Congestion on North Shore's dreaded Lake Rd is making motorists feel like prisoners, says the Automobile Association.
Cycle lanes on Lake Rd are a sore point and motorists want more road space, says AA principal adviser Barney Irvine.
He was commenting on a survey about Lake Rd, which drew 771 responses from AA members on the Devonport peninsula and found deep frustration with the arterial route in and out of Devonport.
Our Members are keen to see safe, separated cycleways - they just want to see them on parallel routes, or as part of a widened Lake Rd.
"What our members are telling us is that congestion is no longer a peak-period issue - it's spreading throughout the day, and into the weekends.
"Many members feel like prisoners, and they're desperate to see something done about it," Irvine said.
The AA released the survey after the Herald reported that Auckland Transport will shortly begin consultation on three options to upgrade the road.
The first two options, costing between $10m and $40m, would provide partial benefits and take five to 10 years to build.
The third option, costing $70 million plus, would involve buying properties, road widening, major disruption and take more than 10 years to build. It would provide "a greater scale and range of benefits".
The options are being presented to the Devonport-Takapuna Local Board and councillors tomorrow. Auckland Transport will be seeking public feedback to choose a preferred way forward and then seek funding.
Irvine said that more than anything, respondents want more road space - ideally by adding general traffic lanes, or potentially through a "tidal" lane for use by northbound traffic in the morning and southbound traffic in the evening.
This reflected that 82 per cent of respondents drive on Lake Rd most days of the week and do not see public transport, cycling and walking as feasible alternatives.
"Respondents recognise that getting more people into each car has to be part of it too. So there's support for new lanes on Lake Rd to be T2 lanes," Irvine said.
Cycle lanes on Lake Rd were a major sore point for local members, said Irvine, adding that far from being cycle haters, the prevailing view was they were underused and taking up space desperately needed for traffic.
"Our members are keen to see safe, separated cycleways - they just want to see them on parallel routes, or as part of a widened Lake Rd. The message is: People want cycling to be an 'and', not an 'or'."
The survey, conducted early this year, also found that Auckland Transport could not just focus on Lake Rd - factors like Esmonde Rd, motorway on-ramps, traffic light phasing and lane configuration - are the root of Lake Rd's congestion. Improvements in these areas are just as important, Irvine said.
Former North Shore City councillor Vivienne Keohane said residents had been conned into thinking they were getting four lanes instead of two.
"They got cycle lanes that have very few users. The council said build it and they would come. They didn't," she said.
North Shore councillors Chris Darby and Richard Hills favour the middle option costing $30m to $40m. It involves shifting some kerbs to create longer sections of transit lanes.
Darby, a Stanley Bay resident, said Lake Rd was the number one issue locally. The challenge, he said, was to increase capacity from the average occupancy of 1.2 passengers per vehicle in peak hours.
"The solutions are not about making it easier for single-occupancy vehicles," he said.
Darby and Hills are pushing for bus priority and high occupancy vehicles, bringing forward a $6 million upgrade of the Bayswater ferry terminal and developing travel plans with the navy, Takapuna Grammar and Belmont Intermediate schools.
North Shore resident Gavin Busch, commenting on Facebook, said Darby and Hills should be pushing for the full fix.
"It's not good enough to have our council representatives only aiming for a half-arse solution," Busch said.
Said Don Alexander: "Easy to fix. No cycle lanes. Underground cables and add transit lanes from 6.30am to 9am northbound and 3.30pm to 6pm southbound."
Last month, the Herald revealed that a quarter of the city's busiest roads - including Lake Rd - are already congested during the morning and evening peaks, up from 18 per cent three years ago.
On weekdays, the intersection of Lake Rd and Esmonde Rd is a choke point for 32,000 vehicles. Lake Rd is regularly clogged up at weekends.
Auckland's rapid population growth - the city grew by 121,000 people, the size of Tauranga, in the past three years - is increasing traffic chaos. One in three main roads will be congested by about 2020, says Auckland Transport.
Every week, 800 new vehicles are registered in Auckland, further challenging the likes of Lake Rd, Lincoln Rd and routes to the airport.
What's more, more than 2000 new homes are planned, mostly at Bayswater and Belmont, on the narrow Devonport peninsula under Auckland Council's new Unitary Plan.
Recently, opponents of a huge six-level retirement village on a 4.2ha site near Devonport expressed concern about the amount of traffic it could generate in the area.