Sunset Road, are you meeting your Target (Road)s?

Sunset Road, are you meeting your Target (Road)s?

Bike Auckland

Horrible puns aside, there’s something planned for where Sunset Road meets Target Road in the Totara Vale part of the Shore.

And in the developing tradition of Auckland Transport’s proposals of the last couple of years, the proposals are a mixed bag of good and bad.

Sunset Road and Target Road / Caribbean Drive are larger collector roads through the middle of this Auckland residential suburb, leading to the surrounding arterial roads, motorways and, increasingly, busways and new cycleways.

The current roundabout is designed for capacity and (relatively) high speeds, and is painfully unpleasant for pedestrians, with crossings over the approach arms being mere suggestions, rather than actual facilities – let alone ones giving pedestrians priority. There are no cycle facilities, even though Sunset Road and Target Roads are future “Connector Routes” (second-highest hierarchy level) in the Auckland Cycle Network. In what we’d call the “unfunded & nothing planned” subcategory, though. And of course, no public transport facilities either, just to complete the trifecta.

The existing roundabout: No real pedestrian crossings, high(er)speed geometry. The leafy suburbs are… for cars? Auckland Council aerial photograph, 2017.

About the only unpleasant typical roundabout feature this roundabout hasn’t received so far is multiple lanes on the approaches and circulatory.

So Auckland Transport looked at the situation, correctly identified the bad situation for pedestrians, correctly identified that raised table crossings are the best solution to make drivers slow down for pedestrians… and then undermines the whole proposal by adding extra traffic lanes to cross, and still not giving pedestrians priority. Oh, and still no cycle or bus facilities.

New raised table crossings on all approaches? Great. No priority for pedestrians? Hold on… Extra traffic lanes to cross? Now wait a minute… No cycle facilities. Yeah, we saw that that one coming by now…

It reminded us of Brent Toderian’s scale of how to design a city (see at right).

Where does AT’s Sunset Rd proposal sit?

This design is clearly a hybrid born of Auckland Transport being pulled into two directions. Both internally, and also by the general public – including loud minorities of people who can’t see Aucklanders ever embracing getting out of their cars, despite much evidence to the contrary.

On the one hand are the new *requirements* to improve road safety, and make it easier for people to get around in ways other than private cars.

On the other hand is the old-style thinking along the lines of “those raised tables are only going to reduce capacity here, and we already have people complaining about huge delays, so we clearly need to do something to make sure we can get at least as many cars through – preferably more, seeing that we’re already digging things up“.

[Of course, there should also have been someone in the room at the discussion asking about where the cycleways go in the design, but that department got dis-established last year. Them’s the breaks, hey?]

This leads to proposed designs like this. Neither fish nor fowl. Arguably a bit safer and better than before for pedestrians – hopefully. But still with one eye squarely on enabling cars. And with no cycle facilities.

Meanwhile, we look at this modification of what’s there now – and then look at what Auckland Transport’s recently released Transport Design Manual says a roundabout should look like:

A safe roundabout, as shown in AT’s new design manual. All the good things missing at Sunset / Target Road, even though there’s clearly enough space!

This can’t be the way Auckland Transport acts as we go into the second decade of this millennium. And we know that many people agree – for example, Richard Hills, newly re-elected Councillor in the North Shore Ward (three of four quarters of the intersection lie in Richard’s ward):

Well, if there’s one good thing to come from this whole situation, it makes it pretty clear what we want AT to do:

  1. Keep those raised tables. Good stuff. Best part of the design.
  2. Pedestrians deserve priority over cars in a residential neighbourhood: make the crossings zebra crossings.
  3. Lose those extra traffic lanes you’re proposing. You are not “solving” congestion issues, you are just creating expensive new queues.
    • If you absolutely feel you need to keep them, make them into bus lanes / T3 lanes (northern Target Road double through lane?), or split the extra left turn lanes off from the roundabout (left into Carribean / Target Road) – with their own raised slip lane zebra crossings!
    • This would mean that pedestrians would have to cross in multiple steps, but only over single lanes (much safer), and they would have right of way.
  4. Add bike lanes around the roundabout – just because there are still no cycleways on the wide expanse of Sunset Road doesn’t mean Auckland should design new roundabouts any other way than what AT’s own design guide recommends.

Once AT have done all this, then we can agree that they’ve designed a roundabout for for the 2020s. So go and tell them you want them to aim higher. Feedback is open until 10 November. 



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