Auckland Transport are really picking up the pace on their cycleway projects – which they have to do if they want to have any chance of making the most of the governments Urban Cycleway Fund – and are today starting consultation a cycleway on Quay St. The stretch from Queen St to Lower Hobson St is possibly the busiest place in all of Auckland for bikes a dedicated cycleway will make things much better for both those on bikes and those on foot.
The project will see a 3m protected two way cycleway built along most of the northern side of Quay St from the Lower Hobson St intersection through to Plumber St – I’ll talk about the exception to this in more detail later in the post. This cycleway is actually an interim solution for around a decade until a more permanent solution is created when Quay St is made more people friendly (after the CRL is finished). As such it will be a bit of a mix with the cycleway separated by a rubber kerbs, some sections where the path is raised to the same height as footpath and one section of shared path. Due to how busy the area is with bikes and how key it is for many bike movements it was felt the project couldn’t afford wait till the larger Quay St project to happen hence why they’re pushing it now.
AT say the reason for the cycleway being on the Northern side is:
We have chosen the northern side of Quay Street as this keeps the cycleway clear of cars turning into side streets and means less of a stop-start journey for What are the proposed changes? At the intersection with Lower Hobson Street, the cycleway sits flush with the footpath people on bikes. We can also keep traffic light phasing on Quay Street similar to the current phasing.
To make space for the cycleway AT will be removing the planted median islands to the west of Queen St and combining some of the dedicated right turn lanes with the lanes going straight.
The benefits AT list are:
- Connects with the ferry terminal and with cycle routes along Nelson Street, Beach Road and Auckland’s waterfront.
- Designed for people of all ages and abilities. • An interim step towards the long-term transformation of Quay Street and the water’s edge.
- Makes Quay Street a more pleasant walking experience, by shifting bikes onto the cycleway.
- Helps create a city centre in which people feel safer and more confident walking and cycling.
- Along with improvements to bus and train services, provides more travel options into the city, particularly during construction of CityRail Link.
- Helps achieve our target of a 30% increase in cycle journeys within Auckland by 2019.
- Supports the different ways in which Quay Street is accessed and used.
- Improves travel options around the city for local residents, now one of the most densely populated parts of the country.
- Supports the social benefits of cycling – improvements to health, a reduction in household costs and a cleaner environment.
Below are the diagrams of what is proposed (click to enlarge)
Section 1 starts off from the Lower Hobson St intersection. As the Nelson St Stage 2 section is still under review I guess it’s possible that the crossings could change. The cycleway is raised to be level with the footpath however hopefully with it being on the south of the trees it will mean that pedestrians stay out of it.
Section 2 shifts to a cycleway at road level but protected by kerbs.. You can also see the accessway with a blue line where low level mountable kerbs – like was used on the first stage of Beach Rd.
Section 3 is where things get odd. It appears that the cycleway narrows outside the ferry building before eventually moving back to a shared path in front of Queens Wharf. This is for a number of reasons which I’ll explain later.
Section 6 will see the removal of some oddly placed carparks and again it looks like the cycleway narrows just before the end.
Section 7 has the cycleway moves to being alongside the footpath and like section just to the east of the lower Hobson St intersection. It’s unclear what AT will do to prevent or restrict people from walking in the cycle lane.
Overall I think this cycleway will be very popular and it’s good that AT are progressing it however I have a serious concern for the section around Queens Wharf where it goes back to a shared path. This probably wouldn’t be so much of an issue if it was in some of the eastern sections but it is here as that’s where a lot of people are. AT have said there are four reasons for doing this.
This change has been necessary due to the following constraints that leave no space for an on-road cycleway:
- The requirement for a dedicated right turn traffic lane into Commerce Street to provide for Skybus movements
- The requirement for a dedicated right turn traffic lane into Queens Wharf to provide for Skybus and tour coach movements
- Retaining the existing Explorer Bus stop on the northern side of Quay Street
- Retaining the existing bus parking and Pay & Display parking on the southern side of Quay St
These have to be some of the four weakest excuses I’ve heard for not doing something properly (even though it’s only an interim solution. Lets step through them.
- So because of the CRL works are closing lower Queen St and instead of just shifting the Skybus stop from outside the ferry terminal someone at AT has decided we need to keep it where it is thereby requiring extra road space and preventing a dedicated cycleway. Absurd doesn’t begin to describe it. Note: I understand from conversations in the past they have some long term deal to be outside the Ferry Terminal but surely that can be changed.
- The same goes for the Explorer Bus which may be even worse. The bus only runs once every 30 minutes in summer and doesn’t even start till after 9am and finishes at 5pm. By in large it only runs off peak so why does it need an offline stop. Perhaps instead AT should just merge the bus stop within one of the general traffic lanes and just have a bit of a wider island for passengers to use (i.e. send bikes behind the bus stop.
- As for the last comment, since when is bus lay over parking and pay and display the highest priority on our waterfront. It’s insane that those few places are being retained ahead of a cycleway and really makes you wonder who in AT is putting their retention as a requirement.
Sometimes it really feels like we are constantly taking two steps forward and one step back with some of this stuff.
Consultation is open till 11 December at www.AT.govt.nz/haveyoursay
There will also be an information day on Thursday 26 November from 6pm to 8pm in the Cloud.