Friday, June 30, 2017

No Room for Safe Cycling on Lake Road

There is room for fast lycra cycling on a modestly revamped Lake Road (between Deveonport and Takapuna - in Auckland). But there is neither room nor safety for safe cycling infrastructure needed for kids biking to school or casual commuter cycling.

I say this more in disappointment than because I'm grumpy. For a a few years now community groups have been working together and with Auckland Transport to come up with a reasonable plan to address the Lake Road congestion problem, and a plan that can accommodate some urban redevelopment and provide better urban transport amenity for the whole Devonport peninsula.

Throughout this process there have been calls from the old guard for a new arterial coastal road and route running parallel to Lake Road, built partly into Waitemata Harbour mangroves. Such a project would be very expensive and present huge consenting problems given its intrusion into the marine area, and its impact on perceived property rights. In my opinion its cost could not be justified in a cost benefit test - unless an immense amount of redevelopment was permitted within urban Devonport - development that would have a major impact on the heritage landscape that has evolved there over the past century and a half.

Options advanced by Auckland Transport are reported by Stuff here. And public opinions canvassed on video also by Stuff here (including mine).

When I reflect on my days chairing committees in local government (12 years worth), and remember my first leaflet (1998 - Lake Road needs to be fixed), I realise how hard it is to get the use of roads changed. Especially arterial roads. Advocates in the northern hemisphere talk about how easy it is - get some paint and change the markings - a suck it and see approach. But it doesn't come easy here.

The best example - in my opinion - of changed use of a roading corridor in Auckland's North Shore was Onewa Road. Long before I'd been elected, and before we had four city councils across Auckland, a Borough Council in Birkenhead decided that there should be a priority bus lane in Onewa Road. And they made it happen. Despite the opposition. That opposition continued unabated while I was a North Shore City Councillor - and it was spear-headed by the normally sensible Northcote Point Residents and Ratepayers grouping. They were openly hostile and made it very difficult for that buslane to be properly established as a T3.

Thanks to a majority of North Shore City Councillors remaining staunch, that T3 was put firmly in place and Auckland CBD bus commuters across Birkenhead and from Northcote enjoy a particularly reliable commuter bus service. This was enhanced when the Northern Busway was built.

At the time there would have been cyclists keen to have access to priority infrastructure. But that need was not on the radar during that period.

The same cannot be said for Lake Road in Devonport/Takapuna.

Applying the utilitarian principle of the greatest good for the greatest number, community groups working together agreed that T2 buslane infrastructure was the top priority for Lake Road enhancements. I agree with that assessment. But I am a strong supporter of cycling. On my watch in North Shore Local Government a cycling strategy was produced which did call for a cycle lane on Lake Road. Interesting in hindsight. A few years later that cyclelane was implemented. It was highly controversial at the time. It did increase the amount of cycling. But Lake Road was always perceived as dangerous by school-children parents, and by casual commuter cyclists.

Other cycling infrastructure developed in local streets parallel to Lake Road and along coastal paths both East and West of Lake Road (which runs North/South). More and more children and casual recreational cyclists are using that infrastructure for pleasure, to get to school, and to access various destinations on the pensinsula.

An enhanced version of that option was generally supported by community groups in Devonport, rather than a dedicated cyclelane in Lake Road - especially when the cost of providing a dedicated cyclelane PLUS a T2 bus lane is factored into the planning process.

I am sympathetic to the aims and objectives of the high speed lycra clad cycling lobby that enjoys the use of Lake Road in peletons and for their enjoyment. But those aims and objectives need to be weighed alongside greater good aims and objectives, and they need to be considered against available funds. Their energetic advocacy for a dedicated (and generally perceived as unsafe) cyclelane in Lake Road runs the risk of preventing the T2 project going ahead. That outcome might be favoured by high speed cyclists because it means the current cyclelane can remain in place. However it would also mean that a long-waited and socially necessary T2 improvement which would enable the establishment of reliable Devonport/Takapuna bus services - would be put off again.

