Categories

Archives

Great Cycling Myths & Mistakes – How Auckland can easily be a Great Cycling City

Recently I have been doing a lot of research on cycling, reading CROW – Design Manual for Bicycle Traffic, the NACTO Guides, and reading/watching some great content over by Mark Wagenbuur at Bicycle Dutch. People have always told me that the Dutch are the Holy Grail of Cycling, I had some knowledge of Dutch cycling, but it made sense for me to check it out more extensively.

After this research my conclusion is this,

a) Dutch cycling infrastructure design really is great and
b) It’s made me think, are we prioritising on the right aspects (this question is more posed to engineers/designers), and are there some myths of Dutch cycling that we are to focused on (this question is more posed to us as advocates)

Not everything has to be segregated, like the Netherlands you just have to design it right.

When we think of the Netherlands we think glorious 2m+ segregated cycle tracks safe & protected from traffic, with room enough to overtake, or to cycle with friends/family. While it’s true that the Dutch segregate cycling for arterial roads with speeds above 30km/h, not every road in the Netherlands is an arterial, a large part of the streets network in the Netherlands are local streets which have speed limits of 30km/h, and at these speeds you can still have safety with unprotected cycle lanes, two examples are Fietsstrook streets where motorists can enter the cycle lanes to allow other motorists to pass as long as safe for cyclists, and Fietsstraat (Bike Streets) where motorists are allowed but are guests and must maintain low speeds.

Fietsstrook

Fietsstraat

Safety is about the Intersections

In NZ, we have a tendency to focus on cycle lanes, we put the cycle lanes in either along the street, or add them into the street, but as soon as we get to an intersection we stop. To the Dutch this would seem odd, mainly because it’s intersections where a lot of the danger is, opposed to the section of road we concentrate on.  Surely it makes sense to prioritise the least safe sections for funding, without compromising the network through stop/starting of infrastructure of course, and as these pictures/videos by Bicycle Dutch show fixing them is easier than you might think.

Protected Cycle Intersection

Continuity is Key

Continuity of infrastructure is important, if gaps exist, or it stops short, people wont use it to its full extent. Remember when trains used to stop at the Strand, sure the rail network existed and could be quick, but because it stopped short of the city, people didn’t see it as competitive. Or imagine driving on the Auckland motorway network, then all the sudden SH1 went from 3 lanes each way motorway standard to one lane dirt track then back to motorway standard every few km’s, it wouldn’t be a great drive in the AM peak that is for sure.

For the same reasons why those two examples would be awful for the users, the same applies to cyclists, stopping infrastructure at intersections, gaps in cycle lanes such as at bus stops, or stopping the infrastructure short of where people want to go will lead to infrastructure not being utilized to its full capacity. Arguably, these issues effect cyclists more than PT users/drivers because doing the above not only makes cycling harder, it has large safety effects. Gaps in cycle routes cause a reduction in the perception of safety which leads to potential users avoiding the route, or more likely not to cycle at all.

Therefore getting cycling infrastructure right, and continuous, can be more important for increasing use, than prioritising km’s of cycle lanes across a city.

Floating Bus Stop

Width is Important & not just for Safety.

Width of cycle infrastructure is important for cyclists, it gives more of a buffer against other modes when unprotected, and allows cyclists to overtake safely meaning commuter/social cyclists can ride at their own pace. But it isn’t just about safety, the Dutch believe having wider cycle infrastructure is important because it allows people to cycle together side by side, e.g. riding with your partner, or a mother riding with her children to school. It is understanding that social aspect of cycling is a hugely important part of the mix for driving cycling as a successful mode of transport, and is often mentioned in official guides such as CROW.

Is it time to give Roundabouts more of a go?

In many countries there is a preference to building signalized intersections with a perception they are safer than roundabouts, this is interesting to the Dutch who believe the opposite, over the years converting many intersections to roundabouts. Admittedly the Dutch design their roundabouts a little different, with protected cycle lanes, and with the aim of creating easy sight of conflicts for users, as well as slowing traffic down on the roundabout. This is backed up with the safety record that Dutch four-way roundabouts are around two times safer than Dutch four-way signalised intersections.

SWOV Intersection Safety Stats

Here’s a great video by Bicycle Dutch walking through examples of Dutch Roundabout Design

So what do you think?

104 comments to Great Cycling Myths & Mistakes – How Auckland can easily be a Great Cycling City

  • KP

    I remember the stink after they trialled one of those low speed roads with a single two way lane and cycle lanes on either side in the Waikato. Kind of like the furore over a fairly simple design like the Island Bay cycle path… (which pedestrians can’t seem to stop walking into the path of an coming cyclist).

    From the articles it appears Waikato farmers would be unable to move out of the way of an oncoming vehicle and would have to crash into any vehicle coming the other way as there is only one lane… Takes a special level of intelligence to be a Waikato farmer apparently.

