…at least, they do in this current consultation by Auckland Transport, which focuses on making it much easier and safer to ride between the surrounding areas of Stonefields, St John and Point England to Glen Innes. A veritable octopus of protected cycleways radiate from the town centre and train station, bringing the area to life for regular bike access.
This is one of the last projects in the 2015-2018 Urban Cycleways Programme. After some high level ‘what would you love to see’ public consultations, and discussions with key stakeholders like the local board and ourselves, this is the first public view of the proposed routes and cycleway layouts to be built.
The short version: the proposed protected cycle lanes will make riding much safer. And having lots of routes radiating from the Glen Innes Town Centre – as opposed to pepper-potting them here and there – will help create a highly functional, highly visible success. At the same time, these routes create access to schools, sports fields, parks and destinations around and outside of Glen Innes itself – a major bonus.
Our key remaining concern is that the proposals risk being watered down – especially around intersections, or where car parking is proposed to be removed – so we need as many of you as possible to support this project!
Consultation is open until Wednesday 25 October. When you use AT’s easy online feedback form, feel free to consider our takes on the questions:
1. Would the Links to Glen Innes Cycleways encourage you to cycle more often in the area?
- Yes! Yep. Yessirree Bob. Right?
2. What do you think of the cycleways?
- Support the solid separators that cannot be driven over, and sufficient door buffer space beside parking
- Support removal of parking where needed, so cycleways can be safe for beginners, children and casual riders
- Support the fact that routes radiate out from the town centre (i.e. starting in the middle and extending as far as budget allows)
- Support for improving hostile intersections, particularly the Big Four: the roundabouts at Merton Ave / Apirana Ave, Apirana Ave / Pilkington, Merton Ave / Morrins Road, and Taniwha St / Line Road
3. How would you improve the cycleways?
- A great place to mention any local knowledge or concerns or priorities you may have
4. Do you have any other comments or suggestions about the Links To Glen Innes Cycleways?
- Consider NOT upgrading the rail underpass north of the train station to become a cycleway. Why? Because the significant costs for changing the tunnel could be better spent on the other cycleway and intersection improvements proposed; and there are alternative routes.
Where Will You See Cycleways?
As you can see from the map and on Auckland Transport’s project website, the proposed cycleways radiate out in lots of directions and for quite long distances:
- In the west, people from St Johns will get a better ride, whether heading to the town centre itself, or to Colin Maiden Park – or maybe to get groceries from the supermarket at Felton Mathew Ave!
- From the southwest, Stonefields will similarly gain a safe connection to Glen Innes – which includes the train station, and the GI-to-Tamaki Drive cycleway for the longer-distance riders!
- In the southeast, the southern parts of Glen Innes and Pt England (in the direction of Panmure) will see a cycleway along Apirana Avenue, plus crossing improvements at the horrid roundabout near town centre.
- From the east, a short gap is closed between the existing (paint-only) cycle lanes on Pt England Road and the town centre and the other new bike facilities.
- In the northeast, Taniwha Street will give all the riders from the old and new houses to be built in this area better options for riding to schools and shops.
- Same applies for Line Road to the north, which also has a school along the route, so this will support a range of bike trips from commuters to shoppers to kids.
- In the town centre itself, all of this is tied together with cycleways on Apirana Avenue and Taniwha Street.
- Additionally, the walkway between Felton Mathew Avenue and the Glen Innes train station (including the underpass) will be widened to 3m and become a shared path, to cater for people on foot and on bikes.
First questions: Will all these cycleways be built as part of the first stage? Is there enough budget to do it right?
We discussed this with AT in our meetings. Our suggestion was that they should concentrate on routes closest to the town centre, and on higher levels of protection. (Some of the initial concept options had paint-only routes and shared paths, partly in an attempt to stretch the budget over greater distances).
But we felt – especially where parking was to be removed – that it would be foolish to engage in all the vocal discussions that parking removal causes – only to end up with a low-standard cycleway. Without physical protection, any new lanes would end up attracting only very few new riders. Our take: when in doubt, go for quality, rather than (a bit more) quantity.
AT seem to have mostly come to the same conclusions, as you’ll see when looking at the designs chosen for the various routes.
So what cycleway designs are proposed?
As there are a large number of different roads in this consultation, AT have grouped the proposed designs under four different Layouts, 1 to 4. Each section of street then is assigned one of the four layouts.
Likely because each of the streets under the same layout still have somewhat different widths, AT have not provided exact dimensions for the cross-sections. This makes commenting on them a bit harder – on one street, the protected cycle lane might be 1.8m wide, on the next 1.5m wide. We’ll see if we can get more detailed information over the next weeks.
