Post by Ben L

Following on from the previous post on cycle streets, just as with the network for motorised vehicles requires “arterials” to carry high traffic volumes, cycle networks need the same. But these routes will often be popular for motorists as well and will require some work to be suitable to both.

The North Shore suburb of Bayswater is a dead end peninsula with the ferry terminal on its tip. It also has Belmont Intermediate, the school with the highest mode share of cycling in Auckland – and the recent opening of the new pipeline bridge has helped to bolster cycling and walking numbers. Below is an aerial shot of the peninsula:

Bayswater 01The dotted orange line is Bayswater Ave – the main arterial for motorised traffic. The solid blue line is the existing off-road shared path (called the “Green Route”, but bear with my colouring logic!), and the solid green lines are the remainder of the streets around Bayswater.

In order to create a link between Lake Road, the ferry terminal and the Green Route, the Roberts Ave/Norwood Road route could be turned into the main arterial down the peninsula for non-motorised traffic. This cycle/pedestrian boulevard would run from the corner of Lake Road down Roberts Avenue, along Norwood Road to Sir Peter Blake Parade and terminate at the Bayswater Ferry Terminal.

The second aerial shows the proposed route in green (with the existing off-road route in blue):Bayswater 02

The features of the first stage of the boulevard would be:

  • Signage to indicate new street environment and destinations for cyclists.
  • Removing centre line from the whole length of boulevard route.
  • Painting lines to indicate parking areas with small door clearance buffer to narrow road.
  • Periodic traffic calming, possibly with curbside separated cycle bypass paths (to prevent cycle pinch points)

At first, we were proposing mainly speed bumps. However, at the recent (and hugely successful) opening of the new pipeline bridge in Bayswater, a police officer told me that these are generally opposed because of the constant braking and accelerating they cause.

A much more popular option for some are chicanes. A good – if not quite perfect for cyclists – example of the kind of effect achieved by chicanes can be seen down Clayburn Road in Waitakere.

Not A Real Cycling Bypass But Close
Not a real cycling bypass, but close

Though for cost reasons, the first iteration could possibly just be marked out with bollards or maybe plastic planter pots (if we use appropriate spacings, we might not even need complicated cycle bypasses – riders could just slip between the posts / planters).

[Editor’s note: The question is, though, whether we should accept the fact that some people dislike speed tables – spaced appropriately (i.e. closer than some motorists would like) they can ensure that speeds overall drop and become more consistent. A slow down/speed up behaviour may just show that we haven’t really been strong enough yet in number or type of this treatment. Chicanes also need to be rather “harsh” to have any speed calming effect (i.e. creating single lane pinch points for cars, with cycle bypasses each side to be safe for riders). However, the big advantage of chicanes – especially as trial schemes – could be that they would be cheaper and quicker to install.]

If demonstrated increase in cycling is achieved, further stages could offer further safety and traffic calming measures (e.g. raised tables at intersections with northern side streets, one way ingress/egress at northern side streets) as well as more elaborate chicanes.

Just to be clear, the proposed cycle boulevard will NOT:

  • Remove on-street parking for residents or visitor
  • Remove traffic lanes
  • Affect the ability of traffic to travel at safe speeds on the boulevard
  • Require expensive cycle paths or other separated cycle infrastructure
  • Affect any arterial roads in the area

The cycle boulevard WILL:

  • Make traffic to travel at a safer speed of 30km/h so that cyclists, especially school children, can feel safe on the boulevard
  • Have cheap traffic calming measures to ensure traffic travels at safe speeds on the boulevard
  • Encourage school children to travel to school on the boulevard
  • Encourage commuters to travel to the Bayswater ferry terminal by cycle
  • Replicate the form of the successful cycle boulevard/neighbourhood greenway network in Portland, Oregon
  • Create cycle friendly, low speed streets that have been very successful in the Netherlands and Portland, Oregon
  • Integrate with the existing Green Route and the cycle lanes on Lake Road
  • Have clear signage indicating the route of the boulevard and destinations accessible from the boulevard

We have had great support from local schools, the Bayswater Community Committee and all the residents who attended the pipeline bridge opening (though possibly a partisan crowd). Boulevards like these can create walking and cycling “arterials” to allow residents to move freely between the smaller, quieter residential streets. This creates walking and cycling as real transport alternatives, whether it is for a bottle of milk, a trip to a friend’s house or a swim at the beach. This is how we start to reduce congestion and create a more liveable city – not with expensive road widening.

If you know any residents of this area, please forward this to them for their support. If a proven concept, we hope this cheap and effective solution could be rolled out to more suburbs to create cycle friendly corridors all over Auckland.

We’ll leave you with an example photo of a bike boulevard in Berkeley, in the US. If they can do it, so can we.

