Mr. Bridges, open this gate. Mr. Bridges, tear down this wall!

In 1987, President Ronald Reagan stood by the Brandenburg Gate in West Berlin and called on Gorbachev, the leader of the Soviet Union, to take down the wall cutting off Berlin’s east and west halves.

A photo of a photo which also includes a photo. The black and white bit is the Brandenburg Gate at the end of World War Two. The colour bit is what the gate looks like today.

In 2017, I’m calling on the Minister of Transport, Simon Bridges, to take action. I could have called this post “let’s get rid of mandatory helmet laws in New Zealand” (and I’m not sure comparing Simon Bridges to Gorbachev, or me to Reagan, does either of us any favours), but let’s roll with it for now – at least it gives the post titles some variation.*

Back in September/ October 2016, I took a holiday to Europe, visiting Germany (Munich and Berlin) for the first time.

Germany is the country that gave the world Mercedes, Volkswagen, BMW, Audi and Porsche. It’s the country famous for its no-speed-limit autobahns, which I remember being told about in reverent tones growing up – probably one of my strongest wired-in memories to do with Germany.

Germany today has a very different zeitgeist. I was struck by the popularity of cycling in both cities (and also by the great quality, well used public transport, but that’s a story for another day). I found the contrasts so striking that I started writing this post while I was still in Berlin, and I’ve stuck with the title that came into my head then. Because if Germany, this famous automotive country, can make cycling so popular then New Zealand can do the same. Because in Munich, Berlin, and every other great cycling city around the world, hardly anyone wears helmets.

People on bikes by the East Side Gallery, one of the few remaining remnants of the Berlin Wall and decorated with street art.

Berlin today is ranked as one of the top cycling cities in the world, #12 in the Copenhagenize index. Munich is now outside the top 20 of that index, but still regarded as a very cycle-friendly city. There are bikes everywhere in Berlin, at least in the more tourist-friendly inner parts of the city. There’s a widely available bike share scheme, run by DB Bahn (who also run the public transport).

100 metres from where I stayed in Berlin, there was a cycle school – a little cycling track, mocked up with miniature street signs, cycle lanes and different turning scenarios. In Berlin, all primary-school children take a cycling safety course.

People on bikes in Berlin

People on bikes in Munich (where helmets seemed a bit more common than Berlin)

Cycling in New Zealand

New Zealand, of course, has more vehicles per capita than almost every other country in the world (712 vehicles per 1,000 people; Germany has 572). Germans make the cars, but they don’t drive them anywhere near as much as Kiwis do. Cycling in New Zealand has become a fringe, marginalised activity, although this is getting better. Cycling rates have dropped precipitously since the 1980s – they’re now climbing again, but off a very low base. With cycling, there’s safety in numbers. The lack of cyclists in New Zealand means that drivers aren’t looking out for them, so our accident and fatality rates for cycling are well above those of European countries, despite our policy of mandatory helmets.

New Zealand’s government has been quite forward-thinking on cycling in the last couple of years, launching the Urban Cycleways Programme and also spending more on cycling out of the National Land Transport Fund (of course, it’s still a tiny percentage of the overall fund). The cycleways programme was an inspired piece of policy: it provided some funding, but also leveraged this as a way to encourage councils to invest in cycleways. Costs now get split between the Urban Cycleways Fund, the NLTF, and the local council.

I think it’s quite appropriate that the cycleways programme uses funding from outside the general transport funding sector. Looking at the costs and benefits from cycling, the biggest benefits are actually health-related, and nothing to do with transport. Ideally this could be recognised by funding some cycling initiatives out of the health budget, but at least they’re coming from outside of transport.

Of course, if we make helmets optional, we’ll get much better value out of these cycleway investments – there will be more people cycling and using them. Plus, there’s much less need for helmets on cycleways – serious cycling accidents are overwhelmingly caused by collisions with cars and other vehicles, not falling off the bike.

Cycling and Health

The direct costs of cycling are pretty straightforward – it’s the amount being spent on infrastructure, whether it’s cycleways or token splashes of paint on the roads. As for indirect costs (externalities), cycling arguably has less than any other travel mode. Cyclists aren’t hurting anybody.

The benefits are a bit more complex. Like public transport, cycling helps to mitigate congestion – so car users benefit from having faster, more reliable travel times. Cycling also reduces greenhouse gas emissions.

Then there are the health benefits of cycling. Quoting from a 2014 paper which modelled potential cycling investment in Auckland (emphasis added):

Our findings suggest that the most effective approach would involve physical segregation on arterial roads (with intersection treatments) and low speed, bicycle-friendly local streets.

We estimate that these changes would bring large benefits to public health over the coming decades, in the tens of dollars for every dollar spent on infrastructure. The greatest benefits accrue from reduced all-cause mortality due to population-level physical inactivity.