    The main complaint against the Island Bay cycle lane appears to be a narrowing of the width of the road. Apparently the width is now unsafe due to insufficient width and doesn’t allow buses to pass each other etc… Perhaps it would be good to allow the anti cycle lane crowd to win this one as the Parade is wider than a lot of Wellington roads and if it is now unsafe and requires to be wider… then obviously parking needs to be removed on a significant number of other Wellington roads as they are unsafe (nearly all of them).

    • Brian

      It was the dumbest road imaginable to trial on. That’s a solution for low speed urban roads not rural ones.

    • Bryce P

      Context of road was completely screwed up. There was no education for drivers how the lanes work. While rural, and not a SH, the road was a relatively busy road that was used as a short cut connecting 2 towns. The speed limit was too high.

    • Guy M

      KP – Island Bay design is not bad, but the Council got out-run by the local psychos. Sadly, they still haven’t finished it, instead drawing it to a “temporary halt” and allowing the chief local opponent to be in charge of the community group “redesigning” it. The original consultation was held OK (i attended, and i live miles away) but local people didn’t read the local paper, or read the WCC website, or threw away the council flyer, and then vociferously campaigned against it that they had not been consulted. The local Councillor did not help, siding with the antis, and the locals keep claiming it is a “killer cycleway”. The remaining roadway available for buses is narrow, much narrower than before, but still wider than many Wellington bus routes, including on the same route just a bit closer to town in Adelaide Road. But essentially, in a suburb where off-street parking is available far more so than in almost any other suburb, the complaint is about losing 10% of the on-street car parks. Unbelievable hypocrisy.

      • I never thought I would see the day it would be easier to build a protected cycle lane in Auckland than in Wellington. Wellington is at real risk of looking around in 10 – 20 years and seeing Christchurch has moved light years ahead in terms of cycling, and Auckland has moved well ahead in terms of public transport.

        • George

          Wellingtonians have a superiority complex which involves demeaning other New Zealand cities and praising their own as highly ‘liveable’. It has started to become a real obstacle to progress.

          • Guy M

            Complete and utter load of codswallop George. Pull your head in.

          • Yes, nonsense George. But there is a way in which the idea that Wellington represents some kind of ideal in both PT provision and urban form that has been unhelpful for gaining improvement to all of urban NZ. The terminus focussed rail spine is as much a problem in Welly as AKL, but as our institutions consider Welly as a great PT success this hindered understanding of the value of the CRL. And while Welly does have a topographically and historically driven intensity, capitalising on this natural advantage has happened largely inspite of transport agency plans and investments: city streets are still too auto-dominated even in our hippest and most urbane city.

            But, this idea of Welly’s supperiority has only arisen because of how completely shit every other city in NZ has been, especially Auckland, so the new competition for urbanity between NZ cities can only be good for improvement everywhere; including the long time leader…

    • mfwic

      I think Anglo people have an aversion to marking roads with lines where if you follow them you will die. It is our rules and queuing thing. There is social pressure to not step outside the marked area. Those single lane roads and the old French 3 lane roads require you to get out of the lane.

  • Damian

    Agree that we need better intersections. How about Auckland Transport start 2017 by not stopping the Mt Albert town centre cycle lanes 30m before the intersection after all?

  • Sanctuary

    Auckland’s biggest impediment to cycling is it’s shitty weather and hilly roads. And I don’t mean temperature. For cycling Auckland has the worst weather of anywhere I have ever lived. The incessant westerly wind, and constantly changeable weather are just a pain. And the rain. The fucking rain!!!!! The constant (but somehow inconsistent) rain in Auckland does my head in.

    of course, if the 1.4 billion spent on Waterview had instead been spent on giving every single Aucklander an electric bike (around 750 million dollars) and completing a lot of completely weather proofed separated cycleways with the remaining 650 million bucks then all those issues would have gone away…

    • Bryce P

      Complete bollocks.

      Edit: Yes, still bollocks. See here. Viking Biking. http://copenhagenvikingbiking.tumblr.com/

    • KP

      I generally think the biggest impediment to cycling is those who think there are impediments to cycling.

    • You will learn after a short while to look at the sky before leaving. Failing that you’ll learn how to use the rain radar.

      I’ve commuted on a bicycle too, and most days, even on rainy days you can usually avoid getting wet.

      Amsterdam has a similar climate to Auckland. Except it’s much more common in Europe to have days of non-stop rain. And snow and frost in the winter. I really don’t think Amsterdam has a better climate for cycling than Auckland.

    • JimboJones

      The rain isn’t that bad, but I do think you have a point – if AT/NZTA spent a few billion on covered cycleways, and with electric bikes becoming readily available, there really is no excuse not to cycle. I think this could be the biggest bang for buck transport spend available to Auckland.

      • I think there are a lot of people who would prefer to ride open air rather than under cover, so not sure if that would be the best bang for buck. I think the wind here is the bigger issue, something a covered cycle way wouldn’t solve, unless you are thinking enclosed.

        • JimboJones

          Wind is not a problem on an e-bike. I hadn’t though about people not wanting to be covered – maybe they could cover only part of the cycle lane?
          But there must be a reason why virtually no one cycles in this city!

