Cycling blackspot to be overhauled

By Mathew Dearnaley

Proposed changes for the cycleways on Tamaki Drive. Photo / Supplied
Proposed changes for the cycleways on Tamaki Drive. Photo / Supplied

Auckland Transport is considering $14 million of upgrades to Tamaki Drive to make the waterfront route safer for cyclists and pedestrians, while also improving general amenities.

It wants to provide more space for competing users of the notorious crash alley for cyclists for about 1km east from Kelly Tarlton's Underwater World to the Millennium footbridge at the beginning of Mission Bay.

The council organisation hopes to do that by extending the seawall further into the harbour or cantilevering a boardwalk over the wall.

That will allow an existing shared off-road path - now shunned by most commuting and training sports cyclists - to be widened into "grade-separated" surfaces, segregating pedallers from pedestrians at a cost of about $9 million.

Steps down to an enhanced beachfront are likely to be built off the new structure, next to the Orakei jetty, although the plans remain subject to funding allocations once proper designs are completed.

The transport planners are also considering about $2.5 million of safety and tourism amenity improvements through the adjoining bend in Tamaki Drive around Takaparawha Pt, from opposite Kelly Tarlton's.

According to a staff report and artist's impression presented to Auckland Transport's board last week, these are likely to include an extension of on-road cycle lanes and traffic calming measures as well as an improved off-road waterfront promenade.

But Cycle Action Auckland is sceptical about the safety value of the boardwalk proposal, saying it cannot offer support before consultations which the transport organisation expects to start in June.

It was because the shared path around Takaparawha Pt was crowded with beachgoers, strollers and skaters that friends of Englishwoman Jayne Bishop believed she decided to cycle on the road, where she was killed after falling into the path of a truck in late 2010. She had skidded into the open door of a parked car, whose driver was cleared in court last month of a charge of careless use of a motor vehicle causing death.

Auckland Transport, which had just inherited responsibility for Tamaki Drive from the former Auckland City Council, quickly created more space at the accident zone by removing four parking spaces.

It has been under considerable pressure since then to do more to make the road safer for cyclists, whose leaders urged the council to no avail in 2006 to ease the traffic pinchpoint where Ms Bishop was killed.

But Cycle Action chairwoman Barbara Cuthbert said she doubted whether commuter cyclists among the 1550 people who ride along Tamaki Drive each day would want to use an off-road path, no matter how wide.

"Eleven and a half million dollars is a lot of money - you've got to ask yourself is that the best spend across the region for walking and cycling."

She was more supportive of $2.4 million of safety improvements which Auckland Transport is also considering towards the city end of Tamaki Drive, at its difficult intersection with Ngapipi Rd, in the form of either traffic signals or a new roundabout.

Road corridor operations manager Andrew Allen told Auckland Transport's board more space was needed between Takaparawha Pt and Mission Bay as there was not enough "for all the demands" from drivers, parked car, cyclists and pedestrians.

He said a widened pathway to allow off-road cycling, unimpeded by pedestrians, would improve safety of all users.

The project is likely to take until late next year for construction to start, subject to approvals of Government subsidies from the Transport Agency, for completion in 2016.

- NZ Herald

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