At Open Streets on Sunday, Auckland Council and Auckland Transport did a great job of consulting about the future of Karangahape Road. With vehicle traffic out of the picture temporarily, the joyfully meandering ‘captive audience’ was free to imagine lots of different ways to divvy up the street while still keeping it open for traffic.

What was particularly neat was that the consultation was pitched at all sorts of levels, some of them almost subliminal. A street theatre crew playfully enacted interactions between bikes and cars…

carvsbike

Not quite sure what was happening in this one… something to do with the road ‘layout’?

K Road layout

Meanwhile, a demonstration bike lane had been quietly created with tape. It tended to disappear under foot traffic (writing or chalked bike stencils would have helped make clearer what it was for), but got some use at intersections.

futurebikelaneKRd

Along the way, silhouettes reminded us of all the different kinds of people who use the street.

spaceforbikesKRd

And, in the background of the above image, you can see the official consultation stand where concepts for different cycleway designs were on display, with friendly AT helpers there to translate and explain.

On the back of one of the Council / AT displays was a concept plan for the whole street:

Karangahape Road concept plan. Click to enlarge.

It’s very zoomed out, but there are some interesting things to see – for example, the proposal to change most side street crossings along K Road to raised tables, which would slow down vehicles as they enter and exit the street. A little bit like the proposed side-street treatment for Franklin Road shown here, which is starting to pop up in designs (and, a bit more slowly, in reality) all around Auckland.

Funny how just 3 years ago, a similar proposal for Dominion Road’s side streets got watered down at the last minute. We’re glad to see Council / AT now seems much more willing to consider, as the great Danish architect Jan Gehl puts it, being ‘sweet to people’ on foot and on bikes.

For cycle lanes, here are close-ups of the three basic concepts that were on offer. People were encouraged to ask questions and add post-it notes with thoughts and ideas, and you could “vote” for your favourite design using green stickers.

KRdbikelanelevelsOur quick take on these three options:

  • We’re not keen on Option 1, which has the cycleway at the same level as the footpath. Pedestrians and cyclists are both shortchanged, as it’s too easy to stray into the other’s zone. For pedestrians, it feels like cyclists are riding on the footpath, and cyclists who want to go faster will risk being held up by pedestrians casually spilling over into the bike space, especially given K’ Rd’s famously busy foot traffic.
  • Option 2 could be really great: a Copenhagen-style cycleway at half-height level, i.e. slightly below the footpath and slightly above the road. With a sloped kerb, there’s also the option of easy hop-on-hop-off riding on the road. The bedeviling detail for this design? How to make sure vehicles don’t park on the cycleway itself, or too close to it (not just cars, but couriers and delivery vans, given K’ Rd’s status as a shopping street). This also means that the cycle lanes of both Option 1 and Option 2 are not quite as generous as they look compared to Option 3 – sections with parking will have less safely usable space because of the car door zone. Still, Option 2 is one we could live with.
  • We also like the look of Option 3, the cycleway at road level but protected from traffic (i.e. similar to Carlton Gore Road). This might work particularly well where parking and loading are provided, as the protective barrier makes it less likely bike travel could be interrupted by car doors, or people unloading delivery vans onto the cycleway. The ‘trench effect’ could be made a little bit less problematic by having both inner kerbs sloped at an angle, maybe 45 degrees, rather than vertical. That would be more forgiving overall, and less likely to catch your pedals when riding close to the edge. It would also make it easier and safer to move out of the lane to visit a shop – or when making a sudden avoidance manoeuvre due to another person or bike!

As it happens, the two strong options were the ones for which further detail was provided… with the pros and cons of each style clearly articulated.

KRdkerbsidelanesKRdprotectedlanes

There is something wonderfully empowering in asking not, ‘Do you want a bike lane?’ but ‘What kind of bike lane would you like?’ Although these aren’t the final designs, just early concepts, everyone definitely got the gist and engaged enthusiastically with comments and votes. By the end of the day, the people had spoken…

KRdoptionsvote2 KRdoptionsvote

True, there may have been a ‘halo effect’ once a given option moved into first place… but there’s clearly a strong preference for separated bike lanes – and a real enthusiasm for protected lanes (plus prettier street plantings and even more buffering of the pedestrian space from passing traffic).

