While we’re on the topic of silly things said in the media, there was another one late last week on Radio NZs The Panel. In the section where the panellists can raise a topic of their own Michelle Boag raised the issue of the Nelson St cycleway.

Or listen here

Nelson St Cycleway visualisation

She is incredulous at Auckland Transport for what she says is deliberately causing congestion by adding a cycle lane to Nelson St. Here are a couple of thoughts about her rant

As mentioned this morning in the busy morning peak Nelson St moves about 6,000 people per hour – this will drop off the further north you go. At its widest points around intersections the road has up to six traffic lanes while in other places it has five lanes and a parking lane. This is more than enough space for the amount of traffic that the road carries – in part due because there are only so many people that can exit the motorway at any one time. Even the times I’ve been in a car in the morning peak I can’t recall a time when Nelson St was congested

Taking some space for a protected cycle lane is unlikely to have much impact on the traffic lanes beside it with the biggest disruption likely to be caused by the safety procedures needed for the construction than the cycleway itself. In saying that the old phrase “you’re not stuck in traffic, you are traffic” springs to mind.

One of the points of projects like the Nelson St cycleway is to give people a realistic choice how they get around. The more people cycling and using the new cycleway the fewer there may be on the road.

She talks about the old off-ramp but says she doesn’t know where the cycleway goes. Perhaps when she was asking Auckland Transport what the project was she should have asked about this aspect too.

One aspect she may not be aware of is the strong political support for the project from the government. In fact the project launch was also where they launched the first round of projects as part of their urban cycleway fund.

The comments also from Dr Brian Edwards were a bit odd. He talked about the need to keep cyclists and vehicles separate which is of course exactly what this project is designed to do.

For Michelle at least perhaps and extra five minutes spent googling may have saved her so much angst.

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  1. I remember one of NZTA’s top Auckland managers on one of our site visits shaking his head and saying “there so much capacity on Nelson Street”. That was after modelling had been done. And that is from an agency which normally is dreadfully afraid of causing queueback onto their motorways. Pretty sure sign its not going to be a biggie.

        1. The changes for car traffic have been made a while ago, eg the left hand lane is closed, and no more left turn slip lane into Victoria Street.

          But it’s not open yet, I think it will open for bicyclists in December.

    1. Yeah Frank, everyone born between certain years always behave and think exactly the same. Just as all people with brown skin do and people with a vagina: well we all know how all those people behave don’t we? Every single one of them.

      1. I’m not saying all baby boomers are bad just that there seems to be a theme of particularly out of touch baby boomers going on the panel and just being confused at how the world has changed. Of course occasionally there is someone good on the panel – like Matt L.

    2. With age comes wisdom – something lacking in the youth who are full of degrees and theory and bugger all experience. Hence ‘utopian’ theoretical solutions which often cause more problems.

      1. With age comes wisdom? I think you’ll find that the older and wiser generation got us in this mess in the first place. Doubling down on the cause of the mess they created isn’t likely to solve it.

  2. I’m loathe to overspend ratepayers money on fancy schmancy cycleways (Beach Road) but I’m all in favour of cycleways like this – allbeit I think it gets messy behind this CGI photo where the cycleway crosses diagonally over Victoria Street to move to the other side of Nelson St (or is that happening down at the Fanshawe St end now – have AT made a decision?)
    Anyway, two great examples of separated cycleways I saw in NY in June:


    I don’t think you’d see what we got on Carlton Gore Rd happening in NYC.

    1. Nah, not been decided yet, as per what we were told last Friday. They are looking at whether they can keep it on the west side up to Fanshawe. They need to resolve whether they can be hapy with capacity impacts of removing / signalising the left-turn slip lane at the bottom, and the steep gradients for left-turning trucks that might result if removed.

  3. I always get a sinking feeling in my stomach when I hear commentators like Brian Edwards start by referring to people on bicycles as “these people”… Not surprisingly it all goes downhill from there.

    1. I thought that was worse than what Michelle Boag was going on about. Substitute any other minority in for cyclists and see how it sounds.

