Or maybe you are a pedestrian, and would love to see better walking conditions here? This is for you too!
Go ahead – use Auckland Transport’s simple online form, and our simple request list (at right) to make it quick – or read our extended article below giving all the nitty gritty details.
Consultation closes the 29th!
Remember that cunning plan to lower the central city by 6m for people on bikes? Consultation is now open on a flatter link between the Northwestern Cycleway and Upper Queen St, with construction planned by mid-2018 (latest). We’re excited about this – and of course, as with every cycleway design, we’d love you to add your voices to make it even better.
Feedback is open until 4pm, 29 August 2016.
As AT puts it, this is the missing link connecting the Northwestern Cycleway and Dominion Road cycle lanes to the Grafton Gully Cycleway, Lightpath and Nelson Street Cycleway. Here’s how it’ll all hook together… (click to enlarge).
Section 1 is the new, flatter connection from the NW Cycleway through Suffolk Reserve, under the Newton Rd overbridge.
Our thoughts: this is currently proposed as a 3m wide shared path – but we are urging AT to build separate paths for walking and cycling through Suffolk Reserve.
Yes, there’s a pinch point at the houses at the end of Takau St, but across the reserve there’s plenty of room for each to have our own space. Separate paths are best practice and common sense, to encourage both modes while making each safer and more pleasant – especially as the park will come to life with more visitors, dog walkers, etc.
On Ian McKinnon Drive itself from the Newton Rd bridge to Upper Queen St, there are two proposed options: both add separated two-way bike lanes on the left as you head uphill. (The existing shared path on the Golf Warehouse side will stay as is). There are two options here…
Option A proposes a 3m wide two-way cycleway up the CBD side of Ian McKinnon Drive, protected from traffic by concrete islands.
Option B is the same as above for the upper part of Ian McKinnon Drive – but at the lower/ Newton Rd overbridge end, the two-way cycleway moves into the greenspace and away from the street, via an existing motorway maintenance road.
Our thoughts below apply equally to both options:
We know the new pathway up the city side of Ian McKinnon will be as popular with walkers as it is with riders – and we’ve been telling AT so for over a year. There’s already heaps of pedestrian traffic on the NW Cycleway from Kingsland into town, and that will only grow with the improved link to town.
So, as much as we love dedicated bike lanes, we think it’s unrealistic to expect this one to remain bike-only in practice beyond the opening ceremony. As happened with Grafton Gully’s upper section, we give it a week or two before AT have to concede and officially call this a shared path!
Add in the pedestrians on the current shared path up Ian McKinnon Drive… once there’s protected space on the city side of the road, why would people walking from Kingsland or Eden Terrance want to cross the road twice – east at Newton/Piwakawaka, and then west again at the top of Ian McKinnon? Most likely, they’ll just continue directly on the new cycleway, green paint or not. There’s just something inherently attractive about protected space on a busy road, especially when it runs right along your ‘desire line’.
Let’s accept that reality now, and plan for it.
So, what can be done?
- Initially, in our discussions with AT, we asked for a dedicated pedestrian path inside the protected zone and alongside the bike-lanes – but we accept this won’t work all the way up the hill, because the available space narrows as you approach Upper Queen Street, and there’s no budget for costly cantilevered structures over the motorway, nor is AT keen to lose more than one lane at the intersection.
- This means the top third of the project may yet have to work as a shared path. But we still think that on the lower two thirds (Suffolk Reserve and the lower half of Ian McKinnon) pedestrians and cyclists can and should each have their own space. Especially as this is where cyclists will be faster and thus the potential for conflict is greater.
- Moreover – at the top, where a separate pedestrian path isn’t feasible, the
protected laneshared path must be widened, to 3.5m or more. Space can be borrowed from the road lanes, which at a proposed 3.5m are very wide, compared to the 3.3m or even 3.2m common on arterial roads all over the city. (Narrowing traffic lanes will have the additional benefit of reducing vehicle speeds on Ian McKinnon Drive, which are generally too fast).
AT may have been somewhat reluctant to go for more here, as this section is due to be reconstructed in a few years if the light rail plans go forward. Still – as shown above, we think an easy improvement is not only possible, but crucial to avoid yet another problematic compromise with walking!
Our feedback in summary: make space for pedestrians now!
- Separate paths for walking and cycling through Suffolk Reserve – this is a key WALKING link too. Lets not treat pedestrians as afterthoughts in bike projects. Unlike Ian McKinnon Drive, which may well be rebuilt for light rail, this path through the park is likely to stay around for decades in the way we build it now.
- Separate walking and cycling on the city/northern side of Ian McKinnon Drive from the get-go, by adding a separate footpath for as far as possible up the hill (and only then merging into a shorter shared path) and/or widening the protected space, especially where that is the only option.
And, while we’re at it, a few other things we’d love to see…
- Let’s improve the ramp linking up to Newton Road / Ponsonby Rd at Takau Street – while building the Suffolk Reserve path in the section past the houses, and sorting out the new access of the path into Takau Street, we’d like to see at least some improvements to the existing ramp – a bit longer, gentler and a better surface would be well appreciated.
- Let’s add some cycle lanes to Alex Evans Street. It’s a quick easy fix, and now is the time – there’s plenty of space to do this – Alex Evans has four traffic lanes (one more than Ian McKinnon will have after the cycleway goes in) – so it would be easy to add in bike lanes / bike paths on the approaches by removing one of the two lanes heading east. No need to blow out the budget, AT – just make it easier for people to ride here while you’re already changing the intersection anyway.
- Let’s sort out the Upper Queen Street crossings between Lightpath and Grafton Gully! For pedestrians and people on bikes, crossing Upper Queen Street is a pain – a two-step process, compared to the one-step turn for a car driver. We’d like to see a signalized crossing on the southern side of Canada Street / Upper Queen Street / Grafton Gully, which is the perfect desire line for many commuters, as well as recreational riders connecting directly between our two iconic paths.
By all means, echo our points in your response – and please share any other thoughts or questions below.
Above all, we really don’t want another fast and steep shared path, pitching cyclists against walkers – because that’s not fair to anybody, and would inhibit both walking and cycling numbers.
Right. Thanks for reading! Here’s that link for online feedback – go for it.