Ngauranga to Petone: Easy changes, better riding

I asked for more detailed plans of the Ngauranga to Petone cycleway which were outlined in the NZTA documents being used for consultation, but surprisingly, there weren’t any – just the sketch they had in one of their consultation documents:

Sea Wall - NZTA

NZTA’s only drawing of their shared path between Ngauranga and Petone.

Instead of some massive changes with big sea walls which will take years to fabricate, there are a few immediate changes that, if implemented, would make the ride much safer, usable and better for all users. The main problems are:

  • Lack of protection from fast-moving traffic for part of the route
  • A poorly laid and maintained pavement
  • Significant debris from the road like stones, glass and rubbish with the occasional truck tyre.
  • Weeds and Trees left unchecked
  • With NZTA’s sea-side proposal, the exposure to the sea will make the path unrideable in a moderate Wellington wind.

The existing path is mostly about 2 metres wide and feels really unloved. The pavement is cracked and weeds grow out of the retaining wall, and stones and debris from the road cause lots of punctures. There are even bits of  broken fence, road-cones and orange construction netting in some parts.

DSC03727

While a temporary orange fence, weeds, trees and debris are common on the path, the stoney shoulder above the retaining wall will make a good cycleway platform one day.

 

Road Model-old

The cycleway is set below the road and next to the railway. The surface condition means that most bike commuters ride on the road instead.

But if the path is raised above road-level and paved as wide as it’ll fit,  the instant extra width and its an awesome cycleway:

Road Model-future

The three curves along the path look hardest to widen and improve the ‘feel’ of, but by filling and retaining a new bank the result is a cycleway about 3 – 4m wide.

Changes to widen the cycleway on the embanked corners aren’t rocket science:

  • Raise the height of the path to above road level
  • Change the road barrier to wire type
  • Add fence next to railway track
Road Model-mini sections

Design for the embanked corners

 

The straight and flat parts of the path are mostly wide enough, but need a bit of love. The path needs to be raised above the road and a new fence installed on the railway side.

road-model_flat_section21.png

Level parts of the path get raised above the road

 

The hardest part is from the Petone over ramp down to the entrance to the shared path.

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Wellington’s First Protected Cycleway??

While this is temporary the barriers installed to enable retaining wall repairs on Carlton-Gore Road make a nicely protected cycleway. Who knows if it Wellington’s first, but it is located on an existing bike lane, and provides a good model of what it feels like to be truly separated from car traffic.

Contractors’ vehicles are parked inside the barriers during work hours, so the weekend is the only time that the barriers can be used as a cycleway.

While this is unintentional, the refurbishment of Carlton-Gore Road has created a nicely protected cycleway - for the weekend at least - it'll be blocked to bikes when the contractors return on Monday.

While this is unintentional, the refurbishment of Carlton-Gore Road has created a nicely protected cycleway – for the weekend at least – it’ll be blocked to bikes when the contractors return on Monday.

I thought I’d ride inside it as there were no vehicles parked inside it.

The feeling of security is greatly increased when behind the barrier. There is little chance of falling over it, or being side-swiped by a car while behind it. It feels much nicer and less stressful – you don’t have to watch your back as much, and the passing cars don’t feel as intimidating.

It would be great if something like this, where a barrier that physically separated cars from bikes, was installed to create more separated and protected cyleways – places like narrow and busy streets, and blind, left-hand corners would be great applications.

For the moment, this is worth checking out on the weekend, and hopefully we’ll see more permanent cycling infrastructure like this in the future.

Cycleway Token-ness

In an apparent pander to cyclists (or maybe the road design code), the design team on the Arras Alliance have come up with this lovely bike exit. It signals nicely to cyclists that are approaching the Arras Tunnel that they should exit at that point to avoid the Perils of the Arras Tunnel, for those that enter would likely suffer a fate similar to our ANZAC soldiers.

Nice… er… token. But susly?

So what’s wrong? Two things:

First, the $150 Million Memorial Park project doesn’t have any provision for cycling either leading up to or going through the tunnel – not bad for a project whose aim was to liberate a whole lot of public space.

Secondly, by installing the offramp there, they imply that people would want to, and should, cycle along this horrible stretch of three-lane-major-arterial road. Plus carparking. With cyclists shoe-horned in between. Really?

Ok, so NZTA didn’t or wouldn’t think about cycling for it’s segway to the $90 million Basin Flyover, $487 million Mt Vic Tunnel Duplication, $100 million Ruahine Street duplication and eventual 4-laning to the Airport – another $100 million? A cycleway probably won’t fit into the budget. But at least they gave cyclists an escape ramp before they plundered into the newly-built Arras Tunnel.

Good work NZTA. Insightful. Visionary. Like the entire RoNS package.

And Wellington Council are not so innocent with their ‘wait and see’ approach to building the Island Bay cycleway, where instead of starting at the City end of the path, construction will start at the Island Bay end – allowing commuters an easy journey from Island Bay, and then its survival of the fittest from the uncompleted sections into town – having to mix with traffic. With this in mind, the Island Bay Cycleway is hardly likely to get real patronage – cyclists that won’t ride if they must contend with traffic – until fully completed, which depends on what happens with the Basin Flyover design.

Part of the Iam Road Cycleway. This is outside University of Canterbury and removes bikes from the traffic flow. This form of protected cycleway is the preferred layout where cycleways have to be built on roads. Cycling in Christchurch

Part of the Ilam Road Cycleway. This is outside University of Canterbury and removes bikes from the traffic flow. This form of protected cycleway is the preferred layout where cycleways have to be built on roads. Cycling in Christchurch

What could have been done? Bike lanes from the bottom of Adelaide Road to the tunnel entrance would be a fantastic start, preferably separated by carparking like in the above photo. And if they really don’t want people in the tunnel (and I can see why – fumes, fire, safety), maybe a separate ramp that takes cyclists around the top of the tunnel, guiding them down Troy Street or Cambridge Terrace separately from Pukeahu park. This solution does not depend on the Basin Flyover in any way.
Cyclists could also be diverted down Tasman Street and then onto upper Tory St or Cambridge Terrace on a separated path. See my newer post: Tasman St Cycleway for more information.
Additional cost to the $150m project? Pukeahu / Arras / National War Memorial have been completed now, so it’s spilt milk, but it could have been a lot better if the will existed. NZTA just want to build more motorways no matter what the cost or who wants them, and WCC somewhat lacked vision when the project started. Lets hope that with Mark Peck’s recent shift that meaningful cycleways and cycling infrastructure can be conceived and built with enthusiastic council backing, and not some pathetic, token, green-painted ass-covering ramp that adds nothing to Cyclingness, not now, not ever.

A cycleway exit just before the Arras Tunnel. It seems that the budget didn't extend to a cycleway through the tunnel, nor to a proper lane leading up to it. NZTA: King of the afterthought

A cycleway exit just before the Arras Tunnel. It seems that the budget didn’t extend to a cycleway through the tunnel, nor to a proper lane leading up to it. NZTA: Adding to Cyclingness since cavemen fought dinosaurs…