          • Guy M

            Lots of people cycle in Wellington, and I do believe that at times it may even be a bit more windy than Auckland.
            http://www.stuff.co.nz/dominion-post/news/88336575/Billboards-torn-loose-as-120kmh-winds-hit-Wellington

          • I’d say there are three reasons Auckland has low cycling numbers:

            1. It is reasonably hilly (e-bikes are a relatively new thing and still cost quite a bit)
            2. Traffic – both the lack of protected cycle lanes and our attitude to cyclists (this is a whole of NZ thing)
            3. Commuting distance

            These are all solveable, although 3 is reasonably complex. I’m not sure how much weather plays a role TBH – riding into the persistent easterlies in Chch is as annoying as any wind Auckland can throw out there!

          • Bryce P

            Hills don’t seem to bother too many people. Like wind. They adapt. Use a different route etc. Commuting distance? Well, the Dutch have worked this out – you cycle to your nearest transit hub, park your bike and take transit to where you want to go.

          • Bryce – I can’t agree that hills don’t have an impact, you only have to compare cycling in Christchurch and Dunedin to see that they do. You’re right that people will find other ways, but there are many people who cycle in Chch that if they lived in Dunedin wouldn’t cycle nearly as much. Auckland isn’t as hilly as Dunedin of course, but you can’t deny it will have some impact on numbers.

          • KP

            I think hills do have an impact jezza. In fact I think that the rate of cycling is very responsive to impediments. You only have to look at the helmet argument to see this as the Danes have said that the rate of cycling drops even when you discuss introducing helmets and don’t make a law.

            It’s one of the reasons why cycling infrastructure is so important and why having compulsory helmets is the death knell for cycle share schemes. At work we have an internal road with a 15 kph speed limit. Our boss made it policy to wear helmets and hi vis and then she moved the bicycle rack so that people had to walk 100 metres to get their bikes. People tolerated the helmets and hi vis but the 100 metre walk killed it and there are no bikes left.

            There are still areas in Wellington and Dunedin where you can commute by cycle for quite long distances without climbing too many hills, but it’s unlikely to have the same modal share as Christchurch. That’s not an argument for not having well connected cycling infrastructure on high use streets in those towns.

            Actually I think one of the reasons that the rate of cycling is so high in the Netherlands is that as a culture they’ve basically rejected the “Americanised” urban environment the rest of the world is trying to emulate. This goes past cycling and encompases things such as fast food, cafes, walking, the size of meal servings (the size of plates and cups in the home)… etc. My experience is that “American sized” is derogatory. The term “you aren’t made of sugar” is a part of this where they reject the idea that you can’t ride in the rain (or the wind).

            The result is the Dutch are not fat… and they have the happiest children in the world and the happiest drivers. And it’s due to the fact they reject the idea of making life easy and embrace the impediments…

          • You have Auckland, and the hilly parts of Auckland.

            Takapuna and Milford are more or less flat. Sandringham looks quite flat on a map. The entire area between Manukau and Mangere Bridge look quite flat as well.

            Beach Haven and Birkdale are the other end of the spectrum. The area north of Albany doesn’t look too great either. I’d say those areas are impassable, unless you have an e-bike.

            Then there’s the areas in between, like Ponsonby, or the area just east of Glenfield Road. A bit hilly, but OK, you’ll get used to it.

          • I should be clear I think there is significant potential for cycling in Auckland and wish they would put in more facilities quicker. I just don’t think hills should be discounted as an impact on why Auckland has low cycling numbers, amongst a number of other factors.

            KP – agree, there are actually some quite flat parts of Dunedin that are very well suited to cycling, especially South Dunedin and North East Valley.

    • Bobo in pagliaccio

      I worked as a postie and Although Auckland had heavy rain it is often short bursts. If you stop for a few minutes you will often miss it entirely. The weather clears quickly as opposed to Wellington where the rain just continues all day long.

    • Sister Ray

      Re: Auckland’s weather vs. cycling

      I live in Fukuoka, Japan. A city of similar population, albeit much denser, to Auckland. Fukuoka receives significantly more rainfall annually than Auckland but still boasts a very vibrant cycling culture. I’m probably obliged to take the train rather than cycle a couple of times a month, but it is certainly not some insurmountable barrier to cycling as you seem to suggest.

      The biggest problem with Auckland for cycling, as I see it, is the incredibly wide roads. Local Japanese roads are narrow, forcing low speeds and making cycling safe and comfortable despite the lack of dedicated infrastructure. On main arterials, less confident cyclists are permitted to cycle at low speeds on the sidewalk.

  • Graham

    Looking at the Dutch photos I don’t see any cycle helmets. Helmets are the biggest impediment to getting me ride a bicycle in NZ.

    • KP

      When I was working for our H&S department we had Nick Calavrias come in to give us a talk on how he turned around health and safety in Steel and Tube. One of the things he was quite proud about was introducing compulsory helmets (he accredited policies such as this with not being charged by OSH when a driver was killed. The driver got out of his cab while the truck was being unloaded and several tonnes of metal was pushed off his truck onto him by a forklift driver). I asked him how many injuries the helmets had prevented and he appeared to be a bit surprised by the question. He said probably a few scratches. Obviously a helmet didn’t provide much protection to the driver when several tonnes of steel landed on him.

