armadillos
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.

flexiposts protected_bike_lane
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.

Cycle path - walking cycling
A typical Dutch cycle path with a raised footpath to the side and a clear colour difference. Ideally the cycle path should be slightly elevated from the roadway as well.

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.

CAA ShaCyl 03
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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Auckland Transport Central Auckland Cycle lanes General News Infrastructure Off-road paths Overseas examples Traffic Calming
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30 responses to “Franklin Road proposal: AT must do better

  1. What is the logic in having higher standard of cycleway for going downhill? Surely the speed difference between cars and bikes is greater on the way up and therefore more dangerous. I cycle down and up this road daily and never had any issue on the way down. Uphill is a different story.
    Cycling on pavement in NZ is illegal as it is too dangerous for pedestrian unless there is painted line on the pavement which all the sudden makes is perfectly safe for everyone. Magic!
    How about do nothing and put high standard cyclelanes on College Hill which I think has more cycling traffic and is wide enough.

  2. If you’re only going to build poorly thought out infrastructure you’ll just end up with it not being used (ie like many local efforts in the UK).

    I used to walk Franklin otw to work. It can get quite congested with the side streets and pretty heavy foot traffic too. It’s so wide motorists often treat it like a 60kph zone when it should be the same as Ponsonby Rd. They see a gap they are way too aggressive. Many are late begrudging stoppers for the zebra crossing near the top.

    If you’re going uphill on a shared path there is no easy way to get across Wellington Street with a bicycle the way it is now. They will need to put in a signal or zebra crossing. If you cede priority by going straight on the footpath vs going straight on a road you’ll only force commuters onto the road negating the money spent.

    There is no need to put in more parking. In fact it should be avoided as it will only lead to more people circling looking for parks when Ponsonby is so easy to get to by Public Transport.

    I love the mini Copenhagen design.

  3. I personally think this is screaming out for an emulating of the Beach Rd cycleway due to the space constraints and competing interests. I know separated unidirectional cycle lanes are preferable but I think in this case there’s merit to a separated bi-directional one on the right hand side of the road (i.e. when you’re facing uphill).

    I can’t attach an image but please see my (crude) drawing here: http://tinypic.com/r/t9uu7b/8

    Key:
    – The yellow dotted lines represent hard separation barriers which will obviously need to break at the driveway points to allow access to residential properties on the right hand side.

    Pros:
    – Cyclists going both directions are fully provided for and protected from traffic
    – Dooring eliminated as a possibility altogether because parking is on the left hand side only
    – Having the single bi-directional cycle lane is efficient with space (i.e. less “wasted” space as only one separation barrier required)
    – Only homeowners on the right hand side need to watch out for bikes when pulling in/out

    Cons:
    – Less parking versus what is there now

    Other Factors that will make this idea work best:
    – Good transition for cyclists to get on to and off the cycle lane at the bottom and top of Franklin – I’m thinking lights that properly phase and/or prioritise cycle traffic
    – Homeowners on the right hand side restricted to entering/exiting their driveways via left-hand turns only! – NB!
    – Speed limit restricted to 40km/h

      1. David
        Do you know of an example of cycle path between Parked car and kerb this narrow? (2.2m)
        To quote Richard A
        “If you’re only going to build poorly thought out infrastructure you’ll just end up with it not being used (ie like many local efforts in the UK).”

        1. Hi Peter

          Is 2.2m really that narrow? The bidirectional Beach Road cycle lane is 3m wide. It seems perfectly acceptable to me especially when considering the lanes will be on the passenger side of the cars. Any possibility of dooring will be greatly reduced given more often that the driver is the sole occupant!

          I agree with you regarding poorly thought ought infrastructure, hence I would assume if Transport Blog’s proposal gets the go ahead it would include proper consultation from people who actually ride who will indicate that the point where the cycle lane meets the outside kerb shouldn’t be an abrupt and steep right-angled kerb but rather a smooth gradual transition up to the tree line. This will allow bikes to easily get on and off the lane from the sidewalk as well as avoiding pedal strike if moving left to avoid an opened door.

          Tall posts at handlebar height is obviously a no no, as anyone who has actually ridden a bike will know.

          Thoughts?

          1. I strongly feel that the sketch proposal is too narrow for cyclists and safety, and know that it is much too narrow for AT to accept.

            A door opening zone requires 0.6-1m, so you’d already be left with no space for cyclists to overtake slower cyclists uphill. 3m drive lanes are lower than ideal on an arterial road (and 3.2m is the lowest AT will go to anyway), and 2m wide parking (normal 2.2-2.5m) next to that means that motorists will often
            either sit partially in the through lanes, or in the cycle lane (cars can legally be 2.5m wide). Appreciate the intent, but if those dimensions are right, then the space if just too narrow for that concept to work.

