A lot has been said and written online about Upper Harbour Drive, but now is the time to have your say for the official consultation. So to get you started, our volunteer infrastructure team has put together this submission guide.
Upper Harbour Drive forms a key connection from Hobsonville Point to Unsworth Heights. It is part of a network of safe bike paths which is slowly building across the North Shore.
When travelling by bike, to the West end of Upper Harbour Drive you can ride across the Greenhithe Bridge Shared Path which gives a safe path across to Hobsonville Point. From there you can cruise onto the North Western and cycle all the way into the city. On the East end of Upper Harbour Drive, you can cycle North on Albany Highway travelling all the way to Albany, or switch East to join the ‘Northern Corridor‘ shared path alongside State Highway 18 to reach Constellation Station. This path will eventually extend South to Akoranga. At the moment there are no safe connections from Upper Harbour Drive to these paths, which limits its use. So, we encourage you to use this submission to tell Auckland Transport to get on with making sure this key connection is connected! We love this because having safe connected cycleways is key for empowering people to choose to cycle, and more people joyfully getting around by bike makes for a happier and healthier Tāmaki Makaurau.
So what’s happening?
The Upper Harbour Drive Cycleway previously had paint-only cycle lanes on each side of the road, but separators were added to protect people using bikes along the route. These were originally concrete separators but they are now being replaced with rubber separators.
Auckland Transport have decided to go back to the drawing board and, with community input, give the route an even further overhaul. We support their stance that this route must have protection; to empower people who don’t feel comfortable cycling on the road with motor traffic to be able to choose cycling for transport. This means the route would become available for parents with their babies on their bikes, people new to riding on the road, elderly cyclists who have just bought their e-bikes, and children cycling to school.
However, what that protection looks like is open for your input.
In the new design Auckland Transport are proposing to:
- Install a two-way cycleway on the eastern side of Upper Harbour Drive (a similar approach to what you would see on most of Nelson Street in the city centre).
- Ensure the bike lane is protected which means it will physically separate cyclists from motor traffic. This provides a safe zone away from moving motor traffic and stops vehicles from moving into the cycleway where they could seriously injure or kill someone riding a bike.
Feedback is due by Monday, 6th March 2023 so don’t delay on giving your feedback.
How to make a submission
Find more information here as well as the detailed design documents and a link to the survey.
If you are up to speed on the proposed changes then jump in and make your submission through this button:
While recommend you write your submission in your own words, we’ve provided some prompts here to help get you started.
The short version
If you don’t have time to do a full submission, this is what we think the main points are. Get in!
- Preferred separator material is pre-cast concrete, because it is tall and resilient.
- Support the raised shared pedestrian/cycle crossings.
- Support a reduced posted speed limit – preferably with traffic calming measures to ensure a greater rate of compliance.
- Support bidirectional design (with changes).
- Make safe connections on either end of Upper Harbour Drive to the separated Albany Highway cycle path and to the Greenhithe Bridge shared path.
Read on for more detailed insights into our infrastructure team’s thoughts on the proposed changes.
- Proposal page (Web) – there is some information on this page, as well as a link to the survey and the detailed design documents.
- Detailed design documents (PDF)
- Frequently asked questions (PDF)
- Map of nearby routes currently under SSBC – single stage business case, part of the Northern Corridor Improvements, or already existing. (PDF)
- Survey due Monday, 6th March 2023 (Web)
Pros and cons
- With this layout you will be able to pass slower moving cyclists without trying to find a gap in the separators, thus you will also not lose protection whilst you pass.
- More space due to having both lanes may help with wider bikes such as trikes, as well as less balanced riders. Although care will still be needed if someone is coming the other way.
- If travelling towards Albany Highway, you would need to cross the road twice in order to use the protected cycleway. There would be raised table pedestrian crossings to help you cross.
- You would be reliant on motorists looking both ways for bikes when entering or exiting driveways or side streets.
- You would have to leave or cross the cycleway to access destinations on the west side of the road.
- Potentially, they might choose a physical separator (to make the cycleway) which provides less protection, but feedback is being sought on that. Reducing damage to people should be prioritised over damage to cars that can more easily be repaired.