      I imagine Nick was wearing his helmet when he was killed last week on the Taupo bypass.

      • Brett Shirreffs

        And yet… on my normal cycle commute last year, I had a low-speed accident – me and, embarrassingly, a parked car – in which the first point of contact between me and the road was the left side of my forehead. The result was a broken helmet and a very nasty gash on the lower left side of my face (the next bit to hit the road after my helmet). Who’s to know what the injury would have been if I had been helmetless but much worse than what I ended up with, I’m pretty sure. The cycling advocate in me really wants to not have to wear a helmet but my personal experience means that I’ll probably never ride again without one.

        • Guy M

          That’s absolutely fine, if you want to wear one, then wear one. But it shouldn’t be compulsory for all. After all, some of us are able to ride a bike without smacking into a parked car… 🙂

          • Brett Shirreffs

            Well, you’re obviously immune to all mistakes while cycling. I’ve been a commuting cyclist for most of my adult life and feel pretty confident in my skills. But cycle often enough and far enough and you will make dumb mistakes.

        • Like you I’d probably keep wearing my helmet but I’m definitely not a fan of them being mandatory, it should be personal choice. I’m just not convinced the cost to society is higher when helmets are not worn, which should be the threshold for legislation.

        • KP

          Exactly. Who’s to know? On a population level all that’s been demonstrated is an increase it the “rate” of fatalities and injuries similar to ski and snowboard helmets. Not exactly a convincing argument to justify making a law requiring people to use them. https://rdrf.org.uk/2013/12/17/the-effects-of-new-zealands-cycle-helmet-law/

        • Brett, helmets are great, wear em every time you want to, mandatory helmet laws are stupid, they only achieve one thing; stopping people from riding. Oh two things, they also make bike share schemes all but impossible.

          I certainly wear a helmet when riding any distance on road, but not when pootling round the neighbourhood, and, once there are fully joined up protected bike lanes on my journeys I am likely to wear one less and less…. And certainly any sports cyclist, the Lycra warriors, will always wear them, given the speeds they’re going, but what does the law achieve there? Nothing.

          • Brett Shirreffs

            Sure, but that’s the paradox, Patrick: I totally get the population-level argument and have rolled it out many times myself. Then there’s the fact that wearing one likely saved me a brain injury. It’s hard for me to reconcile them, personally.

          • KP

            “It’s hard for me to reconcile them, personally.” It’s not that hard for me to reconcile and I’ve been riding a bike since 1965. I wear a helmet when I think it’s useful and leave it behind when I don’t. I used to do the same when I was rock climbing and when I was mountaineering (neither of which is a crime if you participate helmetless). No matter how useful I might think a helmet will be, my biggest hazard is multi tonne trucks travelling at 90 kph and I’d like to see someone tell me that a helmet will be useful when hit from behind by a 40 tonne truck doing 90 kph.

            With the summer holidays on at the moment I see a lot of adults and kids in my village riding around and not wearing helmets. Since it’s a small village with a single access of the main road. it’d probably be a lot more useful lowering the speed limit to 30 kph than having a helmet law.

            I see someone was killed by a car today sitting on a park bench. Perhaps we should have a law requiring everyone to wear a helmet while they sit on park benches?

            As the European ministers of transport say “leave the promotion of helmets up to helmet manufacturers and bicycle shops”.

    • Yeah the introduction of helmet laws is shrouded in mystery and conspiracy theories. The mythical Helmet Lady. I guess there were a few companies who saw a business opportunity back then.

      • Greg N

        No roeland Helmet law is not a mystery or full of conspiracy theories.

        There was no “mythical helmet lady”, she was a real person who campaigned with religious zeal after her kid got hurt in a (supposedly preventable by helmet) bike accident and was permanently disabled. He since died some years ago.

        She also badgered all the governments of the day and eventually one night during a National Government reign, the helmet law was introduced and passed in one sitting without the usual processes of select committees. Seems parliament had no better business that night that passing a helmet law.
        Nowadays only pay MP rises and earthquake related “suspend existing law” changes and budget night bills get such all in one go treatment.

        Since then its been the law.
        The current Minister of Transport has been asked many times (I’ve done it twice) to make it compulsory for under 18s only. But he won’t budge.
        Its like he was being asked to decriminalise cannabis!

        I’m sure one day we will eventually wake up and repeal the adult part of the law but the damage will have been done for a long long time.

        Helmets [like hi-vis] only reinforce in the publics mind the notion that something where you need such things are very dangerous.

        But they don’t ipso facto make you any safer. A change in attitudes by all road users and lower speed limits will make a way bigger difference tha nflimsy little helmets.

        The Dutch and Danish are practical people, they know all these things, so thats why they fix the things that really matter first and don’t bother with pretend fixes like helmets.

        • Well, hard cases make bad law.

          And IIRC that kid was hit by a car. Bike helmets are not designed to protect against such impacts in the first place.