Long story short: when it comes to urban design, we share a common instinct for what feels good. We know what makes a street sweet.


Which recalls another nifty bit of engagement during the week that was: a Twitter poll by NZTA Auckland-Northland, asking people what would encourage them to bike to work… A runaway result here, too!

If we didn’t know better, we’d start to think there’s some kind of direct connection between building things and people actually, y’know, using them… What do you reckon?

yodafieldofdreams

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Central Auckland Cycle lanes
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9 responses to “K Road bike lane design options – take a closer look

  1. People can, and likely have, tried Nelson St so little wonder the result for separation. Unfortunately we haven’t seen any Copenhagen Lanes downtown for people to try. How can ppl ask for something they’ve never tried? If Copenhagen lanes can offer more width than protected lanes (side by side riding?) we’d be better off – IMO anyway. The lanes are proposed instead of parking so, in theory at least, there should be no parked cars. The protected lanes in Nelson St haven’t kept the most dedicated of motorists out of the cycle lanes.

    1. Hi Bryce, there will be parking next to the Copenhagen-style lanes too, so they aren’t as wide as they look on the drawing. This is something we have raised with AT, but it isn’t easy to communicate to the average person looking at the drawings.

      And I’d disagree with you on the subtext of your comment that raised buffers don’t keep the most dedicated motorists out of the cycle lane. Just because they don’t prevent ALL motorists, doesn’t mean that in Auckland, in 2016, Option 2 would get parked on a LOT more than Option 3.

      There’s be tons of “Just stopping here for a minute mate, stop giving me grief, just doing my job here” – a courier driver to me just 2 days ago on Carlton Gore Road, in a section without raised buffers. My feeling is that unless (heck, even) if we get a parking warden constantly patrolling back and forth 24/7, we’re much better off with raised protector kerbs in a busy area like K Road.

      1. Ok, I was of the understanding that parking was being removed to enable the cycle lanes.

        Also, at 1.8m the lanes are too narrow to ride side by side. If we’re going to do this, can we try to make it wide enough to ride 2 wide? What is needed? 2.2m? We don‘t want to have to do it again in the near term, right?

        For sections where there is no parking, a Copenhagen Lane could be built perhaps but add 150 to 200mm high kerb stones (cycle lane sits roughly 100mm higher than road surface) between the traffic lane and cycle lane – narrower than proposed but still a good deterrent to motorists?

        So close but let’s not underdo it now.

        1. A non-trivial percentage of parking will be removed. But the actual level of that removal, and how much of it is going to be re-added in side streets (for example via angled parking) will be one of the key decisions to come out of the final design for consultation.

      2. Looking out my Office window the other day a courier driver parked on the footpath outside Ponsonby Central and set to work arranging the parcels in his van. Right next to him was an empty on-road carpark that he would have had to reverse into so too much hassle I assume. Next minute a mum pushing a pram had to go around the outside of a tree and a parked car, straining and bumping over tree roots. Winds me up, really rude and inconsiderate.

        I see AT is repriortising space to loading zones close by but I can’t see it solving the problem. I guess “professional” drivers get so sick of congestion and trying to get through their day any means justifies the end.

  2. Is that a bus stop I see on the detailed view? There doesn’t seem to be much space for waiting passengers. Can we get the cycle lane to deviate slightly away from the road, with a clear pedestrian crossing to a larger passenger waiting area?

    1. The bus stops haven’t really been conclusively decided yet in terms of design. Space and safety for all (and, yes, convenience for bikes too) are key factors, but they are one of the trickier features, especially as we don’t yet have well-defined standards in NZ. Rest assured that we are working in the background to help get the best outcome.

  3. Hey lets have pink instead of green markings carrying on the light path theme or is it too crazy

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