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Rethinking Ponsonby Road

The following is a guest post by regular reader and tram and heritage aficionado; the always analogue Geoff Houtman.

Last February, the Western Bays Community Group was asked to come with a “Ponsonby Road Plan”. We have received hundreds of suggestions to the deliberately open questions,- “What would you like more of?”, “Less of?”, and “None of?”. This is the first in a series of posts based on the answers received.

Ponsonby Rd Lane Uses

Three options are presented below, incorporating those ideas relating to the Roadway. Firstly though, let’s look at what we currently have.

Pic1current

Current

Ponsonby Rd is a little over a mile long (1724m) running basically North-South. The Roadway is generally 18-19 metres wide and divided into 6 or 7 lanes; the two outermost being parallel street parking, with two general traffic lanes each North and South bound and a central median designed to facilitate right hand turning at nearly every side street and intersection. There is no cycling priority at any point. And very scant bus privilege at the southern end plus the mostly mid block bus stops. Clearways operates to speed peak traffic on the section between Williamson and Crummer Rds. At its northern Three Lamps end Ponsonby Rd is one-way, just before it meets Jervois and Crummer Rds. Redmond St and the top of Pompallier Tce have also been one-wayed to handle all of Ponsonby road’s north bound traffic movements for this section.

Can we make it better? Here are three possibilities based on community suggestions.

Pic2optionA

Option A

Traffic cut to one lane each way, Cycleway runs beside the footpath with vehicle parking between it and the traffic lane, Light Rail or buses use dedicated centre lanes.

Pic3optionB

Option B

Footpaths are pushed out a lane on each side, bike lane, then parking and one lane general traffic each way, PT lanes removed, painted median/turning lanes retained.

Pic4optionC

Option C

Parking lanes contain spaced trees, one general traffic lane each way, Cycleway brackets PT lanes.

Do any of these choices seem like an improvement? Do you have any better ideas?

UPDATE: Thanks to all the commenters, based on your helpful advice an Option D has been created. The cycles lanes are now buffered from moving traffic by footpaths and combined parking/ tree lanes. A bus has been added in the PT lanes to indicate their continued viability until the next oil price rise and the possible return of light rail/ trams. On a technical note the parking lanes are now only 2m wide instead of the previous 2.5.

Pic5OptionD

 

Option D

122 comments to Rethinking Ponsonby Road

  • Brendan

    The images are tiff files which wont show in Chrome or Firefox (only insecure IE). Can you guys please switch them to png or jpg.

    • Thanks Brendan (and PR for the computer wizardry),

      How wide do you think those cycle lanes are in your links? We allowed 1.5M for each on the above highly technical drawings..

      • Brendan

        According to this article http://www.bicyclenetwork.com.au/general/bike-futures/11522/ you want to increase that to 2 meters each direction for one way, however if you have two way bicycle lanes the french allow 2.5 to 3m. If we we to base it on option A, then the lane further away from the traffic don’t need to worry around cars opening their doors so their lane can be narrower. The lane closest to the traffic is heading towards the traffic and are more visible the person sitting shotgun who opens there door.

        When I ride Ponsonby Rd I have to take the whole lane because every single time some driver opens their car door without looking.

        I’ve used the two way separated system around the Vancouver waterfront and found it works really well. Something that they have that we don’t have around Tamaki Drive is clear “cycling / no walking” symbols painted frequently (and corresponding walking/no cycling symbols on the walking area.

    • Brendan, one thing to note is that none of those pictures you’ve shown are places that have a significant number of side streets or driveways (i.e. none, as far as I can see).
      Two way street cycleways don’t work when you have a vehicle crossing every 20m. Melbourne tried one in St Kilda and it is a failure, you basically can’t ride on it because of all the side traffic stopped across both cycle lanes waiting to pull into traffic.

      • André

        OK, this is completely ridiculously wishful thinking in Auckland, but is there some way the planning rules for P Road (and other old shopping strips) can be written so there’s a long-term goal to reduce the number of driveways?

        • Geoff Houtman

          Thanks Andre, yes- the less driveways the better. Any chance we can get to get the deliveries and parking accessed by rear lanes like Colin Shaw (Picton to Hepburn) should be encouraged. The driveway between Earlybird Bakery and Bhanas is a pain but it services apartments and six to eight businesses all from one aperture so it pretty much earns its’ place..

      • Adam W

        Also it is not just the side streets but also Ponsonby Road is full of shops at one end and having a 2 way cycle system would not work I feel. The shop you want to stop at could be on the other side of the road, I think all the traffic flows need to be in the same direction aronud the shops.
        Tamaki Drive – now that is where 2 way cycles seperate like that would really rock.

