One of the big challenges for Auckland Transport (and other transport agencies) is how to get more out of our existing road networks, because large scale road widening is both politically challenging and any time you need to move kerbs and services it becomes horrendously expensive.

Getting more out of existing roads can include things such as reallocating space to higher-capacity modes such as with bus lanes or providing safe cycling facilities to give people more options in how they get around. Another tool AT have employed in recent years has been the installation of dynamic lanes on Whangaparaoa Rd and Redoubt Rd. Dynamic lanes also have a longer history in Auckland with the both the Harbour Bridge and Panmure Bridge featuring them. In all those cases, the dynamic lane is used to increase the number of general traffic lanes but AT are now looking to use the idea to improve bus priority on Maioro St in New Windsor.

Before getting into it in more detail, there are a few of positive things AT are looking to do here.

  • Bus Lanes – Maioro St is currently used by both the 24B and 24R buses that also run along Sandringham Rd. This is one of Auckland’s busiest bus routes and at peak times as many as 16 buses an hour are running along Maioro St in the peak direction. That’s roughly a bus every 4 minutes. But those buses are often held up by heavy congestion travelling to and from the motorway.

  • Pedestrian Crossing – The wide road and heavy traffic also makes it very difficult for pedestrians to cross the road, something particularly important for those trying to access bus stops. Maioro St currently doesn’t even have a ‘refuge island’ meaning there is no formal crossing in the 670m between New Windsor Rd and Richardson Rd. AT want to change that by adding in a raised and signalised pedestrian crossing.

  • Intersection Improvements – In addition to the pedestrian crossing, AT are planning to install raised tables at the side streets along route and at the intersection with New Windsor Rd. The New Windsor intersection will also see the removal of the signalised slip lane and the addition of a missing pedestrian leg.

  • Remove the Median – On so many of our roads it seems the need to serve other modes has outweighed by engineers desires for median strips. On Maioro St at least, AT are looking to remove the median.

What I’m concerned about is how they’re planning the dynamic lane and in particular how it’s being used to retain four general traffic lanes. As the diagram and video below shows, the plan is to turn the road into a 5-lane road making it an even more unpleasant area to be while providing nothing for people on bikes.

The decision to retain four general traffic lanes at all times seems to be primarily driven by ATs desire for vehicle flow

Traffic modelling of the proposed dynamic central lane, to allow for two peak hour general traffic lanes and one peak hour bus lane, has indicated overall travel time savings for all vehicles of 28s/km and 1m58s/km for buses in the AM peak; and 9s/km for all vehicles and 15s/km for buses in the PM peak.

AT even have the nerve to claim keeping this general traffic capacity, which will continue to encourage people to drive, supports climate action.

Alternatively, they could have used the dynamic lane idea over four lanes (bus plus two in the peak direction with one lane in the counter-peak direction) and that could have freed up space for some proper cycling facilities.

AT argue there are already shared paths along Maioro so they don’t need to provide anything else, but the reality is those shared paths are simply not of a standard that should be accepted today. They’re relatively narrow and are often narrowed further by street light poles and rubbish bins, they’re also bumpy with frequent dips in the path for driveways making them more like a pump track in places.

Speaking of poles, at least the plans seem to show the poles for the dynamic lane gantries outside the footpath so presumably they won’t be narrowed further.

A gantry for the dynamic lanes on Redoubt Rd

So there are definitely some good things AT are wanting to do here but it’s disappointing that they’re so focused on traffic flow and not making the road suitable for all modes.

There’s more information about the plans on AT’s website including details of a couple of information days later this week.

If you want to make a submission, feedback is open till 20 May.

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59 comments

  1. Removing a painted median?!? Are AT feeling ok? This is a huge development, previously the median has had to be retained at all cost

    Oh…..it’s to retain 4 full traffic lanes at all time, of course

    1. And 5 in the peak. If they removed the berms and the shared paths, they could get into 8 lane AHB territory! 🙂

    2. I think that median was put in because of all the nose to tail crashes that occurred while people were turning into their homes. The crashes have gone so AT figures they dont need the median anymore. It is a bit like when the South Island Rabbit Boards got rid of the rabbits, so the Goverment figured they didnt need the Rabbit Boards anymore.

      1. If safety was the aim, a hard median would stop more crashes wouldn’t it? The few people who live on that road can plan their route accordingly.

        1. +1
          right turn property access has no place on arterials. If direct property access is a primary function of that road then it should be 30km/hr. Nose to tail problems solved.

        2. Problem is those houses were there well before the road became an arterial. It is only used as an arterial because someone forgot to build the motorway to the west.

