Sunday 18th December

Herne Bay Feedback Due

Where: See link in article
When: End of day

Over the last couple of years, the new Urban Cycleway Fund has begun to deliver big, eye-catching, protected and dedicated cycleways like Lightpath, Quay Street and Glen Innes to Tamaki Drive. But urban cycling also means neighbourhoods that are safer and more pleasant to ride in. And when we have thousands of kilometres of roads to retro-fit over the coming decades, those smaller local projects are crucial.

Cue the Herne Bay Residential Streets project. Originally shown on the maps as a single line – part of the wider planned cycle network from Pt Chev to the city – this has now grown into an area-wide approach. Auckland Transport is now proposing to treat all local roads in this area to make it more pleasant to walk and cycle here:


Public consultation closes 18 December 2016, and construction is scheduled to begin in late 2017 – early 2018. Here is the link for feedback. 

Check out the project information here. And there are two Open Days:

  • Thursday, 1 December, 11am – 2pm. The Governor, 228 Jervois Road, Herne Bay.
  • Saturday, 10 December, 11am – 2pm.. Leys Institute (Ponsonby Library), 20 St Marys Road, Ponsonby.


Bike Auckland has long been calling for area-wide projects that make a whole neighbourhood better for people to bike around (and walk! and play! and cross the streets to chat to neighbours!). This is a really promising example.

From international experience, we know you can achieve a great bike-friendly neighbourhood environment by combining three factors:

  1. street design that reduces speeds, allowing people to be and feel safer riding in traffic.
  2. street design that reduces traffic volumes, creating fewer instances of interaction with cars.
  3. a culture where drivers and people on bikes coexist positively.

The Herne Bay project, as we see it, will be a great step forward on the first factor – and will hopefully make some good inroads on the second and third.

So, what’s being proposed?

Slower speeds by design, not just by decree: the official intention is to bring the local area down to “Local Path” guideline speeds, i.e. 30 km/h or less on average, via traffic-calming features dotted around the neighbourhood – mainly raised table intersections and mid-block tables.

Do raised tables work? Raised tables tend to be reasonably nuisance-free for people on bikes, and do a good job of slowing down traffic as long as they’re substantial enough (in height and ramps). But you do need them at regular intervals – if they’re too far apart, people just slow down sharply and then speed right up again. And they work best where streets are relatively narrow and don’t look like racetracks. (Time to ditch those bright white racing-stripe centre lines, AT!)

Auckland Transport is proposing 22 treatments in a relatively small area, so we feel they are taking this quite seriously.

The number of raised tables may also help with factor 2 – bringing down the volume of vehicles. In particular, Sarsfield Road sees some 4,000 cars daily, which is at the top end of what a residential road should have, and certainly too many for a good on-road cycle route.  AT has said it expects the traffic-calming will drop this to 3,000 a day – still relatively high, but already a lot better. (That said, with no plan to actually close off any street entrances, Sarsfield will continue to be a rat-run to the Harbour Bridge).

Check out the before-and-afters:

T-intersection: Argyle/Clifton, before.
T-intersection treatment: Argyle-Clifton, after.
Mid-block treatment: Hamilton Rd, before.
Mid-block treatment: Hamilton Rd, after.
4-way intersection treatment: Sarsfield-Hamilton, before.
4-way intersection treatment: Sarsfield-Hamilton, after.
Area boundary: where Lawrence Rd meets Jervois Rd, before.
Area boundary treatment: Lawrence and Jervois, after.

What’s to like?

Being passed by drivers at speed is one of the scarier experiences on a bike – and this approach should make it happen less often, and at less intimidating speeds.

Faster riders (or e-bike folk) may be able to keep up with the flow, which will help drivers decide they don’t need to overtake on quiet roads, a useful habit to learn. And of course, in the event of a crash, slower speeds will make all the difference between a graze and a long hospital stay, or worse.

Indeed, once these street treatments are in place, this area would be a shoo-in for a 30 km/h speed limit under the new speed limit rules. We understand that many locals think that official slower speeds are the way to go here – hopefully the Local Board and the residents’ association agree.

So on the whole, we think this is the right project for the right time and location. It’s not quite a fully fledged 8-80 design – but it is a great start, and has strong local support.

What could be better?

Like all great projects, there’s room for improvement. So what do we think is important to give feedback on?

