I believe that as a city we should take every opportunity we have to retrofit the city with better and more inclusive infrastructure. That means any time we dig up a road for “an upgrade” or even when a road is resealed we need to be thinking about how we can add cycling infrastructure (this also applies to walking and PT infrastructure too). It also means implementing quick wins where ever possible. Below are a few examples of where I think we’re missing easy opportunities to do that.

Chivalry Rd

When I ride to work I try to avoid the utter mess that is Wairau Rd as much as possible – the part around Tristram Ave is particularly bad as the lanes are narrow and drivers are often distracted while also changing lanes etc. Instead travel further along Glenfield Rd and use Chivalry Rd to bypass the worst of Wairau Rd. Using this route adds just over 1km to my journey but it feels much safer thanks to more space in on the road and much less traffic.

Chivalry Rd vs Wairau Rd

The map above shows the Wairau route in blue and the Chivalry route in red. Just because the latter feels the safest of the two, that doesn’t mean it’s great for cycling and can’t be improved. In the last week or so work has started on upgrading the intersection with Chartwell Dr/Diana Dr. I assumed that this would be good as it should mean improved cycle facilities at least around the intersection. This is especially so seeing as the route appears on AT’s proposed cycle network map as a connector route as shown in the yellow circle in the image below. In addition there are two schools nearby – just 100m and 300m away (Glenfield Primary & Glenfield Intermediate). The schools are shown in yellow on the map above.

Chivalry Rd cycle map

The image below shows how the intersection looks today. The only thing really noticeable with it – and it doesn’t seem all that bad – is that Chartwell and Diana Dr are slightly offset from each other meaning that drivers have to slightly turn the steering wheel when travelling north/south through it. Unrelated but one additional thing about the intersection is that it runs with a Barnes Dance for pedestrians. That’s something that’s quite rare outside the central city.

Chivalry Rd Intersection Current

I was hoping the change would add in some cycle infrastructure decent enough to get local kids riding to school, after all both proudly display on their fences that they’re a Travelwise school with the primary school a gold Award winner and the intermediate school a silver award winner. As such I asked AT for the plans seeing as there was nothing on their website. The image below shows what is being done and frankly it’s disappointing (click to enlarge) note: this image is effectively rotated 90° clockwise to the image above.

Chivalry Rd Intersection Future

AT say that because Chartwell Ave and Diana Drive approaches are offset slightly it creates safety and efficiency problems and so this project is to address that. Safety issues I can understand however efficiency is just a code word for “a few cars have to queue at the lights.

To make these changes it’s also required the removal of one house (Number 107 in the aerial photo) – the left over land not needed for the intersection works will be left as just a landscaped area. By transport standards the project isn’t hugely expensive at $1.3 million but it’s still a sizeable amount of money as I don’t think that includes the purchase of the house which I understand took place in the old North Shore City Council days. Still, removing a house when housing is such a hot topic doesn’t seem like the best idea AT’s ever had.

However back to the original topic, while the works are primarily on Chartwell Ave it doesn’t appear that a single bit of cycle infrastructure is going in anywhere near this intersection even though this would be the perfect time to implement some. That’s disappointing and means that at some unknown time in the future AT will have to go back and create more disruption to do that. It’s also quite telling that we can seemingly so easily through money down to change an intersection on safety and efficiency grounds but it’s so difficult to do the same with walking, cycling or public transport infrastructure.

One last point on this particular intersection, AT say that they and the local board are funding the project as it was way down the priority list so didn’t qualify for a subsidy from the NZTA. Surely if it’s way down on the priority list that’s a good sign it’s not, well a priority. Also after a brief discussion with a local board member it appears that they too weren’t that on pushing the project forward but that it was AT who came to the board to push it. Is this a case of some engineer trying to get an old scheme across the line?