Overall, the authors estimated that a $630 million investment in cycleways and “self-explaining roads” (traffic calming etc) would get cycling mode share to 40% by 2051, and give benefits of more than $13 billion, with a benefit:cost ratio of 24:1. Pretty good really. And we’ve found so far that the benefit:cost ratios for cycleways, at least the ones getting funded by the Urban Cycleways Programme, are often an order of magnitude higher than what we get for roads.

So, riding a bike is good for fitness and keeps you healthier for longer. At the New Zealand level, if more people cycled we’d have a healthier population, with lower mortality.

The next step: making helmets optional

Now, let’s have the conversation around helmet laws. Looking at the international picture: New Zealand’s compulsory helmet laws make us an international outlier. The evidence on their effectiveness has been mixed at best. Yes, helmets can reduce the severity of head injuries; but they’re also a barrier to cycling uptake.

We don’t know for sure in New Zealand, because the research hasn’t been done. But here’s my personal view. If we got rid of the law that says you have to wear a helmet while cycling, we’d have more people on bikes. This means car drivers will pay more attention to them, and drive more carefully. As such, it’s not clear whether the rate of serious head injuries (and in the worst case, deaths) would rise or fall. It depends on which effect dominates – cyclists being less likely to wear helmets so getting more severely injured, or drivers being more alert around cyclists. I wouldn’t be surprised if the latter effect wins out.

But here’s the thing – even if the latter effect doesn’t win out, it’s probably still a good idea to get rid of the law. Because there are all the other benefits from cycling to consider too – a healthier, fitter population, plus the congestion and emissions benefits. Those benefits are likely to be much greater than any ‘net’ cost from having more cyclists injured.

We’ve got an unusual split of powers in New Zealand:

  • The Accident Compensation Corporation (ACC) funds the costs of accident injuries. Every time a car slams into a cyclist, it’s ACC who pays for it. Understandably, ACC is all about doing things that reduce the risk and severity of injury (helmets can help with the latter, and don’t help and may even hurt the former). As noted above, it’s not clear whether making helmets optional would be better or worse for this.
  • The Ministry of Health handles the remainder of the public health system. They should be very interested in things which boost the general state of health among New Zealanders, such as cycling.
  • The police are responsible for enforcing the helmet law. It’s positive to see that cops aren’t fining cyclists as often as they used to, but ultimately they’re still giving out fines because that’s what the law says.

ACC and the Ministry of Health are more or less separate, with separate departments and different Ministers. The police are also separate, of course. These different organisations may have differing views on cycling and helmets, given their different responsibilities. We need a consensus-builder (a Gorbachev or perhaps a Bridges?) to bring the parties together and make, the right decision to give the best outcome for society.

Mr Bridges, it’s time to open this gate, and let the cyclists through. In order to get the most from the Urban Cycleways Programme, to encourage cycling as an everyday activity, and to unlock the health benefits, we need to get rid of the helmet law and make helmets optional.

* It also seems kind of unnecessary to have gates, walls and Bridges all mentioned in the title, but such is life

The Bike Blueprint 2020 – where should Auckland invest in cycling next?

This is a cross post from our friends over at Bike Auckland. It was written by Max

The Urban Cycleway Fund has given a huge boost to new bike facilities over the last few years – but its initial 3-year funding period ends in mid 2018. And well before that happens, both Auckland Transport and NZTA will need to have a strong vision of where to go next, and a programme of projects prioritized and ready to go.

That’s why, over the last six months, Bike Auckland has been working behind the scenes on the next tranche of Auckland’s bike infrastructure, 2018-2021.

With an eye to round numbers – and the “vision thing” – we called it the Auckland Bike Blueprint 2020, and have been sharing it with AT and NZTA to help inform their official plans.

If you’ve been to recent Bike Auckland meetings, you may have seen earlier iterations of the Blueprint – but this is the first time we have shown it online. Read on to find out how we developed this vision, and where and why we want to see more cycleways in the next funding period…

The “Routes” and “Areas” base maps combine together to form the Bike Blueprint (read on for explanations, links, and close-ups).

What is the Bike Blueprint?

The blueprint shows Bike AKL’s proposed priorities for Auckland cycling infrastructure over the ~3-5 years from 2018.

These priorities are set out in two key maps: The Routes, which are new key backbone links; and The Areas, which are coordinated approaches to a whole suburb or sector.

What is it not?

It isn’t a citywide network – that’s a much larger and longer project. Rather, it’s parts of the future Auckland cycle network that we think can and should be prioritized in the next funding and building period.

