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Guest Post: Auckland Cityfix – Give Way Stripes

This is a Guest Post by Kent Lundberg and originally appeared on the Isthmus Group blog. It is reproduced here with Kent’s permission.

In order to improve conditions for all road users a small design tweak needs to be implemented at most intersections. This simple fix would go a long way to make the city more pleasant and safe for those walking around.

As designed and implemented the current stop line or give way stripe is placed too far into the intersection. The result is that vehicle drivers travel through the “pedestrian” zone before even considering whether a pedestrian may be present. So in effect every intersection becomes a serious peril for people walking and cycling. It also has the tendency to both prioritise and empower vehicular movement which degrades overall walkability/livability.

Below are several examples with red added to highlight this conflict area.

Wynard Quarter: red depicts pedestrian conflict area

Karangahape Rd: red depicts pedestrian conflict area

Pitt Street stop sign: red depicts pedestrian conflict area

Of course there are some bigger issues with overall pedestrian priority and status in New Zealand as discussed in this Herald article (and in many cases give way scenarios should be changed to full stops). But if Auckland is going spend millions on streetscape upgrades, shouldn’t we be able to get these fundamental design elements correct? And as far as low hanging fruit go wouldn’t reworking these stripes be an effective strategy to make places like the CBD more pedestrian-friendly?

It’s interesting what the opposite side of that Wynard Street above looks like. Was this a mistake? Perhaps we should look at this precedent as an evolutionary design; an unexpected adaptation that may help to change the rest of the city for the better.

Wynard Quarter: clear demarcation of pedestrian area.

And of course we can’t help but suggest that Auckland needs a localised version of Manual for Streets. Below is a simplified graphic that might be appropriate for it.

135 comments to Guest Post: Auckland Cityfix – Give Way Stripes

  • Matt L

    Improving pedestrian crossings would be great, there is nothing more frustrating than having a car sitting in the middle of the walking line waiting for traffic when you are trying to walk. One thing that could also be done as well as moving the stripe back is to slightly raise the pedestrian line, not nessessarily to footpath level but just as a small speed table to help alert drivers to slow down and that the environment is changing. This was done on many of the side streets like Darby St before the shared spaces came in.

    Another thing I would like to see improved is changing how driveways, far too often drivers don’t even look at the footpath and just blast in or out forcing pedestrians to jump for safety.

  • Stu Donovan

    Kent for Mayor!

  • I’m in Welly right now and they do great bars, but WTF; the hanging around on street corners watching bugger-all traffic go by for soooooo long is crazy. The auto privilege here is nuts. Not only do the pedestrians get no love but there is seriously nothing for cyclists either. Wide boulevards with angle parking but apparently no room for any cycling space, and remember the WGTN CBD is flat, perfect for bikes…. and I thought Auckland was bad. Well it is; but so is Wellington. Don’t believe the hype!

  • And Kent for Mayor, everywhere.

  • Geoff

    There’s two points here:

    1) Pedestrians must give way to cars, so nobody should be walking into the conflict space if there’s a car approaching.

    2) Car drivers need to be able to look left and right clear of any corner buildings, so they need to pull up as far forward as possible.

    • Patrick R

      Geoff you’ve explained your own confusion: Why must pedestrians give way to cars exactly?

      • Geoff

        Because that’s the law, and because it’s sensible.

        • It isn’t always the law and it isn’t always sensible. This type of stop is used in places of pedestrian priority; where the give way sign means just that, give way, and to all movements in your path; car, bike, foot, spaceship. Actually much simpler and more sensible. And, of course safer. And makes for a better place. This is not proposed for busy arterials.

          Along with improving the places where they are installed another point of it is to teach drivers that that very attitude; that cars always have the right of way, is simply wrong. Drivers need to adjust to the street environment and not assume automatic right of way.

    • Stu Donovan

      1) No – Give way applies to all traffic, regardless of mode. I.e. the cars approaching a give way sign should yield to pedestrians too.
      2) No – the point is to slow them down, they can crawl forward into the conflict zone once they have ascertained it is clear. Check out my link to Amsterdam above – seems to work fine there eh?

      • OrangeKiwi

        Actually, yes pedestrians do have to give way in these cases regardless of any give way signs. Only in New Zealand though – on the top of my head I can’t think of any other country where this is the case. There’s been calls for this to be changed…

        • Kevyn

          There is no legal requirement in the road user rules or the land transport act requiring pedestrians to give way to motor vehicles except at signalised intersections and at pedestrians crossingas where a car is already too close to stop safely. There careless driving law is a legal requirement for drivers to give way to pedestrians.

          As for the location of the limit lines at intersections, that will require changing MOTSAM because of section 3.06 which currently says
          “Where edge lines are not marked, the limit line at a
          controlled intersection should be located at the
          prolongation of the kerb or edge of seal line.
          Limit lines should be located to ensure that:
          ! from a position 1.8 m behind the limit line and 1.05 m
          above the road surface adequate visibility of
          approaching traffic is available,…”

          At suburban intersections I see no real problem as long as there are no high fences and trees have their lower branches removed. In town the building setback means the Amsterdam solution will only work with Amsterdam speed limits.

          http://www.nzta.govt.nz/resources/motsam/part-2/docs/motsam-2-section-3.pdf

      • Geoff

        1) That’s incorrect, there shouldn’t be any pedestrians crossing in front of approaching cars unless there’s a pedestrian crossing.
        2) Also incorrect, cars should not have to crawl forward into a “conflict zone” because it’s a road, and there should be no pedestrians there if a car is approaching.

    • Fanai

      Agree with Geoff. In the absence of a pedestrian crossing or lights, the vehicle has right of way. It must be able to see traffic clearly before proggressing.

      • Gian

        so a ton of steel has right of way over 50kg of organic matter? In the mind of a lot of drivers, yes, but not for the law.

        • Geoff

          The law is pretty clear, cars have right of way over pedestrians on roads. I’m surprised anyone thinks otherwise, it would be chaos if pedestrians had right of way on roads.

