Auckland City Council’s Transport Committee is having what should end up being a pretty fiery meeting this coming Thursday at 9.30am. The big topic of debate will be the proposed amendments to Dominion Road that have caused such consternation with various parties over the past few months: annoying local business through proposing to remove on-street parking and annoying public transport users by proposing to ruin the highly successful bus lanes.

The meeting should be quite interesting as there’s a large number of presentations by members of the public, as well as some seriously panicked responses from the various councillors who previously voted for the idea back in June. Transport Committee Chairman Ken Baguley proposes some interesting amendments to the proposal that his committee came up with at June’s meeting:

Fellow councillor Mark Donnelly, who’s not on the transport committee, has also prepared a ‘notice of motion‘ on the issue.

Looking at Cr Baguley’s proposals, it seems as though they involve the following:

  • The T2/bus lane debate will go to further consultation. Goodness knows why this is really necessary as I’m yet to actually find anyone arguing in favour of changing the bus lane into a T2 lane. Hopefully ARTA tell Auckland City Council in no uncertain terms how utterly stupid the T2 idea would be, and we can put that whole issue to rest and actually focus on the main issue at hand: how to improve public transport along the road in a way that works for both travellers and the local community.
  • Applying the bus/T2 lane for three hours a day each way (up from 2 hours a day each way) rather than the 24 hour lanes originally proposed. In a way this is a shame, as having 24 hour bus lanes along Dominion Road would have been fantastic for public transport. However, as I noted in a recent post I can recognise the concerns of the locals – and with the whole debate so clouded by the fear of a four-lane highway (thanks to the T2 lanes) this is probably a fairly decent outcome. Having the lanes operate four hours a day each way could be even better though.
  • Continuing the T2/bus lanes through intersections. This is a really big gain, particularly if the lanes stay as bus lanes. Many of the current delays are focused around the main intersections, so fully extending the lanes through intersections should help eliminate the problem. It might make left-turns at main intersections a little dicey though.
  • Reversing previous proposal to ban a number of right-turns. This is probably a debate between safety and access – and I’m not sure whether the Council has done the research to make the correct call on this balance yet.
  • Not progressing the cycle lanes for now. This is probably the biggest loss compared to what was originally proposed, and highlights the difficulties of trying to please everyone I suppose. Perhaps the council could look at providing cycle lanes between the footpath and the parked cars – as I think this is done overseas in a number of cities.

As long as on Thursday the council completely removes any further mention of T2 lanes from this whole proposal, while also extending the bus lanes’ hours of operation to around four hours each way, then I think this could be an acceptable short-to-medium term outcome. If we do go with this option then I don’t see why the road will need widening at all, which means that we can save the money proposed to be spent on this project and – at some point in the future – put it towards creating a high-quality long-term solution.

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  1. Its a shame that cycle lanes seem to be the first thing to go. The thing however that really annoys me is that by the council continuing to change their mind they end up costing ratepayers more as every time the council workers have to keep going back and re-investigating the options, if they were serious about keeping rates low they cut out this kind of crap and do it right the first time.

  2. Yes, doing it right the first time would have involved proper community consultation, rather than putting up a poorly thought through plan, copping the inevitable backlash, and then making compromises.

    On the cycle lane front, does anyone think that a way through might be to investigate options for putting one in through the quieter residential streets to the east of Dominion Rd? It would be a bit less direct, but significantly safer for cyclists, and there would be less issues in terms of how the space is shared. I’m a regular bus user down Dom Rd, so don’t know how this would work in practice for cyclists and would be interested to hear…

    1. My immediate question there is what exactly are the cycle lanes for, what sort of trips are cyclists making and what do we anticipate people would do if the started cycling in the corridor?

      As a person who cycles for transport (rather than just fun) I would image that some half-arsed approach of nominating a rat run through side streets would be a poor option. Firstly I doubt it would be safer at all, as you would have a constant parade of uncontrolled intersections and dog leg turns to navigate. In my experience drivers just aren’t looking for cyclists under those conditions. The safest place for cyclists is in the main flow of traffic where they can use traffic lights like any other road user. Pushing cyclist out and segregating them off is not safe, it just marginalises the ativity and creates conflict zones at every crossing or intersection.

      Secondly, is the point of these cycle lanes just for people commuting to downtown? Or is it for a variety of trips within the corridor? Personally I think there is more to be gained with cycle lanes for people to access shops and services on Dominion Rd itself. The whole area is largely flat with a nice grid of straight roads, making it very handly to use a bike to get around, the problem is smack bang in the middle of it all on the most ideal route one has to battle with parked cars, busy traffic and ‘shared’ bus and bike lanes. A good cycling facility down Dominion Rd would form the perfect spine for cycling in the area.

      The answer to this problem is to not cut corners and pinch pennies, and not to throw away all the land and corridors that have been built up over the last decade in order to do it right!

  3. There’s plenty of space for tram lines and segregated cycle lanes, the $80 million should be spent on extending the bus lanes through intersections and extending the hours and the rest left for developing a plan for and beginning work on installing a tram through here. Why waste $80 million on something that is already at capacity – when we all know what the long term solution is and needs to be. This is the sort of project where we need a council serious about PT and showing leadership and vision not giving us half baked solutions because they’re worried about being voted out and because Joyce hates rail.

  4. Cycle lanes getting the axe, huh? Surprise – days like these, I feel like packing up and moving to Denmark, but I’m not going to give those bastards that pleasure.

    Admin, cycle lanes behind parked cars would be the worst compromise possible – all the safety risks of separated lanes (trapped with no way to avoid car doors and pedestrians & drivers hitting you at speed when you appear behind parked cars at side roads and driveways) – but just with less benefits to boot. If the space and will for segregated lanes isn’t there, on-road cycle lanes are the best alternative. Just don’t give us 3.5m wide bus lanes and call it a cycle facility.

  5. Am I correct in assuming this meeting is open to the public? I work nearby and wouldn’t mind attended; if not to speak, to at least get a first hand account of what is actually going on.

    They really do need to extend the bus lane hours, it is ridiculous that they finish at 6 in the evening. Between 6 and 8 is the worst time to catch the bus – if I finish work late I’m better off walking home from the CBD.

  6. The meeting is open to the public, AFAIK, but its very unlikely that you will be able to speak if you haven’t already reserved a slot. Even community groups are only getting 5 mins to talk…

  7. CitRats will do their best to ensure there are as few fireworks as possible. Soothing words all around, and wishing they had not touched this scheme with a 10-foot pole, so shortly before election time.

  8. I think just forget about these upgrades unless we can have a proper almost BRT along the middle of the road, right turns need to be banned!

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