The Wrong Side of my Car

A blog about Auckland City, its streets, and culture shock

16 Aug 2019

Riding the Northcote Safe Cycle Route

If you cross the Harbour Bridge to the north you touch down in Northcote Point

Northcote Safe Cycle Route

Or, perhaps more aptly, on Northcote Point. A sizeable part of the tip of what must once have been a quiet peninsula now looks like this:

And this thing is loud. Not just the usual traffic noise itself, but also the endless thuds of cars going over the seams between parts of the bridge. Somewhere nearby Skypath is meant to touch down, providing a bicycle link to the city across the harbour.

Now, in anticipation to Skypath being built, a cycleway was built out from Northcote shopping centre to the point. There’s been much to do about both. Not entirely surprising given the past disruption when the bridge, and later the Nippon clip-ons were built. Although, a bike path — how bad could it possibly be in comparison?

So today, Onewa Road to the Point. Is it any good?

Queen Street, northbound.

Why, yes it is. Separated from both the footpath and the roadway. And to the left of the parking lane.

A disadvantage of parking protected lanes quickly became obvious. Parked cars can make you poorly visible for people turning into driveways or side streets. But overall as long as people show a modicum of civilization while turning (i.e. don’t turn at speed) the setup works well.

Also northbound.

At Stafford Road the cycleway morphs into a painted lane. It doesn’t matter. Painted lanes are grossly underappreciated. The part which matters is the layout. You still have a decently wide lane. And neither the painted line or that kerb will keep stray cars out.

While the southbound lane is still parking-protected, the northbound lane is not. Note how those parking spots were carved out of the footpath.

A bit further south suddenly this happens.

Southbound.

Uh, now what? Is this where cyclists disappear into a hole in the ground?

The stretch south of Bartley Street doesn’t have bike lanes, instead it is traffic calmed. There are about half a dozen more of these chokers from here.

Well, it’s something different — I guess they were going for a low speed shared zone idea. The Dutch do plenty of these, ranging from just a shared low speed roadway, or a slightly wider street with bicycle suggestion strips. This should be a quiet street since it is on the tip of a peninsula.

But the execution, well… It almost looks like one of those old council jokes. “Ah, but the guy painting the next stretch called in sick.” As did the guy with the 30 km/h signs, it seems.

What path are cyclists expected to follow? The line delimiting the car lane could go to the island instead of the planter to the left, giving a logical path into the bypass. Or the cycle lane could feather out in advance into what’s known as a bicycle suggestion strip.

The space left over after that double width choker plus the two bicycle bypasses shows just how wide that street is.

You’ll eventually arrive at the ferry terminal. Spoiler: there is no bike parking. Plenty of car parks. No ferries.

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