          • Stu Donovan

            If you are correct (and I doubt that you are) then the law needs to be changed. To say that chaos would reign otherwise is such a false dichotomy. Most other civilised cities function very well with different approaches and you’d be a blinkered ped murderer to suggest otherwise.

          • Geoff the shared streets in the CBD are in some sort of legal twilight zone in your mind then…. how do you understand they work?

          • Stu Donovan

            Yeah! What Patrick said!

  • Ak-Sam

    I did a little sketch to illustrate my idea.
    http://i45.tinypic.com/2vt8i92.jpg
    We should be improving places like Ponsonby Road where the situation at present doesn’t work well for cars or pedestrians, despite it being a busy thoroughfare. Low hanging fruit if you ask me.
    A simple raised “ped priority” strip should be mandatory across all minor road and driveway junctions in all urban centres. I know Council/AKT are aware of and at least somewhat in favour of the idea.

    • Kent Lundberg

      That compromised approach is starting to emerge in places. I have problems with them. 1) They deflect the pedestrian’s natural desire line (shortest distance). 2) Car movement is still prioritised. 3) It only works for one car. If multiple cars are moving, the pedestrian has to wander between cars. Lets stick with your ideal version :)

    • Joshua

      Biggest problem is the trees effect the sight lines of the vehicles, although looks good is just impractical, also the footpath being set-back just doesn’t work for pedestrians very well. I think the key is letting pedestrians have the right of way at intersections. ATM the cars still have the priority by law…but we do need a visual element as well to define it.

    • Bryce

      I like your comprimise approach. It means the car waiting to turn does not encroach the pedestrian area, which is good for pedestrians, and lets the driver concentrate on traffic which is vital. The safety of the car driver is just as important as any other person.

      The only possible issue I see is that vehicles turning into the street possibly have a more obscured view of crossing pedestrians.

  • Ak-Sam

    Line of sight is an issue for motorists, particularly with parallel parking on the roads. If drivers don’t have an adequate view of the traffic lane, they’ll just creep out anyway.
    I’m not sure there’s a perfect solution for every situation. Wider footpaths, less parallel parking, etc, would be helpful but not cheap.

  • St Nick

    Agree with line of sight being an issue for motorists, they would effectively have to stop twice before crossing an intersection. Traffic engineers that design our roads for greatest throughput won’t want a bar of it. I do think something like these crossings should be mandatory for high pedestrian areas like Ponsonby, Queen St, where pedestrians should be given priority when they far outnumber people in cars.

    • Kent Lundberg

      Yes, it essentially requires two stops. The first required by the stripe, the second by self preservation. This is how it works in North America.

    • Stu Donovan

      Yes, you’re correct. And I agree with your suggestion of starting with the most pedestrian friendly areas and spreading from there.

      The bizarre thing about Geoff’s attitude is that he kind of implicitly suggests that pedestrian tables and priority should be the norm everywhere, e.g. state highway on-ramps. Actually, all that’s being suggested here is that many parts of Auckland with high ped volumes and lowish traffic speeds could benefit from the intersection treatments illustrated above.

      To rule it out on grounds that it would cause “chaos” is blatant scaremongering and patently false, given what has already been achieved in some small parts of Auckland, and in many cities elsewhere.

  • Mr Anderson

    Geoff’s just applying logic from railways to roads. What he doesn’t get is that railways are much more akin to motorways – i.e. pedestrians really shouldn’t be there because cars/trains can’t stop quickly and we’re giving up the public access part in order to enable mass throughput.

    The thing is that roads aren’t all like motorways (much to the annoyance of most traffic engineers) which means the logic doesn’t come through. There will always be conflict between vehicles and pedestrians – it’s about ensuring that uncertainty generates safety rather than chaos. I’m yet to hear of anyone being run over in the shared spaces in the city, I assume because Geoff hasn’t driven down them yet.

    • Geoff

      Not quite, pedestrians are allowed to cross roads, unlike motorways or railways. But they are required to look both ways first, and only cross if the way is clear. The only way a pedstrian could get hit in this “conflict zone” is by stepping out in front of a moving car, after failing to look both ways.

  • Geoff

    I’m amazed that there are so many here who believe pedestrians have the right to walk onto roads in front of moving cars. The law is clear, cars have the right of way on roads. Pedestrians are only allowed to cross when the way is clear, or at designated pedestrian crossings.

    It’s not my opinion, it’s fact.

    Patrick, shared spaces isn’t the situation applicable in the above photo samples.

    • Mr Anderson

      I think you’re missing the point that all road users (pedestrians, motorists, cyclists etc.) have a duty of care. We should design roads in such a way that encourages people to exercise that duty of care rather than ignore it – like you’re suggesting Geoff.

      • Geoff

        Pedestrians stepping in front of moving vehicles would be a failure of the duty of care you refer to. The current rules are fine as they are. Look both ways, and stay off the road if there’s a car coming. Doesn’t get much simpler!

  • antantnz

    So many people don’t respect the limit lines regardless of pedestrians or other vehicles … The number of cars that will sit well in front of them, into a bus lane, and not move even when a thundering bus is slamming on its brakes and has nowhere else to go astounds me.

    Locally (Pt Chev shops) there’s a “service lane” that has probably hundreds if not more of cars using it each day. It’s a compulsory stop with the limit line (yellow line) behind the footpath. I.e. cars should stop before the line and let all pedestrians through (as vehicles are actually crossing a footpath, pedestrians have the right of way which is the law as I understand it).

    So essentially this is designed similar to the ideal scenario. However, cars absolutely barrel through, not stopping, not even looking for pedestrians and / or blocking the footpath while they wait for traffic. So I do think education must play a part.

    Link to map – http://amap.to/p94hzz … Street view may give better view.

  • Geoff

    The relevant road code rules for pedestrians in this discussion are these bits:

    - Cross the road only when it is safe to do so. Always check all nearby roads for vehicles before you cross and quickly walk straight across the road.

    - Remember, it takes time for a vehicle to stop. Be sensible and wait for a gap in the traffic before crossing the road.

    - When crossing the road at an intersection, remember to check behind and in front for turning vehicles.

