Back to the Past – Part I: Abbotts Way

Back To The PastWhat would you do if you had a time machine?

Well, one of the things we’d currently like to do is go back a couple of months and ask a certain project team in Auckland Transport “What the heck, folks? Do you ever, like, ride a bike?” And “You really sure you checked your project doesn’t throw sticks in someone else’s wheels?

The good thing is, we don’t need a time machine yet. Nothing has yet been done that Marty McFly needs to travel back in time to fix (again). All that’s been damaged so far is… our patience with AT’s silo thinking. Now’s the time for some take-charge protagonists in our transport agency to save the day.

The story of our time-travel adventure so far…

Last week, we got an email from Auckland Transport, informing us that they are planning to signalise the intersection of Abbotts Way and Grand Drive, to the northeast of Ellerslie.

The proposal - squeeze in some lanes, add some green boxes: Signal.
The proposal at Grand Drive / Abbots Way – squeeze in some extra lanes, add some green boxes: Instant signal.

So, we take an initial look at the plans, and straight away the red warning light on our time machine dashboard starts flashing:

  • there’s pretty much nothing for cyclists (except some alibi green boxes, without cycle lanes to get to them), and
  • by squeezing in extra traffic lanes, they also turn what at the moment is a road with a wide single traffic lane each way into a four-lane road for some 400m. That’s going to help drive away even the odd brave folk who currently cycle here!

So far, so bad. This must be a mistake, huh? Surely Auckland Transport – newly concious of cycling’s place in a better city – surely they wouldn’t plan something like this on an intersection that is not on one, but on TWO Auckland Cycle Network routes. Surely they would have added cycle lanes. Protected cycle lanes even, seeing that it’s 2015… We must have the wrong intersection, surely?

Count it - two "Connector" and one "Feeder" cycle route. Pretty key, this intersection.
Count it – two “Connector” and one “Feeder” cycle route. Must be pretty key for people on bikes, this intersection?

Nope. We read our maps right. Grand Drive and Abbotts Way are BOTH “connector” routes in the ACN. Sez right here on the map produced by… Auckland Transport. Dated June this year.

Maybe the map’s too new! After all, things change all the time. Nope, it’s on the 2013 map too. Mmmmh, still, wheels move slowly and all. It’s a 2 year old map, maybe it hadn’t made its way through the whole system. Surely… Nope. Even on the 2008 Auckland City Council map, Grand Drive and Abbotts Way are shown as future cycleways.

So not only are AT proposing to spend a good chunk of money signalising an intersection in a way that makes conditions worse for people on bikes, they’re doing so in total disregard of their opportunity – their duty, indeed – to advance their own statutory cycle network and improve cycle safety and amenity.

…but the movie plot gets worse…

By now our warning light is blazing red like a DeLorean that’s missed its offramp and is frantically trying to stop. Wasn’t there something else in the same part of town?

Yep. There was. In 2011, cyclists were up in arms (for good reason) on nearby Ngahue Drive. Why? Auckland Transport had turned a wide single-lane-in-each-direction road into a four-lane road (sound familiar?), making what was already not a nice road for two-wheel fans even more hostile. Led by renowned public health doctor Alex McMillan, the protest made it into the papers. The Mayor declared it a priority for fixing, and AT said they’d do something!

Nice cycleway proposal you have there. Shame if something would happen to it - like a proposed four-laning taking up the space where it was to go...
Nice cycleway proposal you have there. Shame if anything were to happen to it – like, say, a proposed four-laning taking up the space where it’s meant to go…

Jump cut to… a whole lot of nothing. Par for the course for AT in the early 2010s, sadly.

But hey – last year, in late 2014, they actually, finally came back to us! AT consulted with Cycle Action about a planned off-road, cycle-only path (after we had earlier expressed concern that a shared path was going to be a problem). The new path – think Beach Road Stage I design – would go along Ngahue Drive to Abbotts Way, all the way to (wait for it) Grand Drive!

Of course we supported that – with a few minor change requests, including that they needed to look at how it would work with the Grand Drive intersection.

And now? If the new plan is implemented, there’s no more space for that cycleway, unless it gets pushed far northwards, out of the newly added traffic lanes. Into the bush, down the slope, where everything gets more costly and more expensive, and all extra costs have to be paid for by the cycling funds. And, speaking of costs – that brand-new intersection will have to be rebuilt all over again to tie the new cycle path into it, whenever it finally gets done.

That says box-office fail to us – ratepayers won’t want to watch that one either.

…but wait! There’s still time, before cyclists fade fully from this picture!

Tagline2Auckland Transport: this is not good enough. It’s like a cliched movie script not worth shopping around for the green light.

You need to change the plot, AT, and you showed you can. And please improve your internal comms while you’re at it; you may not, but we DO remember your promises. And we’re sick of travelling back in time to the bad old days where every one of your projects was like this.

And you, audience – do you want to time-travel? How about to a future Auckland where you can ride your bike on actual cycleways, instead of promises?

Deadline for feedback is Friday 2 October! The plans are here and here. The consultation letter is here.

Most importantly, the online feedback form is here. Go tell ’em – no more “Back to the Past” sequels.




Join us

Bike Auckland is the non-profit organisation working to improve things for people on bikes. We’re a people-powered movement for a better region. We speak up for you – and the more of us there are, the stronger our voice!

Suggest a new ride