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Make the Mt Albert Upgrade Great Again

Today is the last day to submit on Auckland Transports absurd, last minute consultation on the planned upgrade to Mt Albert. It seems that they were hoping to slip the consultation through unnoticed with their preference to put the movement of a few bits of tin over the safety of other road users and a more efficient road network. That’s because AT want to retain a right turning lane for traffic coming from the south on New North Rd at the expense of safe bike lanes and other road users, including buses.

Since my post on the issue AT provided me with the presentation they gave to a residents association and which gives a lot more detail about the options, and which makes AT’s preferred option even more absurd. For example, in the two hour morning peak there are 2,980 vehicles that move through the intersection, of which 1,200 are coming from the south. Only 72 vehicles turn right during that same time. The numbers are slightly higher in the interpeak and PM peak but still fairly insignificant, the AM Peak is shown below.

All up across the entire day there are only around 1,200 right turn movements through an intersection that sees around 40,000 total movements, that’s only about 3%. What’s more they have also analysed how many of those turning right are actually doing it for local trips and how many are travelling further. They looked at how many were actually stopping in the town centre, then looked to see how many of the vehicles turning right were still on Mt Albert Rd past the Owairaka Ave intersection, classifying these as ‘regional’ trips. This is important as those making regional trips could just as easily use Richardson Rd/Owairaka Ave The results are below

AM:

  • Less than 3% stop in the town center
  • 38% left Mt Albert Rd between Allendale and Owairaka Ave
  • 59% continued past Owairaka Ave (“regional” trips)

PM:

  • Less than 2% stop in the town center
  • 42% left Mt Albert Rd between Allendale and Owairaka Ave
  • 56% continued past Owairaka Ave (“regional” trips)

So all up we have 55-60% of right turning traffic able to use Richardson Rd to achieve the same effect.

The main benefit AT give to retaining a dedicated right turn lane is some vague comment about it having network benefits. What’s amazing about this statement is that Auckland Transport have the audacity to even say it given their own numbers show it is a lie. By removing the ability to turn right in Option 3, it allows for more time to be allocated to other 97% of traffic movements that pass through the intersection. They say that would see delays at the intersection reduce by as much as 30% which is fairly substantial. So for the network overall, removing the right turn lane results in significant improvements, and that’s even before considering the benefits to those on bikes.

 

At least they’ve updated their website since we raised the issue, including listing some of the significant negatives of their preferred option.

  • 40m of the proposed cycle lanes south of the intersection will be removed (creates safety concerns that will require further assessment, mitigation and design amendment).
  • Less confident cyclists would likely ride on the footpath in a section already constrained for pedestrians.
  • Removal of 5 further car parks south of the intersection (out of 39 parking spaces in total).
  • 25m of footpath widening previously proposed south of the intersection returned to existing widths.

Also since the first post, our friends at Bike Auckland have given their take on the proposal here and here while our friends at Generation Zero are also encouraging people to submit in favour of option 3.

And let’s not forget Phil Goff’s expectations, asking AT to “aggressively pursuing strong growth in public transport use and active modes” and “maintaining momentum on delivering the cycling programme, incorporating priority for cycling and walking into projects”

 

In the debate on the original post, one of the better suggestions came from Local Board member Benjamin Lee.

While my gut feel says Option 3 may be the best one, there actually isn’t much to prevent AT from testing Options 1,2, and 3 (given the changes are simpler – read cheaper – than ripping up or laying down physical infrastructure) to get data as to the best option for traffic, pivoting as necessary.

We’ve talked a lot before about trialing changes and this has included Auckland Conversations talks by the likes of Janette Sadik Khan and Mike Lydon. Of course, AT make positive noises about this kind of thing when these experts visit but then promptly ignore them. This project could be a great place for AT to try put some of these ideas into action. By trialing the options before making any physical changes they could confirm just what the impacts are, and without having to make expensive infrastructure changes later on.

So go and make a submission, it’s simple and only takes a minute to complete, and lets make the Mt Albert Upgrade great again

27 comments to Make the Mt Albert Upgrade Great Again

  • Christopher T

    Auckland Transport are evidently seeking to make Mt Albert grate again with their preferred option.

  • Brutus Iscariot

    Enter Ricardo.

    • Damian

      He’s stuck in congestion and doesn’t use active modes, so couldn’t make it in time.

