Update – in case you missed it, Transport Blog dealt with other aspects of this debacle, which has attracted outrage about the cycling aspects as well. Check it out.

Today’s Herald story refers to concerns we have with the revamp planned for Dominion Rd.

AT’s drawing below shows how good the completed project will be. Interestingly, it has no cyclists anywhere in the frame. This is rare, when you consider how bikes and cyclists feature commonly in all sorts of promotional material (AT publications, retirement villages, health companies) to convey how ‘cool’ and ‘desirable’ the product is.

Dominion Rd Balmoral upgrade

The project has been in the pipeline for some years, dating from Auckland Council’s original plan to make generous provision for bus lanes and Copenhagen style cycle lanes. The $100m price tag and protest from local retailers over widening through the villages caused AT to go back to the drawing board. Major bus lane trimming and deleting the cycle lane widening brought the expected cost down to $47m.

Since then plans have evolved to move village car parking to the side streets and provide a $6.2m back roads traffic calming project to encourage inexperienced cyclists to ride parallel routes clear of Dominion Rd. AT says the back roads route connects with 16 schools, which is great to hear.

We have been working with AT on the parallel routes to try to make them less meandering and more practical. We have also made it clear that the back routes won’t cater for all cyclists, as more experienced riders will continue to use Dominion Rd because it provides such efficient direct access into the Central City.

When we presented to Auckland Council in February we were horrified to hear Councillor Christine Fletcher suggest that a by-law may be warranted to force all cyclists to use the parallel streets and exclude commuting cyclists from using Dominion Rd. She backed off when we reminded her that, while we accept the local benefits of the parallel routes, Cycle Action didn’t ask for them and respects the desire of cross-city cyclists for a more direct efficient route.

AT recently called for submissions on on the Dominion Rd project, with a closing date of last Thursday. Somewhat prematurely, it issued a media release on Friday before it had read the submissions. This told us the project cost has ballooned by $20m to move village parking to the side streets, village planting, seating etc. It also said “Cyclists have been given their own routes on side-streets paralleling Dominion Road where the traffic is light, inherent safety much greater and exhaust fumes almost non-existent.”

I regard this statement to be misleading, as back road routes with traffic calming are a far cry from the NW Cycleway or other dedicated cycleways. The back routes are still primarily designed for cars, so are not cyclists’ ‘own routes‘. While we don’t want to re-litigate the issue of providing cycle lanes on Dominion Rd or deny the local value of the back routes,  we ask AT to be honest and to respect the right of commuting cyclists to use Dominion Rd.

Our submission supports improvements to make the villages more pleasant places to visit. We also asked AT to reallocate road space by narrowing the relatively generous width of painted medians and car traffic lanes, so more space is available for buses and cycles to have safer and efficient travel. We’ve also asked for advance stop boxes to raise the profile of cyclists using Dominion Rd and threshold treatments at side roads to protect cyclists using Dominion Rd from drivers turning onto/off the arterial.

We’ll keep you posted on what success we have with these requests.

Categories
Cycling safety Dominion Road General News Infrastructure
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30 responses to “Dominion Rd revamp – it seems everyone deserves transport choice, except cyclists

  1. I still can’t believe how much its costing to turn a few quite cycle friendly back streets into quite cycle friendly back streets.

    1. The works in the side street routes are quite useful on their own, and I think, worth the money. The problem is that they miss the point of an arterial road in the middle of a residential area needing to be safe for cycling.

  2. I think I’ll just take the lane, the whole way, down Dominion Rd, when I am in the area.

    1. Yes, and maybe I’ll join you. Two across, no need to hurry..

      That’s not to say I don’t also agree with the improved side streets. Sure, they could be better – for a fraction of $ 20 m you could buy That House (or even just it’s driveway).. and how about some prioritised cycle friendly crossings to minimise stop-starts?

    2. Me too. Cars are usually at a standstill along Dominion Rd and buses just get in my way. I can cruise at 35-40kph the whole way without worrying too much about stupid people in cars pulling out on me from driveways or side streets. I find back roads worse for that than Dom Rd.

      1. You make a good point Andrew.

        The NZ Cycling Safety Summit from last month, page 42.. three types of crossing each cause more than 10% of cyclist deaths.

        https://caa.org.nz/wp-content/uploads/2014/04/Cycling-Safety-Summit-Briefing-Final-2014-04.pdf

        How many of these situations do the new backroads introduce? Are they really safer than Dominoion Road. Maybe they are, and the traffic calming will help. But there’s also a whole lot more car doors down those streets..

