This is a guest post from NCD
Cyclist safety is topical at the moment. That’s good. I like being alive.
In mid-April the Expert Panel charged with reviewing cycling safety was convened. We know they’re going to produce a report with a lot of useful, practical, life-saving recommendations. The more critical point is whether the government and concerned agencies will do anything about it, or file them under “F” (for future? for fugetaboutit?)
Lester Levy has recently given the first inklings that he can be a man of action when it comes to critical bus lanes, so it seems a good time to look around and see if there’s any quick wins for Lester on the cycling front. It’s his lucky day.
I regularly bike from the city to St Heliers to visit my parents (aside: not everyone wearing lycra is making a recreational trip), and so I thought a quick safety audit of the route would be in order.
Exhibit one – Heading East on Tamaki drive, just past the port.
Often called a “pinch point”. That’s akin to having a sign for kayakers at the top of Huka Falls warning: “wet point”
Firstly, there’s no need for a car park here. It is serving port workers or Parnell Baths users, or park ’n joggers. None of these are essential.
Secondly, note the way that the car in the photo is over the lane boundary. It’s so narrow even cars are scared of being doored.
Cost of removal? A lick of paint.
This is the busiest cycling road in the country, a national jewel.… and a car park. (And no, I don’t want to ride on your root-infested too-narrow surface-that-would-never-be-tolerated-on-a-road shared path, but thanks).
Exhibit two - Coming into Mission Bay heading West, the cycle lane ever-so gently melds… into a row of parallel car parks.
Would the engineer who designed this identify yourself so we can award you for your (ahem) skills.
I’d be interested to know the legal situation of a cyclist who exits the cycle lane to the right, as hundreds of cyclists have to do every day. Is it effectively a lane change, so are they in the wrong if they’re bowled at this point?
Exhibit 3 – The Strand. Hey Hairy Legs, a truck is about to make your “to wax or not?” dilemma redundant.
Here’s a good example of the way a long vehicle’s rear end tracks a tighter radius. Looks like the driver is having to get his nose into the next lane just to keep his rear clear.
OK, let’s take a minute to think of Ruth, reasonably new cyclist that she is. Ruth is about to be freaked out by this, and rightly so.
Experienced cyclists know you need to take the lane, but Ruth is likely to try and take the apparently safe option to stay left. If she comes to the parked car just as this load come by…. Collateral damage in the quest to keep our Rockstar economy truckin’ along.
Lester, it doesn’t have to be like this.
Exhibit 4 -Stanley Street. Called a “Street” but really a motorway on-ramp. Here’s a truck picking up speed as although it’s still 50, it’s about to be 100, and there’s a big hill to climb:
Room for cyclists? No.
Room for a few parallel parks? Of course.
Now AT will no doubt want to point out that this is NZTA’s patch. Hey NZTA: since when did your brief include providing parking that endangers road users?
Pity the poor tourist staying in town who thinks they might ride a bike along Stanley St to that pretty looking Lower Domain Drive with it’s new cycle lane that AT is so proud of.
Interestingly, Google gives this route as an alternative option. They suggest you take two minutes extra via Parnell and avoid death:
Even nicer: a route that’s both direct and safe.
There’s plenty of other sites around Auckland that are just as worthy of being fixed, but this wouldn’t be a bad place to start. We don’t need a consultative process when human life is at stake. It’s not expensive to fix, doesn’t result in much (if any) lost revenue for AT. It speeds traffic flow, as cyclists get out of the way of the lanes
To go back to the title of this post, when you look around Auckland you get the feeling that for AT it is a no-brainer: car parks win.
I hope there’s never another reason to get “AT: removing car parks one death at a time” T-Shirts printed. Be pre-emptive and there doesn’t have to be.