Tamaki Drive is not just a jewel in the city’s crown for weekend excursions – it’s also the busiest commuting cycling route in Auckland. It’s absolutely teeming with bikes on weekdays and weekends, both on the shared paths and the on-road cycle lanes. In 2015, there were on average 1395 bike trips per day along this stretch. And that number continues to climb, as you’ll see from the graphs at the bottom of this post.
But on the way to town, cyclists using the on-road bike lanes travel through one of New Zealand’s top ten most dangerous intersections: where Tamaki Drive meets Ngapipi Road.
Every morning rush hour here is like Russian roulette. Don’t just take our word for it – watch this footage:
You may remember that warning signs were installed in 2009 to alert right-turning vehicles entering Ngapipi Rd to city bound Tamaki Drive cyclists, after a spate of crashes. (Nonetheless, between January 2011 and December 2015, the official CAS records detail nine crashes here involving cyclists; eight involved cars and a truck turning right into Ngapipi across the cycle lane. A tenth crash, involving a truck and cyclist on the Ngapipi Rd left turn slip lane is not yet showing up in the 2015 crash records.)
And in the years since, AT has considered various solutions: first mulling over a roundabout, before settling on traffic signals.
At our May meeting, good news was shared by AT’s project manager, Ken Lee-Jones – AT is finally on the verge of applying for resource consent for a signalized intersection. It’ll be a massive project, involving reclamation and rebuilding of the seawall. They hope to work through the consent process by October, then begin construction in November 2016 and finish in mid-late 2017. It’ll be a tricky consent and build, so we’re apprehensive about this ambitious time-frame.
We have supported AT’s traffic-light proposal from the outset. However, we have highlighted that the project scope must include removing the pinch-point created by the narrow Tamaki Drive bridge beside the Ngapipi Rd intersection. We’re told this can’t be done at present, because the bridge needs upgrading to meet current earthquake standards, so including it would delay and blow the project budget.
However, in the meantime, as you see in the video above, hundreds of city-bound bike commuters take their life in their hands every morning.
An interim solution is urgently needed to avoid this conflict between vehicles (and bikes) using the city-bound slip lane from Ngapipi Rd, and bikes on the Tamaki Drive cycle lane. We’re meeting with senior people at Auckland Transport in the next few days. We know they’re as keen as we are to sort this situation out.
Watch this space… and tell us, below: would you brave this intersection? Or does it/ would it stop you riding this route?