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Aucklands highest risk urban intersections

Intersections are dangerous places, between 2008 and 2012 46% of all road deaths or serious injuries in urban areas across New Zealand occurred at an intersection and in total 158 people died. Recently reader Mike George asked what the most dangerous intersections were in NZ after he’d seen it looked at in the US.

The article doesn’t exactly highlight the most dangerous intersections in the US but just those within a couple of different cities – as ranked by the cities with each using different criteria. Still I thought it would be interesting to see at least what the most dangerous ones within the Auckland Urban area were. As it turns out this was something the NZTA had already looked at. Back in 2013 they published a High Risk Intersections Guide which looked at safety issues associated with intersections and ranked all intersections in country using the same metrics to find and rank the 100 highest risk ones. Below are the top 10 from that list that fall within the Auckland Urban area. It’s possible some may have had improvements since the list was published over two years ago but most won’t have. The figures for each intersection are from 2003 to 2012.

7. Great North Road and Bullock Track

  • 35 Minor Injury crashes
  • 5 Serious Injury crashes
  • 1 Fatal crashes
  • 48 Minor Injuries
  • 5 Serious Injuries
  • 1 Fatalities

Gt North Rd and Bullock Track

As far as I’m aware there is nothing planned in the immediate future to improve this intersection.

10. Tamaki Drive and Ngapipi Road

  • 27 Minor Injury crashes
  • 7 Serious Injury crashes
  • 0 Fatal crashes
  • 31 Minor Injuries
  • 7 Serious Injuries
  • 0 Fatalities

Tamaki Dr and Ngapipi Rd

As I highlighted recently AT’s preference is extend the sea wall and build a signalised intersection however the local board are pushing for a roundabout. This went to the AT board for a decision in their November meeting.

Tamaki -Ngapipi Signalised Option

AT’s preferred option

16. Hibiscus Coast Highway and Silverdale Street

  • 18 Minor Injury crashes
  • 2 Serious Injury crashes
  • 1 Fatal crashes
  • 30 Minor Injuries
  • 3 Serious Injuries
  • 1 Fatalities

Hibiscus Coast Hwy and Silverdale St

As far as I can tell there have been numerous suggestions over the years to signalise the intersection however this was often opposed by local councillors (prior to the amalgamation). Reader Bryce P has suggested that if signals were installed it could allow the routes passing the fledgling town centre.

20. Te Irirangi Drive and Ormiston Road

  • 20 Minor Injury crashes
  • 3 Serious Injury crashes
  • 0 Fatal crashes
  • 23 Minor Injuries
  • 4 Serious Injuries
  • 0 Fatalities

Te Irirangi and Ormiston

I’m not sure AT have any work planed along this route.

29. Fanshawe Street and Albert St

  • 29 Minor Injury crashes
  • 1 Serious Injury crashes
  • 0 Fatal crashes
  • 35 Minor Injuries
  • 1 Serious Injuries
  • 0 Fatalities

Fanshawe St and Albert St

This intersection is a key part of works in the city centre for the CRL so no improvement is planned any time soon – after CRL we’ll see changes such as allowing access to what will become the new bus interchange.

33. Symonds Street and City Road

  • 19 Minor Injury crashes
  • 5 Serious Injury crashes
  • 0 Fatal crashes
  • 19 Minor Injuries
  • 5 Serious Injuries
  • 0 Fatalities

Symonds St and City Rd

37. Ti Rakau Drive and Pakuranga Highway

  • 26 Minor Injury crashes
  • 4 Serious Injury crashes
  • 0 Fatal crashes
  • 30 Minor Injuries
  • 5 Serious Injuries
  • 0 Fatalities

Te Rakau Dr and Pakuranga Hwy

This is of course the site where AT and local politicians are pushing for the expensive Reeves Rd Fylover – which also requires similar motorwayisation

reeves-rd-flyover

38. Queen Street and Shortland Street

  • 18 Minor Injury crashes
  • 3 Serious Injury crashes
  • 0 Fatal crashes
  • 20 Minor Injuries
  • 3 Serious Injuries
  • 0 Fatalities

Queen St and Shortland St

This is one of the busiest pedestrian locations in Auckland – if not New Zealand. The ultimate solution is likely to be the removal of the intersection by way of closing off one end of Shortland St. This will be required if AT’s vision of a transit mall on Queen St is realised.

Queen St LRT_800

40. Ash Street and Rosebank Road

  • 28 Minor Injury crashes
  • 2 Serious Injury crashes
  • 1 Fatal crashes
  • 31 Minor Injuries
  • 4 Serious Injuries
  • 1 Fatalities

Ash St and Rosebank Rd

42. Te Irirangi Drive and Smales Road

  • 19 Minor Injury crashes
  • 4 Serious Injury crashes
  • 0 Fatal crashes
  • 29 Minor Injuries
  • 5 Serious Injuries
  • 0 Fatalities

Te Irirangi and Smales

Like the Ormiston Rd intersection above I’m not sure if there re any plans to improve this interesection

Here are the other urban intersections in Auckland within the top 100.

