Up­grade does not cater to all


NEW plans for cy­clists tak­ing on one of Auck­land’s no­to­ri­ously busy roads have drawn mixed re­views.

Auck­land Trans­port has pro­posed par­al­lel cy­cle routes on streets close to Do­min­ion Rd so bike rid­ers won’t have to cy­cle on the ma­jor ar­te­rial road.

While the $4.5m project has re­ceived the thumbs up for young and less ex­pe­ri­enced cy­clists, it seems com­muter cy­clists have been left with no al­ter­na­tive but to tackle the road which car­ries about 25,000 ve­hi­cles a day.

Trans­port Blog edi­tor Matt Lowrie says the al­ter­na­tive routes won’t work for com­muter cy­clists.

‘‘They’re too con­vo­luted, they’re not straight enough and it’s a longer dis­tance to travel. While it is good, it’s not go­ing to solve all the prob­lems and there are still go­ing to be cy­clists who are cy­cling to town, that won’t change.’’

Cy­clist Emma Blomkamp rides from San­dring­ham to work in Mt Eden. She used to cy­cle along Do­min­ion Rd, but this year she’s been tak­ing side streets be­cause cy­cling on the ar­te­rial road can be ‘‘pretty scary’’.

‘‘I find it worse when the bus lanes aren’t in use and the cars are parked there be­cause of the risk of car doors open­ing.’’

Ms Blomkamp says the only way to make Auck­land roads safer for cy­clists is to have ded­i­cated cy­cle lanes and re­move park­ing from ma­jor ar­te­rial roads.

‘‘It may work if you don’t need to go all the way along Do­min­ion Rd.

‘‘But my big­gest ob­jec­tion is they’re not propos­ing cy­cling lanes, they are just propos­ing mea­sures in­tended to slow traf­fic, im­prove light­ing and have sig­nage.’’

The al­ter­na­tive cy­cle route cov­ers 12km. It runs from Ren­frew Ave and Pa­rau St in the south to Onslow and Belle­vue roads in the north.

Work starts in May and is ex­pected to be fin­ished by the end of the year.

It in­cludes link­ing streets for cy­clists with new sig­nage, traf­fic slow­ing mea­sures like speed humps, and traf­fic lights at four in­ter­sec­tions: Bal­moral Rd and Matipo St, Bal­moral Rd and Pine St, Mt Al­bert Rd and Brem­ner Ave and on Mt Al­bert Rd at an ac­cess­way be­tween May Rd and Ren­frew Ave.

Some paths will be shared with pedes­tri­ans.

The plan is part of the Do­min­ion Rd up­grade which will see bus in­fra­struc­ture, foot­paths, street cross­ings and vil­lage cen­tres im­proved.

But sep­a­rate cy­cle lanes have been ruled out. The only ded­i­cated cy­cle lanes are a 100-me­tre strip north of View Rd be­tween Ge­orge and Horo­pito streets which con­nect to the ex­ist­ing lanes on Ian McKin­non Drive.

‘‘To cre­ate more space along most of Do­min­ion Rd to al­low for cy­clists, buses and cars would re­quire widen­ing the road,’’ Auck­land Trans­port’s web­site says. ‘‘This was ruled out be­cause of the $50m ex­tra cost, mostly re­lated to mov­ing ser­vices like power, wa­ter pipes and telecom­mu­ni­ca­tions.’’

Al­bert-Eden-Roskill coun­cil­lor Cathy Casey says widen­ing through the vil­lage cen­tres ‘‘is not an op­tion be­cause it could only be achieved by al­ter­ing the fronts of a num­ber of her­itage build­ings.’’

Ms Casey says about 300 cy­clists use Do­min­ion Rd ev­ery day.

‘‘There have been a num­ber of bi­cy­cle ac­ci­dents along Do­min­ion Rd and the qui­eter par­al­lel cy­cle routes of­fer a safer al­ter­na­tive to less con­fi­dent cy­clists,’’ she says.

There were 27 crashes in the area in­volv­ing cy­clists from 2008 to 2013 in­clud­ing three se­ri­ous in­jury crashes and 18 mi­nor crashes.

The risks are very real to Ms Blomkamp, who ear­lier this month saw an in­jured cy­clist on Do­min­ion Rd near Belle­vue Rd. He could have been knocked off his bike by a car or crashed be­cause the area was dimly lit, she says.

Cy­cle Ac­tion Auck­land chair­woman Bar­bara Cuth­bert says the route is ‘‘not ideal’’.

‘‘They’re not what we asked for and they are a com­pro­mise.

‘‘Do­min­ion Rd is the most di­rect route for cy­clists to get into town and it’s no co­in­ci­dence buses use it. Cy­clists want to use the di­rect route as well – so cy­clists and buses will still be shar­ing a nar­row space. They will con­tinue to use Do­min­ion Rd be­cause it re­mains the most con­ve­nient route.’’

Brake Road Safety de­vel­op­ment di­rec­tor Caro­line Perry says it is great to see safe cy­cle routes in the Do­min­ion Rd up­grade.

‘‘In­ter­na­tion­ally, re­search has shown that the most ef­fec­tive ways to pro­tect cy­clists and pedes­tri­ans is the sep­a­ra­tion of road users, and slower speeds.

‘‘This is a good step for­ward, but there is still much more that needs to be done to make Auck­land more cy­clist and pedes­trian-friendly.’’

Safety first: Cy­clist Emma Blomkamp says sep­a­rate cy­cle lanes and re­mov­ing car park­ing would go a long way to make Do­min­ion Rd safer for cy­clists. Go to auck­land­trans­port. govt.nz to see a map of the route.

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