One of the great things about bikes is the freedom they bring you – freedom from traffic jams, for example. A bike often gives you more options for getting to places than a car does, even in a car-focussed city like Auckland.
But every now and then, the rules made for cars restrict bikes in ways that make no real sense, but that we have to put up with because, in NZ, bicycles are legally classed as “vehicles”.
One of those rules is the one-way street.
One-way streets are created for lots of reasons – for example, when a busy intersection is too close by to safely let other cars turn into the street. Or because a street is being used as a shortcut by lots of drivers motoring through what should be a quieter residential zone. Or because the street just isn’t quite wide enough for two cars to pass each other anyway.
But these reasons often don’t apply to bikes – and yet, the rule still does. So on a bike, you’re either faced with making an unnecessary detour, or you break the rules, maybe feeling a bit guilty about it (because even if you think a rule is stupid, do we really want to hear more of that “scofflaw cyclists!” talk at the next work do?).
A frustrating situation.
Except that it’s actually pretty easy to exempt bikes from one-way road rules. You can do it with cycle bypasses at the entrance (this works for streets that are two-way, but where you aren’t allowed to enter at one of the two ends). Or with contra-flow cycle lanes (allowing bikes to ride against the flow of traffic in a one-way street). Because even a narrow street, once you have cars going in only one direction, often has space for a cycle lane.
A few years ago, CAA managed to get a clarification in the new Auckland Transport bylaws that makes exempting cyclists simple:
Section 7 (3) – Traffic Bylaw 2012
Auckland Transport may specify by resolution that cycles may travel in the opposite direction on a one-way road.
There you have it – it’s pretty easy. But we haven’t seen many (any?) such streets changed yet, even though it’s an easy thing to implement – and often wouldn’t even need physical works beyond a sign and a bit of paint. That said, with the new walking & cycling manager at AT, we have a voice near the top who is keen to listen to new initiatives.
So we thought – let’s ask our readers: Which one-way streets do YOU think should allow cyclists to ride two-way? Which should we be taking up with AT? Please sound off in the comments, on Twitter or FB!