Auckland's Royal Oak roundabout still a sore point for residents even after upgrade

The Royal Oak roundabout is still a sore point for residents.
The Royal Oak roundabout is still a sore point for residents. Photo credit: RNZ

By Katie Fitzgerald for RNZ

Royal Oak residents say more needs to be done to the local roundabout, months after its most recent upgrade.

The Royal Oak roundabout underwent changes late last year after 61 crashes over a four-year period.

The government is proposing legislation that would allow councils to make big changes to street layouts with less public consultation.

Locals say even with consultation the recent upgrade didn't do enough.

Cars spill onto Royal Oak roundabout from five entrances, and residents say it's a challenge for drivers picking their moment to enter the throng of vehicles.

The upgrade at the end of 2021 changed the roundabout's shape and replaced existing zebra crossings with raised speed tables.

A woman RNZ spoke to near the roundabout said the changes hadn't made an improvement.

"What they've done to it, spent all that money on what they've just done recently, hasn't made any difference."

The lack of provision for people on bikes in the recent upgrade left some residents angry.

Matt van Roijen lives in the area and said he avoided the roundabout because of how often drivers pulled out in front of cyclists when they're eager not to miss a gap.

"People want to get into it as quick as possible because the gaps are so quick, short, that you really need to jump to get into it and so everyone's off the mark really quick and that just continues to flow on and on and it just gets worse."

A cyclist was killed riding near the Royal Oak roundabout in March 2021.

Van Roijen said the roundabout needed a redesign to make it less car-focused.

"It needs to be redesigned more according with what we value, which is not just moving a lot of cars through as quickly as possible, it's pedestrians, cyclists, all that has to be taken into account.

"So, I guess traffic calming, slowing speeds of vehicles entering the roundabout. There's 10 lanes going into it, could be nice to reduce that to a single lane and change the design, the geometry of the design, to slow traffic and maybe have some more space for cyclists."

Others RNZ spoke to had suggestions on how to make the intersection safer, including installing traffic lights, building judder bars, or moving pedestrian crossings.

Auckland Transport said it was no stranger to requests for more transformative changes at the roundabout, but budget constraints meant the most recent upgrade limited what it could deliver.

In a statement, it said the interim safety measures had made a difference.

"Site observations and monitoring has been carried out and it has been found that the speed of traffic is reduced - especially when circulating around the roundabout. This makes it much safer for all road users."

Local business owner Colin Haines is happy with the changes.

His Ollies Burgers and Ice Cream restaurant looks directly at the roundabout, and he had only one problem with the current setup.

"It's better, it goes smoother. Everything about it is better than it's ever been before. The only thing is they raised the platform of the pedestrian crossings. And every track that goes through it hits those raised pedestrian crossings and makes a horrendous noise."

Haines wanted to see cyclists avoid the roundabout entirely.

"A person is taking such a terrible risk to ride a bike through on a roundabout, truly."

Auckland Transport was looking at a longer-term plan for Manukau Road, which included the Royal Oak roundabout, and would be looking at improvements for all road users, including pedestrians and cyclists, it said.