It isn’t everywhere – because if you prioritise everything (much as we’d like to!), you prioritise nothing. And by scattering your investment across the map, you risk not making the kind of measurable difference needed to guarantee more investment. But be assured that as we cut our strategic cloth to fit the vision, questions like “Is this fair?” and “Shouldn’t this area get something?” were some of the most difficult and most hotly debated.

It isn’t Greenways – but we do see Greenways as a smart way over the coming years to ensure bike-friendly changes in areas that are not being prioritized with major chunks of AT or NZTA funding. We’re also alert to local“windows of opportunity” in areas we haven’t prioritized, which can provide unexpected chances for improving cycling as part of unrelated projects.

How did you develop the maps?

We looked at the following key criteria for investment:

  • Potential users (employment / residents)
  • Gaps & opportunities in the bike network (aiming to Ungap the Map, as our Vancouver mates phrase it)
  • Planned housing development & planned transport projects
  • Positive feedback loops between the “routes” and “areas”

More on all that as we go through…

So, what are the “Routes”?

Continue reading The Bike Blueprint 2020 – where should Auckland invest in cycling next?

AMETI finally moving forward

One of the items I had on my list to write about this year was to ask what was happening with the AMETI busway. That’s because since at least as far back as September 2015, the notice of requirement for the Panmure to Pakuranga section has been listed in AT’s board reports as being due to be lodged within the next three months. In April last year they even put out a press release saying they’d lodged the notification but nothing was heard since. Well now they’ve finally said the project is open for public submissions.

The Panmure to Pakuranga section, otherwise known as AMETI Section 2A, includes a number of big changes, such as:

  • The notorious Panmure roundabout will be replaced by a signalised intersection
  • About 2.4km of urban busway from Panmure to Pakuranga – an urban busway means there’ll still be some at grade intersections, as opposed to the Northern Busway which is grade separated, although some current intersections with Pakuranga Rd will be closed.
  • The route will have a mix of shared paths or and dedicated bike facilities
  • The busway and walking/cycling paths will be accommodated on a new, dedicated bridge crossing the Tamaki River
  • Changes to how side roads in Pakuranga interact with Pakuranga Rd, this includes linking some cul-de-sac’s together so only one intersection is needed.

The intersection that will replace the Panmure roundabout

The busway can’t come soon enough. East Auckland is easily the poorest served part of the urban area when it comes to public transport and as such it’s no coincidence that PT usage is low leading to a high reliance on driving and of course, congestion. The low use of PT is easily seen in this map of census data based on journey to work data showing East Auckland being equivalent in usage to rural areas. The busway will help extend decent quality PT further into the east, especially when combined with a quick, easy and free transfer at Panmure to the rail network.

Here are a couple more images suggesting what the project will look like.

Stage 2A is shown in the map below in yellow and is the first stage in what will eventually be a 7km busway that extends all the way to Botany. AT have also said they plan to put bus lanes up Pakuranga Rd towards Highland Park and that too and combined, will make PT much more useful and reliable in the east.

In their press release, AT do say they’ve made some changes to the design based on earlier feedback and that the changes include:

  • Changes to the design of the Panmure intersection.
  • Adding in a U-turn facility on Queens Road in Panmure.
  • Moving the proposed new Panmure Bridge 5m north to future proof the upgrade of the existing road bridge.
  • Widening Williams Avenue in Pakuranga to allow parking on both sides and two lanes of traffic.
  • Improvements to property access along the route.

Along with the public submissions opening for this stage of the project, AT have also released a new video of the project.

In both the video and the press release there are a couple of things that caught my attention, the biggest of which was the positive language used. For example from the video:

  • “Imagine getting into Auckland City from Pakuranga in less than 30 minutes”
  • “A new congestion free urban busway will provide a fast, reliable travel alternative”
  • “When the busway is finished, you can travel stress free between Panmure, Pakuranga and Botany”

While the press release said

Auckland Transport AMETI Eastern Busway Project Director Duncan Humphrey says the project will deliver the initial stage of New Zealand’s first urban busway, allowing bus travel on congestion-free lanes between Panmure and Pakuranga.

“AMETI is aimed at improving transport choices and better connecting residents of east Auckland to the rest of the city.”

“The Panmure to Pakuranga section of AMETI will allow buses to travel on congestion-free lanes. It’ll mean quicker, more frequent and reliable buses on lanes separate to general traffic, making public transport more attractive and improving the quality of service. It will also see major improvements for both cyclists and pedestrians giving them safer, more direct connections.

It’s fantastic to see AT using the term “Congestion Free”. When we created the Congestion Free Network back in 2013, one of the key aims was to get AT to improve how it discussed and presented rapid transit. We encouraged them to embrace the network and terminology and it appears they’ve done just that.