          And as pointed out, cycling has actually become more dangerous after the helmet law was introduced. That person has done a lot of damage.

    • Guy M

      You’re right – absolutely nobody wears a bike helmet in Amsterdam (I spent an entire day once staring out the window in my friend’s house in Amsterdam, and honestly didn’t see a single helmet). But I did see old people, young people, people in suits, people in nice dresses, people on the phone, people quaxing, people laughing and having fun, all on their bicycles. No one has flash new bikes (they get stolen if you do) and everyone just rode old black basic bikes, often without even gears. Completely separated cycleways of course, through the middle of the busiest parts of the city. And no agro from car drivers where the cycleways crossed the roads. Its a pleasure to watch.

      And of course, that could be done here. Their roads are, generally, much narrower. They erect a kerb, or rows of bollards, totally segregate the cars out, and lose half the on-street parking or make roads one way instead of two way. It takes time – but it can be done.

      • JimboJones

        I’d like to see you get away without gears in Auckland!

        • KP

          A lot of Omafiets have internal hub gears like the shimano nexus.

        • Guy M

          Actually, I lived for years in Auckland and used to do a paper round, with a heavy load of NZ Heralds on the back of my bike, with no gears at all. Pre Sturmy-Archer. Pre-Shimano. And the Saturday Herald was big and fat back then. And I was only about 8 years old at the time. So, yeah, its possible.

          But that’s not the point. The point is, that Holland used to be filled with cars in cities, like they are here, and over time, they have changed the mentality of the people. Not on the highways of course – they have millions of cars on the highways – but in and around cities, they have encouraged cycling and made the city streets more suited to bikes and pedestrians, rather than for cars. It is a long process, but we need to start now. Auckland is starting. Wellington, sadly, is a long way behind.

          • Luke

            What’s happening in wellington regarding cycling is just depressing. The island bay nimbys are basically going to win.

            Peoples right to store their one tonne tin box on public roads is deemed more important than actual movement.

    • Has anyone done an actual study about the impact of removing the law vs uptake of cycling? Or is it just one of these issues that people like to complain about, it’s not an actual true driving factor?

      Personally I’d think things like people opening doors in front of you and general concerns about driver awareness around bikes vs the desire to take kids on irregular routes is much more of a general factor.

      What stuck me about the video is the people with kids on bikes and their worry free cycling style.

  • Ari

    Dutch roundabouts are nothing like ours. Its just segregating the cyclists from the cars, reducing entry speed and conflict points. I think reducing the entry speeds are the most important. But we don’t have the space/money to put many of these in so we are stuck with the tricky intersections that lose the cycle lanes when we get close to them.

    • JimboJones

      Roundabouts are always either space hogs or too small to be safe.
      They are the kind of thing we should be removing and replacing with a much smaller set of traffic lights and some nice green space or even houses.

    • Stu Donovan

      so you’re suggesting the Dutch have a lot of space to play with?

      I have to ask: Have you been to the Netherlands? Are you aware that it’s one of the most densely populated countries on the planet, which lies slap bang in the middle of one of the most densely populated continents?

      One other thing: We’re still building roundabouts you know, so even if a lack of space is a problem for existing roads then it doesn’t have to be for new roads.

      Check out this post: http://transportblog.co.nz/2012/08/08/why-i-love-the-netherlands/

      • Damian

        Plus, much of their land is actually reclaimed from the sea. Including many of their urban areas. So much for the “lots of space” argument.

        They DO provide (compared to us) lots of space to bikes, and less to other modes. THAT is the difference.

    • Ari

      No, never been to Holland, but I am well aware of their population density and their need for land. I said space/money. They are interchangeable. The Dutch tend to spend more on new transport infra than we do. My point is that we cant bash down buildings to stick giant roundabouts in everywhere. Should we bash down the Mt Albert Town Centre to put in a nice dutch roundabout? It may be better transport wise, but the cost would be enormous. My other point was that segregation is naturally going to be safer, it just takes more space.

      • KP

        The Dutch roading infrastructure explicitly rejected bulldozing traditional building for roading infrastructure. Their towns existed for centuries prior to cars and were well developed cities while ours were still covered in bush.

        I’d be surprised if bulldozing buildings was a requirement to put in Dutch infrastructure.

  • dr

    Every AT submission i make laments their fear of intersections. There are precisely zero bicycle intersection in Auckland – at best we get chucked in with a barnes dance or following a pedestrian phase and somehow expected to get across the flow without upsetting anyone. It’s a sign of (lack of) prioritisation.

    Something I’ve noteced that is often missed w.r.t bike lanes in The Netherlands is that you very rarely see a driveway or parking along street edges – ‘bulk’ cycle routes are never impeded or put at risk by cars randomly turning across them (as I witnessed this morning on Nelson Street, causing a cyclist to lock up the back wheel and mount the footpath to ensure ongoing alive-ness). New Zealand’s car obsession will ultimately prevent effective and safe lanes from being built (where AT even bothers…Pitt Street, Viaduct Harbour Ave etc) – there has to be a wider movement as there was in NL to change anything, a step change. Iterative changes won’t fix anything.