      • Ricardo

        You guys are so funny, not. The problem exists because the pro cycle lobby want to have pieces of road all to themselves. The smartest thing (anyone arguing?) is to have cycle lanes totally separate from roads. The two simply do not mix. A splash of green paint, or a dotted curb isn’t going to save anyone on a cycle. We should be looking at cycle routes that do not go near roads, or are you all so obsessed with sharing with cars that you are oblivious to the sense and safety in that? What always amuses me is the total lack of logic when people get obsessed about cycle ways or pedestrians. Surely thinking outside the box and having all these forms of transport using separate routes makes more sense? If they were all separate you’d all be happy and this blog wouldn’t be full of childish snide remarks from people who appear to have have tunnel vision.

        • Sailor Boy

          “The smartest thing is to have cycle lanes totally separate from roads”

          Option 1, 2, and 3 achieve this.

          “If they were all separate you’d all be happy and this blog wouldn’t be full of childish snide remarks from people who appear to have have tunnel vision.”

          I completely agree, this blog would be much better if you didn’t ‘contribute’.

          “are you all so obsessed with sharing with cars that you are oblivious to the sense and safety in that?”

          Again we agree, forcing cyclists to share with cars when we built the cars a bypass 50 years ago is ridiculous. We should obviously remove cars from the shopfronts of town centres and leave the modes which actually improve business.

        • Christina Robertson

          >>The problem exists because the pro cycle lobby want to have pieces of road all to themselves.
          FTFY: The problem exists because the auto lobby wants to have the entirety of all roads all to themselves.

          >> The smartest thing (anyone arguing?) is to have cycle lanes totally separate from roads.
          How are you going to get a cycle lane to the Mt Albert shops without being adjacent to/on a road?

          >>A splash of green paint, or a dotted curb isn’t going to save anyone on a cycle.
          Agreed, that’s why best practice designs have vertical or physical separation.

          >>We should be looking at cycle routes that do not go near roads
          Nice concern troll, but see above. Cyclists need to get to the shops and other destinations same as anyone.

          >>Surely thinking outside the box
          Good idea, we should definitely think about more efficient and effective ways to allocate the road space.

        • Chip

          How would you make a cycle lane in this area avoiding all roads? And what would be the point? Surely lots of cyclists in this area actually want to go to the centre of Mt Albert.

      • The problem exists because the pro cycle lobby want to have pieces of road all to themselves.

        → you’re missing the point of this entire thing. The problem they’re trying (or supposed) to solve is that too much of the street is reserved for cars. The car lobby of course wants the entire street network for themselves, but even in NZ people are figuring out that this approach leaves cities almost inhospitable to people. So we start changing streets to a more balanced configuration.

  • Damian

    >>The problem exists because the pro cycle lobby want to have pieces of road all to themselve

    You mean like pedestrians? Those selfish bastards should just share with cars and bikes.

    Actually I’ll remember your comment the next time one of you car drivers argues the sky will fall if car parking is removed.

  • John

    Banning cars from turning onto a main road is madness. There are 3 schools on Alberton Ave, including Mt Albert Grammar, the 2nd largest school in NZ. All have zones or rolls that extend well to the west of the Mt Albert intersection. Parents dropping kids to school need the right turn to access the schools. That’s real life people. Only viable alternative if the right turn is closed is to shortcut through Alexis Ave, a narrow residential road with less visibility than Mt Albert Rd. Check you maps if you don’t know the area well. Pushing school traffic onto narrower roads where kids walk and cycle daily, is dangerous. Supporting option 3 will put kids in danger over 1-2km of residential streets. To gain what, 20m of cycle lane at the intersection? Take a good hard think about this.

    • TimR

      Sorry, don’t buy that. As a father of two young kids, IMHO safety around schools is not about whether or not to have a right turn several blocks away. However, not having cycle lanes at a major intersection is a great way to get kids who cycle to school killed. And please don’t give the “kids shouldn’t ride to school” reply – that’s just ridiculous.