      • Bryce P

        Single lane – one way cycle paths on each side would work fine.

  • James

    Pics showing fine in chrome but the whole webpage’s style sheet (not sure what to call it lots of white every where no borders and side bar and text aren’t lined up) seems broken, works fine in opera

  • Absolutely fine on Pad and in Safari for me…?

  • Sacha

    Agree with dedicated bus and cycle lanes for Ponsonby Rd and maybe restricting some turns across traffic into side streets. However, not trams until other routes are serviced first.

    • Thanks Sacha. Do you have a preferred option? Come up with an Option D if you like…

      And yes, the light rail may be some time away, but Pons Rd has been due an upgrade since 1986. We want to make sure it’s future proofed and we can it once and right!

      • Jennifer Northover

        Option C doesn’t sit with me, cyclists (“cysts!”) jammed in between motorised traffic, higher fumes and more risk.
        Of the 3 options you show A seems the most practical.
        I agree that PT should be bus not tram, at least in the short/medium term.
        I think a single 2-way cycle lane could be considered if it saves road width, was placed on the Western Park side since there are fewer busy side streets, and adequate restrictions added to moderate vehicle exits from that side into Ponsonby Rd.

  • PBY

    Hi Geoff, first off love the technical drawings…

    Option C puts the cysts between two lanes of moving vehicles and could cause conflicts at intersections so I would prefer to steer away from that. I really like the protected cycle lanes, pt lanes in option A and the spaced trees in option C. Perhaps add the spaced trees to the parking lanes in option A.

    Ponsonby is such a nice place to spend time, it would be great to see it more cycle and PT friendly and less car focused.

  • PBY

    Why does my iPad auto correct cyclists to “cysts”… Frustrating.

  • Luke E

    Option C looks pretty cool to me. Make sure plenty of pedestrian priority is included, and not just at the PT stops.

    Hopefully that PT can be light rail. Could this be connected to the Wynyard line?

    • Yes. The City Centre Masterplan has Pons Rd trams dropping down College Hill and heading up Victoria St to Queen but a connection across Vic Park (under the motorway?) to the Wynyard loop would be simpler.

      Pedestrian priority is a big thing people have asked for- look for an upcoming post about raised tables, ped x-ings and traffic calming feature that will ACTUALLY take the traffic down to 40k…

      • Luke E

        Sounds good, especially about the ped priority. I thought about trams running under the flyover, but isn’t that going to be taken down in the long term? If not that would seem like an ideal place.

      • Do note that the CCMP put light rail just about everywhere they could think of, not necessarily on routes that would work well in practice. I would also second taking it to Wynyard and downtown, especially as the bus routes running across Ponsonby Rd from Jervios, Richomond, Williamson and GNR respectively will go to the middle of town. No need to have trams and buses doing the same thing in parallel.

  • Ben S

    Nice work. Option A or C – choking back the car throughput & sticking in some heritage trams would make P Rd magnificent – ideally as part of a loop through Krd, Queen etc, maybe through to the end of Jervois… essentially we need any of this stuff we can get to throw grit into the cogs of AKL’s culture of car dependency…

    • Dan

      Why heritage trams? They take all the space of modern trams but so much less of the service. They play into the idea that transit is antiquated and not a real solution to modern problems.

      • Dan- after much debate on the boards and in real life, the consensus is roughly- modern light rail as a majority of units, heritage as a minority. Heritage trams (of which still have a bunch) will be good for tourists, off peak, special events, the on peak stuff would be modern (doubles?) with the heritage in reserve for crazy busy times..

        • SteveC

          I have a real problem with imported “heritage” trams, if they’re not Auckland trams, they’re not “heritage” only old, maybe I’m too much of a pruist

          can raised pedestrian tables and trams co-exist? genuine question, anyone know?

          • SteveC

            pruist should, of course, have been purist

          • Max

            “can raised pedestrian tables and trams co-exist? genuine question, anyone know?”

            Of course they can – you just need to put the main tram rails right of way onto a raised section themselves, so the top of the raised table is at level with the trail rail top. Raising the tram rails will also ensure they are not constantly blocked by drivers ignoring the fact they aren’t allowed on that section of the road.

            In an ideal world, Cycle Action Auckland would probably prefer Option B. Option A, I would be worried that pedestrians will step into the cycle lane too often.

            Option C could only work with a lot of work, and doesn’t really “feel right” to me.

            A two-way cycleway is, as many have already pointed out, a real problem on roads like Ponsonby Road, with lots of driveways and unsignalised side roads. It would work on, say, Nelson Street, but likely not here.

  • swan

    Option A looks good. I dont think the cycle lanes in C work. However you cant get central platforms to work with buses unless you get a special fleet. Even with trams I think it is a bit tight as drawn – you would probably need separate stops on either side of the intersections. Trees are good as well though.

