Cycle advocates fear more deaths unless danger zones bypassed

By Mathew Dearnaley

The Transport Agency expects to complete an $11 million, 1.9km pedalling 'super highway' through Spaghetti Junction. Photo / Dean Purcell
The Transport Agency expects to complete an $11 million, 1.9km pedalling 'super highway' through Spaghetti Junction. Photo / Dean Purcell

Cycling campaigners fear more deaths or injuries in downtown Auckland unless an off-road bikeway being built through Grafton Gully is extended to the waterfront.

The Transport Agency expects to complete an $11 million, 1.9km pedalling "super highway" through Spaghetti Junction, from Upper Queen St by the end of this year. The first 300m section opened in July.

Auckland Transport is also working on a final design for a $2.5 million extension of the cycleway to curl to the west, along busy Beach Rd towards Queen St, which it hopes to open early next year.

But lobby group Cycle Action Auckland - appalled by the death of a cyclist under a truck at the busy intersection of The Strand, Beach Rd and Stanley St on Tuesday - wants a more direct off-road route between the waterfront and Grafton Gully, to protect pedallers from freight-carrying port traffic after they leave the security of the bikeway.

Chairwoman Barbara Cuthbert said the intersection was just one of three "horror spots" for cyclists along The Strand, which is part of State Highway 16 and the main route between the port and Auckland's motorways north, south and west.

Despite its highway status, The Strand includes a zig-zagging middle section with a difficult camber on which two container trucks have rolled in the past two years.

"The Strand is fraught with difficulties because of the density of truck and trailer traffic and the volume of cyclists," Mrs Cuthbert said.

She believed it would become even busier once the Grafton bikeway opened, hosting many more cyclists keen to travel between there and scenic Tamaki Drive.

Auckland Transport has confirmed two other serious crashes involving cyclists on The Strand since 2008.

Auckland Transport spokesman Mark Hannan agreed Tuesday's crash scene was at "a horrible intersection" but said no others involving cyclists had been reported there in 10 years.

Although it had seen 42 vehicle crashes in the five years to the end of 2012, only four caused injuries, and those were all minor.

Transport Agency spokesman Ewart Barnsley said his organisation was involved in a 30-year strategic study for SH16 between Grafton Rd and Tamaki Drive, which was "investigating the future needs of all road users - including those who walk and cycle - in a complex part of Auckland that is both challenging geographically and growing rapidly."

"Intersection upgrades and east-west connections across SH16 are part of the study, but there are no recommendations or proposals yet."

The freight industry has been lobbying for years for a motorway extension to the port, including a bridge over or tunnel under the intersection, but that was not included among $11 billion-plus of Auckland transport projects listed by Prime Minister John Key in June for Government funding between now and 2020.


Danger zones

• The intersection is just one of three "horror spots" for cyclists along The Strand.

• The others were at the waterfront end of The Strand, at its junction with Quay St-Tamaki Drive, and at a two-pronged intersection with the bottom of Gladstone Rd.

• There have been two other serious crashes involving cyclists on The Strand since 2008

• There have been 42 vehicle crashes at the busy intersection in the five years to the end of 2012, but only four caused injuries and those were all minor.

- NZ Herald

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