  • First off, one thing we DON’T want changed: the gruntiness (yep, that’s a technical term) of the speed tables. The traffic-calming effect strongly depends on the ramps being reasonably steep. We understand it will be 1:10, which meets AT’s standards, and is quite effective. But some motorists may call for the speed tables to be weakened or ditched altogether – as has happened in Northcote Point, for example.  Please keep the raised tables strong for effective traffic calming.
  • AT is planning to design the roads so people will voluntarily drive at an average of 30km/h. But we can definitely call for a formal limit too – if nothing else, AT will find out how many people support the idea. Introduce a 30 km/h formal speed limit for this area, to reinforce expectations.
  • Auckland Transport acknowledges that expected traffic flows will still be high, albeit slower. But on weekday mornings especially, traffic could still be too heavy for many people to feel safe riding on Sarsfield Street. This includes kids and parents travelling to and from Ponsonby Primary School on Curran St, and Bayfield School at the top of Clifton St. We suggest adding one more raised table on Sarsfield St, between Sentinel and Hamilton. 
  • Removing white centre lines can reduce speeds by a significant factor – 5kph in one study – and would make sense here as well, as the following photo illustrates. Please remove the white lines on Sarsfield Street, to reduce the ‘race track’ effect. 
A glimps of what is to come? A Sunday Best Ride meeting a Sunday Fast Ride.
A glimpse of things to come? The retro-themed Sunday Best Ride meets a classic Sunday bunch ride on Sarsfield Street.
  • And, where Sarsfield St meets Curran St, we need strong pedestrian/ cycle improvements to get across Curran, and for traveling north-south, especially on the west side. Ideally this would include traffic calming of Curran Street traffic itself, to slow down the downhill race past the primary school. Please consider extending the scope of this project to include Curran Street.

Lastly, an exercise for readers:

  • The mid-block speed ramps are flanked by kerb build-outs, and we see pros and cons. So we’re keen to hear what you think. Yes, narrowing the street helps slow traffic – but on a wide straight street, these pinch points can pose specific dangers to people on bikes, as the “Wrong Side of My Car” blog points out in the example of Northcote Point – especially if the raised tables are single-lane. Should AT investigate bike bypasses for the mid-block speed tables?
Mid-block treatment, with built-out landscaping.
In practice, the success of this design will very much depend on motorists giving way to people on bikes, and people on bikes riding in the lane (rather than keeping to the kerb, and then swinging back out again). It will also depend on the degree of on-street parking.

Here’s the link for feedback again – over to you!

Central Auckland Slower Speeds
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15 responses to “Slow and steady wins the race in Herne Bay

  1. You are certainly right about removing centrelines (esp. the obsession with having 45m long centrelines approaching side roads…). I’d also suggest including the newly legalised sharrow markings on approaches to the raised narrowings; that makes it clear to all road users where to expect a bike to be (i.e. not hugging the kerb encouraging motorists to squeak past) – sharrows also produce a 1-2km/h drop in average speeds, which all helps.
    The next question is when Councils will be so brave as to start breaking roads in half i.e. putting one-way/two-way blockages along them to reduce volumes. E.g. a suitably placed blockage on Sarsfield St (with a bike bypass of course!) would reduce the amount of traffic using it for a rat-run.
    And if you need to drop a few more k’s of desired speeds, then a 30km/h posted speed limit may also do the trick; typically for every 10km/h of reduction in posted speeds you get about a 2-3k drop in mean speeds, irrespective of any other street treatment.

  2. Those raised pinch points are dangerous to cyclists.The shoulder has been removed and the effect is that the cyclist and vehicles are merged into one narrower lane. Who wants to play chicken with a driver on one of these if they decide to not give way? Also if you are on a bike coming up to one of these, the last thing you want to do is turn around and look for vehicles, as you are focused on changing your line and getting up onto it, especially for less confident riders. The separate cycle gaps as per the Northcote link are much better IMHO.

    1. The problem with the gaps is what happens after you come out of that gap: you’ll find your way blocked by parked cars, and you may have to play chicken with a car coming from behind you.

      1. Exactly what happens. Correctly designed, traffic calmed (volumes as well as speed) 30km/h streets encourage riders to ride in the lane, not alongside it. Suitable for 8-80 cycling.

  3. I think this post touches on the unsolved issues with cycling over here: what to do about the typical “quiet residential street”. 8 to 10 metres wide, and full of parked cars.