  • 44. Pakuranga Road and Aviemore Drive
  • 45. Karangahape Road and Queen St
  • 46. Te Atatu Road and Edmonton Road
  • 54. Fanshawe Street and Halsey Street
  • 55. Swanson Road and Don Buck Road
  • 57. Kerrs Road and Druces Road
  • 59. Ti Rakau Drive and Botany Road
  • 61. Symonds Street and Mount Street
  • 65. New North Road and Carrington Road
  • 66. Symonds Street and Wakefield Street
  • 70. Mount Albert Road and Dominion Road
  • 72. Karangahape Road and Pitt Street
  • 73. Karangahape Road and Symonds Street
  • 77. Great North Road and Swanson Road
  • 96. Victoria Street West and Hobson Street
  • 100. SH 20A (George Bolt Memorial Drive) and Kirkbride Road

It seems to me that there are a lot of “high risk” intersections around Auckland and NZ that simply aren’t being looked at much by our transport agencies. Perhaps more focus is needed on removing these safety issues. What do you think?

61 comments to Aucklands highest risk urban intersections

  • Bryce P

    Re: Silverdale St/HC Hwy. There are often people taking chances crossing here because the underpass is a) not direct & b) not user friendly. It seems now that building PENLINK will now be a condition to having a set of traffic lights installed at this location. Note also that the local business association wanted the speed limit there reduced to 60km/h but AT only allowed 70km/h because of flow. They’ve also used safety as a reason for NOT installing traffic lights at this location. LOL

  • Ari

    Crashes are usually proportional to traffic volumes. It is natural that Auckland will have the worst intersections because of our high concentration of vehicles. It is difficult to judge if our worst intersections are actually that bad if you compare volumes with the number of accidents. Given that signalised intersections are the highest level of control you can have, it is difficult to reduce accidents further unless the design is poor. I’m also not sure the stats included crashes caused by alcohol which you can’t mitigate. Given that most accidents are caused by driver error, you can’t remove those factors. You can only minimise the consequences. At Ormiston/Te Irirangi you have two high speed roads intersecting with something like 15 million cars a year going through there. The only thing you could do to reduce crashes would be to reduce speeds.

    • Max

      If you look at the list, Ari, you will see several of the worst ones aren’t signalised. Like Bullock Track or Ngapipi or City Road…

      BikeAKL has been pushing for improvement for in particular the first two for ages, with little change. The Safety teams seem overworked and underfunded.

    • NCD

      Hey Ari, I’ve just thought of a higher level of control that a signalised intersection: a 30km/hr speed limit and a signalised intersection.

    • Ari

      Max, from what I’ve heard, 7 and 10 are to be signalised. It is only a matter of budget.
      NCD, if the road design of Te Irirangi Dr is saying “you can easily drive 100kmph here” sticking up 30kmph signs does nothing for safety. But it does create a headache for police to enforce. Queen St is a 30kmph zone because vehicles can’t actually go much faster than that.

    • mfwic

      The stats always include crashes caused by alcohol just as they include cellphones, screaming kids, inattentiveness and every other cause factor. The point is to try and not apply any value judgements and get everyone home.

  • Steve Cable

    it would be interesting to see a breakdown of crash by mode, Queen/Shortland would probably have a high proportion of pedestrian incidents, but I doubt any pedestrian in their right mind would go anywhere near those Manukau behemoths

    the Shore looks relatively safe! 😉

  • This list is yet another indictment of standard traffic engineering practice. That the vast slip-laned intersections of Te Irirangi are on there is appalling for the whole set of assumptions and values that underlie the industry’s decision making.

    Huge flat empty locations, vast budgets, total control, and what do they make; designs that are dangerous for vehicle users and useless barriers for anyone who dares to try to use them without a vehicle. Great land eating obesogenic place ruiners that don’t even function well for for their sole intended market!

    This is a practice that seriously needs to reinvent itself from first principles.

    • Stu Donovan

      perhaps the first principle should be an engineering version of the Hippocratic oath?

      More specifically, one of the main problems with current transport engineering practices is that we’re simply not taught the difference between normative and positive decisions. The former being values based and the latter being fact based. Engineers are trained to make positivist judgements, not normative judgments. The only problem is that in an engineer’s daily activities we are constantly asked, often indirectly, to make normative decisions, e.g. balance generally independent outcomes like flow and safety.

      Instead of confronting these skeletons in its closet the profession limps along making value-judgments at every turn and then trying to justify them recursively through pseudo-scientific quackery like “level of service”. For example, “we can’t have a signalised pedestrian crossing in that location because of its impacts on flow, LOS, and queues” etc. THAT’S NOT A DECISION ENGINEERS ARE TRAINED TO MAKE.

