Updated 17 April 2018: Auckland Transport has contacted us today to say they’ve revised this intersection design in direct response to our concerns.

In what has been a tragic, awful week on Papatoetoe’s streets, we’re happy to claim this as a partial victory. The new intersection design, while still constrained by space and budget, is at first glance much safer than the original one. And there’s the promise of more improvements to come as investment becomes available in the next budget round. (A very very good reason to lift your voices in support of the Regional Land Transport Plan when it comes up for consultation next month!)

In short: our work has changed the outcome for the better, and your voices – answering the call at short notice – helped seal the deal.

Thank you for your people power – you’ve made a difference!

Here’s what AT told us today:

Thank you for the feedback you submitted and raising your concerns around this proposal.

The design of the proposed roundabout has been revised to incorporate improved cycling facilities that are considered appropriate and feasible to suit the current land and budgetary constraints.

  • A new paired crossing on raised table is proposed on Gray Avenue in order to provide a continuous and safe eastbound cycle facility for cyclists.
  • The approach lanes on Gray Avenue have been reduced to a single lane so that pedestrians and cyclists using the paired crossing are only required to cross a single lane in each direction.
  • A new shared path is also proposed for the westbound direction from Station Road into Portage Road to connect up the existing cycle lanes and complete the missing link in the existing facility.

The proposed off-road cycling facilities are expected to separate the cyclists from the general motor vehicles and provide a continuous and safe facility for target users of all ages and abilities to negotiate the roundabout.

The existing angled parking spaces in front of the shops on the northern side of Portage Road are located on private properties and are not owned by AT.  AT has no jurisdiction to modify or remove these private parking spaces.  However:

  • AT has revised the design to provide a wider cycle lane in front of these parking spaces which is expected to increase its conspicuity and improve safety for cyclists.

Please be advised that Papatoetoe is identified for future cycleways investment with indicative funding in the approved programme business case for the period 2021 – 2028. Further upgrades to this road corridor may be required to uplift the quality of service to something better suited for all ages and abilities. The later planned changes will build upon the intersection improvements currently being designed.

AT is committed to address the land limitations and confirm the funding allocation for the longer-term cycling facilities on this cycling corridor under this 10 year programme. For more information on the cycling investment programme, please refer to the link below:

https://at.govt.nz/media/1974167/auckland-cycling-10-year-plan-july-2017.pdf

Our original blog post is below. Read on to see how together we pushed for – and won – a better design for the people of Papatoetoe and Mangere.


It’s time to push for people-friendly street design as the bottom line! A piecemeal approach is missing key parts of the picture, and one recent example from Papatoetoe demonstrates the scale of the problem. 

The background

As you know, Bike Auckland advocates for and advises on high-profile cycleway projects. We also spend a lot of our time scanning the horizon and weighing in on all the other small projects that affect the quality of everyone’s ride. It’s a big job, as Auckland is a big place.

Sadly, despite progress on some fronts, too many street projects are still trundling along almost as if AT doesn’t have a mandate to lift the number of people riding bikes and ensure maximum safety for all road users.

Here’s one example. We’ve recently let AT know of our serious concerns about a proposed new roundabout design for the Station Road / Portage Road intersection, where Papatoetoe meets Mangere East.

Note: this is a major route on the Auckland Cycle Network, and a significant local school route towards Kedgley Intermediate, Aorere College and Delasalle College, as well as Papatoetoe North and Papatoetoe West primary schools. And, like much of South Auckland, Papatoetoe is perfectly placed to be properly pleasant for biking!

The shape of the problem – the bend from Station Rd into Portage Rd encourages speed; the Give Way from Gray Ave encourages frustration, the bike lanes simply peter out (or are non-existent), there’s a lack of pedestrian crossings.

The problem

Instead of resolving the long-standing problems at this intersection with continuity (and enforcement!) of the existing cycle lanes – a concern we’ve expressed to AT for years now, and which continues to go unaddressed – the new proposal makes things worse for people on bikes. 

It’s also not brilliant for pedestrians: despite adding a crossing at the shops, traffic flow gets priority over walking desire lines through the proposed multi-lane roundabout. Not good.

Fortunately, now that we’ve raised this as an issue, AT’s cycling team is in the mix and working towards a better design with the project team.