You may wish to consider speaking to some of these in your feedback.
Specific questions asked in the survey and our suggested input…
First question – Type of separators
The survey will ask you around the type of separators. As mentioned in the pros and cons above, there are downsides to the other types of separators which are now being proposed. Sticking with the tried and tested ‘concrete pre cast separators’ photographed above would avoid most vehicles accessing the areas to park in as they are taller. They would also provide more physical protection. In the event that a driver makes a mistake (everyone makes mistakes!), damage to cars is more easily repaired than potential injuries to riders. Injuries to riders are more likely to occur if the separators are short enough that cars can simply glide over the top during an incident.
Second question – shared pedestrian and cycle crossings
It is excellent news that Auckland Transport are proposing the crossings be installed on raised tables to make them safer. It is worth noting however that operating speeds along this road are much higher than the speed limit. Operating speeds are the actual speeds observed by data collection devices as opposed to the legal speed limit. Once these tables are in, Auckland Transport should monitor the operating speeds; if they continue to be above the posted speed limit, AT should implement further calming measures. It might be prudent to make the ‘give way to pedestrians and cyclists’ signs very obvious, as these are not very common across the region just yet. That, combined with high operating speeds, might be a bad combination that could lead to injury.
If you agree you can select “I suggest the following changes” and talk to some or all of the above.
There are further questions on the same response page. These will be covered in the third and fourth question segments below.
Third question – AT are proposing to lower the permanent speed on Upper Harbour Drive to 50 km/h. What do you see as the benefits and challenges of this proposal?
It is great that AT are considering safer speeds along this stretch of road. Operating speeds are already well above the current posted limit. You could speak to the fact that the road was previously a state highway and something will be needed, such as speed calming, to ensure people adhere to the legal speed limit. This would make the corridor safer for everyone!
Fourth question – Do you support the proposed two-way cycleway, or would you prefer to retain the current cycle lanes on both sides of the road, with the rubber separators?
We recommend selecting “I support the two way cycleway proposal but suggest some changes (please note them below)”.
You can speak to some of your own observations for changes to the design. We’ve listed some of ours to get you started.
At either end of Upper Harbour Drive, there are dangerous intersections that need to be improved to make them safe. Bike Auckland is aware that these connections are being investigated by AT at the moment. It is a good idea to show your support for these safe connections to encourage AT to deliver this crucial infrastructure and to deliver it fast.
The East end: Albany Highway already has some separated cycle infrastructure further North-West of where Upper Harbour Drive intersects with it. At the moment, there is no safe cycle connection between these two points. AT is working on a solution to this problem, but it is a separate project to the Upper Harbour Drive cycleway project; AT should prioritise this connection and the intersection of Upper Harbour Drive and Albany Highway so that they are completed ASAP, thereby ensuring that cyclists are not left stranded in a section of road space that is very unsafe.
The West end: The same, basically. We know AT are working on an intersection here as part of this bi-directional cycleway redesign. AT should ensure that this end connects through the roundabout, onto Tauhinu Road, and then to the shared path across the Greenhithe bridge. To not implement this connection will stop some people from being able to choose to cycle to their destinations in this area, as it will be too dangerous.
Potential new road access for developments (shown in design documents linked above) – we suggest that AT formalise what they are doing in these areas sooner rather than later. To not do so could risk significant unprotected areas for extensive periods.
Kereru Grove – we appreciate that the eastern side of the road has the least amount of driveways and side roads, however Kereru Grove is still a side road; even if it is quiet there is a perception that cars have right of way at these intersections and not putting the cycleway on a raised table is a glaring gap here. Great signage, and other calming to increase motorist awareness here is crucial.
Thin median areas – perhaps this could be used to make the cycleway wider in places. If not, in the very least a double yellow centre line might be more prudent as there have been many reports of drivers unsafely passing other cars using the median. This could cause harm to all road users and should be discouraged through better road design.
Feedback is due by Monday, 6th March 2023 so don’t delay on giving your feedback.