Auckland Transport have just launched consultation on a cycleway for a route fairly close to my heart as it’s part of my regular ride to work – Hobsonville Rd.
The corridor has seen a lot of growth in the last decade or so with all the development at Hobsonville Point and nearby Whenuapai, as well as a lot of commercial development along the northern side of the road.
This has included adding multiple new signalised intersections – something I’ve expressed frustration about in the past as AT has often included widening the road to provide turning lanes for cars at the expense of what little de facto space there was for bikes, despite the corridor having long been on plans to have safe cycling infrastructure.
In fact, adding safe bike infrastructure and improving the dangerous intersections along the route should really have been a requirement of revoking the state highway designation after the parallel motorway opened in 2011.
Back to the current proposal, here’s what AT have to say about why this route is being put forward.
Funding has been allocated from the Climate Action Targeted Rate (CATR) to deliver a cycleway along Hobsonville Road. The CATR rate provides funding for projects that reduce greenhouse gas emissions and reduce the impact of transport on climate change.
Hobsonville Road is an important connection for the cycle network, linking up cyclists to the north and to the west, including the Northwestern Path to the City Centre and beyond. It also links local users to bus stations, ferry terminals, schools, businesses and retail or entertainment.
The cycleway will provide safer access for cyclists to the Hobsonville Ferry Terminal and the Northwest bus station at Westgate which will serve local services and the Western Express. From later this year, buses will run between Westgate and the City Centre every 7-8 minutes during peak periods.
The objective for the Hobsonville Road designation is to enable the provision of a transport corridor that:
- improves connectivity along the corridor to Whenuapai and to Westgate
- integrates with and supports planned urban growth and the future transport network in Whenuapai
- provides options for people who want to travel by bike, bus or by walking
- is safe for all users
- provides for the growth of the population in the area
The cycleway project is part of transitioning Hobsonville Road in providing dedicated facilities for those who want to cycle and make it safe for all users.
The proposal is for a cycleway in each direction on either side of the road, rather than a two-way cycleway on just one side. AT says this is to remove safety concerns and confusion for cars exiting side roads and driveways. (So it’s a bit odd that they recently proposed replacing the existing cycleways on nearby Upper Harbour Dr with a two-way design.)
There will also be separation for the length of the Hobsonville route, but exactly what types of separators they’ll use is part of the consultation.
The cycleway will divert behind bus stops – hopefully those will have some shelter and seating? – and at intersections there will be raised tables. A few new pedestrian crossings are being added, mostly at the southern end. And, not directly related to this consultation, it must be noted that Hobsonville Rd needs a few more bus stops, as there are numerous places where the gap between stops is over 1km.
The currently proposed design should hopefully be fairly cheap and fast to construct, as most of it will be achieved through reallocating existing road space – including by removing on-street parking to prioritise movement.
Te Tupu Ngātahi – Supporting Growth alliance have a long term plan for Hobsonville Road which includes significant upgrades to the width of Hobsonville Road. This is likely to be 10 to 15 years away. The cycleway we are currently designing will be built between the existing kerb lines. We are not planning to widen the road and will not need to disrupt the current services such as power, fibre, water and stormwater in the berm space.
Hobsonville Road is an arterial road. Most arterial roads have little or no on-street parking in order to keep the route working efficiently for the movement of people. Arterial roads are also important connections for bus routes, emergency services, cyclists, other vehicles and pedestrians. The proposal currently suggests the safest and most efficient option is to repurpose most of the on-street parking on Hobsonville Road.
That nod towards the future is worth noting – it’s hard to see how AT will be able to justify “significant upgrades to the width”, i.e. significantly widening the road to move more vehicles in the middle of a climate emergency. Check back in 2033, I guess.
On parking, there are typically not a huge number of cars parked on Hobsonville Rd most of the time, but there are a few locations that likely have high usage on certain days/times, like outside Hobsonville School and the Westgate Baptist church. As with most cycleway proposals, the replacement of on-street parking to improve safety will almost certainly be where most of the opposition will likely come from.
The other main point of opposition is likely to be that for most of the route the flush median will be removed.
Overall the design mostly looks pretty good and well worth supporting, with a few aspects worth commenting on in detail. (The legend below applies for most of the images that follow).
Oriel Ave Intersection
The cycleway seems focused on accessing Westgate – however, the connection with Oriel Ave leaves a lot to be desired. Oriel Ave connects to the bright yellow bridge that spans SH16, which leads to the NW Cycleway that runs all the way to the city, so this is an important connection. At the very least it seems odd that there’s no way to get from Oriel Ave to the east/northbound cycleway.
One of the benefits of the proposal is it will make Hobsonville Rd much safer for a wide variety of users. At major intersections, it appears the design effectively pulls cyclists off the road to use upgraded pedestrian crossings. However, more confident users are likely to want to be able to flow through intersections. Some intersections seem to allow for this, but others don’t.
For example the intersection of Westpark Dr / Westpoint Dr allows cyclists to flow through if they choose:
But the roundabout at Suncrest Dr and the Sinton Rd intersection appears to prevent this. Upgrading each of the legs of the Suncrest Dr roundabout to pedestrian crossings is good though.
There’s also an impression of the Suncrest roundabout:
Missing Pedestrian Crossing
Possibly this is a mistake, but the design seems to have removed an existing pedestrian refuge just west of Wisely Rd. This should remain and be upgraded to a pedestrian crossing.
Hobsonville Secondary School
It feels like something better could be done with the treatment outside of Hobsonville Secondary School. For example, a few minor changes to kerbs could allow the cycleway to shift to run inside of the carparking and bus stop.
While there are a few minor improvements that could be made to the design, overall there’s a lot to like about what’s been proposed.
The consultation is open till 30 June and the form is quick and easy to fill in. There are also a few community information days planned.
Venue: Hobsonville RSA
Address: 114 Hobsonville Road, Hobsonville, Auckland
- Session 1: Monday 12 June, 5.30 to 7.30pm
- Session 2: Tuesday 13 June, 10am to 12pm
- Session 3: Sunday 18 June, 1.00 to 3.00pm
If all goes well, AT says it hopes to start construction in mid-2024 – but given how poorly AT have delivered on cycleways in recent years, I won’t be holding my breath.