TL:DR – Auckland Transport proposes making it legal for people to cycle across Carrington Road on the Northwestern Cycleway. We suggest you support this by giving your feedback here.

The crossing where the Northwestern Cycleway meets Carrington Road at Unitec has long been an example of the complicated rules around bikes. Neither fish nor fowl, people on bikes fall into the grey area between ‘vehicles’ and ‘pedestrians’, with many problematic outcomes.

When the Northwestern Cycleway was connected through here in the early 2000s, perhaps planners thought the pre-existing pedestrian crossing would suffice, or perhaps they didn’t have any reasonable options in their then very limited legal toolkit. Either way, since then cyclists at this crossing have been in an uneasy situation.

Technically, the crossing isn’t for people on bikes – but riding directly out of Sutherland and across Carrington Road, although shorter, and perfectly legal, can be very unsafe at busy times. So it’s no wonder most riders take the logical route via the zebra crossing.

They slow down as they approach the crossing, but then expect traffic to give way (as it is obliged to for pedestrians) – and many don’t dismount to cross. Unfortunately, this riles some motorists, who slot the cyclists into a handy ‘scofflaw’ stereotype. Meanwhile, cyclists can’t see the logic of pedestrians having right of way at crossings, but not themselves. And they especially can’t fathom the point of dismounting, given it takes longer to cross, delaying both themselves and drivers longer than needed.

The zebra crossing from the north.

Until very recently, there were signs at the crossing saying ‘Cyclists Dismount’ – and, to complicate things further, we’ve been told by experts that before those signs went up, cyclists could indeed legally ride across if they chose to… but drivers weren’t obliged to give way to them if they did. Confusing and dangerous for everyone.

It seems that safety engineers in New Zealand consider it unsafe to bike across a zebra crossing (why? because bikes move faster than, say… small children running out?). But zebra-style bike crossings are typical in many other countries, and seem to work fine. Admittedly, these countries usually make things safer for people on bikes by placing the cycle crossings on raised platforms, or making the whole area a 30 km/h zone. Meanwhile, on Carrington Road, traffic volumes have dipped due to the Waterview Tunnel opening, adding more gaps in traffic – but also making drivers a lot faster at more times of the day.

Now Auckland Transport proposes making this crossing the second Auckland dual zebra crossing. (The second you say? Yep, Quay Street’s cycle path has given riders priority over Plumer Street since last year, permitted by changes in the relevant regulations.)

So what is proposed for Carrington Road?

People on bikes using the crossing, just like pedestrians, will have priority over vehicles (and cyclists) travelling on Carrington Road. This is predominantly a legal change, achieved with markings and signs, but includes associated features, detailed here by Auckland Transport:

  • New signs (saying ‘give way to cyclists’) and markings (a green cross-stripe next to the zebra) will indicate the changed legal situation
  • The northbound bus stop and shelter are moved further south, to give better visibility to riders approaching the crossing
  • Speed cushions are being added on each side, to slow drivers down without making bus rides bumpy (buses can straddle the cushions)
  • The central island is being modified to provide enough space for a short section of protected cycle lane approaching the crossing. This is so cars don’t swerve into the on-road cycle lanes to avoid the cushions.
  • Two small ramps are being added to make it easier for riders who might arrive from those cycle lanes to cross at right angles. This is safer and clearer than suddenly swerving at the last moment.

Overall, we think the proposals are great, and it’s pretty awesome to see this finally happen on our second-busiest cycle route.

If you support the proposal, or if you would like to see it modified, please add your voice here by the end of the month!

Feedback closes Thursday 31 August. 

Categories
Northwestern Cycleway
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  • Russell Ogilvy

    It surely is an obvious fix. If there is a pedestrian crossing as part of or connecting a cycleway to a cycle way, then the obvious answer is cyclists should be able to cycle over them with full protection from the law. I hope the St Lukes Off ramp on the same path and New North and Blockhouse Bay Rd for the new cycleway have the same legal protection. Throw in Maiaro Street as well as Hillsbourgh Rd, they all should have the same legal protection for cyclists

  • Mark Wilson

    I would like to see a raised bridge over Carrington Rd for pedestrians and cyclists to safely cross Carrington Rd. Traffic is heavy on that road. Cyclists using the NW cycleway are generally in a relaxed state of mind and not under constant vigilance. Being constantly vigilant is needed on the road in traffic in Auckland, including using this ped crossing.

    Cyclists deserve to get to their destination without any risk of injury or death. Less confident cyclists use the NW cycleway for this reason. Motorists do not always stop at pedestrian crossings. Furthermore there is absolutely no enforcement of the law requiring motorists to stop at pedestrian crossings. The only way to make this crossing safe is to build a raised overbridge. A poor second-best would be to install traffic lights.

    • Wichid

      I disagree. Hoisting people up in the air purely for the benefit of motor traffic is costly, an eyesore and extra effort for active modes. It would encourage cyclists to pull across the road and into the side street instead.

      I go over this crossing almost daily, and it’s fine. It simply needs to be legible to everyone what the rules are, and the sightlines needs to be improved.

