A few weeks ago I highlighted the consultation for phase 2 of the Nelson St cycleway. Consultation finishes on 5th October and while I really want to see this project I feel that some parts of it are very sub-optimal and as such encourage you to make a submission so it can be better.

Nelson St Map

Below are some areas where I think AT need to make changes. Feel free to use some or all of these in your submission.

North of Victoria St

The diagonal crossing at Victoria Street will slow cyclists down as instead of being able to ride across the intersection with the normal North traffic flow cyclists will have to wait for a separate cycle. Like with Beach Rd that will likely see a lot of cyclists simply ignoring the cycleway and create confusion amongst less confident cyclists. I’ve heard suggestions that one reason for shifting the cycleway to the eastern side was because there is an aversion to removing or changing the slip lanes on to Fanshawe St.

Nelson St - Victoria St intersection

Apart from the crossing a cycleway on the eastern side by itself isn’t bad however it doesn’t last long and just before Wyndham St becomes a shared space. Wyndham St itself causes problems too. Issues with this section include:

  • Cyclists will be coming downhill, likely at speed and be clashing with pedestrians where it transitions to shared path.
  • Those cyclists will then likely have to come to full stop at Wyndham St as due to travelling in the same direction it will be difficult for cyclists to know if a car is about to turn in front of them.
  • This is made even more difficult and confusing as cars turning right into Fanshawe St use the same lane and indicate from before Wyndham St.

One alternative solution would be to reverse the direction of Wyndham St and make them give way to cyclists however that may have wider implications for the CBD road network.

Once at the Fanshawe St intersection cyclists will then have to contend with pedestrians to get across. My personal observations is that this intersection is surprisingly busy as Fanshawe St is used by a lot of people walking to work from the areas just west of the CBD. Further those wanting to get to Market Pl and around to Wynyard or eventually on to Skypath have to cross three sets of traffic lights which will mean a lot of waiting and therefore very slow. It’s worth noting that I already often see cyclists brave Nelson St and almost all go straight on to Market Pl before going around to the city as it’s a much more desirable route than Sturdee St.

Nelson St - Fanshawe Intersection

Speaking of Sturdee St, from what I can tell AT plan to just make the existing footpath a shared path. For a shared path it is fairly undesirable as will be narrow and often a bit of a canon with a solid wall on one side and a row of parked buses on the other.

Sturdee St shared path

When it gets to Lower Hobson St there are more crossings to navigate including a pedestrian crossing for which it is not technically legal for people to ride bikes across. There are also issues in that there are frequent kerb cuts and ramps to negotiate transitioning to and from the path.

Sturdee St - Lower Hobson

Things don’t get much better on Lower Hobson St as the space is very tight so the path is narrow and gets narrower the closer it gets to Quay St – especially when it gets to area with the pedestrian bridge as shown below. AT are effectively just legalising riding on a narrow footpath. Those wanting to get to the new Quay St cycleway will then two sets of lights to cross – again taking more time and adding further delays.

Lower Hobson St from Quay St

My alternative idea is

  • Keep the cycle lane on left (Western) side all the way to Fanshawe St. (Green line below)
  • Remove the slip lanes from Nelson St on to Fanshawe St and signalise the left turn after a bike/pedestrian crossing phase.
  • Continue the cycle lane on Market Pl till at least Pakenham St.
  • North of Pakenham St use traffic calming to ensure slow traffic speeds making the road a slow cycle friendly street. This may also require some parking changes. (Blue Line below)
  • Less confident cyclists could then use either the area around the Viaduct while those more confident could use Customs St West and Lower Hobson St.
  • Another solution I’ve heard suggested would be to also have a cycleway on Hobson St and have a cycleway on the Hobson St flyover to access Quay St. At the northern end of the flyover there are three lanes however only two lanes access it from any direction so there is likely space to spare.

Market Pl idea

Pitt St

There are also some issues at the Pitt St end. The biggest of these is that the cycleway stops short of K Rd and it’s not clear what cyclists heading uphill are meant to do to if they want get to K Rd. Also why start the cycle as a shared path rather than just starting the cycleway.