    Another issue is how much ‘space’ they seem to have there – even in Central Amsterdam they have space for: footpath, wide bike lanes, tram lines and center stations, 1/2 lanes of traffic. Of course there corridors are no wider than most in Auckalnd – we take up that space with hilariously wide traffic lanes and awkward footpath furniture…

    • 01anthony

      Yep the fact that so many people in Auckland, and I guess for that matter NZ, have probably not been on a bike (on the road) in years or in their life has conditioned them to not noticing or being aware of anything other than other cars/trucks.
      I cycle approximately 1.5km daily to and from the train station, on a fairly busy road, and for such a short cycle trip I’ve had many close calls. Luckily I’ve only been ‘nudged’ once and there was no injuries. I’m just hoping that all the close calls I have results in the motorist then thinking ‘gees i should pay more attention’
      That’s probably wishful thinking.

  • It’s hard to watch the roundabout video without flinching every time a cyclist cruises across in front of a car! Just not conditioned to that sort of thing in NZ.

    It certainly opens the mind to the potential of roundabouts.

  • GlenK

    Good stuff Harriet; things like lower speeds and land use planning are also vital to getting maximum (and safe) use. Here was my take on cycling in the Netherlands from a month there in 2015 (relating it back to Chch, but the rest of NZ could also take similar lessons): http://cyclingchristchurch.co.nz/2015/06/30/what-can-christchurch-learn-from-the-netherlands/

  • I like these ideas, but there are going to be some troublesome locations – Royal Oak!! Consistent and systematic approach (road and footpath markings), plus embedded bike-awake mindset seems a good thing.

  • It’s quite simple over here, really:

    Q: why doesn’t cycling work in Auckland?
    A: because Aucklanders hate cyclists.

    Infrastructure is nothing more than a band aid on that problem.

    Look for instance at the cycle lanes on Lake Road. People hate that cycle lane. They’re still campaigning for it to be removed. People drive and park their cars in that cycle lane.

    In the Netherlands, while perhaps not being best practice, painted cycle lanes like that just work. They would also be painted across signalised intersections, something which would throw your average Aucklander into a fit.

    Also don’t hold your breath over speed limits. Quote from the consultation report from Queen Street, Northcote point:

    AT generally prefers physical measures to reduce vehicle speeds as they are self-enforcing, i.e. they don’t require extra resources to enforce. Minor local roads with lower than 50km/h speeds are also unlikely to be a priority for the police, making self-enforcing designs more feasible.

    • JimboJones

      There is a bit of chicken and egg – people don’t like their parking and or traffic lanes being turned into cycle lanes, and then the cycle lanes are almost always empty.
      Of course until you get a complete network of cycle lanes this will probably be the case – but not everyone can see that point.

    • Josh

      Need numbers, which will come. They obviously crashed once the helmet law came into affect and have never recovered. When more people cycle, drivers will get used to it and will stop complaining. Separated cycle lanes are already had good uptake, however they have much higher capacity (space issue) than the roads so often look more empty than the numbers suggest.

      • Numbers may or may not help. Time will tell.

        If walking is a precedent, it’s not a good one: there’s already lots of people going around on foot in the CBD. And yet, you see similar disdain for pedestrians, at all levels. The people — you regularly see cars parked on the footpath, and drivers have the uncanny habit of accelerating even if they’re on collision course with pedestrians, even if there’s a red light ahead. The council — what’s up with that missing pedestrian leg at Lightpath? And the government — our de facto rule that pedestrians have to give way to cars coming from all angles at an intersection is unique in the Western world.

        • The worst is motorists entering an intersection with no clear exit. Which is technically running a red light.

          Happens all down Customs and Quay. Once the Barnes dance starts,pedestrians have to weave in and out of those cars. And sometimes those cars will then start to edge forward on their red light once the lane clears – incredibly dangerous for pedestrians.

          And cyclists are called “entitled”. The mistaken belief that fuel excise duty and registration pay for local roads mean cars are seen as owning the road and therefore one person in a car is worth more than one person not in a car. Ridiculous.

    • “Look for instance at the cycle lanes on Lake Road. People hate that cycle lane.” – There is a vocal group who go on about it but it is the same people all the time. There are many people who support it and it is well used. On an average day, about 6% of traffic on Lake Road is by bike. Of course, it suffers from its own efficiency and so appears empty a lot.

      NZers love cycling. The numbers of people who cycle in this country are quite high and growing all the time. But most are recreational only which is of limited benefit to NZ beyond the health benefits. Cycling for transport has a strong economic return as well.

      What they don’t like is cycling on busy roads with no physical separation from traffic – pretty much like in the Netherlands until the 1970s when they abandoned their auto centric road design policies. Certainly people won’t let children ride on roads with no separation and that just keeps the negative trend going.