    On these streets there’s ambiguity between:

    (A) you should ride as much to the left as possible, so cars can overtake you safely even if there’s opposing traffic.
    (B) the left side (the shoulder if you want) is full of parked cars, so you can’t cycle there. This means you’ll ‘take the lane’ and cars usually can’t overtake you.

    In practice over here, this degenerates into a situation where every few metres you have to go out of the way of car traffic in a gap between parked cars, and then you’ll have to use your 360° vision to merge in again. As a kid, at school they explicitly taught me to never do this because it’s so dangerous.

    Solving this boils down to clearly resolving this ambiguity. On local streets, the most logical option I think is to (B) share the streets. Especially here, you won’t lose too much time before you reach Jervois Road. One way is to make the entire street narrow enough, a 5m wide street is unmistakably too narrow for car drivers to expect cyclists to stay out of the way. Maybe we can achieve the same with *a lot* of build-outs.

  4. Is there a missed opportunity having those tables with vegetation in the side bits? Could they not double as pedestrian crossings? I know some of the example are like that, but the less-wide ones seem to be all scrub.

    My experience with these things on a bike has been generally less than ideal; there are lots around the back streets of Mount Eden and cars still drive very quickly, despite them. But perhaps that’s because there aren’t enough, as you say. In particular this one:,174.758219,3a,75y,33.74h,77.35t/data=!3m6!1e1!3m4!1sZFJA8uxmI5ve_9z5gE_JNg!2e0!7i13312!8i6656?hl=en seems to *attract* dangerous driving, not decrease it.

    Bypasses seem sensible to me. In fact, I think the one above might actually have one installed on at least one side now. But presumably they will require the removal of parking around them…

  5. I agree that the raised pinch points are dangerous to cyclists. Narrowing the road makes it scary when an idiot driver insists on overtaking a cyclist at the pinch point. The ramp discontinuities up and down are unpleasant for cyclists, especially at speed. When those ramps get a lot of traffic they can become potholed and dangerous.

    A much better solution would be: 1) no pinch points or tables, 2) a 30 kph speed limit, 3) no parking on the road – i.e. dotted yellow line Restrictions.

    If motorists don’t obey the 30 kph restriction then introduce random enforcement with speed cameras, like the council does with the bus lanes.

    Why can’t cyclists state the obvious? The real issue on our roads is that there are just too many cars and that includes parked ones that take away the safer left side of the road. The number of cars continues to go up and up. They take up a lot of room on the road when they are driving. They take up a lot when they’re parked. And at peak times 90% of the ones being driven have a single occupant. Those parked on the road have no occupants. That’s an average of less than one occupant per vehicle. At least when a bicycle is on the road it has at least one occupant.

  6. Bike bypasses probably even more risky unless you can feed them into actual cycle lanes. If there are to be narrowed sections of road, this needs to be backed up with more build outs so that the travel section of the road is the piece between parked cars – for all users. This then reinforces the notion that the road is now a ‘street’ with motorists mixing with cyclists. Formalising the 30km/h limit is necessary.

    There are well designed thresholds and then there are pinch points. There are also a large number of good examples that have been built overseas.

    Cut Sarsfield. That’s still a mad number of vehicles for a street we hope to see children cycling on. Curran St is the logical Harbour Bridge ‘rat run’. Calm the Curran St traffic with tables and make it 30km/h. Underground the powerlines on Curran and build cycle tracks on each side. Even though 30 km/h, Curran needs cycle tracks due to traffic volume.

    1. It’s not really a rat run, due to having that on-ramp at the bridge (it starts on the northern edge of the map), Curran Street is the main arterial road leading from Ponsonby to the north. The logic conclusion is indeed that it should have cycle lanes.

      (note that the label on the map is wrong, it should read “harbour bridge”)

      If you cross the bridge city bound during the evening rush you can often see a long queue of cars on that on-ramp (with those poor 966 and 962 buses stuck in it as well). I can’t image a pleasant environment at that school in the evening.

  7. Narrow, 1 lane, mid block tables are problematic if you don’t prevent opposing vehicles waiting further back. Also need a priority sign IMO (like a 1 way bridge would)

  8. Great to see! I suspect a good many locals will welcome these changes; it’s in their interest. Their property values will improve by a good 20 – 50K probably!

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