Ngapipi Road, Tamaki Drive – Russian Roulette with delays!

Made for speed - lets ensure it doesn't claim more victims.
Made for speed – let’s ensure it doesn’t claim more victims.

Another person on a bike has been injured at Auckland’s worst cycling blackspot, Tamaki Drive / Ngapipi Road. Details are sketchy so far, but it seems that despite the crash involving a truck – many a cyclist’s greatest crash nightmare – the cyclist came away with “only” minor injuries. We sincerely hope that the reporting is correct.

What frustrates us horribly is that this intersection has been in the spotlight for many years. As far back as 2011, it has featured in media reports, official safety audits raising concerns – and numerous cycle crashes, many of them more severe than today’s crash.

In fact, NZTA ranks it as Number 10 on the list of NZ’s 100 worst intersections!

Ngapipigoogle
Google knows.

We have been working with, cajoling – nay, even pleading! – with Auckland Transport to fix this intersection. And to be fair, some smaller things were done after the spate of big media attention in the early 2010s, such as the electronic warning sign. But overall, the intersection remains dangerous.

It would all be fixed when it gets signalised, we were told.

So we worked hard on getting a good signalisation scheme agreed (no multi-lane roundabouts on our prime cycle route please!). Yet that project – despite finally getting to a more or less agreed design – also slowly disappeared into quicksand, with no known timeframe for implementation.

As a result, as noted briefly in our recent blog here, we stepped up again and said if AT couldn’t do a permanent upgrade any time soon, they needed to move quickly to add temporary improvements. We again asked, nagged, requested, until we finally got a meeting to express our concerns.

Chief among the concerns is the left turn from Ngapipi Rd towards the city: drivers travelling round this corner aren’t obliged to give way to anybody, so they don’t tend to slow down, and regularly come into conflict with westbound cyclists (whose cycle lane disappears in the middle of the intersection).

Ngapipigooglemaps
Google Streetview shows the shape of the problem. Note the disappearing bike lane.

What we didn’t state as bluntly in our blog post the other day (but maybe should have) is how unimpressed we have been by Auckland Transport’s road safety team responses so far – some of which were just hand-sketched mark-ups on aerial photo printouts, showing fixes that we ourselves had proposed as early as 2011!

Sure, at this last meeting, AT promised us they would engage a consultant to look at this issue “soon”. But that usually tends to mean some more months, if not years, before action is taken. If action is taken.

Now, another cyclist has been hit, and we can only count ourselves lucky that he/she didn’t pay with his or her life for these delays.

While we don’t have the details of the crash yet, we urgently ask Auckland Transport to:

  • Slow traffic down – ideally with a raised table on the sweeping left turn. Slowing vehicle speeds is the “no fault” ACC insurance system of road safety. You don’t have ask who caused the crash, or what exactly contributed to the crash. Slower speeds help everyone involved, including car drivers and pedestrians. It’s as close to a road safety “silver bullet” as there can be.
  • More active signage – adding signs and markings alone won’t help. But active signs that only illuminate when a cyclist approaches on the westbound cycle lane might.
  • Fund the permanent upgrade – we are planning and building major roads all across Auckland. Why can’t we find the money to fix the 10th-worst intersection in New Zealand?

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