Beresford Square

Additionally at the intersection with Pitt St, again multiple transitions to and from shared paths, it isn’t clear how cyclists riding up Vincent St would then access the new cycleway

Pitt St - Hopetoun St option A

All up these two sections seem like a bit of a clusterf**k of focusing on how a route could be added that had the least possible impact rather than thinking of something that would encourage people to ride. Cyclists will be constantly transitioning between shared paths and dedicated cycleways, waiting to cross numerous sets of lights and frequently having to check for turning cars. In short there is no sustained level of service afforded to cyclists. Auckland Transport, you can do better than this, please submit telling them to keep left on Nelson St.

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  1. Fully agree Matt, excellent recommendations. It is hard to imagine that those designing these details have ever used a bike in a city, they all look as if designed through the frame of a driver’s windscreen. And for a profession that elsewhere is obsessed with travel time savings, there seems to be scant regard for the cycleway user’s time. Is this the old idea that if you’re riding you must be just rambling along with no business to prosecute?

    I, for one, ride in the city precisely because it is often the quickest way to get to time critical destinations. But this design approach would mean either losing that advantage, or staying off the new routes and taking the much faster general traffic lane. Are either of those good outcomes for all this expense and effort?

    1. I agree with that and Matt’s comments on the Beach Rd cycleway design, which I also find very bad: gold plating, poor route design (unintuitive and not following the arterial), confusing markings on the path, and very importantly, it increases your travel time greatly. Someone has to let AT know that that’s not OK. I never use the part of beach rd cycleway west of where it crosses Beach Rd either because this would increase my travel time by many minutes and take me where I usually don’t want to go (the viaduct). Also, the connection with Quay St is currently very confusing, not sure at all what route they meant for cyclists to take there. The fact that 7 million $ were sunk into this project also makes your head spin at the cost/km. If they keep going like this, AT can spend the whole cycleways budget without actually improving cycling in Auckland.

      The diagonal crossing at the intersection of Victoria St and Nelson St is a similarly bad idea: a non-standard thing that will confuse locals and even more so tourists, in the name of avoiding a few design issues on one side of the road. This is not the place to compromise – making the route unintuitive is a sure way to let it go underused.

      About intersection design and travel time: everywhere else in the world, cycle and pedestrian traffic is prioritised over car traffic in the city by making sure that wait times at intersections are kept low for these users. Here it’s exactly the other way around. An example: the Xing of Ian Mckinnon Drive and Upper Queen St, where it would take you at least twice as long to cross it if you wanted to stay on the cycleway rather than get back on the road. A Barnes Dance signal would go a long way towards solving this issue. Same issue at the northern side of the NW motorway and Te atatu rd, where two consecutive Xings could have been made into one with a bit of thought – there the wait times if you follow all signals are so long that it’s a real incentive to cross at least one at the red, which I think a majority of cyclists and some pedestrians do.

      I will submit on this too.

      1. Several million of the Beach Road costs went to high-quality footpaths and civic improvments like planters, benches, high quality pavers etc… – wasn’t coming out of the cycling budget, but out of the targeted rate. You can still argue whether it was worth it, but it wasn’t all “spending up of the cycling budget” (I think pedestrians did better out of the Beach Road project than cyclists in some ways – by having the cycleway to the north*, several slip lanes got removed).

        *I am not fully sure whether that was really the reason, but I think the switch to the north side of the Beach Road Stage I facility was due to two reasons: A) they were – particularly not ever having done it before – worried about how such a cycleway would interact with driveways, and wanted a route with as few as possible and B) since Stage II wasn’t approved or close to being built yet, they wanted some sort of continous link to another cycleway – thus the link along Tapora to Quay Street Cycleway.

        I know that Beach Road was a delayed quite a bit while they mulled options, and some options scuttled on price – one option staying on the southern side that they considered and then rejected had a cycle overbridge near Anzac Ave…

        1. it would be good if they’d considered the possibility of having sections of cycleway using checkerboard patterns of green paint. This is heavily used in Paris, around intersections in particular, shows the continuity of the cycle lane while letting drivers know they can also use the space. This would be preferable to making detours because of a constraint that they see as insurmountable.

      2. I agree with the Beach Rd and Upper Queen St comments. I don’t use Beach rd much but almost never use the diagonal crossing etc. It feels slow and clunky and unintuitive like many of the existing cycleways in Akl (I often have to use a dedicated cycle route 4 or 5 times before I completely understand how I am supposed to behave and where to look for weird turns etc, contrat that with driving where I’ll often headoff into the unknown in the car with only a quick glance at google maps in advance to give me an idea of major turns to look-out for).

