Last week I looked at how hard it was to safely walk around Manukau City. Today I am going to look at the cycling infrastructure that has been provided.

On the various regional cycle network maps a lovely grid of completed cycling facilities is shown (solid lines).

Manukau Cycle Network

This is a 2011 version, but can’t fund anything newer on the Auckland Transport website. All the dark red lines are existing facilities, which are fully complete as far as AT is concerned. However the reality is somewhat different. Luckily I was walking around Manukau when I took these pictures, because I sure wouldn’t have wanted to bike along any of them, even though I am quite a confident cyclist.

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This is Manukau Station Road. For starters a narrow painted lane with no buffer is totally inappropriate for a road that is signposted at 60kmh.

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Things quickly go from bad to worse. While running cycle lanes through bus stops isn’t great practice it is rather common place in Auckland. However is this is not just a bus stop where a bus stops momentarily, it is a bus layover area where buses park up for extended periods of time. Potentially even hours. So anytime a bus is parked here people cycling have to veer out into 60kmh traffic.

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This is Manukau Station Road again, between the MIT campus and the council offices on the left. The cycle lane just suddenly ends without warning, and there is not even a ramp that leads to the path to allow people to leave the road safely. It seems as though a dedicated right hand turn lane is more important than safe cycling

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This is Manukau Station Road at Lambie Drive. The motorway on-ramp is straight ahead so people cycling need to turn left or right here. The little green patches show a narrow cycle lane up against the kerb on the left hand side. Then there is another cycle lane starting in the foreground of the picture. However to get between the two you have to veer across 2 lanes of 60kmh plus traffic. Again totally unacceptable.

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This is now on Great South Road. The cycle lane is less than 1m wide. Note to designers, if you are struggling to fit the bike stencil in the lane it is definitely way too narrow. Cyclists have to chose between riding close to the debris filled drain on one side, and fast traffic on the other side.

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Also on Great South Road by Redoubt Road. Again have cycle lane that is about 1m wide with no buffer next to 3 lanes of fast traffic. Again cyclists have to cross several lanes of traffic to keep going straight ahead.

These issues are of course not unique to Manukau, and I’m sure anyone that rides a bike could tell you there are serious issues all over the city. However Manukau probably the worst example of a “completed grid” that is complete rubbish. Unsurprisingly the lanes are a total failure and it is rare to see people cycling here.

This highlights a big problem with the 1000km Regional Cycle Network that Auckland Transport claims is 30% complete. Very little of this 30% is actually up to scratch once you discount shared paths through reserves. At least 5% of the network is bus lanes (not great), or even transit lanes (awful) so none of that should be counted. Then there are the many painted sections that are narrow, unsafe and disappear without warning. Bike lanes like this can be worse than nothing, as they force cyclists weave and merge into moving traffic, rather than just staying in the traffic lane and making drivers overtake. Of course this style of cycling is only for the brave, and will never get more than a hardcore cycling in these conditions. Cycling should be a relaxing everyday activity, not an adrenaline rush for the fearless.

With the opening of our first section of urban separated cycleway on Beach Road next week lets hope Auckland Transport has turned it’s back of the pre-amalgamation ways of doing things. Successful cycling requires build cycling infrastructure that everyone is able to comfortably cycle in.

Vancouver has it spot on with their Transportation 2040 Plan:

C 1.1. Build cycling routes that feel comfortable for people of all ages and abilities

Many people are interested in cycling but are afraid of motor vehicle traffic. For cycling to be a viable and mainstream transportation choice, routes should feel comfortable and low-stress for people of all ages and abilities, including children, the elderly, and novice cyclists.

Design details depend on a variety of factors, but especially motor vehicle speeds and volumes. Bicycle routes on arterials and other busy streets should be physically separated wherever possible. Routes on neighbourhood streets may require traffic restrictions, speed management and/or parking restrictions to ensure comfort for a broad range of users. Designs should ensure sufficient visibility at intersections and driveways, and minimize the potential for conflicts with car doors, pedestrians, and other cyclists. Other factors to consider include topography—by providing well-marked alternative routes around steep hills, for example—and requirements for un-conventional bikes and other forms of active transportation, including recumbents, cargo cycles, bikes with trailers, and skateboards.

The last few months has seem much more positivity about cycling from Auckland Transport and Auckland Council with talk of separated lanes along Nelson Street and a trial along Karangahape Road. Over the next year we should see if results on the ground match this rhetoric.

