As well as being one of the most iconic locations in Auckland, Tamaki Drive is home to a number of honours. It remains the busiest place in Auckland for bikes, averaging over 1,000 a day all year and some days in summer months often seeing 1,500 to 2,000 on some days. It is also home to the Tamaki Dr/Ngapipi Dr intersection which happens to be one of the most dangerous in the entire country. Yesterday, Auckland Transport announced they have now have approval for their hot mess of a solution.

An independent hearings panel has given the go-ahead for safety improvements at one of Auckland’s most dangerous intersections.

21 crashes have been recorded at the intersection of Tamaki Drive and Ngapipi Road in the past five years, with 13 resulting in injury. Tamaki-Ngapipi is ranked number 10 on the national top 100 list of crash risk intersections..

Auckland Transport’s Group Manager Major Capital, Andrew Scoggins says AT has successfully applied for a resource consent for the work.

“We plan to re-configure the traffic lanes make it safer for motorists, cyclists and pedestrians. We will put in traffic signals and on-road cycle lanes on Tamaki Drive, these works are essential to make this intersection safer.”

Mr Scoggins says there will also be improvements to lighting, signage, the pedestrian crossings and an upgrade to the stormwater.

“The intersection is very busy with 30,000 vehicles using it every day and the upgrade will make it much safer.”

Work on the $7 million upgrade is scheduled to start in April.

Part of Auckland Transport’s solution is extend the seawall out to create more space. Here are some before and after illustrations showing what they expect it to look like once completed.

Looking East

Looking West

And here’s the concept design AT have on their website.

As we’ve said before, what’s proposed is a hot mess and frankly embarrassing. It’s designed to try and cater for two completely different types of cyclist, the casual person on a bike out for cruise and the high speed road warrior but 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.
  • That on street cycleway then runs straight into a bus stop rather than using the extra space they’re adding to go behind it.
  • 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.

With the extra space gained by moving the seawall it is possible they could deliver a better design but given construction starts in April it doesn’t seem likely. After a previous post on the terrible design, reader George, an engineer, came up with his own design which is similar to best practice from overseas.

I know some people have previously suggested we just add a big roundabout, this post highlights why that is a bad idea – basically due to the uneven traffic flows, it would cause all sorts of congestion issues for traffic on Ngapipi.

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  1. How about bus priority lanes? Seems like they are taking a back seat to cycle lanes. We need both but buses have the potential to move a lot more people than cycles in all weather conditions.

    1. There is an inbound priority lane shown in the plans above John. Having an outbound lane also would be nice but that would mean widening the road to four lanes. Cycle lanes or not, getting four lanes on Tamaki Drive would be a huge engineering job.

    2. “We need both but buses have the potential to move a lot more people than cycles in all weather conditions.”

      Citation needed. Please explain how bus lanes can move more people per corridor width per hour than a cycle lane.

  2. A double slip lane in an urban environment with with pedestrians and bike users present: Safety a priority for all road users, or is vehicle speed the crowning priority? A priority that ‘trumps’ safety?

    1. It is signalised though (you can’t have an unsignalised double slip lane), so that affords some control on potential conflicts. Still not brilliant, but does improve on the current “running the gauntlet” that existing pedestrians/cyclists have across there.

  3. Very disappointing that they are retaining the slip lanes. The new intersection is still very private car inspired rather than a mix inspiration of private vehicles, bus, pedestrian and cyclist.

  4. I think the biggest problem here is that AT haven’t decided what to do with the rest of the corridor. If they committed to putting a 2 way cycleway on the northern side or one way on both sides right through to Quay Street then it would be much easier to design something good here. The problem is more in that they have to cater for both alignments than that they chose to accommodate on and off road cyclists.

    1. Exactly why. Yes, they decided to proceed with a hybrid, as design west of is not complete, and design east of is not even started, let alone funded for any bigger upgrades.

      1. I think the West is the much bigger problem too, easy enough to do an onroad lane both sides and keep the off road shared path with transitions as long as you know what happens on West.

    2. It is better especially for those heading citybound from Ngapipi, not as good as yours though. My issue is the worst bit will be cyclists travelling citybound from Tamaki drive is a huge crossing.

    1. The city bound on road cycle lane appears to be directed onto the shared path after passing through the intersection. Weird.
      I’m not sure if this is particularly safer. The bridge is the same width and grade. I’ll still be cycling in the vehicle lanes

  5. It must be end of financial year at AT to be spending a whopping $7 million on a project designed to reduce a massive 4 crashes a year in which less than three result in injuries.

    I can imagine the AT staff started shaking as they visited the intersection and viewed flowing traffic that wasn’t clogging up the streets. No we must stop this!!

    Did the AT staff not check the footpath and see it’s actually a shared path for pedestrians and cyclists? There is zero need for any cyclist to be on the road in this area and zero reason for any cyclist to get in the way of a car unless a car mounts the footpath. Of course even though changes are unnecessary, a roundabout would work just fine. The ever reliable AT traffic modeling says it won’t which gives even more validation to the concept.