        1. I’ve had the same experience. I’ve ridden Beach Road and that Upper Queen St intersection twice and had no idea how it is meant to be used, where you should cross, when it is ok… This is dangerous design.

          The NZTA spent millions removing the right hand side SH1 Nelson St off ramp for consistency (it was unusual, but with motorway grade signs hardly seemed dangerous). A decade later though, and we are building completely random, unintuitive and badly signposted links for the 2nd class cyclists.

  2. Will submit, Matt. Nelson’s part of my route home and I can also see some accidents occurring with cars turning right at various points. It’s a tough one because that area appears to have been designed all around cars, very other-modes unfriendly.

  3. I agree the diagonal crossing at Victoria St seems odd, but I’m not quite sure why it would slow cyclists down. Assuming the bike phases are as frequent as the northbound road phases it shouldn’t result in a longer wait.

      1. I have been told that cycle phase may run concurrent with some pedestrian phases – though whether that will make it through into the actual operations, we’ll have to see.

  4. Yes to keeping the cycleway on the left on Nelson Street. If they really wanted to use Sturdee St then a crossing from Market Place onto the short link street Pakenham Street East then on the Northern side of Sturdee St would make more sense.

  5. Thanks for the analysis, Matt. I’ll be submitting on this and will request similar changes to what you’ve recommended, especially the stupid diagonal crossing at Victoria Street. It’s marginal on Beach Road where it’s at least possible to go straight ahead if safe, but in this location it’s just inconvenient idiocy.

    There’s a good chance I will basically never use this route if the standard north of Victoria Street ends up being this low.

  6. The feedback submission form refers to Option A and Option B for the intersection of Pitt and Hopetoun. Do you have any guidance on what the difference is and which one is least bad?

    1. Re the Pitt Street – southern end (south of Beresford Sq): Cycle Action raised serious concerns about this – it started as a wide shared path (wider than shown here) which concerned us, among other reasons because that footpath corner is a bus stop, and very busy with foot traffic..

      Now it has been removed totally, and we are told that this would be sorted as part of the K Road cycle lane project. However, we’re worried that K Road cycleways may trail this project for at least 1 year, which means there may not be any facility all the way to the intersection, which we flagged as a major safety concern.

  7. Someone in the cycleway design team seems to have an obsession with shared paths. They crop up here, they crop up on beach road, they crop up on the proposed Northcote safe cycle route. Matt’s suggestions for the viaduct portion of the route seem pretty sensible. The internal roads of the viaduct are already pretty cycle friendly due to low traffic volumes. I think you’d have to plan the route along Customs Street West / Hobson St – pedestrian volumes in the area indicated with dashed blue lines are pretty high, and there isn’t much space to avoid them. I’m still trying to wrap my head around the Pitt St portion of the route.

    1. You can do that – if you provide the roadspace for it, to separate cyclists from peds. It’s gotta come from somewhere

      In this (Nelson Street Stage II) the typical response I got on such matters – asking for more width / longer cycle-only sections was “Can’t do it, need the space/capacity for bus traffic due to the CRL works”.

  8. I can’t believe Auckland Transport are actually considering Lower Hobson Street foot path as shared path.The width will never be sufficient for the number of cyclists and pedestrians that will use the path. And there’s also the issue the path crosses two driveways with next to no visibility of the proposed path!

  9. “Cyclists will be constantly transitioning between shared paths and dedicated cycleways, waiting to cross numerous sets of lights and frequently having to check for turning cars. In short there is no sustained level of service afforded to cyclists” – and exactly the same applies to pedestrians, for whom there are few) if any benefits and many disbenefits by being forced to share the footpath. The increasing number of shared paths also strengthens the impression that many cyclists seem to have that it’s OK to ride on the footpath, further degrading the environment for pedestrians.

    While shared paths may be a necessary evil out of town, in the CBD they should be an absolute no-no – pedstrians should be the top priority. No other mode is fundamental and essential!

