I engineer? AT’s new code of practice

Apr 01, 2014
I engineer? AT’s new code of practice

Bike Auckland

Northern Busway imageHow will our future roads and cycleways be built?

Like any big organisation, Auckland Transport has a tendency to produce new documents all the time. The recently drafted “Auckland Transport Code of Practice” (ATCOP) is a good example of something that’s good in theory (in fact, is arguably necessary) – collating all the engineering standards from the numerous pre-supercity Councils together, and setting a consistent and hopefully best-practice standard for new infrastructure designs.

Of course, seeing that it has 28 chapters and maybe some 1000 pages, isn’t exactly going to making volunteer groups jubilate when we are asked for comment on such a document – even if the response time was extended generously in the end. But if anything, the 10 pages (!) of submission we put in are still way too limited. We would have wished to have had the time to cover non-cycling chapters more thoroughly, for example.

So if you are interested, here is our submission. If you can’t stand the idea of reading technical feedback on a technical document, here are some highlights:

The Good

  • The cycling section has (almost) all the stuff we want – protected/Copenhagen lanes etc…
  • The cycling section is one of the more coherent and consistent sections of the document
  • There’s a nice road user hierarchy that puts cyclists near the top, just under pedestrians – expect us to bring that up every time from now on when we are told something has to be “balanced” for the demands of car users…

The Bad

  • There’s little in the sections that actually cover the designs which will challenge the status quo – where the needs of providing good cycle infrastructure clash with providing for cars. Good designs that are never built are not worth much.
  • There’s a clash between high quality standards we want (including of course for cycling) and a tendency to not go for quick wins, like pilot projects, pop-up bike lanes etc…
  • There are numerous very worrying individual things scattered here and there – like a pedestrian design intro section which implies that footpaths on one side of a road (only) are fine by default unless the area has high pedestrian numbers, the cycling design section that discusses paint-only cycle lanes for speed limits over 50 km/h (when most novice cyclists aren’t even happy to use them in “slower” speed environments), or the “example” cross-section for a primary arterial road, which shows 8 vehicles lanes!

Overall, we think the Code of Practice needs a lot more work to assist Auckland becoming a liveable city. We know that a lot of other groups have also submitted with similar concerns, so we hope the next edition is strengthened more in that sense.

“I have long held the view that a cyclised city is a civilised city” – Boris Johnson, Mayor of London

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