          2. I get that 2.2m is too narrow for a bidirectional cycle lane, but don’t see why it’s too narrow for one way.

          3. I’m sorry Max but how wide would you prefer it to be? You mention that 3.2m per a vehicle lane is the minimum AT will go with, yet AT in its very own proposal put these at 3.1m.

            I’ve taken a tape measure and measured out the distances specified in Transport Blog’s proposal and the spaces provided leave plenty of room for that which they’re allocated. If someone’s not able to cycle in those spaces (or drive in he vehicle lane) then I respectfully suggest that this person is not fit to do either. It’s not like Franklin Rd is intended to move 44-tonne trucks.

            In the original post CAA laments AT’s proposals and states speeds on Franklin Rd should be reduced, traffic calmed, the roadway narrowed, better provision be made for cycling, and on-street car parking removed altogether.

            Yet when it comes to the five proposals put forward, sub-optimal cycling provisions are put forward which seem to be impacted on what appears to be a desire to maximise parking. Further, your comment expressing a desire for even wider infrastructure contracts the original post which advocates for going narrower to calm traffic and smooth flow.

            More precisely, you can’t possibly expect the cycle lane to be wide enough to allow a cyclist to pass another cyclist at the exact same time as a passenger door is open, surely? The 2.2 lane (including low separation barrier) is very wide, it’s more than enough room to pass a slower rider or continue uninterrupted when a door held as wide open as possible.

            I appreciate you guys are trying to do your best to advance cycling as a viable option but this does seem like singing from different song sheets and giving mixed messages.

            Implicit in this response is me assuming you’re the Max associated with CAA. If I’m mistaken my apologies!

          4. Hi David T – 2.2m is not too narrow for one-way to comply with the rules – in fact, without doors opening into it, it would be generous. With doors, it isn’t very great however. But yeah, one could do it. But then you get to the below…

            Hi David K – my bad, when penning the response in a bit of a hurry, I missed the fact that AT went down to 3.1m themselves. But that doesn’t change the fact that my main criticism of the above concept was combining narrow lanes AND narrow parking AND cycle lanes that themselves just barely comply. In reality, the combination will not work that well – as I said, cars and vans and trucks can be as wide as 2.5m – look at some of those SUV’s – I’d suspect many of them would be at least in the 2.2-2.3m range, i.e. wider than the parking space allocated in the sketch.

            Then add to the fact that drivers will never park perfectly, and you have cars sticking 20-50cm either into the bike lane, or into an already very narrow car lane. I can’t see AT accepting this, and I wouldn’t like to see it myself, because it will just raise cries of how cyclists screwed it up for everyone (not a good way to raise cycling, especially if the cycle design is also impacted by the compromise anyway).

            As for your claim that we contradict ourselves by wanting narrower lanes AND wider lanes – sorry, but that is simply not what we are saying. Narrower than the situation is now – yes, very much so. But not so narrow that it won’t work in practice, as I have explained above.

  4. I personally think this is screaming out for an emulating of the Beach Rd cycleway due to the space constraints and competing interests. I know separated unidirectional cycle lanes are preferable but I think in this case there’s merit to a separated bi-directional one on the right hand side of the road (i.e. when you’re facing uphill).

    I can’t attach an image but please see my (crude) drawing here: http://tinypic.com/r/t9uu7b/8

    Key:
    – The yellow dotted lines represent hard separation barriers which will obviously need to break at the driveway points to allow access to residential properties on the right hand side.

    Pros:
    – Cyclists going both directions are fully provided for and protected from traffic
    – Dooring eliminated as a possibility altogether because parking is on the left hand side only
    – Having the single bi-directional cycle lane is efficient with space (i.e. less “wasted” space as only one separation barrier required)
    – Only homeowners on the right hand side need to watch out for bikes when pulling in/out

    Cons:
    – Less parking versus what is there now

    Other Factors that will make this idea work best:
    – Good transition for cyclists to get on to and off the cycle lane at the bottom and top of Franklin – I’m thinking lights that properly phase and/or prioritise cycle traffic
    – Homeowners on the right hand side restricted to entering/exiting their driveways via left-hand turns only! – NB!
    – Speed limit restricted to 40km/h

  5. I wonder if anyone has researched how many of the cars parked on Franklin are residents? Ponsonby has a significant number of properties designed and built without off street parking. As much as I love cycling we should, in my opinion, provide properties (without off street parking) with one parking spot. Then we can see exactly how much space we have left for cycle lanes.