  2. AT removing a median? Wow. But rather using that critical space for a few high capacity vehicles to move more efficiently along this miserable bit road, every car will be able to do so. It will just end up clogged with cars merging back and forth super inefficiently.

    Amazing stuff AT.

  3. Incidentally I had a friend come over from London for a week and we were driving down Maioro Street and he said to me “how does anyone ever ride a bike in Auckland, how could you possibly ride along here?”
    AT would have to be very bold to take traffic lanes away though, it is very busy at all times of the day, it would definitely leave a lot of people unimpressed. They probably need to get traction on the less busy roads first, get people on board first.
    I guess if they did have 24×7 bus lanes though, they are also pretty good as bike lanes (where less experienced riders can use the shared path). That still leaves 2 peak direction traffic lanes.

    1. “… how could you possible ride along here”

      You use the footpath that is magically ok in this instance because AT have just decided it’s shared path.

      1. You can tell it’s been upgraded to a shared path because it now has a poles right in the middle of it

        1. Ah that’s the distinction? Good news a lot more poles are going to installed in the middle of this shared path, that will make it extra clear.

        2. It just needs a few cars (utes preferably) parking on the footpath, and then it will be a true auckland footpath.

        3. Why would the utes park on the footpath? Is there no space on the verges?

    2. You ride in the middle of a lane, or lane split if its a complete jam.
      While I like tidal lane enabled bus lanes, the narrow shared paths each side (pump tracks) don’t have space for gantry poles. Hopefully they’re pushed to the outsides to align with lamp posts, although they’ll be larger.
      Noting the flush median is indicated on the lights for off-peak and on weekends, so some appeasement for the residents.

  4. Maioro was widened about 10 years ago or so. Funny how they didn’t even think of bus lanes considering Sandringham Road is one of the busier bus corridors in the city. Although maybe LR will change the bus frequency a lot.

  5. I’m left wondering just what is being achieved by this “exciting” new lane usage.
    Basically there is going to be two general traffic lanes in each direction all day and every day, as there is now, it just that during peak periods the lanes in the peak direction move over one so a temporary bus lane can be created in the peak direction.
    To me it’s just a pretence at doing something when they are really doing nothing.
    There has to be a far better alternative than an expensive retaining of the status quo.

    1. If it is an actual bus lane, not just some T2 nonsense, I think it will help buses quite a bit? But as the blog points out, its still a bit doctoring around the edges, not changing modes…

    2. A conventional bus lane in each direction, plus reallocating the median for a two way cycleway?

    3. Won’t the buses just get stuck at each end at the traffic lights, or is there a bus advance spot city bound?

      1. NZ doesn’t tend to do continuous bus lanes at intersections (why not? cause cars – can’t have one less turn lane at the intersection!), so yes, the last 50m are still gridlock. But 50m is a lot better than 650m, I guess…

        1. Currently it isn’t actually legal to allow straight through movements at a kerbside bus lane and allow left turns from a lane to the right of it. Accessible Streets should have fixed that but it’s been sat for ministerial approval for months

        2. Nah, my point was that on an intersection with 3+ approach lanes, you *could* easily designate the middle lane as a bus lane. So buses will need to switch from a kerbside bus lane to a middle bus lane – not totally frictionless (something *has* to cross over somewhere) but a lot better than the “50m are free for all!) arrangements we do. I am not sure crossing left from the right of a bus lane is a good thing. I guess you can signal-control it, but in some ways that is clunky and might give *less* bus green time as the capacity operators optimise for cars – same as it turns out with bike lanes…

  6. This looks like a pretty useful place to put in a dynamic lane system so that there can be a peak hours bus lane but still retain a flush median during the off peak hours so that the people who live here can still turn right in and out of their properties.
    I’m not sure that it is realistic to expect AT to reduce the number of general traffic lanes on such a congested arterial for the sake of adding protected cycle lanes as well. Confident cyclists can use the bus lane and there is a shared path as well so cycling is not completely ignored. But lets hope they can find ways to improve the shared path as well so that it is better for everyone.

    1. ‘for the sake of adding protected cycle lanes…’

      All depends on whether AT’s job is to provide a safe, effective and efficient transport system – for people and planet – or if it’s to serve car dependence and to preserve the current sector processes. Questioning whether it’s ‘realistic’ to change priorities seems a no-brainer given current priorities have contributed to both the safety and the climate crisis.

      Vision Zero and decarbonisation aren’t that complicated – but they do require realising that life is important, and that it is ‘realistic’ to change what we do to preserve it. Indeed it is necessary.

    2. The shared path is set to become substantially less usable with this project, as AT will need to have lights every hundred meters or so.

