I avoid the stress of congestion by either using PT or by cycling to work and until Skypath exists, my option for cycling to work involves riding along Upper Harbour Dr. You may recall that almost exactly a year ago I wrote about the local board wanting to rip out the cycle lanes that were installed by AT in 2015. This was in response to severe congestion that had been occurring for just a few weeks resulting in queues over 2km long back from the intersection with Albany Highway. The board, many members of the public and even the local community constable put most of the blame for this congestion on the cycle lanes.

As I had suspected, within a few weeks of that post the traffic had all but disappeared and for the rest of the year and the beginning of this year, cars driving along the road had a mostly free run. In the last few weeks that’ all changed again and the long 2km+ queues are back. So, I decided to film it.

There’s something uniquely special about passing vehicle after stopped or slow moving vehicle while on a bike or bus in a dedicated lane – or on a train in the case of the Southern Motorway between Ellerslie and Remuera. This is something more and more people will get the opportunity to experience if we can continue to roll out bike and bus infrastructure.

It’s worth noting that while the cycle lanes on Upper Harbour Dr are a little bit of a step up from your usual painted cycle lane, they do suffer one fatal flaw that many don’t. In this case these lanes lead straight to the intersection with Albany Highway which is probably one of the worst in Auckland for people on bikes. The trouble exists for people wanting to turn right to head towards the lower North Shore. This video is a bit older, from before the cycle lanes were put in, but it shows what people on bikes wanting to turn right have to endure.

Coming back to the issue of the congestion, the local board’s solution last year was to remove the cycle lane and call the narrow footpath at the end of the video a shared path. Thankfully that hasn’t happened but with the congestion back, it wouldn’t surprise me if they tried again. But even if AT did just what the board asked for last year, would it make any difference. Well this is Albany Highway, even if removing the cycle lane allowed them to get to the intersection a little faster, they’d still be faced with this and so going nowhere fast.

Like last year, the solution is to wait out March.

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6 comments

  1. The solution is typically the same (and it was the same before the cycle lanes btw): The Police get on top of people going straight ahead from the right-only filter on Albany Highway/Glenfield Rd and miraculously the problem gets better because then Upper Harbour Dr can clear right-turning traffic reasonably freely (until it stops again as you showed in your pics). Then the Police leave and a few sociopath drivers do the same again. Cycle lane is to blame… I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had this conversation with my fellow Greenhithians IRL and online.
    Unfortunately the local Residents Association has picked this up as a hobbyhorse in the absence of anything else significant to complain about which is why the local board has it on their agenda.
    Next thing is to get the cycle lane extended in the other direction (Hobsonville Rd) before that becomes a giant linear parking lot like Bush Rd in Albany. I nearly stopped to take a pic this morning because there was one car parked in the middle of nowhere obstructing the shoulder (ad hoc cycle lane); it is just stored there with a “for sale” sign on it. Awesome use of public space.

  2. The exact same mislabelling of the problem occurs on Lake Road into Devonport. People blame the cycle lane for the horrendous congestion on Lake Road and are quite antagonistic towards cyclists because of it (me included). The problem in this case is that while the cycle lane generally hasn’t made any difference, the reconfiguration of one intersection completed at the same time to allow for it – has caused major issues.

    AT need to be careful in these cases that cycle lanes don’t appear to make any difference to the resultant congestion (real or not).

  3. No. Waiting out March won’t work this time. The idiots will then open a tunnel at Waterview that will divert even more people onto the overloaded Upper Harbour motorway. So the congestion we have at the moment is minor compared to what is coming.

  4. During a sunny weekend a few weekends back, did a big loop from Devonport, ferry, city, out the NW cycleway and back around upper harbour through Glenfield to home.

    I liked exploring the cycleways and cyclelanes, and while mostly good, some bits were not really connected up or signposted well.

    The only dangerous bit I found was that horrible right turn from upper harbour onto Albany highway to get up to sunset road. It was awful – found myself cycling along the middle of the road, pedalling uphill, dodging the flexible post barriers with fast moving traffic on both my left and right, and nobody giving anything like 1m of room. Waved my arm to indicate I wanted to move over the left and traffic on the left kept streaming past, even an AT bus, until somebody finally gave me a break and let me cross over. I am very confident rider, but next time I tackle that, going to cycle downhill to the left, try and cross over somewhere quieter, then cycle back up.

    Good knows how the transport planners assumed anybody not in a car was supposed to manage that intersection. Just took another look on Google street view and no provision for pedestrians either and the traffic island look like they are crumbling.

  5. That right turn intersection onto Albania highway is apparently on AT’s radar and has been for some years now, unfortunately it’s probably still some still some more years away from having anything done about it.

    If I come through there and can see a big line of traffic coming up the hill (from Albania towards Birkenhead) I find it better to go through the green light, stop across the road by the concrete barriers until I can see a gap in the traffic and then ride up the hill to hopefully time my arrival at the flexi markers as the gap arrives from the lane on the left, then cross immediately, breath a sigh of relief and carry on home.

  6. Unfortunately the Greenhithe residents association has been lobbying to get the cycle lane removed but it is good to see that AT isn’t listening to them.

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