  10. I’d completely agree with you Matt that the best thing for the cycleway is just to go straight down Nelson on the left – that makes clear sense. Can’t figure out why AT haven’t done that already. But your dotted line indicating cycling around the edge of the viaduct harbour? I’d have to disagree there – if you have speedy cyclists trying to get to / from work, then they aren’t wanting to go slow as they mix it up with the drinkers slowly perambulating round the edge, looking at the boats etc.

    Wouldn’t it be more logical to provide a clean clear cycle route to the rear of those buildings, before it links up with Quay St again? I’d suggest that having a shared path in front of the waterfront restaurants / boozebarns is just asking for trouble.

    1. Agree with you on not using the viaduct due to heavy foot traffic, but the street behind there (Customs St W) is earmarked for trams and might be a bit too tight for a lane of cars each way, 2 tram lines down the middle, cycle lane and footpaths. Currently there is also nose-in parking on one side and parallel on the other, but I assume those would be coming out to make way for the trams?

      My suggestion would have been to put the cycle lane on the left hand side of Fanshawe Street, between Nelson and Hobson (where there are currently about 8 car parks and a wide footpath) and then down the western side of Hobson Street on that ugly 4 lane-wide overbridge (yes, take 1 lane away from all those cars) then join up to Quay St at the bottom. Wasn’t AT’s plan to get cars off Quay St anyway? If they take a lane away from Hobson St then there would be less incentive for cars to go that way, and cycle lanes wouldn’t be clogging up Sturdee with crossings and shared paths, etc.

      And I say it WOULD have been my suggestion, but I wasn’t given the option to discuss that in the AT brochure that came out. They only wanted to know what I thought about one tiny little bit if Hopetoun St and Pitt St. It kind of insinuated they had already decided everything else about this project and they couldn’t make up their mind on how to get the cycle land across one little intersection!

    2. If you look at the last image, how stupid is it that they want to put a cycle box on the left-turn lane coming out of Hopetoun St? Why not just have it join onto the footpath if they’re so damn trigger-happy about making shared spaces? But no, instead of cycling on the footpath for a mere 5m, you have to wait until you get a green traffic light before entering Pitt St.

  11. I’ve submitted.

    Going downhill on Nelson I’ll never use the diagonal and Sturdee – straight ahead to Market place is much much faster, especially if you get the green lights while you have momentum. Turning right would dramatically magnify the danger though – if you go straight then no cars can cut you off. The pedestrian crossing is welcome, but too infrequent to be useful versus traffic lights.

    I cycle down Market and around the Viaduct frequently. It can get busy in the Viaduct but there is generally plenty of space to meander around pedestrians. And it’s a lovely ride, which we should be encouraging. The Sturdee street option seems destined to be scary in practice, and given the tiny path, has a very real chance of causing a fatality in my opinion.

    I also suggested banning heavy vehicles (trucks going to the port) from the area. They have no reason to be there and are freakishly dangerous, especially when going through red lights, sadly not uncommon.

    1. I find the Viaduct to be annoyingly narrow and often crowded for cycling, there certainly isn;t enough space there to encourage what could be a large number of cyclists in that direction (the real bottleneck is that eastern-most path of the Viaduct starting at soul bar).

      So IMHO the customs st/lower hobson option is the better one.

  12. Is part of the justification for the diagonal crossing that they actively want to prevent cyclists going on the main Nelson green phase? Being NZ, I’m sure some road designer would be worried about turning cars having to give way to cyclists going straight through in both directions if the cyclists were to the left.

    It is a rather unusual situation for car drivers to confront, a vehicle heading towards you through an intersection on the left, and generally having 2-way cycle ways on the right on one way roads seems more intuitive.

    1. Didn’t actually think of it that way. While it may be a factor, I think it isn’t – because further down along Nelson (like at Wellesley Street West) we will have the situation you mention (though of course we’ll have to see the final signal phasing in operation to see what they did to avoid the potential risk you mentioned).

  13. Can someone convince me that bi-directional cycleways are a good idea in the CBD? I don’t see any evidence. They make sense where there is nothing (ie passing through), but in the city center you’re cutting off access to half the street. See: Beach Road and the much vaunted Vancouver City cycleways (eg Hornby) – you can’t GET to anything, all they are good for is getting through areas. That’s great if you’re commuting from West Auckland, but no good for someone living in the various apartment blocks not connected to the cycle way.