      Part of the reason we make these decisions, I think, is that it increases our role and makes us feel important.

      What should happen is transport engineers are responsible for quantifying the impacts of, for example, a pedestrian crossing on flow, and then the decision about what happens is bumped up the chain for decision-makers, such as elected officials, to determine whether reduced flow was worth trading off for improved safety. This does two things: First, it focuses the engineers’ role on making technical assessments of how a change impacts on the transport network in terms of outcomes like queues and safety outcomes. Second, it involves elected representatives in decisions, such that they feel included and – perhaps more importantly – are somewhat accountable to the electorate for what gets implemented.

      • Max

        “and then the decision about what happens is bumped up the chain for decision-makers”

        Sorry, but you are being a wee bit broad-brush with your judgement of my profession. I personally have had not dozens, but hundreds of times when my preference for safety, preference for pedestrian and cycling convenience, preference for urban realm over LOS and capacity has been overridden by non-engineering types higher in the foodchain. Managers, politicians, lawyersm, planners, clients, etc… – often aganst my outspoken defense of my improvement.

        Seems we get it in the neck both ways – we’re told that we’re not trained to make these judgements, and should leave them to non-engineers above us. But when we follow the decisions these people make for us, we get told that we’re using the Nuremberg defense.

        If you think our “cars first” attitudes are an engineering culture problem, rather than a culture problem, you are blind.

        • Max

          Perfect example is that apparently, the new speed limit guidelines, which were supposed to make our cities and roads safer and more humane, more civilised – they are being watered down because the politicians are afraid of what the engineers and transport planners proposed.

          We have a PM and an associate transport minister both of who are on record that they don’t feel people will stand for lower speed limits, and with such talk take out all the momentum from an internal safe systems-driven initiative. So when our guidelines stay old-fashioned speed-centric, people like you can go back to blaming engineers. Sick of it. Really am. How about some more perspective?

          • Stu Donovan

            Like I said: Provided the advice from engineers was not modified to suit the normative values of those up the chain, then I don’t see a problem with this. The PM and Minister of Transport are ultimately elected and responsible for their decisions. If what you say is true then that is something that I don’t agree with, and which I’m free to oppose as a citizen, but provided their decision is on record (i.e. that they went against the recommendations of the profession) then they are ultimately are accountable.

            Put another way, provided the engineering profession does not allow itself to be complicit in such decisions, then I’m OK if our advice is ignored.

            More generally, I think you’re possibly focusing on *outcomes*, whereas I’m more focused on *process*. As a profession we need to be very clear about our role in the process (e.g. positive analysis) and make sure we stick to our knitting, i.e. don’t get dragged into normative value judgments.

            As much as practicable, of course. Ultimately we’re all too human and despite our best efforts to be objective we’re destined to fail. But the reality of the world we live in shouldn’t prevent us from identifying what we’d ideally like the world to be like … and my comments on this topic and made in that spirit.

            So please take them with a grain of salt, as something to ponder over the Christmas break etc.

          • Matthew W

            An interesting question that may occur in the future is – who is the designer? With the new health and safety act, designers are responsible for the safety of their designs to workers and the public during construction and operation. If the principal insists on something dangerous they are (I think) partly liable, but unless the engineer screams at them until they are blue in the face then I suspect they will be liable too. I suspect the new act could have a profound effect on road design.

          • Matthew W

            Addendum – the new act specifically precludes transferring responsibility to other parties.

        • Stu Donovan

          I’m an engineer too Max, so I’m talking about myself as well. And I’m definitely *not* putting the blame solely on engineers – I know they come under influence from people up the chain to justify a normative judgement in positive terms. That’s exactly the situation that engineers need to push back and say “that’s not my role”. Instead, we can advise on the technical impacts of a particular decision on certain normative outcomes, without making value judgments on the relative importance of the outcomes themselves. Unless we’ve received very clear guidance from the community beforehand. But this guidance is not something we’ve sought.

          The guts of the issue is this: The engineering profession needs to delineate its role more carefully, and be clear with everyone when normative outcomes are in tension, e.g. when vehicle flow is being prioritised over safety. That sort of decision needs to go on record, so that if something goes wrong in the future then it can be traced back. In the post above, and in many other situations, engineers make decisions about whether a safety improvement is worth making when the implicit trade-off is reduced flow. What guides their decision? AustRoads? Gut instinct? Some combination of both? Are their decisions recorded? No – hence no one is ever accountable.

          It’s a cosy little relationship that suits us (because we feel important) and our elected masters very well.

