Auckland Transport (AT) is delivering the first of a rolling set of initiatives on 20 roads and popular walkways across Auckland to assist with safe physical distancing during COVID-19 Alert Level 3.
By Tuesday 28 April, 17km of temporary cycle space will have been installed across the region.
Tamaki Drive (between The Strand and St Heliers Bay) was the first location to benefit from the initiative, with measures installed on Friday 24 April.
Car parking on the sea side of the road has been temporarily removed and replaced with a wider space for people walking or cycling, giving Aucklanders the ability to keep 2 metres apart from each other’s ‘bubbles’.
AT is trialling these as temporary measures, providing the ability to adapt available space on the road to reflect their use by Aucklanders during different alert levels.
Auckland Mayor Phil Goff welcomed the rollout of the temporary cycle spaces.
“The lockdown period saw many people get outside to exercise, with the number of people walking and cycling increasing by 100% in some areas,” he said.
“As our roads become busier during Level 3, temporary cycleways and will help ensure that people on bikes and walking can stay safe and maintain the physical distance requirements that are so important to helping us break the chain of COVID-19 infection.
“Please remember to look out for your fellow road users and help keep yourself and others safe.”
Waitematā and Gulf Councillor Pippa Coom says, "These new temporary cycleways and extra space for pedestrians respond to the COVID-19 crisis to keep everyone safe while also showing what is possible quickly and cheaply as we work towards making our streets safer and more people-friendly.”
AT Chair Adrienne Young-Cooper says AT is responding firstly to public health directives on physical distancing in busy areas for people walking and cycling.
“This means some road space will be reallocated to temporarily widen footpaths and widen cycleways or install temporary cycleways.
“So many families and people making essential or recreation trips are choosing to walk and ride bikes in their neighbourhoods because streets are quiet,” she says. “But as vehicle traffic increases and physical distancing must still be practiced, using the road carriageway or step-ping out into the road to distance from other people becomes more hazardous.
“We are responding to this change as quickly as we can by installing temporary cycleways in areas where we have seen the greatest increase in people cycling.
“We are also temporarily widening footpaths in areas we know people are present in higher numbers. We want Aucklanders to be safe through the different COVID-19 levels when they are walking and cycling.”
Other initiatives to support the increased number of people walking and cycling across the city are also being rolled out. Signage and markings reminding those out and about to maintain physical distancing have been installed and most pedestrian crossings switched to auto-mated, reducing the need for people to touch the request button.
Included in the rollout for widened spaces are temporary emergency safe speed limits where applicable to increase safety for all road users. With more people driving to get to work and freight services returning to normal it is expected that roads will be busier than what they were at Alert Level 4.
Other locations Auckland Transport is installing new walking and cycling measures:
- Queen Street
- Quay Street
- Customs St/Queen Street intersection
- Ponsonby Road
- Oteha Valley Road
- Lonely Track Road
- Mangere town centre
- Otara town centre
- Manukau town centre.
AT will continue to roll out these temporary measures on a responsive risk-based approach and is responding to local boards’ requests for safety-based interventions.
Auckland Transport is also reminding people who may return to using their car to be aware of vulnerable road users when they travel. More than ever people are using their road space to walk or use a bike, and as a collective Aucklanders can all play a role in keeping everyone safe.