We’ve been going great guns with our on-line survey about cycling to the Northern Busway Stations.
Since blogging about the survey last week, we’ve done 3 morning stints joining the early birds arriving at 5.30am at the Albany, Constellation and Smales Bus Stations. We started by arriving for the 6.00am buses, and staying until 9.00am. It was a bit bleak at first – but soon each of the stations was alive with fast buses arriving and departing, thousands of people arriving to the clean, well lit stations, some buying coffee before being whisked away to town and smaller numbers waiting for suburban- bound buses. Albany, Constellation and Smales Stations all have booths selling hot coffee which you can take on the bus, which seems civilised.
We’ve handed out nearly 3,000 flyers for the survey, and in the process, met people keen to talk about how the bus feeders could be improved. Our overall impression is of a pretty slick service which is connecting the Shore to the Central City very well. Our response rate is good - 420 responses to the survey so far – and we’ve learnt lots about how the feeder buses and cycling could be made more attractive. We’re reporting the results officially to Auckland Transport on Monday. After that we’ll be able to share the results with you.
The survey will be live ’til mid next week. We’d love to hit the 500 mark for survey responses. You could help - the survey takes only 1 minute, and is really easy to answer.
If you know anyone living on the North Shore, north of Takapuna, please get them to fill it in. We’re keen to hear from everyone – cyclists and non-cyclists – who use the Busway now, or may at any time in the future.
For those who are curious, but haven’t been out that way recently, here are a few photos of the Grafton Gully Cycleway’s first stage (between Grafton Road, at the Business School, and Alten Road / Stanley Street).
Works to come also include cycleway changes to the Alten Road signals at the bottom. And of course, there’s 4 other stages to complete the whole route, plus AT’s Beach Road work… in the short run, Stage 1 especially may be much more popular with pedestrians than cyclists, so we have been keen to ensure it is wide enough for both.
NZTA in cooperation with CAA have in recent months also put a lot of thought into how to make the gradients as smooth as possible to ease your climb up the gully. We won’t be able to avoid steeper bits totally, but it gives us some confidence that the future rise from the sea-level to the Northwestern Cycleway at Ian McKinnon Drive will be over a much greater length than if one went the currently preferred* route of Anzac Avenue and Symonds Street. So hopefully, this will also make the ride up the hill overall less of a struggle.
*Well, preferred from a gradient point of view. Lots of people, especially those new to cycling, prefer not to ride in the heavy bus traffic on that route… – which is kinda the point of the whole Grafton Gully route!
Its exciting to see progress, but the coolest stuff is still to come, as we near Grafton Bridge and the top over the next year…
Last Thursday Cycle Action was at the Albany Busway Station handing out flyers for our on-line survey to learn how more people can be encouraged to cycle to the Busway. It’s a real buzz watching the empty buses pull in – passengers fill them in a few minutes and buses whisk them up to the Busway, to be replaced immediately by another empty bus. Passengers say the peak hour return trip from the University precinct is hectic, as the the North Star buses can’t cope with the huge demand. I hope AT is working to fix this – but we were hugely impressed by how the slick the operation is at the start of the day.
We used any spare moments to talk to bus drivers – they were all bursting to tell us how they fear sharing bus lanes with cyclists. I told them we feel the same about sharing with buses. All of the bus drivers were well disposed towards cyclists. The simple reality is their buses are very big and drivers have limited visibility to the rear; cyclists are tiny and flighty in comparison.
All of us have stories of bus drivers who don’t treat us with respect. Here’s a rare chance to learn how bus drivers feel. It pays us to do this, as we’re often in the same road pathway - 44km of the 280km of ’completed‘ Auckland Cycle Network are on bus lanes. We’d love to change this overnight, but our shared use is the best we can do for now. In the meantime we want your ideas on what cyclists can do to improve our safety while sharing bus lanes.
The bus drivers’ describe that they are careful to locate cyclists as they approach them, so they can pass them safely. They report that cyclists who were on their left on approach, often turn up on their right when the bus stopped at the lights. One woman bus driver reported her fright on Friday in hearing a cyclist’s helmet hit her right hand mirror as he passed the bus to reach the green stop box at the front of the lane.
This story confirms the hazards of our poor cycling infrastructure. We desperately need lead- in lanes to make stop boxes effective, as well as ensuring there are no more narrow bus lanes. We’ve got a new project underway with AT to start fixing this. In the meantime we need to share ideas on how we can respond safely to the bulk and lumbering moves of buses and our city’s cycling infrastructure. If we have enough good ideas, we’ll ask AT to help us spread the word to the cycling and bus communities.
PLEASE save your complaints for another time – give us your creative ideas NOW – this is your chance to make bus lane cycling safer for you and our cycling mates.
Three Kings may not strike you as a cycling spot – except if you are into unsanctioned mountain biking, maybe.
But could the 3K be a nice suburb for cycling in the future – with the quarry filled in, and the town centre to its south revamped? What do you think?
Auckland Council is asking for feedback on the Three Kings Precinct Plan – and of course their plan has a variety of transport aspects. New paths around the remaining volcanic cone and the new park. Streets for a new suburb planned in the old quarry. A new town centre focus near Mt Albert Road. There’s even mention of a potential Greenways route. Lots of opportunity to get cycling right – or to instead create paths with stairs blocking all cyclists, and roads with four lanes to encourage driving to the local shops.
You can give your own response here, but we also encourage you to sound off in the comments, because we would like to source YOUR opinions on how this area could be better for cycling.
Another winter cycling event – this one’s a drop-in for the CBD!
Prizes for the best lit-up bikes / cyclists, so glow away!
Also: free coffee and bike mechanic checks for everyone else.
When: 4pm-7pm, 17th May (this Friday)
Where: Queen’s Wharf (just north of Britomart).