The video also highlights a couple of other things too, that the existing Panmure Bridge will be replaced in about 20 years with a fourth general traffic lane added – which seems odd given the changes above will leave Lagoon Dr with only a single lane each way for general traffic. It also shows that AT are still pushing on with the Reeves Rd flyover, at a time when many cities are, or are planning to tear down similar structures.

As part of the notification, AT are holding some open days for the project. The details are

Date

Time

Venue

14 February 2017 6.30am – 9.30am Panmure Station, mezzanine level
16 February 2017 4pm – 9pm Pakuranga Plaza (outside Farmers)
18 February 2017 6pm – 10pm Pakuranga night markets, Westfield (under The Warehouse)

Overall, it’s good to finally see some progress on this project which has been on the books now for over decade. AMETI was born out of the failed pushed for an eastern motorway by the likes of John Banks. It started as a scaled down version of that motorway plan but positively, over time it has morphed into a more balanced transport project although it still retains some of its heritage in the likes of the proposed Reeves Rd Flyover. The biggest concern however is the timing, even this section of busway (if the consent is approved), is not expected to start construction till about 2021.

Missed news wrapup

Every week we receive numerous press releases related to transport and we only tend to comment on a few of them. Here are a couple that piqued our interest but not quite enough for a full post of their own.

Recently Auckland Transport announced they had put the first tender out for the rest of the CRL project (after the early works currently underway). This week they announced they’ve put up the tender for the construction of the tunnels and two new stations.

Largest City Rail Link tender process starts

The largest component of the City Rail Link (CRL) project – the construction of the tunnels and new stations – took a major step forward today with the release of its first tender documents to the industry.

The project is picking up speed with Expressions of Interest sought only a fortnight ago for the design, procurement, installation and commissioning of all tunnel track work and rail systems between Britomart Station and the Western Line at Mt Eden.

There will be two new stations as part of the build of the underground rail line linking Britomart with the existing western line near Mt Eden. The new stations will be near Aotea Square with entrances at Wellesley and Victoria Streets and a station in Mercury Lane, just off Karangahape Road. The present Mount Eden train station will be extended and redeveloped.

Tender documents sent out today are for the tunnel and station works that involve:

  • Aotea Station:  Cut and cover construction of a 15m-deep, 300m-long underground station and plant room box, including platforms, lifts and escalators to street level, plant rooms housing station and tunnel equipment, full station fit-out and entrances at either end at Victoria and Wellesley Streets.
  • Karangahape Road Station:  Mined construction of a 32m-deep underground station, including platform tubes and 150m-long platforms, lifts and inclined escalator to street level, plant rooms housing station and tunnel equipment within two shafts, full station fit-out, entrance at Mercury Lane and provision for a future entrance at Beresford Square.
  • Tunnels:  Twin-bored tunnel construction (circa 7m diameter) between the Mt Eden station and the southern end of Aotea Station.
  • The provision of maintenance services for the new stations.

CRL Project Director Chris Meale says today’s development shows the considerable progress being made.

He says that as well as the tenders rolling out for future construction, current works are well underway. The 2m-wide tunnel boring machine simultaneously excavating and installing a new stormwater pipe under Albert Street has finished the first leg of its journey.

The nine-storey-high piling rig working in Albert Street has already dug more than 140 of the 376 piles required.

“What will be a highly efficient and reliable transport choice for Auckland is now visibly taking shape.”

The tunnels and stations contract being sent out today will be procured using a Design and Construct model with a lump sum price based on a bespoke contract.

They also put out a few new high quality images of the stations.

Aotea Station – Wellesley St

Karangahape Rd – Mercury Lane

Mt Eden

Hot on the heels of Auckland Transport announcing it was going to trial two electric buses in Auckland, operator NZ Bus announced they were trialling some BYD electric buses in Auckland and Wellington

BYD’s all electric battery bus, with fast re-charging

NZ Bus to begin trial of BYD electric bus

NZ Bus to begin trial of BYD electric bus in Auckland and Wellington

NZ Bus will this week begin trialling its new BYD eBus in Auckland and then in Wellington, as another part of its strategy to lead the transition to electric-powered public transport in New Zealand.

NZ Bus Chief Executive Officer, Zane Fulljames, said that the trial will enable NZ Bus to assess whether this fully electric bus, which is proven in other markets across the world, can meet the challenges of New Zealand’s unique topographical landscape and the specific requirements of bus networks in Auckland and Wellington.

“As a business we are committed to leading the industry towards an electric-powered bus fleet, as was reflected in our announcement last year to invest NZ$43m in Wrightspeed electric powertrain technology to be retrofitted to buses in our existing fleet.

“Trialling BYD eBus technology is about looking at options for the future in terms of our ongoing fleet replacement programme,” said Mr Fulljames.

The makers of the eBus, BYD Company Limited, operate across 6 continents, 48 countries and regions, and 200 cities. They are the suppliers of the largest electric bus fleet in Europe and are in fleets across Canada, USA, Chile, China, Singapore and Australia.

