Auckland Transport have announced they’re installing some interim safety measures at one of the most dangerous intersections in the entire country, the notorious Tamaki Dr/Ngapipi Dr intersection. The changes are hoped to improve things until they can do a proper upgrade on it. The road also happens to be the busiest road in Auckland at least for cycling.
Road surface lights with sensors are just some of the traffic calming measures that have been installed at the corner of Tamaki Drive and Ngapipi Dr to improve safety for all road users.
The lights, one of the first times they’ve been used in Auckland, will illuminate to warn drivers that a cyclist is approaching.
In addition, the left turn from Ngapipi Dr into Tamaki Drive now has new road markings and a new recommended speed of 25km/h.
The traffic calming measures are an interim solution ahead of the overall intersection safety upgrade providing traffic signals at the intersection.
This project is expected to start towards the end of this year.
The interim solution will make it safer to cycle on Auckland’s busiest cycle route says Auckland Transport’s Cycling and Walking manager Kathryn King.
“We have a lot of people now choosing to cycle into the city for work and study. On this intersection, people cycling into the city end up in between two general traffic lanes and have to merge with traffic turning left into Tamaki Drive from Ngapipi Road, and these measures will make it safer,” she says.
Bike Auckland chair Barbara Cuthbert says it’s great to see this interim work for this important intersection.
“As well as slowing traffic, we hope the lights and new signage will remind drivers to look out for people on bikes and to merge with care,” she says.
While it is good to see AT putting in some interim improvements, they are really ambulance at the bottom of the cliff stuff. To see how bad the situation can be, this video from our friends at Bike Auckland is useful, their post on the interim changes is also good.
The last time we heard anything about a long term solution was late last year when AT confirmed the decision to put a signalised intersection in. The local board had been pushing for a roundabout (which would have been terrible for cyclists) but AT said their modelling showed it would have resulted in long queues as with a constant stream of traffic coming along Tamaki Dr in the mornings, users of Ngapipi would never have been able to get out. Both options would result in AT extending the seawall further out into the harbour.
So it’s a good time to ask what’s happening with the long term fix?
As it happens AT currently have a consent lodged with the council and open to submission to extend that seawall so they can upgrade the intersection. The issue though is that what’s proposed can best be described as a hot mess.
Essentially it looks like someone has designed it is trying to cater for two completely different types of cyclist, the casual person on a bike out for cruise and the high speed road warrior but to me what’s proposed does neither well, for example:
- On the northern side we’ve got the existing cycleway continuing to mix with pedestrians – just with a bit more space.
- We’ve got on-road cycleways for “confident” cyclists but on the Northern Side there are also ramps so those confident cyclists can bypass the lights and race through the pedestrian area if needed.
- On the southern side we’ve got bike lanes that can only be reached after crossing two lanes of traffic.
- There are bike advance boxes galore but also bike crossings.
Instead it seems to me that they should just design one good and high quality facility that caters to all users, after all if they’re widening the seawall to the extent shown there is a heap of space available. Do it right and if Jacobs can’t do the job (which based on this they clearly can’t), then perhaps it’s time to get in some friendly Dutch or Danish designers/engineers who can*.
While also briefly digging through the consent documents I also came across this version of the design. It seems to suggest that one of the reasons for so much width is so that AT has future space should the wish to widen the road.
* I’m sure there are many others who could also design this better.