Tuesday 10th May

Franklin Rd feedback due

Where: See link in blog post
When: TBD

Add your support for Copenhagen-style lanes on Franklin Rd & other design improvements that make life better for people on bikes and on foot.

The new designs for Franklin Rd are in, and we are impressed. We knew that parking-protected bike lanes had been ruled out – but this round of design proposes the next best thing: separated lanes raised above the road, separated from traffic by a rounded kerb, and with buffer zones on both sides.

You may remember that after the disappointment of not getting parking-protection (in part because of a safety audit that questioned the safety in these specific circumstances, i.e. trees and lots of driveways and fast downhill cyclists – plus, one presumes, Auckland drivers), we raised this as an option to upgrade the ho-hum result. And, once they had a chance to get their heads around it, the team at AT were reportedly quite excited at the possibilities.

The fresh design features even more delightful surprises in the way of side street treatments, intersection management, and even lighting. But for starters, have a look at this:

FRdApril2016
Franklin Road design, artist’s impression (via Auckland Transport) – note that this design shows the cycle lanes as flat – but the next drawing below shows what is actually proposed:
FRdApril2016crosssection
If you look at it closely, you can see the modified Copenhagen-style raised kerb. It’s not a full vertical face, but it clearly differentiates, and should do a lot to discourage the more casual or accidental encroachment by drivers.

Here are the bike lane features, in Auckland Transport’s own words:

  • Slightly raised cycleway preferred – 50 to 70mm higher than adjacent road
  • 1.5m wide
  • 0.6m buffers each side
  • Cycle symbols at 60m intervals
  • Rounded kerb profile safer
  • Greening limited to intersections and a thin line adjacent to buffer zone

Speaking of greening: we know a lot of work went into figuring out how to create raised bike lanes and retain parking bays while also protecting Franklin Road’s greatest treasure, the massive London plane trees. Looks like the parking bays will have permeable surfaces, with timber wheel-stops to keep cars away from the trees. And the drainage around the tree pits is a thing of beauty:

FRdTreePitApril2016

Side streets are a major issue on many cycle routes – and cars darting in and out are dangerous not only for people on bikes. So we’re very pleased that this design follows in the steps of other recent proposals, by suggesting raised table crossings on these side streets. This will make things much safer for pedestrians, as well as giving drivers pause before they cross the cycleway.

FRdsidestreetsApril2016And of course, the hairy Wellington St/England St/Franklin Rd intersection is where the design rubber really hits the road, as it were.

There are lots of challenges here. Hills, for one – it’s all downhill from Ponsonby Rd, and even more downhill on Wellington St, encouraging a motorway mindset for drivers at speed. There’s also a regular stream of pedestrians and people on bikes, including kids from Freeman’s Bay School who need to cross twice; families headed to the daycare on the corner; and weekend flows between Ponsonby Road and Victoria Park – not to mention the annual Christmas crowds.

No wonder this intersection is pretty dodgy right now, even for drivers trying to get out of side streets.

FranklinWellingtonaerialThe answer? A roundabout. But not just any roundabout:

WellingtonStroundaboutApril2016
Wellington St/ Franklin Rd roundabout proposal, April 2016 (Image via Auckland Transport)

Once again, good thinking to the rescue!  Overall, this may be one of the best NZ roundabouts for cyclists and pedestrians we have seen so far.

  • Note how the corners of the intersection have been drawn inwards, to slow traffic down, creating a much smaller intersection than currently exists.
  • There’s also only one traffic lane for each direction, and because it’s a roundabout, all traffic has to give way, which will reduce hooning through the intersection on the straight.
  • Each leg of the intersection features a pedestrian crossing, set just behind the start of a raised section.
  • Yes – in fact the entire intersection is raised, to help manage speed. The central island is ‘mountable’, in case larger vehicles need to pass through – which helps keep the overall intersection size down.
  • The roundabout design promises to achieve both slow and flow: AT says this intersection design will be ‘significantly better at managing queuing during peak times’.

How will this work for people on bikes? You have two options:

  • If you are reasonably confident then you can stay on-road, as many will. And hopefully this should be very different in practice from your usually speedy Auckland roundabout.
  • If you’d rather take it slow and even more safely, then you can head off onto a short section of cycle path / shared path, and cross at the zebras. (Note: for the near future, you will not have right of way on those zebras as a person on a bike – hopefully, this will change once this becomes an accepted measure in NZ in a few years; official trials are currently underway).

The devil is still in the detail, of course. The raised table needs to be strong enough to slow traffic, and the central island needs to be raised enough to not just be driven straight over by everyone. Hopefully this is achievable, with it not being a main bus route.