    Even at pedestrian crossings, pedestrians must give way to cars if the cars are too close to stop in time:

    - Don’t step out suddenly onto a pedestrian crossing if any vehicles are so close to the crossing that they cannot stop.

    • Feijoa

      “Don’t step out suddenly onto a pedestrian crossing if any vehicles are so close to the crossing that they cannot stop”
      Purely out of interest, is there anywhere else in the road code that the give way rules are said to reverse because the vehicle that should yield is moving too fast to stop?

    • St Nick

      Those road rules become pretty ridiculous when you have fifty pedestrians waiting at an intersection in the city for 3 cars to go past. If you look at it logically, shouldn’t the number of people moving take precedence over the size or speed of object moving? And why should a pedestrian have to know the rules of the road code just to be able to walk around where they live. Shouldn’t the responsibility lie with people learning to drive a 1 tonne machine not to endanger anyone else on the road, whether they’re in a car, on a bike, or walking.

      The car comes first thinking stems from I’m superior because I’m in a motor vehicle that could kill you so you better get out of my way. The same thing goes through your head as a ped, the vehicle can hurt me so I have to let them go first. I don’t see it as a bad thing if when you’re driving in the city you have to slow down for pedestrians who in turn get the benefit of not being so intimidated by cars.

      • Geoff

        The rode code applies to everyone on the road, be they motorists, cyclists or pedestrians.

        The car comes first thinking is because commonsense tells you a human body is no match for a 1 tonne car (or a 50 tonne truck)!

        People who want to put their body infront of a moving vehicle are basically applicants for a Darwin Award. Pedestrians don’t belong on roads anymore than cars belong on footpaths. Just as cars have to watch for pedestrians when crossing footpaths, pedestrians have to watch for cars when crossing roads.

        Seriously, I can’t believe this discussion is even happening. It’s well known that pedestrians do not walk in front of road vehicles. It’s commonsense and it’s law.

        • Stu Donovan

          But it’s not commonsense in certain areas – that’s the key point of the whole post and subsequent discussion.

          Priority needs to adapt to the urban context: In some parts of the city pedestrians should (and already do) have priority over vehicles (irrespective of what you say) and vice versa. You only have to compare shared spaces to a motorway on-ramp to see this is a fact. These examples are at two ends of a spectrum: In many places it’s not clear who has priority and careful management of conflict points, such as what Kent proposes above is perfectly reasonable.

          You seem unable to explain a) why shared streets are not only legal but also perfectly functional and b) how this so-called “commonsense” vehicle superiority does not seem to apply to many wonderful streets overseas. Maybe those Dutch have super-human reactions? Or maybe you’re just letting your NZ cultural conditioning (and a somewhat bizarre, unquestioning attachment to selective rules) blind you to better ways of designing streets and managing conflicts?

          With all due respect, you’ve lost this argument hands down.

          • Geoff

            How can I have lost an argument when all I’ve done is point out the law in regards to pedestrians on roads? There’s nothing to argue – cars have right of way. Period.

            I haven’t mentioned shared streets, because the blog article photos don’t show shared streets.

            If there is an urban area where pedestrians are more frequent than cars, then put in a pedestrian crossing. There’s no reason for coming up with these “conflict zones”. Just avoid the conflict in the first place, and give priority to whichever mode dominates.

        • Geoff, cars don’t have to watch for anything. They are inanimate machines! It’s the people inside them that have to watch for other people using the roadway.

          And you say pedestrians don’t belong on roads and cars don’t belong on footpaths… well that makes me really wonder how you manage to get your car in and out of the driveway without every crossing the footpath? That’s about as perplexing as walking down the footpath without every having to cross a road.

          • Geoff

            I think I was pretty clear when I wrote that motorists must watch for pedestrians when crossing footpaths, and pedestrians must watch for cars when crossing roads.

          • Mr Anderson

            But Geoff you’re saying the opposite. You’re saying that cars don’t have any duty of care to look out for pedestrians because pedestrians shouldn’t be there in the first place.

            This is all a bit irrelevant to Kent’s post anyway, which is about getting cars to initially come to a stop before the pedestrian crossing so they check to see whether there are any pedestrians then move up to ensure they can see what’s coming and head on their way.

    • Bryce

      Just because it is in the road code doesn’t mean it’s right and can never be changed.

      • Geoff

        Indeed, the road code can be changed. Let’s allow 140km/h on the motorways – after all they do it overseas, so it must be good!

        Seriously, you’ll never see the road code changed to make it easy for pedestrians to wander on roads in front of vehicles. We want pedestrian deaths to go down, not up.

      • Mr Anderson

        Yeah because the only thing stopping those dumb pedestrians from wanting to throw themselves in front of cars and get killed is the law which says it’s illegal to do so.

  • Jim

    Jeepers….. The comments on this page are getting worse.

    Geoff is absolutely correct.

    This is new zealand and as such users of the road corridor need to follow the laws of new Zealand, not holland, who have different laws. I wish I could just have the law changed when it suited me or my pet hobby group whenever it suited with no regard to other views and issues.

    All this talk of Amsterdam is obviously coming from cyclists who admire the place and only look at cycle usage statistics. I have just been there on transit and the cyclists are a hazard. They drive through red lights, on the footpaths and don’t even stick to their own cycle path all the while smoking or talking on their mobile phone.

    Pedestrians on the road have no priority over vehicles unless they are at a properly marked crossing facility.

    I’m also surprised that no one that has looked at the ‘evolutionary’ marking at wynyard quarter has realized that there are tram lines present and that if the give way sign was placed in its original position would mean cars end up stopped on the tram line….

    Shared spaces are more marketing bumphf at theminute and do not have any proper regulations as far as I am aware. Are they even in motsam or legal? A good idea but needs some serious thinking as to how to make them work properly.

    There is a localized version of Manual for Streets, it was commissioned by the previous NSCC and was adapted from the original UK version by the original author.

    Give way limit lines are in the place indicated in motsam for a reason, primarily to stop vehicles entering a new road without control and to allow for visibility of oncoming traffic in the major road.

