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Council ignores LTSA guidelines

Press Release 5 June 2008 For immediate release

North Shore City Council’s Devonport to Takapuna Cycle Network is an Implementation & Safety Failure that Ignores LTSA Guidelines

CLARA, an association of Devonport and Bayswater residents, wish to draw media and public attention to the significant failure of the North Shore City Council’s (NSCC) Devonport to Takapuna Cycle Network to meet standards of the LTSA’s (Land Transport Safety Authority) “Cycle Network And Route Planning Guide” (CNARPG) 2004. Of great concern has been the installation of an ON-ROAD cycle network where the 38,000 traffic movements per day is four (4) times greater than the volume at which the LTSA (and other international authorities) recommend OFF-ROAD networks.

As a consequence significant and enduring traffic and safety issues have occurred and NSCC staff and councillors are refusing to acknowledge and resolve the issues.

The on-road cycle network was implemented around September 2007. It immediately caused significant traffic congestion issues that persist to this day. To date the council has failed to sufficiently remediate traffic delays and safety issues created. The question is “With what level of community responsibility has NSCC implemented a dangerous and environmentally negative cycle network for the citizens it serves and to what degree will the arrogance persist?”

In addition to the LTSA Guideline failures CLARA and its supporters wish to focus public attention on –
 Safety , as a result of poor design, poor process and implementation failures
 Arrogance and indifference with which council and staff have ignored residents concerns, both motorists and cyclists
CLARA has collected 2700 signatures from local residents who are frustrated and unhappy with the cycle network.

We remain deeply concerned at the ideological fervour with which the cycle-network-at-any-cost council, community board (majority of) and public fraternities have turned a blind eye to the significant safety issues created. Furthermore there has been a stubborn refusal to accept that traffic congestion and delay has caused increased fuel consumption and environmental pollution and that the cycle network has resulted in a negative impact for all concerned. The blind enthusiasm for the cycle network has obliterated common sense.

For the sake of a very small number of additional commuter cyclists the NSCC has created frequent rush hour and weekend vehicle congestion. We are aware of an increasing number of non-Devonport Aucklanders now avoiding trips into Devonport. Similarly commercial firms are expressing service and delivery reluctance.

Local MP Wayne Mapp has attended public / council meetings. He is critical of the lack of common sense shown and slammed the NSCC on the quality of its reports on the cycle network debacle.

LTSA Guideline failures.
At a public meeting in Devonport on 20 May, Kit O’Halloran, NSCC’s transport corridor specialist in charge of the Lake Road project, stated the LTSA CNARPG 2004 was a guideline they followed. CLARA was shocked to hear this because we consider the cycle network implementation a significant failure when measured against the LTSA guidelines. CLARA questions O’Halloran’s numerous statements that best practice and standards have been followed. O’Halloran has been reported as saying there is nothing wrong with the cycle network being the cause of hold-ups for vehicle users.

A study of the LTSA Guidelines reveals many points on which the Lake Road implementation fails and consequently raises significant safety issues for cyclists. At the end of this press release is a summarised analysis of significant points of failure of the NSCC Lake Road Cycle Network project.

It is disturbing that on the most dangerous sections of Lake Road, through shopping centres, the cycle network has been impossible to install. According to O’Halloran this is a test case for further networks on the North Shore. In CLARA’s view the NSCC is doing everything it can to create a very questionable perception of a compliant and successful implementation.

The essence of the issues created by NSCC is raised by a warning in Section 4.3 of the LTSA guidelines and reads “The main constraints to developing cycle routes on arterial roads are insufficient space at intersections, parking demands, and conflict with adjacent commercial activities. The trade-offs may involve politically unpalatable decisions.” It would appear this was ignored.

CLARA has conservatively estimated that the increased commuter cost in terms of petrol and lost time from slower trips between Devonport and Takapuna is in excess of $5 million annually. This does NOT include the environmental costs of increased pollution.
We have independently observed cyclists during “rush hour”. If we very generously allowed for a 50% increase in commuter cyclists that would be 20 additional cyclists between 7.30 and 9am Monday to Friday, at most. We note there are very few commuter cyclists on wet and wintery days when historically traffic congestion is worse. Conversely thousands of vehicle commuters have been caused significant delays and frustration.

The issues raised by the LTSA guidelines were presented by CLARA at the community board meeting on 20 May. In attendance was the local NSCC councillor, NSCC staff, the community board and public. In the usual manner of the last nine (9) months the concerns raised were ignored by council.

CLARA believes the actions of the NSCC are sufficient basis for a judicial review. Support for such a review has been shown and CLARA is exploring the options. Members of the local community and businesses (many are dissatisfied with vehicle access to and from Devonport.) have expressed support for further action. It is unfortunate the council appears ready to commit rate-payers money on such a process.

Further Comment and Concerns
Also following this press release is comment about the NSCC’s Public Consultation and a reference to international press comment about lack of SAFETY on cycle network implementations.

CLARA – Cycle Lanes Action Review Association
CLARA strongly emphasise that we are NOT an anti-cyclist group. We are concerned residents who are frustrated at traffic delays and the questionable safety for cyclists who are our friends, colleagues and family members.
CLARA has with little effort and a small footprint collected around 2700 signatures from local residents unhappy with the adverse traffic and safety effects of the Lake Road cycle network.

For media contact call the following. The phone numbers must not be published.
Colleen Maingay 09 445 4545
John Reynolds 021 430 500
Andrew Cornwall - 09 366 9484
Rob Lauder – 021 745203

***ENDS ***

See following for more details and comment

Summarised Analysis of Cycle Network Failures Highlighted by the LTSA Guidelines 2004

“Section 3.4.4 Coherence
Cycle routes should be continuous and recognisable, link all potential origins and destinations, and offer a consistent standard of protection throughout. To be recognisable, cycling routes should use consistent standards and design.”