    1. But why should rate and tax payers be subsidising someone parking their private property on public space, maintained with public money? That person chose to buy a property without off street parking. On street parking has never been guaranteed by the Council for anybody. The fact there is no off street parking would have been reflected in the purchase price of property.

      There is no inherent right to park a car near your house. Anymore than there is to store a fridge or washing machine or any other household appliance on the street. And that’s all a car is, a home appliance for travel.

      1. Hey Ben, if that’s CAA’s position (apologies if I’m conflating your personal opinion with that of the organisation and FWIW I totally agree with you on this, it’s one of those weird indoctrinated beliefs amongst far too many) then why go out of the way to put a number of alternative proposals forward for Franklin Road which all seem to go out of their way to provide parking with the result being a sub-optimal outcome for an arterial road the purpose of which is to move people from one end of town to the other, not store private property on public land.

        1. I agree with Ben’s general stance, but that doesn’t mean I think (nor do I believe that Ben thinks) that we should just remove all car parking on the street that is there now. The fact is that it isn’t on the cycle network, so the deck is stacked against us from the start. So our preferred options tend to reduce the parking somewhat, but not eliminate it.

          Sure, a lot of critics of CAA feel that we should be more “purist” and accept less compromise – but that’s not how reality works in a high-profile inner city suburban street in Auckland 2014. For a scheme to have any chance here, it has to allow for some parking for residents. That and the location of the trees mean that any scheme will also include compromises for cyclists. If you feel that CAA should ignore that and hold out for a solution without compromises… fair enough, but then we simply aren’t on the same wavelength.

          1. Exactly what I meant.

            There should be some parking but there should be no sacred cows as far as who uses it. I wouldn’t mind if residents had reserved parking as long as they paid the true cost of maintaining that space. But right now the legislation for resident parking schemes only allows charging of the admin costs – so maybe $150 a year (as with St Marys Bay scheme) – which is crazy.

            However, if the Council/AT was serious about cycling (not just paying lip service to the concept) they should have a policy of making cycling a priority over parking. If parking can be provided after cycling infrastructure is done then great – not the other way round.

      2. Thanks Ben, I was playing the a little devil’s advocate. There is a lot of passion about on street car parking in Auckland and particularly in Ponsonby where many streets are narrow and off street parking scarce. If the Franklin Rd residents fought against any reduction in car parking I imagine they would have significant influence.

        1. The irony of this is that such influence is, by definition, pandering to a select small minority – the same claim that’s frequently lobbed at those advocating for more cycling infrastructure.

          The thing is, the latter criticism is patently false because nothing is stopping anyone else from hopping on a bicycle in lieu of their car and reaping the benefits that come with this choice!

          Providing resident’s with free parking on public land in a suburb that’s right on the doorstep of the city and public transport networks does not provide a benefit to anyone beyond those residents. It’s simply maintaining the status quo which no one has been promised.*

          *Short of a few select examples of historical contractual agreements to provide guaranteed on-street parks to owners of properties that don’t have off-street parking. This said, I understand this is limited to a very small number of properties.

  6. Have you seen anywhere if AT have quantified:
    – how many car parks there currently are on the uphill & downhill sides
    – how many car parks there will be on each side if they pull the parking out from tree line
    – how much parking there will be on each side if parking stayed within the tree line but with more protection for the trees.

  7. Please can you stop using phrases like “brave and fearless”. As the CAA you should be promoting cycling as a SAFE mode of transport. Not something that is too dangerous at the moment and need fixing. I am aware that there are some short comings (an understatement) in the current road layouts, but we should be promoting these as an improvement of an already achievable transport mode.

    Granted I come at this from an experienced point of view and am a confident rider. When talking to people who dont cycle I always say that its no where near as bad out there as the media portray in the hope that some people will take it up. Cycling on the road really isnt that bad!

    We cant wait for the infrastructure to be in place before encouraging people to ride bikes. We need to do this now!

    1. Hi Andrew – CAA often gets accused of *downplaying* how horrible our roads are. It is interesting that you think we are making them look too bad.

      When seen from the perspective of non- or novice-cyclists, our streets are bad. I see this in part in how little success I have had in getting my own partner to cycle.

      This doesn’t mean that we aren’t happy with partial improvements (though again, we often get accused of exactly that – being too accommodating). But if it looks like a spade to a non-cyclist, then talking about how “it’s not really that bad” (or simply not discussing safety at all) has no track record of actually getting people cycling. Good infrastructure – that’s the key thing to everything.