        1. Volume and speed also important. Careful not to conflate correlation and causation in what could be totally different contexts. Calming local streets to make them more people-friendly is a well-tested method. I can fully understand people who say that the backroads routes are too circuitous for them, or don’t lead (right) where they want to go to.

          But lets not be crazy and argue that traffic calming and riding local roads is bad for our safety!

    3. I agree, and if we are in bunches of 10 or more (or even 5) we will just (in the words of the Paris cycle tour guide from last year) “own the road”…..

  3. “Traffic calming measures”. That’s an oxy-moron. Traffic is never calm when I am cycling through those pinch points, and they have to slow down because there is no room to pass me.

    1. Yes, which is why the new traffic calming measures will not be pinch points, but tables / bumps across the whole road width.

  4. The real issue here is that there seems to be no end of cash to feed the addiction of private motor cars. A big chunck of that $20m is going on parking while cyclists are shunted off to an inconvenient side route. Bear in mind ATs annual spend on cycling us circa $10m

    1. Also bear in mind that it seems to be a phenomenon that is happening elsewhere (Australia, UK)as well. To reduce the number of deaths involving cyclists, firstly ban them from the roads, and then legislate them into non existence. And then we see on today’s news that the police are concerned about the number of people killed in vehicle accidents this year on NZ roads, of which a high proportion were due to no seatbelts, speeding, and alcohol.

  5. I’ve just moved to a new place in Mt Roskill, and the best, easiest route for me to get work in town on my single speed is Dominion Rd. I may consider taking side streets in future (I’m 20 weeks pregnant so can’t go as fast as I used to) but to consider making it law for cyclists to use the alternate route? Awful – cyclists pay taxes just like everyone else, and road design should accommodate all modes.

    Thank you so much Cycle Action for going in to bat for us!

    1. I’m not sure it could even be made legal (at least not at Council level)* – but the very thought is crazy and makes me shake my head.

      *It is however legal and easy to ban cyclists from bus lanes. So we could still face that one day, when bus drivers get fed up with cyclists “invading” the skinny bus lanes we are now stuck with for the next decades.

      Then we would suddenly be legally obligated to be stuck in the car lane with all the congestion, and bus drivers could behave even more agressively, since cyclists would be breaking the law in their lane. Easier to bully a cyclist with a bus than bully a SUV driver in your bus lane. Shudder, maybe I shouldn’t have mentioned it, but it WAS mentioned as an “option” some time back.

  6. Is it possible to have a narrow median strip and a cycle lane instead. And put trees in the side streets. Am aware that the decisions seem to have been made.

  7. I can’t believe that such a significant roading project does not make adequate provision for cyclists. I don’t think a few cycle stands really does it.
    I also have serious concerns over the much touted parallel cycle route as an alternative safe haven for cyclists. We all know pinch points are an issue and yet AT has chosen Kiwitea St as part of the route. Probably the narrowest street on the route and yet heavily utilised by cars doing the rat run to avoid the congestion on Dominion Rd
    Finally grass and planted medians down the centre of Dominion Road?? Who is going to mow them ?? I note suggested trees to be planted are nikau (remember the Queen St experiment), pohutukawa and rewa rewa. Really??

    1. Okay, as I said below. Using their example of Kiwitea street. Kiwitea street to left turn down Calgary. But Kiwitea has to give way at Parry street and Lambeth street – Not safe for cyclists as can be sitting target trying to cross against traffic flows.
      So, left down Calgary and then right down Arabi to continue the parallel route. Again giving way at Halesowen, Tranmere, Oxton, to end up at Balmoral Road.
      This leads to a RIGHT hand turn against free flowing traffic to get to Goring Street. OR Illegally ride the bike on the footpath down to the pedestrian crossing, and then ride the bike illegally down to Goring street.

      Once on Goring, Ride down to Cambourne, Left turn to King Edward street, again crossing traffic at Parrish, Gribblehirst, to end up on DOMINION ROAD!!

      If this is their plan for cycling it is the most dangerous route of all. EIGHT streets on that section to have to negotiate across. I would never, ever choose a route that put me in so much danger. It is worse than a fairground shooting gallery.

      1. Kelvin, please look at the design plans – just to take a single example: Lambeth Road. The designs include speed tables on all four approaches to this intersection. so it’s not as if general traffic will just shoot across willy-nilly.

