Grafton Gully Cycleway MainGet ready to see cycling in the lower CBD take off, because we can finally reveal the “missing piece” tying together some of the most important cycleway projects in the Central City!!!

As you will have seen on our last blog below, the first stage of the Grafton Gully Cycleway is about to open. But what is even more exciting than the still-disconnected Stage 1 is how this will all tie in.

In coming months, we will see construction start on the further cycleway up the hill towards Upper Queen Street. And now, AT have published the plans for the Beach Road Cycleway – the piece that will link it all up (light blue in image at right) – connecting the Northwestern Cycleway to the Waterfront Promenade & Tamaki Drive Cycling. As a “small” bonus, it will also get people much more safely riding from Parnell to the City Centre & Britomart area.

Beach Road is currently relatively hostile for cycling. Sure, the lanes are rather wide (which now helps us get the space for the cycleway) – but its also full of traffic, a lot of it large trucks to and from the ports that scare away most potential cyclists.

[Some 6 years ago, CAA submitted on a cycle lane scheme for Beach Road that was about to go ahead, until it got canned (my first submission I ever did for CAA, and my first time at seeing a cycle project cancelled too!). Well, it turns out that in the end, we are now getting something much more quality here.]

This is no “paint only” facility – this is intended to continue the high quality of the Northwestern Cycleway, in a way that even less confident cyclists are willing to go on. In fact, this will be the first time in Auckland we get what I term a “New York Style” cycleway:

  • Two-way cycle traffic, separate from pedestrians and cars
  • Separated from motor vehicle traffic by kerbed dividers
  • Going across intersections on signals
  • On-road priority for cyclists just as for cars

In short, this is likely to turn out to become our first “cyclists only” facility, except possibly the coming Albany Highway North’s Copenhagen Lanes.

Some comments from us on these designs above:

  • Section 01 – South End: Linking into the Grafton Gully Cycleway on Churchill (still to be built), and also providing cycle lanes to/from the Stanley Street / Beach Road intersection.
    • An older plan had the cycleway shift to the northern side of Beach Road here. CAA recommended against that, because then we would have had two-way cycle traffic go across the driveways of the petrol station. Not too safe. Admittedly, there will be some resistance from the car hire places on the south side here, and that will need parking enforcement to work. But a lot better than yet another version we have seen, which had this section as standard cycle lanes.
    • Talking about standard cycle lanes – if you are heading east to Parnell, and don’t want to detour to the south along the cycleway, you will still be given a cycle lane!
    • Like the barrier kerb on the inner curve turning left on Beach Road towards Stanley Street. No cutting the corner through the cycle lane for car drivers here…
    • Its also worth noting that the cycleway on the south side of Beach Road here is cycle-only. I.e. not a shared path. Again, it will need some care & time for people to get used to it – and we are keen to explore options in detailed design to make sure peds understand better that they are not to walk in this path – but with the width of the future footpath + cycleway, there should be enough space for both groups.
  • Section 02 – Past old Railway Station: Here, the cycleway crosses to the other side on the traffic signals, and starts the section of “New York Style” cycleway.
    • The raised solid median will protect you from vehicles coming the other way, while the 3m wide cycleway will allow easy overtaking and passing in opposite directions.
    • The northern Te Taou Crescent still worries us a little, as the current design would have turning movements across the cycleway. As the plan note says, there’s still options being investigated to turn Te Taou Crescent (in this bit only) into a one-way road. That would make this “gap” a lot safer.
  • Section 03/04 – Tangihua to Quay Street I/II: This is the link to connect the cycleway to Quay Street.
    • This side street is rather low traffic, but the design still keeps the separated cycleway, though with a painted buffer and narrower width (2.5m). One thing that will need to be seen is how people obey the rules on (not) parking here.
    • The cycleway then crosses an intersection on a raised table or textured surface (we would strongly prefer a raised table to keep vehicle speeds down), and then connects to a new signalised ped/cycle crossing over Quay Street, to deliver you to the shared path there – west to Wynyard Quarter, east to Tamaki Drive.
  • Section 05/06 – Westwards to Britomart: Thanks to AT for not forgetting the onwards links for locals, the proposal is to also connect further west along Beach Road until we get to Britomart.
    • Apparently because this was once intended to provide a route for rail to the new Britomart station, Beach Road is rather wide here, so the cycleway can stay off-road, and cyclists-only. Again, it will be interesting to look at the detail of how to make sure pedestrians don’t stray too casually into cyclists’ path.
    • The scheme is proposed to take out several slip lanes at intersections, and bring these into the signals. So pedestrians will also benefit from these works.

When will this all be built? We don’t know yet, but NZTA is cracking on with the Grafton Gully Cycleway, so the challenge is on for AT to get it done in time (or at least close to the time) for the opening of the full Grafton Gully Cycleway. CAA wants to ride on this new facility in less than 2 years, in any case!

Auckland Transport is currently doing public consultation (their website is a bit unclear as to the timeframes, and unlike many other projects, at the moment they simply link you to their standard website form if you want to comment).

We will follow up, to make sure your support is heard loud and clear.

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