          Whatever guides our value judgments need to be made explicit as much as possible. I personally don’t think safety versus flow is an outcome engineers should make because it’s not an outcome we’re currently trained to make. Of course that could change, and engineers could be up-skilled to make such decisions, although I’m not sure it’s ideal to do so. Better for all concerned if engineers and society collectively placed some constraints on what engineers can and can’t be asked to do.

          It’s much like patronage versus coverage in public transport. Such decisions shouldn’t be made by public transport planners, but instead by elected representatives – hopefully working in consultation with their communities.

          • Max

            What I am saying is that often I DO say “this reduces safety” and then get told by non-engineers “But we have to balance”.

            And when it gets built, I read social media and blogs telling me I should be ashamed of myself as an engineer. I don’t think talk about “taking the decision away from engineers” is much more than – even if unintentional – blame-laying. Because our influence is already severely curtailed when an engineer doesn’t fall into the old-style easy “FLOW FLOW FLOW” paradigma which permeates so much more than just the *engineering* culture.

          • Stu Donovan

            Provided you advised you clients accurately on the flow versus safety trade-off then that’s fine; you don’t need to feel guilty about anything.

            Answer me this: How often is a technical engineering report modified to suit the normative values of the client? I think you know the answer is “all the time”. Therein lies part of the problem.

            But perhaps the more significant issue is when engineers adjust their recommendations based on their “gut instinct” about what society wants. E.g. society values flow over safety in this location therefore we don’t recommend installing a signalized crossing in this location.

            How often is a technical engineering report modified to suit the values of the engineer? I think you know the answer is “all the time”. Therein lies an even bigger problem.

            Don’t interpret this as an attack on you, me, or the profession. It’s an observation that our profession is in crisis, and I think it’s foolish to pretend otherwise.

          • Max

            Stu, I would argue that our profession is in transition. I am just not sure whether we will manage to do better than this:

            http://www.smbc-comics.com/index.php?id=3947

            I certainly hope so, and am working on my part of it.

          • Stu Donovan

            I don’t think you’re thin-skinned, certainly not more so than me :).

            Transition? Maybe. I feel like the word “crisis” is more accurate. Mainly because our decisions are – albeit indirectly – resulting in people being killed and injured.

            By the way, “crisis” is a word I’d also use to describe the economics and planning professions – so don’t feel like our performance is worse than some of our professional peers. Many of the same issues also afflict those professions, and like most systematic issues I suspect they ultimately can be traced back to shortfalls in our education. I certainly wasn’t aware of these issues myself when I graduated, so my earlier work would have been as susceptible to these issues as anyone’s …

            Arguably the positive/normative distinction is something that should be drilled home at high-school, let alone university. However given that this doesn’t seem to be the case, my suggestion is that the transport engineering profession itself needs to try and tackle the issue itself. Many people within the profession, such as you and me, are indeed doing just that – but I think we’d be deluded to think that we’re in the majority. I think we’re a very small minority.

            I could be wrong; I’d like to be wrong :).

          • Matthew W

            “Provided you advised you clients accurately on the flow versus safety trade-off then that’s fine; you don’t need to feel guilty about anything”

            I think the bar in this regard is pretty high when it comes to court of law. Allowing your client to do things that are potentially criminally negligent is not something engineers can just accept because they explained the risk to the client. If an engineer designed a dangerous dam because the client wanted it that was (to save money for example) and it failed and killed someone, it would be very difficult for the engineer to argue that they had told the client the risk of failure was higher etc and had therefore absolved themselves.

            PS I’m an engineer too so I know this isn’t easy.

          • Stu Donovan

            yes, the question of liability is interesting, especially for structural engineers post the CHC earthquakes. I’m not sure what the implications are for transport engineering profession?

            Personally. I’m not sure increasing liability is necessarily the right way forward: It may just increase risk and hence add costs to the system, e.g. engineering consultancies and councils need to take out more expensive indemnity insurance.

            Instead, I’d rather have a system that encouraged accountability rather than liability. I think professional engineers, when working within systems that genuinely ensured accountability, would tend to make pretty good decisions. To provide an topical example, there’s currently a number of intersections around Auckland’s city centre where pedestrian phases have been somewhat inexplicably dropped. Usually just from one leg of the intersection, but sometimes from two, such that it’s impossible for pedestrians to cross at all.

            In general, such designs create the need for pedestrians to run across the road.

            I’d like to think that if there was an accident involving a pedestrian who ran across the road on an approach to an intersection where there was not a signalised pedestrian crossing, that the police or IPENZ or someone would undertake an audit of the documentation relating to that intersection and try to find out why the pedestrian movement was not provided for. If it’s a political decision then that’s outside of engineers’ ability to control. – but it should be clear why the pedestrian crossing was dropped. if there’s no reason provided, then maybe that’s the catalyst for further disciplinary or even legal action.

            Just a thought.

            Like I said above this is all half-baked musings, which could do with a lot more air-time in professional forums (which I was planning to do at some point but hadn’t got around to it).

