Guest Post: First Count – Rapanui / Shag Rock

Guest blogger Robert has cast his counting eye towards the newest cycleway in the city…

Fitzgerald Avenue/Worcester Street Intersection: Rapanui-Shag Rock Cycleway, 7th Feb 2018     

  • First consulted – Nov 2015
  • Construction Commencement – Winter 2016
  • Opening Ceremony – Early December 2017

More information @ search this site: Keyword  ‘Rapanui’

So not exactly the quickest build of the Major Cycleways so far,  nor the longest or the most expensive, but nonetheless an important route in the stable of cycleways;  one to link the east (and south-east eventually) with the CBD and beyond.

Celebrating opening Stage 1 of Rapanui back in December

Rapanui / Shag Rock Cycleway came out of the starting blocks with a bit of a handicap. Unlike the leafy flat southern suburbs where the percentage of people who already ride bikes has been the highest in the city, this area is carved up by busy bike-unfriendly streets (Stanmore Road,  Aldwins and Buckleys Road, Linwood Ave and Avonside Drive). Many residential streets  however are quite wide and relatively free from rat-running traffic when compared to say St Albans.

Stage 2 now under construction down Linwood Ave

Major intersections have always been the problem. Of course there is no Hagley Park handy either to get started on.  The route is only half complete at present. Twice consulted on, the amended initial route became controversial during development due to the seemingly convoluted path through Linwood which ‘no one’ ever rode a bike on anyway. Add to that the removal of some “close to my house” on-street parking niggles, the huge disruption and expense to improve streets that had ‘nothing wrong’ with them  and to cap it all off, an obstacle course of humps, bumps, chicanes, and paving  to make it as ‘dangerous as possible’ for everyone.

Worcester Street is now closed to through-traffic at the Fitzgerald Ave intersection, to enable improved safety for cyclists and pedestrians wishing to cross and a better service to traffic flow along Fitzgerald Ave. Another reason for opposition.  Even some regular cyclists were scathing of the ‘over-engineered’ mess, vowing to never use it.

No need to read the stories, the headlines sum it up quite well. {Yep, neighbourhood greenways are still a hard sell in New Zealand… – Ed}

And the numbers? (two hours – 6.50am to 8.50am, a fine but cool Wednesday morning)

  • Total through the intersection = 105, of which 52 were using the Cycleway – (either to the CBD from Linwood or vice versa, or by turning on or off it from or to Fitzgerald Ave)
  • The remainder (53) headed along Fitzgerald Ave; 2/3 of them to the south, 1/3 to the north

It became clear quite early on in the count that there were plenty of bikes crossing through Fitzgerald Ave at Armagh and Gloucester Streets to the north and Hereford and Cashel Streets to the south. So I began counting the ones spotted. 82 bikes were observed. This number would doubtless be higher; it was just not possible to have eyes in all directions at the same time, and it was the cycleway intersection that took priority, obviously.

The numbers…

This confirms that going by A to B by bike involves a balance between the direct route, and hence convenience, versus the perception of safety and user experience. We all have our reasons for the particular route taken. For anyone heading west to the hospital, Westend or CBD south of the Square,  Hereford St is a fast direct route anyway, and very rideable if you do not mind some traffic to share with.  Using Worcester Street becomes crazy difficult if wanting to continue on from Manchester Street to Rolleston Ave. {although Rauora Park now provides a few more options – Ed}

Being early days, and remembering the cycleways are designed for those who would not normally ride a bike but could be tempted if the experience was pleasant enough, I expected numbers to actually be lower.

Sensors at Worcester/Fitz generally working well

To conclude, a couple of observations:

  • The intersection sensors at Fitzgerald appeared to work reasonably well. On the occasions where traffic was stopped on red at Gloucester Street or Hereford Street there was ample time to safely cross Fitzgerald Avenue on red, and this happened regularly. There did not appear to be a subsequent ‘ghost’ phase, so I assume detection cameras were operating as intended to prevent this.
  • From around 8.00am onwards there was a reasonable amount of pedestrian traffic (walking to school with parents etc) The intersection appeared to be safer than the previous layout where turning traffic was a potential conflict for those on foot.

Have you used the Rapanui cycleway? Do you notice many others?

6 thoughts on “Guest Post: First Count – Rapanui / Shag Rock”

  1. Postscript : not being a part of the MCR programme, the section from Fitzgerald Avenue along Worcester Street through to Latimer Square was the responsibility of Cera/Otakaro/CCC ‘An Accessible City’ project and hence not executed to date. Unlike the Papanui Parallel cycleway where Colombo Street from Bealey Ave to Salisbury Streets got into the LTP via ‘Accessible City ‘ , Worcester Street did not. However the good news (thanks to the Transport , Infrastructure and Environment meeting on Feb 12th ) is that this anomaly has been rectified and the connection will be completed in the near future along with three other cycleway connections into the CBD ,
    ( Pap Parallel, Heathcote Express, and Quarryman’s Trail ) Seemingly sensible and obvious, this is actually significant because it underlies how CCC is serious about the success of the whole project by bringing forward a cycling infrastructure project not in the long term plan. Kudos to them.

  2. Hi Robert, thanks for the comments. I’ve used the cycleway from where I am at Ferrymead many times (and am looking forward to the Linwood Ave stretch being finished). As I am never in a rush I enjoy the ride around the streets but I’m mystified by the crossing at Fitzgerald Ave. I have yet to trigger the crossing and after far too much waiting (yes, I know, I’m not in a rush but….) I inevitably take my chances with the traffic. Am I missing something? I’ve tried waving my hand in front of the sensor to no avail!

  3. I use the existing cycleway about 3 times a week but turn west on Hereford to keep the pace up. I love it, and am especially happy about now being able to avoid the Eastgate intersection-way too many close calls there. Really looking forward to the Linwood Ave section being completed this winter!

  4. Its a nice route – my only observation is the speed bumps probably didn’t need bypasses. The three times I’ve gone along part of the route, there has been several cars either in the bypass or parked so close that they’re useless.

    If traffic calming was the plan, a speed bump by itself might have worked adequately, and left carparking for the stationary cars.

    So, do you generally take the bypasses or do you jump-the-hump? Sounds like a possible poll ?

  5. I ride Worcester st on my daily commute to work/ffom work and was looking forward to a cycleway being built. Yet disappointed at the cheap design. Never heard or saw anything about public consultation. Have daily strugles with parked cars and bin day is the worst. Worcester st was much safer to use before the road narrowing and speed humps, now am on edge when cars pass as have come close a couple of times. Councils approach to these problems appears to be a band aide solution (try educate residents) and not actually do anything about fixing the design.

  6. Depends upon the time of day and where specifically you’re going in the city. The Fitzgerald Ave crossing leads to crossing some busy roads in the morning and evening. Crossing queues of traffic down Barbadoes nearly led to an early end from a vehicle which had stopped, quickly changing lanes without indicating in the wrong lane to beat the lights. (so called cycleways crossing busy roads with no controlled crossings and queued traffic = not really a cycleway). Also used to have problems crossing at Fitzgerald during the busy times in morning and afternoons. So the Worcester St crossing would have been handy. The Worcester St crossing connects to the new safer city cycleways. Now we use both of them when we’ve been there but don’t regularly travel in that area anymore.

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