The consultation on the Pt Chevalier streetscape project closes soon – this Friday 20 December! Make sure you’re on Santa’s nice list by adding your voice in support of this great design. We strongly support this project, especially the protected bike lanes, bus peak priority lane, raised pedestrian crossings, safer intersections, and lots of new street planting – and we encourage you to do so as well.
Use the feedback link below. It just takes a second to say you support the safe bike lanes, and why. If you’re keen to contribute more detail, zip straight to the bottom of this post for some of our suggestions. For the full picture, check out local bike burb Bike Pt Chev‘s take, and read on for seven great reasons to back this design…
HAVE YOUR SAY BY FRIDAY 20 DECEMBER!
SEVEN GREAT REASONS TO SUPPORT THIS PROJECT
1. Kids deserve freedom!
Lots of kids will be getting a bike for Christmas – and they all deserve safe bike lanes to go with it! Protected bike lanes are to active kids what predator-free islands are to kakapo. In a context of increasing habitat loss for free-range kids, they provide a safe, secure environment in which today’s children can find the freedom and confidence to ride a bike that Kiwi kids once took for granted.
Your intuition and the science are in full agreement on this: kids who are active and independent are happier kids who are more likely to grow up into healthy, secure adults (just ask the Dutch!) And by making it safer to walk or bike, this design for Pt Chev makes it easier for children to get to and from school and shops and friends’ places on their own, and to get outdoors in their own neighbourhood.
A 2016 survey revealed 96% of New Zealand kids would rather walk or bike to school than be driven. (That’s impressive, even without knowing the latest news about how school-run pollution is most concentrated for those sitting in cars.) And while Pt Chev’s kids are ahead of the curve for active travel to school, there’s always room for more!
2. Safer streets for everyone
A recent real estate feature about Pt Chev praised it as a family-friendly suburb, a seaside village, “practically like a small town”. And what says “small town” more than kids on bikes, unless it’s older folk out for a constitutional and admiring each other’s roses over the fence?
But according to the Pt Chev Bike Train’s driveway safety campaign, in the last 12 months alone, five young children on bikes have been hit by cars backing out of driveways in Point Chevalier. A serious injury or worse is literally an accident waiting to happen.
As parents and community members, we want our kids to be safe, and as drivers we want urban streets that make it easy for us to drive safely. Protected bike paths on our busiest roads will make our ‘burb safer for everyone.
The research is clear: roads with protected bike lanes are safer for everyone on them, including motorists.
“The most comprehensive study of bicycle and road safety to date finds that building safe facilities for cyclists is one of the biggest factors in road safety for everyone. Bicycling infrastructure — specifically, separated and protected bike lanes — leads to fewer fatalities and better road-safety outcomes for all road users.”
What’s more – and this one’s hot off the press! – protected bike lanes have a ‘safety halo effect’ on nearby streets. Who wouldn’t want that for their neighbourhood? We know the people in the Bird Streets will be keen to learn this.
3. Keep people moving
Transport in a big city is about more than cars. This plan makes roads work better for everyone, by apportioning space more fairly for more efficient journeys. Currently, Pt Chevalier Road is effectively a five-lane road for cars: parking, travel, painted median, travel, and parking again. The proposed redesign keeps the traffic lanes, and reallocates the rest in favour of a peak-hour bus lane, off-peak parking and two one-way bike lanes.
A bus can carry fifty or more people, whereas moving that many people in cars through an intersection (at average occupancy rates of 1-2 people per car) can take half a dozen or more green lights. Even a short stretch of bus lane on Point Chevalier Rd will move far more people than a full-length lane crowded with cars.
AT says there are currently 12 buses per hour on Pt Chevalier Road at peak, with capacity for up to 900 people. The bus lane will make those journeys faster and more reliable, and thus more attractive, paving the way for more frequent ‘turn-up-and-ride’ buses in future.
Likewise, there’s one thing we know for sure when it comes to well-connected bike lanes: if you build them, people will show up and ride! They’re are not just for the riders who are out there today, but also for all the people who would ride if it looked easier and felt safer. The research tells us plenty of people are the ‘interested but concerned’ middle, and AT’s annual Active Modes survey tells us that year by year, Aucklanders are steadily shifting along the scale from wondering about it, to actually giving it a go.