    • Agree and I struggle to see how two current traffic lanes plus the median can be turned into two bike lanes and a full two direction Transit way with stops.

      Some additional near term things we should consider for Ponsonby Rd:

      1. raised ped beds on all side streets [with pedestrian privilege], and increased pedestrian cycles at all controlled intersections. Lower speed on all side streets too. Mid block crossings.
      2. ban all right hand turns into side streets, these remain at controlled intersections- this gives us the current median to re-purpose for Transit or cycling. And removes both a lot of rat running and unpredictable stopping and dashing vehicle movements.
      3. bus stops moved to major intersections and the return of bus only north bound at Three Lamps, this brings the Transit riders to the front door not the back for retailers and will greatly simplify the Redmond St run for general Traffic; buses through there are very disruptive. And would speed buses considerably by removing this dog’s leg.
      4. Shared Space the top of St Mary’s Bay Rd and only allow traffic to enter there from Jervois there is already a paired one-way street to the north, so that the intersection can be simplified as it is made more complex by the addition of a bus cycle from Ponsonby.
      5. Mackelvie St Shared Space [no right turn into or out] Same with Vermont.

      • Dan

        Nice suggestions — these are the sort of things that can be done in the short term for little cost.

      • Bryce P

        Agree to a point but first I think we need to decide what the aim of the project is. Is it to create a street, with a multitude of shops, that pedestrians and cyclists feel safe to travel around, as well as allowing motor vehicles and PT? If so, then we need to take the Dutch system of road classification into account. Can a major shopping street also be an arterial? I don’t believe the two go together well so, firstly the decision needs to be made as to what classification Ponsonby Road will be.
        If it is not an arterial, then a single traffic lane each way will suffice and it can become a 30 km/h zone (as do the connecting streets). Yes, traffic will use other roads but that is actually a good thing as it spreads the load. With some careful reconfiguring of intersections, the ‘rat running’ can be reduced and avoid adverse conditions for neighbouring streets.

  • Mr Plod

    Hi Geoff,
    Love the pics; nicely personal. Option A with trees would be great. Option C not good for cyclists. My broader question which I’d love to get answers to hopefully in next installment; where do the cars go? P Rd is pretty busy and to use Patricks analogy of traffic being a gas; squeezing the balloon down to one lane each way along P Rd where’s the gas gonna go. I use P Rd for two reasons; firstly to access the specialty retail stores and secondly to get from one end to the other because as a through road it services some pretty important other places that aren’t well serviced otherwise. I don’t love anywhere near Ponsonby so get there by car in the first place. So what happens; one lane P Rd becomes choked with traffic and too hard for non-local car drivers to access the specialty retail so we go to the mall. I can’t see Cyco following us to Lynmall so business shifts. The bigger question would be how do I get, by car, from K Rd to say Argyle St in Herne Bay. P Rd is currently a straight forward way to do that even at 40K. All the judder barred side streets would not be good. Any ideas? Cheers

    • Good question Mr Plod.

      The bit of GNR that runs through Arch Hill and Grey Lynn is (mostly) 1 lane each way and that seems to work.

      Hopefully this is where the Transport Experts leap in with facts and figures and myth-busting and clever solutions….

    • Peter M

      To be fair there are a lot of very busy roads in Auckland that are one lane each way plus on-street parking/clearway/bus lane. Think most of the arterial roads – so it’s not unreasonably to think that Ponsonby Road could lose a lane and still be fine.

      Furthermore I think the inside lane is probably under-used because cars are always pulling in and out or people are getting out of cars. Plus the outside lane often gets blocked up as the median is a bit too narrow for turning traffic. I’d be kinda keen for peak time bus lanes if we were to go down to one lane each way though.

  • SteveC

    I’m not certin what the point of this post is, sure the pictures are nice, but serously, there are many questions that would have to be asked and answered before even starting to think about cross-sections, such as:

    – what is the transport need that is unfulfilled to make such an intervention necessary?
    – assuming that there is an unfilled need, what is the best way of meeting that need?
    – then and only then, how should the road space be allocated to best effect?