          • mfwic

            Except engineers are not the road controlling authority. They recommend and advise but a road controlling authority carries the can, they can’t claim they are stupid because it is their job to approve works and be responsible. From time to time some smart arse in a Council has tried to put ongoing liability onto engineers and put ‘hold harmless’ clauses into contracts. At that point you just run a mile and tell them to see if they can find someone willing to sign it. As for trading off safety against flow well that is the point of the Economic Evaluation Manual. It gives values for time savings and values for crash reductions. We use them. If they are wrong then we can and have argued for changes (when I started the cost of a fatality was ridiculously low and lobbying got it changed to a willingness to pay approach). But it isn’t our job impose our personal values – except on blogs of course.

          • Matthew W

            Yes I agree – accountability is what is needed. In the scenario you describe above, I would argue there is a case to answer for a breach of the new health and safety act. A PCBU that designs this intersection has a duty to, as far as is reasonably practical, ensure that the intersection is without risk to works and others (the public) at or in its vicinity. The PCBU would include the designer(s) and the principal which could be AT. I would expect the directors of AT to be potentialy liable. It would be up to worksafe (I think) to lead such an investigation. It would arguably be a breach of the IPENZ code of ethics as well so could be referred to them if the engineer was chartered or a member.

            Edit: mwfic – note that I am not talking about liability with respect to breach of contract, I am talking about liability under the health and safety act which cannot be transfered and designers are included.

            Also I dont think you could necessarily point to the Economic Evaluation Manual as a defence against the health and safety act. It obviously has never been tested and IMO (IANAL) may well be inconsistent with the health and safety act.

          • Ari

            TLDR: I disagree with Stu and I think it is a lack of strategy(or too many conflicting things called strategy) not poor decisions by engineers.

            I’m going to side with Max on this one Stu. So many good designs are killed or watered down once it goes through the consultation process with all the stakeholders and decision makers who have their own agendas and don’t understand many of the issues. Compromise is part of the political process and it is how great Ideas turn into crap results.

            My understanding is that you are saying all decisions should be up to politicians to decide based on their own values for good or bad. Politicians, scientists, engineers, economists are all equally capable of making terrible decisions. I argue that decisions should be left to the best informed, ie not politicians in cases of traffic engineering. Having said that, engineers need two important things. 1. To be guided by a clear strategy like: “No more road deaths” and 2. The political support to do the controversial work to make it happen.

            Instead what engineers get is political interference, compromise and a ‘strategy policy’ of “do these 20 conflicting things”. Politicians should create the right strategy and leave the experts to do the work. If the strategy is “cars come first” then don’t blame the engineers.

            Are you saying there is no such thing as project sign-offs or email trails? There is plenty of ways to find out who is at fault for making certain decisions. But the organisation takes the blame, not the individual engineer because it is many people within the organisation that make the decisions.

            Are you saying engineers should do as they are told and wash their hands of any outcomes? I am not ok with that and I invoke Godwin’s law.
            Are you saying if someone dies because I modify my design because the client didn’t value something then I shouldn’t feel guilty or be criminally liable? That’s not what an IPENZ disciplinary committee would say and I am not ok with that. Matthew already raised that point and you discussed it.

            Are you saying engineers are unable to make value based decisions compared with some random person? If not, then why shouldn’t engineers be able to make those decisions? You say engineers aren’t trained to make value based decisions, but is anyone actually trained to do that? Not really. That’s why we have a democracy and not a technocracy. I think many people are less equipped to make decisions than trained engineers. So when it comes to engineering issues, why shouldn’t engineers be making those decisions?

            I would point to the whole Pharmac/Keytruda issue. Is the PM better able to make decisions on what to spend a fixed budget on compared with medical experts? Should the medical experts give recommendations and then let the politicians decide what to do?

            Your statements are just your opinion based on your own value judgements and your own personal experience. I have to disagree with a lot of what you are saying because my opinion differs based on my own values and personal experience. There is little empirical evidence to suggest your opinion is superior to mine and in the absence of such evidence we are basically stuck disagreeing.

            This is a complex issue and I could go on all day, but I feel it has always been an issue of the political system with politicians wanting a car dominated environment, engineers delivering what was asked, people stuck in a car dominated environment asking to keep it going.

            Poor strategy, poor outcome.

          • mfwic

            Matthew how on earth would you apply the Health and Safety at Work Act to somewhere that isnt a workplace and isnt controlled by a Person Conducting a Business or Undertaking?

          • Matthew W

            mfwic: Because it is a workplace and it is a PCBU.

            Regarding a PCBU – if AT are building or modifying an intersection that are conducting an undertaking. I can’t see why this would not be the case. Are AT employees covered by the health and safety act? It would be very strange if they weren’t. Basically a PCBU has a very broad definition.

