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A few “piece of cake” pedestrian improvements

Yesterday’s post certainly attracted a lot of comments and a lot of great ideas about ways in which we can improve life for pedestrians in Auckland. I think most helpfully the suggestions didn’t have the CBD focus that I was perhaps worried about – with a nice geographic split. As I noted in yesterday’s post I think that our chances of success are best if we focus on a relatively small number of specific improvements rather than more general (if still justified) statements for how things can be changed.

For a start, it was interesting to see Max’s comment on the particular example given in yesterday’s blog post – a roundabout at the corner of Queenstown Road and Hendry Ave in Hillsborough:

Funny – I have literally spent dozens of hours getting AT and NZTA to fix that exact spot on the SH20 cycleway. They wouldn’t budge, even with an official CAA complaint. “Straight off the motorway, speed to high etc…” – all we managed to get was some stupidly high planting replaced with low planting to improve the sightlines.

This might be a tough one to resolve (perhaps we’ll counter-balance this with some of the others being easy) but I think it’s worth throwing whatever weight we can behind Cycle Action Auckland’s efforts to get a better result here than sending people for 120m in the wrong direction.

A next “easy win” I think is removing the “pedestrians give way to cars” signs which infest places like Henderson, instead putting in place proper pedestrian crossings. I think this is a pretty easy win as Auckland Transport have already made the change at the crossing over Railside Ave connecting the train station with the mall (just outside their head office, coincidence I wonder?) If the change is OK there I can’t see why we won’t be able to achieve the same thing around the corner on Great North Road. Are there any other spots around Auckland where these signs proliferate?

Shifting onto some changes which are more “software focused”, a few intersections were proposed in the comments as being suitable for changes to phasing or the addition of “legs” onto intersections which currently ignore the fact that pedestrians may not want to have to cross three sides of an intersection rather than just the one. For phasing I think the following:

  • Barnes dance at the corner of Albert and Victoria Street (after all that’s what started off this whole discussion
  • Barnes dance at the corner of Grafton Road, Park Road and Grafton Bridge
  • Reducing the amount of “green time” given to vehicles going up and down Queen Street to slow them down and reallocate time to cross streets (particularly at corner with Wellesley). Same for Quay Street (especially outside Ferry Building).

And in terms of adding legs to intersections, the following seem pretty obvious:

  • The Kitchener/Bowen abomination that we’ve been moaning about for quite a while
  • A pedestrian leg across Beach Road on the eastern side of the intersection with Anzac Ave
  • Same thing just along at the corner of Customs Street, Fort Street and Britomart Place

Some obvious locations for pedestrian crossings:

  • Along Ponsonby Road (we’ll do a bit more thinking about the best locations)
  • Hill Road outside the Botanic Gardens
  • Along Pah Road between Greenwoods corner and Mt Albert Road

Finally, I think we ought to try and do something about this:


These are just my preliminary ideas. I know Kent has some further ideas and discussion may highlight that some of this is unrealistic, will happen anyway, needs to be rolled into something more extensive or perhaps there’s a compelling reason why what we’re suggesting wouldn’t work. Once we’ve got a list finalised we can put together a letter to Auckland Transport (copied to key politicians of course) and hopefully begin the process of making this happen.

35 comments to A few “piece of cake” pedestrian improvements

  • starnius

    “Along Ponsonby Road (we’ll do a bit more thinking about the best locations)”

    I understand that the Waitemata Local Board has been pushing hard for improvements here – but that based on the fact that it was a bus route, and has two lanes in each direction, Auckland Transport is reluctant to do more than a few new pedestrian refuges… – no raised tables or zebras wanted.

    • Here’s where it gets tricky; those ‘ped refuges’ may help road crossing peds (me) but they squeeze drivers (me) making it especially dangerous for cyclists (me). Of course would be less of a problem if drivers (not me) didn’t mind ceding a lane (there are two each way) to cyclists instead always insisting on squeezing past. So ped refuges are not always a net benefit especially compared to actual traffic calming.

  • starnius

    “Finally, I think we ought to try and do something about this:”

    But what if we really DO need to transport some wind turbines or other large-scale kit into Sale Street?

    [Just in case somebody misses it – I am kidding. Narrowing that throat is a perfectly fine idea. Special loads vehicles can traverse the footpath on the 1-2 occasions a year (if at all) they need to use this street, so all you need to make sure it works is make sure there aren’t any rubbish bins / street lights etc… in the way.

  • Are there any other spots around Auckland where these signs proliferate?

    I have seen them elsewhere but can’t remember the locations off the top of my head.

  • The “pedestrian crossing” outside the Tournament carpark next to Newmarket station on Remuera Rd is very badly designed. It appears very similar to a footpath as it is raised up and it is difficult to see the crossing lights unless you are paying full attention, because the carpark entrance is very wide. Cars enter the carpark from Nuffield St opposite at high speed when they have a green light. I’ve seen some near misses there and experienced once myself due to the poor design of the carpark entrance.