    – is the PT service in the centre of the carriageway in the best location? it forces all passengers to cross the roadway to access the vehicles. I’d suggest two central traffic lanes, limited to 30kph, with kerbside parking, then a PT lane with midblock kerb buildouts for boarding and alighting, these lanes could be shared with cyclists although that’s less easy with tram/LRT tracks which can track bike tyres. Parking buffers the buses or trams and the buildouts can be planted and have seats etc.n
    – the PT boarding points could be matched by pedestrian refuges in the middle of the road, although these might be less necessary with the lower speed limit

    – if there was a a tram service, where would it begin and end? it would need to part of a network, not just a Ponsonby Rd funicular ride

    I don’t intend to be negative, but it’s just a bit too unrelated to reality to make any sense to me

    • Chris

      “I’d suggest two central traffic lanes, limited to 30kph, with kerbside parking, then a PT lane with midblock kerb buildouts for boarding and alighting, these lanes could be shared with cyclists although that’s less easy with tram/LRT tracks which can track bike tyres. Parking buffers the buses or trams and the buildouts can be planted and have seats etc.”

      I second this.

    • Steve if you notice that this post is based on open ended questions to the community and not from any kind of transport planning process you might understand it better.

      • Geoff Houtman

        Yep. The idea is finding out what the people want then present it to the traffic folk and start their processes. It’s designed to be non- agendaized based on grass roots ideas from the peeps that use P Rd, rather than the opposite which how Auckland planning is traditionally (and still) done..

        • SteveC

          fair comments Patrick and Geoff, but those questions have to be in a context of possible deliverables, or it will build a community expectation that is bound to be dissapointed

          I guess my comments were mostly driven by seeing trams in the cross section and wondering what they would connect to in order to be remotely justifiable

          • Max

            I disagree – ask what people WANT first. If you already reduce the scope before that, you will not get to know what they want.

            If people want trams, and it turns out one can’t get them/fit them in, THEN one can tell them (preferably with good explanations) why they can’t have them (yet). But one shouldn’t reverse the process.

          • Max- exactly. This is how the Vancouver Plan was done and that worked out well. This is the opposite of the how the Auckland Plan is being done and we don’t know how that’s going to work out yet..

          • Max

            Hi Geoff – I thought the Auckland Plan gave a lot of opportunities for input, at several stages (and many thousands did use the opportunity to comment), so I don’t quite see that concern? Could you explain?

          • Hi Max. It’s the difference between finding out what the “stakeholders” want and designing a Plan based on that or; coming up with a Plan and then asking for comments on it. One is “bottom up” or grass-roots, the other is “top down”. Auckland has historically, and continues to be top down.

          • Sure, ask people want the want, but supply them with the information required to make a properly informed choice. Things like yes we can have trams, but new flash trams cost around four million dollars each while new flash buses are about half a million. Tram tracks cost around $30 million a kilometre to lay, while full bus lanes and signal priority are about a tenth of that.

            Hold a workshop, give the people an initial capital budget and a yearly operating one. Let them play around with what they can get, and what they can afford to run. Let them try some routes and have a go at working out frequencies and spans of service.

            Then they can make a choice. If you just ask people what they want, you’ll get things like a limousine service with flat screen tvs and champagne bar, until you detail the costs, the trade-offs of those. Bottom up stakeholders will want everything unless they have a good idea of what it will actually cost, and what else might be foregone with one option over another.

  • Anthony

    Ponsonby Rd is currently quite good for cycling, so long as you’re comfortable riding in the centre of the centre lanes. The traffic is restricted to 40km/hr and is often doing less. The left lanes are populated by turning vehicles, vehicles stopping abruptly for no reason, doors, people coming or going from their cars, people failing their parallel parking lesson, etc. Not a great place to ride.
    In my opinion, A or B would be worse than the current situation. C would be OK if there was separation between the cars & bikes, else cars would drive in the cycle lane or threaten to do so, to avoid cars parking, doors, people etc as mentioned above.

    • Dan

      Your first sentence doesn’t tie in with the rest of your comment — Ponsonby road is not good for cycling for all the reasons you point out. Even for those happy to take up a lane, it is still full of complex, dangerous and unpredictable car movements.

  • Liz

    What about this (from the left):

    Footpath, 2-way cycleway, parking (maybe with trees) alternating with paved areas for bus stops, bus lane, 2 car lanes (one each way), bus lane, parking alternating with trees and bus stops, footpath.

    This would cater to the current PT (buses), and only one side of the road would need significant development for the first stage (i.e. the cycleway). The bus stop areas would also need to be done, and the road lanes repainted. The trees/parking would buffer the pedestrians and the cyclists from the traffic. Places to cross the cycle lanes ( especially to get to bus stops) would be clearly defined, and there would be more space on the footpaths because the bus stops wouldn’t be there. Also, sections of the interrupted parking lanes could potentially be appropriated for pedestrians in the future.

    • Dan

      Where does all this space come from?!? 2-way cycle lane 3.5m, 2x parking 3m = 6m, 2x bus lane at 4m = 8m, 2x general = 7m. That’s almost 25m needed. According to the post, you have 18-19m to work with.