Hobsonville Rd

Another part of my route home takes me along Hobsonville Rd. Since the motorway opened a few years ago the traffic on Hobsonville Rd has dropped dramatically and combined with a fairly wide single lane road used very infrequently for car parking it should be quite easy to start installing some cycle infrastructure. Perhaps the most pressing place to start on this would be the uphill section between Westpark Dr and Luckens Rd. One unique feature is that over the ~400m heading up the hill there are just two driveways as most of the houses are accessed from other locations.

Yet despite no demand from nearby houses there almost always tends to be a handful of cars parked on this section. The cause of is even visible in the image below from Streetview – cars parked for sale. An on road cycle lane could effectively be created up the hill for price of a few yellow lines of paint (note: there are also signs on other parts of Hobsonville Rd saying no car sales but not here).

Hobsonville Rd - For Sale Parking

Moire Rd

Another easy to add route would be Moire Rd. A section of the road was recently dug up and rebuilt – which is good as the surface was terrible and like other routes on here is also on AT’s cycle map yet despite being fairly wide and without much demand for on street parking the road was re-instated without any cycle provision. As you can see from the images below there is quite a bit of space to do so. Also note that the empty looking land to the right of the image is one of the pieces of land the government have identified to be developed. It would be good to get some cycling provision in before anything happens with that.

Moire Rd

Westgate Dr

Lastly we have Westgate Dr. This road was subjected to protracted fight between the developer and the council however that’s now resolve and the road is open. The road is significant as it connects to the Westgate shopping centre at one end and runs is right through the middle of an SHA which is being developed.

Westgate Dr Aerial

The first houses are already starting to go in and given the development that’s planned it would surely make sense for AT to get in there now and implement some cycle lanes before people move in and have an expectation of the entire street having free on-street parking. The thing is the road is probably wide enough to have cycle lanes plus parking on one side as you can see in the image below with Westgate in the distance. A quick and easy win (although of course I would prefer protected cycle lanes).

Westgate Dr

What do you think, where are the quick easy cycle wins in your area and what examples of missed opportunities do you have.

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50 comments

  1. All your comments are good, reasonable, and perfectly appropriate comments. You have identified a number of highly valid things that AT / AC / NZTA should be doing, as a matter of course. We know that AT staff regularly read this blog – some of them avidly – what would be really good is if some of those staff publicly fronted on here, and said words to the effect of : “Yes, you’re right, and we are going to do something about it”. A simple request. How about it AT?

  2. To summarise your argument you want infrastructure so you can use the roads in the way that you prefer without any consideration for other users.

    Given the abysmal cycling numbers on the Grafton cycleway and Beach Rd (please don’t tell me they exceed targets – the targets were ridiculously low) it is hard to see how this additional infrastructure would provide value for money. Given these locations are de-centralised we can expect numbers using cycling infrastructure to be well down on centralised cycling infrastructure.

    There is a place for cycling infrastructure in Auckland but demanding we add cycling infrastructure everywhere is not an economic solution.

    1. It’s only when we have continuous interconnected infrastructure that enables people to make the sorts of trips they want to make, will cycling reach its potential. You can’t judge investment on current mode share. This has all been well established in cities overseas.

      My wife wants to cycle, particularly for short trips like taking our daughter to play centre (1k), shopping etc. She doesn’t because she is too nervous sharing busy arterial roads with large fast moving vehicles. The fact is you have no idea what the latent demand for cycling is in Auckland.

      My suggestions would be Glenfield Rd/ Birkenhead Ave. there is plenty of room for cycle lanes along here. Also Hinemoa St in Bikenhead. To name a couple off the top of my head.

    2. So you think someone trying to sell their car is more important than people using the road and you think empty fields are inconvenienced by cycle lanes. Perhaps this says more about your bias’ than anything else.

      Also you seem to ignore the impact of creating a complete network.

    3. “To summarise your argument you want infrastructure so you can use the roads in the way that you prefer without any consideration for other users.”

      My interpretation of his argument was that he wants infrastructure so that people / users have a viable alternative to driving, making the road more flexible and efficient for the community as a whole, as well as providing increased safety for the children that use it to access the nearby schools. That’s in contrast to the plans for the junction shown, that effectively define the road as a cars-only zone, without showing any consideration for other users.

