It doesn’t seem to take much to get residents along the Devonport Peninsula to quickly cursing Lake Rd and over the years I’ve seen many comments across all forms of media and politicians calling for the road to be upgraded as a priority – and by upgraded the implication is for it to be widened. One such example is below from a month ago.
But Devonport-Takapuna Local Board member Jan O’Connor said Belmont was not an apartment area.
Building that number of extra homes would have a major impact on the already congested Lake Rd, the only route in and out of the peninsula, O’Connor said.
“Our board has really opposed any redevelopment until the Lake Road issue is addressed,” she said.
“It’s been like this for many years, it’s not something that’s just cropped up.”
Local residents Lesley and Myles Opie said the old navy housing area was a “shambles” and needed upgrading, but over 300 new homes would create unmanageable traffic.
“It’s going to be a massive increase in cars,” Myles Opie said.
As an aside, the 300-350 homes Ngati Whatua plan to build would represent just a ~3.5% increase over what’s on the peninsula now. Compared to the levels of growth in many other parts of the city that’s a tiny change. There is also not a huge amount of growth allowed for within the Proposed Auckland Unitary Plan.
A lot of the commenters have also blamed the painted cycle lanes for causing congestion problems on Lake Rd even though the addition of lanes in the late 2000’s didn’t remove any vehicle lanes.
Those hoping for their own personal expressway up the peninsula are likely to be disappointed though if Auckland Transport’s plans for the corridor go ahead. They are about to start an Indicative Business Case to look at improvements along Lake Rd and that will build on the work already undertaken for the Corridor Management Plan which was completed in December 2014.
For some reason AT don’t publish their Corridor Management Plans (CMP) but they should be public in my view. However, the Lake Rd CMP was included in the agenda (27MB) for a meeting of the Devonport-Takapuna Local Board last month (unfortunately due to the way the document is uploaded the images are low quality and can be difficult to read). CMPs incorporate a wide range of factors to create a 30 year strategic management plan including what if any changes might be made.
My first thought is well done AT (and consultants), the vision is fantastic and exactly the kind of thinking that is needed across so much of our urban area. So what does the Lake Rd CMP say?
The network role of the corridor was determined through a workshop process with technical stakeholders drawn from Auckland Transport, Auckland Council and the NZ Transport Agency.
Cyclists and pedestrians have been identified as the highest priority along the entire length of the corridor given the existing popularity for cycling and walking for recreation and commuting purposes to work and schools, their potential for growth and strategic policies requiring their increased support.
Public Transport has been recognised also as a high priority along the northern half of Lake Road, given its future use as a frequent bus route and the ability for this mode to increase the person carrying capacity of the corridor. South of old Lake Road this priority drops back to low as this section of Lake Road services few buses (and no frequent route).
Traffic has been identified as medium priority along the length of the corridor. This level is not so much a reflection of existing or future demand, but rather a strategic choice to provide greater focus and support for active modes and public transport to maximise the people moving capacity of the corridor.
Freight is generally identified as low priority as there are comparative minor levels of industrial and commercial activity along the peninsula.
I’ll cover the modes a little more shortly but first here are some demand forecasts for the peninsula over 30 years.
Population and employment growth are far lower on than for the rest of Auckland. According to Stats NZ there are about 27,000 on the peninsula and there is expected to be less than 10% growth over 30 years.
PT and Active modes are also expected to grow at a much faster rate than general traffic – although they start from lower levels.
Here are the strategies for each mode.
They say “a significant proportion of the land is relatively flat and with a well-connected grid of side streets in comparison to many other parts of Auckland” and that there are a wide range of destinations that are often in a short proximity to each other and so highly walkable. The plan includes increasing the frequency and quality of crossing opportunities, widened footpaths where there are current deficiencies, removal of shared paths where separated cycle-lanes can be installed and improved amenity elements (tree planting etc.)
AT have recognised that the painted cycle lanes are not great for many people who may want to bike such as those less confident on the road and children. They are proposing to substantially improve them including separating them from traffic where possible.
Public transport will be improved through high quality, better spaced and located stops and transit lanes where possible. While not part of the Lake Rd CMP, the map includes a potential bus bridge across Upper Shoal Bay connecting Akoranga to Takapuna which comes from a previous study into transport for Takapuna but they say would be relevant for the Lake Rd CMP.
General Traffic, freight and parking:
Due to the focus on active and PT modes there is very little suggested to change conditions for general traffic. They say that a substantial upgrade to traffic capacity such as four laning the section between Jutland Road and Bayswater Ave is unlikely to be appropriate, citing the high cost relative to benefits as well as the impacts on other modes and urban amenity.
Lake Rd already has low levels of on street parking. The CMP says it recommends retaining parking on the street through the Belmont local centre to “provide support to the economic viability and success of this local centre” but also say the design needs to be balanced with the objective of achieving continuous cycle lanes through Belmont shops junction.
Urban Design amenity and place-making:
They say that while some parts of Lake Rd have retained their heritage landscape qualities, the rest of Lake Rd would benefit from regular street tree planting although that needs to avoid compromising the footpath width. They also say it would bring a number of benefits transport-wise such as visually narrowing the street corridor, thereby slowing traffic and providing a buffering for footpaths and potentially cycle lanes from moving traffic. Trees would also enhance residential property values and the local centre functions at Hauraki corner and Belmont Shops.
The CMP divides up Lake Rd into six distinctive segments each with its own strategy. The preferred spatial allocations for each segment are also shown.
Segment A – Esmonde Rd to Jutland Rd
Segment B – Jutland Rd to Bayswater Ave
Segment C – Bayswater Ave to old Lake Rd
Segment D – Old Lake Rd to Seabreeze Rd
Segment E – Seabreeze Rd to Ariho Tce
Segment F – Ariho Tce to Albert Rd
Sections B-D are all essentially the same and an potential alternative version for them is below. The CMP says this would have greater benefits for walkers and cyclists plus urban amenity but would also likely have higher costs due to requiring kerbs, drainage and other utilities to be moved.
At the Belmont shops the CMP gives two potential plans for how to improve either bikes or buses. Both would see the slip lanes removed and the angle parking on the eastern side of the road replaced by parallel parking. The differences between the two are both south of Bayswater Ave, one having a transit lane with a shared path and one having a single lane with a protected cycle lane.
Overall the CMP looks great and would really help in turning Lake Rd into a complete St that catered for everyone.
As mentioned AT are about to start an indicative business case which will build on the CMP. This week the local board will decide on its feedback on the scope for it, the main components of which are listed as:
- assessment of potential transit lanes to improve people-carrying capacity of Lake Road;
- assessment of better pedestrian and cycle facilities within the peninsula to encourage more short trips by foot or bike;
- analysis of intersection improvements to optimise traffic flows within the peninsula; and
- analysis on travel behaviour change opportunities, to reduce and better manage bulk movements within the peninsula.
Given there’s so much else that needs to be done around the region, much of it in areas with far higher growth I’m not sure of the priority of upgrading Lake Rd but at least the thinking on what would be done is heading in the right direction, perhaps just not quite the direction some locals might expect.