This part of the CNG keeps the industry up to date with cycle design trials that are currently underway, or have been completed in recent years, and also what cycling-related rules are being reviewed and when.
A number of trials are presented here to support the design guidance, these include formal trials (ie those that have to go through the official NZ Transport Agency process to approve a new traffic control device) and operational trials undertaken by other parties as a way of researching best-practice solutions. Some trials have been completed (and, if necessary to the process, officially approved), while others are currently active (that is, still in the proposal or evaluation stages).
An operational trial of a series of treatments at a 2-way cycleway crossing a commercial driveway in Wellington was undertaken in 2016. The stages of treatment were:
1. Blocks of green colouring (creating allusions to a zebra crossing) with cycle logos and directional arrows (in both directions of cycle travel) across the conflict area.
2. Speed hump and limit line set back from the cycleway.
3. Speed hump brought forward to edge of the cycleway.
4. Flashing studs along cycleway activated by advanced bicycle detectors.
A conflict study was undertaken to identify the “near misses” that occurred with the various treatments. It was found that all treatments, especially the latter 3, significantly reduced the rate of near misses compared with the baseline case. The treatments reduced the occurrence of vehicles stopping and waiting in the cycleway, particularly when the speed hump was on the edge of the cycleway. The introduction of the painted markings (i.e. first stage of treatment) also improved safety by influencing cyclists to approach the site more slowly; the average cyclist approach speed reduced from 27.5 km/h to 22.0 km/h.
From the initial assessment, it was concluded that the painted marking treatment was a cost-effective option in reducing conflict between motorists and cyclists at driveways; and that this was further reinforced with the speed hump.
The trial has been completed, and a new guidance note produced.
A trial of adding painted buffers between cycle lanes and parallel parking in Dunedin was undertaken in 2014.
Final buffer design trialled in Dunedin
It was found that reducing the width of the parking lane by adding the buffer improved parking discipline (i.e. people parked closer to the kerb). It was also found that as parking duration increases, parking discipline improves. These findings are positive in terms of keeping vehicles away from the cycle lane, and protecting people on bikes from the vehicle “dooring” zone.
However, the research found that adding the diagonal markings within the buffer resulted in an increase in the proportion of cyclists riding in the dooring zone. The researchers acknowledged some problems with the implementation of the markings (inconsistencies between different trial sites) and recommended that a stronger delineation of the parking line be used. More trials are required of buffer zone markings. At SH 6 (Matai St) in Nelson a different treatment is being tried that uses a cycle marking in an offset green box alongside an unpainted buffer.
The NZ Transport Agency Research Report 589 outlines two techniques formally trialled with the aim of achieving cost-effective safety improvements for people who cycle on rural roads in New Zealand:
1. Advisory signs on passing distance
2. A 2-1 (“two minus one”) lane layout, where two opposing vehicle lanes are converted to a single vehicle lane with cycle lanes on either side; when vehicles are present in both directions they are expected to give way to cyclists then utilise the cycle lanes to pass each other. This was accompanied by a 60 ;km/h posted speed limit. ;While the layout appeared to be intuitive to most users, public complaints led to this treatment being discontinued after the initial 24-hour period.
An instrumented bicycle was used to gauge three key performance measures; motor vehicle approach speed, passing distance, and bicycle speed. ;Neither treatment had a significant effect compared with the baseline (i.e. before-treatment) situation for any of these three measures.
Speeds of all motor vehicles passing through the site (i.e. not just when a bicycle was present) were also collected. ;This signage treatment resulted in a 2 ;km/h reduction in average speed. ;The 2-1 treatment resulted in a suitable decrease in average motor vehicle speeds during day-time hours (from 90 ;km/h to 62 ;km/h), however at night speeds were still higher than desirable (from 92 ;km/h to 81 ;km/h).
The researchers’ recommendations are summarised below:
1. Further 2-1 trials in the New Zealand context:
To be conducted in conjunction with robust threshold and midblock treatments, including more active speed management measures (particularly at night).
With complementary behaviour-based signage demonstrating correct user behaviour.
Comparison with similar, low-volume rural road designs with limited space (such as roads with no centre lines).
2. Community consultation, communications and engagement strategy:
Including education about new road layouts, use and potential benefits.
The joint responsibility of the appropriate road controlling authorities and the research and evaluation team.
Obtain a high level of community buy-in before trials proceed to implementation.
3. Advisory distance signs:
As part of a suite of measures.
Shown to lead to a (statistically) significant reduction in vehicle speed.
4. Standardised advisory signs:
The NZ Transport Agency consider the development of a standardised advisory sign to encourage desirable overtaking behaviour when passing cyclists, and guidelines for its use to ensure consistency across the national network.
5. Baseline cyclist-driver data:
Obtain a robust baseline of how drivers and riders interact in different settings.
Auckland Transport and Christchurch City Council are currently pursuing changes to the signage regulations for shared paths in locations where multiple exclusive cycle paths and footpaths merge to form short sections of shared path. These locations, which would be more appropriately thought of as ‘areas’ rather than ‘paths’ due to their complexity, exist because it would not be suitable to provide segregated facilities where multiple directions of travel are possible. The current signage regulations result in such locations being cluttered with regulatory signs; it is assumed that this is neither effective in portraying the signs’ intended messages, nor necessary from a safety perspective, nor appropriate from an urban design perspective.
An operational trial of an on-road raised bicycle lane separator was undertaken in Christchurch (as part of a wider study for VicRoads). Separators were placed in two locations where motorists were commonly encroaching into exclusive bicycle lanes. Road user behaviour was observed before and after installation, and qualitative feedback was also sought from site users. The results show a significant effect on motor vehicle encroachments following installation, but only when separators were supplemented by vertical posts. Very positive feedback was also received from existing cyclists. Some recommendations for best practice guidance on the most appropriate treatment locations and layouts are also suggested.
The new hook turn sign specification was developed in Christchurch because local authorities were finding that the hook turn box at the Colombo Street / Tuam Street intersection was not clearly visible to cyclists approaching the intersection, due to the crown of the road. It also seemed that some cyclists did not understand what the hook turn box was for, or know intuitively how to perform a hook turn.
The arrows used on the sign are intended to show the manoeuvre to be made by cyclists, as the words “hook turn” would not be sufficient for those who do not understand the term.
This was an operational trial (ie the full traffic control devices trial process was not required) which consisted of monitoring the device and reporting on its success to the Active Modes Infrastructure Group. It was found to be successful and is recommended for use in similar locations.
Cycling-related rules contained in the Land Transport (Road User) Rule 2004 and the Traffic Control Devices Rule are subject to amendments over time. Following on from recommendations in the Cycling Safety Panel report of late 2014, the NZ Transport Agency developed it’s cycling safety action plan ‘Making Cycling Safer and More Attractive’. This commits to investigation of many rules changes, to be followed by the formal legislation change process, where appropriate. A 3-4 year programme of cycling rules work has been developed, which is split into three packages.
The first package includes minor changes (such allowing vehicles to pass over a flush median while overtaking people cycling, and bicycle lights performance) and will approve the Sharrow road marking. These changes are expected to be passed in late 2016.
The second package will look into intersection-related rules affecting cyclists and rules related to cycling on footpaths. These will be investigated in 2016, with recommendations progressed in 2017.
The third package considers minimum overtaking gaps and safer vehicle technologies (related to heavy vehicles and electric bicycles). Investigation of the options for changes in these areas will take place in the 2016/17, and recommendations progressed in 2017/18.
Some rules-related issues will be addressed through non-regulatory solutions (such as clarification in the road code).