Armadillos in Seville – proper concrete ones not the cheap plastic alternative

Auckland Transport has now released its plan for Franklin Road (or download the PDF brochure here) which runs from Victoria Park up to Ponsonby Road. It is a steep road but also one that offers a quick link from the city to Ponsonby and beyond. As such, there has always been a hope that it would be made more cycle friendly.

To put it kindly, we are giving AT a C- on this one. They have to do better than this if cycling is to grow in Auckland.

AT’s Option 1 is the best of a bad bunch. This provides for a painted cycle lane on the downhill route and a shared path on the uphill route. Option 2 has no downhill cycle lane, only a slightly widened traffic lane – totally useless to most cyclists except the “brave and fearless”. It will certainly not encourage anybody to get out and try making some trips by bicycle and even less to encourage children to cycle.

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Flexiposts in San Francisco

The plan also does not do anything to reduce vehicle speeds. The street landscape should ideally be narrowed to encourage speeds of 30-40km/h. The weekday traffic volumes on Franklin Road are almost 14k (!) vehicles (13.8k, to be exact) a day. This is a level where separation is generally acknowledged as needed for cyclists.

The real problem here (as always) is AT’s unwillingness to remove on street parking – their options have stubbornly stuck to full on-street parking on both sides.

One of the most disappointing parts of the proposal is that it will actually increase parking (currently parking is interrupted by trees, so two parking lanes outside of the trees provide more space). This in a suburb close to the city centre and when the Auckland Council and AT have both made a lot of noise about wanting to make Auckland less auto-dependent and more walking and cycling friendly.

There are very few businesses on this street and lots of parking in the adjoining side streets. The New World supermarket at the bottom of the street has lots of off-street parking for its customers.

Why again is a thoroughfare for the conveyance of people being designed to allow much of its precious public space to be used for the storage of private property? There should be no parking on streets that are intended to move people. This is not a quiet residential street, it is a high volume route and provides a vital link to Ponsonby from the city centre.

Our Alternatives

CAA’s alternative design proposals can be downloaded here (4.12MB PDF).

These proposals require either separated cycle lanes (kerb, armadillos or flexiposts may be options) on both sides, or a separated cycle lane on the downhill side and a “mini-Copenhagen” cycle path as part of the uphill shared path. This will ensure there is much reduced conflict between people walking and cycling.

An example of this kind of cycle path can be seen on the right in a typical Dutch street – though the Franklin Road option would be narrower at the trees.

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One of the CAA options proposed – less parking than there is now, but much better cycling.

Depending on the option chosen, CAA’s proposals could result in less parking than is proposed in the current AT options – some significantly. But we are sure many of you will agree that this is a small price to pay for a plan that will increase the number of people cycling and get more of the large “keen but concerned” demographic out on their bikes.

Please do all you can to get the message out to your Local Board, Councillor and anybody you know in the area that this project as proposed by AT has some major flaws. It is so bad that it would almost be better if AT did nothing, as the proposed changes will allow AT to claim that Franklin Road has been “fixed” for cycling – stopping any further improvements.

It would also give ammunition for cycling skeptics to claim that there is no appetite for further cycling infrastructure as AT’s options are unlikely to result in any new people cycling on Franklin Road.

AT has shown us what can be done with the fantastic Beach Road and Grafton Gully projects. As residents and ratepayers in this city, we should not accept anything less than this quality for any project going forward.

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