Hot on the heels of last weeks flurry of consultations, we now have another one to add the mix and it’s one that could definitely use some help to stop Auckland Transport going rogue with a nonsensical and dangerous plan.

You may recall that back in November, the Albert-Eden Local Board undertook consultation on plans to revitalise the Mt Albert town centre. The plans were decent and included some great changes such as removing the slip lane onto Mt Albert Rd for southbound traffic, but as always, it had some areas that could be improved, particularly related to the lack of bike infrastructure. In February it was announced that overall, the plan had 94% support from respondents with the provision for bikes being the main objection and so the plans were adjusted to include raised cycle lanes the length of the town centre. Here’s what was confirmed at the time.

mt-albert-town-centre-upgrade-feb-16-design

Since then the first part of the plan, the direct connection to the town centre from Mt Albert Train Station was completed.

Now, suddenly, Auckland Transport are back with an unusually short consultation on one aspect of the plan, for northbound on New North Rd, that is completely at odds with the stated goals of the project. It’s worth noting that this is a local board led project, they want Mt Albert to be more people friendly town centre. AT say this about the upgrade

Mt Albert Town Centre upgrade is an Auckland Council and Albert-Eden Local Board joint project that will be delivered by Auckland Transport to revitalise the heart of one of Auckland’s older suburbs. It aims to celebrate its unique character while creating a clean, safe, pleasant and lively environment both day and night that locals can enjoy and take pride in.

There’s not a lot of information online but based on what we’ve experienced in from AT in the past it’s clear from the language what must have happened. Essentially it appears that as the project has progressed, the traffic engineers have got hold of the plans and grabbed their traffic modelling tight like a child clinging to their favourite blanket or toy. The problem with this is we’ve seen over and over again the traffic modelling been proven wrong yet it still gets used, after all the computer saying no to an idea is easier to explain. So when there’s even the slightest hint of inconvenience for car drivers, even if a proposal does all sorts of other wonderful things, the engineers put their foot down. I’ve heard of projects being delayed for months, possibly a year or longer and all at huge cost just to show that a proposal won’t cause the sky to fall.

At issue is how to deal with right hand turns from New North Rd to Mt Albert Rd. They say that all up are around 1,200 right turn movements at the intersection currently. There four options are suggested.

  • Option 1: Right turn at all times
  • Option 2: Right turn banned part of the time
  • Option 3: Right turn banned at all times
  • Option 4: Changed layout with right turn allowed at all times

I’ll cover each of these below but Option 4 is AT’s preferred option.

Option 1: Right turn at all times

This combines the right turn lane with a straight through lane. The issue is AT say the models show a 50% increase in delays in the morning peak and 300% in the evening peak. Something doesn’t seem right with this as in the evenings when most traffic is southbound, why would northbound traffic delay the intersection.

mt-albert-town-centre-dec-16-consultation-option-1

Option 2: Right turn banned part of the time

This would prevent right turns being undertaken during busy times but AT say they don’t actually know how long that would need to be. They say it would also cause confusion for drivers

mt-albert-town-centre-dec-16-consultation-option-2

Option 3: Right turn banned at all times

This option just does away with right turns altogether and surprisingly doing so has some big benefits including reducing intersection delays by 10-30%. It would also have the benefit of having more people use Richardson Rd/Owairaka Ave which would help get some traffic out of the town centre.

mt-albert-town-centre-dec-16-consultation-option-3

Option 4: Changed layout with right turn allowed at all times

As mentioned this is AT’s preferred option as it gives right turn movements a dedicated lane but it does so at the expense of the cycleway which instead stops dead at the bus stop and cyclists are then expected to mix with traffic.

mt-albert-town-centre-dec-16-consultation-option-4

What’s notable about this consultation is not just what AT say but what they don’t say. Nowhere in the consultation do AT talk about the benefits of having a safe bike lanes as part of the solution or what is lost by removing them in option 4. All that is really focused on is having turning options or not. Also not mentioned in the information is the impact on carparking as you can see that the first three options actually retain more carparking than option 4 does due to squeezing in that turning lane. They don’t even mention clearly that option 4 would perform worse than option 3 from a traffic movement perspective.

Just back on the bike lanes, AT say this as one of the benefits of the town centre upgrade.

A safer, more appealing environment for pedestrians, cyclists, commuters, road users and retail and restaurant businesses.

Do they really think that cutting out the bike lanes will make it safer for users. I wonder if the engineers who proposed this daft idea would be prepared to look a parent in the eye and tell them with a straight face that it’s safe for their child to use. These plans will do nothing to get people who aren’t currently brave enough to cycle in the city to try ride a bike.

