Moving-lane roads – a wiser user of space!?

I was this when I was in Vancouver recently – a road whose lane directions are controlled by overhead lights, to cope with peak flows into or out of the city. The main constraint of this road is the epic 3-lane Lion’s Gate suspension bridge, which connects Vancouver to it’s North Shore and beyond.

Its operation is straightforward: drive in the lane that has the green arrows above it.

Lions Gate Bridge 01

Of course, this road had sensible speed limits and slightly wider lanes than normal, though driving on this road is like driving on any suburban street – it has oncoming traffic on one side and the direction of the lanes change from time to time.

Lions Gate Bridge 02

Two places where this could be used in WEllington are in the Terrace Tunnel, and on Hutt Road between Caltex and Ngaio Gorge, both of which can ‘make our roads smarter’ – (unlike the current Wellington Urban Motorway Upgrade, which is only uses varying speed limits and a new lane on each side to try and help traffic ‘flow’ – NZTA and it’s contractors could have included moveable lanes but decided that it was too unsafe (isn’t everything is unsafe when speed limits aren’t on the compromise list?)).

Terrace tunnel is well set up for this kind of lane shifting since its upgrade in 2014, and could allow traffic coming from the north an extra lane in the morning. Whether is would help with actual traffic flows into the city is another story, but it might help ease the need for that second Terrace Tunnel.

The Hutt Road section will be interesting. Currently it has 5 lanes wide and has a cycleway and footpath between the road and commercial buildings on the eastern side. If the road could be reconfigured to allow a cycleway and peak-direction bus lane, while leaving room for 3 traffic lanes (one tidal), this would help improve safety and public transport facilities – cyclists are removed from the footpath, and bus journey times become more consistent since they aren’t competing with cars.

A few illustrations: Terrace tunnel, before and after – Hutt road before and after, birds eye of both.


There are always two lanes going in both directions and a flush median that allows vehicles access to the industrial buildings along Hutt Road. Bikes currently share the wide footpath and a few hardy souls use the Western side of Hutt Road to ride home.


I have swapped the footpath and carparking over, added a bus lane for the morning peak, and generously given private cars and trucks two inbound lanes. A flush median is given for turning, and a two-way cycle lane is on the Western side of the road – this separates cyclists from pedestrians, and traffic crossing the footpath.


In the evening, a single lane is given to city-bound cars, a flush median for turning, two traffic lanes and the cycleway. I’m not sure that the Bus lane is needed since evening traffic tends to be more dispersed.

The lanes between the parking and cycleway will be moved by illuminating LEDs on the road. Different colours could be used to determine bus lane and direction of travel. Hutt Road Morning Remix Evening Remix


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