  • Great blog. The Island Bay cycleway already works well (having ridden it pretty much every single day for a year) but my top 5 improvements would probably all be things that Harriet has touched on:
    – cracking on with the connection to the CBD (which is apparently going ahead)
    – continuing the cycleway through the shops
    – improving the intersection design (including the Dee St roundabout)
    – investigating turning some of Island Bay’s other streets into Fietsstrook or Fietsstraat

    Rounding out the top 5 would be a physical separator between the bike lane and parking (which is really about protecting the width of the bike lanes).

    Hopefully the Love The Bay process can deliver some or all of this. I reckon Wellington City Council and local residents really need to move past the largely irrational and (as it turns out) unfounded concerns and recognise that something great has already been achieved in Island Bay – the foundations are now there to create Wellington’s first ‘complete streets’ suburb. That would be a truly fantastic place to live.

    • KP

      I’m presuming you’ve been to all the “love the bay” meetings. How have they been going?

      p.s. I’ve ridden the cycleway a few times and apart from being too short, the only issue I had was pedestrians being seemingly oblivious that they were leaving the footpath and walking onto a cycle lane (when a bike is a couple of metres away, oh and cars parking in the buffer zone obviously).

  • JessicaRose

    Great article Harriet. Especially important when you think of the random backtrack from AT on the Mt Albert town ‘upgrade’. Where we should be taking the conversation to ‘how can we continue these bike lanes actively through the intersection’ rather than, ‘what do you mean we just stop them randomly 40m before the intersection?!’. This leaves us still in the limbo of arguing why there should be bike lanes on transit routes, rather than how to improve them.

  • Christina Robertson

    Great post. I’ve long thought that designing local streets for 30km/h (and lowering the speed limit to 30, something AT seem reluctant to do even where they’re putting in speed calming measures) would be a great step for cycling. And maybe some judicious ped/cycle paths to link up cul-de-sacs so we don’t have to go the long way round…

    • Harriet Gale

      To be fair to AT the speed setting framework in place nationally doesn’t easily allow AT to set 40km/h streets let alone 30km/h. The new framework which hopefully will be passed this year will make it much easier

      • Damian

        Hi Harriet. The new framework is now in place, and can already be used by Road Controlling Authorities. Heard this straight from NZTA’s cycling head, and Transport Blog did a blog on it around December too, I think.

  • Grant Black

    Maybe just me, but quite happy and excited about the transformation in Auckland with new cycleways starting to connect. I riding more in protected cycleways rather than open road, and enjoying the relative feeling on safety. Hearing more from friends, family and colleagues who are not as into riding as me, that they are aware of the increasing possibilities – i.e. they really can take the kids for a safe weekend cycle or even consider riding to work some days.

    One thing that still frustrates me is that signage and wayfinding clues are still not quite connected up. For instance from Quay st, I followed the cycle way around aiming to go onto the Grafton gully cycleway. Waited and crossed over the diagonal crossing over beach road, followed the green cycle path around until it literally leads into a bus stop; I had a bus coming from Parnell roaring into the bus stop head onto me with the driver looking very pissed off. Backtracking, I see I had to go up Churchill street and get across to the Grafton Road cycleway that way – but certainly felt like a gaping hole in the cycle way.

    Same at the other end.. had to pull out phone and have several attempts at navigating the missing bits between grafton cycleway and the NW cycleway to figure out I needed to up then down Newton road, or cross over at Ian McKinnon and take an (unsigned? or did I miss it?) turn to go down a side street to the NW..

    Still so much better than a few years ago.. just needs a little more finishing touches rather than billions spent on more motorways.

  • kelvin

    Roundabout are good for low traffic streets, where signalled intersection are more efficient for heavy traffic.

    Albany, panmure and royal oak roundabout are causing congestion.

  • Guy M

    Completely off-topic, but perhaps related to the Dutch attitudes towards risk, they have a very different attitude to fireworks over there. They don’t celebrate Guy Fawkes Day of course (for heavens sake – why on earth do we?) but they do go over the top at New Year. Firecrackers are suspended above the street, and in a narrow lane lined with brick houses either side, the noise is tremendous. Literally thousands and thousands of crackers are let off at midnight, and on into the early hours of the morning. The streets in central Amsterdam are almost ankle deep in exploded remains of red crackers. And then comes the skyrockets – not fired so much vertically, as horizontally, down the streets. I love a bit of skyrocket action, but having an entire barrage of rockets launched at you, just for fun, was a bit much even for me. I had to stay in the bar until about 2.00am till it was safe to leave.

    Unlike cycle helmet use, which seems to go un-promoted by the authorities, there are posters on the streets showing people with eyes gouged out by crackers and rockets each year, imploring people not to shoot fireworks directly at each other. About 700 injuries a year. 236 cases of eye injury in 2014. Five hands amputated. Utter madness. But I’ve not yet seen a Dutch poster saying “Wear a thin piece of plastic on your head, it may save your life.” The Dutch know really well that if you get run over by a car or truck, at speed, a plastic helmet will do stuff all to save you. The very safest thing to do is to have completely separated cycleways. Quite simple really.

    • that, and I think there’s a lot more expectation that drivers are careful around cyclists and pedestrians.