      • Liz

        I was just reassigning each lane shown in the picture. However, I realise that the 2-way cycle lane may take up more space, so in that case I suggest removing parking on one side.

      • Liz

        Also, the road already has 4 traffic lanes plus 2 parking lanes plus a median strip. With the widths you’ve mentioned that would put the current road layout width at 21.5m (allowing 1.5m for the median strip), rather than the actual 18.5m. I agree it’s probably impossible to fit in everything I mentioned, but I think removing a car parking lane on one side would be sufficient. We’d then have 4 lanes of traffic (already catered for), one lane of parking (same), and we’d have ~4.5m left for bike lane plus widening the PT lanes slightly.

  • Bryce P

    Geoff, I notice the footpaths are pretty much 5m each side (rough measure on GIS). If 800mm or so was used, in conjunction with some road, on each side for a cycle path do you think it would be an issue?

    • Geoff Houtman

      Hey Bryce, I’ll check footpath widths in the a.m.

      In the built up retail areas people would strangle you if you tried to take footpath away. Everyone wants it for tables and chair space. The othe problem would be the awnings, lucky most of them are so old they don’t have that stupid 600mm setback and go all the way to the gutter, so that would be tricky also.

      I’ll make a 4th pic once the post had been up 24 hours and include readers ideas in it. We can re check widths there?

      • SteveC

        I’d give more space to the footpaths, not less

        my experience of cycling on Ponsonby Road is that the kerbside traffic lane is more often used by cars entering and exting parks, so most through traffic heads for the centre lane leaving the kerbside lane relatively clear

        and if the speed limit is brought down to 30kph, then the speed differential with many cyclists is reduced and drivers are deliberatly driving with a measure of reastraint, so mixing it with cyclists is less of an issue, if we’re continually taking cyclists out of the traffic mix, drivers have less of an opportunity to learn how to operate around them

  • Sacha

    I agree with Steve and Bryce that more clarity about the desired overall result would help.

    And Geoff, have you considered running a half-day workshop with interested community members and some relevant professionals, so it’s a more informed, interactive process?

    • Hi Sacha, the overall result is getting the (25 years overdue) tart up of Pons Rd done right. This post is the first in a series focusing on different aspects of P Rd. Other will include place-making, the pedestrian experience and traffic calming, heritage, skyline, etc etc

      A half day workshop (for free) is a hard thing to get folks along to- especially professionals. Whereas here- people don’t seem to mind giving ideas and criticism gratis and without having to commit for 3-4 hours on a certain day. Interested community members have been giving their opinions all last year and will have something, or more likely two or three options presented to them at the end of this process.

      Unless- you’d like to host one? ;-)

  • NCD

    Would it be that bad if we got rid of some / quite a lot / almost all the parking?
    Considering parked cars take a lane, open doors to stuff up neighbouring bike lanes, and block the flow in the adjacent lane when they’re stopping/going, I would think they’re the expendable element.
    The result of your work is going to be so good for retailers they won’t miss the parking.
    Oh, and make it 30 km/hr (at least you’ll get 40 that way).

  • Sacha

    Oh I wish I had the resources or the connections to host an event. I mean the *transport* result, and I mean transport/planning professionals. To get weekday workers, maybe try a Saturday?

    I’ve seen that informed joint approach work well and I’ve seen conventional blank sheet public ‘consultation’ exercises not do so. Maybe your Western Bays Local Board and Auckland Transport could help pull something together, with local business association and other community networks?

  • Sacha

    But Geoff it sounds like you have a process mapped out so best wishes.

  • Bryce P

    More questions than answers but, under the new bus network redesign, what part does Ponsonby Road play? Is it part of the FTN? How would a single tram line down the middle, with passing loops at stations, fare? Initially at least, it could run from GNR to Jervois Road and operate on the transfer model. Using my rough estimation, this would leave room for 2 general traffic lanes, parking (except where tram stops are located) and a 1.5m, one way, bike lane each side of the road.

    • Mr Anderson

      Pretty sure it’s similar as now – the Inner Link as a frequent and perhaps a few other bits and pieces routes. Can’t recall what happens to the 020.

  • Sailor Boy

    I like the idea of having cyclists inside of the parked cars, sems to work pretty well in the couple of places I have seen it overseas.
    I always though ponsonby road was one of the bestpotential tram routes in Auckland, after Queen St and aroute to Wynyard qtr. But I agree left lane would be better, this mean that a station is more easily accessible and can be built in the ‘parking’ lane which effectively becomes a parking/station/ left turn lane.

