TL:DR: Carlton-Gore Road getting buffered cycle lanes all the way, instead of a half-sided, half-hearted design. But AT needs your support!
Carlton Gore Road is a very Auckland-typical road. Meaning it has HEAPS of space for cars, but not much for all the other modes of traffic. In fact, about the only thing not typical for such a road in Auckland is that it has escaped being four-laned!
Now the good news is that in a few months, (once the current road surface / stormwater works are done), Carlton Gore Road will be the newest addition to Auckland’s Cycle Network!
But the story could have been different, because in early February, CAA received a plan set for comment that had us shaking our heads in despair. Despite cycle lanes on Carlton-Gore having been talked about at least since 2011, the initial design we got from Auckland Transport’s consultants had a number of serious issues:
- There was no downhill cycle lane. Yes, you heard that right – this road reserve is over 20m wide (!), but the design seriously proposed that all downhill cyclists would get was a wide kerbside lane. Because a new flush median was considered more important.
- The uphill cycle lane stopped 30m before the intersection with Park Road. Where car lanes multiply, the going gets tough… and cyclists would be left to fend for themselves again.
- The uphill cycle lane had nothing to prevent cars queuing in it. If you know this road, you will be aware that often in the afternoon, cars queue back all the way from Park Road to George Street in two lanes. Would Auckland drivers have obeyed the cycle lane and stayed out of it? Sadly, we know the answer – and had noted this in our 2011 comments.
So our response to AT was rather critical. It felt like a 2000s design, not one proposed in 2014.
But here’s where the story changed from what we feared would happen.
After meetings between AT and CAA and some discussion within AT (who have become a lot more positive about cycling in recent months), a new design was proposed, and has now been found to be workable. Now, instead of what was initially proposed, AT is planning to:
- Provide cycle lanes all the way, and both ways, 1.5m-1.8m wide (depending on whether there remains parking beside the lane)
- The cycle lanes will have an additional painted buffer (at least 0.5m wide) separating them from the traffic lane. Without a flush median, there’s suddenly lots of space.
- Some sections of the painted buffer may also receive some added physical protection (feel free to mention to AT where you think this is most important!)
- The cycle lanes now go all the way uphill to Park Road, rather than stopping short some distance before the intersection
- We managed to convince AT to include a kerbed island near where the uphill parking currently stops – that should prevent two-lane queuing (because drivers would have to merge like a zip back into one lane before the island if they queued in the cycle lane)
- Pedestrians will also profit, because crossing the road now can be done in multiple steps, using the painted buffer zones each side, and with the car traffic lanes reduced to the minimum widths
So all in all, this has turned around from a frustrating half-measure to what is likely to be one of our better cycle lanes around town, one step below fully protected lanes. And AT was even willing to remove a good bit of car parking to enable this new design. Winds of change are blowing – many thanks to AT for upping the game.
Full disclosure! The writer of this blog post works in, and cycles on, Carlton-Gore Road – he has a personal stake in it getting better!
Also, formally speaking, the design is not approved yet – and is currently out for consultation (consultation letter here, simplified map/design here). We are keen to encourage feedback to ensure AT hears from you cyclists too. Deadline is 9th of May – Please send your support or other comments to Aaron at Auckland Transport at this email, or via the postal address noted in the letter.