Putting aside the design for a second, the timing and details of this consultation are also odd. It went up on AT’s website quietly on Friday night and three different dates are listed for when feedback closes. One comment in the timeline section says December 13, the “Have your say” section lists the date as Thursday December 15 while the paper feedback form says Friday December 16. The timeline section also says feedback will be received and analysed while also stating that construction starts in January. That’s got to be a record turnaround time, especially once Christmas and New Year are taken into account so perhaps suggests AT have already decided on the outcome and are only going through the consultation motions to be able to tick a box. In a final bit of poor form, the only way currently visible to make a submission is to print off a form and send it to AT, even though the form itself says you can do it all online.

Overall this appears to be a sham consultation to justify a shoddy option, one that is at odds with the stated goals and visions of the Mayor, Council, Local Board, those who have previously submitted, because it removes more parking probably the retailers and of course it’s even at odds with AT’s own policies and vision.

Hopefully AT can put up an online version of the feedback form today as it’s important we get submissions in to stop their dangerous preferred option. Given Option 3 also improves traffic at the intersection by 10-30% and other options for regional trips already exist via Richardson Rd/Owairaka Ave, it appears Option 3 is probably the best of what has been suggested.

*UPDATE: From AT: page now has online form: https://at.govt.nz/projects-roadworks/mt-albert-town-centre-upgrade/#feedback

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113 comments

  1. As a pedestrian I use that intersection quite regularly. Oddly enough there’s little right turning traffic from New North Road into Mt Albert Road, so I suspect the usual gang of traffic engineers are over-egging that particular part of the pudding. I’d go for option 3, no question. It might also improve pedestrian wait times but, as usual with anything to do with AT, that sort of consideration is well and truly at the bottom of the pile. I can only concur with your observation that this is a box-ticking, sham consultation and I trust the Albert Eden Local Board and AC will raise hell.

  2. Cycle lanes should not be on (or even near) roads, need to be a totally separate route and that’s where all these planning issues and angst arise. When thought is given to the fact that these different forms of transport need entirely separate routes all will be happy.

    1. Richardo, so that means you’d also vote for option 3, as it provides for greater separation between cycle lanes and vehicle traffic?

      Wow – we have consensus!

      1. He’s “concern trolling”. He knows the alternative to having them use road corridors is that they don’t exist at all.

        1. Off the shore of New Zealand’s Mainland, presumably. Although thanks to Christchurch the mainland seems to have an edge on cycling.

    2. Good idea, so like you suggest we should close off Mt Albert to traffic and put them on a total separate bypass route nearby so the don’t have to mix in with pedestrians and cyclists. Maybe we could call this separate dedeciated traffic only route past Mt Albert the Northwestern Motorway?

    3. Cycle lanes needs to be practical for where people want to go.

      Not having cycling options alongside roads, no matter how busy they are, doesn’t quite achieve that.

    4. With you on that one Richard, having the cars on the Northwestern Motorway, which was specifically built for them, and having cycling and pedestrians on New North Rd makes a lot of sense.

    5. Half right – physical separation is great, but the main point of cycling is to access destinations. Which, strangely enough, tend to be adjacent to roads. Fortunately most Auckland road reserves are plenty wide enough to provide space for all modes, as long as you don’t get distracted by unachievable goals like free-flowing traffic at peak times. Like a mirage, it’s always just out of reach, just beyond the next project…

    1. yeah what’s with that? I went to the project page on the AT website, downloaded the feedback form, which then pointed me to the have your say section of the website.

      Nek minut I was on the webiste but couldn’t see anything about Mt Albert or New North Rd.

      Perhaps I am missing something?

    2. This was a last minute response to reaction from the Mt Albert community. They’ve also had a few public meeting consultations over this right hand turn issue. A few people in an uproar over having there right hand turn taken away. This was the compromise I guess to do a public consultation again that’s why it looks so rushed.

  3. Well there’s clearly a pattern here.

    At some level in AT retrograde vehicle traffic priority above all else is running rampant again. Safety and convenience for other road users is again not even being considered. Bike lanes just can’t disappear at intersections; that is where most collisions occur! And certainly not just because some Traffic Engineer thinks four traffic lanes aren’t enough.

    It will take leadership higher up still to fix this. After all these new barely changing and therefore just as unsafe proposed ‘upgrades’ run completely contrary to both Auckland Council and the Minister of Transport’s vision for a transformational increase in cycling mode share in Auckland, which everyone knows can only come from a revolution in actual and perceived safe riding experiences through the provision of dedicated space. Both off-road and on-street.

    Mid level Auckland Transport staff do not get to set policy: Auckland Transport exists to implement Council and Government vision, not to come up with dated designs that undermine it.

    Going Rogue is damn right.

    1. You’re right Patrick. Where’s the likes of Chris Darby or the Mayor or local councillor Cathy Casey (avid bike rider apparently) slamming this kind of bullshit publicly?