    • jonno1

      The irony is that the entrance looks just like a vehicle crossing, which without controls would give pedestrians right-of-way. This is one location where the entrance should be styled as a road, ie with kerbs and asphalt. I know this blog has criticised commercial entrances looking like roads, but this is one instance where it would be appropriate, for pedestrian safety.

      I’ve stood there many times like an idiot while other pedestrians have streamed past me against the light – Google Streetview clearly shows a woman crossing against the light, while the traffic behind her has a green left-turn arrow. I haven’t seen cars entering from Nuffield St at speed, but can envisage it happening if they have a green light and are not expecting a stray pedestrian. Vehicles exiting the carpark have a similar problem. http://goo.gl/maps/QDq7x

      And there’s a Barnes dance at that intersection, so pedestrians do get a fair go (no slip lanes!).

      • OrangeKiwi

        I’ve never noticed that there’s a Barnes dance at that intersection and I walk the Newmarket area daily. If you’re right it just goes to show how much consistent markings are needed, as mentioned in this post: transportblog.co.nz/2013/02/06/is-this-a-barnes-dance/.

      • Bryce P

        I disagree Jonno. I think the carpark entrance should be left turn in / left turn out only and no right turn from or onto Remuera Rd nor straight through from Nuffield. Problem solved.

        • jonno1

          No argument there Bryce, it would improve traffic flow, but that’s a different issue. It wouldn’t solve the problem of pedestrians ignoring the lights across the entrance and putting themselves at risk.

          • Some may ignore but I suspect many just get fooled by the bad design. What other private building has a pedestrian crossing across its vehicle entrance? This is a very special case and the fact that it’s a crossing and not a footpath is not very obvious.

          • Bryce P

            Hey Jonno, in my scenario the entry / exit to the carpark would be narrowed considerably and the lights would no longer be required.

          • jonno1

            Yes Bryce, that might work – a bit like the northern entrance off Broadway. http://goo.gl/maps/CnRyM

            The greater volume of foot traffic could be an issue though.

      • TimR

        Watched a nasty incident of a car driving fast from Nuffield straight towards two people who clearly did not realise what might happen just earlier this week, waiting at the Link stop. I know there is a red ped light, but you suggest exactly what I thought after seeing this: simply, the use of concrete not tarmacadam makes it look like a ped facility. Contrasting black surface would definitely help.

        Unfortunately, just consistent with the overall quality of this station and adjacent development.

  • Ari

    regarding Henderson I don’t know why they didn’t just go the whole hog and make that section between railside and Edmonton shared space. however based on half the shops closing down around New Lynn shared space, if I were a store owner in Henderson I would oppose shared space.

    • starnius

      Uhmmmm, how does one connect A to B, without any proof? Emotionally only, I guess.

      CBD shared spaces turned out to be great for local retailers, who now rave about it (I met some of them personally at a recent event). That is a positive data point FOR shared spaces in retail areas. So in the absence of any other data point, one might not be able to prove that New Lynn shared spaces helps retailers (two different areas might well react differently to shared space), but one certainly doesn’t seem to have any data on whether they’d be doing better without shared space?

      Unless one has have any such data, its a bit like blaming Obama for the US recession because the worst part happened just after he took office. Correlation is not causation.

    • Probably need to consider all of the activity going on around New Lynn which is like one massive construction zone at present.

  • Daighi

    This may well have already been raised at some point but I think NZTA is hopelessly vague when it comes to the rules for ‘courtesy crossings’:

    “Although not official pedestrian crossings, they do provide a place for pedestrians to cross. Drivers should be courteous to pedestrians using a courtesy crossing.” (http://www.nzta.govt.nz/resources/roadcode/about-other-road-users/sharing-road-with-pedestrians.html)

    I think the phrase “drivers should be courteous” could be interpreted in a myriad of different ways… surely this can only add to the confusion.

  • Ari

    no proof? there is enough proof if you look at the data hard enough.it is just a case of how you interpret the available information. maybe some interpret it wrong.
    you can’t compare the CBD with New Lynn. thats like saying a princes wharf would be a good addition to Tongariro. different environments different results.

    based on what I have seen in new Lynn I would blame the shared space project (AND the adjacent rail/roadworks that have been going on for 2 years)for what has happened to many of the businesses there closing down. it comes down to simple customer volumes. when you have an 75% drop in customers, you can’t survive long.

    Having said that, now is probably a good time to go in there and buy some of the empty buildings there. based on future development those locations will be great for certain businesses. especially with the expansion of the mall. as for Henderson town centre, it is more similar to New Lynn than the CBD, so I would expect similar results initially with shared space. give it 10 years and it will likely have improved the area for the better.

    • Not sure of the need to put a shared space in Henderson. It just needs a bit better ped envrionment. Remove the signs mentioned above and replace with painted zebra crossing, perhaps add one new crossing in on Railside Ave between the station and Gt North Rd and a barnes dance on the Railside/Gt North/Ratanui intersection. The worst traffic I ever seem to encounter is that coming from north of Henderson and wanting to turn down Railside Ave, most likely going to the mall. Getting that traffic out from something like an underpass from Hickory Ave to Dora Ave (like mentioned would help with that the old strategy doc linked to in the previous post) would help a lot with that.