      You know, the stereotypical scene in Auckland: you’re crossing your average 5 lane arterial when someone turns onto that arterial from a side street or a driveway. He then proceeds towards you at full throttle, despite being on a collision course with you. Add a little swerve, and a little lean on the horn, just to teach you a lesson.

      You really should not do that in the Netherlands. Cops can impound your drivers license on the spot if they think you endangered someone’s life.

  • Those dutch-style roundabouts that provide separated space for cyclists clear of road vehicles already exist in Auckland in an area where new street designs have been employed. I’m surprised cycling advocates haven’t picked up on it yet, though admittedly the area is a bit out of the way (near the airport).

  • D M Yates

    Netherlands looks so calm and civilized on the roundabout video- I’m wondering where are all the tradies in their oversized 4wd / utes. Where are the truck and trailer units thundering 40cubes of rubble/ two shipping containers down the local street? Crazy crazy Auckland. Chasing all the cyclists to pre dawn rides on Sunday mornings.

    • Guy M

      Hmmmm. From memory, there are not too many tradies with utes / 4WDs. Mostly just plain white vans. Its very different from here in most of Europe. Apart from Germany, many countries have very much smaller cars in the old cities – especially Italian hill towns where Cinquecento and Smart cars reign supreme, but even in Amsterdam, having a Fiat Uno or Ford Ka might be more common. The local builder might still have a Piaggio Ape in Italy, or an old Renault 19 in Holland. So, smaller, slower cars is part of it. But then on the other side of town, where Amsterdam has large motorways connecting in with the rest of Europe, there are larger cars and certainly many many larger trucks. They have serious amounts of juggernauts.

      But here’s the thing – they tend not to take those same trucks into the towns. I’m not sure if there is a law against it, or just width restrictors on roads on the outskirts, but they tend to have smaller trucks for delivery in smaller streets etc. Presumably a warehouse on the outskirts where large orders are broken down into smaller orders for local delivery. We seem to tend to have one large truck that is expected to cater for all, and so therefore our traffic planners design roundabouts with huge widths to allow for wide sweeping trailers. We could restrict large trucks if we wanted to. Just takes political will-power.

      • Warren S

        Yes Guy, I was in Budapest on one occasion in a modest sized tourist bus where the driver (a non-Hungarian) was trying to find our inner city accommodation and he was bailed up by two armed policemen and made to pay an instant fine for taking an over-sized vehicle into narrow one way streets.
        Unfortunately in New Zealand truckies expect to be able to take whopping trucks and trailers anywhere………………………

        Maybe our Minister of Transport needs to have a rethink!

        • Guy M

          By Minister of Transport do you mean Ken Shirley, former ACT MP and current CEO of the Road Transport Forum? He’s the real power behind roading decisions in NZ. Heavily, heavily influential, and sadly Bridges is likely to be fairly inconsequential in deciding these matters. Even if Bridges actually wanted to do that, Shirley would never let that happen. Road Transport rules!

          Under the Nat/Act government, truck weights have been allowed to increase from 44 to 53 tonnes, and RUC for larger heavier trucks has been effectively reduced. Truck lengths have been allowed to increase in some cases to 22m without having to get a special permit. Trucking regulation is totally under Shirley’s thumb.
          http://transportblog.co.nz/2010/04/03/heavier-trucks-approved/

          • Warren S

            Yes again Guy…………..I guess the question has to be how on earth is it possible to curtail Ken Shirley’s power and influence. Not sure that I know an easy answer to that one, except possibly a complete change of government.
            Certainly NZTA needs a thorough reform as does our whole transport funding policy, if Auckland as New Zealand’s only city of scale, is to retain its natural attractiveness from subjection to too many, ever-widening motorways.
            I believe that increasingly many Aucklanders want an emphasis away from sprawl and place destructive motorways but the present government are slow to recognise this trend which may electorally be to their ultimate peril. Time will tell.

      • nonsense

        at least in Italy there are very common restrictions for trucks over 3.5 tons (the ones you need a truck licence for).
        some cities have width restrictions and others like Florence a maximum tyre size restriction to prevent being flooded by SUVs

  • JMorton

    No comments yet, re the Roundabouts?
    Re accident statistics, why do AT insist on traffic lights rather than a roundabout at Ngapipi Rd Intersection?

    • Bryce P

      Because in that context, a roundabout would be dangerous for cyclists. Also, roundabouts don’t work well with unbalanced traffic flows. You’d struggle to get out of Ngapipi Rd in the morning.

    • Sailor Boy

      +1 to Bryce. You would need a double lane roundabout there and it isn’t possible to grade separate the cycle crossings so lights would be far safer.

  • Anthony

    Great article thanks Harriet Gale,

    Continuity is Key Continuity of infrastructure is important, if gaps exist, or it stops short, people wont use it to its full extent.

    Agreed. – Personally I don’t like to get off my bike , and change to a different lane, so yes being able to connect the Cycle paths so they go the full distance is a massive valid point.

    Agree with everything this post said about bikes and infact most the comments also.

Leave a Reply