    It’s the same old tried and failed solution of stopping traffic, clogging up streets, increasing travel times and increasing pollution from this leaderless, rudderless organisation masquerading as a transport authority. But hey the privileged, rich, middle aged, green party voting, hippy worshiping cyclists will now have two cycle lanes going in the same direction so lets approve the project, modify our propaganda to make it look like people use this area, put a glossy brochure out and it’s all good.

    1. Good point, someone already painted a line on the footpath which magically made it a functional cycleway. Ergo, all they need to do is stencil the words “ten lane motorway” on Tamaki Drive and you’ll increase the traffic capacity tenfold! Brilliant, such a cheaper way to get a practical and effective outcome.

      1. I totally approve Nick R’s message. Lets also just write “Widened to 8 lanes” on Neilson Street in Onehunga, and save us a billion or two for the East West Link with this magical idea.

        “They can just use what is already there!” Such a brilliant idea, works everywhere, no matter the context. In fact, no context needed!!!

        1. Just install a sign at Cook Street and one at Esmonde Road with the words ‘tunnel portal’ too, third harbour crossing sorted!

    2. Be reassured there will be decent traffic hold ups both ways on Tamaki Drive because of the traffic lights simply because Auckland traffic engineers, just cannot get it right with their light controlled intersections. The road from Mechanics Bay through to St Heliers needs a rethink especially with the cycle lanes and pedestrians, not to mention it goes underwater in storms in places between the OBMC and Ngapipi Rd.

    3. Let’s be clear about our use of terminology. There is no ‘cycleway’ or ‘cyclepath’ on Tamaki Drive. There is a narrow, tree-root-buckled, rubbish-bin-obstructed footpath, on which someone at some point has painted a white line, presumably so they could pretend they had done something for cyclists without actually spending serious money.

  6. For the cyclists/pedestrians – Why not a triangle shaped bridge instead that sits directly on top of the intersection and connects all 3 directions to each other?

    Seems dumb spending putting in more traffic lights, not to mention increasing road rage from having to endure red lights.

      1. “That wouldn’t solve the problem of turning right into Tamaki Drive from Ngapipi.”

        How much of this is there? I was wondering why there are 2 left-turn lanes from Ngapipi to Tamaki – it seems to me that traffic queuing to turn right from Ngapipi to Tamaki will block the right-hand left-turning lane, and traffic queuing to turn left in the right-hand left-turning lane will block traffic trying to turn right from Ngapipi to Tamaki. Am I overlooking something obvious?

  7. Why not just signalise the intersection as it currently stands and save $6.5M (approx)? It seems that all the extra widening doesn’t really much to the safety or flow of the intersection.

    1. As I understand it, it is a combination of things – without adding another turn lane on the southwest, adding signals but no more traffic lanes creates more car delays than AT were happy with. The cycle lanes also need some space. Without widening to north, not enough modern-style stormwater treatment areas in the berm arepossible (the AT graphics show most of the area to the north side as footpath/sealed, but I understand the actual design will have a lot more green there), and lastly, the widening allows for more flexibility regarding the future layout of the bridge rebuild to the west, both during construction and in the final layout.

  8. I’m very glad that the council are now going to install traffic lights at this intersection. I remember driving through there as a learner driver, absolutely petrified with anxiety. One could wait up to five minutes before a suitable gap was available. I have since avoided this intersection and went the long way around to Mission Bay but I’m glad it’s finally getting fixed.

  9. Can anyone explain why that bus stop is there on Tamaki Drive? Is that area a good fishing spot and people say “I want to get off here and fish”? Is this the point where people say “Crikey, I thought I’d walk to Kelly Tarltons/Mission Bay but it’s further than I thought, I’d like to catch a bus here please”? It can’t be that at this point people decide to get off the bus and start walking Tamaki Drive, surely?
    It just seems such an odd spot to have a bus stop (and ditto the on street car parks adjacent) – who/what are they serving? (Maybe it *is* a good fishing spot, or do people change there to get on a Ngapipi Rd bus? I really don’t know so maybe someone can enlighten me). Would removing the bus stop and streetside parking make it safer for cyclists? My gut feeling says it would, but I’m no engineer (nor an avid cyclist).
    PS – George’s design looks good – that’s the Dutch system, right?

    1. Its good if you are walking along and decide you’ve had enough walking and want to jump on the bus, better then not having any stops at all like a lot of stretches of many routes.

      Stops don’t necessarily slow routes down if they are rarely used, better to have the option available. Of course I understand in busy area’s it can slow down the bus dramatically.

      Stops are very random in Auckland, many stops are poorly placed or placed without a bus stop on the opposite side in the vicinity, there are also routes with no stops at all, despite the bus going out of its way to go to it, such as the 988 bus which goes to the Shakespeare regional park but has no formal stop in the park, so I have had drivers just drive on by…

      Some area’s are really great for hail and ride, the 589 bus to Beachlands-Maraetai for example works great, the 171 to Laingholm also adopts hail and ride for the most part, although it does have formal stops. 060 to Helensville does too but some drivers wont pick you up even if it is a formal stop but missing the bus stop sign (i.e. blown off or sign collapsed). Of cause I wouldn’t suggest hail and ride for a particularly urban area.