The proposed roundabout at Station Rd, Gray Ave, and Portage Rd – BEFORE we raised the issue of how bad this is for bikes. See PDF here.

The discussion

Here’s what we said in our correspondence with AT:

Bike Auckland opposes the project, and has serious concerns that the proposal does not address the many safety and efficiency issues for people on bikes on a key intersection of an *existing* cycle route of Station Road, which is the key road to the nearby Papatoetoe town centre and train station. In particular, there is no westbound cycle lane past the roundabout, something we have been pushing for for many years.

For the eastbound movement, the existing cycle lane is in fact reduced in convenience, forcing riders to choose between very contorted refuge crossing movement over Portage Road (crossing three lanes!) to continue on Station Road – or braving a new multi-lane large-size roundabout.

Lastly, the proposal retains a massive row of angle car parks on the approach / northern side, backing into the cycle lane.

All these aspects are, overall, very negative for people on bikes and don’t conform to the Safe Systems philosophy, nor to Auckland Transport’s claims to be improving Auckland for people on bikes.

We are asking for a substantial review of this proposal – with the needs of people on bikes, and the presence of this major Auckland Cycle Network route in the mix this time. We will also raise this with the cycling teams within AT.

Updated Tuesday 3 April: we received this reply from AT’s Network and Safety Management department, and the original consultation page has moved to here

The main aim of the project is crash reduction following a fatal crash and several crashes at this intersection. These crashes are a result of loss of control and turning crashes into and out of Gray Avenue.

The project is on the cycle network and cycle improvements form part of the proposal. [The Walking & Cycling] team did input to the project including cycling perspectives.

Whilst on the current cycle network, cycling investment for Papatoetoe is indicatively programmed for 2021/22. This means that funding for additional cycling improvements in this area is currently not available. It should also be noted that there are physical restrictions at this location which limit the improvements which we would like to see. However, we anticipate that vehicle speeds will be reduced and the introduction of the signalised crossing on Portage Road will assist with reducing vehicles’ speeds.

The proposal is in an external consultation phase and as with all feedback from consultation we are considering how changes can be incorporated into the design, this is including further cycle and pedestrian improvements that can be designed within the constraints of the project.

We’d ask: does this fee to you like a good enough rationale for why AT can’t make things better for people on bikes here now? Is it enough for AT to say ‘further cycle and pedestrian improvements’ can be ‘incorporated’ ‘within the constraints of the project’ – especially in a week where an elderly pedestrian lost her life on a street not far away?

We’d add:

  • Traffic signals in no way automatically reduce speed, due to the tendency of drivers to speed up to get across before the lights change on red.
  • Yes, there are space limitations. However, given AT is literally proposing to rip up everything in this intersection and rebuild it, a fresh plan that ensures safety for people on bikes, on foot, and in vehicles will cost about the same. What price holistic design?

The wider challenge

We have to say – this is a classic example of the risks of a silo approach to transport.

This intersection is a black spot for vehicle crashes (many involving speeding up runway-straight Station Rd), so it clearly needs a safety upgrade. All good. But when AT proposes a design that addresses safety for people in vehicles while kicking the responsibility-can down the road for people on bikes – and not making access much easier or safer for pedestrians, either – we are reminded that this is just one example of a systematic, citywide problem.

Spot the hotspot: the Portage Rd/ Station Rd/ Gray Ave intersection on the boundary of Mangere East and Papatoetoe, as seen on Crash App’s hotspot map.

And we have to ask: if Bike Auckland hadn’t raised this issue, would the design have been built as planned?

We work as hard as we can to keep on top of things across the city, but where else might we have missed, that’s about to get similar treatment? Should advocates be doing the hard yards of identifying every single one of these risky designs? Shouldn’t the city’s transport agency be running an eye over every project to make sure the result reflects ‘Complete Streets‘ that work for all, and actively protect the most vulnerable among us?

The new government’s draft Land Transport Policy Statement, with its commitment to safety and to all modes of travel, surely underscores this.

South Auckland – indeed, the whole of Auckland – deserves better for people on bikes, for children on their way to school, for everyone.

Add your voice to support a much more people-friendly design at this location – and all across the city! We’ll keep you updated. 

Header image: Google Streetview

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