    2. “Mid level Auckland Transport staff do not get to set policy: Auckland Transport exists to implement Council and Government vision …”

      Here we have a case where AT is effectively saying to Council “your priorities are not our priorities, so we’re not going to implement your proposal”. Looks like someone, somewhere in AT has substituted their values in place of the values collectively expressed by the local board/Council/NZTA.

      I think this is problematic. Of course there will always be differences in opinion at the margin, but in this case the preferred option represents a significant change from that identified by the local board via public consultation.

      And like Matt points out: It’s not about balancing vehicle travel delays per se, as option c would appear to be even better for vehicles than the one that was preferred by AT. So it’s very much like AT have decided that they just don’t agree with the outcomes of public consultation.

      I can appreciate that there may sometimes be technical reasons for such a disagreement. But when it does you need to be very clear about what those technical reasons are. In this case, nobody is any the wiser as to precisely why AT have landed on a preferred option that is some light years away from what was originally proposed by the local board.

    3. Perhaps all of AT need to be reminded of the Minister’s and Council’s policy:

      https://www.nzta.govt.nz/media-releases/new-funding-a-major-boost-for-urban-cycling-in-auckland/

      The programme, which will be jointly delivered by Auckland Council, the NZ Transport Agency and Auckland Transport, will be used to accelerate key projects over the next three years and help establish cycling as an integral part of Auckland’s transport network in line with the long-term vision set out in the Auckland Plan.

      “Today’s announcement takes the total investment in cycling across Auckland for the next three years to approximately $200 million,” says Mayor Len Brown. It’s a positive step towards the strategic long-term vision for cycling in Auckland.”

      “We congratulate the Government on providing this transformational funding to enable Auckland Council, Auckland Transport and the NZ Transport Agency to jointly speed up the delivery of a world-class cycle network for the city.”

      The funding is part of the Urban Cycleways Programme which will see $296 million invested in 41 projects across the country.

      The NZ Transport Agency’s Auckland Regional Director, Ernst Zöllner, says the significant increase in investment will help ease Auckland’s congestion and make cycling a safer and more attractive transport option – a key new priority for the NZ Transport Agency.

      “With a 20% increase in cycle journeys over the past five years, it’s clear more Aucklanders are choosing to cycle than ever before. This programme will help grow the number of people cycling in Auckland by creating a city where people can feel safe riding a bike.”

      The focus for the next three years will be improving cycling facilities in the city and to the city, along east and west corridors. We will also improve key public transport hubs in Glen Innes and New Lynn, says Kathryn King, Auckland Transport’s Walking and Cycling Manager.

      “The objective is to get as many people as possible cycling for the money we have, which is why the emphasis is on these projects. Auckland Transport is also planning on-going education and promotional programmes to support this new infrastructure.”

    4. This is what you get from arms length (or arm’s length, maybe even arms’ length) organisations. AT exists to do their own thing not to make centres better.

  4. Good idea, Ricardo, – the cars can go along Willcott St, on the other side of the railway, then Mt Albert can be revitalised with a pedestrian and cycle precinct ,as is happening in many European cities.

  5. Having watched _another_ cyclist being loaded into a St Johns at Beach/Strand this morning, I’m pretty appalled to open up the blog and find this kind of decision from AT. Providing bike lanes on a corridor, then omitting them from the major intersections is a guaranteed way to increase the body count.

  6. I was an ‘engineer’ delivering TFL’s cycle superhighway 2 in East London last year. We banned the right turn at the junction of burdett Road and Mile End (Google maps it) to allow space and signal time for Segregated cycle lanes through the junction. Drivers were annoyed at the beginning. Now they drive another way. And the junction is safer and more ergonomic for cyclists for good. Cycling mode share on the route has since increased by something like 300% and growing.

  7. Options 1 and 2 just won’t work – Sandringham Road / Mt Albert Road used to be like option 1 and people end up changing lanes when the person in front is stopped turning right, it must cause a lot of accidents.
    They changed Sandringham road to option 3 and it works much better.
    I think AT are a bit too focused on allowing right turns at every possible location. A lot of intersections would perform a lot better without them (and of course provide extra room for other modes)
    My guess is that AT actually want option 3 but they don’t want to get flack from those who do turn right, hence the ‘consultation’

    1. This is completely right. Rather than being slaves to modelling as such, the manager here seems more to being a slave to maintaining every possible option open to drivers, at any cost, and always with a dedicated lane.
      This can also be seen in Queen St in the middle of the city; the throughput for all modes of an intersection such as Queen /Vic would be greatly increased with no right hand turns [Inner Link re-routed]. Not to mention the safety.
      Turning traffic creates conflicts.

      Anyone who has visited North America will be familiar with just how often that auto-dependent land has banned cross traffic turning in their cities [left turns in their case].

      The benefit to people crossing of only having four lanes and not five is high too: Option 4 is an ugly unsafe non-option.

  8. I wonder what the increase in delay is in real terms rather than as a percentage? It could be minor and if there is little delay in the evening currently this could explain the massive increase for option 1.