    • Bryce P

      I guess I was thinking, now that it would be a 30 km/h road, that zebra crossings to the centre stops would be quite safe and easily achievable. The left turn can be taken care of by removing a few car parks just prior to the intersection. I know it seems easy to just remove kerb side parking but I think it’s actually needed as it gives a shopping street a bit of character (I know, some won’t agree with that sentiment but the price of land will make parking buildings behind the shops pretty prohibitive) and provides a buffer between the footpath / cycle path and the moving cars.

    • Max

      Cyclists inside of cars DO have a lot of safety issues when there’s lots of side roads and driveways though. Because cyclists can shoot out from behind the parked cars, while a driver turns in to the driveway, especially if he’s “shooting a gap” in opposing traffic. Not saying it is impossible to make work safely, but one would, for example, have to consider a physically enforced right turn ban (solid median) and some relatively extensive parking removal. And that’s not going to be popular with many

      • Bryce P

        I would envisage a no right turn environment and the parking wouldn’t be overly extensive so there would be plenty of gaps for sightlines. Would the risk of being hit from a turning vehicle be higher or lower than the risk of dooring on the outside? Must be some stats somewhere.

        • Bryce P

          From a quick browse of maps there is the opportunity to remove / consolidate quite a few of those driveways along Ponsonby Rd. Just needs the will, and some funding.

        • Max

          Funny you mention that just now, Bryce. Just yesterday read a 2011 assessment of crashes across NZ that may shed some light on it. Dooring crashes were about 7% of all cycle crashes, while those crashes that could relate to the type of issues we would have with a cycleway behind parked cars are a lot harder to get from the numbers…

          I have emailed you the file with some commentary, here it is for anyone else who wants to have a look. Dooring is a subcategory of “collision with obstruction” on the pedal cyclist table.

          http://www.transport.govt.nz/research/Documents/Motor-Vehicle-Crashes-2011-Casualties-and-crashes.pdf

  • S

    The inner link already runs down Ponsonby Rd. If people want trams, it’s because trams are perceived as simply being more stylish than the bus – I’m admittedly not aware of the numbers using the inner link, but I doubt that it’s over capacity to the extent that conversion to light rail is necessary for that reason. However, style is fine and certainly should not be overlooked. If there is a tram line, though, where would it terminate? The obvious thing would be to continue to run it down K’Rd, but once you’ve done that you might as well either go down Symonds St or continue to duplicate the inner link and return to Britomart via Parnell. Whatever happens, I think that any tram line should connect with a future K’Rd train station and with people arriving on the bus from Grafton Bridge and the other buses that use Symonds St.

    • Bryce P

      Of course, until we have enough funding to do a complete tram line as you suggest, there is no reason why off-peak buses cannot run in the general traffic lanes (just the 2 lanes still) and have clearways for peak flows (PT / parking lanes). This would leave bucket loads of room.

    • Ben S

      Whoa there Mr S – I think to say that people want trams because “they are perceived as simply being more stylish than the bus…” is just a little bit pat.

      Putting aside the hoary old reality that both modes have a role, I think the pro-human characteristics of tram/streetcar travel are vastly more than just ‘stylish’, although that’s not a bad attribute for starters.

      Well engineered, they offer speed, efficiency (through priority transit) and capacity; they are generally electric whereas buses are generally diesel (fumes, noise etc); they offer a sense of certainty and predictability which compared to buses, chimes well with the rhythms of a city. You could go so far as to say there’s almost a serenity about trams – even the big, modern, long range articulated ones.

      It’s been shown that people find trams easier to interface with in terms of route comprehension and perceive them as more reliable than buses.

      Trams are comfortable. Buses operate at the whim of the driver so ride quality is often compromised, some people get motion sickness on badly driven buses and standing on buses requires more “hand hold” travel.

      Could go on but lesser matters call, suffice to say I think there’s just a little bit more to it than ‘stylish’…

      • Swan

        Ben S,

        None of those points differentiate trams and buses. Corridors are corridors, power source is power source etc.

        I don’t see what your point is.

        • Ben S

          “Corridors are corridors, power source is power source…” food is food, weather is weather… bland reductionism is bland reductionism…

          I don’t see what your point is.

          • Swan

            Sorry should have been clearer. It is the quality of the corridor not the vehicle type you appear to be advocating for.

  • Dan

    Hi Geoff, would you care to share who this western bays community group is? Looks a little like a one man band to me…

    • Hi Dan. You’d be dead wrong there. It’s an Incorporated Society with a couple of hundred members (with varying degrees of attendance), we’re also a member of the Character Coalition. You can look up the objectives and rules of the Group on the Companies Office website…

  • Dave Howick

    Put a couple of these on the side streets and replace most of the parking bays with cycle lanes – parking problem sorted….
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?NR=1&v=sSdN_WZYdNM&feature=endscreen

    But then cost might mean one fewer latte for the Ponsonby “look at me” set.