    Also, stop bagging traffic engineers, unless you are one you probably don’t know anything about what is required and how you design or evaluate an intersection to cater for its expected usage, by all modes, and what is trying to be achieved.

    If it was possible it would be great to get a couple of the evangelists on here alongside a traffic engineer and a copy of SIDRA or PARAMICS and see how these mega long ped phases would work in real life and how the Auckland CBD would come to a standstill.

    Back on topic, I really hope that Christopher Dempsey gets some proper advice before engaging a contractor to install some of these amended markings….

    • Kent Lundberg

      Jim, Good point about the tram. That must explain it.

      For reference this is the language from the American MUTCD (the closest reference on my desk). I have heard that the Canadian version is similar.

      “In the absence of a marked crosswalk, the stop line or yield line should be placed at the desired
      stopping or yielding point, but should not be placed more than 30 feet or less than 4 feet from the nearest edge of the intersecting traveled way.”

      • 30 feet? That sounds like more than enough to push the stop line back as proposed in just about any circumstance.

        “and see how these mega long ped phases would work in real life and how the Auckland CBD would come to a standstill.”
        That is precisely what the traffic engineers said about doubling the Barnes Dance pedestrian phases on Queen St when the streetscapes upgrade was in planning. Well they doubled them anyway despite the predictions of gridlock armageddon, and I can’t say I notice the Auckland CBD at a standstill.

        • Kent Lundberg

          Accommodating pedestrians (people) through increased signal phases is exactly why micro-businesses are flourishing here. Interesting the term “standstill”… This is the experience of most pedestrians in the CBD (except Queen St)while they wait for cars to flush through.

  • Jim I’m sure there are are clever and dedicated traffic engineers many of whom are also lovely people, but I do not need to be one to know that the philosphical underpinning of the field, as perfectly expressed in your comment, is long overdue a total rethink. And if you haven’t noticed that this is well underway already (even in little NZ) you are in for a long and angry old age.

    We, ordinary people, are determined to wrestle our cities’ public domain back from total vehicle privilege and this will mean a change in thinking (or perhaps retirement) of its high priests.

    Ideas that it is ‘common sense’ or ‘the law’ that a driver aiming to turn into a busy city street should give way to everything except the most vulnerable are a good example of changes that are needed.

    The Shiboleth that the aim of all street design is to aid the uninterrupted and ever faster movement of vehicles is always A GOOD THING also must go: much streetscape design will now be dedicated to slowing and even discouraging driving in urban areas.

    And yes this may mean some regulations will have to change as well as some habits. This is, of course, no impossibility.

    Traffic engineering needs to retreat back to being an important but secondary consideration in the ordering of our built environment. We have had half a century of the cart before the horse on our city streets and it is clear that this experiment has failed.

    Bring on the Human Engineers.

  • Andrew

    Looks like a point missed by Geoff is that this idea is an advocation of how it should be vs how it currently is.

    Kent is making an argument as to how he and many here think the give way line setup should be (and I support that).

    Geoff is correctly stating the rules as they are now, but (from what I have admittedly skim-read) has not justified why the proposed idea of changing those rules should be opposed.

    • Geoff

      I don’t think there’s anything that needs changing. The best way to get pedestrians across a road is to mark it as a pedestrian crossing. Creating shared spaces on a road that is otherwise not a shared space, is just plain dangerous.

      We have roads, where pedestrians must give way to cars, and we have pedestrian crossings where cars must give way to pedestrians. It’s black and white and clear cut. Introducing a third “grey area” option is just inviting conflict.

      • swan

        Well you could always make it clear cut – redesignate these spaces as footpaths. There is nothing written in the stars that says it is the roads which have to be continuous and the footpaths discontinuous.

        • Geoff

          Then it would cease to be available as a road, and you would need to block it off to vehicle traffic. Since that isn’t the goal of pedestrian crossings, why would you opt for anything other than a standard pedestrian crossing?

          • swan

            Vehicles are allowed to cross, and do cross, footpaths at entrances to driveways, carparks etc. So there would be no need to block it. You just start treating side roads more like driveways.

    • Mr Anderson

      That’s where you miss the point. It’s the grey areas where you actually generate safety because uncertainty means everyone’s careful. That’s why shared spaces work. That’s why it’s often the most complex and bizarre intersections which are actually safe. That’s why there are much more serious crashes at signalised intersections compared to roundabouts.

      Contrary to popular belief, and to the psyche of most traffic engineers, uncertainty is GOOD.

  • St Nick

    I’m not a traffic engineer but you don’t have to be one to work out that the intersection of Queen and Quay Streets is an epic fail in trying to cater for various traffic types. There are far more people crossing that intersection by walking to and from ferries and the waterfront, than crossing it in an automobile. How many thousands of people everyday have to wait for minutes so they can cross 4 lanes of traffic there, isn’t that an incredible waste of time and money? But apparently its only a drain on the economy if you’re in a vehicle at a standstill.. You don’t need a bevy of manuals to see that surely?

  • Peter H

    Living Streets Aotearoa has an attachment
    “Rules for drivers to give way to pedestrians at intersection”
    One of the common rules in Australian seems to be that drivers have to give way to any pedestrians on or near the road the driver is entering.

    Not sure way New Zealand is different.

  • Peter H

    In replay to Geoff “Seriously, you’ll never see the road code changed”

    This is from Living streets,
    Our campaign started in 2012 is to adjust the Road Code to have a Pedestrian focus. This means changing the Give Way rules so walkers are treated like any other user of the road.
    20 June 2012, Wellington. Andy Smith and Mike Mellor meet with Simon Bridges Assoc Transport Minister, Iain Lees-Galoway Labour Tranport MP, Automobile Association and Cycle Advocates Network. All expressed support for this campaign.

      • Geoff

        Ah France, the only nation to ever carry out a terrorism attack on New Zealand out of fear of peace breaking out, and issue fines against women for not showing enough skin. Making it easier for people to step in front of moving vehicles probably requires their style of mindset. Great example, thank you!

        • Andrew

          Not only completely off topic, that was nearly 30 years ago. A long time to hold a grudge. Much more recently than that however, you managed to insult my wife and about half a dozen friends of mine.