NZ Bus’ trial of its BYD eBus is expected to last up to three months. The BYD eBus may not attract attention as it travels Auckland and Wellington bus routes, given that it looks much like a conventional diesel or diesel-hybrid bus, but people might notice that it is significantly quieter.

In parallel with the BYD eBus trial, NZ Bus is also well underway with the process of retrofitting Wrightspeed electric powertrains to its existing bus fleet at its workshop in Wellington.

“As a major transport operator, NZ Bus has the scale for investment of the kind these initiatives represent. We are committed to continuing to lead the industry and contribute to reducing New Zealand’s carbon footprint through innovation,” said Mr Fulljames.

And finally, Mayor Phil Goff has kicked off The Auckland Bike Challenge

Mayor Phil Goff challenges Aucklanders to get on their bikes.

The Auckland Bike Challenge kicks off today and Mayor Phil Goff is encouraging Aucklanders to join the 2,500 people who have already registered for the free month-long event.

Bigger and better than last year, the Auckland Bike Challenge run by Auckland Transport is now part of NZ Transport Agency’s nationwide Aotearoa Bike Challenge.

The Auckland Mayoral Office has two electric bikes and Mayor Phil Goff is looking forward to getting on his bike during the challenge.

“Living out in Clevedon means cycling to work’s a bit tough for me, but I enjoy getting to meetings and events in the city on my bike, and use it when I can,” he says.

“Cycling’s a great way to get around our city. It’s a joy being out of a car in the fresh air, getting fit and reducing our carbon footprint.”

The Mayor says Auckland Council is committed to helping more people get out of their cars and on to bikes, and is investing in new world class facilities to make cycling safer and more accessible.

“The Quay Street Cycleway, the first stage of the Glen Innes to Tamaki shared path, the Mt Roskill Safe route and the award-winning pink Lightpath on Nelson Street are very popular,” says Mayor Goff. “We will continue to invest in safe cycleways across the city to reduce congestion and pollution and make Auckland an even better place to live.

“The 2017 Bike Challenge is your opportunity to explore our beautiful city and to see it in a new way. I look forward to seeing you out and about and on your bike this summer.”

The Auckland Bike Challenge is a fun, free workplace competition that encourages people to give cycling a go during the month of February 2017.

More than 270 Auckland organisations have signed up and will compete against similar-sized businesses within the Auckland region and nationwide.

Run by Auckland Transport and supported by the Sustainable Business Network, Healthy Auckland Together and Auckland Regional Public Health Service, the event supports workplaces encouraging staff to ride for at least ten minutes during the month of February.

Rides are recorded online, and there are prizes up for grabs for both businesses and individuals.

There’s still time to register for the Auckland Bike Challenge at www.lovetoride.net/auckland. The website includes a live leader board to track results, information on prizes and easy ways to encourage others to participate.

Anzac St in need of some attention

Takapuna is already one of Auckland’s most strategically important locations and that is only set to continue if the various plans, such as The Auckland Plan, The Takapuna Centre Plan and the Unitary Plan are ever realised. This is also why the centre is one of the key focus’ of Panuku Development Auckland. The various plans for Takapuna understandably focus on the core of the centre itself, and some of this includes the potential development of council own sites like the Anzac St carpark and the old Gasometer site.

As many of you may know from past posts, I spend my weekdays working in Takapuna, I see daily the huge potential the place has but I also think there’s a corner of Takapuna that seems to have been forgotten and left out of the discussion. This corner is Anzac St from Fred Thomas Dr to Auburn St.

Currently, from what I can tell, there is nothing in the council’s Long Term Plan that would see Anzac St upgraded, in other words changes could be more than a decade away

In this post I wanted to look at some of the reasons I think Auckland Transport need to consider making some changes to the street

The Unitary Plan

The Unitary plan allows for a lot of development in the Anzac St corridor southwest of the Takapuna metro centre. It almost exclusively zoned for Terraced Housing and Apartment Buildings (THAB – orange).

What’s more the corridor is ripe for development with a lot of older single storey dwellings and importantly, THAB development is already well underway. The houses that were renovated in the first series of The Block have already been moved off the site (or are about to be) and piling is already underway for. For example this image put together by reader Jochem shows some currently proposed and underway.

It wouldn’t surprise me that if over the next decade, we saw at least half a dozen more proposals developed and built. All up this could see thousands more people living in this corridor in a fairly short space of time and so Anzac St could see a lot more people walking, cycling and even catching the bus. If nothing else, we owe it to the thousands of potential new residents with a street environment that is no so hostile to them.

