Today is the last day to submit on Auckland Transports absurd, last minute consultation on the planned upgrade to Mt Albert. It seems that they were hoping to slip the consultation through unnoticed with their preference to put the movement of a few bits of tin over the safety of other road users and a more efficient road network. That’s because AT want to retain a right turning lane for traffic coming from the south on New North Rd at the expense of safe bike lanes and other road users, including buses.
Since my post on the issue AT provided me with the presentation they gave to a residents association and which gives a lot more detail about the options, and which makes AT’s preferred option even more absurd. For example, in the two hour morning peak there are 2,980 vehicles that move through the intersection, of which 1,200 are coming from the south. Only 72 vehicles turn right during that same time. The numbers are slightly higher in the interpeak and PM peak but still fairly insignificant, the AM Peak is shown below.
All up across the entire day there are only around 1,200 right turn movements through an intersection that sees around 40,000 total movements, that’s only about 3%. What’s more they have also analysed how many of those turning right are actually doing it for local trips and how many are travelling further. They looked at how many were actually stopping in the town centre, then looked to see how many of the vehicles turning right were still on Mt Albert Rd past the Owairaka Ave intersection, classifying these as ‘regional’ trips. This is important as those making regional trips could just as easily use Richardson Rd/Owairaka Ave The results are below
- Less than 3% stop in the town center
- 38% left Mt Albert Rd between Allendale and Owairaka Ave
- 59% continued past Owairaka Ave (“regional” trips)
- Less than 2% stop in the town center
- 42% left Mt Albert Rd between Allendale and Owairaka Ave
- 56% continued past Owairaka Ave (“regional” trips)
So all up we have 55-60% of right turning traffic able to use Richardson Rd to achieve the same effect.
The main benefit AT give to retaining a dedicated right turn lane is some vague comment about it having network benefits. What’s amazing about this statement is that Auckland Transport have the audacity to even say it given their own numbers show it is a lie. By removing the ability to turn right in Option 3, it allows for more time to be allocated to other 97% of traffic movements that pass through the intersection. They say that would see delays at the intersection reduce by as much as 30% which is fairly substantial. So for the network overall, removing the right turn lane results in significant improvements, and that’s even before considering the benefits to those on bikes.
At least they’ve updated their website since we raised the issue, including listing some of the significant negatives of their preferred option.
- 40m of the proposed cycle lanes south of the intersection will be removed (creates safety concerns that will require further assessment, mitigation and design amendment).
- Less confident cyclists would likely ride on the footpath in a section already constrained for pedestrians.
- Removal of 5 further car parks south of the intersection (out of 39 parking spaces in total).
- 25m of footpath widening previously proposed south of the intersection returned to existing widths.
Also since the first post, our friends at Bike Auckland have given their take on the proposal here and here while our friends at Generation Zero are also encouraging people to submit in favour of option 3.
And let’s not forget Phil Goff’s expectations, asking AT to “aggressively pursuing strong growth in public transport use and active modes” and “maintaining momentum on delivering the cycling programme, incorporating priority for cycling and walking into projects”
In the debate on the original post, one of the better suggestions came from Local Board member Benjamin Lee.
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.
We’ve talked a lot before about trialing changes and this has included Auckland Conversations talks by the likes of Janette Sadik Khan and Mike Lydon. Of course, AT make positive noises about this kind of thing when these experts visit but then promptly ignore them. This project could be a great place for AT to try put some of these ideas into action. By trialing the options before making any physical changes they could confirm just what the impacts are, and without having to make expensive infrastructure changes later on.
So go and make a submission, it’s simple and only takes a minute to complete, and lets make the Mt Albert Upgrade great again