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Mt Albert Rd cycle lanes fuel safety, parking issues
Thursday December 14, 2006
Mathew Dearnaley

Cycle lanes will be installed next year along Mt Albert Rd in Auckland, despite bitter opposition from residents upset at losing some on-street parking.

Auckland City Council's transport and urban linkages committee yesterday approved the new lanes along 2.3km of Mt Albert Rd, between New North Rd and Sandringham Rd, at the cost of 113 parking spaces on its northern side.

An earlier proposal involved removing all 174 spaces on that side of the road, but was redesigned in the face of strong opposition.

Many residents remain opposed to having to cross the busy road to reach cars parked without restriction on the other side, and were backed by a minority of councillors in claiming the proposal would be dangerous for cyclists as well as pedestrians.

But senior council transport planner Daniel Newcombe said research from Christchurch found that cycle lanes reduced crashes involving cyclists by 10 per cent and pedestrian safety improved by up to 30 per cent because of the buffer space.

The preservation of some parking spaces in Mt Albert Rd would be at the cost of removing sections of the flush median strip between opposing traffic, however, and Citizens and Ratepayers Now councillor Doug Armstrong predicted more car crashes.

He called for more public consultation and for the lanes to be monitored and removed after 12 months "if cyclists are getting mown down and cars are banging into each other".

Mr Newcombe said the median strip had been preserved where side streets met Mt Albert Rd, and a slight narrowing of motor lanes was likely to slow traffic. He said the cycle lanes were a key part of developing a city-wide cycling network, and would feed into the Northwestern Cycleway.

Cyclists will gain a 1.4m lane where it follows the kerb, widening to 1.8m parallel to where cars are allowed to park, keeping riders clear of their doors.

City Vision councillor Cathy Casey said she was a Green Party member who supported the council's cycling strategy, but lived on Mt Albert Rd and considered it too unsafe to encourage more cyclists to use it.

"I can't see it working without some cyclist or pedestrian being killed in the next 12 months - it's too busy."

Political team-mate Penny Sefuiva said narrowing traffic lanes to give cyclists more room would send a psychological signal to motorists of a need to be more courteous to other road users. "We are all aware the present road environment is unacceptable - it needs to improve," she said.

Mrs Sefuiva said the ideal solution was to provide off-road cycleways, but it could not be achieved in Auckland without "bowling over a few houses". It was "a storm in a teacup Doug [Armstrong] is whipping up ... it's about time we voted for something sensible".

Eden-Albert Community Board chairwoman Lindsey Rea, defending a 7-2 vote by that body in support of the cycle lanes, said most residents had enough off-street parking for two cars.