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41 comments

  1. On the upside, since Manukau is so unfriendly to pedestrians those footpaths are almost unused. If I was cycling in this area (quite unlikely), I’d be breaking the law and using those.

  2. “Also on Great South Road by Redoubt Road. Again have cycle lane that is about 1m wide with no buffer next to 3 lanes of fast traffic. Again cyclists have to cross several lanes of traffic to keep going straight ahead.

    These issues are of course not unique to Manukau, and I’m sure anyone that rides a bike could tell you there are serious issues all over the city. However Manukau probably the worst example of a “completed grid” that is complete rubbish. Unsurprisingly the lanes are a total failure and it is rare to see people cycling here.”

    I would possibly agree except its not that rare to see people cycling – well along the Great South Road through here anyway – large groups generally on a Sunday … …possibly part pf a club ?
    Starkly reminded by this as I was trying to cross the Great South Road with 2 kids and a pram the other day between 2 parked cars and nearly ended up in the same space as two of a group were trying to duck into ! !

  3. Thanks for that post Luke – AT does have a program to re-visit such cycle lanes, and do upgrades. Cycle Action is a stakeholder and a few weeks ago I have mentioned that the next routes to be looked at should include the Manukau City Centre.

    The rub, of course, is that the project doesn’t have much money. With AT seeking to reduce CAPEX costs, its a constant battle on multiple fronts to keep at least some cash for such much-neede upgrades, leading to many of the upgrades being rather small fry.

    1. Could we get some extra cash from the Business Improvement District that Manukau City Centre sits under. If sold well I am sure the Manukau Central Business Association would be quite receptive to decent cycling infrastructure like that of Beach Road.

      The recently closed Otara-Papatoetoe Area Plan’s sections on Manukau City Centre mentioned for such infrastructure and support in getting it done. Of course it is all down to the money hence why I suggested looking at the BID already in place

  4. The 1st photo shows the worst hazard of all. Road cones left slap bang in the middle of the bike lane, an EXTREMELY common technique of STMS people all over Auckland. Cones, signs, sandbags the list goes on, where shall we put them?? Oh, in this spare piece of road, even when the road works is around the corner and out of site.

  5. Well my survey of one tells me that the only people that cycle out south are rich people with fancy bikes that are cycling through the area. The poor people are too busy working and don’t have the money to afford bikes. Also, there are hardly any residential areas near there, so why would you get any cyclists there currently? From what Ive seen, most cyclists use Puhinui or Cavendish Dr anyway.

    If we can’t get a perfect outcome, we want nothing at all. Cancel all cycling investment unless we get fully seperated cycle ways across Auckland. Great approach there. Keep trying the vinegar fly-catching method and see how you do with that. ((funnily enough you usually do catch more flies with vinegar rather than honey, but that is beside the point))

    I assume the endless complaints of cyclists fall on deaf ears when money is spent providing something where there was nothing and yet the complaints continue. It’s no wonder nothing gets done.

    1. It’s not just about allowing people to bike, it’s also for pedestrians, PT and to give people options. Also not true that there aren’t any residents there, there’s quite a few apartment blocks around. This area is probably the worst designed place in all of Auckland for pedestrian safety and quality of life and it needs to improve. Also, dismissing the fact that there’s no cyclists when the area is so cycle unfriendly is the same rationale used by AT for justifying doing nothing about either pedestrian crossings or cycling infrastructure: count the jaywalkers to see if a pedestrian crossing is warranted. count current cyclists to decide if better infrastructure is needed… but Manukau is so cycle and pedestrian unfriendly that it’d be surprising to see many risking their lives jaywalking or cycling on the road. Next, I wonder if they’re going to count the number of swimmers to decide if a second harbour crossing is warranted?

      1. “Next, I wonder if they’re going to count the number of swimmers to decide if a second harbour crossing is warranted?”

        That’s beautiful.

    2. I think the argument is that nothing IS better than “improvements” which create even more danger through the illusion of safety. Why waste money on that? Since it’s still dangerous it won’t be used and will just serve as something to point at and say “look, we did ALL this work and the cyclists aren’t even using it. Why bother doing more?”.