  9. Hi Matt, I appreciate the effort you’ve put in to this. My concern is that doing away with the right turn lane is a really poor solution for local residents who will experience a significant increase in rat runs through the smaller side roads in the area. I don’t for one second accept the AT is interested in doing anything other than getting the greatest volume of traffic through the intersection irrespective of the negative impacts either on the local residents, businesses or the livability / attractiveness of the shopping area for locals.

    Is there a solution that keeps the right hand turn but also delivers the right option for cyclists?

    1. No there’s no option that retains the right hand turn and maintains cycling infrastructure.

      I don’t understand the rat running argument. Vehicles travelling along Mt Albert wanting to turn right could use either 1) Richardson Road or 2) St Lukes Roads depending on their destination. Both are major arterials with intersection footprints that are better placed to accommodate right-hand turning movements.

      Yes, at some point they will need to use a local street. But doesn’t most vehicles trips need to use a local street at some point? What makes one vehicle rat-running and the other OK?

  10. I would go with option 1. Modelling is all BS anyway. It will cause a problem for a small part of the day, but otherwise it will be fine.

    Bear in mind that these are two arterial roads. They are not small collector roads or residential roads. These are key roads that you really need to retain all options. A full ban makes sense in some respects such as reducing delay, but as pointed out, if you ban the turn, you encourage everyone to rat ran down some quieter residential streets which is not what they were designed for.

    1. Yes, for what it’s worth these are “arterial roads”. However we have a purpose built motorway system specifically to provide unimpeded vehicle access point to point. Why do we need to create quasi motorway conditions on other roads as well? What we could consider doing is slowing down traffic through key residential suburbs even more, allowig the local shopping strips to be enhanced, not further compromised.

    2. I would tend to go with Option 1 as well. It at least allows some compromise to be able to make a right turn, it just means that one lane may become blocked depending on light phases for turn arrows, this is pretty common throughout much of Auckland anyhow. However Mt Albert town centre is notoriously over-catered to vehicle traffic and is (contrary to belief) actually bad for businesses on this stretch. A reduction in speed limit should also be considered along these two roads.

  11. I got no issues with the slip lane on the “Northern side” (looks more eastern) as this relieves the build up to some extent in the evening peak for left turning traffic when traffic is a horror story around that intersection at peak. And it could be used as a bus lane then having a “B” traffic light to enter the intersection south bound uninhibited.

    But no right turn on the other side would certainly speed things up and the road is not wide enough to accommodate the third lane, not without eating into whatever small amenities there are at Mt Albert’s shops. Better to use any space to widen the paths on both sides.

  12. I wonder how many of the above commentors were actually at the council meeting last Tuesday whereby all options were discussed in detail and there was good discussion and debate around the pros and cons of each option. General consensus of the MARA and those in attendance was that option 4 was the preferred option. I will also be supporting this option.

    1. So you’re supporting an option that removes cycle lanes on both sides of the street to squeeze in a right-turn lane that will complicate the intersection phasing and result in increased delays to traffic?

      Sounds like a turd of an option to me, but go right ahead – hope it works out for you.

    2. If that is correct then the residents are basically supporting the status quo being retained. If so wouldn’t it make sense just to leave everything as it is and save the money for something else?

    3. I’ve had reports from people who were there and they were horrified at the way it was conducted age what was proposed. The change in preferred option was even sprung on the local board without telling them first and it’s their project (not ATs)

    4. IMO, for the council, failure to ignore those “residents associations”, amounts to gross negligence and incompetence. If they get their way, people will die. Both in Northcote Point and here.

      1. That’s the way AT managers usually manipulate the public consultation. You need only think back to the cynical consultation process enacted by its senior managers over the abortion that was (and is) the “St Luke’s” interchange. Following that fiasco the AT Board deliberately stated that active modes were to be more fully considered in future designs. It appears that this direction has been quietly ignored. Time for a clean sweep of senior management levels at AT.

        1. Agree. Am in Europe atm cycling Berlin since 6 month and all that I’m reading coming from Auckland Transport seems to be ignoring one major fact: a livable future in the cities. So, out with the old boys and their V8 thinking. Another point that is bothering me is that AT thinks they can solve bus and cycle problems with some paint on the roads. Here in Berlin you can see that some very creative minds and serious engineers have been working hard to get things going. Yes their might be a traffic light jungle at some intersections but having separate green lights for bicycles is a statement and creates safety. (Of course here are not the armada of buses that need to be in AKL because of no light rail). In summary AT needs fresh thinking!

