Karangahape Rd has long been one of Auckland’s most iconic streets and also one of the most important from a transport perspective, with a history stretching back to pre-European times.
In the first half of the 20th century it was one of Auckland’s premier shopping districts but over the second half it declined, in part due to the central motorway junction that cut through the area. The area has been making a comeback though with a culture all of its own. And once the City Rail link has been completed it will be teeming with even more streaming out of the K Rd station – although it would be even better if Auckland Transport built it properly with the Beresford Square entrance constructed at the same time.
After what feels like a very long gestation period, Auckland Transport are finally formally consulting on the Karangahape Rd Enhancement Project which among other things, will see safe, separated bike lanes added to what is already a popular and important route into and through the city. It is of course also an important walking route and a key bus route, serving buses from the west. In the future it could also be served by light rail from Dominion Rd.
As is normal with making street changes, some of the most nervous about change tend to be the retailers. To date the business association have been supportive of making improvements. As part of the project, AT conducted some research looking how people travel to the area and the results matched similar surveys done elsewhere. Businesses on the street thought that about 41% of their customers drove to the area yet when customers were asked that number was just 17%
The project has been split into four sections, each with different proposed solutions
Ponsonby Rd to Pitt St
This will see the proposed protected cycle lanes on Gt North Rd carried on through a more permanent and attractive implantation that will include planting and rain gardens to manage stormwater. There are also bus lanes but they will revert to parking in the off peak (AT say hours could be extended in the future). It will require the existing pedestrian build-outs to be removed and the trees relocated though. There will also be less clutter on the footpaths as furniture like street poles will be moved to the cycle lane separator. On side streets there will be pedestrian build-outs to narrow them and reduce speed.
K Rd bridge
This is a tricky section being more constrained – although the bridge is quite wide. There are also bus stops on the bridge which were rebuilt a few years ago and take up a lot of the limited space dedicated to pedestrians. AT say they’re looking at a couple of options but at the least they are proposing to move the shelters closer to the road to create more space for people and bikes behind the shelters. They also say they are investigating whether they need to have offline bus stops because if they don’t it allows for even more space for pedestrians. This seems similar to the issue with bus stops on Albert St.
The options with and without offline bus stops are both shown in the image below
Pitt St to Queen St
AT are going for a temporary solution here with a more permanent one in about 10 years time. That will mean after the CRL is completed and closer to the time when Light Rail might be being constructed. They want to use planters to trial different road layouts, such as for special events. Some earlier suggestions we’ve seen have included narrowing the road down to just two lanes with very wide footpaths to allow for more people space. Like the Ponsonby to Pitt St section, this will require the removal of the pedestrian built outs and the relocation of the existing trees. The current proposed design includes retaining the on-street parking during the off peak.
Queen St to Symonds St
ATs proposed solution for this section is similar to the western end of Quay St and the cycle lane will be raised to be level with the footpath. On the southern side next to the cemetery this will mean the footpath will be slightly reduced.
Upper Queen St
People on Bikes coming from the NW Cycleway will be able to access the Karangahape Rd cycle lanes via some new separated cyclelanes being added to Upper Queen St on either side. These lanes replace the painted median that currently exists so doesn’t affect any traffic lanes or on-street parking.
Overall the proposals look great so make sure you submit supporting them so they can become a reality.