    • starnius

      Ari, your response told me two key things just now:

      A) you didn’t read what I said – I specifically said that the CBD and New Lynn were different beasts. You can’t disagree with me by repeating what I said, not the way it works ;-)

      B) Your statement in THIS comment clarifies that you believe the long on-going CONSTRUCTION period is to blame. Yet in your first post, you blamed shared space. I can agree with your second claim, because it makes a lot more sense – but I oppose your first argument (which you may not have intended to mean what it said, but, well, it did end up saying it…)

  • Bob

    Maybe not a pedestrian crossing but the intersection of GN rd and Millbrook Av at the entrance of Henderson township deserves a mention. This intersection is a deathtrap for pedestrians and cyclists waiting to happen. A 2 lane slip lane where cars come screaming down GN Rd and not even any lights for people who simply want to get to the other side of Millbrook where one of Auckland’s largest shopping centres is located.

    Remember also there is a school on this corner on this horrible, horrible intersection. WCC designed this intersection three years ago- they have a lot to answer for.

  • SteveC

    not so “easy do”, but the intersection of Great North Rd and Pt Chev Rd has always worried me, principally because of a mix of poor sight lines for pedestrians and free left turns that encourage drivers to travel too fast

    the left turn from Pt Chev Rd into Gt North has particularly bad visibility for both pedestrians and drivers because the library is built right up to and follows the curve of the footpath

    the left turn from Gt North into Pt Chev has a very long lead up, so drivers don’t slow much and there are barriers that force pedestrians to cross where their view of on-coming traffic is blocked by a fence and hedge

    I think that free lefts have no place in areas like this, they’re car-centric and promote bad behaviour by drivers

  • Bryce P

    Here is another ‘pedestrians give way to cars’ table. This time on The Strand in Takapuna. http://goo.gl/maps/qqQQA

  • TheBigWheel

    Second that. Kerb side build outs and central refuges = pinch points = more car v bike incidents. Put more zebra crossings in. Lots more. That’s my “piece of cake”.

    I have to say the comments on the zebra crossing stats (suggesting they can lead to increased accident rates) on teh original “piece of cake” post are somewhat counter-intuitive. Maybe it’s a critical mass thing.. put enough in and driving speeds can reduce without necessarily affecting flow rates.

    • SteveC

      the reasoning is quite simple, ped crossings give pedestrians a false sense of security, thinking that drivers should stop for them, but drivers just don’t take any notice

      • Svartmetall

        In which case, shouldn’t the behaviour of drivers and driver education be examined if drivers are behaving in such a blasé manner towards zebra crossings. I dislike to point to international examples, but here in Sweden, zebra crossings are everywhere – literally everywhere, even every roundabout with pedestrians around them have zebra crossings. Yet, despite the propensity to built zebra crossings everywhere, Sweden has, on a number of measures, the lowest rate of death on its roads in the world. It seems like a logical fallacy to assume that the zebra crossing is the cause for the pedestrian injury rather than the inattentive driver.

        • SteveC

          I was explaining the rationale as explained to me by an old traffic engineer, not defending it

          in fact I’d argue that the relative absense of ped crossings reinforces that behaviour and rather than not implementing them, the more the better, let drivers get used to them!

  • TheBigWheel

    Duh. Explorer stuff up, that’s in reply to Patrick’s comment above at 5:12 pm

  • Anthony

    Gilles Ave around the off and on ramp is really bad. Also near a number of schools on both sides of the motorway, a badminton centre near Alpers Ave and of course Newmarket itself.

    As it stands today, the motorway interchange has no pedestrian crossings, the left turn slip lane onto the on ramp is a very busy and fast following. While the off road is similar but has a give way. Recently placed a No pedestrians sign has been placed on the North side of the road almost under the over bridge.
    So you have to use the south side of the road.

    The only place to cross is on the far side of the Alpers Ave and Morrow Street. There is no crossing at Mortimer Pass and Gillies Ave near Mortimer Pass is about 30cm wide if you are lucky.

    https://maps.google.com/maps?q=Mortimer+Pass,+Auckland,+New+Zealand&hl=en&ll=-36.871184,174.77451&spn=0.004995,0.006899&sll=-36.871085,174.774553&sspn=0.002515,0.003449&oq=morti&hnear=Mortimer+Pass,+Newmarket,+Auckland+1023,+New+Zealand&t=m&z=17&layer=c&cbll=-36.871086,174.77455&panoid=3N0oPz5dnWkvsoNvHLYf2g&cbp=12,191.5,,0,9.66

    Auckland Transport do have plans at some stage to signalise this intersection, I believe it will be done when the site on the corner is developed (I assume the developer will have to pay). It would be hard to widen the road as the either side of the road would require expensive land acquisition, earth works, service relocation and new retaining walls. One side is by Highwic which is an historic building and site and I don’t think anyone would look at touching it.

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