      • Mark Wilson

        So do you also have difficulty going over the bridge over Great North Rd? In case you haven’t noticed almost anywhere in Auckland has hills that require a little exertion.

        So it would cost a little. I’d imagine it would be many orders of magnitude less than the $ expended on the Waterview tunnel, flyovers and motorway widening.

        Eyesore – wtf. Safety first surely and maybe you haven’t seen the ped bridges they’ve been building over the motorways recently. More works of art than eyesores.

        Maybe you are one of the confident cyclists that are comfortable in traffic. Lots of cyclists aren’t and they like to ride the nw cycleway for fitness, recreation and to commute.

        When the overbridge went in over Gt North Rd it made a statement – cyclist and pedestrian safety is important. The Carrington Rd dual zebra crossing proposal is a clayton’s measure to make riding over the zebra crossing legal for cyclists. It has almost nothing to do with improving safety.

        • samfnz

          I’m sympathetic to your point of view, but I don’t think these two locations are comparable. The GNR overbridge crosses 4-5 lanes of traffic in total, including traffic entering or leaving motorways at speed. It’s also located right beside a steep ascent up to Carrington Road, and its eastern ramp exits a little way up that climb (ie higher than the western ramp) – so the effort required to climb it when coming from the west is partially paid off by getting a head start on your climb up the other side.

          Carrington Road is one lane in each direction so significantly safer for a pedestrian crossing. In addition if you’re travelling west-east or east-west, it’s also the top of your climb in either direction, so there would be zero payoff for also having to climb a proposed overbridge in either direction – it’d be much like the stupid situation at Newton Road today where you’re faced with a climb and descent for no good reason. I would almost certainly avoid the bridge and ride on-road, as Wichid suggests many people would.

          I also think an overbridge would send a negative message to drivers – namely that pedestrians and cyclists have been safely funnelled away so they can drive even faster. It creates a motorway-like aesthetic that’s actually dangerous for a road like this, which goes past a university, health care facilities and a school or two to boot.

          The real answer for your concerns – and one I was strongly in favour of – would have been to put the cycleway below the Carrington Road motorway bridge, going along the line of the motorway straight from GNR along to the path beside Chamberlain Park. That would have been ideal, but I think it was declared too complicated and expensive, although looking back it would have a rounding error compared to the rest of the ruinously expensive Waterview project. So it goes.

          • Mark Wilson

            Totally agree that GNR overbridge is a much more important structure. And that the ideal solution would have been to continue the cycleway below the Carrington bridge.

            Also totally agree that our roads need to be viewed as shared spaces in which cyclists, motorists and pedestrians all have rights to use or cross the carriageway and therefore cars need to slow down and not regard ordinary roads as motorways.

            But in the interim before we arrive at that utopia I think less confident cyclists deserve the right to be funneled down NW cycleway safely unimpeded by cars.

          • samfnz

            We’re having a festival of agreement! I agree with your last point too – I just don’t think that purpose is best served by building an overbridge on Carrington Road at (relatively) great expense, on a road which can be easily crossed with a well-designed zebra crossing and measures to slow traffic down a bit. That’s all.

            There are any number of places elsewhere on the NW where one overbridge’s worth of money would make a far bigger difference, in both actual safety and attractiveness to new riders.

          • Max

            Bike AKL pushed for that during the Waterview Board of Inquiry. However we were told that all the extra space was going for more motorway lanes, and that since the above-ground cycleway over Carrington Road wasn’t touched by the project, NZTA didn’t feel a responsibility to improve it.

          • Rhys

            This is why I laughed hysterically when former mayor Len Brown described the NW cycleway as a ‘cycle superhighway’. For that to be the case, the cycleway would need to be continuous at Carrington Rd (and in fact everywhere else), rather than diverting onto a glorified footpath and then forcing cyclists to cross a main road. It is so far from being a ‘superhighway’ it’s not even funny. It seems some people are prepared to accept much lower standards for cycling infrastructure than they would for motor vehicle infrastructure. Such a busy cycle route deserves far better – but instead gets compromised in the name of more motorway lanes (which simply create more traffic, as opposed to encouraging cycling which actually helps to fix our traffic problems).

  • wayne

    This will make a big difference to my twice daily crossing of this road. Making this legal to ride across will stop the grumpy old men from trying to make a point by not giving way. I have submitted and asked them to make sure the transition from footpath to road is as smooth as possible so we don’t end up with raised edges bumping us like we have to put up with on the bridge at the end of Sutherland rd.

    • Ed

      yes only this morning i was tut tutted and head shaked by a driver for not dismounting. i hope my raised middle finger and yelling ‘don’t have to’ conveyed all of the following: ‘there’s no dismount signs anymore; do you want to be held up for longer?; there’s pedestrians on the crossing too who i’m being careful not to endanger so what difference does it make?; and wait till you see what’s planned!’……..

      • samfnz

        Yes, it’s a bit of a conundrum to guess which will piss approaching drivers off less: either you’ll get cussed out for riding across (legally), or you get revving and impatient creeping forward because you’ve dismounted and are crossing on foot. Will be great to have this grey area cleared up a bit with the redesign.