    3. Cycling infrastructure needs to be based on universality of provision, suitable for all ages and abilities. As soon as we start talking about a street for “more confident cyclists” then it is clear that best practice is not being followed.

  7. This is a prime example of a place where the potential for improvements in safety and for modeshift is substantial. Instead, AT is stuck in the old ways of concern about traffic flow.

    If this is only a peak hour bus lane, it’s going to be adding general traffic capacity in two ways: an extra lane at off peak, and extra capacity in the four lanes at peak hour, through taking the buses out of those lanes.

    This a good case for where vkt reduction targets would have required a different design.

    There are also safety implications of more lanes and the extra traffic throughout the network that last people should be able to grasp.

    The Board’s oversight didn’t need to be technical: all they needed to do was be clear on the outcomes required, and send the design back to the drawing board of it didn’t meet them.

    1. Ah I see that at off peak they have four lanes plus what’ll essentially be a flush median, I suppose Which still serves Flo.

    2. Heidi, you are absolutely right that the first question needs to be, how can we shift mode share? And how can we shift it for every single project that AT looks at? It is easy to see why emissions keep rising, because there are all these smaller projects that increase vkt that leads to a significant increase in vkt. Any small savings from importing marginally less polluting vehicles and EVs is quickly overtaken.
      I see from the latest sea level rising report that the North Western motorway will flood for at least one day per year in 10 years time. That should help with reducing vkt.

  8. Arguably they could do a dynamic lane from the New Lynn train station to Tiverton and Wolverton and Maioro, with strong limits on right hand turns throughout.

    This would enable greater journey time certainty for all of us – car and bus together.

    It would also make for a competitive public transport route directly between Sandringham and New Lynn. Which is good for any future light rail project.

    But it will never be a safe place for cyclists. The volume is just too high and will get worse not better. Those wanting to cycle connect to the SH16 or SH20 cycleways should only use the New Lynn-Avondale cycleway. Just as soon as it opens after 10 years of work.

    1. But how do they get to properties on Maioro St itself? We want a safe cycling city not a few routes that then dump you in lethal traffic before you get to your destination. This is a fundamental paradigm shift required, and AT aren’t getting it.

      1. It’s never, ever going to be safe for cyclists on Tiverton-Wolverton-Maioro. The volume of trucks and buses, plus the gradient, is just brutal. On Clark Street they did about 60 metres of cycleway with Hit Sticks and I’ve never seen a cyclist chance their arm on it since it was built in 2009.

        If you are a cyclist, avoid this route. And don’t cycle out of home either. It’s far worse than Whangaparoa Road, Lincoln Road, or Great North Road for margin and speed.

        1. It is, but it is by design (omission / priority for others).

          Saying, via design “avoid a whole area of town on bikes” is a design choice Auckland has been making for decades. Can’t blame that just on gradients or trucks…

    2. Telling people on bikes to use shared paths for alll their trips is the equivalent of telling cars that they should only use the motorway. Trips are complicated and it’s not only about accessing hubs. People live along corridors like this.

      This project will make biking along this corridor much worse.

      1. Agree. Cycling isn’t practical particularly on an arterial leading to the motorway as this one is. The volume of trucks, buses and cars in my experience means it’s never going to be safe enough for cyclists no matter what you did.

        The improvements proposed are definitely useful around the school – but it’s still going to need teacher guidance 8-9am and 3-4pm each day.

      2. “Telling people on bikes to use shared paths for alll their trips is the equivalent of telling cars that they should only use the motorway. ”

        Its the equivalent of telling car drivers that a rutted dirt track is good enough for government work.

      1. It’s my experience of Tiverton-Wolverton-Maioro over 20 years of Auckland commuting.

        We had a respite of 5 months after the Waterview Tunnel, and in 2020.

        Otherwise it’s worse every year and not getting better.

        1. I think you’re extrapolating past patterns into the future, Ad. That is not something we can afford to do anymore. The kind of transport change we’ve seen in New Zealand over the last 20 years is the sort of abnormality we must shift away from as quickly as we can.

  9. This road intersects the South Western Cycleway. Not building cycle lanes on Maioro is a missed opportunity to build safe feeders onto this cycleway. Three lanes, a dynamic lane and a seperated bi-directional cycle lane would be so much better than five lanes of motor vehicle traffic.

      1. New Windsor? You know, the suburb that people live in, that Maioro St is located in? Connecting said suburb with, say, the rest of Auckland – or more closely, with places like Mt Roskil? To the shops at Stoddard Road, for example?

        Stop looking 10km away. People on bikes want to ride 2-3km distances as much (or, if safely and conveniently allowed) as longer distances.

