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.