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 Tamaki_Drive_Cycling_Traffic_Warningwarning 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? 

Tamaki Dr (EB + WB)Tamaki Dr (EB + WB)_histogram

Cycling safety General News Tamaki Drive
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19 responses to “Running the gauntlet: Tamaki Drive & Ngapipi Rd

  1. Nice video report — to me it’s a no brainer — put a Give Way sign in for the Ngapipi Rd cars, so they have to give way to the city bound cycle traffic. Heaps of Free Left Turns have Give Ways on them, lots have got zebra crossings on them. So I don’t think this would be a strange thing for motorists to encounter. Easy!

  2. Wow, the video tells the story. This dangerous intersection has been a concern for too many years already. Interim safety improvements are needed urgently. The signalisation is likely to be at least a couple of years away. I cycle through this intersection daily either on the road, or maybe using the shared path to by-pass the intersection. Making the intersection safer for the hundreds of on-road cyclists who use it daily is Auckland Transport’s responsibility.

  3. I ride this route most days, agree it needs a re think but I always stop if there is traffic coming from the left and go forwards when it is clear. I appreciate that can take time but we expect drivers to wait a few seconds for us to get clear, why not do it for them?

    1. But we are NOT making cars driving along Tamaki Drive OR Ngapipi wait here. Just cyclists have to choose between delay and being a bit safer!

  4. Hmm – we need an interim solution prior to the introduction of traffic lights. A few thoughts.

    – Westbound cyclists need priority and space on-road
    – A direct marked path needs to link from the end of the cycle lane across to the shared path on the bridge with a wide & smooth kerb transition
    – Cars need to be slowed for safety as they give way to straight-through traffic.

    – Introduce a Give Way sign for vehicles turning left from Ngapipi
    – Reinforce the Give Way by introducing traffic calming measures to slow vehicles executing the left turn (could tighten the radius too)
    – Clearly delineate the cycle lane and its priority at the conflict zone
    – Review signage and warning signals to ensure motorists are aware of cyclist presence.

    Design variation (less satisfactory and potentially more hazardous for cyclists)
    – Give Way/traffic calming/signage as above
    – Utilise the existing cycle crossing across the slip lane but formally mark it as a cycle lane with a Give Way/limit line for vehicles approaching it
    – Little point in trying to make this a zebra crossing as technically cyclists would need to dismount to use it, and pedestrians have no reason to use it at all.

    Long shot suggestions
    – Grade separation (lovely views from the top of a cycle bridge)
    – Introduce a westbound T3 transit lane at the intersection and across the bridge (and on into town) requiring the bulk of left-turning Ngapipi traffic to merge into the primary Tamaki Drive stream. This would have multiple benefits in prioritising PT, slowing traffic for safety, and providing an alternative for confident on-road cyclists to stay on the road in the transit lane. It would only be helpful in the morning peak though.

    But really AT should do this properly and turn it into a signalised intersection with safe crossings for pedestrians & cyclists. Just get on with it, AT!

    1. I really don’t see the issue with putting in a GIVE WAY for Ngapipi traffic and tweaking their geometry so that they don’t a sweeping “free turn” curve. This location is exactly like the Ferrymead bridge in Christchurch (Ferry Rd / Bridle Path Rd intersection); before they installed signals recently it had a Give Way added to avoid the same problem.

      The other problem at Ngapipi though seems to be the shading from the trees adjacent to the road on the east side; bikes are suddenly appearing “out of the darkness”, which is catching out right turners (esp. if the rising sun is also in their eyes towards the east?). Perhaps some lighting underneath that big overhanging tree would help?

      1. Hi Glen – the timing for your comments couldn’t be better. I have the first of 2 meetings on this issue with AT today. Thanks heaps!

        I’m extremely grateful for ALL of the contributions on this blog and on our FB to help inform the meetings. Keep them coming 🙂

      2. Well, we (Bike Auckland / CAA) have asked NUMEROUS times before that they should do things like reduce the turn radius, put up a give-way, or put in a speed table. Rejected or ignored as many times, we are afraid.

      3. Agree, a Give Way/Stop to slow up/stop the slip lane would remove the single largest risk. Also most cost effective as a short term solution

    2. I hate this intersection, totally agree with SteveS suggestions above, have made simular suggestions on the map of the consultation. Many a time been tooted at for cycling straight over to the left lane into city because some dick head at AT has put in that pathetic little ramp up to the shared path – what are these engineers getting paid for. JUST PUT IN A GIVE WAY SIGN OR TWO.

  5. I nearly killed a cyclist here 3 years ago, and have nearly dies as a cyclist many times, this needs to be fixed ASAP.

  6. I’d rather maintain the status quo than see a set of traffic lights at this intersection. There has to be a more creative solution. I commute daily and id really like to see an improvement in the standard of driving in Auckland, and less red light running by cyclists.

    1. Why do we need a more creative solution? we know that lights will be safer and not make traffic significantly worse.

  7. No way would I ever try cycling through that intersection. It is far too dangerous for people on bikes.

  8. It’s a nasty intersection and, judging by all the markers on the map at AT’s recent consultation, many people have issues with it.
    I use it regularly as Tamaki Drive forms a major part of my commute. I’m a “look for a gap and go for it” type. Many sensible drivers already recognise that they *should* give way and let cyclists go. In my opinion the cyclist “give way” marking is for those brave and patient people who want to get across the shared footpath and deal with the poles and bumps.
    Also, I don’t see the need for such a major upgrade at this intersection that is only going to increase congestion in all directions. Apart from cyclist’s safety, the main issue as I see it is turning into and out of Ngapipi Rd. So just put signals on the existing road layout to let vehicles in/out as required, with priority to Tamaki Druve (as it currently is by default). As for the cycle “lane” this could be improved with continuity, clearer marking, give way on Ngapipi traffic etc as discussed by others here. I totally agree with the ideas SteveS has put forward below.

  9. As a cyclist the first question to ask is it safe for bikes to merge with the cars coming out of Ngapipi road travelling into town? The answer is no as things stand. Adding a give way to cars coming from Ngapipi road is not likely to help cyclists as this relies on the motorists firstly seeing them and then stopping.
    It also unsafe on a bike travelling on a the dual carriageway from Ngapipi road into town with two lanes of traffic all hurrying to get to work. The only real long term solution is to improve the cycleway into town so it is also safe and adequate for both pedestrians and cyclists particularly for the section from Ngapipi road into the city. In the meantime I will not be playing Russian roulette at this intersection.

  10. I would personally aim to merge into the right hand lane here. Choose a gap to change into the left lane well away from the intersection.
    This maneuver is required coming down great north road from pt chev to Waterview, where the west bound motorway exit carries straight on as it’s own lane.

  11. I used to cycle commute this way to work, and now only go through during lunchtime rides. I travel into that intersection doing a similar speed to cars so just merge with left turning traffic from Ngapipi. It IS a problem if traffic is heavy or if you ride slowly.

    Given that AT has the cycle detection loop in the lane approaching the intersection from the east, could this not be linked up to a new traffic light for vehicles turning left out of Ngapipi? This wouldn’t be triggered very often so I can’t see it being a problem for traffic flow.

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