The Devonport / Takapuna cycle network fails to be continuous at critical locations. This represents a fundamental failure of the cycle route and introduces safety issues especially for inexperienced cyclists. Our legal advice is that this is a fundamental implementation failure on which point a judicial review would place great emphasis.

“4.3 Urban arterial roads
….. Major arterial roads are busier and faster, and typically have multiple lanes. They are not appropriate for cyclists of basic competence unless they have more effective separation and facilities to turn right, such as hook turns.”

This point emphasises the issues discussed below in regard to Figure 6.1. Essentially, at 38,000 vehicle movements per day this is a major urban arterial road on which an inadequate cycle network implementation creates safety issues. Lake Road is not wide enough for a safe formal and effective separation of vehicles and cyclists.

“4.3 Urban arterial roads
…. Even where cycle lanes are provided, urban arterial roads are unsuitable for children and novices until they achieve basic competence. The main constraints to developing cycle routes on arterial roads are insufficient space at intersections, parking demands, and conflict with adjacent commercial activities. The trade-offs may involve politically unpalatable decisions.”

The council has stated that the cycle network is not recommended for children and novice cyclists. However councillors and others are promoting the cycle network as safe and using school children’s use of it as examples of desirable increased patronage. There are mixed messages about how the schools view the cycle network and it is reported that Belmont Intermediate encourage their students to get off the cycle lanes and onto side roads as soon as possible.

Figure 6.1
Figure 6.1 is a diagram that advises on the type of cycleway desirable at varying vehicle movements per day on urban roads.
The diagram illustrates that at an average speed of 50kmph and 8,000 vehicle movements per day it is recommended that off road Cycle Paths are installed.
Notes to the diagram state that – “When school cyclists are numerous or the route is primarily used for recreation then path treatments may be preferable to road treatments.”

At 38,000 vehicle movements per day on Lake Road it is more than four (4) times the traffic volume at which the LTSA guideline recommends OFF ROAD Cycle paths.
Figure 6.1 expresses the same guidelines as published in London and NSW urban cycle network guidelines. Repeatedly council staff such as Kit O’Halloran has stated the Lake Road implementation is consistent with best international guidelines. We are of the opinion this is not correct and the actions of council staff are creating safety compromises for the council.
While we recognise that installing a cycle network on an existing road must have some compromises, this implementation is hugely outside recommendations and the wisdom of the design is extremely questionable.

NSCC staff have expressed a very non-path treatment attitude in meeting. In our view the cycling-network-at-any-cost enthusiasm and bias of council staff directly responsible for this network would be a major compromise for the council in a judicial review.

Figure 6.1

“Section 8.4 Finding space on existing roads
….. Facility choices often need to be accommodated within available space along any route. Bicycle Victoria (1996) details techniques to obtain space on existing roads.
Rearranging space
 Adjust carriageway lane positions or widths.
 Upgrade service roads for cyclist use.
 Seal road shoulders.

Trading space
 Indent car parking.
 Widen road at the verge (as long as this will not result in higher speeds).
 Restrict car parking to one side of a road, resulting in an asymmetric road layout.
 Widen the road at the median.
 Remove a traffic lane if there is excess road capacity.
 Close the road.

From our observation very little has been done from the “Trading Space” list to make the network fit effectively onto Lake Road. The removal of lanes at traffic signal controlled intersections has had and remains a major cause of vehicle delay.

In the opinion of CLARA the above deficiencies are examples of a litany of poor planning, insufficient lead from guidelines, poor process, an apparent lack of review, poor use of Transit NZ subsidies, little respect for the communities NSCC serves and possible liability for consequences.

Public Consultation.
In September 2005 a NSCC press release commented on the public consultation survey for a cycle network. They were elated that 254 people supported the Lake Road proposal. It is noteworthy that represented 71% of the replies received, meaning there was a reasonable percentage expressing concerns.
As we cannot find a copy of that survey we challenge the NSCC to confirm that the survey told residents –
 they would loose ALL street parking on Lake Road outside residential addresses
 there would be significant and ongoing traffic delays that cost the community and environment more than it saves
 that the plan did not meet recently published guidelines
 that it would not be recommended for children and inexperienced cyclists

CLARA has collected 2700 signatures from local residents who are frustrated and unhappy with the cycle network.

It is a gross arrogance of the NSCC to remove ALL street parking outside residential addresses on Lake Road. Already Lake Road residents are beginning to park on the footpaths and grass verges to avoid council parking fines. In our observation other implementations around Auckland (eg Mt Albert Road) have retained parking on at least one side of the road.
Adding to the points raised by the LTSA guidelines we note media reports in recent years that acknowledge the failure to convert more people to two wheels is blamed largely on the introduction of poorly designed and / or implemented cycle networks that are consequently unsafe.

London is one such example where people are 10 times more likely to be killed or injured than in Denmark. The comment is that the Danish would question the practice of squeezing cycle lanes onto busy roads that can barely accommodate the existing traffic. This describes Lake Road well. That was 2004 – Has the NSCC taken any of these (and LTSA similar) comments into consideration?

The Lake Road project appears to have been driven by fundamental ideology, poor design, erroneous modelling (already admitted by council) and unwillingness to address a few basic remedials to alleviate the traffic congestion caused.

A NSCC staff member was on the Steering Group associated with the LTSA guidelines.
We understand O’Halloran, has attended a Land Transport NZ Safety Management Workshop and presented a paper titled “Deficient design of capital projects”!

***ENDS ***

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