  • Ben S

    At the risk of veering slightly off-topic, while it’d be brilliant to re-seed some tram action in P Rd and environs, my instinct would be to implement it somewhere a bit further down the soc-ec scale first.
    Like Henderson.
    Or Otahuhu.
    Give ‘em a great local area network, linking into the train station.
    Success in locations like that would soon have the well-heeled areas raging for replication – whereas if we put a cutesy system in Ponse/Herne it might forever be seen as merely a shiny trinket for smug locals and plump tourists.

  • John Smith

    In options A & B, the barrier between the cyclist and the parked car needs to be wide enough to prevent the cyclist being doored by the car passenger.

  • Sacha

    “ask what people WANT first. If you already reduce the scope before that, you will not get to know what they want.

    If people want trams, and it turns out one can’t get them/fit them in, THEN one can tell them (preferably with good explanations) why they can’t have them (yet). But one shouldn’t reverse the process.”

    Max, I respect not squelching creativity by leading with constriants. However, people do not come into a process like this unaffected by context. If they’ve heard their local MP talking about trams along Ponsonby Road, then that’s what they will say they want. If they think of the road as for only one purpose, they may not consider how others are affected.

    Human nature suggests being ‘reasonable’ afterwards might not work that well. It’s not an ‘either-or’ thing – we need processes that both encourage creativity and respect constraints. People take what they learn into the next process. We all deserve our understanding and experience to be fed as well as drawn upon.

  • I live just at the end of K Rd end of Ponsonby Road and work in Westhaven marina.

    The main reason that there is so much traffic down Ponsonby Road that I see is because there are few alternate routes to go from the Grey Lynn / Newton Road to Victoria Park / Curran Street.

    You have a choice of going via the logjam of a route further into the CBD (which everyone avoids because it takes an incredibly long time), Ponsonby Road, the micro sized John Street, or go away around to the other end of Herne Bay. Ponsonby Road is by far the most direct route.

    So the traffic flow for me during the week to either go the full length of Ponsonby Road and peel off left, or to dive down right to Victoria Park. Most of the cars I see are using Ponsonby Road as a transit road so buses won’t help that much. The numbers parking or actually wanting to be in Ponsonby Road are pretty minimal. Don’t think that chopping down to two lanes of traffic will help. You’ll just get longer jams because there aren’t the alternative routes.

    Buses aren’t going to help much. There aren’t any going over the bridge from that side of town last time I looked. And the ones coming from town are quite unreliable. The last time I used a bus coming home it took 90 minutes. 15 minutes walk, waited 50 minutes to see 3 Links coming together, and had to cram in the overloaded last one as the two previous ones were bulging. 15 minutes up college hill and along ponsonby road. Link is a very good idea, but it needs dedicated bus routes along the whole of the route. I can’t afford the time to freeze or cook waiting for the bus company as much as I’d like the walking exercise.

    • Max

      Sounds like there’s an interesting comment buried in there, Iprent. If a lot of people going along Ponsonby Road are going towards the Shore / the motorway (which is also my understanding), then WHY don’t we provide better buses for that route? You know, with bus priority rights of way, similar to Option A above. And bus lanes on the AHB.

      You are correctly highlighting that Ponsonby Road doesn’t exist in isolation, and its issues can’t be overcome in isolation either.

      • Max absolutely right. In my view this problem is part of the solution. And Iprent’s reason for not using the buses is that they are slow and unreliable shows that by improving the priority and routing of the Transit (bus or tram) along this important road then we should certainly be able to positively effect the traffic demand too.

        Even though I am a frequent cyclist on this road I am increasingly thinking that dedicated cycle lanes may not be the best solution. Certainly the lower speed limit has made it much safer as now it is easier to claim the centre of a lane there. At 30kph that would been an even happier answer. Or if there were permanent bus lanes, even though buses and bikes are a tricky mix, it does depend on the quantities ( and qualities) of each.

    • Thanks iprent! Do you think having dedicated PT lane (s) up the middle of Pons rd would make the Link work better? There’s also the option (future post) of two waying the 3 lamps section just for PT..

  • Ben S

    Slightly alarmed by the notion of “two-waying the 3 Lamps section” – the traffic calming that happens through there now is like an oasis in the AKL context…

    • Ben- just an idea floated by multiple locals. Enough to make it worth investigating. If you’ve ever been stuck on a bus in the meat grinder that is Redmond St at rush hour you’ll know what they mean

    • Traffic calming?! The number of times I’ve almost been hit on that bizzare three pronged pedestrian crossing of doom! Not sure how two lanes with a free left turn into a oneway bypass to the motorway is supposed to be traffic calming. Since when did multi lane one way roads calm traffic?