    3. What uninformed and trollish *garbage*, Ari. Combining baseless claims like working people can’t cycle because they are busy working! In that logic, they shouldn’t be travelling to work at all – just stay there 24/7 – because they have no time for that travelling shit and sitting in traffic jams like everyone else in Auckland. And stuff like arguing they can’t afford a bike, when workable bikes are about a tenth of the cheapest workable car and cost about a hundredth to keep running. Also, look at a bloody map – there’s residential areas aplenty all around Manukau City Centre in EASY cycle distance. It’s just freaking hostile to cycle through there, is all. So of course the few people you see tend to be road warriors do it on the way on their sports rides.

      About the only point worth thinking about in your rant is that it is questionable whether investment into crap facilities is worth investing at all. Which is why I am concerned that most recent South Auckland cycleway projects are painted cycle lanes only.

      1. Max, I’ve lived my entire life in one of the poorest areas of south auckland and I am very familiar with that area. I know poverty and the issues the poor face and the way many of them have to live. So my comments are hardly baseless at all. Unless you have had the same experience then your comments are less than qualified.

    4. “Hey cyclists, we already wasted good money painting some useless crap on that does nothing, so quit asking for basic functionality already.”

      Ever heard of reductio ad absurdum before Ari?

      1. It’s reality though Nick. CAA do a great job trying to work with AT to get good outcomes, but they can only do so much. AT is unelected and arent easily swayed by annoying,angry minorities. AC has only partial influence on AT to get it to listen to said annoying,angry minorities. The vast majority of AT’s customers are drivers of cars. This is fact and wont change any time soon. AT exists to serve their customers who are almost all drivers of cars. Of course all their customers are walkers and many are cyclists, but motorists are the priority because that is where all the investment is in. AT is not there to make money, nor to serve future customers, nor to decide for customers what they want in future, nor even to turn Auckland into a great place to live. It probably should do all the above, but it doesnt. That’s the reality.

  6. ” Cyclists have to chose between riding close to the debris filled drain on one side, and fast traffic on the other side.” (in picture 5) that ridge between the channel and the hotmix (AC overlay) road surface is deadly and occurs a lot in south Auckland. As an old cyclist, I find these difficult to deal with as you need to climb up from the channel at a reasonable angle or be tipped and then you tend to go to the outside of the cycle lane leading to much horn blowing by the motorist who thinks you are going to end up in front of him. In some cases they are as much as 50mm and I feel they need to be champhered in some way so that the climb is not so likely to tip you off. Any suggestions on how to deal with them (as a cyclist) would be appreciated as there are several of these on my regular routes.

    1. Yep, that “we’ll just slap another layer on top” treatment is a big issue, especially on narrow lanes and around catch pits. Typical matter we complain about to AT in CAA, but sadly, getting the whole maintenance method for roads changed in Auckland is a major ask (we’re still trying tho).

    2. Same problem here in Welly. And it gets even worse when successive layers of asphalt raise the road level by 100mm or more, but the stormwater grates remain where they were and become unmarked, 100mm-deep sink-holes.

  7. What strikes me about these posts on Manukau is just how EMPTY the roads are in every picture. I realise that it is a weekend yet surely around the mall this should be the busiest time! We could comfortable reduce all of the roads except GSR to a single general lane and use the rest of the space for separated cycle lanes.

    1. In peak traffic time it gets pretty busy, but as I said, the road itself is fairly wide and the lanes are generous, and I have never really felt threatened by a car. They tend to be pretty much nose to tail and moving slowly between the lights.

  8. Looking at the photos. A quick & costly fix to a road design problem. Once the cycle lane finishes…application of access to path from road would be more commendable. I personally have never rode along that stretch of road…would be lost not knowing a safe exit point to travel along. ESP cycling.
    Well done for a try…4.5 points. Un-finished job.

  9. Whilst I’m entirely in favour of dedicated separate cycle lanes, does anyone know why ‘soft’ barriers can’t be placed along existing cycle lanes in the interim?

    I’ve referring to these sort of bollards: http://www.newparkingsolutions.co.uk/big_images/1354642104flexible_Posts_Row.jpg

    These are cheap as my thinking is these would give the visual cues necessary to drivers that green strips and stencils simply don’t. It would stop drivers from blocking cycle lanes as they cue up and could easily be spaced out where necessary to allow vehicles to pull in to parking that’s to the left of existing cycle lanes.

    Thoughts?

