Hagley/Hospital street works so far

Late last year we introduced you to the planned first central city transport works happening around Hagley Park and Hospital Corner. Just before Christmas, the diggers started work and have now largely completed the first phase and moved onto parts of the works further into the central city. So it seems an appropriate time to see what has been produced and what it’s like for cycling.

Let’s start with the good stuff so far:

  • That wonderfully wide new shared path along Hagley Ave, complete with shared use behaviour messages (although I wonder whether some directional arrows would also ensure that the messages would be noticed by those who inadvertently travel along the righthand side?)
Feel the width... (and read the messages)
Feel the width… (and read the messages)
  • Pathway priority crossing of the Netball Centre driveway – more of these please around the rest of the park!
Right of way for path users
Right of way for path users
  • Mostly quite generous widths provided with the new cycle lanes
No skinny bike lane here
No skinny bike lane here
  • Copious lashings of green colour to highlight the various cycle facilities and conflict points
Hook turns, cycle lanes, bike boxes - all green
Hook turns, cycle lanes, bike boxes – all green
The new signalised crossings at Hospital Corner - useful?
The new signalised crossings at Hospital Corner – useful?

But (and you knew there was a but), there are still bits where I worry that they haven’t quite thought through how a cyclist is going to use this.

For example, a lot of work has gone into a two-stage signalised crossing to get path users in South Hagley Park to/from Oxford Tce. It kind of works if you are heading north (albeit rather slowly), but that same signal phasing is not helpful if you’re heading in the opposite direction where you have to wait a bit longer to get over the last hurdle. OR you do what many people are doing, and just ignore it and run the gauntlet…

When it comes to designing intersections for cycling, a golden rule in my book is: always consider journeys from every possible origin to every possible destination. It’s no good if you have provided a brilliant safe, optimal route for where you think most people are going, if you have completely forgotten about how others are going to do their journey.

Case in point: I am often coming from work in Ilam, along Riccarton Ave, and then either heading onwards to Tuam St (perhaps to a meeting in the south of town) or turning right down Antigua towards home. Previously I would have used the contra-flow cycle lane to get to the Tuam/Antigua intersection and beyond. Now I note a few confusing challenges:

  • Coming from the northside path along Riccarton Ave, I invariably then squeeze past the tight car-parking by the hospital (no point crossing at the lights over to the southside path, only to cross back over again 200m later). Despite all the street works, no-one has either (a) removed the problematic car-parking or at least (b) realigned the lane markings to give me a bit more width to play with. Let’s be honest: it’s not even close to being a legitimate cycle lane.
Still not much room to play with...
Still not much room to play with…
  • On getting to the Hagley/Oxford intersection, it seems the only option presented to me is to veer left into Oxford. That might be fine if my ultimate destination is further to the north; I imagine that Oxford Tce will become quite pleasant with the traffic removed. But if I want to go to Tuam or Antigua (both of which have very nice new wide cycle lanes), the logical thing would be to go straight ahead. Unfortunately not even a shoulder has been left on either side to accommodate me, so essentially I need to “take the lane” to achieve this.
But I don't want to go left!
But I don’t want to go left!

I suspect that the ‘official’ response might be “well, cyclists can go around Oxford and then just around the corner turn right to get to Tuam and Antigua.” But if I’m in a car I don’t have to make that kind of detour, so why should I on a bike? Hardly encouraging people to switch modes…

If I want to turn right at Antigua, I guess I need to take this lane
If I want to turn right at Antigua, I guess I need to take this lane
  • If I somehow get myself over to the new link between Hagley and Antigua, the natural instinct would be to ride in the green “bus lane” area. Except that it’s marked “BUS LANE” at the start (meaning bikes can ride on it), then “BUS ONLY” at the end (meaning they can’t), and then a cycle logo is thrown in for good measure on what looks like a cycle lane only anyway. Confused?
HospCnr (6) HospCnr (5) HospCnr (4)

There are other little minor niggles too. For example, I’ve been waiting for the contractor (or Council/CERA) to notice that they haven’t actually marked the hook turn box at Montreal/Tuam correctly…

Yes, that's meant to be a hook turn box
Yes, that’s meant to be a hook turn box

…and, given that they now direct riders along St Asaph St and onto the new shared pathway, it would be nice if there was a kerb ramp directly lining up with their new access path (as shown in the original plans):

You'll have to go up/down the pedestrian kerb ramp on the right
You’ll have to go up/down the pedestrian kerb ramp on the right

I’m also keeping an eye on the Montreal/Oxford intersection; at the moment I’m not convinced of its legibility and level of service for active mode users here either.

So there’s a lot to like, but also a few things where it seems that someone didn’t quite think it through. Fortunately most of them seem relatively easy to fix with a little bit of re-work.

Bear in mind that a lot of this is only “stage 1” works, with further “stage 2” works to provide separated cycle facilities to connect the Major Cycleways into the central city. But, as with any “transitional” works (e.g. during construction) it’s important that it is intuitive and safe for all road users and I’m not sure that’s entirely the case here yet.

I also wonder whether the new wide path will set the bar for elsewhere in Hagley Park – suddenly the other paths will be seen for what they are: far too puny for the amount of usage. Is there a plan for gradual upgrades?

One of these paths is not like the other...
One of these paths is not like the other…

What do you think of the new central city road works so far?

9 thoughts on “Hagley/Hospital street works so far”

  1. The path around the north Hagley park is terribly narrow and has many pot holes in certain places. Hopefully they could consider redoing this path at some point.

  2. I can see they were trying to improve it for cyclists but for me it’s become worse than it was.
    I want to cycle to work in Sydenham. The photos “Still not much room to play with”, “But I don’t want to go left!” & “If I want to turn right at Antigua, I guess I need to take this lane” highlight it’s issues well. There’s no space for the cyclist wanting to go along Tuam Street. I now absolutely take the lane whereas in past I was able to be on the left out of harms way. After passing the divider posts it does improve, but only when there’s not a bus parked on the bus stop. They seem to take up the entire width & if out from curb a bit more too. once again it’s take the lane, however as I’ve found out the car accelerate quite quickly away from those lights so often it’s stop behind the bus & wait.
    I’d score these changes 4/10

  3. When completed I will assess , at present it is too confusing to do anything other than get through the mess. But I do like the shared path in the park along Hagley Ave and recently went north from it onto Oxford Terrace and into the hospital. I thought the route was ( and will be even better )a huge improvement and now look forward to the bridge at the boat sheds to be opened.

  4. Yes good with the bad. Some great stuff achieved prior to the Cricket World Cup, but it seems like they haven’t restarted the works since.

    I am thoroughly confused by the Antigua/Oxford Terrace intersection and frustrated by the new cycle crossing at Oxford Terrace/Montreal Street that is installed but hasn’t been switched on.

    Work on Oxford Terrace between Antigua and Durham Streets is designated as part of the Avon River precinct, so the council hasn’t released a detailed design as with the rest of the Accessible City Plan. I really hope that they include a East & West bound cycle route along Oxford Terrace – at present one rides along the footpath or contra traffic flows on Oxford to avoid the bus fumes on Tuam.

  5. Let’s be a little realistic (8% rates rise looming?) – those shared cycle walking dog pathways aren’t going to get wider any time fast, so just get used to veering off the path to accommodate the “ladies who walk in a row.” (I have not run into men who do this so I don’t think it is being sexist). But yes, those narrow patches of road where you feel a little less than comfortable in the lane need to be looked at.

    1. Female & males so the side by side walk. Even single person walking/running in centre of some narrow paths are a concern. Sometime the worst is the extended lead dog walkers as they’re 5m wide and highly unpredictable

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