    4. “you want infrastructure so you can use the roads in the way that you prefer without any consideration for other users”

      The world’s not divided neatly into people who ride bikes and people who drive cars. Some people who currently drive might enjoy the opportunity to cycle once in a while, or they might have family members who cycle. The first intersection Matt highlighted was by a school. Do you think the parents in that area would look negatively on an upgrade to safe walking and cycling through there?

      1. Peter, first law of the internet is: if you post something sarcastic someone will believe you are serious and quote you at length to their own ends.

    5. I think it’s the other way around, the demand for cycling over there would be higher than in central locations. In the city and maybe the inner suburbs, shops etc. are often close enough to walk. The areas highlighted here have less density, so for most people walking would take too much time. But usually you will have the shopping centre, or schools, or the bus stops within cycling distance.

      And don’t worry about economics. Compared to adding more space for cars, bicycle infrastructure comes almost for free.

    6. ‘Abysmal cycling numbers ‘ – you don’t assess the need for a bridge by counting the number of people swimming across the river. We’re talking about planning for a different-looking future, not just perpetuating the habits of the past. All change is incremental, and it takes time. The star cycle cities of Europe like Copenhagen and Amsterdam are as they are as a result of 40 years of incremental change.

    7. ‘Safety and efficiency concerns’. – evidence, please? Record of safety incidents at this intersection compared with similar intersections? Survey data on the average delay caused to motorists by having to touch the steering wheel for a few seconds as they drive through this intersection on the ever-so-slightly non-straight leg?

      This sounds like code for ‘a road engineer thought it would be nice the tidy up this intersection.’ At cost of $1.3m plus one demolished house, to solve a non-problem. Bizarre.

  3. All good points Matt. OUt of interest, does anyone know what sort of housing is going in that close to Westfield? You would think there’s justification for some density, particularly at the shopping centre end.

  4. Completely agree Matt. I don’t see why improving paths and cycle facilities is not a default part of every project AT does, minor or not.

    Too late now, but a classic example: a considerable stretch of West Coast Rd from Glen Eden to Parrs Park was rebuilt last year. When they stripped this right back to base course and took out the central islands I thought they might be fixing this override drag-strip. Wrong. All back as before. The fact it links several off-road cycle paths seems irrelevant, despite local politicians telling me they know the lack of a cycle backbone through the west is a problem.

    Who writes these “minor” works briefs? Why are they not made to line up with AT strategic objectives?

      1. Basically, the maintenance guys come in, and redo everything as before. Unless AT walking/cycling are on the ball AND manage to convince other parts of AT of the change, all you get is a shiny version of the same old.

        AT’s new walk/cycle manager is much more on the ball, and this is one of the many things she’s trying to change, but she wasn’t in her job last year, only started in Feb this year,

        1. Isn’t this the old ‘it’s easier to change policy than culture’ problem. There is almost certainly a huge amount of deadwood in the middle of AT who designed the worst parts of our monotonal road network at the previous councils and who are as blissfully unaware of any other way of operating than our hilarious friend the first Mathew above. And are probably unable to perform in the private sector because that would require change and professional development, so plan to see out their working lives delivering dated and suboptimal outcomes at great cost to the people of Auckland from the cosy confines of a ratepayers’ funded salary….

        2. It also has to do with budget lines and silos within both AT and the contractor companies. The full road reconstructions come out of the rehab budget, then there is the renewals budget for standard resurfacing, there is a maintenance budget for immediate quick fix ups like crack sealing or pothole repair.
          The work discussed here would fall under other budgets/teams, minor safety improvements, cycling improvements, school walking plans etc.
          It gets even more disturbing when you look at the day to day work other utilities do on the roads e.g Watercare, Vector, Chorus. I’ve often noticed a trench running straight across a newly sealed section of road

        3. Max,

          >> “Basically, the maintenance guys come in, and redo everything as before. Unless AT walking/cycling are on the ball AND manage to convince other parts of AT of the change, all you get is a shiny version of the same old.”