      1. I listened to what he was saying again he was actually providing a pretty sound rationale FOR building a separated cycle lane. I’m sure he would be surprised he was doing so as he was trying his best to say that bikes are not traffic.

        1. Absolutely, he said cyclists and cars shouldn’t mix, it’s sad that this opinion masquerading as factoids gets broadcast

  4. The cycle lane is a good thing .PROBLEM IS THE PRODUCTS BEEN USED TO MARK THEM IS NOT A GOOD THING . This is due to health and safety not been used when applying the products .MBA has a dangous classification . From what we have seen is guys are not using respirators .the product 2hen in wet mode is causing damage to the environment. Auckland council don’t do anything to stop the issues

    1. Need to do some research on this, which product are you referring to particularly? I’m assuming your talking about the epoxy coating where the danger is involved with the mixing? My understanding is they actually use an bitumen product before adding the colouring (crushed glass) anti skid product? Could be wrong here but pretty sure respiratory equipment is not actually required during application of the product. Also I’m sure the environmental issues actually relate to the bitumen or epoxy product, not the colouring/anti skid. Again if you can point to other info on this it would be great.

  5. It’s not the cars that create the congestion, it’s the unused passenger sides of cars driven by single occupant commuters that creates the gridlock. The whole mess is easily resolved by offering commuters the choice to drive single-width, weather-protected, highway-capable, four wheeled leased cars with accompanied segregated narrow lanes. Bike-sharing is good for traffic congestion mitigation not because it doesn’t have a motor but for the simple fact it’s single-widthed. This is is avery simple concept that is certain to completely revolutionize transportation. The only question is how soon it will happen.

    1. You can then link all these single occupant vehicles together with a single motor, have one driver so the occupants can spend their time relaxing, they’d have their own lane to increase efficiency and maybe even put them on tracks. The options are limitless!

      1. Your solution doesn’t solve first and last mile issue, Andrew, and that’s why current buses and trains aren’t more popular in the suburbs. I agree that buses in bus rapid transit lanes should be single-width though. Anything city or suburban vehicle that has side by side seating is poor design, including bicycles, motorcycles with side cars, automobiles, and buses.

        1. The first and last mile issue is best addressed by the use of legs. OK, I know not everyone can manage that, but if those that were capable actually bothered to walk a reasonable amount then they’d discover just how usable PT is. Instead it is somehow preferable to some to endure congestion in order to drive from door to door to get to work, and then drive door to door to go the the gym to get some exercise. Or if you really want an independent point-to-point transport solution, get on your bike.

        1. Can you please refer us to where these vehicles are being used right now in the real world.

          I am not against the idea, I just can’t see people leasing another vehicle so they can drive to work. These might be good as shared driver less vehicles some time in the future.

          I put it in the same category as car pooling, fantastic theory that has never worked anywhere to actually make a difference.

        2. Car pooliing is quite popular at my work. But it’s not for congestion reduction. It’s because we have a number of employees who all know each other living in a town 50 kms away from our workplace who have organised themselves a roster and they do it to reduce transport costs.

        3. As has been posted before, the narrow Tango is categorized as a kit car in the US and twelve have been sold. All of those sold are driven on the roads regularly. Sadly, manufacturing more than one automobile in the US requires enormous amounts of capital for formal safety certification. Unfortunately, Toa Greening’s initial attempt to set up a microcar build and lease program in New Zealand didn’t pan out, of course. It’s too bad, because I think that auto manufacturing in NZ would have allowed 500 manufactured before formal full-blown certification would be required. The good news for those supporting microcar commuting is that Tangos are on the roads today, saving lots of time for commuters by lane-splitting, and IBM People for Smarter Cities promotes them as a congestion resolver. In Chicago where I live, the bus and shared van government entity called Pace recently requested $2.3 Billion for suburban bus rapid transit. http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/ct-pace-plan-met-20150121-story.html With that kind of money, Pace could set up the thin car and lane system that IBM People for Smarter Cities proposes. Beyond that, there’s also the possibility that narrow cars could be self-driving as well, which opens up many other options as well.

