Friday, March 1, 2013

Urban design weirdness

Tamaki Drive has recently undergone some upgrading coincidental with Auckland Transport taking out parking spaces around Kelly Tarlton corner faster than you can say 'dead cyclist'.

Part of the upgrade has been the appearance of these rather odd urban design features between Mission Bay and Okahu Bay. Not that we mind funky urban design features, and God knows Auckland needs more not less. But these aren't funky, they're not functional and, one suspects, cost the ratepayer a fortune.

Behold! White marble cobbles set into the road with an ever-so-slightly elevated piece of tarmac between them. At first we speculated it was a traffic calming device but the cobbles are almost flush with the road so there is evidently no intention of slowing down anyones BMW.

 Next, we thought they might be pedestrian amenities, albeit not very safe ones. But if you look at photo 1, you'll notice there's no footpath, and photo 2 shows one side has a raised garden presumably to specifically deter pedestrians from even thinking about walking anywhere not approved by Auckland's car-centric traffic planners.

But, obviously mindful of cyclists' safety following the death of Jane Bishop, the designers have made some provision for cyclists in their little oddities. If you look closely at photo 2 you'll see the cycle lane goes behind the little raised garden and pops out the other side. It's all but invisible when you're on a bike and I have never seen a single cyclist use this amazing safety feature.

On the other side (photo 3) the cycle lane just stops. It's a bit strange, and one wonders what the planners had been smoking before they signed this off. 

Auckland Transport's priorities do not include the rapid upgrade and installation of cycle lanes. Yet the modest cost of $200 million to complete the regional cycling network is a drop in the bucket when cost of the (mostly roading) projects that have been prioritised in the Auckland Plan runs into billions. Getting people out of cars and onto bikes will be a big part of making Auckland the most liveable city in the world. And the experts agree (NB We'll put up link to the report up when it is released). Tamaki Drive is the region's single most used piece of road for cycling. Time for Auckland Transport to stop doing cute stuff with white cobblestones and address the serious safety issues still outstanding on this stretch of road.