            Regarding a workplace:

            “In this Act, unless the context otherwise requires, a workplace—
            (a) means a place where work is being carried out, or is customarily carried out, for a business or undertaking; and
            (b) includes any place where a worker goes, or is likely to be, while at work.”

            There is no doubt that during construction it is a workplace. Post construction it is still a workplace given the requirement for maintenance of the road. Also refer to (b). Do people use roads for work? Yes they do. Again IANAL but it is pretty clear to me that a road is a workplace under the act.

          • Max and Stu; fair enough. Max I know there are, as in every field, great people like you working hard to move things forward, and when we look around the city the most egregious places were generally built some time ago so there’s hope that things are improving. But, sadly, so many bad old designs are also still being repeated for all sorts of reasons, not least of which is that many have become standard, both, no doubt, in the minds of practitioners but also their political masters, as you say.

            While working as best we can to influence decisions at the political level, we’re also always asking for higher standards and new solutions from the the professionals and technicians and that they express them, because they can be hugely influential.

            After all for every time a professional has lamented being overruled by politicians, we have politicians saying they are just taking the advice of the experts….

            And we should be able to demand higher standards from the experts than the politicians, no?

          • mfwic

            Matthew I am not a lawyer either but if Parliament had intended the Health and Safety in the Workplace Act to apply everywhere then they probably would have called it the Health and Safety Act. No doubt it applies while work is being carried out so they get jurisdiction over any accidents or injuries while the temporary traffic management is in place and workers are present but trying to use that Act to hold a designer responsible for a road controlling authorities decision when the road is open is never going to fly.

          • Matthew W

            mwfic, it is intentionally very broad. Believe me, plenty of people in the engineering industry, including H&S specialists, are treating it just as broadly as I am. One of the key new parts of the act is that it brings in the concept of “Safety in design” – which is where designers get dragged in. I have worked on roading jobs already where the safety in design provisions are deemed to include the safety of road users as well as pedestrians.

            Certainly the road controlling authority as the PCBU would, or should be in the firing line initially. But to say that designers acting for clients, under clients instructions, aren’t being brought into the firing line, is to bury your head in the sand. It is one of the very intentional new parts of the act. I’m sorry, but if I was being asked by a client to weigh up safety against cost using the EEM, I would be talking to a specialist lawyer. The act is an act of parliament, the EEM is just a document written by an agency.

          • mfwic

            We have had people going overboard before when changes are made. There are people who love to sit in meetings diverting business to some nonsense or other each time there is new legislation. It makes them feel superior. No part of the Act takes away from Road Controlling Authorities the right to allocate their budget as they best see fit. No road or rail system will ever have no crashes despite what some might tell you. Safety improvements cost money like every other improvement so it is up to the fund agency to make sure money is spent in a way where benefits exceed costs. That means designing to standards and using a robust crash model as part of your assessment. The model doesn’t say when or where a specific crash will occur, otherwise we would probably go out there and warn them. It simply applies statistics to a known risk.

          • Matthew W

            “No part of the Act takes away from Road Controlling Authorities the right to allocate their budget as they best see fit.”

            You might believe that, but that is not what the act says, or how people are interpreting it.

            To give some analogous examples:

            NZTA still has to comply with the RMA. It needs to get designations and or resource consent for road projects. It cant override the RMA because it doesnt want to spend its budget in a particular way.

            NZTA still has to comply with the building Act. For every new bridge NZTA builds they need a building consent (unless the TA grants them an exemption at its discretion). NZTA cant decide to build a bridge in a way that is inconsistent with the Building Act.

            Again the building act. In certain circumstances, the NZTA may build things that are classed as large dams under the Act. They need a building consent for these. There are examples where they have been caught out not apply for a building consent (because they didnt think they had to). It wasnt their desicion, again the TA can require them to apply for a building consent.

            etc etc. NZTA, AT and others must comply with the law!

            “Safety improvements cost money like every other improvement so it is up to the fund agency to make sure money is spent in a way where benefits exceed costs. ”

            But this is not the way the act is written. It says that costs must be grossly disproportionate with the benefits achieved by improving safety. In similar jurisdictions to NZ with similar legislation this is taken to mean that costs must be ten times the value of the benefits before you can say costs are grossly disproportionate. It is exactly this which makes the act inconsistent with the EEM.

          • mfwic

            Yes Matthew NZTA staff have to comply with the Crimes Act as well but that doesn’t prove your point. Show me where in the Health and Safety at Work Act it defines an intersection as someones place of work and where it says NZTA or Auckland Transport are on the hook for everything that occurs there. They would close intersections if it were the case and shut the rail system to the public. It is a rush of blood to the head by twits.

          • Tony

            Matthew W that’s awesome news. Means they must come fix my road asap.

            Interestingly AT are prioritizing sealing of roads to their facilities. Seems this new world order of health and safety now ranks employees above residents.