    5. I was there and there was discussion, I didn’t see it as supporting option 4 as a better option. A lot of people there seemed concerned about parking more than the right hand turn (which option 4 does not deliver). Moreover people did not know that the reinstatement of the right hand turn would be at the cost of bike lanes.
      But if we want to be quite clear about the discussion at that meeting, people indicated that they not only wanted increased traffic flow (which option 3 would deliver), but they also wanted more parking, a right hand turn and a barnes dance crossing signal. They wanted a change in light phasing at The Richardson and New North intersection so that there could be more right turning there too, and to get rid of the bus stop and take it somewhere less annoying, like pak n save, and to reinstate the bus stop because it’s handy there by the train station, not all of which is delivered in option 4 either.
      The one thing that we all do know however, is if we want less congestion we need transport options, and taking an option away is only going to ensure that congestion stays the same, or gets worse as population increases.

  13. The right turn should be stopped. What is see as a major issue is that they are proposing a cycle way that is 200 meters long. This is cycle way needs to be extended to at least the pack n save so it connects to the Oakley creek shared path. Building a cycle way for that length is joke, but one that does not even help with the intersection is absurd.

    1. On balance I quite like option 2 – it retains the essential cycle lanes but allows for right-hand turns at night, making it easier for people driving home at night..There’s no need for confusion if we have well-designed traffic lights and a fixed 12-hour no right-turn window.

  14. I would be interested to see the Safety in Design register that deals with these options and the dropping of the cycleway. Very hard to see how options 1-3 are not reasonably practicable.

  15. I’m not sure why we should be so fixated on “solutions” that focus on increasing traffic flow through the shopping strip. I’m for the Mt Eden village approach – if this is the route you want to use you do so on the full knowledge that it’s a local shopping strip and it will take time to drive through. Slower is much safer for everyone – pedestrians, drivers and cyclists. Prioritise public transport and everyone else can make do.

    1. I have heard from multiple sources,that David Warburton tells his managers that “most of our customers are drivers, and we must not forget that”.

        1. Yes but unfortunately that thinking gets applied to the lesser part also. There are many places were most of the customers aren’t people behind the wheel at the time, specifically the city centre, many town centres, and of course locations like schools and universities.

          It’s designing everything to suit some nominal average and arguably never getting it quite right in any one place.

        2. Yes, averaging is a terrible way to get the whole right but everywhere wrong. Every place is specific and has different needs. This is terrible thinking if true. Or perhaps it just shows a desire to be at NZTA and in charge of State Highways, where it is literally true. AT does exhibit little brother syndrome with regards to NZTA; it shows much more difference to NZTA than to it supposed master: Council. I think this is cultural, AT are imbalanced at the top; too much traffic engineering and not a enough grasp of place value.

        3. It’s also mostly a self-fulfilling prophecy. If your streets send a clear message that people on foot are doing it wrong, then people will stop coming on foot. And then you start to see idiotic things like realtors advertising a house a 1-minute drive (sic) from the beach or the town centre.

          The same here. The change proposed by option #4 turns Mount Albert Road into a dead-end for cyclists coming from the west. And then, surprise, less people will arrive on a bicycle. But this is a consequence of the design of that intersection, not the other way around.

          1. Yes, but somehow, and without any discussion or analysis, AT currently see their role is to fight to maintain the status quo. In spite of this there have been a number of improvements, the removal slip lanes, the partial extension bus lanes, and of course the cycleways. But even all this feels reluctant, hard won. And now it seems that they are trying to unwind the Centre City masterplan. It’s very odd, because it’s not just a passive inactivity but an active campaign to not deliver what the Council have requested.

            It is true there is always resistance to change, and all public bodies must be sensitive to that, but to improve is to change, and AT are indeed charged with improving Auckland; with being change agents, specifically of our most prominent public realm; our streets and roads.

            A culture of resistance to change is counter productive and unjustifiable, especially given the huge forces at work in Auckland at present. These are changing times.

            I mean why would we be spending $3b to radically improve access to the centre city underground yet not bank the dividend that affords us on the streets above?

        4. And a self fulfilling prophecy. If we approached road design like Groningen, he could say people on bikes were his main customer. It is all about olicy and choice. Auckland gambled on the car and we lost. We need to stop doubling down on that lost bet.

      1. Strong push for continuous cycle lanes and Option 3 in particular lodged.

        Let’s all make better cycle amenity in Mt Albert happen!

  16. Theyre missing an Option 5 where road design is pushed north so you can get both a right hand turn lane AND retain cycle lanes. Perhaps the intersection could be raised a bit to tie in with bridge.

  17. The summary of the 4 options ignores the safety angle. Two weeks ago AT was very keen on Option 3 (or possibly Option 2) but their own safety analysis lead them to favour Option 4. From a number plate survey they found that about half of the right turning vehicles were on what they termed a “regional” trip (still on Mount Albert Road at the Owairaka Road intersection 1.5km east of the New North Road intersection). But that left about half that were travelling within Mount Albert – i.e. local residents or people with a local destination such as the swimming pool in Alberton Avenue who will not be served by the motorway or Saint Luke Road which are well to the north so will attempt to make a right turn into an alternative such as Lloyd Avenue which has poor sight lines for both turners and approaching vehicles (south bound on New North Road). These and other considerations mitigated against Option 3 – not some anti bike mindset as has been suggested.

