Consultation open on Westhaven to City

Dec 02, 2016
Consultation open on Westhaven to City

Bike Auckland

Amongst the flurry of consultations happening before Christmas is this route linking Westhaven to the cityFeedback is open until Sunday 18 December 2016 – so get in quick before the festive season lands on us!

Here’s the area under discussion. As you can see, the green line is the current approach – a waterfront ride via North Wharf and the Te Wero Bridge.

(Note also the orange section, which will be consulted on early next year. To be honest, we’re a bit more excited about that bit, as it sounds like AT may go for stronger protection here to provide connections to Quay St from the next stage of the Nelson St Cycleway – also due to be completed in 2017).

But right now, it’s the yellow line on the map that’s up for consultation.

westhaven-to-the-city-route-mapLet’s be upfront: SkyPath will totally change everything here, so this will need revisiting in a few years anyway (plus, more riders may arrive via the Herne Bay route). But when thinking of the big numbers to come from the Shore, these plans are NOT future-proofed, and certainly not what will be needed here in in the mid- to long run. And it may not even be the right route, as we will discuss below.

But how does it look for now, on its own? Well, it’s kind of a mix of traffic-calming measures (raised tables, markings, more crossings) and a bit of shared-space thinking. The aim is to create greater awareness amongst motorists that people on foot and on bikes are amongst them – and, ideally, to make things actually safer for those people.

An overview of the treatments proposed. For more detailed images of each section, see here.

Our friends at Transportblog have channelled some of the early grumbles: short version, it’s neither fish nor fowl nor good red herring. In other words, it’s not really a direct route for commuters, nor is it a fully comfortable one for new or younger riders. Their big-picture request: why not proper protected lanes on the enormously wide Fanshawe St, as part of transforming it into a more welcoming boulevard for all travelers. Hard to disagree with that!

But is this proposed route useful in the meantime? Well, at the moment, these are your options:

  1. If you’re not in a hurry or are traveling with kids, you can cruise down Beaumont St to the waterfront route. This is a very pleasant ride and absolutely an 8-80 route, although often crowded and slow depending on what Te Wero bridge is up to (see what we did there). It also involves a lot of shared paths, especially on Beaumont – not so great in terms of navigating pedestrians of all sorts, shop doors, and car doors opening onto the path… unless you are happy to ride on-road in the Wynyard Quarter, which is sometimes fine, and sometimes not so, with big construction trucks, and roads wide and straight for speeding.
  2. Or, if you’re in a rush, and generally a brave sort with no fear of ‘vehicular cycling’, you can zip down the Fanshawe St bus lanes and take your chances with the traffic.

Auckland Transport is up-front about the fact the new proposed route is aimed more at the second kind of rider. Even so, despite the name, we can’t necessarily see many people using the ‘Westhaven to City cycle route’ to ride the full route from Westhaven to Quay St.

In particular, that zigzag out of Westhaven Drive into Beaumont and then into Gaunt St strikes us as a really unlikely desire line. Most riders would instinctively continue north along Beaumont to Wynyard Quarter (maybe cutting through Pakenham or Jellicoe Street to avoid North Wharf crowds, and then making their way through the crowds at Te Wero Bridge).

So, what would do we applaud or want to change here, assuming the Fanshawe St boulevard is not an option for now?

  • As with the Herne Bay area treatment, why not formally lower the speed limits around here to 30km/h? Given the length and layout of the streets involved, and the stated aim of making it safer for pedestrians and people on bikes, it’s frankly bonkers to keep 50km/h as the default speed through here.
    • Note: We hear rumours than the Wynyard area is actually planned to become Auckland’s first 30 km/h zone. So let’s give that a boost, and ask for it to extend to the Viaduct too!
  • We support the raised tables at Beaumont and Gaunt.
  • We don’t much like the use of paint at Customs St/Viaduct Ave/Lucy and would prefer a treatment similar to Pakenham St East.
  • On the tight bend on Viaduct Ave between Bouzaid and and Customs St West, we’d rather see a mountable build-out of some sort than just a paint treatment.
  • We’d add more speed tables – at Westhaven Drive / Beaumont, and at the Halsey St / Viaduct Harbour Drive, so that drivers are reminded this is a low-speed route.
    • The second intersection has however just been rebuilt as a traffic signal, so no raised table is in sight…
  • We support the proposed in-fill product to make the tram lines less dangerous for people on bikes – while many European riders deal with tram rails all the time, for an Aucklander, those can come as a slippery surprise…
  • We support the new zebra crossings – anything that makes walking easier helps encourage fewer cars too
  • We request that the priority of the stop sign at Gaunt and Daldy be changed.
  • We support changing the location of the “STOP” at the intersection of Viaduct Harbour Drive / Customs St West.
  • We support giving the same intersection tighter curves via wider footpath corners: this means less whipping around too-generous corners by drivers, which is good for everyone! BUT – the plans seem to show these build-outs as paint-only. Uhm, that’s NOT going to do it. If AT is worried that occasional larger vehicles may need the extra space, the narrowing can be achieved with “mountable aprons” – basically, large island humps that drivers can roll across, but not at speed.
  • The diagonal parking on Customs St East between Pakenham/ Market Place is quite literally a trap for young players, as Transportblog has pointed out. Can this be changed to parallel parking for increased safety?
    • At the very least, could AT add some speed bumps to delineate between the parking spaces and the road space – really grunty ones, to slow down reversing drivers?
At the intersection of Custom St West / Pakenham St East, there are two options: a roundabout or a stop sign. We know those who ride single speeds might prefer the roundabout – and we think that as long as it stays small, a roundabout could work quite well. On the other hand, the Stop option comes with extra zebra crossings. What are your thoughts?
Lastly, the design proposes using sharrows. We know these have a mixed reputation, ranging from ‘a waste of good paint‘ to ‘a useful reminder that bikes are present‘ – and they’re not necessarily well understood by drivers, or even cyclists. They’re quite useful for on-the-go wayfinding, but when it comes to physical safety, they’re kind of the homeopathic version of protected bike lanes.
Visit for more bikey goodness in graphic form.

Overall, we think the proposed works are a lot more than homeopathic – they should slow down drivers, maybe reduce numbers of vehicles, and start making the area friendlier for both riders and shoe-leather afficionados. Its also a much less costly project than some others (we hear that the building boom has stretched AT’s project funds, including those of the Urban Cycleway budget, as construction prices have risen a lot in recent years).

But the question is: Are you happy with this scheme for now? Head over to the consultation page and tell AT your thoughts.

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