      Two way and normalise the intersection I say, good for buses, good for pedestrians, good for traffic connectivity and legibility, perhaps not goot for traffic speed but hey it’s supposed to be 40km/h right?

      • My suggestion, above, is to add a contra flow bus [and bike] lane to the Three Lamps stretch of Ponsonby Rd. Bring the bus riders to the front of the shops, where they can wait under cover too. This will do wonders to speed the buses here and it would be great to get both the buses and the footpath blocking bus shelter out of Redmond St.

        Shared Space the top of St Marys Bay Rd and only allow left turning traffic from Jervois Rd to enter there, no traffic joining the intersection form this road.

      • Ben S

        Nick R – I fear for your road-crossing skills (and I apologise in advance if you have restricted mobility or other issues). As a regular pedestrian, I’ve never had a problem in years of crossing the road up there. There are 2 x zebra crossings after all…

        • What planet are you on ben? Pedestrian crossings in Auckland are an optional pause for drivers…. I know that’s not the law but it is the observed practice, and of course not by most drivers but just enough to keep it, shall we say, interesting or even an existential risk stepping out on many of them.

        • My road crossing skills are fine, it’s the drivers who drive straight through the pedestrian crossing who are the problem. The two lane rat run to get in queue for the harbour bridge is the problem, you think they’ll stop for a pesky pedestrian when they have to boost round the dog leg to cut in front of that Audi?

  • dan

    Given all of these option halve the capacity of the road, and potentially the intersections even more so, where is all this traffic meant to go?

    • Steve D

      Well, it halves the number of cars, not the capacity of the road. The bus/light rail lanes will carry many more passengers than the car lanes they displace, so these options actually increase the road’s capacity.

      As for the cars, they have carparks at home. It’s not like drivers are folornly circling the city, unable to ever stop.

      • dan

        Bus / light can CAN carry many more passengers but it does not mean they will.

        Ponsonby road is not used all that much by people going to the cbd as it is running the wrong direction. It more connects a part of the city with little other road access with the south of the city. Remove ponsonby road and you will push traffic onto roads even less suited.

        • Very certain that everyone does what you do dan? I use p rd daily to get to city, sometimes south sometime north. Sometimes on the 020 or Link, on bike, on foot, and sometimes in a car.

          • dan

            Sounds like you must get lost daily? How does walking up the length of ponsonby road help you get to the cbd? You should really look at a map as there are much faster routes.

        • Swan

          A lot of vehicles will be heading to/from the shore. There are some buses that go down P Rd to the Shore, but in the peak they get horribly snarled getting onto the motorway. If there is a way to get priority to the m way they could be v popular.

          • There’s a Takapuna to Onehunga via P Rd and the Curran and Shelly Beach Rds on the 2016 FTN map, which means it’s to be at least every 15 mins. Of course no priority yet on P Rd or anywhere much else I suspect. Throw in some bus lanes and that and the 10 minute freq. Link would be pretty handy….

  • Note all: the artistic loins of Mr H have stirred again and we now have an Option D added to the end of the post. Thanks Geoff.

  • M. Lee

    Maybe could free up three or four metres by reducing parking to one side of the road only? Not necessarily the same side the full length of Pons. Rd.

    Would love a tram, but doubt Ponsonby is the first priority.

  • Susan P

    Great work! As a regular cyclist who uses part of Ponsonby Rd to commute into university, and who rides to go shopping or eating in the evening, I like any option that provides sufficient, safe well-marked road space for people on bikes. (I see there’s some disagreement about the safety of bike lanes inside or outside of parked cars.) The 40kph reduction has made some difference, but not much. I ride slowly on a city bike, but I also occasionally ride my speedier road bike. On the latter it feels much safer because you can ride at or nearly at the same speed as the traffic, but not on a city bike and surely it’s the latter mode that the revamp of P Rd should be favouring, encouraging and inviting… Another thing: how about free bikes at either end of P Rd to encourage people to take the bus to Ponsonby and then ride? I know there are helmet issues etc, but thought I’d add it to the mix, even if it was only part of marketing or celebrating the revamp when it finally happens – I very much look forward to that day.

  • Sailor Boy

    What about from the left contra flow bike route, contra flow trams (raised), parking/ left turn/ tram stop lane, single traffic lane with no median? Makes the configuration a lot simpler, makes it far easier to block right turns, reduces vehicle speed, really good for cyclists, easier pedestrian crossings.

  • On the subject of street trees. Here are some tweets from Jeff Speck a well known and respected urban designer based in Washington DC. http://www.jeffspeck.com/
    Best read in reverse order.

    Counter Intuitive to some:

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