          You are just trolling.

          • Geoff

            I did no such thing. I do not know the people you mention, nor said anything about them. If you’re offended, well tough.

            I wasn’t the one to write that road rules are good just because another country has them. New Zealand also has many road rules that other countries would do well to adopt. It’s no coincidence that countries without rules governing how pedestrians should treat roads are also the countries with high pedestrian death tolls. NZ’s requirement that pedestrians only walk onto roads if the way is clear, is sensible and life saving.

            It would be a step backwards for NZ to change the rules in a manner that effectively sanctions the idea of walking onto roads without looking if the way is clear.

      • Gian

        In Italy if you hit a pedestrian because he fell in front of your car you could be liable because you always have to drive to the conditions. If it’s full of pedestrians around you have to slow down, you could get a fine even if you’re driving under the limit.
        Now I wait for Geoff to tell me what kind of terrorist attacks Italy perpetrated in NZ.

        • Geoff

          Sounds about the same as New Zealand’s requirement to drive to the conditions. Not sure what this has to do with the topic though, which appears to be about giving added protection to people who ignore the rode code and walk into a road without looking if it’s clear.

  • Geoff

    [But Geoff you’re saying the opposite. You’re saying that cars don’t have any duty of care to look out for pedestrians because pedestrians shouldn’t be there in the first place.]

    Obviously motorists need to take care around jaywalkers, but that doesn’t mean we should lend legitimacy to jaywalking by catering for it.

    [This is all a bit irrelevant to Kent’s post anyway, which is about getting cars to initially come to a stop before the pedestrian crossing so they check to see whether there are any pedestrians then move up to ensure they can see what’s coming and head on their way.]

    If there’s a pedestrian crossing, then it will be marked as a pedestrian crossing, in which case the suggested changes are not needed. If it isn’t marked as a pedestrian crossing, then pedestrians have an obligation to not be there if a car is close to, or in, the location they want to cross.

    • Mr Anderson

      Jay walking has a pretty precise definition in New Zealand, crossing the road within 20 metres of a pedestrian or signalised crossing. I don’t see any pedestrian/signalised crossings in Kent’s post.

      Perhaps what you highlight, if we want to be really pedantic, is the potential need for pedestrian crossings across all these kinds of situations.

      • Geoff

        Precisely! If pedestrian levels warrant it, put in a pedestrian crossing. If they don’t, leave it as a road, and let pedestrians follow the road code for crossing roads.

        Having a two tiered pedestrian crossing system is to invite confusion, and would be counter productive.

        That first photo btw, reminds me to mention – I noticed recently that cars are still parking on the pedestrian crossings in Wynyard as though they are a double parking space. A good example of what happens when you intend for a space to be for pedestrians, but fail to use standard road markings to make the purpose clear.

        • Well if that’s the only way you can get your head around it ok, but you are still missing the point. These people filled areas are designed specifically to be non-hierachical. Bigger doesn’t have the right of way. At a give way sign you give way to everyone, not just some people, ie people walking as well as people in cars and people on bikes. It works, it already happens, and it doesn’t need black and white stripes everywhere.

          • Geoff

            Patrick, I haven’t missed the point at all. The law clearly states pedestrians must only cross a road when the way is clear. It’s this blog entry that misses the point, which is that the “conflict area” described is in fact a conflict between illegal pedestrian activity and legal vehicle movements. The only way a pedestrian can be hit by a car in such a spot is if they ignored the law and walked into the road without looking.

            Regarding your comment that Give Way signs protect walkers, that is not the case in any of the above photos. Pedestrians should not be walking along a road in traffic lanes.

          • Mr Anderson

            Geoff you’re only coming at this from a safety perspective. Kent mentions safety above, but he also mentions changing the way things are done in order to make life better for pedestrians as they travel around the city. In some locations, like Wynyard, there may well be many many more people than vehicles – therefore giving priority to people makes good sense.

            As noted above, this could be done through a pedestrian crossing, but that comes with issues around drivers turning into the street having to stop for a pedestrian in a dangerous location. Using a more subtle approach, like Kent’s suggestion, achieves a safety gain by slowing the vehicles down earlier, without putting in place the “cars must must give way here no matter what” of a pedestrian crossing, which could lead to dangerous outcomes. Best to slow everyone down, make everyone aware of what is going on, allow a bit of interaction to occur and you’re likely to end up with an efficient and safe outcome – which doesn’t force pedestrians to wait at the side of the road forever.

        • Cars don’t park, people park cars.

  • Geoff

    @swan, vehicles crossing footpaths is not the same thing as a footpath crossing a road, which would require stopping the road. Not really a valid idea (which is why nowhere does it).

    • swan

      You havent explained why it is not a valid idea. And the “nowhere does it” is not correct. In fact we already do it! Let me explain.

      We currently have carparks, sometimes very big carparks that have lanes and carriageways and footpaths all within the carpark. Yet when the carpark exits to the public road, the pedestrians have right of way at the intersection. Right?

      Well actually on some large carparks you have conventional road junctions with the public road, and for all intents and purposes the pedestrian walking down the public road footpath has to give way to the vehicles entering and exiting the carpark. I personally am not clear on the law in this situation, but the carriageways and footpaths are marked and designed as to be indistinguishable from a conventional road intersection. In fact some are even signalised intersections complete with “green men” for pedestrians crossing the entrance!

      So we know that with carparks there is the option of either having footpath continuity at the intersection, or carriageway continuity: there is a choice. Why can this choice not be extended to road intersections in general?

      • Geoff

        I’m not sure what you mean by pedestrians have right of way where a carpark exits to a road, but I will point out that the road code doesn’t cover private roads and carparks.

        But to answer your question of why can’t we have footpath continuity across roads at intersections, as I’ve mentioned, you would have to stop the road to enable it. But more relevant is the simple fact that we already have effective rules governing how pedestrians cross roads. They use pedestrian crossings or where one isn’t provided, they look both ways and cross when clear.

        Introducing a grey area where pedestrians feel free to walk into roads without looking is to invite more deaths and more injuries. I think that is obvious to most people.