    1. To get to the aquatic centre, couldn’t drivers just continue along New North Rd to the other end of Alberton Ave (soon to be signalized as well, making the right turn there safer)? This would then put them on the right side of the road for the swimming pool. A much more intuitive approach than a side-dash down Lloyd Ave, which is narrow and dangerous if not impossible to turn into.

      Good signage would support this option, too. (There’s a sign pointing to the Wave Pool from Mt Albert Rd, but not I think from New North Road).

      Also, does the traffic analysis you mention show any time variations for local right turns vs long-distance ones? That’s very useful information, if the part-time right turn was to be put into effect.

    2. “not some anti bike mindset as has been suggested”

      Whenever the safety of people in metal boxes and with airbags gets prioritised over the safety of people just walking and cycling around town, that is an anti-bike, anti-walk mindset.

      I bet there was little consideration of other routes available, or how things could be improved at the road you talk about. It just was useful as an excuse. And if that other road is so unsafe, why are AT happy to leave that one as it is?

    3. So they have identified an unsafe intersection, and decided to keep it the way it is and make another intersection unsafe for cyclists. Awesome logic.

      If safety is the main thing here, why not 1, or 3 with NRT onto Lloyd?

    4. “not some anti bike mindset as has been suggested”

      Sorry Graeme but you’re wrong on this. We know for a fact there is a very senior member of AT who has stated “cycling has gone too far”. We also know this same person has been pushing back on cycling projects within the organisation including this one. The project team were keen on option 3 but then told they had to go with an option that retained all movements.

      As for safety, the only way it can be concluded that it is safer is if you only consider cars in isolation. Option 4 is absolutely not safer for ALL modes.

      And on the use of the right turn. That study found just 40% of trips turning right were local trips. That’s only 480 vehicles a day. Even if they did use a local road such as Lloyd Ave, the numbers would be tiny.

      1. Matt so you want to funnel the 480 local trips down Lloyd Ave (a road not designed for it) what was it you are going to with the other non local trips vehicles? You would be kidding yourself if you think they will all disappear into Waterview.

          1. Matthew it is not dangerous (so doesn’t require fixing) if you don’t force extra traffic down there instead of leaving it on an arterial route that IS designed for the traffic load.

          2. I am struggling to understand how it is possible that an event occurung 300 times a day (say) is not dangerous, but 500 times a day is? I have never encountered such a situation in my life and dont think its logically possible.

          3. Can you please explain your risk model as a function of vehicle trips to me?

            The line between acceptable and unnaceptable risk os measured in orders of magnitude. It is very coincidental that doubling (as an extreme case) the vehicle trips on a street would tip us over the edge from acceptable to unacceptable.

      2. It’s definitely not safer for people on bikes. I thought that the point of the protected lanes was a response to a major hurdle to people not using a bike for some trips, ‘it’s not safe’. By terminating the lanes and turning people into a heavy intersection, this is not ‘safe’. I suspect that should option 4, a rather expensive status quo option, go ahead, unsurprisingly, people won’t take to travelling by bike.

        Which is a shame because a key thing to remember is that a town upgrade is not a regular occurrence, so one of the things the layout is for is FUTURE USE. In future the balance is more cars? More congestion? More pollution? or is it more options, more public transit, more people on bikes? It fits into a wider remit of healthier active communities, and how we get there. This is particularly important in an aging community, where people who are using cars as their primary form of transport may be less inclined to as they age. So the decisions made now have wide ranging implications – think about the removal of the tram lines (sorry for glum thoughts on a bright day).

      1. How is a local road “not designed” to handle traffic? By ATs own standards local roads can carry up to 1000vpd and even that is arbritrary.

  18. Closing off the right turn will send traffic down residential side streets instead, no doubt about it. Probably Alexis Ave rather than Lloyd. The side streets aren’t designed for extra traffic. Honestly, sending traffic down those streets where there are 3 schools, in the name of safety for cyclists, is about as dumb and dangerous idea I’ve heard.

      1. Haha. Quite the opposite. If you want to keep kids safe, on bikes or on foot, then keep cars to the main roads not side streets with no pedestrian crossings, no bike lanes at all, and naturally low visibility.

      2. Quite the opposite. If you want to keep kids safe, on bikes or on foot, then keep cars to the main roads not side streets with no pedestrian crossings, no bike lanes at all, and naturally low visibility.

      3. Matt like it or not New North Rd, Mt Albert Rd and Carrington Rd are arterial routes and it doesn’t help overall safety by diverting arterial traffic onto local roads that are not designed for it. If you want traffic out of Mt Albert then do what every other town centre does, build a by-pass as the traffic still comes despite ho much you wish the occupants onto PT. These roads will continue to be major arterials even if they are not so busy once Waterview opens.