          Well, this is the very purpose of planning: to prepare for change long before any work is done.

          When the maintenance teams turn up to a project, they must be working off some plan somewhere. If the walking & cycling people have done their jobs, at least a high-level if not shovel-ready plan for improvements would already be in place for the area. No need to intervene reactively and risk missing out on scattered opportunities — that’s a bad situation to put oneself in.

          This is one of several reasons contributing to why the Auckland Cycle Network plan isn’t worth endorsing.

          >> “AT’s new walk/cycle manager is much more on the ball, and this is one of the many things she’s trying to change, but she wasn’t in her job last year, only started in Feb this year”

          Let’s hope so. But as important as her work will be, let’s not be lulled into believing she might be some messiah figure. She is operating within an organisation and a community that aren’t new to their roles, and there is a lot of strategic ineffectiveness everyone needs to overcome.

  5. At very least at the intersection of Chivalry road and the other two, add separate cycle crossing signals to the ped crossings to allow cyclists to cross legally at the same time as Peds can and do.

    That way at least kids cycling to school can cross in the safety of other Peds.
    The cost of doing that will be minimal compared to all the other stuff they’re doing there.

    As for the other stuff in Westgate development – if roads are not vested in AC/AT by developer yet AT won’t do anything about adding cycle lanes, but they could *plan* to add some once they are vested.
    As I recall roads tend to get officially vested with the council quite late in the piece.
    So even though the roads are in common use they may not yet be AT’s responsibility.

  6. When you highlighted this to CAA, we did raise this with AT’s walking and cycling team, and made the same criticisms. But then it dropped of the radar again and we didn’t even blog about it. Matt, you’re a machine – how do you manage to post so many blogs? I thought you were back to full-time employment?

  7. Following the road works on Mokoia Road (outside New World) they put in a defacto bike lane (a painted line but not specifically a bike lane) which is great.

    Except that it mysteriously disappears on the corner where the road ‘narrows’ and is probably the most dangerous for cyclists. I say ‘mysteriously’ as due to the rise, and drop, of the road, you dont actually notice that it has disappeared – the road markings just slowing shift the cars to the left and the ‘bike lane’ just slowly narrows to nothing. Bad design as everything that precedes it makes both the cyclist and the car driver think they have their own space.

  8. One problem in the area around Wairau Valley is crossing the motorway. If you’re courageous you can cross via Wairau Valley Road. There are bicycle lanes at the intersection with Forrest Hill Road, but they stop short of the motorway bridge.

    Crossing via Tristram Avenue on the other hand is completely out of the question.

  9. I work in Orewa, where there are wide predominately flat roads. With 3 schools within a few kms of each other, Orewa sohuld be able to be a model of cycling networks. They made a start with the fabulous Estuary Walk/Cycleway. How brilliant it would be to have separate cycle lanes within 2 kms of every school. GIven the nature of the wide roads in the area, relatively easy to achieve given the political and bureaucratic will.

    1. 2kms might be aspirational at the moment, but 20m would make a difference, especially when the bedlam of school start and finish occurs and the sensory overload of masses of movement occurs.

    2. I think the design vehicles they used for Orewa were mobility scooters and zimmer frames. Cycling is a bit hard on their hips when they fall off.

  10. A couple of observations:

    1. Most of the photos show roads with wide median strips. These are a major problem when space is needed to create cycle lanes. Do we have to have so many of them?

    2, I sometimes cycle from Rosedale using the Unsworth path to get to Caribbean Drive (which is very pleasant), then Target Rd (OK), Wairau Rd (horrible), Taharoto Rd (OK), Fred Thomas Drive (OK) to Akoranga Station to get the bus over the bridge. It always seems a shame to me that Wairau Rd has been excluded from the proposed cycle network. It’s an important north-south connector and there seems to be plenty of road corridor available to do something with.