New bus network

Takapuna is already served by a large number of buses and that won’t change with the New Network, under which most reach Takapuna using Anzac St. From what I can tell – and we’ll have to wait till the tender process is complete to see the exact numbers – we have Takapuna served by 7 routes – although one route passes Anzac St twice so effectively 8 routes. This document also tells us just how frequent the routes are. The routes and their all day/peak frequency are listed below:

  • N6 – 15 minutes all day, 15 minutes at peak (frequent route)
  • N25 – 30 minutes all day, 15 minutes at peak (doubled route)
  • N30 – 30 minutes all day, 15 minutes at peak
  • N32 – 60 minutes all day, 60 minutes at peak
  • N41 – 30 minutes all day, 30 minutes at peak
  • N42 – 30minutes all day, 10 minutes at peak
  • N46 – 30 minutes all day, 30 minutes at peak

Based on this, in each direction there are about 17 buses an hour using Anzac St all day and 27 buses an hour at peak times. I’m not sure what the rules are now but an AT document from about 2011 looking at how to determine if a route should have a bus/transit lane suggests that over 15 buses an hour should at least be considered for one.

I think it’s fair to say that at the very least, Anzac St (and Taharoto Rd) needs to have bus or transit lanes installed.

Walking and Cycling

Like many arterials in Auckland, Anzac St isn’t the most pleasant street to walk down. It has in places some relatively narrow footpaths that are set right next to the traffic lanes and they often contain obstacles such as power poles or stormwater catchpits that further narrow down the space available for people on foot.

Things are even worse for those on bike. Many of the roads that approach Takapuna, like Taharoto and Lake Roads. Those two roads already have at least painted cycle lanes but in both cases the lanes stop short of the actual town centre. I’m sure I don’t have to explain how silly it is to have bike lanes short of destinations. In the case of the western side, that was extended slightly last year to be just after the start of Anzac St.

I already see a number of bikes in and around Takapuna and I suspect the centre has the potential to be one of the most popular destinations by bike if we were to build the supporting infrastructure it needs.

 

How could it be upgraded

The Anzac St corridor is advantaged over many other arterials in Auckland by not having to also cater for on street parking. By my estimations, the street is 24m wide giving plenty of space to play with. Below is one option for how I think the road could be upgraded while all fitting in that 24m width.

As this could take some time, AT should look at what options they could implement to get a solution like this sooner. Perhaps that means some improved footpaths

Are you familiar with Anzac St, what do you think should happen to it? Like me do you think it needs some attention?

Invisible infrastructure – Turning the Corner Campaign

Signals and traffic control devices have a significant influence on people’s journeys. And combined with road rules, local customs, and professional practices they can shape not only travel choices but also the physical environment (see above).

The recently launched “Turning the Corner” campaign lead by Phil Jones Associates for British Cycling seeks to illustrate the unique road rules in the UK and the challenges they present to enabling improved conditions for walking and cycling.

In most other countries, including across the rest of Europe, traffic turning into a street has to yield to pedestrians who receive a green light to cross at the same time. Most crossroads junctions can then operate on two simple stages, with pedestrians being given green man invitations to cross in one of the directions at all times.

While the informational campaign highlights the unique challenges in the UK, it is also a useful reference point for New Zealand road rules and professional practices. Unlike most places in the world, the UK and (many places in New Zealand) provide separate signal phases for pedestrians and cyclists. This has the main advantage of eliminating “conflicting” vehicle turning movements from pedestrian crossing movements making it safer (at least in theory).

The road rules lead longer signal cycles and to several perverse outcomes including slip lanes and multi-staged crossings for pedestrians. For cycling infrastructure, the design response tends to favour less desirable 2-way facilities so that all the crossing movements can be ‘bundled’ together and use only one signal phase. (See: Going Bi-directional).

Many countries have unambiguous road rules (or at least driving customs) requiring all turning traffic to give way to through-moving road users (pedestrians and cyclists). This allows intersection signals to be very simple and efficient, and allows for high quality facilities. (Protection by traffic signals can still be provided to match the particular conditions).

This is the crux of the Turning the Corner information campaign.  Here is the Summary Report (PDF). Below are the key points from the campaign.

Creating a stronger legal requirement for drivers to yield on turning would make it much easier for highway authorities to introduce state of the art facilities which provide greater safety, and feelings of safety, for both pedestrians and cyclists, and would therefore be welcomed by local government. (TtC)

Creating a stronger legal requirement for drivers to yield on turning would make it much easier for highway authorities to introduce state of the art facilities which provide greater safety, and feelings of safety, for both pedestrians and cyclists

  • Changing to the give way on turning system used in most other countries could offer a number of advantages to pedestrians. Firstly, crossings could be provided at many more junctions in the UK, since the impact on traffic capacity is much less than under the present system.
  • Secondly, pedestrians would not be delayed as long as at present, since overall cycle time of the signals would be reduced, and the red man signal would show for a much shorter proportion of the time.
  • Finally, crossings would be more direct, without the need for complex staggered arrangements, since people would be able to walk in a straight line from one side of the junction to the other with consistent priority over traffic.

