The lanes, they are a’changing

Auckland is not a cycling town. Turn up to work on a bike, and people assume you ‘flat’ with your parents, and aren’t moving out anytime soon. Auckland’s city councils are trying to push cycling with a network of new cycle ways, but come on – this is Auckland, it’s all Beemers, drive through hairdressers and no stopping at red lights. Lake Road’s cycle lanes have received much negative press from local motorists and Metro, who ask “why does a whole line of traffic have to slow down for one fitness-obsessed rider in terrible pants, with a geeky helmet and scant regard for the road rules?” But what are they like to actually ride on? Saddle up and find out after the jump…

Devonport and Bayswater residents working in the CBD (or within striking distance of Britomart) have one of the loveliest commutes around – they get to take the ferry across the Waitemata harbor. It’s a very relaxing, urbane and zen way to get to work, which is lucky as the peninsula is a harder drive out of than a lake of chainsaws, the one road in and out is notoriously congested, even more so with the new cycle ways. Predictably, residents are queuing up to hand back their MBEs, claiming the lanes create traffic purgatory. I bike from the East Coast Bays to the Bayswater ferry a couple of times a week to get to work, so here’s a little tour from the velo-point of view.


Lake Road, between Esmonde and Hauraki Corner.

A horrible stretch of road. No bike ways here, but four lanes of impatient traffic with rough, bumpy tarmac. Frankly, this is a shit to cycle as there’s very little room for cars to pass, and it’s often congested, especially at the weekend for some reason.

The road works at the Lake Road / Esmonde Road intersection aren’t helping, in fairness. Their completion may be the key to making the whole thing tick. To me, this is one of the most dangerous and narrow stretches, and we could really use some bike lanes here!

BP Station, cnr Lake Road and Hororata Rd

This is better. Wide, single lane traffic that is rarely congested at the times I ride it (between 7 and half past).

There’s no parking on either side, which helps, as riding past parked cars with people potentially opening their doors in front of you is probably the biggest obstacle to keeping your nice helmet in one piece.

Lake Road, near Takapuna Grammar

This is the section that’s upsetting everyone. Cyclists look at this and think perfect, a nice wide street with plenty of room between you and the cars, while motorists look at it and think where did my lanes and parking go?

People that write letters to editors claim school children are in danger of being run down by impatient motorists (what, they weren’t impatient before?) running red lights at Takapuna Grammar’s crossing. This is people on bikes’ fault, apparently.

Belmont Shops

Lake Road’s cycle ways are like cats, they come and go as they please. In this busy section of dairies and pizza places with people coming, going and opening car doors like they’ve dropped their cigarette, you’re on your own.

Overall, I think Lake Road’s cycle ways are flawed. For motorists, there’s no bus alternative, and that may have been the spoonful of sugar to go with this medicine. For cyclists, it’s better than before, but the sections without lanes remain as dangerous as ever.

Forcing the lanes on resistant residents who have real trouble seeing last the hood ornament was always a flawed strategy – it’s got people talking, though, check out the Metro debate here (what about that picture!). It’s admirable to aim for an Amsterdam-style cycling paradise, but is it realistic? I’ve not seen any increase in bikes on the ferry since the lanes arrived, with about eight per crossing. It does rain a lot here, you know.

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6 Responses

  1. Wow, those Metro commentators sure are fired up! From an outsider’s perspective, I’m completely stoked that the North Shore’s getting bike lanes. I don’t cycle, and I do drive a car sometimes, and having cyclists riding in front or beside me makes me really nervous, because I’m aware of the damage I could do to them in my tiny little car, so giving them their own space sounds like a great idea. Thanks for the illustrations as well, it saves having to go to the Shore to see what the fuss is all about!

  2. I’ve been watching for this post Richard: well done.

    It takes time to change habits. I reckon that over the three years or so I recently spent in Auckland, I did see more cyclists. It’s probably a bit early to tell. Maybe by the end of next summer it’ll be different

    Joining up the lanes is what will really do it though. It’s just as bad in Auckland city, where I used to do the run from Greenlane into town – at crucial intersections, and on the busiest stretches, where you really need a demarcated space, the cars get all the road.

    As for Metro: fuck ’em. It’s a long time since they’ve run a story that isn’t the usual mixture of anecdote (“Jemima, a 32 year old mother of three agrees ….”), self-appointed experts with dodgy stats and reporters interviewing their own keyboards. If you don’t have a flash car and a couple of rental properties, or aspire to same, you’re not in their demographic.

  3. Hehe, I’m glad to see that both the Aucklandista and the Wellingtonista can hate on Metro!

  4. Heh, Stephen you scored a bulls’ eye on the ‘current’ Metro there.

    I loved it back when Warwick Roger (he’s from the Shore, Jo!) was the editor, it had great writing on this beautiful city as well as some really meaty articles, but now… gotta say, I still buy it sporadically, but it’s not hitting the same heights.

    Hmm I can feel MetroWatch coming on…

  5. I think MetroWatch sounds like a FANTASTIC idea. It could be a reoccuring theme that all Aucklandistas could update if they wanted to.

  6. Thanks a lotI really liked reading this. It makes me want to start my own weblog! Just what subject though? I am a dentist by trade but can’t imagine most people wanting to read about dentistry? Maybe I am wrong! Restaurant in Ilfracombe

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