    1. Don’t mention the median strips (or parking for that matter), you’ll wake the thought police~

      Wairau Rd is included, you can see it skirting the motorway right of the yellow circle. You can follow your entire route on the proposed cycle network map.

      And if you look closely you can even see Tristram Avenue included. I definitely wish AT and NZTA a lot of courage implementing that.

    2. Wairau Road IS on the cycle network. Just not built, or anywhere near being built, like so much of it.

      Re the flush medians – while they do have some advantages for cyclists, you’re right, they both stand in the way of, and provide a tantalising option of finding the space to add proper protected cycle facilities in the future. The issue is that then people turning right will either not be allowed to (a hard sell for residents, let alone business properties), or they will cause following traffic to have to slow down and wait before they find a gap to turn right (a hard sell to, oh well, see above, plus (some) safety engineers etc).

      1. One issue with any median that functions to separate traffic; yes this should reduce frequency and severity of headon vehicle collisions, which is important, but they also encourage higher speeds because this safety improvement is also perceived by drivers. The same is the case when it allows a right hand turn refuge, yes this reduces following driver frustration, and some stopping and starting, but also encourages increased speed and the expectation of not having to be aware of the need to yield on urban and suburban streets, so reduces care and lifts expectation of priority. Which are poor for safety outcomes
        So they really make for a mixed bag in terms of safety, particularly if the whole ecosystem of the street is taken into consideration.
        Adding protected cycle lanes have been shown to improve safety for all road users, and some of this comes from the narrowing and therefore slowing of the ‘engineered’ speed of the route, regardless of the legal speed limit.

        1. Yes, I wish there’d been a before/after study of car speeds on Carlton Gore Road. That will become some effectively 3-5m (!) narrower in sections.

    3. I agree with Tim. You can see the point of them – to reduce the possibility of a head-on but how often does this happen in the city? I think that’s an open road issue, and instead of a mixed bag I’d say they create more problems – encouraging speed, expectation of unimpeded travel etc as mentioned. Remove them, reduce speed, increase safety, and you’ll have room for cycle lanes – at least in one direction. I usually find cycling is easier in one direction than the corresponding trip in the other direction.

  11. 1. I my opinion, every intersection redesign should take cycling and pedestrians into account. This means you are providing opportunities into the future for additional cycling/pedestrian related infrastructure.
    2. Why is there a need for 1-2m of grass between the road and the footpath every where in suburbia in New Zealand? To me this is a colossal waste of opportunity and space that could be utilised to benefit cyclists and pedestrians. Either widening footpaths to make them dual use or widening the road to allow for a cycling lane.

    1. No shared paths please, especially not as one-off bitsy pieces at intersections. Pedestrians hat faster cyclists passing them on the footpath, and cyclists hate to constantly have to get off / back on the road, and hate to have to share footpaths with pedestrians who dislike them there. In too many situations, shared paths are lose-lose outcomes, especially if better options like protected lanes (or even, for the interim, standard cycle lanes) are available.

  12. Great post Matt. This ties into something that I’ve been thinking about lately about how we build new places at the edge of the city. Essentially, the car-dependent fringe suburbs we build today are going to be an integral part of the urban fabric tomorrow.

    Given the difficulty of “retrofitting” PT-compatible street networks and missing walking and cycling infrastructure after the fact, it’s essential that we build them to include those things. In my view, it’s foolish to make new fringe land available without ensuring that the resulting places will work in the long term and be adaptable to changing travel behaviours.

  13. Well I have been trying to find those planes for Diana chartwel intersection for a while as I live in that area. And I noticed a couple weeks ago that house was suddenly gone.
    Now I see what is going on, I am disappointed.
    A whole house gone all for 1 left turn lane and more grass for the council to mow.
    I Never had a problem with the off set intersection nor with visibility.