        1. Other town centres in the English speaking world, well other than this one: http://www.citylab.com/commute/2013/04/lots-cars-and-trucks-no-traffic-signs-or-lights-chaos-or-calm/5152/

          However, evidence from overseas shows that if you reduce or even eliminate cars the shopping areas do much better and the traffic just evaporates. I know it is hard to imagine in the car dominated paradigm we all grew up in but that is what actual real world evidence tells us. You won’t see the carpocalypse that you expect.

          Few people enjoy walking or along streets dominated by cars. That’s one reason malls and pedestrian only areas are so popular.

    1. Yep, let’s kill innocent people on bikes so that motorists don’t have to drive an extra 200m up to the other end of Alberton Street, and let’s hold up all of the traffic at the intersection too.

      1. Sailor Boy those local streets are not designed to handle the same traffic volumes as arterial roads, the intersection in question is where three arterial roads intersect.

          1. Sailor Boy no one is going to drive to Alberton Avenue (well over the 200 metres extra you quoted), they are more likely to take Lloyd Ave and that is not designed to take the 1200 vehicles that currently turn right from New North Rd (Arterial route) into Mt Albert Rd (another arterial route).

          2. Except it’s wouldn’t be 1200, only 40% of those are estimated to be local trips. The rest could just have easily used Richardson Rd. I’d also say that if the change was implemented, even few than that would need to make that turn

          3. Folks, I think quite a lot of this commentary misses the point somewhat. It seems to me the discussion about non local traffic using the side residential roads around the New North Rd, Richardson Rd, St Luke’s Rd and Mt Albert Rd area is being debated from an unreal perspective. If you were to be walking on these roads between 7:00am and 9:00am, or 3:00pm till 6:00pm you would see how chaotic the existing situation is, even with the existing right hand turn into Mt Albert Rd. Putting more traffic on these streets would be completely irresponsible from a safety perspective. From my observations as a local resident most of the side street traffic at these times is seeking to avoid the queues at the various traffic lights (Mt Albert Rd / Richardson heading west across New North Rd), or avoid the traffic heading south through the shopping centre. So the challenge is far more complex than cycle lanes vs traffic. We have several schools in the immediate precinct (Mt Albert Grammar, Gladstone Primary, Marist, Hebron College, Te Kura Kaupapa, Marist College, St Mary’s, Marist Primary and Mt Albert Primary), so there are a lot of young students using all these side streets, as well as the traffic generated by pre and post school pickups. And there is a real desire within the local community to resuscitate the shopping strip. I think there is a bit of resentment at our being caught up in the wider political shit fight that gets generated around the cyclists vs traffic stuff.

          4. Matt I was just about to reply but I see Greg has covered it.
            When you force those 700 plus cars down Richardson Rd and see what happens to the local roads around there.

          5. “And there is a real desire within the local community to resuscitate the shopping strip. I think there is a bit of resentment at our being caught up in the wider political shit fight that gets generated around the cyclists vs traffic stuff.”

            Completely agree, it’s disgusting that a project to resuscitate the town centre has been hijacked by AT traffic engineers intent on deliberately excluding cyclists from their roads.

          6. Ahh Sailor Boy, it must be very satisfying being able to selectively reply to your own posts. You could have a future at AT!!

          7. NIcely twisted SB, Curse those Traffic Engineers for considering safety instead of the unalienable rights of cyclists to have priority.at road junctions.
            Is this not an issue for the local board and AT to resolve?

          8. “Curse those Traffic Engineers for [not] considering safety instead of the unalienable rights of [motorists] to have priority [absolutely everywhere]”.

            Fixed that for you.

            This project was supposed to be about improving the town centre. Option 4 is clearly the worst at achieving that. Reducing vehicle traffic and encouraging access by other modes is proven to be great for commercial strips.

            Please name two addresses between which the ideal route currently involves a right turn at this intersection for which the ideal route involves a rat run after the right turn is disallowed.

      2. Pretty much SB.
        However the local roads are definitely not intended to have high volumes of traffic and if I lived in the the area, I wouldn’t want it done without a bunch of traffic calming, but then, I would oppose traffic calming too…

  19. Thinking of pedestrians rather than cyclists, both corners on the West (left) side of the intersection need wider footpaths. Ridiculously tight now for a route to and from a transit centre.

  20. We also seem to be seeing another instance of planners kowtowing to an uninformed local retailer, much like the fashion luvvies holding High St hostage: http://www.stuff.co.nz/auckland/85614851/Mt-Albert-residents-question-plans-to-remove-turn-at-busy-intersection

    Someone perhaps visit this enthusiastic haircutter and explain how his business is more likely to pick up from pedestrian/cyclist improvements in the area than by retaining the half-dozen streetside carparks on the slip-lane earmarked for removal.