      1. CAA’s rhetoric around the danger of cycling really, really alienates me as a regular cyclist. I get that Auckland can do a lot better, but don’t especially like being cast as some kind of brave or mad bicycle warrior…

        1. Danger of cycling? Where did we say cycling was dangerous? Cycling isn’t dangerous but that doesn’t matter. What matters is that people FEEL unsafe, even though statistically it is safe. This is called “subjective safety” and it is why Dutch people cycle so much. Cycling in the Netherlands feels safe and so everybody does it – 8-80 cycling.

          The “brave and fearless” does not refer to risk. It refers to perception of risk. They are the 2-3% who will cycle anywhere.

          Claiming that people should just get out there and cycle without improved infrastructure, is the vehicular cycling approach. One that has led to no uptake in cycling beyond that 2-3%. The only way to get cycling considered a normal everday activity is better infrastructure.

          CAA does not regard cycling as unsafe at all.

          1. You don’t get how a cyclist might find it alienating to see himself and other cyclists characterised as brave? By using this language, you implicitly scaremonger. It’s not bravery if there’s no perceived danger, so this language reinforces the perception.

            Of course we need better infrastructure – but I don’t see how casting current cyclists as risk takers helps get us there.

          2. Thank you for your replies. While I understand that you have a tough job catering for every demographic of cycling (from experienced cyclists who, as you say, already feel safe to those less experienced who currently don’t). I personally think that the way to get cycling considered as normal is to talk about it as a normal activity and transport mode that is achievable as it stands. With more uptake better infrastructure will be forthcoming as the demand from everyday people will be taken more seriously than that of cycling advocates (who, while doing a great and bloody though job, are marginalized as ‘greenies’ and ‘cyclists’ by the general car using public).

            I do however say this as a commenter on a forum rather than someone who has to take EVERYONE into account.

          3. But if we take the average person’s view of cycling in Auckland, we are brave. Again, CAA is not saying current cyclists are brave because it IS dangerous but because it is PERCEIVED as dangerous – we are not looking at it not as an objective, statistical standard but a subjective, emotional standard in Auckland. And from that point of view, cycling is seen as something only for a subculture of brave people.

            I am NOT saying CAA agrees with that view of cycling but it is a viewpoint we have to address and deal with before cycling will become normalised. The only way to do that is to make our streets LOOK safe – regardless of how safe it is now. Again, this is called “subjective safety” and the most well-known proponent is David Hembrow of the View From the Cycle Path blog (http://www.aviewfromthecyclepath.com/2008/09/three-types-of-safety.html).

            Just telling people it is statistically safe and they need to train themselves to cycle in the current conditions, hasn’t worked anywhere. It is the vehicular cycling approach that has not normalised cycling anywhere. The only proven way to normalise cycling is to separate bikes from cars or slow cars down to the point (<30km/h) where they no longer feel like a threat – that’s it – no other successful method has ever been devised to normalise cycling.

            I came back to Auckland from cycling for three years in Bucharest, Romania and compared to there, Auckland is cycling heaven. But I am the kind of person who will cycle no matter the conditions and probably so are 90% of the people who belong to CAA or read this blog. We have to expand that group as otherwise we will never exceed the 2-3% modal share we have now.

            Even a lot of Dutch/Danish people who come to NZ/AU/CAN/US stop cycling because it doesn't feel safe - despite them being very confident, life long cyclists. Conversely people who go and live in the Netherlands often start cycling, even though they would never cycle in their home country.

            So there is no chicken/egg issue here. We need the subjectively safe infrastructure and then enough people will cycle that we can achieve the 10%+ mode share that we need to be taken seriously as a cycling city. That would make us the premier Southern Hemisphere cycling city, though I suspect Christchurch will get there long before Auckland. We can’t just go around pretending there is no PERCEPTION (not reality) that Auckland is an unsafe place to cycle.

  8. Yep this design is a cop out. My only questions is why is ATs planing output so hit & miss? Clearly they know what good streets are and have good people & reasonable policies. If its just residents driving the process then the over discussion about public perception of cycling becomes even more significant.

    I think these guys are reponsible for coming up with the
    Strong & fearless = 1% matrix, check it out:

    https://www.portlandoregon.gov/transportation/article/158497

  9. This makes me angry enough, that I’d like to organise some street drama on Franklin Rd if AT doesn’t do better than this.
    The drama might be called “Blood on the path” and involves a lot of tomato sauce, kids falling slo-mo off bikes while using AT’s sub-standard infrastructure, melodramatic squishing noises. It’s going to be a Youtube sensation ;-).

    Opponents of safe infrastructure need to realise the implications of what they’re advocating for the lives of children who will use the road.
    (Not a member of CAA, views entirely my own, etc…)

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