        Same for the comments re Goring Street – which isn’t even part of the route. The route goes straight north-south at Pine-Eldon, with a signalised crossing over Balmoral, and with traffic calming on said streets.

        I can fully understand why people don’t like the circuitousness of the parallel routes. But to argue that local residential streets with lots of speed-reduction focussed traffic calming are “worse than a fairground shooting gallery” is rather off the mark.

      2. And as the Kiwitea-Calgary-Arabi dog-leg, there are three speed tables in short succession on Calgary Street to protect cyclists.

        Again, I can understand cyclists who are unhappy with the lack of cycle facilities on Dom Road – I am too. But that doesn’t mean that our residential streets are suddenly deathtraps, or that this scheme won’t help make them a lot better.

        https://at.govt.nz/media/342825/Kiwitea-Calgary.pdf

  8. Okay, so I thought I would actually recheck the street maps and see what streets are running parallel to Dominion Road. You have Sandringham, Dominion, Mt Eden, Manukau.

    Now, if one doesn’t use Dominion Road, one ould either have to use Mt Eden Road or Sandringham road because the “parallel” roads to the city do not connect to each other. Not only that, in looking at the map, the roads require crossing Balmoral, without lights, and or right hand turns to get to the next parallel road.
    Why not be bold AT, and make Dominion Road a bus , cycling, T2 priority road? Or Sandringham, Mt Eden. Have two lanes each way for them, and one lane for sole occupant vehicles?

    Also, will there be the same amount of street lighting on the parallel routes as the main ones? Residents may not like that.

    1. Kelvin, just noting that both routes will have (new) signalised crossings of Balmoral and Mt Albert.

  9. Sure the paralell routes are great for kids going to school, and people who prefer a slower quiet ride, but AT need to understand that I and many other fast utility cyclists will never use a facility that will be slower longer and at the maximum speed that I can travel on that route probably less safe option.

    I will be riding straight down Dominion Road and taking the lane, it is safer and more convenient.

    1. Thought I’d do a quick km measure on the proposed vs the Dominion Road route. Works out around 35% longer to do the proposed route.

    2. I wonder how Auckland motorists would feel if they were told, the roads were going to change so that it would take them 35% longer to get to work, and have a 35% higher fuel bill.

      1. Kelvin. The point of the blog post is that these routes are not a satisfactory alternative to Dom Rd. CAA pointed this out to AT in their various submissions. It has been well documented in this blog and others in the past.
        Once the AT board decided not to provide cycle facilities on Dom rd CAA then submitted that the alternate route should be of a high standard to encourage local trips and less confident cyclists something along the lines of a cycle boulevard. The final design falls somewhat short of a cycle boulevard but as Max has pointed out it’s not all bad and some effort has gone in to creating safe crossing of the arterials.
        Its frustrating especially in light of the expenditure proposed for parking improvements. But whats important now is the main corridor particularly the commercial centres be as people and cycle friendly as possible out side of the peak.
        This was the basis of CAAs latest submission prioritising people and place over vehicle movement.

      2. Ironically, that is exactly what the Dutch actually do to make their streets safer for cyclists, pedestrians and motorists:
        http://bicycledutch.wordpress.com/2013/08/08/making-a-1960s-street-grid-fit-for-the-21st-century/

        The general design of cities like Groningen and Houten also demonstrate this principle.

        Cars should have to go the long way round. All a motorist has to do is hold their foot on the accelerator for slightly longer. For pedestrians and cyclists a longer distance is a major issue. After all, arent we always told that cars are so much better because they are faster? So why would a longer distance make any difference?

        But as you say, despite the logic to it, suggesting that cars go the long way round in Auckland would be met with great wailing and gnashing of teeth.

  10. I cycle to work up and back down Dominion Road 2-3 times a week. It’s fast and direct. Looking at this plan, for cyclists not much will change, except the cycle lanes (which the buses also use!), will not have any breaks in them. This is not a plan for cyclists, it’s a clear signal that we’re with the buses. I don’t find the buses too worrying, it would be nice to have a dedicated lane, and the way to get one is to get some quantity out there. If, instead of cycling more or less on my own each morning, I was joined by 10 -20 other cyclists with another bunch 100 metres back, the reality of the situation would force a rethink. At present, if I were at AT looking at the figures, I’m not surprised. Of course I know that we will come if it’s built, but we simply need more cyclists, like NOW.

    1. The issue of course is that mixing with buses will only get us the ‘brave and fearless’ 1% so the numbers wont rise significantly.

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