Best beware before barricading beautiful bikeways by bountiful bollarding!

Best beware before barricading beautiful bikeways by bountiful bollarding!

Max

Cycleway bollards in New Zealand are a bit like the concrete dividers we are now adding on some of our cycle paths – often needed to keep cars out, but often also pretty ugly. In a more civilised (cyclicised?) driving culture, we could probably do with simple raised kerbs for our cycle lanes – and remove most of the bollards we add to our path entrances.

But for now, they seem necessary in many places so that you can be a bit more sure your path doesn’t suddenly become a car park.

Yet as necessary evils, we want them to stay relatively rare – and as safe and convenient for cyclists as possible. After all, every bollard is another object you can hit with your bike, your pedals or your shins – especially when travelling in a group (it’s harder to see what’s coming toward you when other cyclists are ahead, or when you’re trying to mind some wee ones behind you).

And there – when it comes to “good practice bollarding” – well, there we got a real uneven deal.

A few months ago we noticed that the bollards along the Northwestern Cycleway between Point Chevalier and town were being changed around quite a bit. Some even several times in the space of 2-3 months, as if two competing teams of people were chopping and changing each other’s work! We had heard that there was a (NZTA?) project in the works on this, but this remains a bit of a mystery.

Going from the west, we start at Carrington Road:

Example 01 - Where the cycleway comes out of Unitec onto Carrington Road - a bollard that sadly did NOT get removed. Why have a bollard at all where you need to make a sharp turn? Not like cars will be able to get past those railings in any case...
Example 01 – Where the cycleway comes out of Unitec onto Carrington Road – a bollard that sadly did NOT get removed, right where cyclists need to make a sharp turn too. Why have a bollard here at all? Not like cars will be able to get past those railings in any case…

Then, a little bit further east, we go from Sutherland Road onto the cycleway again.

Example 02 - This is probably a bollard that needs to stay around to prevent cars entering. Recently, NZTA added more paint around it, and changed it from a wooden one to a yellow metal one. Could be a bit higher though...
Example 02 – This is probably a bollard that needs to stay around to prevent cars entering. Recently, NZTA added more paint around it, and changed it from a wooden one to a yellow metal one. Could still be a bit higher though…

Next up, we shall ignore the chaos around the St Lukes roadworks for this post as it is hopefully going to be over in a couple more months – or we’ll end up going off on another frustrated tangent…

Shortly afterwards, we come to where the new(ish) Kingsland section of the cycleway starts. There used to be a bollard right where the path narrows, east of Myrtle Street…

Example 03 - This bollard got removed. And good riddance too - it was at the narrowest bit, and visiblity around the corner is pretty limited too. No need for another hazard. We haven't seen any cars suddenly go onto the path either, so a very positive change.
Example 03 – This bollard got removed. And good riddance too – it was at the narrowest bit, and visiblity around the corner is pretty limited too, as you can see in the insert photo. No need for another hazard at that spot! We haven’t seen any cars suddenly go onto the path either, so a very positive change.

 

Just west of Nixon Park car park, another bollard is gone.

Example 04 - We were a bit sceptical about this going, as it was in a spot where cars could easily enter. But nothing happened, so a good choice to see it go.
Example 04 – We were a bit sceptical about this one disappearing, as it was in a spot where cars could easily enter. But all seems good.

 

Just east of here, at the other end of the small car park, we had a very weird change of bollards – either two different teams were doing works here, or the same people first added a bollard based on looking at plans only (instead of the actual site!). Either way, a few weeks later, the brand new bollard and paint suddenly disappeared again. No loss.

Example 05 - Uhmmmm, why did you add a bollard when drivers can just drive around it on the other path? Oh, now you've removed it again [Insert photo].
Example 05 – Uhmmm, why did you add a bollard when cars can just drive around it on the other path / the grass? Oh, now you’ve removed it again, never mind… [See insert photo].

