Back when we launched our petition to add bikeways to the light rail project on Dominion Road, we set up a survey to capture your experiences of – and hopes for – this key route through the heart of the isthmus. Many of you took the time to share your thoughts. Thanks to the help of data-viz whiz Mustafa Hasanbulli of Sandfield Associates, we can bring you some very interesting results.
1. Who answered the survey?
First things first: this is not a statistically representative sample of all Aucklanders. Rather, it’s an informational survey that captures the thoughts of a range of people interested in cycling and Dominion Road. There were 169 responses in total, and here’s what the demographics looked like:
We asked about your relationship with Dominion Road. As expected, most of the respondents either live near or shop on this street.
2. How do you feel about biking on Dominion Road?
We asked: do you currently bike on Dominion Road? The categories here are relatively evenly weighted, showing that the reach of the survey was quite uniform. Implicitly, most of the respondents are people who bike on Dominion Road, which makes the survey results more relevant. As a whole, the data set can be considered a good representative sample of the population biking along Dominion Road.
Next, we asked why you bike on Dominion Road. (You could tick as many options as applied, and naturally many of you had more than one reason). Again, a very balanced spread in terms of what’s available on Dominion Road and how people use it:
Next, we asked what you like about cycling on Dominion Road. Looking at the word cloud, one thing immediately leaps out: Dominion Road is a direct route to destinations along the way and into the city. Other highly desirable qualities of the route: it’s flat, and lined with shops and restaurants. And looking at the sentiment scores of words used in the answers, we see positive words like “fast”, “easy”, “pretty”, “vibrant”. Although the emphasis of this question was on the good aspects, a few people nonetheless described riding on Dominion Road as “scary”…
…which leads us to the next question, what don’t you like about cycling on Dominion Road? As you can see from the word cloud below, a common complaint is the how heavy the traffic is: people on bikes do not feel safe riding alongside the cars. Most bikers find Dominion Road “dangerous”, “scary”, “unsafe”, and “intimidating”. There’s also the issue of buses, and some respondents mentioned experiencing buses as aggressive towards bikers. Many were concerned about fumes being rather heavy, due to busy traffic. In addition, concerns around having to share the lanes with cars and buses were frequently mentioned very, as was the issue of parked cars on the side of the road, making cycling past stressful and challenging.
3. What would make a difference to the situation?
To make sure our campaign is on the right track, we naturally asked: would adding dedicated bikeways to Dominion Road make you more likely to ride more often on this route. The answers to this question speak for themselves:
And, because we’re open to suggestions, we asked what else would make you more likely to cycle on Dominion Road. The answers aligned with what you currently find challenging about the route. You’d like to see separated, dedicated cycling lanes and you desperately need this to be the priority. In addition, you want more parking for bicycles. The answers to this question once again raise the fact that most people don’t feel safe cycling along Dominion Road and that parked cars don’t help.
We wanted to open up the discussion to what you want out of your bike life, so we asked what would be the best thing about having dedicated bikeways on Dominion Road. The general tone of the answers here was around safety: you strongly believe that having dedicated biking routes will increase safety, and it would encourage you to consider making Dominion Road your main commute route. You were also confident that it would increase the number of people shopping by bike. Biking with family was mentioned several times:
“I could ride it in confidence with my kids (aged 9 & 11) – at the moment Dominion Rd is a major limiting factor on family bike rides, or even just biking to the shops or appointments with the kids” … “I could let my kids bike to places” … “Less children in cars”… “Not only me (who is used to cycling on the road) but kids and other bike users can be safe cycling on this convenient route” … “I would be prepared to take my kids down there, which I don’t now” … “I would feel safe with my toddler on the bike.”
4. How about those Parallel Routes?
Because the Dominion Road Parallel Routes exist as an alternative (but were never intended as a replacement for the direct route!), we wanted to hear your thoughts. More than half of the respondents knew about the parallel routes, but one quarter had never heard of them.
We asked how you felt about the Parallel Routes, if you knew and used them. Biggest takeaway: you find them slower compared to the main road (that’s because they are indeed longer, and involve more decision points). You also said they’re hilly, complicated, and zigzagging.
Sentiment analysis showed that positive answers were overwhelmed by very negative answers. In short, for what you need, the Parallel Routes are just not cutting it.
Lastly, we asked if you had any other thoughts about Dominion Road that our other questions hadn’t captured. This was a mixed bag, with plenty of callbacks to previous questions – including safety, parking, and questions about how bikes would work together with light rail. Why is the word “roads” so prominent? Because of comments like this: “Just hurry up and do it, and also put bike lanes on all the other arterial roads in Auckland.” And “bikeable”? Because, as one of you said: “a safely bikeable Dominion Rd would be wonderful.”
So, a huge thank you to everyone who took part in the survey, and to Mustafa for running the analysis and producing the images. Isn’t data great?
5. What next?
The project is now in the hands of the NZ Transport Agency, so we will await early design reports. In the meantime, you can still sign the petition and share it with friends – the more support there is, the more likely we’ll see a holistic, bike-inclusive design as a result.
Also, we haven’t forgotten the survey question about bike crashes: for a follow-up story highlighting safety and dangers on the Dominion Road strip, we’ll be in touch in the New Year with those of you who are happy to share your experiences.
And to the many of you who expressed excitement about joining us on a group bike ride to deliver the petition (possibly involving dumplings) – likewise, let’s talk in the New Year!