    1. Good option, but I think they dont provide the cyclist with enough protection. If a dedicated cycle way is to be used, I think anyway, there needs to be a barrier between the fast moving heavy bits of metal and the comparitavely slower soft fleshy ones. As the cycling ‘road code’, from my understanding, states that cyclist cannot use the footpath except where a cycle way is designated, perhaps a wider footpath with a cycle lane and a pedestrian section together? Keeps the bikes off the roads at the busiest areas where some drivers will be less attentive.

    2. They’ve been studied in Christchurch (see http://hdl.handle.net/10092/9201 and http://cyclingchristchurch.co.nz/2013/04/24/cycle-lane-separators-revisited/) and, for a “soft” barrier, there was a lot of support by cyclists (or would-be ones). I think they can particularly provide a quick interim improvement until other more permanent options are provided.

      One thing to consider: the posts provide a visual narrowing and “shy space” that can be a bit uncomfortable to ride past (or even more tricky if you have something like a cargo bike). So you couldn’t just plonk them on the outside of a minimum width cycle lane; you may have to do some widening of the cycle lane first.

      1. AT requirements are standard cycle lane width plus 60cm buffer (with the posts in the middle of said buffer) before the posts can go up. So the requirement would usually be around 2.1m.

    3. Dave, flexi posts are an option, but what tends to occur is that the cycle lane ends up full of debris and cyclists avoid it. Maintenance would be an ongoing problem. The humps that max refer to may be a better option.

    1. The designers of these clearly didn’t (or belonged to the hard core road warrrior persuasion). For new cycleways built nowadays, the score is a bit better, but still rather mixed.

  10. The only roads people really ride on are rosscommon road (UR17 – 80 then 60kmh), cavendish drive, and Gt Sth road.
    I have ridden these roads for 3 years and rarely seen anyone anywhere else.
    Rosscommon is dangerous as hell, but its a nice direct route that apparently has been earmarked as a cycle route but they havent done anything yet. Its the only way home for me without adding 5km to my 30km route, and its the only really scary bit of road (60kmh nose to tail traffic in a VERY narrow road).
    Gt Sth is fine, while the cycle lane is a bit narrow at the manukau end, the road is wide and the lanes fairly generous. Once past the centre, the bike lane is a bus lane, and it has very few buses on it. We’ve ridden 3 abreast with plenty of room in the cycle lane 🙂

    Cavendish really needs some work. Its on the airport route for cyclists, and there are people going in and out of the super centre and various other places like madmen. Its also a really fast bit of road for a cyclist. Even without effort I am doing 35kmh along there, so you are approaching cars a lot faster than they think you are. What would be better is if they made Puhinui rd more cycle friendly – its residential and more direct to the airport, and there is no motorway on/off ramp in the way. They really need to make sure cyclists use noel burnside ave (there needs to be some signage to advise strangers to the area). I regularly see people trying to turn right to the airport alongside people trying to get on the motorway. That’s just plain stupid – I have done it once or twice coming the other way, and at least I can get around and most of the way along before the cars, but trying to turn with them… suicide.

      1. yes, its residential and all the airport traffic is on cavendish. I’ve never really had any problems with Gt Sth Road… the bits where you cross lanes there is usually either no traffic, or stopped traffic. Its actually pretty safe.
        Puhinui needs its kink straightened before its cycle (or even car) safe. I thought they were working on that, but I havent popped down there lately.
        There are some really amazing and beautiful rides out here..

  11. Great post thanks Luke. Really highlights the difference between “completed” cycle infra and attractive for anyone other than a warrior. These facilities aren’t going to grow cycle numbers anytime soon.

  12. Having worked at Middlemore Hospital, what makes this even sadder is that this community is currently fighting a ‘diseases of inactivity’ epidemic (heart disease, diabetes, some cancers) as well as being vulnerable to transport poverty. We’ve just spent hundreds of millions of government funding on endless expansions to Middlemore, yet the surrounding neighbourhoods offer poor opportunities to pursue physical activity.

  13. 1m wide cycle lanes I think could be defined as irony, considering that there was an ad campaign a while back “Give cyclists 1.5m clearance”, I can’t remember if this was a pre-Auckland Council-but-region-wide thing, or an Auckland Transport thing, but still, if they can’t build facilities to meet their own public safety recommendations…

    1. These cycle lanes were almost all built a long while back – from memory, they were already in place around 2005 when I came to Auckland. I always wondered why nobody was using them, as there actually seemed to be more cycle lanes around there than in most other parts of Auckland (well, I knew why no one was using them, to be honest)

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