        4. So to summarise your answer – nowhere. Sorry, 12 people in the USA.

          Meanwhile, 40% of people in Amsterdam and Munster, 25% of people on Copenhagen and 60% of people in Groningen travel to work/school by bicycle. Those are real world examples that are happening right now.

          We don’t need a different vehicle. We need a different street environment.

        1. I’ve had a motorcycle for a while, and I would definitely not split lanes in traffic on the motorway – even slowly moving traffic as in your video. It leaves you right in people’s blind spot if they suddenly decide to change lanes.

          Even though a skinny car has a frame around you, it’s still not appealing to run the risk of having it smashed up every morning.

          More generally, when I’m on a motorbike at speed I *prefer* to have lots of room around me. So while in principle I could share the lane with three other bikies, in practice I would almost never want to do that, because it decreases my room to manoeuvre if something unexpected happens. I would do the exact same thing at the wheel of a skinny car.

          From a space perspective, motorcycles offer advantages at intersections – queues are shorter and faster to clear – and for parking – less space is required to store them. Neither of which reduces congestion significantly.

        2. If you choose to drive your motorbike like a car then it won’t reduce traffic significantly but others – me included – take advantage of their narrowness. Lane-splitting can easily be done safely – at the right speed. Slow enough to hold back if someone ahead of you changes lanes but fast enough that if the car next to you starts to move – you are ahead of them before they reach you. I’ve done it for years. I’ve been hit at intersections on a pushbike and fallen off a motorbike on a diesel spill but never had a problem lane-splitting. And it’s legal. In fact it’s something you are assessed on in the MoT’s new competency based motorcycle training syllabus, where they helpfully define lane-splitting as moving between lines of moving traffic, and filtering a moving between lines of stationary traffic.

        1. A friend of mine just bought an electric bike and can now commute from Kingsland in 12 minutes. Or is Kingsland not the suburbs?

          If there were facilities to carry bikes on trains even at peak that would allow people to use it for first/last 3 kms. Most Aucklanders live within 3kms of a train station.

          These are solutions that actually work right now in the real world.

        2. Yes, scooters and motorbikes are workable and could very much resolve traffic congestion. However, it may be that the compromise of no weather protection, no safety protection, and riding on two wheels may be too great a leap for most people to switch to motorcycles or scooters. The question becomes when does a Transportation Dept. finance building and leasing narrow cars. I agree with IBM People for Smarter Cities that a single-width car would appeal to side by side seated car commuters enough for strong consideration once people saw those in the thin cars passing by them during heavy commute traffic. It’s all speculative, but more thin cars on the roads would aid bicycles, motorcycles, and scooters. It’s certainly the case that a thin car parked to the curb would almost entirely eliminate the threat of dooring.

        3. Just to be clear, I was not referring to scooters or motorbikes. I am talking about an electric bicycle. One that can be carried on trains or ferries.

          In that way they are ideal for the first/last 3km ride to/from a train/ferry station.

          Weather doesn’t seem to deter cyclists in Northern Europe as long as they have decent separate infrastructure. Are Kiwis less robust than them?

      1. Exactly Jonty spatial urban geometry beautifully shown there. Cars of any dimension can’t compete with that, or the power of underground rail for spatially efficient city access, and in terms of emissions, noise, and aesthetics.

        1. That’s just not true, Patrick. Of course narrow cars are better than side by side seated cars for spacial efficiency, and they compete very well with bicycles in their ability to resolve traffic congestion. Imagine all of the bikes in the *gif with this design and segregated bike lanes would have just as much congestion: https://www.google.com/search?q=navy+pier+bicycle+rental&rlz=1C1GKLB_enUS622US622&espv=2&biw=1375&bih=732&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&ved=0CAcQ_AUoAmoVChMIxt6E_5-UyQIVSEAmCh0iKA18&dpr=0.9#imgrc=4DPlxHqTTDsyXM%3A It’s mind boggling that public transport supporters don’t support the redesign of side-by-side seated cars to make them single-width.

