of East Coast Road also have a raised median?
- Feel free to provide your own opinions about how these changes would encourage you to travel more sustainably and efficiently!
- Even though it won’t happen as part of THIS project: here’s the place to ask for improvements to be extended further south along East Coast Road, and onto Oteha Valley Road, to create a safe and connected network for people on bikes west to Albany and south to Northcross (including Northcross Intermediate, and many other places people would bike if they had safe facilities).