It seems it’s consultation season at Auckland Transport with quite a few significant consultations currently or recently underway. We typically see this happen at around November each year, but it seems last year’s season might have been delayed by COVID.
One of those important consultations is the New North Rd Upgrade. This one closes tomorrow (Friday 8 April: here’s the link for feedback) so we thought a quick recap would be useful. You can see our original post about it here.
The project is important not just because it covers a significant stretch of one of Auckland’s key corridors, but also because it is the first corridor being consulted on as part of ATs Connected Communities programme, which is meant to roll out improvements to bus priority, active modes, safety and town centre improvements to a number of key arterial corridors across the region.
So there’s a good chance this project will become a blueprint for what happens on many of the other corridors in the programme. And addressing those issues and opportunities will be a critical tool in the goal of achieving mode-shift as part of our need to reduce emissions.
The consultation covers the New North Rd corridor, extending from Symonds St at its intersection Karangahape Rd to a stretch of Rosebank Rd in Avondale, also including Morningside Drive and a small section of St Lukes Rd.
AT have come up with three high-level approaches for the corridor, although they may pick and choose between them for different parts of the route.
- Option A – Two Routes: This option tries to maximise the amount of bus lanes without having to shift any kerbs. It does this by in some parts pushing cycling provision to an ‘alternative off-corridor cycle route‘. I believe this is an unethical option, as in pushing an alternative route, this involves removing existing safe cycling facilities – meaning you may be able to ride to the edge of a town centre, but not safely through it. (See more in our earlier post).
- Option B – Minimal Kerb Changes: This is the best of the options, trading off a little bit of extra bus priority to enable a safe cycleway to be added to the entire New North Rd corridor.
- Option C – Road Widening: This is the ‘if money was (almost) no object’ option, and involves widening about 60% of the corridor to fit everything in, with much of the space for that widening coming from narrowing footpaths.
Interestingly, even this option would still see the existing bike lanes in Mt Albert changed to a single bi-directional cycleway – and would preserve turning lanes in each direction, but no bus priority though the intersection.
A summary of each of the three options is shown in the table below.
One thing that is bizarre about all three options is that AT say on-street parking will be allowed in the bus lanes outside of peak hours. They should keep things simpler by making all bus lanes 24/7.
In addition, none of the options provide for safe cycling options on Morningside Dr or the part of St Lukes Rd included in this corridor. This is a major oversight and something AT need to fix.
It’s also worth noting that in all scenarios, AT say they’re investigating changing the speed limit to 40km/h along the corridor and to 30km/h within the town centres.
Key Submission Points
- Overall we believe Option B is clearly the best option here, to the point that it almost seems like Options A and C are deliberately designed to make it look better. If nothing else, speak up to support Option B.
- Cycling provision needs to be included on Morningside Dr and St Lukes Rd where they’re part of this programme.
- We should also look to provide safe cycling infrastructure to the ‘alternative off-corridor cycle route‘ as well as to New North Rd itself – safe cycling needs to be on almost all roads, not just one road in an area.
- Bus lanes on the corridor should be all day, not just at peak times.
It doesn’t take long to provide some feedback so if you’ve got a spare few minutes, jump in by tomorrow.
Once the preferred option has been chosen, there will be plenty to do on more detailed designs, and AT say construction is not expected to to start till 2023/24.