The Curletts Road Conundrum

The NZTA are currently consulting on proposals to reconfigure the layout of SH73 along Curletts Rd in Upper Riccarton. This proposal has some serious implications for cycling (or not) along this route.

The road section of interest – SH73 Curletts Rd

Some background: In the aftermath of the 2010-11 quakes, one sore point for cycling was the removal of a number of cycle lanes to “reduce congestion” resulting from redistributed traffic. Whilst acknowledging that traffic patterns had significantly changed after the quakes, discouraging alternative modes like cycling hardly seemed a sensible option. Most of these lane changes have since been reinstated, but Curletts Rd (previously a two-lane road with cycle lanes) has continued to be operated as a “tidal flow” three-lane road with a reversible central lane and no cycle lanes.

The Curletts Rd of old, complete with cycle lanes (OK, even then it did have a bit more traffic usually)

This arrangement has been operated to date by means of shifting cones daily from one side of the central lane to the other. Now NZTA want to establish something a bit more permanent. Traffic volumes have gone from 20,000 vehicles/day pre-quake to about 25,000, so consideration has gone into how to provide for the peak traffic flow along this route.

Tidal flow now in operation (note the blacked out cycle lanes)

Three options are proposed by NZTA in their consultation:

  • Option 1 – A two-lane road with a painted (flush) median and extra clearway lanes that only operate in the peak hours; otherwise they are just normal parking shoulders. Both the traffic lanes and the clearways would be 3.2m wide.
Plan View of Option 1 – Clearways
  • Option 2 – same as Option 1, except the footpaths are widened into 2.6m shared walk/cycle paths by sealing over the grass berms.
Typical Cross-section for Option 1. Option 2 adds shared pathways.
  • Option 3 – removal of the flush median and putting the width into wider (4.2m) clearway lanes
Typical cross-section for Option 3, with wider outside lanes

There are also possible options to make the clearways permanently four lanes (which would be “easier to understand” for motorists). A permanent three-lane tidal-flow configuration was also considered (using overhead signs and pavement lane lighting) but this was ruled out because it “doesn’t improve travel times sufficiently.” {it might provide some cycleway space again though…}

As you can see, not one of the options replaces the previous cycle lanes; your options are either nothing, a shared pathway, or a wide traffic lane. Given the traffic volumes and the likely foot traffic around the school, none of those options seems particularly attractive or convenient (OK, at least the clearways would have some value in the off-peak). Indeed, NZTA have stated that “we will continue to encourage cyclists to use an alternative route” (e.g. Hansons Lane instead). Um, and what if your origin/destination is actually on Curletts Rd? Or if I was coming to Riccarton High from (say) Peer St, I’d hardly want to bike considerably out of my way to get there via Hansons and Suva.

In fact, I’d go so far as to say that none of these options should be considered a permanent solution to the current situation with Curletts Rd. The real problem is either (a) not enough space for everything, or (b) too much traffic there. So that would suggest that the real solutions are either (a) purchase some frontages to provide a proper-width corridor for all modes, or (b) stop encouraging so much traffic to go down this way (e.g. NZTA are busy building a four-lane road between Hornby and Yaldhurst – shouldn’t traffic heading out west be encouraged to go that way instead?)

If you want to have your say on this matter, you’ve got until Fri 6th Sep to make your submission. There is a also drop-in day on Wed 21st Aug at the Upper Riccarton Library between 3-6pm, where you can discuss the options with NZTA and their designers.

What do you think of the options for Curletts Rd? Is there an “Option 4”?

8 thoughts on “The Curletts Road Conundrum”

  1. I can see that there is a problem here with traffic flows into town but you cannot help thinking that it is a o so convenient reason for NZTA to ignore cyclists once again. Surely we can do better than this???

  2. Riccarton High School needs a right turning lane into the school. It is soooo dangerous just stopping in a lane with cars going at full speed. We also hold lots of traffic up.

    A right turning arrow would be even better!

    Thankyou – Eileen

  3. I went down to the open night run by NZTA and it seems that this is a solution that can be implemented in the short term (but we all know how short term solutions turn out). If it isn’t this lowish cost option it will be 3 or more years before there is anything done. I used this road every day for over 10 years before they changed the road to the current form (I used it north bound in the evening until just over a year ago) it would be nice to be able to use it again from time to time even though I have changed where I now work and it may not be the best route for me. It was interesting some of their views of the alternate route down Hansens Lane. Lets see what they end up doing…

  4. I have just made a submission to Transit New Zealand that basically says don’t bother wasting my tax money on any of the options suggested. None of them are cycle friendly and they might as well leave things the way they are if that is the best they can do.

  5. With the existing width it is possible to run a 2 way bike path separated from the traffic and pedestrians on the Riccarton high School side of the road .and a permanent 4 lane highway. This would serve Riccarton high well and link the current Curletts Road cycle path on the other side of Blenheim Road to the Yaldhurst area. There could be no median strip in the centre and no parking but it would still be possible to made a short strip for the right turn into Riccarton High safe as mentioned above. Just need to buy a 2 metre strip from the school.

  6. Another short term fix that will ultimately result in a problem somewhere else that will need a short fix……. and so on . I say that congestion is a good thing as it highlights the need for more strategic thinking particularly about other transport options . The devil in me says ” let them learn to car-pool “

    1. The devil in me says ” let them learn to car-pool “, the angel in me says let them use a more sustainable mode of transport – a Bicycle.

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