        • swan

          “I’m not sure what you mean by pedestrians have right of way where a carpark exits to a road.”

          I am talking about the entrance/exits to carparks from roads. Normally at these intersections, any cars entering/exiting the carpark cross the footpath and therefore give way to pedestrians. In some circumstances this is reversed, and cars have the right of way.

          The road code does cover intersections of public roads and driveways which is the situation I am talking about.

          In fact the road code already explicitly allows for the situation of footpaths having continuity across the end of “terminating” roads at T-intersections. (see link below)

          To quote

          “If the road you are on terminates (bottom of the T), give way to traffic on the continuing road (top of the T). This also applies at driveways. You must give way to all traffic on the road and any road user on a FOOTPATH, cycle path or shared path.” (emphasis mine)

          So what I am proposing (and I believe what the post author is essential proposing) is not only possible and practical, but is already explicitly allowed for in road code!

          If you are still confused, there are some illustrations at the link.

          http://www.nzta.govt.nz/resources/roadcode/about-driving/the-give-way-rules.html#intersections

  • Ok so we have a pattern forming here. There is a clear divide evidenced on this site between people who are interested discussing how things are evolving, how they could be, and even how best to bring about change; and those who put enormous effort into trying to prove that things are how they are, all change is impossible, and any talk of things being different is childish and unrealistic.

    Essentially this is nothing more than a clash of world views.

    As someone who is involved in this blog because a desire to improve Auckland I clearly fall into the first group. More than this I essentially see the whole point of the blog being to attempt shape a better city, which by definition involves doing things differently. However I do see value in the contributions of those from the second group as they are good at highlighting likely sources of resistance to change, or things that might be lost.

    But I never cease to be amazed by the idea that laws, and especially regulations, let alone mere habits, are appealed to as if passed down from the mount by Moses. These are all human creations and subject to the whims of fashion as anything else.

    If change really was impossible or even unlikely there wouldn’t be much point in this work.

  • jonno1

    I came upon this site by accident via Open Parachute’s blog rankings: #6, well done!

    However, one thing that puzzles me is that so many commenters are disputing Geoff’s clear statement of the law – why is that? I can understand that some people desire a change to the law, but the current law is just that, no argument. It does somewhat remind me of the recent change to the T-junction rules, where many drivers ignored the old rule anyway, so were probably most surprised at the change. An example is the south end of Nuffield St, where council has now put an unneeded Give Way sign. The time to place a Give Way sign was before the rule change. Duh.

    But I do have a question for the experts on this forum: what is the status of the raised sections of road (similar to speed bumps) which also have gratings/yellow dots to encourage pedestrians to cross there, yet are not marked crossings. An example is in Kingdon St just off Khyber Pass Rd. Interestingly, this one is set a car-length back from the intersection and there are no pram ramps at the corner – a bit like Ak-Sam’s third sketch. The problem for drivers is that some pedestrians seem to treat it as a marked crossing.

    • Ha! I rest my case. More status quo bias.

      • jonno1

        I don’t understand your comment Patrick, would you be kind enough to elaborate? I recognise that some, yourself included, are advocating a change to the law, which is fair enough, but some commenters above are actually disputing the current position. This suggests ignorance at best and deliberate obfuscation at worst. BTW, I haven’t stated a position, have I? I might even agree with you!

        • My comment above is about the situation we have on this thread where people are talking past each other. One group is discussing a new approach to street design and how it changes behaviour and the other is appealing to their understanding of the law and trying to claim that what the former group is talking about can’t exist. Yet of course it already does, in Wynyard Quarter, in the shared spaces in the city. But there really isn’t common ground in this discussion, just the restatement of positions.

          It seems to me that you have clearly stated that you believe human laws somehow trump physical reality in this case, but like I say I don’t really see much chance of these two approaches agreeing about much as they merely represent different ways of viewing the world.

          I’m not familiar with the streetscape you mention but I am bewildered by the idea that as a driver faced with a pedestrian in front of you you would reflect on your memory of the law to decide whether or not to drive in to them or not!

          • Geoff

            Patrick, you keep saying the suggested change already exists, in shared spaces, yet shared spaces by their very nature are not normal roads. If you want more pedestrian freedom on roads, then you can either have a pedestrian crossing, or convert the road to a shared space.

            But on roads that are to stay as roads, both the law and commonsense dictates that pedestrians should not enter the road if a vehicle is approaching. It avoids conflict. Saying that the conflict should be legitimised isn’t sensible.

          • jonno1

            Thanks for clarifying that Patrick. I thought we were discussing Kent’s idea of setting back Give Way/Stop signs to allow for pedestrians to cross more easily if the driver could not immediately enter the intersection due to cross traffic. This idea has considerable merit, subject of course to adequate visibilty. But without a law change it wouldn’t give pedestrians any more “rights”.

            I’m not very familiar with the shared space concept, although I believe this has been used successfully in some overseas jurisdictions. I also recall reading about a town – sorry, I can’t remember where – where all the traffic lights were removed resulting in vastly improved traffic and pedestrian flows and reduced accident rates. I have my doubts that this would work in NZ though, based on my observations of drivers, pedestrians and cyclists.

            BTW I don’t recall running down any pedestrians recently, although I may have forgotten. The last chap to do that was convicted of causing grievous bodily harm with reckless disregard only last week. As a pedestrian I have, however, had some near misses with cyclists running red lights with reckless disregard. I’ve learned that the more they’re kitted out in lycra etc, the more dangerous and arrogant they are.

          • jonno1 – we have a number of shared spaces already in Auckland, mainly in the city but also some in other places. By most accounts they are working pretty well, in fact I believe that there hasn’t been a single pedestrian hit on them since their introduction over a year ago. What’s more they seen huge increases in pedestrians as well as a reduction of vehicle speeds and the shops actually find it even easier to get deliveries than they did before.

            Here is some info on the results of the Fort St upgrade (they are about to start stage 3 which is another shared space at the eastern end).
            http://transportblog.co.nz/2012/05/17/fort-st-shared-space-a-success/

          • Swan

            Jonno1, see my post above.we don’t need a law change. Continuing footpaths, or shared paths across the end of terminating intersections is already explicitly allowed for in the road code.