Look at the nearby Northwestern cycleway: this November, it saw over 1500 trips on an average weekday, and it’s growing by 20% every year. Many of those riders come from Pt Chevalier. But at the moment, they have to brave the ‘door zone’ on Pt Chevalier Rd south of Meola in order to get to the short bit of protected lane on Carrington Road which then delivers them to the off-road cycleway along SH16 into the heart of the city.
A safer, smoother connection on Pt Chev Road would allow lots more people to think about biking to nearby suburbs and to and along the cycleway network. Even better, this project gives you two routes to choose from: south along Pt Chev Road, or east along Meola towards the Grey Lynn greenway and the future Westmere safe routes. Flexibility and convenience!
Of course, these routes aren’t just about longer trips – they’ll also let locals get to sporting activities (Bike to Soccer!), nearby shops (the prize-winning Westmere butcher), local attractions (MOTAT, the zoo, Western Springs), handy transport options (train stations at Mt Albert and Baldwin Ave), and adventures along the wider cycleway network (Te Auaunga is a fave).
Plus: e-bike sales are doubling each year, and we know e-bikes triple how far people are willing to ride – as well as attracting more women to bike commuting. Coincidentally, protected bike lanes also attract more women to cycling, as shown in this fascinating example from NYC where the number of women on bikes rose by 40-50% after protected lanes were installed. Win win!
4. Change is the constant in big cities – and this is good change
A suburb is always changing. It’s easy to forget, but until the late 1950s, you could catch a tram from the city to Coyle Park. The little clusters of shops along Point Chevalier Road sit where the tram stops used to be, and they thrived thanks to a walk-up population that was far smaller than today.
Business owners have always adjusted to the times, and there will be new opportunities as an increasingly densely populated city turns to alternatives to private cars, and looks to shop, eat and play closer to home.
It’s natural that some retailers will be nervous about changes, but overseas experience shows that boosting cycling and walking increases the amount of money spent in shops. Smart business owners will recognise the opportunity and adapt – and smart customers will, too.
The opportunities include being able to walk to your local shop to grab groceries or a bottle of wine, just like in a real city! Or lingering for more (and more pleasant) pavement dining, with the bike lane and new planting as a buffer between you and noisy traffic. And, bring on the delivery bikes, just like the old days, but modern cargo bikes electrified for ease of travel.
We also understand Auckland Transport is looking at options for timed parking near the shops to help shopkeepers through the change. As we all know from our gourmet expeditions, shopping forays, and trips to the mall, if something is worth driving across town for, it’s definitely worth parking around the corner for!
5. Bike lanes where we need them
Some people have wondered if it would make sense to shunt bike travellers onto the side streets, aka the Bird Streets. In practical terms, to meet safety requirements this would require significant changes to those streets to restrict and slow down traffic and/or make space for protected lanes, as well as adding signals at each end to ensure safe connections back onto the main roads. (And of course there’s no parallel route for Meola Road!)
And, as shown by the Dominion Road Parallel Routes, no matter how much you spend, there’s no guarantee people will flock to a back street alternative when the main road is where they want to be.
By contrast, AT’s Pt Chev proposal puts the bike lanes and the pedestrian improvements where they will do most good. As well as being the main drag for traffic, Point Chevalier Road is the main boulevard for strolling to shops and cafes, accessing public transport, and walking school buses.
People on bikes and scooters are already voting with their wheels and moving in large numbers down Meola and Point Chevalier Road, rather than the side streets. Creating a dedicated safe space so more people can ride without taking over the footpath will bring more customers to the main shops, and right past the little shops and cafes, encouraging patronage and growth.
Which is not to say that the side streets will or should miss out. All Local Boards have a programme of ‘local paths’ through parks and quiet streets, which complement the Auckland Cycle Network and branch out into neighbourhoods. You can see the Albert-Eden Local Board’s plan for local connections here. And AT’s new Transport Design Manual contains some excellent new street design options that open up the potential for our own low-traffic neighbourhoods, like the extremely successful mini-Hollands of Waltham Forest in London.
The upshot: we expect to see traffic calming in the Bird Streets as a natural result of this project (something you’re less likely to see happen the other way around). We also expect the Local Board to come on board with a link to the primary school. This is a ‘both/and/and’ opportunity, not an ‘either/or’.