Also, we think the cycle paths / shared paths around the edges for those riders who prefer to still not go through the roundabout with traffic also need a bit more consistency – currently, they are bitsy and narrow/ too wriggly in parts. Luckily, there’s still room (literally) for tweaking.

Catenary lighting: the suspense is thrilling us! (image via AT).
Catenary lighting: the suspense is thrilling us! (image via AT).

Lastly, street lighting is one of those things we all take for granted, but even here AT has pushed the boat out. Given the complexity of maintaining traditional street lighting in amongst the grand old trees, they’re investigating not just the standard light poles, but also some bespoke options:

  • catenary lighting suspended over the street, which allows for exciting possibilities around Christmas.
  • and bollard lighting for the footpaths, designed to illuminate the way without spilling light into residents’ bedrooms.

What else is yet to come? Details, details. And we’re interested to see what happens at the supermarket/ Victoria Park end of Franklin Road, which is currently quite perilous for foot and bike traffic.

For now, though, we’re stoked by the alacrity with which AT’s design team picked up on the possibilities here.

Sure, Franklin Road invites the royal treatment in part because of its age and beauty, and the way its residents have made space for an annual shared celebration. But it can also stand as a example of better streets, everywhere, for everyone.

Maybe the light is finally dawning that Auckland can shine – not just in dramatic creations like Lightpath and on signature boulevards like Franklin Rd – but all over town.

Feedback is welcome on the new Franklin Road design by 10 May 2016. Go for it!

Franklin Road, by Ben Gracewood, via Flickr.
Franklin Road at Christmas, by Ben Gracewood, via Flickr.
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9 responses to “Frankly, this is pretty great – new designs for Franklin Road

  1. That’s a shed load better. Seeing as the cycle paths are directional, I’m sure we can split them from the ‘shared path’ idea to give a real delineation between pedestrians and cyclists. It doesn’t require much room. The downhill crossing on the roundabout seems a long way from the desire line. Is there a reason for this?

    The raised cycle lanes are great. We just need to make sure there is plenty of room for doors on the downhill side, more than is required on the uphill side).

    Overall, much, much better than what AT last presented, along with this comment “Franklin Rd is more set up for confident cyclists”

  2. Tightening up the entrance to the roundabout will have another well intended side effect. It will mean that cyclists won’t be able to ‘undertake’ cars who are stopped at the pedestrian crossings. Cyclists will have to wait until the cars wait for the person to cross the road which is a great win for pedestrians. Many cyclists (a significant minority) have basically ignored the current crossing laws and bowled through without stopping. I’ve been hit once and it scares me that my kids will get taken out one day. This new design looks a lot nicer.

    The other interesting thing (as a resident) is that they’ve kept the footpaths fairly low, hopefully making entrances to garages a lot easier than they would have been if the footpath level had been raised.

    Now let’s hope they actually choose a nice paving option for the footpath.

    1. Yes, its been a really interesting exercise. Easy for everyone involved to seize on a particular element that they feel strongly about but its far more nuanced and a whole combination of factors leads to a better result for residents and all road users. After a shaky start I think AT have really stepped up and have done a very nice piece of work which I hope we can all be proud.

      Interesting how a vertically separated cycleway also assists to solve a problem with levels and drainage.

  3. Great outcome, so why did it take so many iterations to get this right?

    This sort of roundabout design is *exactly* what is needed on the Abbots Way/Grand Drive intersection.
    That is a single lane each way, no need for lights and no need for every turn direction to be catered for at every point.
    A single lane in/out design will work great there too.

    Can we have it there too please AT?

  4. Courageous solutions from AT to some gritty problems that needed innovative resolution and compromise. Raised roundabout, reducing all entries and exists to one lane, vertically delineated cycle lane are unusual for Auckland? I’m no traffic engineer but it seems like a lot of thought and effort has gone in and its a highly refined design which rebalances the public realm for all users. Franklin Road deserves it. Importantly it looks like it will be beautiful and functional.

    Well done AT, a shaky start but I think all the effort will be worth it.

  5. This is great. The Napier street Middle street problem needs to be dealt with. It’s a total shambles. And all the crazy stuff around the supermarket car park entrances. At the bottom of Hepburn street, where it becomes Napier street the is a conduit that goes directly to the bottom of the hill. It’s a tantalising 20 metres of fenced in carpark to get to the little public road beyond. It would be so fantastic if AT could negotiate a little alley there so walkers and cyclists etc didn’t have to go all the way up to Franklin to get to Victoria street. Especially as the housing in the area intensifies.

  6. As someone who rides up Franklin Rd every day, I’m quite excited by this option. This will provide a good option for my son to ride to Freemans Bay school.

    Do you have any information on the lower section of Franklin Rd between Scotland and Victoria St?

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