The modestly priced option to improve the Lake Road corridor is necessary now. It will deliver a T2 buslane which will benefit many residents. It can be funded because it is modestly priced. Safe cycling infrastructure which benefits casual and school cycling can be developed away from the arterial Lake Road corridor.

That is the priority for Devonport and Takapuna. Auckland Transport needs to be supported by local politicians to do the best for the most residents. That includes long awaited T2 enabled bus services, and appropriate safe cycle infrastructure for the broad demographic of casual urban cyclists.  
  

1 comment:

goosoid said...

Hi Joel,

Some really interesting points here. The one problem I have is stating that it is only lycra style cyclists advocating for increasing the safety of the cycle lanes on Lake Road. In fact, Bike Devonport (part of Bike Auckland) is actively campaigning for separated cycle lanes on lake Road and our focus is 100% on urban cycling and 0% on lycra sport cycling.

In saying that, and even as a passionate cycling advocate, you are right that supplying separated cycle lanes along with bus lanes would be be challenging as the road is currently configured. I do however wonder whether under grounding power lines and taking a small amount of space from the footpaths (which in many parts are painted as shared paths anyway) may give that space. Also, bus/transit lanes are of course also classified as cycle lanes by default.

If cycling was removed from Lake Road, that would only be fair if substantial sums (and I mean in the millions) was spent on creating safe parallel routes with separated cycle paths along the majority of the route. This would have to include a walking/cycling bridge from the end of Francis Street across to Esmonde Road. That project alone is likely to be around $5m.

If the only restriction is space, then I can see the social benefit in choosing bus/transit lanes over cycle lanes. However, the extra cost to supply cycling facilities of, I would guess, at least $10m would need to be incorporated into those plans.

Devonport is already one of the strongest cycling areas in Auckland with 6% of commuters saying they travelled by bicycle. We cannot ignore that trend or the sizeable (though perhaps minority) group who wish to have the option of using a bicycle for at least some of their trips. The recent travel survey found that almost half of trips on lake Road were within the peninsula (so trips of less than 3kms) so there is huge potential there.

Friday, June 30, 2017

No Room for Safe Cycling on Lake Road

There is room for fast lycra cycling on a modestly revamped Lake Road (between Deveonport and Takapuna - in Auckland). But there is neither room nor safety for safe cycling infrastructure needed for kids biking to school or casual commuter cycling.

I say this more in disappointment than because I'm grumpy. For a a few years now community groups have been working together and with Auckland Transport to come up with a reasonable plan to address the Lake Road congestion problem, and a plan that can accommodate some urban redevelopment and provide better urban transport amenity for the whole Devonport peninsula.

Throughout this process there have been calls from the old guard for a new arterial coastal road and route running parallel to Lake Road, built partly into Waitemata Harbour mangroves. Such a project would be very expensive and present huge consenting problems given its intrusion into the marine area, and its impact on perceived property rights. In my opinion its cost could not be justified in a cost benefit test - unless an immense amount of redevelopment was permitted within urban Devonport - development that would have a major impact on the heritage landscape that has evolved there over the past century and a half.

Options advanced by Auckland Transport are reported by Stuff here. And public opinions canvassed on video also by Stuff here (including mine).

When I reflect on my days chairing committees in local government (12 years worth), and remember my first leaflet (1998 - Lake Road needs to be fixed), I realise how hard it is to get the use of roads changed. Especially arterial roads. Advocates in the northern hemisphere talk about how easy it is - get some paint and change the markings - a suck it and see approach. But it doesn't come easy here.

The best example - in my opinion - of changed use of a roading corridor in Auckland's North Shore was Onewa Road. Long before I'd been elected, and before we had four city councils across Auckland, a Borough Council in Birkenhead decided that there should be a priority bus lane in Onewa Road. And they made it happen. Despite the opposition. That opposition continued unabated while I was a North Shore City Councillor - and it was spear-headed by the normally sensible Northcote Point Residents and Ratepayers grouping. They were openly hostile and made it very difficult for that buslane to be properly established as a T3.

