Auckland’s first section of urban separated cycleway is now completed. The official opening of the Beach Road Cycleway will be on Saturday morning, where NZTA and Auckland Transport are holding a media event to celebrate the opening of the Grafton Gully and Beach Road cycleways. The Grafton Gully be open to the public around 11am. However the Beach Road cycleway is of course all on a public road, and is completed and ready to ride now.
Currently the cycleway runs from Churchill St (near Parnell Rise/Stanley Street intersection), along Beach Road until Mahuhu Crescent (by Quay Park Health), then along Tapora St to connect with the Quay Street shared path. The second section from Mahuhu Crescent to Britomart Place will be constructed early next year and will be open early-mid next year, However once Grafton Gully opens this weekend this will link into both the North-Western cycleway, and the Tamaki Drive shared path. This will give a continuous safe cycling route of about 28km from Henderson to St Heliers.
The green line below on the Auckland Transport map shows the section that is open, while the black line is Stage 2.
At Te Taou Crescent the cycleway crosses from the south side to the north side, and there are new traffic lights with a cycle signal, and a cyclist only phase to allow cyclists to cross the road diagonally (following dashed line on the right hand side).
This is Mahuhu Crescent. In future the cycleway will continue straight along Beach Road, however in the meantime it heads off to the right. To allow for these complex movements the designers have just decided to make this a shared area between pedestrians and bikes. However the area should be large enough to allow for people and cyclists to cross over.
Looking back along the separated section down Beach Road. Note how Te Taou Crescent has been closed to cars at Beach Road here, and a raised table has been added for pedestrians.
The Mahuhu/Tapora intersection is also a shared area, including a large raised table to slow cars down. The cycleway heads to along the right hand side of Tapora Street to connect to Quay Street. This last section is a shared path because of need for access to the building.
Finally a new set of traffic lights have been added for pedestrians and cyclists at the corner of Tapora and Quay Streets to connect to the Quay Street shared path. This is to avoid a 300m detour that would involve crossing 3 sets of traffic lights so a much welcome addition for people walking as well as connecting a desire line.
Note how throughout the project things have also been improved for pedestrians. Several of the nasty slip lanes have been removed, and a zebra crossing added to the one that remains. Raised tables have also be added to the non-signalised intersections. This will all be of great help, and the design of Beach Road now matches its role as an urban street, and less like a fringe industrial zone. The interesting thing with these fixes as Auckland Transport have regally refused to do individual fixes like this across the city, however when it comes to an integrated project it seems as though they are happy to add them. I would like to see a programme fixing issues like this across the city centre, as the city is still dominated by road design suited for light industrial areas and motorway ramps, not an urban (and increasingly residential ) centre.
I am regular cycle down Beach Road so can confirm how much of a difference this has made. Previously cycling down Beach Road was a mad, adrenaline filled rush competing with fast cars, trucks and avoiding car doors. Now it is how cycling should be, and can casually cycle into town to catch a train or meet friends and arrive relaxed and ready. I can certainly see this attracting more people to cycling as feels like an everyday activity, not a sport. Lets hope this is the first of many of these projects across the urban area of Auckland.