Entry to Bike Boulevard - CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 - Artbandito, Flickr
Entry to bike boulevard (Creative Commons 2.0, Artbandito, Flickr)

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22 responses to “Cycle Streets: A Cycle Boulevard for Bayswater

  1. Thank you so much Ben for taking the time to do this research and write this report.
    I don’t know know the area but it was easy to follow and made good sense.
    Good luck with Bayswater! Let’s hope it is a quick and easy and popular modification to existing road space and it gets copied all around our city. Then my family will come to see that Auckland has become a safe city to ride for transport and dust off the bikes sitting in the garage:)

    1. Thanks for the positive feedback Barb.

      The idea has hjad great feedback from the schools, community groups and local politicians (especially Chris Darby and Allsion Roe).

      It is starting to gather momentum and it is exciting to think how it could change things in Bayswater. It is a cheap and effective way to create a more liveable community.

      I just hope there are a minimum of NIMBYs in the area who see safe driving speeds as impingeing on their “right” to speed on “their” road. Cars often travel down that road at 70-80km/h, and not just young guys but people who are obviously parents/grandparents themselves.

  2. Great stuff! I’m also a big fan of B.Blvds aka “neighbourhood greenways” since I saw them all over the Pacific Northwest of Nth America (e.g. http://cyclingchristchurch.co.nz/general-a2b-by-bike/vancouver-neighbourhood-greenways/), and there’s interest in making them happen in Christchurch and Dunedin. I presented a paper on applying these to NZ at last year’s 2Walk&Cycle Conference in Hastings; the paper and poster can be found at http://ir.canterbury.ac.nz/handle/10092/6832. They will also form part of the $70m cycleway network around Chch and I recently had two students investigate their applicability there in conjunction with CCC (will be presenting that at next year’s IPENZ Trptn Conf in Wgtn). Let me know if you want any other assistance.

      1. You, of all people, get moderated? That’ll teach you to live on the mainland 🙂

    1. Glen – Thanks for the offer and we may well take you up on that. I am hoping to get in front of some movers and shakers to strat the process.

      Great to see where Chch is going as a city. If it ends up as promised I may be back in my hometown one day!

  3. I agree with the need to proceed cautiously with chicanes. There are some in a nearby street that I have had a chance to observe and, to me, many motorists treat them in the same way as race circuit chicanes – a chance for a bit of fun. In my view, they send the wrong message. Speed bumps are what they are and there is no mistaking what they are there to do. Speed bumps also add no discomfort to bicyclists and there is no need to change direction.

  4. A fantastic idea, Ben. It is so compelling with minimal downsides yet economical to implement, so I really hope it enjoys local support and serves as a model for similar treatments in other parts of Auckland.

    You will have nimby issues, and resistance from motorists who use Roberts/Norwood as a high speed rat run. A couple of months ago I was riding the Green Route, turning right into Bayswater Park from Roberts Ave, when I was menaced by a big silver SUV overtaking me as I was in the middle of the road indicating a right turn. And this was just after a large “cyclist” sign! The arrogance of some of these car drivers who feel they own the road is unbelievable.

    Looking forward to joining you on the inaugural ride of the Bayswater Boulevard!

    1. Thanks for the support Steve.

      Yes the behaviour of some motorists on that road is appalling. They scream down there often at 70-80km/h with children running after footballs from the park.

      It is great that children ride down that route to school but it pains me to see that their only option is to ride on the footpath. I grew up lucky enough to be able to ride my bike on the road safely because the traffic was slower and calmer. We have taken that option away from a whole generation – a real tragedy for NZ.

  5. Even though I think bicycle boulevards can be very valuable, they should really be a secondary option. Considering the width of Bayswater Ave (you could land a medium size jet in the middle), I find it hard to accept that protected cycle lanes on Bayswater Ave are not an acceptable option. Sure they are more expensive, but considering the location, the straightness of the road and the sheer available width, surely that is the preferred option.

    1. They key in this onstage is that there is a very acceptable alternative that would require far less consultation (saving time and grief) and offers a significant saving in transport investment.

    2. Lennart – I agree and if we lived in a civilised country where cycling was given the resources it deserves that would be a no brainer. However, as we dont, we have to be realistic about what is achievable.

      We can jump up and down for years asking for expensive Copenhagen lanes but are likely to be told that there are not enough cyclists. If the proposed boulevard can get cycling numbers up in the area then we have grounds to ask for more scaleable options like Copenhagen lanes on Bayswater Ave.

      I know Bayswater Primary would love that and the principal’s only reservation when I explained the project to her was that nothing would be done on Bayswater. She is just waiting for one of her children to be killed or seriously injured crossing Bayswater as the speeds are crazy (as on Roberts/Norwood). She had to fight for years to get the low level crossing that is there now. But we all know that children’s safety is a LONG way behind level of service for motor vehicles for AT and NZTA.

      If you are in the area, I hope you will support this project despite its shortcomings.

      1. If Bayswater Ave is as bad as you say, the school and concerned parents, should be lobbying for a light controlled crossing.