6. A climate-friendly, people-friendly suburb
We all know climate change is a challenge, but we don’t always know what to do about it. In New Zealand – and especially in Auckland, where road transport constitutes a third of our emissions – one of the biggest changes we can make is to decarbonise our transport system.
Swapping petrol cars for electric ones is one approach – making it easier for people to use buses and trains, and to walk, bike, or scoot for local trips is even more easily within reach.
Every person who switches from a car to a bike (or an e-bike) for their commute from Pt Chev to town will save about half a ton of carbon a year; the equivalent of ten decent-sized trees. A kid who regularly gets to school on foot, scooter, or bike would add the equivalent of another couple of trees per year. An average family can make a meaningful climate contribution just by shifting the way they travel. Even a few car-free days a week can make a big difference.
7. A chance to create a local example for a fairer future
We all deserve choices about how we get places, whatever our age. This plan will help make Point Chevalier a truly 21st Century suburb, a place where you can walk and ride as easily as you can drive a car, where you can hop out of our cars and get to know your neighbours, can safely send your kids to school on their own, and can easily connect to the wonderful shops and cafes in an increasingly dense community. It’ll be a living example so people can see, feel, and experience the possibility.
Experience in countries from the Netherlands to Canada tells us that bike lanes get the support of their communities once they are established and make for attractive, people-friendly suburbs. The City of Vancouver, for example – a city very like Auckland in its climate, sprawl, and car-dependency – freaked out about changes to the streets, then rapidly met its climate transport targets years in advance, and has never looked back.
Same here. Fast forward a few years and we’ll wonder what all the fuss was about.
— Mansi (@mansimorar) December 16, 2019
Here are our suggestions for feedback, matched to the boxes on the quick and easy feedback survey. Feel free to borrow, or put things in your own words. Note: it’s always useful to give examples of why this matters to you, your family, and friends.
Pt Chev Road
1. What do you like?
- The protected bikeways – they give people somewhere safe to ride and scoot, and give pedestrians the footpath back.
- The new raised and signalised crossings, and the raised tables over the side streets. Safewalking is so important, and these will be great for kids, Selwyn Villagers, and people catching the bus!
- The peak hour bus lane, which will make public transport run better when it’s most needed.
- Clever re-use of road space (painted median and parking) to achieve fair access and safety for everyone who uses the street.
- Great that the pohutukawa trees are staying and are getting some new friends!
- Yes to the traffic signals at Pt Chevalier / Meola. Please make this intersection a raised table (to slow down red-light runners), with wider paths around the edges for walking and biking.
2. What would you improve?
- Please add more bike parking as part of the plan, especially at and near shops and other key destinations.
3. What do you like?
- The protected off-road bikeways – they give people somewhere safe to ride and scoot, and give pedestrians the footpath back. In particular, they enable people to bike to soccer, MOTAT, the dog park, and onwards to Westmere.
- The raised crossings at and near Walford Rd, the new crossing near the dog park (although please move it a little east to where the footpath is wider) and the new crossing near MOTAT2 (as petitioned for by Western Springs College kids!).
- The replanting plan for Meola Road’s south side, which is necessary to make the project work, and a good outcome on balance.
4. What would you improve?
- Please add raised crossings to the entrances of the Bird Streets, for safer walking, and to let drivers know they should slow down through here.
- Please add more bike parking as part of the plan, especially at and near shops and other key destinations.
5. What do you like?
- The protected cycleways, safe from traffic, which somewhat bridge the gap to the shops.
- The raised crossings at the roundabout and at side streets.
6. What would you improve?
- Add a raised crossing over Faulder St, as this route is used by the Westmere School walking school bus.
- Why not a fourth raised crossing on the north leg of the roundabout? At the very least, consider speed cushions here to make it safer for people crossing.
- While it’s technically out of scope, please consider treatments for the entrance to Oban Road, which is wide and designed for speedy turns. The street design should safely deliver people to the shops.
7. Any other comments about the project?
- Thank you for a design that shows what’s possible with a neighbourhood bikeway!
- Please work with the Albert-Eden Local Board to make sure these routes are connected to Point Chevalier School on Te Ra Road – the kids deserve safe travel now.
- And please continue to prioritise the related project that will ensure safe connections through to Westmere School and Grey Lynn School.