Upper Harbour Drive to get walking and cycling upgrade

We’ve had an update from Auckland Transport about walking and cycling improvements in progress on Upper Harbour Drive. There’ll be traffic management in place throughout the works, which are scheduled to be completed by the end of July.

Steve Southall, Cycle Action’s infrastructure rep for the North Shore, gives some context:

This is largely positive news. Upper Harbour Drive is an important route for cyclists, connecting Tauhinu Rd/bridge cyclepath with Albany Highway. We say “largely positive” because the work will certainly benefit existing cyclists by making the route safer and more attractive, and the nature of the improvements may also encourage some others to hop on a bike. [Ed: AT’s own cycle count logged 77 riders on a weekday in March 2013; even more use it on the weekends].

However, because there’s no physical separation (just a bit of paint), and it’s a 70kph zone, it’s unlikely to attract novices/children.

The good bits:

  • A 1.5m continuous on-road cycle lane on both sides of the road for the full length of the road
  • A 0.5m painted buffer to provide separation between motor vehicles and cyclists (important given the 70kph speed limit)
  • The shoulders where the cycle lanes will go are going to be properly renovated with smooth seal and cycle-friendly storm-water grates, apparently at some expense!

Could be improved:

  • Ideally we’d like to see the 0.5m buffer extended to 0.6m, and the additional 100mm used for some type of physical separation, eg plastic bollards. This physical separation would considerably increase the perception of safety, which would help encourage new riders onto the road.
  • The intersection with Albany Highway is horrendous*, and improvements are unfortunately out of scope for this piece of work. There is an Albany Highway South design in progress which will lower the speed limit, fully signalise the intersection, and provide much better facilities for cyclists, but that’s some way down the track.
  • As a result, connectivity from this intersection into the rest of the cycling network is marginal, so we probably won’t see a big uptake in usage until the complete Albany Highway package (north and south) is delivered.

But it’s a valuable addition to the Auckland Cycle Network, so should be applauded.  Every little bit helps.

Do you ride this section of road? Any thoughts – please share below!

* Update: here’s footage of that truly horrendous intersection between Upper Harbour Drive and the Albany Highway, filmed by some brave soul from TransportBlog:

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