        • Geoff

          I agree, and that ignorance you mentioned is why I posted here. The claimed “conflict zone” can only have conflict if a pedestrian enters that zone illegally. That suggests to me that the writer of the article (Kent) doesn’t understand the road code as it applies to pedestrians.

    • Gian

      I always used it as a marked crossing an I always got a finger back, and almost a broken leg once. Not that the person couldn’t brake, but it’s not cool to brake for pedestrians.

      • jonno1

        Thanks Gian. If you look at Kingdon St on Google maps you can see a young lady about to step out in front of a van – I hope she survived. In my view it should either be a marked crossing, or have signs erected to warn pedestrians that it is not (although technically not required). At present it is somewhat ambiguous, although the law is clear (with apologies to Patrick).

        PS I use this occasionally both as a driver and as a pedestrian (when on my way to the Cock & Bull).

    • Geoff

      The Kingdon St example is an excellent one, and just goes to show what happens when you introduce a grey area that is outside normal street construction standards. Is it a pedestrian crossing or is it a road? I know the answer, but alas many do not, and as a result it’s a dangerous location.

      The irony of this blog entry is that it imagines a “conflict zone” and then proceeds to descibe how it should go from imaginary to reality.

  • Geoff

    Swan, I think you’re misreading the road code there. The only samples showing a footpath crossing the path of a vehicle are showing driveways, as indicated by the lighter colour of the vehicle path, instead of the darker colour as applies to roads.

  • Swan

    I think reading the text for meaning is a better option than trying to interpret the colouring of the pictures which are only illustrative examples.

  • Geoff

    It’s pretty clear in words and pictures. You give way to the traffic of the road you are turning on to, and the pictures demonstrate how it applies to exiting a road (left picture) or a driveway (right picture). Only the driveway situation involves giving way to pedestrians on a footpath.

    • Swan

      Come on Geoff, that’s not what it says. The rule doesn’t distinguish between driveways and others terminating roads. In fact it does the opposite. I don’t think I have explain that you can’t reason that something is outside the scope of a rule because it is not shown in an example.

      • Geoff

        You’re misreading the rule. The two pictures are clear – giving way to pedestrians is only shown on the driveway example, NOT the road example. What Ari says is correct.

        • swan

          Read the words, Geoff. They are clear. Do you have a licence? I didn’t want to have to do this, but here goes:

          If I say the definition of fruit is:

          “The sweet and fleshy product of a tree or other plant that contains seed and can be eaten as food”

          And then I say: Mangoes, apples and oranges are examples of fruit.

          Would you then conclude: “Peaches obviously aren’t fruit as they aren’t Mangoes, apples or oranges”?

          You cant reason as to the limitations of a general definition from the absence of an example! Must we assume the rule doesnt apply to horses or motorbikes? These are not shown in the examples.

          • Geoff

            I have read the words, and along with the picture examples it’s clear that the pedestrian reference is to driveways.

          • swan

            Nonsense. You are making that inference based on your own pre-existing belief.

  • Ari

    Wow, over 100 comments. Must be a record. As a traffic engineer I know that Geoff is correct in terms of the LAW as it stands in NZ currently. Pedestrians do not have right of way, except at a zebra crossing or a signalised pedestrian crossing. There is nothing to argue about here as the is black and white and has been the same for years. Vehicles must give way at these crossings, but obviously pedestrians must be careful because of the idiot drivers around. I think the law needs to change though it won’t make much difference by itself.

    @Swan. It comes down to the legal road designation. Either it is legally classed as a road or not. A driveway on private property is not a legally designated road, so drivers exiting or entering must give way to pedestrians on the footpath as pedestrians have the legal priority on the footpath. If it is a legally designated road, then drivers DO NOT have to give way to pedestrians crossing the road unless there is a zebra/signals. If you run down a pedestrian crossing a legal road, then they could very likely be at fault. If you run down a pedestrian on footpath, you are at fault. This is the problem in the current law. Pedestrians should have priority crossing the road at uncontrolled intersections like in the US.

    Drivers always just pull out into the road past the limit line and pedestrians will end up just walking behind the vehicles anyway. I’m not going to walk in front of a car out into the road. A raised zebra crossing may help pedestrians by giving priority to them, but cars will still end up sitting on them to get out. The raised crossings always seem to get shot down by the PT engineers if there is a bus route along that road.

    Shared spaces only work well in pedestrian dominated environments. It is dangerous to put them in a vehicle dominated environment.

    • swan

      Ok Ari, that is not what the road code says. If it depended on the legal designation, then why do entrances to some private carparks have vehicle priority?

      What if it is a shared path with cyclists that crosses in front of terminating road? Does the car have to give way to the cyclists but not the pedestrians on the same strip of concrete?

      I am not talking about the law as it applies to the situations in the post, I realise that is clear. I am talking about continuing the footpath across the intersection. So the space would be a part of a footpath not part of the carriageway.

    • swan

      http://www.nzta.govt.nz/resources/rules/docs/road-user-2004.pdf

      A footpath is defined as:

      “footpath means a path or way principally designed for, and
      used by, pedestrians; and includes a footbridge”

      So once we design it principally for pedestrians it becomes a footpath right?

      • jonno1

        An interesting point swan. I guess the key word is “principally”. A raised or otherwise demarcated section of road is still principally for vehicles (unless it’s a zebra crossing or controlled crossing).

        Another interesting area, touched on above, is where a driveway looks like a road, but isn’t. An example is the exit from Auckland Hospital onto Grafton Rd. I guess common sense needs to prevail.

        Finally, there are signalised crossings that look like footpaths, an example being the carpark entrance on Remuera Rd opposite Nuffield St, Newmarket. Most pedestrians ignore the little red man, not necessarily deliberately, but because it looks like a footpath and they don’t expect a signal.

        • swan

          “A raised or otherwise demarcated section of road is still principally for vehicles (unless it’s a zebra crossing or controlled crossing).”

          Well you are assuming your conclusions with that statement. A raised section of road, is of course still a road, just as an extension of a footpath is still a footpath.