It is important to note that not all crossings would need to operate in this way. Fully separated crossings could still be used.

It is recognised that moving away from a fully-separated pedestrian crossing system would raise concerns amongst some groups. Extensive research would need to be carried to establish the feasibility of moving to a give-way on turning system for signalised crossings, including off-road trials. However, the considerable potential advantages to all types of user mean that, in our view, the option is worthy of further investigation to properly weigh up the potential benefits and costs.

In other European countries, the general requirement that turning traffic must give way to cyclists going ahead means that such complex designs are not necessary. In Denmark a simple ‘two stage turn’ is used at most junctions, which is consistent and understandable. The relatively short signal cycle time minimises the delay to cyclists.

Similarly, in the Netherlands (and also in Sweden) adopting a give-way on turning law means that protected cycle facilities can be incorporated into signal junctions without requiring complex layouts or staging.

We now believe that the time is right to reassess the potential advantages of moving to the give way on turning system at traffic signals, as used in most other countries.

This report raises the question about the state of our own road rules in supporting more walking and cycling. Do the New Zealand road rules provide sufficient right-of-way at intersections? Can we design protected intersections that also allow pedestrians and cyclists safe AND fast trips?

Tamaki Dr hot mess approved

As well as being one of the most iconic locations in Auckland, Tamaki Drive is home to a number of honours. It remains the busiest place in Auckland for bikes, averaging over 1,000 a day all year and some days in summer months often seeing 1,500 to 2,000 on some days. It is also home to the Tamaki Dr/Ngapipi Dr intersection which happens to be one of the most dangerous in the entire country. Yesterday, Auckland Transport announced they have now have approval for their hot mess of a solution.

An independent hearings panel has given the go-ahead for safety improvements at one of Auckland’s most dangerous intersections.

21 crashes have been recorded at the intersection of Tamaki Drive and Ngapipi Road in the past five years, with 13 resulting in injury. Tamaki-Ngapipi is ranked number 10 on the national top 100 list of crash risk intersections..

Auckland Transport’s Group Manager Major Capital, Andrew Scoggins says AT has successfully applied for a resource consent for the work.

“We plan to re-configure the traffic lanes make it safer for motorists, cyclists and pedestrians. We will put in traffic signals and on-road cycle lanes on Tamaki Drive, these works are essential to make this intersection safer.”

Mr Scoggins says there will also be improvements to lighting, signage, the pedestrian crossings and an upgrade to the stormwater.

“The intersection is very busy with 30,000 vehicles using it every day and the upgrade will make it much safer.”

Work on the $7 million upgrade is scheduled to start in April.

Part of Auckland Transport’s solution is extend the seawall out to create more space. Here are some before and after illustrations showing what they expect it to look like once completed.

Looking East

Looking West

And here’s the concept design AT have on their website.

As we’ve said before, what’s proposed is a hot mess and frankly embarrassing. It’s designed to try and cater for two completely different types of cyclist, the casual person on a bike out for cruise and the high speed road warrior but does neither well, for example:

  • On the northern side we’ve got the existing cycleway continuing to mix with pedestrians – just with a bit more space.
  • We’ve got on-road cycleways for “confident” cyclists but on the Northern Side there are also ramps so those confident cyclists can bypass the lights and race through the pedestrian area if needed.
  • That on street cycleway then runs straight into a bus stop rather than using the extra space they’re adding to go behind it.
  • On the southern side we’ve got bike lanes that can only be reached after crossing two lanes of traffic.
  • There are bike advance boxes galore but also bike crossings.

With the extra space gained by moving the seawall it is possible they could deliver a better design but given construction starts in April it doesn’t seem likely. After a previous post on the terrible design, reader George, an engineer, came up with his own design which is similar to best practice from overseas.

I know some people have previously suggested we just add a big roundabout, this post highlights why that is a bad idea – basically due to the uneven traffic flows, it would cause all sorts of congestion issues for traffic on Ngapipi.

 

Quay St: Oh Yeah

Off-road cycle routes are great, but I love on-street ones even more, as they are real city changers.

Both of course are required and required to be interconnected, but for today, here’s a celebration of the Quay St on-street cycle lanes, an important step towards a network:

Quay Sy Cyclelanes 01

Quay St Cyclelanes 02

Quay St Cyclelanes 03

Quay St Cyclelanes 04

Looking forward to this route being connected to the Nelson St on-street cyclelanes, the SkyPath, and Tamaki Drive.