        2. “It’s mind boggling that public transport supporters don’t support the redesign of side-by-side seated cars to make them single-width.”

          That’s because there’s nothing to stop people using skinny cars – they can simply go out and buy them tomorrow at a dealership, assuming that people are manufacturing them. I’m not aware of any regulations that would stop people from getting them on the road, if they were interested.

          Public transport is different – the network _has_ to be planned and delivered by government, as it’s not something that an individual can easily get started. In that respect, it’s very similar to the provision of road and rail networks – or cycle networks, for that matter. In those areas, there is a strong role for public policy, which means that there is also a role for advocates like Transportblog.

          As a general rule, we’re in favour of policies that give people better choices about how to get around. I don’t really see how hectoring people to buy a different type of car fits into that. They’ve already got that choice.

        3. This problem has been solved a long time ago, It’s called “scooters”.

          Also, how narrow can you make a car without compromising on cornering stability?

          And about that GIF, I think that *is* a segregated cycleway. If all those would have been in a “small” car they would still take up way more space than the bicycles.

        4. @Peter Nunns, Thank you for your thoughtful reply, but I respectfully disagree. Advocating for narrow cars and lanes is very much the same as advocating for bike share and bike share lanes. As this link from IBM People for Smarter Cities suggests: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rXCycmCVqD0 In the US, using Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Improvement federal funding for a narrow cars and lanes program would be in the same boat as using them for bus rapid transit or bike sharing funding. Paraphrasing Steve Jobs – it’s all made up. Advocates can choose to support anything they want that makes sense. Suburbs and single occupant commuting aren’t going away. Publicly subsidizing narrow cars and lanes makes a lot more sense than widening roads.

      1. I had a look at their site. In 5 mins I found 5 articles talking about how good cycling is and exactly zero about narrow cars.

        So looks like they mainly agree with me.

        Anybody else to back you up?

        1. Here’s the IBM People for Smarter Cities video link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rXCycmCVqD0

          “Indeed, cycling and walking are more environmentally friendly, however, given the high level of automobile dependency in urban areas, compact (narrow) cars might be a better solution”.

          Two of the people in the US who own Tangos are Sergey Brin and Larry Page. Here’s a video of Tango inventor Rick Woodbury speaking at Google headquarters: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GINWQ0QakV0

          “First I’m going to make a very bold statement and then I’m going to defend it and later you guys can ask questions as well. I believe that there’s a market for about 150,000,000 of these cars right now”.

          Although not directly predicting the popularity of narrow cars, journalist Seth Porges makes the case for different automotive shape design in this article: http://www.forbes.com/sites/sethporges/2014/05/28/why-googles-new-self-driving-cars-could-change-auto-design-as-we-know-it/

          “In short: Electric vehicles only resemble traditional cars because their manufacturers decided against rocking the design boat to much.”

          Although unsucessful in his initial attempts, Auckland’s Toa Greening will be remembered as one of the most influential proponents in the history of narrow commuter vehicles (NCVs) as he created a template for a car share program that can be recreated anywhere in the world.


          Thanks to the transport blog site editors for allowing me this space to discuss this promising technology. Thanks, too, to the thoughtful positive and negative post responders. I look forward to a time where commuters drive NCVs to save driving and parking time, NCVs park facing the curb so that bike riders don’t have to worry about dooring. and NCVs themselves do less damage to the environment as they will be charged by renewable energy.

  6. I stand by Mike the products been used now days are harmful to the environment when they are in gel mode .They also are doing damage to the health of the workers putting it down .No respirators or protection , not good at all ..Michelle you have it wrong the cycle ways are good when they are work like they should be

    1. I suspect you stand by Mike because your are him. At least use a different name, and don’t use the same very distinctive style of writing.

    2. More info please, which product are we specifically talking about. Epoxy or Bitumen product? Or the glass colouring anti skid? Epoxy definitely need respiratory equipment for mixing, but normally application once mixed it’s not needed as much as respiratory equipment is needed to walk down the street.

