Bike Albany have sent a letter to Auckland Transport and Auckland Council requesting that a safe cycleway and pedestrian crossings along Oteha Valley Road are included in the next round of Auckland Transport’s Regional Land Transport Programme (RLTP).
Nicholas Carman of Bike Albany writes that a fix must be applied now:
In 2018, two people were killed on Oteha Valley Road in two separate crashes. Nathan Kraatskow was riding his bike, and Christine Ovens was crossing the road to catch her bus.
As a response, members of Bike Albany presented a petition to Auckland Transport demanding a safe cycleway, better footpaths and more pedestrian crossings along the dangerous road. Bike Auckland supported us during this process and gave us support and advice.
Auckland Transport did not agree to install cycle lanes on Oteha Valley Road, citing funding shortfalls and a need to prioritise projects in other parts of Auckland. Their immediate response to the death of Christine Ovens was to add lights and a signalized pedestrian crossing close to where she died. This included a redesign of the entrance to Harrowglen Drive. In response to Nathan’s death, a splash of green paint was added for the few cyclists brave enough to ride on Oteha Valley Road. The speed limit was also reduced to 50kmh.
Auckland Transport felt that a speed reduction, coupled with the project to extend Medallion Drive by replacing a roundabout with lights, would be enough to slow traffic and make life easier for cyclists.
It hasn’t so far.
Most people cycling avoid Oteha Valley Road, and those who brave it stick to the cracked and uneven footpaths.
Oteha Valley Road briefly had cycle lanes of a sort during lockdown in 2020. Auckland Transport coned off parts of the road for people out exercising. These lanes were not a success as they weren’t used much by walkers, and were not intended for cyclists either. Their protection was limited at best, and they generated bad feelings amongst motorists who felt inconvenienced. They were quickly removed.
By 2022 it will be possible to ride a bike along the motorway from Oteha Valley Road to Constellation Drive, thanks to the Northern Corridor Project. Bike Albany feels that if things are left as they are, very few people will be able to reach the beginning of the new cyclepath due to bad pavements and a road that is unsafe for cyclists. Bike Albany would like to see a plan in place to fix this problem included in the RLTP.
Here is the letter that Bike Albany will present to Auckland Transport and Auckland Council:
We request action following the petition presented to AT in December 2018. This petition was signed by 3,043 supporters and requested a safe cycleway and pedestrian crossings along Oteha Valley Road. To date this has not happened. We request that this upgrade gets priority in the RLTP and that building works start ASAP.
Oteha Valley Road is a key connecting route running between Albany Highway and East Coast Road. The road does not have safe cycleways. In 2018 there were two tragic deaths, one cyclist and one pedestrian. Bike Albany believe that safe cycle lanes the length of the road are imperative for the following reasons:
- Safety. The road is patently unsafe for cyclists with cars travelling very fast. The speed limit recently got reduced to 50km per hour, but it is a fast straight dual carriageway, so cars go much faster. It is not safe to cycle on the road with the traffic. AT’s own design guide specifies that at these speeds with this volume of traffic a protected cycleway is needed.
- Since the petition was presented to Auckland Transport, one set of lights has been put in for pedestrian crossing with an advance stop box for cyclists. This really does not improve the cycling safety at all.
- Anecdotally many cyclists avoid Oteha Valley Road, choosing to drive instead as it is so dangerous.
- Auckland Council has signed up to Te Tāruke-ā-Tāwhiri: Auckland’s Climate Plan and the Government has declared a climate emergency. Action T3 of the Climate Plan is to ‘increase access to bicycles, micro-mobility devices and the safe, connected and dedicated infrastructure that supports their use.’ Oteha Valley Road is an obvious gap considering this.
- Cycle Connections.
- NZTA is currently building a shared path alongside the motorway between Oteha Valley Road and Constellation Station as part of the NCI project. Currently there is no safe way to connect onto this shared path from Albany or the East Coast Bays.
- Albany Highway. At the western end of Oteha Valley road, Albany Highway already has a separated cycle route. This is under-utilized as it does not connect very well. If Oteha Valley road had safe cycleways there would be a safe route between Schnapper Rock through to East Coast Road, past Albany, the Park and Ride, schools and recreation areas.
- AT have announced plans to progress the ‘Glenvar intersection’ upgrade. As part of this a safe separated cycleway will exist along East Coast Road from Glenvar Road to Oteha Valley Road. It seems obvious to provide the linkage down Oteha Valley Road to the bus station and along to Albany.
- A safe cycleway would be used by many people to commute to the Park and Ride at Albany, continuing their journey on public transport. This would be both cyclists and other micro-mobility devices and could alleviate parking issues.
- Oteha Valley Road also has benefits of connecting to the Westfield Mall, Albany Stadium, Hooten Reserve, Oteha Valley School and the Park and Ride. Being able to cycle safely between these locations is obvious.
- The western half of Oteha Valley Road (SH1 to Albany Highway) could be fixed relatively cheaply using shared paths. This area is not residential and largely has open space on both sides (Hooton Reserve, Albany Stadium etc.). Shared paths exist on approximately 40% of the footpaths on this end, but they are not continuous, and it is impossible to ride from one end to the other. If the footpath were to be widened in places where it is not shared path width, this half of the road could be made safe for cyclists relatively cheaply.
We look forward to your response on this issue,