How safe is your driveway?

A number of our members have recently come to us with something already brewing in the back of our minds: For the last years, in the former Auckland City area, Council has been constructing more and more new driveways with a 50mm high “kerb lip”.

This kerb lip was, according to our inquiries, included in the standard design several years ago to ensure that motorists drive slower when entering properties. We are somewhat sceptical about the success there (some effect is likely, but it hasn’t removed the issue).

Key however is that that 50mm bump is hell on cycle tyres. Worse, when hit at an angle, it can cause you to fall.

Some members also noted that apart from entering their own driveways, they sometimes need to use a driveway as an “escape route” from dangerous on-road situations. We also feel that the lip must be difficult for anyone in a wheelchair or mobility scooter.

Council reports that the 50mm lip is in fact not supposed to simply be built that way – but contractors often forget that the top of the 50mm lip is to be graded (“chamfered”) off diagonally by 20mm. From personal experience at some of the driveways of our committee members, even when chamfered, the lip remains very harsh – and retains much of the risk if hit at an angle.

In recent communications with our members, we heard of several incidents where these new driveways did indeed cause injury crashes – though we suspect that many of these never got reported to Council or the police, as there was no other vehicle (directly) involved.

In the meantime, we have now begun to follow up the issue more strongly with our contacts in Auckland Transport, and are meeting to discuss ways forward – ideally, removing this lip totally from the design standards, or replacing it with something much more gentle and safer for cyclists. To our knowledge, the other Councils that were merged into the Super City did not have these lips at all, and with the risk they cause, we don’t think anyone should keep building them.

In the meantime, while we talk to Auckland Transport, we want to ask all our members and friends within the former Auckland City Council area to:

  • Report to Auckland Transport any new (~2-3 years max) driveways in your area that you consider unsafe as described above. Particularly if the “chamfer” has not been applied, or if you had any incidents with the driveways.
  • Give comment here (in the blog comments) about these issues, especially if you had serious incidents.

As always, be firm but polite on these issues. The kerb lip is a classical case of unintended consequences from good intentions. Let’s help AT and cycling both by raising the issue.

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