    1. Can we do something to reduce wait times for cyclists on the south-western path at that intersection? Pedestrians and cyclists are absolutely at the bottom of the priority ladder there (and also at Dominion Rd and Hillsborough Rd intersections). Travelling west is worse than travelling east.

  10. My favourite features are the advanced stop boxes for cyclists turning right to and from Richardson Road. They aren’t new, so aren’t mentioned in the feedback form.

    Who expects riders to sit up to *five lanes* to the right, ready to race furious drivers across the windswept expanse of Maioro Street/Richardson Road intersection?

    Almost as much fun as getting into that position across those lanes, 100 metres from the end of the SH20 cycleway…

    Better that the beg button to do something useful and request a two-leg crossing.

  11. How about banning all right turns to and from Maioro? That would improve safety and traffic flow.

    1. Can’t do that without a solid median. Banning turns without physical barriers is worse than allowing them. So there’s, at absolute minimum ~1m space gone for the median, and then you can’t do dynamic lanes (or fit it in without changing the kerbs like they are proposing). So there’s your savings gone to do a dynamic lane “road space re-allocation” (as limited as the approach is).

      But yeah, turning right during peak IS a safety issue I hadn’t considered. Problematic here, what with so many residential driveways.

    2. Agree Robert. The did it successfully on a couple of the Te Atatu Road side streets without a solid concrete median and the earth didn’t cave in. I’ve seen too many prangs from right hand turns on that street as I get to work.

  12. Waka Kotahi involved with this?
    Smells like a ‘model says traffic chaos will erupt if you take away a lane to the motorway’ scenario.

  13. Those gantries look extremely long to be supported by a single pole? The Whangaparaoa Road gantries shown in the video are only for three lanes, and have a support at each end.

    I wouldn’t be surprised if we see a design change late in the project, deciding to have the gantry straddle the road, with gantry support poles ending up in the shared footpath on the southern side of the road.

    1. I agree. As a positive reading, this is purely conceptual (or does it say somewhere they will be single poles?)

      Wind loadings on a single-pole with such a huge outreach arm would be enormous. Physically possible to do, but the cost for a structure and foundation strong enough would be much, much more than 2 poles cost, so that’s what it will end up as…

  14. I think this project shows how far Auckland Transport have come. It is only about 8-9 years since the current layout was installed. I was amazed at the time that they didn’t put in the extra crossing across New Windsor Road from the north side of Maioro. The fact that they are adding it now is hugely beneficial. As is the raised pedestrian crossing half way along. The shared paths along each side were (and are) disappointing but at least they are improving them slightly at the side roads. So yes, there are things they could do differently but I see what they are doing as a positive step. They are now actively trying to slow some of the traffic down, they weren’t doing that when they installed the existing layout.

    One thing I’d like to see is them do is make all the surrounding residential streets 30km/h. That might go a small way to discourage the rat running that occurs.

    1. Well yeah, it shows how far AT have come. And how far they still have to go.

  15. Instantly sell all the big bases that are not made for Nz roads..no joke its wasteful…

    First of all they can’t even turn in kerbs

    Second, you specialized drivers to run it but mini bases could be rode by even 50 year old people

    Third, bases run empty most of the times except in cbd Auckland, occupancy is

    Fourth, guys needs to understand the long term revenue stream, which you don’t have…who ever did this crap..has studied in big university and taken a chauffeur…never brought up in a family where everything as per budget..realities never realized..

    Fifth, you will safe billions on specialized drivers, specialized replacement and repair works, and traffic congestion

    Sixth, these small bases concept can go to small street, where old people and children can take bases, I used to live in Invercargill where children and old used to walk 3 km to reach the bus stop and and another 3 km to reach there destiny…totally crap…small mini bases can go any streets,..and they can be feasible with revenue model as you can put hire and go ..depending upon the traffic you have…

    What I have marked here most of person in design making are seeing Australia and London in their eyes …that dreamy eyes forget about economic, practical and financial viability in long-term, they don’t thing something about small buses could run by any houses wife and and talk and help the old and kids…they forget even social aspect of investments

    Except few places in Auckland you need the bigger buses, you need so much artistocry..I suggest…save the money on big buses..give some free meal to first time visitors to new zealand.. as a courtesy measure and advertise it for long 10 years…a role model city to invite new ones

    Everything is there in nz just becoz some people are blind…money going …you can have billions saving to do with homes and welfare thing

  16. Yes this what they should of done:
    “Alternatively, they could have used the dynamic lane idea over four lanes (bus plus two in the peak direction with one lane in the counter-peak direction) and that could have freed up space for some proper cycling facilities.”

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