Just past the Bond Street bridge, another bollard has been removed…

Example 06 - Things seem to work fine without this one too...
Example 06 – Things seem to work fine without this one too…

Next up, an example of the bollards on the many side streets leading onto the path. Ugh.

Example 07 - Not on the main path itself, but why make it so hard to get on for bikes too? Old-style design 15 years ago...
Example 07 – Old-style design left over from 15-20 years ago… Not on the main path itself, but why make it so hard for bikes to get onto a bike path? a bike path needs good local links.

Then we come to the Haslet St Bridge, where CAA managed to get AT to resurface the whole area a few years ago – remember, it was a mess of a dozen manhole covers and various sunken surface patches…

Example 08 - We didn't manage yet to get AT to add a better path to/from the footbridge itself, but it's good to see AT did the bollards right when resurfacing the area around the abutment. High enough, not too narrow, easily visible.
Example 08 – We didn’t manage yet to get AT to add a better path to/from the footbridge itself, but it’s good to see AT did the bollards right when resurfacing the area around the abutment. High enough, gaps not too narrow, easily visible.

 

Then we come to the Takau St ramp onto Newton Road. No bollards / barriers there anymore, after a AT-CAA review some two years ago. Not nearly perfect though…then again, we won’t have to worry about this climb for much longer.

Example 09 - The ramp is approximately twice times as steep as modern standards recommend. It's not exactly safe now, but the old chicane barrier at the bottom was just criminal. Lets hope we can change this as part of the Ian McKinnon cycleway works which will head off from the same spot through the park in the back of the photo...
Example 09 – The ramp is approximately twice as steep as modern standards recommend. It’s not exactly safe now, but the old chicane barrier at the bottom was just criminal. Let’s hope we can change this as part of the Ian McKinnon cycleway works which will head off from the same spot through the park in the back right of the photo…

 

Then it’s on into town, to encounter more modern designs. The first one on the Grafton Gully cycleway has already got a lot of people up in arms… we understand it was mainly added here because the apartment building corner on Upper Queen Street bridge means pedestrians couldn’t see a fast cyclist coming off the path.

Example 10 - The gap in the chicane is wider than it seems, and it's probably reasonably safe. But certainly a hassle.
Example 10 – The gap in the chicane is wider than it seems, and it’s probably reasonably safe. But it’s certainly a hassle.

 

Further down Grafton Gully, we get a bollard example that’s pretty much top quality for riding (but which NZTA apparently felt was only okay because it was at the top of a steep section)…

Example 11 - Bold, yellow, easy to use. 5 Stars. Would bollard again!
Example 11 – Bold, yellow, easy to see, easy to use. 5 Stars. Would bollard again!

 

So what have we learned on this tour de bollards? Well, bollards are literally all over the place – in design, in terms of numbers, in terms of safety and riding convenience. Some existing bollards we can probably remove; others we’ll probably need to keep around – but need to make safer. There are actually quite explicit guidelines in our design documents about bollards and chicanes, but they still seem to be occasionally ignored, not to mention all the old designs lingering out there which still need retrofitting.

And on that thought – the need to make things safer – let us finish with what we think is the WORST EXAMPLE of bollards in Auckland (that we know about – *shiver*).

Namely the ones at the “Art Bridge” on the Twin Streams, west of Corban Estate in Waitakere. We have been asking for years for these to go:

Example 12 - The Arts Bridge on the Twin Stream Path: Two bollards low enough to be missed, but now low enough to miss your pedals! As a bonus, they are also hidden around bends from some directions - and the bridge isn't even wide enough to drive a car on anyway!
Example 12 – The Arts Bridge on the Twin Stream Path: Two bollards low enough to be missed, but not low enough to miss your pedals! As a bonus, they are also hidden around bends from some directions – and the bridge isn’t wide enough to drive a car on anyway!

 

These bollards are NASTY. Can we get your promise that if you go past them, you take out your smartphone, and contact AT on the website form to add your voice to get these (and other hazardous bollards) removed?

Because bollards should be used smartly, and in moderation.

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