What to do about Harewood/Gardiners/Breens intersection?

Currently out for consultation by the City Council are proposals for the Harewood/Gardiners/Breens intersection in the northwest part of the city. Some of you may have heard about this intersection, as it was a major campaign platform for Cr Aaron Keown at the last election and he has been pushing for its upgrade ever since.

An aerial view of the Harewood/Gardiners/Breens intersection

Harewood Rd is a busy multi-lane arterial. At this STOP-controlled intersection in Bishopdale, there are problems for all road users trying to get across from Breens or Gardiners Rds. This is particularly an issue for those trying to get one of the nearby schools, like Breens Intermediate.

The City Council has looked at this site and found that it ranks well below many other local intersections in terms of crash problems (#61 apparently). Nevertheless, because of the weight of local concern, they have come up with a couple of options for people to consider:

  • Option 1 involves closing off traffic access across Harewood Rd (i.e. left-in, left-out only, other than a bus route turn) and installing a signalised pedestrian/cycle crossing.
Option 1 (click to enlarge)
  • Option 2 involves fully signalising the intersection to allow all road users to and from side roads.
Option 2 (click to enlarge)

While a number of people have previously called for a solution like Option 2, the problem is that it is a lot more expensive solution ($1.2m vs $0.4m) and potentially creates its own new problems (e.g. notable delays on Harewood Rd from all the extra signal phasing, no fully-protected pedestrian crossings). Because that extra cost hasn’t been budgeted in the Long Term Plan, it is not likely to get NZTA subsidy either.

From the perspective of walking and cycling, Option 1 solves most problems by providing safer crossing options for these modes (motor vehicles can U-turn from <200m away, by the way). It also creates a little bit of separated cycleway along Harewood Rd, in advance of a Major Cycle Route going through there. However, it is not perfect either, e.g. I question what looks like two separate staggered signalised crossings over a single through-traffic lane each, rather than a single crossing right across. I’ll let local resident Jan Jakob Bornheim give his thoughts on what could be improved:

“I am agnostic as to whether Option 1 or Option 2 is chosen. If Option 1 is realised, there are however a few things that I think should be kept in mind to make travelling easier. This would also help future-proofing the intersection for an increase in cycle traffic once the Wheels to Wings cycle way (which I wholeheartedly support) increases the number of cyclists in the area and potentially leads through the same intersection.

How to improve this shared crossing?

As a preliminary remark, I welcome the shared paths that will allow people on bicycles to reach the signalised crossing. I think their existence should have been made clearer on the consultation form, as they were not mentioned in the text and a dark grey bicycle “blob” on light grey surface is easy to miss on a plan. That being said, I think a few easy adjustments can make Option 1 much safer for cyclists.

First, to enter the shared path on the north side of Gardiners/Harewood, people on bicycles traveling southwest on Gardiners Rd would need a priority crossing to get on the shared path. This crossing should be designed similarly to the one on Hinau St close to Clyde Rd on the UniCycle cycleway. The shared path should also incorporate a sensor/diamond so that approaching cyclists trigger the lights in advance.

Example of another path entrance crossing along the Heathcote Express cycleway (Mackenzie Ave)

Second, similarly to the shared path on Gardiners Rd, the path on Breens Rd should also include a sensor for approaching cyclists to trigger the lights in advance. In an ideal world, the shared path on Breens Rd would again connect to a protected cycle-priority crossing that allows people on bicycles travelling south-west to cross Breens Rd. However, unlike the situation on Gardiners Rd, there is no interaction with traffic from behind and a person riding a bicycle can thus more easily see all other traffic they would interact with when crossing the road. The cycle priority crossing on this side is thus maybe optional.

On both approaches to Harewood Rd the short sections of marked on-road cycle lanes should make it clear that, by entering the shared path, one can follow the Gardiners Rd/Breens Rd route (for example, by painting “To Breens Rd/To Gardiners Rd” next to a bicycle symbol with an appropriate arrow directing towards the shared path). This way, people who do not commute on this route frequently can easily find their way across the intersection as well.

The lights [which are referred to as a ‘pedestrian light’ in the text of the consultation] should be a two-aspect cycle signal, provided this is permissible at the time the intersection is redesigned. If this is not possible, there should be a dedicated cycle light. This will additionally help to alert pedestrians to the (legal) presence of people on bicycles in the crossing.

I would add that the fencing on the island in the middle of the Harewood Rd need to be designed in a way that they can easily be navigated with a larger bicycle, e.g. a cargo bike. Narrow turns should be avoided. Finally, the traffic lights should incorporate holding rails for people on bicycles on both sides.”

Some good ideas there; what are yours? Submissions for this proposal are due by Mon 10th June, so have your say now!

What do you think? Do you prefer Option 1 or 2? Or something else?


3 thoughts on “What to do about Harewood/Gardiners/Breens intersection?”

  1. I should add (and I haven’t actually made my submission yet): I only thought about option 1 or option 2 in terms of somebody who crosses Harewood Rd on a bicycle. Thinking about it more now, option 1 is probably preferable, not only for the reasons mentioned here, but also for the reason mentioned in the Spokes text, i.e. option 1 will calm down motorized traffic on Breens Rd and Gardiners Rd.
    I would also note that the difference between the Mackenzie Ave crossing and the Hinau St crossing is that the former gives priority to the main roadway, the latter priority to bicycles on the cycle crossing. I am not sure which one is preferable. The idea behind these crossings is to make right turns easier. I would assume that in a normal scenario, if I am riding on the main roadway and I start signalling right with my hand and no car next to me, from that moment onward, no car is legally allowed to pass me on the right, at least if doing so would involve a crossing of the center line (which it probably does if keeping safe distances).
    The reason these special crossings are needed because a sufficiently large number, if not the majority, of people driving cars will pass people on bicycles on the right despite the latters’ hand signals, making right turns generally unsafe for cyclists in areas of sufficient motorized traffic.
    The problem with the Mackenzie Ave-style crossings is that a person on a bicycle using the crossing is worse of, priority-wise, than if they simply signaled right.
    The problem with the Hinau St-style crossings presumably is the same problem that already applies to right turns: people in cars will simply ignore the cycle lane priority. A cyclist relying on their priority will thus risk being run over. The Hinau St crossing tries mitigating that by having a warning “Watch for traffic” (translation: watch for people in cars ignoring the clear cycle priority signage – imagine having a sign “Watch for traffic” at every traffic light).
    I tend to prefer the Hinau St-style crossings with cycle priority, because t̶h̶e̶y̶ ̶g̶i̶v̶e̶ ̶m̶e̶ ̶o̶p̶p̶o̶r̶t̶u̶n̶i̶t̶y̶ ̶t̶o̶ ̶f̶e̶e̶l̶ ̶r̶i̶g̶h̶t̶e̶o̶u̶s̶ ̶o̶u̶t̶r̶a̶g̶e̶, they work most of the time and I always watch for cars actually according me priority.

  2. My thinking is that it’s important to look at the wider network and not just focus on the one intersection. A good first step would be to drop to a single lane in each direction along the length of Harewood Road, then re-evaluate the situation at the Harewood/Gardiners/Breens intersection. My submission to Council can be found at https://simonbritten.com/2019/06/09/submission-on-harewood-gardiners-breens-intersection/.
    Simon Britten
    Think Papanui founder/curator

    1. Love it. It’s a pity I already submitted. I would have still submitted all the technical details in case the turning restrictions are implemented, but you are right. One-laning, and giving over the created room to alternative modes of transport, would have been by far the best option.

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