This has also already led some people to query on social media – particularly when looking at the 3D images – the level of protection provided by the low separators, and whether there’s enough door zone buffer to protect people in the bike lanes from car doors opening. The 3D images seem to understate the level of protection somewhat.
Again, we’re seeking more information to share, but we understand from our discussions with the project manager (and we will be making a submission to ensure) that:
- The solid separators will be substantial enough they can’t be driven over casually or at speed
- If a car is parked against the separators, there will be enough space that a rider in the cycle lane somewhat closer to the kerb – not hugging the kerb, just staying generally left! – will not be in danger. In short, while the current renderings don’t show a door buffer zone, there is one. (How this zone will be marked is still to be determined.)
Below, we’ve copy-pasted AT’s description and designs – with Bike AKL’s take in Lightpath-colour. Remember to also check the overview map to see where each of these layouts will be used.
One-way cycle lane on both sides of the road with the possibility of recessed parking.
Physically separated one-way cycle lanes on both sides of the road, with some parking spaces retained. Where the cycle lane crosses a driveway, a small speed cushion will be installed parallel to the road, so vehicles can still get through while ensuring safety for people on bikes.
Line Rd – between Taniwha St and West Tamaki Rd
Some trees will be removed to provide space for the cycleway. They will be replaced with native trees. On-road parking along both sides of this section of Line Road will be removed, with the possibility of recessed parking being investigated between 71 Line Road and Morrison Funeral Directors. Some parking close to side street entrances will be removed to improve visibility for all road users and to create space for a turning bay for vehicles turning right into side streets.
Taniwha St – between Kiano Pl and West Tamaki Rd
On-road parking along both sides of this section of Taniwha Street will be removed.
Point England Rd – between Apirana Ave and Pilkington Rd
On-road parking along both sides of Point England Road will be removed.
Bike Auckland’s take: Overall, a solid and simple design. Door buffers are not needed here, as no car parking is proposed in most areas. Where recessed parking is used, the cycle lane should go around the passenger (inside) side of the car, to avoid a break in the protection from traffic.
Even with some parking provided in recessed sections, we can expect some push-back against the parking removal, especially on Line Road and upper Taniwha Street.
One-way cycle lane on both sides of the road with parking retained on one side.
A physically separated one-way cycle lane on both sides of the road, with parking spaces retained on one side of the road, between the cycleway and the traffic lane. Where the cycle lane crosses a driveway, a small speed cushion will be installed parallel to the road, so vehicles can still get through while ensuring safety for people on bikes.
Due to the narrow road width under the rail over-bridge, the eastbound cycleway will use the existing footpath on the northern side of the road. The footpath will be widened and converted to a shared path to accommodate pedestrians and people on bikes.
Parking on the northern (eastbound) side of Merton Road will be removed, but parking will still be available on the southern (westbound) side. Some parking close to side street entrances will be removed to improve visibility for all road users and to create space for a turning bay for vehicles turning right into side streets.
The connection to the Glen Innes to Tamaki Drive Shared Path will be improved.
Apirana Ave – between Merton Rd and Pilkington Rd – parking on eastern side
The flush median will be removed and right turn pockets will be available at specific side street entrances. On-road parking along the eastern (southbound) side will be available. Some parking close to side street entrances will be removed to improve visibility for all road users and to create space for a turning bay for vehicles turning right into side streets.
Taniwha St – between Line Rd and Kiano Pl
Parking on the northern (eastbound) side of Taniwha Street will be removed, but parking will still be available on the southern (westbound) side. Some parking close to side street entrances will be removed to improve visibility for all road users and to create space for a turning bay for vehicles turning right into side streets.
Bike Auckland’s take: While the design looks okay, we will seek confirmation there’s adequate space next to the door zone. Crucially, this layout may also see push-back against parking removal on Merton Road and Taniwha Street in particular.
Apart from those aspects, we’ll be focusing on the treatment on Merton Road, where the Glen Innes to Tamaki Drive path begins. In particular, we’ll be looking the crossing to/from the westbound lane opposite the path entry. And, for the short section of eastbound shared path under the rail bridge, we want to ensure there’s some sort of separation from pedestrians – even if only via a kerb or painted line.
One-way cycle lane on both sides of the road with parking retained on both sides.
Physically separated one-way cycle lanes on both sides of the road, with parking spaces retained. Where the cycle lane crosses a driveway, a small speed cushion will be installed parallel to the road, so vehicles can still get through while ensuring safety for people on bikes.
The flush median will be removed and right turn pockets will be available at entrances to side streets. On street parking will be available along both sides of Morrin Road, but some parking close to side street entrances will be removed to improve visibility for all road users and to create space for a turning bay for vehicles turning right into side streets.
