It was lights, cameras, action at 4pm on January 24 as Auckland Transport’s Dynamic Lanes trial got underway.
The lanes, marked by LED lights, can be adjusted at peak times and have been set up between Red Beach Rd and Hibiscus Coast Highway as a way to improve traffic flow on the congested road. Overhead gantries and signs indicate the correct lane to use.
The system, which cost $2.5 million, is initially being trialled only in the afternoon peak (4pm–6pm) allowing traffic heading onto Whangaparaoa Peninsula from Hibiscus Coast Highway to use the flush median as an extra lane. Speed on this part of the road has been lowered to 50kph.
At around 5.45pm, when Hibiscus Matters’ editor traveled through, the extra lane seemed to be reducing snarl-ups at the intersection. However, many cars driving off the peninsula seemed to be almost heading into oncoming traffic before they realised the median was being used – despite the big red cross on the gantry overhead.
There was a strong presence from police, monitoring driver behaviour.
Comments the morning after the trial on social media were mixed, from “this actually works” and “no more stop/starting or crawling along Whangaparaoa Rd” to “…overall ok but a little bit scary”. One driver reported a close call when someone wanted to turn right, causing all the cars in the central lane to brake abruptly. Another said they were almost part of a head-on crash while travelling in the new lane.
Auckland Transport (AT) is monitoring the trial via CCTV and says any issues highlighted will be closely considered. “AT will act quickly where significant issues arise through mitigation measures or, ultimately, a halt of the trial if it is deemed unsafe,” the CCO said in a press release.
AT spokesperson James Ireland says initial observations of day one were very positive. “The project team was particularly pleased with the level of understanding and confidence drivers had when using the dynamic lane,” he says. “We expected to see about 30 percent of drivers using the middle lane on the first day but the actual number was closer to 50 percent. Initial observations indicate that the dynamic lane resulted in increased gaps, which provided the opportunity for right turners and pedestrians to cross. During the period the dynamic lane was open the traffic flowed much more freely.”
The trial is expected to begin operating in the morning, as well as evening, rush hour in April. It runs for 12 months.