          • Matthew W

            Hang on mfwic, that is a bit of a strawman. I am not saying that NZTA/AT will be responsible for everything that happens on existing intersections, but when it comes to designing new intersections (or modifying existing ones) the provisions of the act around safety in design will apply. And in the scenario described by Stu above I think there is a case to answer. The building act doesnt explicitly say NZTA needs to get a building consent for its bridges, but they still do because when you read the act you can determine its application on a case by case basis.

          • Matthew W

            Here is the law society’s interpretation:

            https://www.lawsociety.org.nz/lawtalk/lawtalk-archives/issue-841/a-summary-of-the-new-workplace-safety-regime

            In particular:

            “PCBUs must also ensure, so far as reasonably practicable, that the health and safety of other people is not put at risk from work carried out by the PCBU.”

          • MFD

            Reply to mfwic:

            An extract from the Act:

            20 Meaning of workplace
            (1)
            In this Act, unless the context otherwise requires, a workplace—
            (a)
            means a place where work is being carried out, or is customarily carried out, for a business or undertaking; and
            (b)
            includes any place where a worker goes, or is likely to be, while at work.
            (2)
            In this section, place includes—
            (a)
            a vehicle, vessel, aircraft, ship, or other mobile structure; and
            (b)
            any waters and any installation on land, on the bed of any waters, or floating on any waters.

            On that basis the road network (and the vehicles thereon) could be deemed a place of work for any professional driver or employee driving for work purposes such as truck, bus and taxi drivers, meter readers, mail deliverers etc. That being said, I consider that most designers would be classed as “workers” rather than PCBUs within the definition of the Act.

            Another interesting extract from the Act:
            37 Duty of PCBU who manages or controls workplace
            (1)
            A PCBU who manages or controls a workplace must ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, that the workplace, the means of entering and exiting the workplace, and anything arising from the workplace are without risks to the health and safety of any person.

            In respect of the state highway system that would appear to be NZTA and in the case of local roads, the local authority. Note the term “without risk”. The road system clearly doesn’t fall into that category at present. It will be interesting to see how this pans out.

          • Matthew W

            MFD, I agree an individual designer that is an employee of a design firm will be a worker. A design firm (termed a designer in the act), is a PCBU.

          • mfwic

            So now I am even more confused as to what you mean. Are you suggesting that if some twit leaves a ped crossing off and intersection and someone crosses and is injured there is some far fetched liability under new work[place legislation? First its a public place not a work place, 2nd the road controlling authority is not their employer and third the person might not be employed anywhere. And MFD I accept a car or truck is a workplace if you are required to be there for your job, but the road and its layout isnt the responsibility of the employer. The car might be and needs to be safe but the intersection design is a different matter. And I go back to my original claim we are not required to design to remove any possibility of crashes, we have to meet accepted standards and we choose options that trade off crash reduction with travel time and vehicle operating costs based on the funding authorities policies. They have that policy specifically to stop us all doing our own thing with their dollar.

          • Matthew W

            Mwfic it is a workplace as defined in the act. I’m not sure if you are talking about the twit or the pedestrian on points 2 and 3. If it is the pedestrian, it doesn’t matter, the law covers health and safety risks to anyone in the vicinity not just employees. If it is the twit, if he or his firm is engaged by the road controlling authority to design the intersection they are also a PCBU engaged in designing the intersection and therefore have duties to the pedestrian under the act. They aren’t strictly liable, but they better be able to show their working as to how they justified leaving off the crossing!

          • MFD

            Matthew W and mfwic:

            It seems to me that you are getting fixated on intersections and the design thereof given the elephant in the room:

            The Act, in effect, defines the whole road network as a workplace irrespective of whether it is a public place or not. It also states that the responsibility of the party that controls or manages the workplace is to ensure that it is without risk to those for whom it is a workplace. There is no requirement for an employer/employee relationship. As an engineer I have worked in manufacturing industry in various parts of the world dealing with plant, processes and substances that can crush, dissolve, amputate, vaporise, poison, maim, blind, asphyxiate or otherwise mess up a person. All of those industries were a whole lot safer than the trips by road to get to or from them. The point is that we tolerate a lower standard of safety on the roads than we do in the workplace. The new act seems (on the surface) to change that…however…the cynic in me says that once the culpability of local and national government becomes apparent there will be an amendment or a judge will interpret “reasonably practicable” in a way that dilutes the obligations of the roading authorities. Either way, I see the design of intersections being way down the prosecutor’s priority list.

          • mfwic

            If I was in charge of an industrial workplace that was as dangerous as any of these intersections listed above I would simply close it down and lock the gate until I could figure out a way of fixing it. The problem with roads is they are not excludable so nobody can do that. I think you are right MFD if anyone tries to use what was intended as a workplace act (see its purpose section) as a means to whack road controlling authorities then if a judge doesn’t stop them Parliament will.