  7. Why does she get so much oxygen? She’s one person with one opinion like the rest of us.

    Nelson is coming off the motorway. It should be calming traffic. A cycleway will help. Vehicles are coming into contact with others in the city such as pedestrians and cyclists. Time to start looking out for others in this area.

  8. Providing a regular public megaphone for past-their-time egotists like Boag and Edwards is unhelpful. It might get better if media organisations were accountable somehow for spreading lies.

  9. You can tell they haven’t done barely any research on the topic whatsoever, yet they allow themselves to speak about the matter as if they know everything! If they had even the faintest idea of the scope and importance of the project I think their opinions would be slightly different (I hope)…

  10. Does anyone know when the flyover part (Canada St to Nelson St) opens? Is there an official opening before the little people are let loose on it?

  11. Hey let’s not diss Michelle and her mates too much – maybe just enough to keep them biting so by next year they will have totally dissed themselves.

  12. I thought it was a parody for a second before I realised they were serious.

    If there were any argument for one-way roads it’s the fact you can easily stick in more cycle lanes compared with 2-way roads and still maintain capacity. Its the main reason why New York was able to stick so many in over the past decade.

    1. off topic but… if we had more one way roads in residential streets in Ponsonby (using that as an example since it’s my area) it would solve all the problems with residents parking on footpaths because the old roads are so narrow. Anywhere the roads are in a grid system are perfect for making one way (alternating streets). It works just fine in NYC.

  13. I gave Brian Edwards credit for more thoughtful attitude and am surprised at the whole tenor of the program.
    I liked the hosts voice and thought he would not be so uninformed as to let them get away without comment.

  14. I hope I live long enough to see the cyclists able to be treated like they are in the Netherlands. What will that take?
    Is there any way that the programs moderator can be spoken to about this?

    1. Would it be possible to put that link of “Rush Hour in Copenhagen” in here?
      I see something like that as the potential for the lane, it would help to “transform” the movement of people in the city.

    2. Also the pictures of the numbers of people using the street posed in front of cars, buses and light rail as illustrations of congestion. It’d be nice to find a way of getting them all together to refer the NZ Herald to.

  15. What that ‘artists rendering’ photo also fails to show is that the lane next to the cycle lane will also be used for carparking outside of rush hour. That effectively cuts the stretch of road outside the TVNZ building down to two lanes for vehicles. *That* is why you will get the complaints from the likes of Boag – what used to be four lanes for cars is now two, because bikes.

    1. If there is a need for more capacity (and generally there isn’t) then clearly the parked cars are the road use not contributing to movement. As you note in your comment this lane is used at the peak, so in fact is used for movement when demand is higher. Really nothing to see here. Additionally the bike lane (which is a movement lane) takes only one lane not two.

      Sure Boag and Edwards and their like will kvetch, meh, all that achieves is them communicating how out of touch they are increasingly becoming. We are going through a steady shift in that right now; lots of the old guard going at the Herald too.

      Time for another generation to drive the conversation now; for better or worse.

      1. The bike lane takes up two lanes when you factor in the barrier. FWIW I’m fine with the cycle lane, and I think they should all be like this (separated). I do think its weird they put back the streetside carparks, but I suppose if it becomes a problem for vehicle movement they can just remove them later.

    2. You could see from the drawing it was going to create issues.
      You used to be able to get synchronized lights down Nelson St but now have to stop again at Cook St.
      Outside the TVNZ building is a complete shambles. The removal of the free left turn and having a controlled left turn has effectively reduced straight ahead lanes from 4 to 2. The traffic jam here gets really bad here on what used to be a free flowing street.
      Whoever designed and signed off this shambles should be held accountable and a remedy to sort it out be done ASAP.

      There are plenty of examples in Holland and Germany on how to do bike lanes correctly so why do we end up with this ?
      The current strategy of making traffic stop on lights that are on non synchronized lights across the city is absurd. The planners need to get away from making traffic stationary at lights and look at keeping traffic moving to reduce congestion.
      This is an prime example on how to make bike infrastructure http://www.bicycling.com/culture/advocacy/germany-opens-bicycle-only-autobahn

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