  14. I think another easy (or maybe not) win to highlight, is for some more thoughtful design to go into the details of the cycling infrastructure that does get built. I’ve mentioned this before, but the recently constructed Onewa Rd shared path has some issues that should easily be able to be fixed. In particular they have managed to install at one point a rubbish bin and sign at the same chainage with about 1m gap between them – for a bi directional shared path. Not to mention the rest of the signs that litter the path.

    Additionally the surface is built to accomodate a smooth transition from the carriageway into peoples driveways – which makes for a bumby shared path.

  15. “To make these changes it’s also required the removal of one house (Number 107 in the aerial photo) – the left over land not needed for the intersection works will be left as just a landscaped area. By transport standards the project isn’t hugely expensive at $1.3 million but it’s still a sizeable amount of money as I don’t think that includes the purchase of the house which I understand took place in the old North Shore City Council days. Still, removing a house when housing is such a hot topic doesn’t seem like the best idea AT’s ever had.”
    Looking at the map I really don’t see the need to actually remove that house. Simply reducing the size of the section would allow the road widening without taking away the house. In fact the house could be sold to help pay for the improvements (that is of course assuming that the house is in a reasonable condition to start with). With a housing crisis in Auckland every house counts.

  16. I’m still waiting for the spokespeople from AT to front up here and say something. What a spineless bunch. Pathetic.

  17. We included the following in the Waitemata Local Board’s feedback on the RLTP because we’ve been concerned at the number of quick win, cost effective opportunities AT has missed (fortunately there are positive signs the silos are starting to break down).
    Leveraging renewals for new street design
    -Every renewal needs to be considered in terms of what can be achieved to maximise the existing budget taking a One Network approach. For example maintenance projects provide an opportunity for arterials to be relooked at with new layouts that include bus lanes and cycle lanes, remove cycle pinch points and add better pedestrian crossings.
    -A recent example is the proposed resurfacing of Ponsonby Road, which was going to be undertaken on a like for like basis until the Board challenged officers to take a more multi-modal view. As a result there is now the opportunity to implement critical cycling and pedestrian infrastructure to improve safety of all road users.

    This post is really helpful for highlighting the issue and for providing Local Boards with the information needed to ensure AT takes advantage of every upgrade to improve walking and cycling facilities.

    1. Nice work by your local board, and I 100% agree with you. I wonder why this is not now a standard and published practice for any street renewal? Every business I’ve worked in has standard ways of doing things, and I would think that AT should also have a standard that prioritised safety over speed for all road users would be the default starting point. A standard way of doing things so that over time Auckland becomes safer and safer, rather than every upgrade being designed from scratch by a roading engineer without sufficient guidance on safety and integrated networks..

  18. Hope I’m not too late to make these comments! East Coast Road, especially the Northcross intersection, desperately need some cycling love. Northcross has three slip lanes and a painted cycle lane that disappears just after the lights despite a wide flush median and mostly enormous grass verges. This is a great opportunity to improve cycle safety in the area, especially since Northcross Intermediate is just down the road. There are shared paths further south on EC Road, but the facilities around the northern bays are patchy at best. Also, Oteha Valley Road is a death trap. It’s double-laned (and way over-engineered for the traffic volumes), full of roundabouts, has a grass median, and has a 60kph speed limit (so everyone does 70), and no cycle amenity whatsoever. This is the direct route to the Albany Bus Station and I would love to bike there but it’s just too dangerous at the moment.

    1. You’re right Helen. In that area we also have Oteha Valley School, Sherwood School, and a little further down the road 3000 students at Rangitoto College. East Coast Rd could so easily be made cycle friendly.

  19. Helen there is a cycle lane on Oteha Valley rd ! from Mills lane to just before the motorway on ramp yes I rode it every day when I worked in Albany all 160 meters of it .As for Oteha Valley rd there is room for a cycle way the left lane is wider than the right lane ,so theres no reason they couldn’t do like they did on Triangle rd and make a safe cycle lane .Maybe we should be talking to nzta about it as Oteha Valley rd is a state highway-29. That could be why when I asked a Local Board member about the road I never got any answer ……not his problem

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