Auckland Transport is proposing to add protection to the bike lanes on St Lukes Road between the motorway interchange and the intersection with New North Road.
This is a great leap forward which Bike Auckland, the Local Board, and AT’s new Walking & Cycling team, have long worked for. The project is being funded from a new minor safety improvement fund for cycling (a total pool of $1 million p.a.) and hopefully, the buffers will go in before the Waterview Tunnel opens around April.
Consultation is now open – see the project page with the link for feedback. Closes this Friday!
The quick version? We absolutely support this project. For anyone who knows St Lukes Rd – or has seen this alarming video, below – these protected lanes can’t come soon enough. They’ll allow safer riding on the road, and – as AT acknowledges – prevent drivers from straying into the cycle lanes or using them as extra queueing lanes.
— Brendan Barnes (@Nf980Brendan) August 17, 2016
It couldn’t be easier to retrofit cycle lane dividers here, like the ones on Triangle Rd or Carlton Gore Rd. The existing painted bike lanes are wide (although as the video shows, apparently still too wide for some drivers’ liking). And there’s no parking that needs to be removed to carry out the improvements. So it was reasonably easy for AT to choose the best of the three options – something a bit like the Triangle Road option shown below, in the third pic:
The proposed physical separation consists of rubber kerbs with reflective posts at frequent intervals. One thing that not everyone will be enthusiastic about is that the buffers are set inside the current (pretty wide) cycle lane – because the rules say that you can’t have vertical objects, even somewhat flexible ones, TOO close to the edge of the traffic lanes.
We’ll have to see how feasible overtaking will be in the thus slightly narrower lane (width varies, but it’s least 1.5m). In a way, overtaking issues in cycle lanes are in a way a ‘good problem to have’ – but one that will crop up more and more as Auckland’s cycleways become busier. Eventually, this can be addressed with a more permanent design; perhaps a Copenhagen-style slightly raised bike lane, which doesn’t need to allow extra width for physical buffers.
For now, as you can see from the plans, the protected section will run from Duncan MacLean Link to just past Asquith Ave – i.e. just past the garden centre. Thereafter, the lane reverts to the existing situation, i.e. a painted southbound cycle lane with no physical separation (which tapers off and disappears at Selkirk Rd).
Unfortunately, the rail bridge is narrow – one traffic lane each way, plus a southbound cycle lane – so AT has decided that for now, that’s where the upgrade stops. Be assured that we (and you!) will be pushing for more improvement here – but we strongly felt that the protected lanes are valuable even if they don’t yet run all the way to New North Road within the current budget. Better a bird in the hand than two in the bush, especially if it’s a pretty fine bird that can grow bigger in the future!
Now, how about the northern end, at the motorway interchange (i.e. from Duncan McLean Link towards MOTAT)? Here’s where AT’s responsibility ends, and NZTA takes over. NZTA has spent a lot of money on rebuilding this whole layout for the Waterview tunnel opening – including doubling the width of the bridge – but sadly, the time lapse between planning and building has left the (painted) bike lanes looking pretty outmoded. Again, we’re pushing for better here, and you can bet we’re pointing out to NZTA that it won’t look that flash if the nice protected set of cycle lanes peter out just when you really need them, in the busy interchange environment. (Sure, less confident riders can hop over to the shared paths for the last stretch, but that’s a long way from best practice these days!)
Anyhow, back to the current AT project – we think it’s worth strong support. Perfection it ain’t – that’s retrofit for ya – but it will give you a kind of peace of mind that simply doesn’t exist now. And that will bring more riders, including those who currently steer away from this road. Which in turn will bring louder calls for more and better. A virtuous cycle!
So submit your feedback now to say you support this! And let’s get it built quick smart!