The usefulness of a planned $200,000 bike path, spanning just 230 metres, has been questioned by politicians on Auckland’s North Shore, yet bike advocates endorse the design.
The intersection of Victoria Rd and Calliope Rd in Devonport has had eight recorded car accidents in the past five years, one involving a cyclist.
Auckland Transport (AT) cited the figure in a presentation to the local board outlining its plan for a separated bike path along Victoria Rd as well as a raised zebra crossing, and an additional shared cyclist/pedestrian path.
Cycling advocate Steve Southall said he approves of the “overall thrust of the design” and the price is not “unreasonable” for a project of its nature.
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“Certainly, when you look at it [the intersection], from a traffic engineering perspective, it is confusing and the facilities for pedestrians and cyclists are poor,” Bike Auckland’s Southall said.
“The additional cost, a lot of it probably goes into the ramp to zebra crossings, as much as it goes into the cycle lanes and the road markings.”
However, a number of local North Shore politicians said they had received no requests from the public for the cycle lane.
Devonport-Takapuna Local Board chair Grant Gillon said the existing zebra crossing across Victoria Rd, which will be relocated and raised, was actually “relatively safe” as it was.
“Most cars can’t get above 30kmh going past there and stop even if they think someone might be looking at crossing. So people seem to be very considerate,” Gillon said.
“It’s pretty hard to find the need for the safety improvements, but it doesn’t mean to say you can’t do it.
“The board wasn’t calling for it and, as the chair, I haven’t had any calls for improvements.”
Devonport-Takapuna Local Board deputy chair George Wood echoed these sentiments.
“I find $200,000 into that project right now, when we’ve got so many other projects, doesn’t rest easy with me,” Wood said.
“It just seems they’ve [AT] have made their decision and, as usual, we’ve got to go along with it. Bingo, we’ve got a cycle lane project.”
Wood also said he believed the narrowing of Victoria Rd would be unpopular with local residents.
However, AT media advisor James Ireland said the narrowing of Victoria Rd with on-road cycle lanes was intended to lower the “traffic speed environment”.
In morning peak hours 7am till 9am, AT figures show 106 cyclists on average use Victoria Rd.
In the presentation, AT also said traffic was not slowing down for pedestrians at the existing Victoria Rd zebra crossing.
In contrast to local board members, Auckland councillor for the North Shore ward Chris Darby said the Victoria Rd, Calliope Rd intersection was a very risky stretch of road.
“There’s so many unreported incidents particularly with pedestrians and cyclists,” Darby said.
“Car-on-car accidents invariably get reported because of the insurance requirement. Whereas that doesn’t apply to pedestrians and cyclists unfortunately.
“When you know it has a higher crash rate than other parts of the road and then you ignore it, and there’s a serious crash, let alone a fatality, the council’s really in the gun.”
AT projects the construction of the Devonport cycle lane and road safety upgrades will be complete by June 2018.
Public feedback on the proposed road upgrade design is currently being taken online.
Steve Southall said Bike Auckland would be submitting feedback centring around two design criticisms.
Southall said a slow-speed ramp with two sharp turns drawing cyclists off the road was unnecessary, and could be dangerous in the wet.
He also said the planned cycle path crossing Calliope Rd travelling north along Victoria Rd did not protect cyclists from being side-swiped by cars turning left.