    1. Once upon a time I was a regular customer of said barber – cycling to his shop, no less. I stopped going when I couldn’t take any more of his anti-change rants.

    2. I’m also a regular customer to Vinnie’s barbers (although his associates usually cut my hair) and he’s been quite vocal about the changes in Mount Albert. I told him, no matter what the changes are it wouldn’t stop me returning as I don’t use the dangerous roadside parking on New North Road anyhow.

  21. Option 4 throws cyclists into the open at the most dangerous part of the road (the intersection) which seems rather counter-productive.

    While my gut feel says Option 3 may be the best one, there actually isn’t much to prevent AT from testing Options 1,2, and 3 (given the changes are simpler – read cheaper – than ripping up or laying down physical infrastructure) to get data as to the best option for traffic, pivoting as necessary.

  22. Remember this takes place in the context of the Government and Council spending hundreds of millions in order to make urban cycling the safe and obvious choice for thousands of journeys each day.

    At no point in the policy statements from either does it say, but not if a single driver is inconvenienced or delayed. Bike lanes that just disappear at intersections do not support this policy.

  23. Do the authorities explain, or can any commenter explain, in useful detail, what a ‘300% increase in delay’ is supposed to mean? I’m imagining something like this: 1: There are points A and B such that travelling from A to B requires passing through this intersection. 2: Travel from A to B in free flowing conditions (that is, without ‘delay’) would take time X. 3: Travel from A to B in current conditions [or, under the favoured option?] takes [or, would take?], on average, time X+Y. Y is the ‘delay’. 4:Travel from A to B under option 1, evening peak, would take X+3Y. That would be ‘300% increase in delay’ compared with current conditions [or, compared with the favoured option?].
    Or what? Of course, how significant it is depends entirely on the choice of A, B & X. What are the actual figures involved? Phrases like ‘300% increase in delay’ deserve little credit unless the authorities are able to explain their methodology.

    1. I think you’ve answered your own question. What you call “Y” is the delay that they’re talking about. It is independent of “A”, “B” and “X”, so there’s no reason to define any of those variables.

      I haven’t seen the numbers for this project but average delay per vehicle would typically be in the order of a few tens of seconds. It increases under Option A because (a) even on a green light straight-through eastbound vehicles have to wait behind right-turners, whereas under the old layout they could move independently of waiting right-turners, and (b) you can no longer have a separate green arrow letting right-turners go on their own phase.

      For an isolated intersection model, a modelled 300% increase in delays isn’t that unusual. In reality it probably wouldn’t actually happen as some drivers would instead reroute/switch modes/change travel times. Still, it’s useful to highlight to everyone that those sorts of effects are likely if you combine those lanes.

      1. I’m very dubious of any modelling that suggests making intersection enhancements to increase the traffic flow will result in anything other than a very short term reduction in vehicle wait times. From the reading I’ve done it seems the experience everywhere is that there is merely a displacement of traffic among a series of alternative routes – if one route is enhanced then it simply attracts other traffic that is currently using alternative routes. We don’t have to look far for local examples.

        I am a local resident and a regular user of public transport whenever I go and from the CBD. I use both buses and trains. The bus stop in this location does not impede traffic particularly.

        I don’t see why Option 1 is not the best. It allows the cycle way through the intersection (and I understand there should be other enhancements for cyclists but I imagine this is acceptable for the moment), and it keeps the right turn so we don’t make it even worse on the adjacent side streets.

        In my view one other enhancement is reasonably achievable, and that is a 40kph speed limit throughout the entire shopping strip from the ASS Centre (as it is referred to locally) – the 955 Mt Albert Rd shopping centre on the southern end to the old servo that is now Sprout Cafe on the northern one. This would assist enormously in achieving a higher level of safety for cyclists and pedestrians.

        I note above that Matt has suggested a series of trials so we get a real time experience of the options before spending gobs of money on something that might not turn out to be practical. Perhaps that is worth considering?

        My concern with the other options AT has advanced is that they all compromise the amenity of the Mt Albert town centre to a greater or lesser degree. I’m unconvinced that more vehicle throughput is going to result in any benefits for the residents and shopkeepers of Mt Albert. More traffic and higher speeds will be very negative for the town centre. I saw this same impact when we lived in Melbourne during the 80’s and 90’s, and these roading developments totally destroyed the cosiness of many suburbs. 30 years on the traffic is no better for that destruction. And once we’ve destroyed the amenity it will be impossible to get it back.

        We’d be better to push more people onto public transport and cycling, and reduce traffic speeds in places we are endeavouring to make attractive to people. It seems to me the Mt Eden village atmosphere is what we’re wanting for residents and visitors. Sure, it can be slow to drive through, but when we take that route we know that before we set out. It’s a reasonable price for a people friendly locale.

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