    Even if you argue that one half has better access, it doesn’t really, because if you’re on the inside lane, you can’t just stop and hop off if it’s busy, blocking your own lane waiting for a gap from oncoming traffic… This (http://farm6.static.flickr.com/5682/21101652064_65df39b405_o.jpg|) is my local shopping street – you can ride both ways and pull over wherever you want. even though it’s shared with cars (one way) i’d choose it every time over bidirectional lanes.

    1. While I agree with some of your comments, Nelson Street is probably one of the best places IF you are going to have two-ways. Why? Well, apart from already being all signalised, and having few to almost no driveways, adding it certainly doesn’t make anything harder to cross – in fact, it will reduce the crossing width by one lane.

      Agree that it would be the wrong thing for a street like K Road – which is great to see that AT is NOT going for that kind of design there.

      1. I’m just concerned that the bidirectionals are being applied as a default without consideration for local access, but I’m glad to hear K’rd isn’t bidirectional. Just because nelson street sucks now doesn’t mean it always will – the cycle lane will bring people to the area (rather than cars through it), but now only on one side.

        Why not bidirectional on both sides of the street? 🙂

        1. Shush! The first rule of the all-powerful bike lobby is that you don’t talk about the secret world domination plans!

  14. The problem in Lower Hobson Street is that bloody flyover; it’s a shocker. It completely ruins what might otherwise be a pleasant part of town.

  15. I agree with Matt’s Comments.

    Should the Pitt Street design have marking and signals for the Stop lights outside the Fire and Ambulance stations, Not knowing the detail of the regulations, are they required for the cycle lanes as well as the road? While I must admit most Auckland traffic ignores them, they are still Stop signals. I am always dismayed at the number people who think it a good idea to rush in front of fire and ambulance service vehicles when they have their lights and sirens on.

    I am surprised at the proposal to build out the left tun at Pitt Street and Hopetoun intersection given this is used by Ambulance and Fire Services in Pitt Street when heading to Ponsonby. If was a Ponsonby resident I would not be happy in a proposal that delayed the arrival of an ambulance or fire engine to an emergency.

    The island at Custom Street West and Lower Hobson Street can get very busy during peak commuting hours so it would be much better if the route as Matt suggests goes via Market Place which would be more pleasant route.

    1. Wouldn’t that argument apply for ANY slip lane? Under that argument, we would have to keep all left turn slips, especially around ambulance stations. Also, that left slip gets blocked as soon as 2-3 cars queue at the signals, so I doubt it actually adds that much. In an emergency situation, ambulances can still put on the horns and go around traffic. Admittedly not quite as convenient, but as I said, I would argue the difference would often be minimal.

    2. I like the left turn ban at Pitt/Vincent. Emergency vehicles should still be able to get around when needed, but with no left turn it means the cyclists should get long greens. The other option just leaves them waiting forever.

      As for Nelson stage 2, it looks like a disaster, but I can understand why they avoided the Viaduct, because after Market road there really isn’t much of a path to put in anywhere though there.

    1. Call me a cynic, or low ambition, but adding that proposal to the design would probably delay the project by 6-12 months until it finally gets approved. Pitt Street was supposed to be part of Nelson Street Stage I, so it is already delayed by about a year to what was planned originally. I’m happy for partial improvements to come faster – perfection is the enemy of good.

      That said, I am very unhappy with the lack of ANYTHING currently proposed between K Road and Beresford Square. THAT is a major issue to me.

  16. This is a joke. I thought we had seen the back of this nonsense with the new focus on cycleways. The designers need to start with what is needed for a decent cycleway and footpaths and work backwards from there to design the rest of the street. It is the CBD afterall.

    1. Sigh. You are dead wrong. But please, do tell us all how “every corner is a hazard” without having looked at the detail of the plans, when the tightest corners on the route seem to have a radius of some 6-7m on the inside (do you even know what that looks like in practice?) Or when the route adds a few hundred meters on a multi-kilometre ride for most people, yet avoids numerous traffic lights and some of the worst roads in Auckland. I’m sure you’d prefer the straight line through the new tunnel.

      Gosh, why do I even read the comments – so easy for people to simply go negative. Yes, Auckland is shit, and getting shitter by the day, because everyone doing something wants to do a bad job and hates you. Happy now?

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