Thanks to everyone who made this possible; from the Minister with his championing of the Urban Cycleways Fund, the Auckland Transport team and executive that put it together and got through a few tricky conflicts, and Auckland Council for their share of the funding (the transport levy) and of course for the policy support.

To my mind this is Radical Incrementalism on show; a little-big change.

Introduction to Systematic Safety, The Principles Behind Vision Zero

Here’s a great video on the principles of behind “systematic safety” by Peter Furth. It’s really interesting how the approach is so different than current practice in the States, Australia and New Zealand.

And in case you missed it, Harriet had a great post on Dutch cycleway design last week, “Great Cycling Myths & Mistakes – How Auckland can easily be a Great Cycling City“.

Nelson St Phase 2

The Nelson St Cycleway was completed just over a year ago and has been a fantastic addition to the city.

Since then we’ve been patiently waiting for Phase 2, which has had a particularly long gestation period. It is intended to extend the cycleway to the Quay St cycleway and also includes extending it along Pitt St to Karangahape Rd. Auckland Transport originally consulted on a design way back in September 2015, months before Phase 1 even opened.

We weren’t thrilled with the design which would have seen the cycleway cross diagonally to the eastern side of Nelson St before sending cyclists along Sturdee St and Lower Hobson St, across in some places incredibly narrow footpaths, before reaching Quay St. We, and others, wanted the cycleway kept on the western side of Nelson St and linked into the tree lined Market Place. We also liked this well illustrated idea from reader Jonty to send it via the Hobson St Viaduct.

Just before Christmas, Auckland Transport finally announced the outcome of their consultation and the final design. Like we’d see in some earlier board reports, AT confirmed that the cycleway would now link into Market Place rather than using Sturdee St.

The link that will complete Auckland’s city cycle loop is a step closer.

The route, announced today, will connect the Nelson St Cycleway with the waterfront.

The connection along Nelson St to Quay St via Market Place, Customs St West and Lower Hobson St, will complete the loop.

The city cycle loop includes cycleways on Quay St, Beach Rd, Grafton Gully and the pink Lightpath.

Phase 2 of Nelson St Cycleway will include protected, on-road cycle lanes on both sides of Nelson St and Market Place from Victoria St to Pakenham St East.

Construction of this section will start in April and be completed by July. Plans for the remaining section of Market Pl, Customs St West and Lower Hobson will be made public in early 2017.

The major difference from what we suggested back in 2015 is that instead of the cycleway being completely on the western side, it will be split with northbound (downhill) cyclists staying on the western side but southbound (uphill) cyclists using the eastern side. We’re comfortable with that change.

As we understand, the biggest hurdle, and the reason it’s taken so long to confirm the design, has been the need to convince the traffic engineers that carmegeddon wouldn’t ensue from removing the two lane signalised slip lane from Nelson St on to Fanshawe St.

So here’s what AT plan to build (click to enlarge)

The cycle lanes on either side of the road will be protected. The biggest challenge will be the driveways and so all road users will have to take care here.

It’s the Nelson/Fanshawe intersection that will see the most change with the left turn slip lanes removed to allow the cycleway to be built and the kerb built out on the western side which will be a welcome addition to the many pedestrians that walk past here and who are currently squeezed into a narrow space.  The cycleway heading southbound will have a short section of being a shared path till it gets past Wyndham St. It will also require two legs to cross from Market Place which is a bit annoying.

Finally on Market Place the cycleways continue past Pakenham St.

AT are still working on the final design for Market Place which is why it hasn’t been included yet but from what we understand of it, it will good. From Market Place the intention is to use Customs St West and then Lower Hobson St.

The news for the Pitt St section isn’t so great though. Here, AT have scaled the design back to a simple shared path. They say this is caused mainly by the CRL and the significant disruption it will have on the area both during construction and after it with where they’ve decided to put vents.

Since design for this cycleway project started in January 2015, there have been changes to the CRL (City Rail Link) design, particularly the vent location in Pitt Street. The CRL team have advised that the CRL project will cause significant disruption including a very large excavation across Pitt Street in the Beresford Square vicinity.

AT met with key stakeholders in the area, including local businesses, NZ Fire Service, and St John NZ, to listen and understand their concerns.

Based on feedback received from submissions and also from meetings with key stakeholders, we have decided the cycleway should be re-scoped to provide an interim off-road shared path facility for Pitt Street.

AT is developing a design for CRL in the vicinity of Pitt Street and Beresford Square, incorporating the Pitt Street and Karangahape Road cycleways.

Here are the designs, which as you can see still retain a gap between Karangahape Rd and Beresford Square. It’s not clear how less confident cyclists will bridge this gap, presumably most would use the footpath.

As the press release earlier said, construction of the first section down Nelson St is expected to start in April and at least that and the section to Quay St are expected to be completed in the middle of the year.