          • jonno1

            Correct. I think we’re both saying the same thing, ie that the principle purpose is the key, even though a footpath is (usually) part of the road reserve.

      • Geoff

        Kingdon Street is just that, a street. So it’s principally designed for road vehicles.

  • This concept fits nicely with Living Streets current campaign to change the rules.
    http://www.livingstreets.org.nz/node/4794
    We don’t even have the same rules as Australia and Canadian rules are the best.
    I visited Associate Transport Minister Simon Bridges last week and he is supportive of a change.
    There should also be a campaign about making eye contact between drivers and walkers.
    ‘I See You not ICU (Intensive Care Unit)’

  • Ari

    I’m not actually 100% sure because that seems like a grey area. I don’t think raising the road to match the footpath legally turns the road into a footpath. It is just a raised part of a legal road. To give priority to the pedestrian, you would have to mark the raised crossing as a zebra. Then all vehicles would be required to give way. This is probably the best way at these sorts of crossings to give priority to pedestrians currently, without the need for a rule change.

    Regarding private car park access, some have just built the footpath like a road and let the pedestrians be damned. The pedestrians should be in a car driving! :D A worst case example is the Victoria St Carpark entrance accessed from Kitchener. However, if there is a signalised entrance to the carpark (lights to let vehicles access it) then that’s a different case. In this case the entrance to the car park is considered a controlled accessway like a road. As a controlled access, the traffic signals control priority. The pedestrians should be given a pedestrian crossing to use (not always the case) so that they do not come into conflict with vehicles entering/exiting who have been given priority. An example of this the Auckland Crowne Plaza carpark exit.

    • Geoff

      They have those raised portions of road in Henderson, but to clarify the situation they have signs telling pedestrians to give way to cars. In fact the lack of those signs at Kingdon St is possibly an oversight, as most similar examples I’ve seen around the country have such signs.

      • Ari

        Yes those are weird. They are courtesy crossings and do not give priority to pedestrians. However they do seem to be a relatively effective calming measure to slow vehicles down making things safer. Bus drivers don’t like them though.

  • Geoff

    Swan, the wording is as follows:

    [If the road you are on terminates (bottom of the T), give way to traffic on the continuing road (top of the T). This also applies at driveways.]

    This is clearly talking about road traffic, not pedestrians.

    [You must give way to all traffic on the road and any road user on a footpath, cycle path or shared path.]

    This is the only reference to pedestrians and is clearly talking about them in regards to the footpath, NOT the road.

    It’s simple enough wording, and even backed up with pictures. I’m surprised you don’t get it.

  • swan

    Sorry, Geoff I didn’t realise you had misunderstood my point. My point has always been that if we extend the footpath across the end of the terminating road, then cars will have to give way to pedestrians on the footpath. I am not trying to say that pedestrians on the road have priority, I am trying to say that we should redesignate the space as a footpath.

  • Geoff

    That wouldn’t be workable as it would require stopping the road (revoking its designation as a road), which would also require preventing vehicle access. If you want to give priority to pedestrians, then that’s what pedestrian crossings are for.

    You can’t apply private driveway rules to public roads.

    • swan

      Thats not the law though is it. It is just your opinion. There is nothing in the law that says the topology of roads and footpaths must be such that roads are manifold but footpaths are not.

  • Geoff

    How the surface is constructed is irrelevant to a road designation. If for some strange reason you built a concrete footpath across a road, it would still be part of the road designation, and pedestrians would still have to give way to vehicles. The footpath status would end either side of the road, even if the physical path was continuous.

      • Geoff

        A road designation does not change based upon how the surface is constructed. Designations are only changed through following a process, and to the best of my knowledge the only example of where a road designation ceases despite being available for through access is at railway level crossings, and there is legislation governing that.

        If you want pedestrian right of way, then build a pedestrian crossing. Designation changes do not come into it.

        • swan

          Road designations are the means by which authorities acquire land to build roads. Footpaths and carriageways are both included in the road designation. The distinction between footpaths and carriageways is not made by the designation. You are likely correct about level crossings – railways have their own designations.

          • jonno1

            Agreed. In fact designations can get very complicated, especially where motorways are involved. For example a motorway and a local road can co-exist (be layered), eg where they are ar right angles, even where the local road is at grade and is blocked off.

            An added complication is that a motorway must be gazetted to actually be a motorway, but few are, they’re just designated as motorway reserves and then built to motorway standards.

            The rail corridor is an interesting one; as you say the road reserve stops on either side and the rail corridor takes precedence. As we now all know there are 18,000 ha of rail corridor nation-wide!

            So maybe your idea of extending footpaths across roads could adopt this model, although it would require barrier arms etc. Oh wait! they’re called traffic signals.

          • swan

            Yes fair enough :)

            Of course I am being a bit facetious here. But if I have a point it is that the reason we need to have a zebra crossing rather than a “footpath extension” is not because of law, but because of standards, which is quite a different thing.

  • Living Streets Aotearoa is campaigning to change the law.
    http://www.livingstreets.org.nz/node/4794
    I met with Assoc Transport Minister Bridge last month and he is supportive.
    Be the change we want to see and give way to walkers as once you step out of your vehicle your are a pedestrian.

    • jonno1

      An interesting link Andy, but a classic example of a solution looking for a problem. The proposal in essence appears to be that at an intersection where pedestrian activity is uncontrolled, a turning vehicle be required to give way to a pedestrian already in progress across the path of that vehicle. This doesn’t need a new law! It’s obvious that if the pedestrian has already started out (not recklessly) then he or she can and should continue.

      I see also that the device discussed earlier in this thread is apparently called a pedestrian platform. The problem with Fig 4 in s8 of your link is that the example used shows a platform clearly intended as a speed bump (see signs), also the corner has pram ramps indicating pedestrian crossing points elsewhere. The Kingdon St example would be a better one for making the intended point.

      Finally, the link doesn’t mention the equivalent rule in China, which is simply that in the event of a collision the larger vehicle, be it a cycle, farm trike, car or truck is always at fault. Works a treat. :)

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