      2. I’m afraid that if the Norwood option “works” and cycling numbers will rise, AT will be more inclined to say: “look, that’s all you need, some paint and beautifying on side-streets”. They will be unwilling to spend money on a proper cycle lane on Bayswater if they just spend money on Norwood. So while it may be a success, that might also limit future, and more appropriate options on real arterials where you actually need decent facilities.
        I think you can construct separated cycle lanes on Bayswater for a relatively small amount of money without limiting car movements. Put in a row of planter boxes 1.5 m from the kerb, leave space for driveways. Cars can park on the outside. That solution is easy to implement, no kerbs to be realigned, it looks pretty and you are not taking space away from cars. Plus, it will be a showcase for safe cycle infrastructure as opposed to pushing cyclists out onto the back streets while there is an immense amount of space on the main road

        1. It had cycle lanes and they were removed due to complaints. We need another solution until we can get mode-share high enough to justify a) parking removal or b) the budget required to build off- road cycle paths. The solution also needs to be affordable so that LB’s can potentially fund rather than waiting for AT.

    3. Lennart – I recall that a while ago on-road cycle lanes were painted on Bayswater Ave, but were removed after aggrieved motorists/residents lobbied the then NSCC. While times have moved on a little since then, the sentiment still remains that any cycling encroachment on car space (whether moving or parked) is going to generate outrage.

      As much as I’d love to see protected cycleways down Bayswater Ave, practicality says let’s go for the “softer” option of lobbying for Roberts/Norwood. By not affecting the motor vehicle arterial it has a better chance of gaining local and political support.

      It can also act as an excellent exemplar for similar cycle boulevards throughout Auckland. What we really need to grow cycling numbers is to promote the concept that every suburban non-arterial street should have traffic speeds restricted to 30kph through both design and subsequently speed restriction measures. Roberts/Norwood would be a great start.

  6. I know these roads well and used to live in Norwood Road. I gain the impression the population of Bayswater has changed a lot in recent times, it used to be a respectable place and whilst traffic used to speed a bit on King Edward Ave, (now Bayswater Ave.) Norwood was mostly slow local traffic.

    Bayswater Ave, is not bumper to bumper like Lake Road and personally I would describe it as a wide road and safe to cycle except perhaps the narrowed part by Bayswater Primary. If I was cycling to the lower end of Bayswater or the ferry I wouldn’t deviate via Norwood Road and if I did I would turn off into Rosyth I think it is by the Catholic Church. I certainly would not head south to make a right turn into Roberts off Lake Road it is a hairy intersection. When coming east along Roberts and making a left turn into Lake to go north Lake Road has a very steep hill at this point compared to the main road being dead flat all the way to Belmont shops.

    Frankly cycle lanes on Bayswater Ave makes far more sense than juggling with Norwood and Roberts. Far more street parking would be lost doing the latter and the main road is so wide I think there would be room for parking plus wide cycle lanes as well. I f the road was marked in this manner the vehicle carriageway would be narrowed right down and this visual aspect would slow drivers down anyway?

    Personally I believe there are hundreds of roads in Auckland that require higher priority for cycle lanes than Bayswater which probably would be one of the safest places to cycle on the North Shore!

    I would suggest to cyclists riding south and turning right into Bayswater Ave at the Belmont lights if they lack confidence turn left into the service road by the Elizabethan Dairy then cross with the Williamson Ave. light….a variation of the hook turn.

    1. What you’ve missed Richard is that there is virtually no need to remove parking from Norwood / Roberts. Also, you are looking at this, I believe, purely from your own point of view and not that of the parent of a 5 year old who want’s their kids to ride on these roads or someone who is less confident on a bike. It’s just a different way of looking at the problem, using some knowledge from what the Dutch, and Portland, have done (they have had some ok results with cycle mode share). Subjective safety is probably an even greater element to getting people to cycle than actual safety (which we know isn’t that bad).

    2. Richard – some of the worst driving I have seen on that route is actually from middle aged people in SUVs and people movers. There are young guys who drive their boy racer cars down there but to be honest a lot of them seem quite reasonable and polite. So I dont know that it is the area that has changed.

      Bayswater Ave is better and I agree cycle lanes down there would be great. But there were cycle lanes and the local community asked to have them removed, so of course AT did. The main issue will be the parking and also that if the road is arrowed AT/NZTA will come in and say it is a safety issue, despite the fcat narrower roads slow cars down and make them safer.

      The boulevard idea doesnt require any parking to be removed, I though that was pretty clear. The only aim is to slow traffic down and make it obvious to drivers that they are now sharing the route with cyclists/pedestrians. Hopefully that will deter all but residents.

      I agree the hill up Lake Road is an issue, but it is the same issue for cyclists going North on Lake Road.

      “Personally I believe there are hundreds of roads in Auckland that require higher priority for cycle lanes than Bayswater” –
      1. Again, we arent asking for cycle lanes,
      2. Perhaps you are right, so I suggest that you identify those areas and start your own campaign to have them installed. I am concentrating on my community and doing the best I can for the children I see every day trying to get to school in an environment which the principals of their schools think is dangerous. basywater is becoming a cross roads for cycling with Green Route passing through and the great new pipeline bridge – we have to start somewhere and this is a cheap and easy fix.

      1. While remembering of course that what we have done to date (pretty much nothing in the suburbs) hasn’t worked. Time for a change.

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