One traffic lane will be removed from each side of the road on Stonefields Avenue between College Road and Morrin Road to provide space for the cycleway.
Bike Auckland’s take: who says that really wide roads don’t have their uses – like heaps of space to add cycleways! The fact that parking will be retained (respectively added for Stonefields Road) should make this one a shoo-in.
Admittedly, even without the flush median, we can’t quite see how the new cross-section fits in the current Stonefields Road section. Some carriageway widening maybe? Again, we will inquire.
Otherwise, we are happy with this design, which will make a massive difference to riding on what currently feels like a state highway.
Two-way cycle lane on one side of the road with some parking retained.
A physically separated two-way cycle lane on one side of the road, with some parking spaces retained. Where the cycle lane crosses a driveway, a small speed cushion will be installed parallel to the road, so vehicles can still get through while ensuring safety for people on bikes.
Apirana Ave – between Taniwha St and Merton Rd – cycleway on western (northbound) side
The existing zebra crossing outside 244 Apirana Avenue will become a signalised crossing.
The existing bus stop outside the train station entrance will be upgraded to enable easier drop off and pick up.
A new bus layover will be located on Apirana Avenue on the western (northbound) side, opposite the Mobil petrol station.
A new bus stop will be located on Apirana Avenue on the eastern (southbound) side, requiring the removal of the parallel parking outside 294 and 296 Apirana Avenue.
The existing bicycle box storage will be replaced with a new bicycle parking shed that will provide more parking spaces.
The angled parking outside 244 and 260 Apirana Avenue will remain.
Taniwha St – between Line Rd and Apirana Ave – cycleway on southern (westbound) side with parking on northern side kept
On-road parking on Taniwha Street on the southern (westbound) side, outside 222 Taniwha Street, will be removed.
2 angled on-road parking spaces outside the G.A.S. petrol station on Taniwha Street will be removed, with 4 parking spaces still available.
Bike Auckland’s take: The proposed design of a two-way cycleway through this section is a (reasonable) compromise with the many needs of a town centre. It will provide a protected way to ride through the shops or cover the final metres to a destination in the town centre or to the train station.
As noted, we feel ambivalent about the widening and upgrading of the train station underpass to 3m and making it a shared path, as this could soak up a huge amount of money – especial when alternative routes are available and money remains very, very tight.
It may be better to simply improve the underpass, add CCTV, etc rather than rebuild it fully. Funnelling cyclists through an underpass that has 90-degree turn walkways to the train station platform would also need to be very carefully designed, or we may end up with yet another set of unpleasant zig-zag chicanes to slow cylists, a limited outcome at considerable cost.
Back to the main road cycleways through the town centre: At the ends of the Layout 4 section, riders from the two-way cycleway will need to switch back to the one-way cycleways, which brings us to…
…what about the intersections?
If you’ve ever cycled through the area, you’ll know there are many intersections – particularly roundabouts – that are very scary for people on bikes (and pedestrians!). Take the example below, just south of the town centre…
The good news is that most of these intersections are set to get improvements, as shown in the next map and AT’s descriptions:
Bike Auckland’s take: The good news is there are a lot of positive changes, in particular, the added zebra/cycle crossings, and the fact that ‘physically separated cycleways continue through the roundabouts’. Also, the reduction of Apirana / Pilkington and most of Merton / Morrin to single approach lanes, much more suitable for town centres and residential areas.
Pedestrians of all ages and speeds will benefit as much as people on bikes, something that can get a bit forgotten.
What’s lacking is detail – particularly for Apirana Avenue / Merton Road. With no proposed reductions of the multi-lane approaches, how will riders or walkers cross here? We’ve seen some early designs, but have no idea what is being taken forward. There needs to be safe crossing, or this will remain a major safety issue for everyone who travels along these routes.
Also: while we’re in favour of reducing the approach lanes, we really hope that those who tend to see the world from behind the steering wheel (whether residents, retailers, or passing through) will welcome this safety improvement. We’d like to think that everyone wants safe streets to walk and ride on – and no one wants to crash into pedestrians and people on bikes – but as we’ve seen elsewhere, the universal benefits of street upgrades can take a bit of time to sink in.
AT really needs to stick to their guns here, or the proposals could be watered down until nothing much happens. Your support will be key!
So in summary, there’s a heck of a lot of good stuff in here for pedestrians and all ages of people on bikes – but not everyone may see it that way, given it involves removing some on-street parking and changes to busy intersections. So we need as many of you to support this as possible.
Here is the AT’s online feedback form again – and be sure to read our short answers at the very top of the page!