      Along somewhere like Tamaki Drive’s non-populated zones could have a Blue line painted along the kerbside to indicate where hail-and-ride is acceptable (i.e. not the populated area’s and not near bends etc).

    2. Full disclosure:
      a) I’ve previously fought to retain a bus stop near me that others have thought was redundant.
      b) I’d probably be the first one to get all wheezy by the time I reached Ngapipi Rd (having started out enthusiastically on foot or cycle) and crying out for a bus to hop on.

      I’m all in favour of having bus stops, I just wondered if the benefits of this one did not outweigh the possible safety benefits to cyclists by removing it. (Or moving it?)

    3. Nick,
      The bus stops are there for historical reasons.
      Previously the corner of Ngapipi Road and Tamaki Drive was the [1st] fare stage boundary for bus services from the CBD.
      And there is a walkway that goes from the corner up to Paratai Drive above.

      I guess the original idea was folks who lived in the State housing area to the east/south or Paratai Drive would be able to walk down to the bus stop on the corner thus only needing to pay 1 fare stage from town.

      I am not sure if with integrated fares is this discintction is still needed or not.
      And if not then yes those bus stops could be moved further up the road.

      Few if any people walk from the hill above these days to catch a bus.

      1. The bus stops are there because there are houses and things nearby, including a path down from Paratai Drive. Despite what you might think those two stops do fairly well at commuter times, believe it or not people from the Paratai Drive area seem to be catching the bus to town in the morning and hopping off again in the evening, same usage pattern as any other suburban bus stop although not a lot through the middle of the day.

        So about a hundred users a day across the pair. That makes them as busy as the bus stops serving Okahu Bay round the corner, and busier than any of the stops in Kohimarama Bay (although there are three sets of stops along the beach in Kohi, together the three are busier).

        1. How much of the bus stop usage is true walk (down) traffic from Orakei versus hide ‘n ride folks from afield trying to avoid parking fees in town?
          Few people will walk along Ngapipi road or Tamaki Drive to use these as you suggest, as the nearest “at grade” housing is quite some distance away
          and there is existing bus services that use Ngapipi Road which those locals will probably use.
          So any “locals” using them mainly come from “up top” in and around Paratai drive.

          But I don’t think Nick, you can say one way or the other which is the more dominant – locals or hide n riders.

          My gut feel is a lot more hide n riders use them than locals these days. Yours may differ.

          Either way, there is no particular requirement for those bus stops to be exactly where they are. Other than a (now redundant and artificial) fare stage boundary.

          These stops could be moved further along the road if it meant AT could implement a better design here.

          But of course, the real elephant in the room here is the continued allowance of parking on both sides of the road on either side of that bridge.

          Loose that parking from one side only [maybe the sea side] and the problem can easily be resolved for the benefit of all without the need for expensive seawall extensions.

          Patrick has posted at length on doing exactly that previously along here. Its a better solution all round than this.

        2. Well there is a requirement for the stops to be located there, because that is where both Ngapipi Road and the footpath are. It is a somewhat unfortunate fact that the best place for bus stops is at intersections, because people necessarily use streets to get to them.

          Sure, I have no idea how people actually get there. Maybe it is all hide and ride, maybe not. My instinct suggests this is one of the locations where locals will actually walk a bit futher to get a regular legible service on the main road, than the closer but irregual and illegible wanderer on some local road. Tamaki Drive gets effectively a ten minute headway most of the day on weekdays, the Ngapipi bus is hourly. That distinction will only get stronger with the New Network, once the Tamaki Dr bus is branded as the Blue Link and elevated to link status.

          …but if they are coming on foot the are coming along either Ngapipi Rd or the footpath, so please don’t move the stops away from those two. Especially not once you introduce a pedestrian crossing to let people safely get to and from the bus.

    4. I’ve used this to access the marina quite a few times, it would also be a good transfer point between Ngapipi and Tamaki buses.

  10. The bus stop was originally provided for the residents at the top of the cliff around Paratai Drive and the surrounding streets. There is a footpath and stairs leading up there from the corner near the stop. Incidentally the bus stop used to be right by the intersection but was moved back to its current position about 10 years or so ago. Of course now most of the folks from Paratai drive probably use SOV SUVs not the bus now, and from what I see most users of the stop drive there and use Tamaki drive as a park and ride. To save a fare stage I think.

  11. If the brief is to improve pedestrian/cycling safety, then this design is fairly good. It provides good safety improvements for cyclists and pedestrians.
    The slip lane really isn’t a slip lane. It’s going to be red most of the time for cars because citybound Tamaki Dr will have a green most of the time. So that’s great as a citybound cyclist. Huge improvement.

    Hand-drawn designs always look great until they meet the harsh light of reality. Sure it uses international practice, but space/cost will be the main constraint. Not to mention forcing all cyclists off the road to wait at lights. Having said that I would like to see something like that in Auckland.

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