Thanks to a majority of North Shore City Councillors remaining staunch, that T3 was put firmly in place and Auckland CBD bus commuters across Birkenhead and from Northcote enjoy a particularly reliable commuter bus service. This was enhanced when the Northern Busway was built.

At the time there would have been cyclists keen to have access to priority infrastructure. But that need was not on the radar during that period.

The same cannot be said for Lake Road in Devonport/Takapuna.

Applying the utilitarian principle of the greatest good for the greatest number, community groups working together agreed that T2 buslane infrastructure was the top priority for Lake Road enhancements. I agree with that assessment. But I am a strong supporter of cycling. On my watch in North Shore Local Government a cycling strategy was produced which did call for a cycle lane on Lake Road. Interesting in hindsight. A few years later that cyclelane was implemented. It was highly controversial at the time. It did increase the amount of cycling. But Lake Road was always perceived as dangerous by school-children parents, and by casual commuter cyclists.

Other cycling infrastructure developed in local streets parallel to Lake Road and along coastal paths both East and West of Lake Road (which runs North/South). More and more children and casual recreational cyclists are using that infrastructure for pleasure, to get to school, and to access various destinations on the pensinsula.

An enhanced version of that option was generally supported by community groups in Devonport, rather than a dedicated cyclelane in Lake Road - especially when the cost of providing a dedicated cyclelane PLUS a T2 bus lane is factored into the planning process.

I am sympathetic to the aims and objectives of the high speed lycra clad cycling lobby that enjoys the use of Lake Road in peletons and for their enjoyment. But those aims and objectives need to be weighed alongside greater good aims and objectives, and they need to be considered against available funds. Their energetic advocacy for a dedicated (and generally perceived as unsafe) cyclelane in Lake Road runs the risk of preventing the T2 project going ahead. That outcome might be favoured by high speed cyclists because it means the current cyclelane can remain in place. However it would also mean that a long-waited and socially necessary T2 improvement which would enable the establishment of reliable Devonport/Takapuna bus services - would be put off again.

The modestly priced option to improve the Lake Road corridor is necessary now. It will deliver a T2 buslane which will benefit many residents. It can be funded because it is modestly priced. Safe cycling infrastructure which benefits casual and school cycling can be developed away from the arterial Lake Road corridor.

That is the priority for Devonport and Takapuna. Auckland Transport needs to be supported by local politicians to do the best for the most residents. That includes long awaited T2 enabled bus services, and appropriate safe cycle infrastructure for the broad demographic of casual urban cyclists.  
  

1 comment:

goosoid said...

Hi Joel,

Some really interesting points here. The one problem I have is stating that it is only lycra style cyclists advocating for increasing the safety of the cycle lanes on Lake Road. In fact, Bike Devonport (part of Bike Auckland) is actively campaigning for separated cycle lanes on lake Road and our focus is 100% on urban cycling and 0% on lycra sport cycling.

In saying that, and even as a passionate cycling advocate, you are right that supplying separated cycle lanes along with bus lanes would be be challenging as the road is currently configured. I do however wonder whether under grounding power lines and taking a small amount of space from the footpaths (which in many parts are painted as shared paths anyway) may give that space. Also, bus/transit lanes are of course also classified as cycle lanes by default.

If cycling was removed from Lake Road, that would only be fair if substantial sums (and I mean in the millions) was spent on creating safe parallel routes with separated cycle paths along the majority of the route. This would have to include a walking/cycling bridge from the end of Francis Street across to Esmonde Road. That project alone is likely to be around $5m.

If the only restriction is space, then I can see the social benefit in choosing bus/transit lanes over cycle lanes. However, the extra cost to supply cycling facilities of, I would guess, at least $10m would need to be incorporated into those plans.

Devonport is already one of the strongest cycling areas in Auckland with 6% of commuters saying they travelled by bicycle. We cannot ignore that trend or the sizeable (though perhaps minority) group who wish to have the option of using a bicycle for at least some of their trips. The recent travel survey found that almost half of trips on lake Road were within the peninsula (so trips of less than 3kms) so there is huge potential there.