  • John

    Banning cars from turning onto a main road is madness. There are 3 schools on Alberton Ave, including Mt Albert Grammar, the 2nd largest school in NZ. All have zones or rolls that extend well to the west of the Mt Albert intersection. Parents dropping kids to school need the right turn to access the schools. That’s real life people. Only viable alternative if the right turn is closed is to shortcut through Alexis Ave, a narrow residential road with less visibility than Mt Albert Rd. Check you maps if you don’t know the area well. Pushing school traffic onto narrower roads where kids walk and cycle daily, is dangerous. Supporting option 3 will put kids in danger over 1-2km of residential streets. To gain what, 20m of cycle lane at the intersection? Take a good hard think about this.

    • JimboJones

      Maybe the kids could ride to school if it was safe? I used to ride to high school not sure why we need to dedicate road space to laziness.

    • Kent Lundberg

      MAG zone extends *just* west of Mt Albert Road. https://www.mags.school.nz/Story?Action=View&Story_id=1157

    • Kent Lundberg

      We sometimes drive to the wave pool from Balmoral Rd. On the return trip we have to add 400m to our journey since we cant take a right turn from Taylors Rd onto Balmoral Rd. It’s no big deal. Once people get the hang of it they will figure out how to loop around in a way that works best for them.

    • TimR

      Sorry, don’t buy that. As a father of two young kids, IMHO safety around schools is not about whether or not to have a right turn several blocks away. However, not having cycle lanes at a major intersection is a great way to get kids who cycle to school killed. And please don’t give the “kids shouldn’t ride to school” reply – that’s just ridiculous.

    • Big SDW

      …. Except the diagram shows there are hardly any right turn movements being undertaken. You can crow about the size of the schools all you want, the recorded data doesn’t fit with your theory. The proposal would result in the reallocation of approximately 36 vehicles per hour to other parts of the network.

    • Cavalcante

      Anyone who rides the train on the western line will attest to the numbers of MAGS students using public transport. Presumably from the western catchment. Maybe you should try it out next year?

  • John

    Hmm trying to make sensible comment, being blocked.

  • LC

    The idea of a trial is fantastic. Option 3 sounds safest and really we want to test it in the real world, so if it’s feasible to trial first then I vote for that.

  • RTD

    https://www.mags.school.nz/Story?Action=View&Story_id=1157 : This link shows a map of the Mt Albert School zone, which extends as far as Richardson Rd. So I’m not sure I can see how a significant amount of MAGS generated traffic needs to use this route. Most people travelling by car from this direction to the school would already be on local roads. If they did have to drive down New North Rd though, then turning right onto Mt Albert Rd, only to turn left a couple of hundred metres later seems unnecessary – why not continue along New North Rd and either turn right at Alberton village, which is about to be signalised or let the students out of the car near Rocket Park. It’s really not far to walk from Rocket Park to Mt Albert Grammar, and hundreds of students do it every school day.

  • Jim Parr

    I must say that while I understand your comments for the most part, the traffic flow through most Auckland light-controlled intersections are so ‘deliberately’ dumbed-down to the point of being incapable of recognizing optimal traffic progression.

    Motorway on and off-ramps are subject to the same STUPID (zero sensor influence) of most other suburban intersections.
    Furthermore we have all been sitting at a red light at 2am for 2 minutes while the STUPID lights cycle – and no other vehicle is in sight.

    30 years ago, traffic lights were far more responsive to ad-hoc flow changes (AS INDEPENDENT INTERSECTION CONTROL). This seems to have all disappeared.

    I do not know if this is just penny-pinching or plain incompetence.

    FIX THE REAL BOTTLENECKS would be my suggestion. Auckland’s traffic-light control system is not just awkward, it is actually quite an insane system.

    Bikes notwithstanding, I do not think the Auckland “road-care” people are even on the same planet as us.
    Lately, they seem to have been spending millions of dollars making intersections “safer?” but much more difficult to negotiate with any sense of ease. Bumps and humps and islands stuck out from the curb in ways that are in no way sane or sensible to either driver or pedestrian. WHO is the PLONKER making all this nonsense happen?

  • evanjames

    I’m a local and when I make a right turn at that intersection it is because I have a local destination. Can I use another street to get there – sure, there are plenty of nice little residential streets in the neighbourhood which will work just fine, but I certainly won’t be using Richardson Road-Stoddard Road, it is far too congested, and you also have to add in schools and churches, something that Mt Albert Road doesn’t have, but most of the alternatives routes have.
    Even the opening of the tunnel won’t fix that.

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