          • Ari

            mfwic I think MFD may be incorrect in their interpretation. My understanding is that the road network is not a workplace unless you are working on it. If I’m driving my car to work at the office, the road is not my workplace. If I am working on the road doing resurfacing, then it is my workplace. If I am a courier and cycling all over the place then the road is my workplace. But the difference is who is responsible for the workplace. The RCA has a responsibility to ITS OWN contractors as the employer to ensure the workplace is as safe as reasonably possible. The RCA also has a responsibility to the general public to do the best it can to make the road safe. BUT the RCA is not running a city wide workplace of roads. For the bike courier, their employer is responsible for them on the road as their workplace, not the RCA.

          • Matthew W

            “The RCA has a responsibility to ITS OWN contractors as the employer to ensure the workplace is as safe as reasonably possible. The RCA also has a responsibility to the general public to do the best it can to make the road safe.”

            No MFD is correct. The act does not distinguish between who your are specifically employing and others who enter the workplace. It is pretty clear on that.

            There are actually two slightly distinct ways that RCAs are affected by the new legislation I believe. The first is that discussed above – they are in control of a workplace and are therefore responsible the safety of all who enter as per the act.

            The second is, as designers of the road network, they are designers of a workplace. Designers of a workplace have a responsibility to ensure the workplace is without risk, regardless of whether the people affected are their own employees, someone elses employees or not employees at all.

            I agree with you mwfic that if AT threatened to shut down the road network, they would quickly get parliament on their side. However, when it comes to design, I see no reason why RCAs shouldn’t take into account the act, which is pretty clear in saying that safety has to have by far the top priority and cant be weighed up against other benefits on a one for one basis the way the EEM might suggest. Which might mean that, for example, putting in a roundabout instead of traffic lights would not be acceptable unless the costs of doing so are grossly disproportionate to the safety benefits. Or adding a ped phase for another example.

            Just because they cant exclude the public doesnt give them a free pass. A similar example is dams – dam owners are unable to exclude the public from accessing areas downstream of the dam that might be affected by a dam failure. Hence when designing or operating a dam they need to do everything they can to minimise the risk of dam failure, unless the costs of doing so are grossly disproportionate to the benefits gained.

          • MFD

            Matthew, the Act also requires the designer to state the conditions of use relating to the design. Perhaps one (slightly mischievous) approach is to determine a maximum kinetic energy beyond which significant hazards emerge. This could translate into maximum vehicle masses and speeds permitted. The designer could also limit vehicles to those with a threshold crash-worthiness. Of course it would never fly but the first test case would be interesting.

  • John Polkinghorne

    Has Queen Street/ Shortland Street had any work done on it in the last couple of years, or am I confusing it with Queen Street/ Fort Street? Fort St has obviously been made a shared space, but has anything happened at Shortland St? I thought perhaps a pedestrian table might have been put in but I’m not sure, I usually cross on the other side of the Deloitte building (where you do indeed have to tread carefully).

  • I hope Auckland Transport people are required to attend the coroner’s hearings to justify their inaction. It’s shameful how slowly they move. Can you imagine this sort of behaviour being tolerated in the aviation industry?

    • Stu Donovan

      to be fair, part of the reason AT may move slowly on these issues is because they only have 1) a certain budget for safety improvements and/or 2) a certain amount of political support for such changes.

      As Matt noted, the Orakei local board is asking for a roundabout at the intersection of Kepa Road and Tamaki Drive, which would be bad for safety.

      • ray

        what is wrong with a roundabout there? It would only have three entrances/exits so it should be pretty safe? whatever the outcome, I want that intersection fixed. I go out of my way to avoid that intersection when travelling to mission bay just because it’s way too dangerous.

      • Ari

        Ray, roundabouts = dead pedestrians/cyclists. This is a fact. And at that particular site it would cost several times more to build a roundabout because you need to build out the sea wall and what not.

        • ray

          thanks for the response, Ari – now that you bring that up I do remember the nightmare that is the Royal Oak roundabout!
          The signalised intersection can’t come soon enough.

  • Early Commuter

    Deep down, there are moral and philosophical issues here (as touched above.)

    No intersection has ever harmed anybody (and please, no gun analogies). The problem is poor driver behaviour. The only lever we have is enforcement action by police, leading to behavioural changes. Do the police have the courage to focus on intersections rather than motorway speed?

    • Ari

      The police just don’t have the resources. I recall an instance of a repetitive red light running suing the police for harassment and winning. Whenever the police are around, everyone behaves so it ends up being a waste of police time.

    • Yes this is the standard defence for appalling design. Doesn’t wash: you can have every rule and law you like but if the design leads people making stupid decisions the results will be predictably poor.

      • Early Commuter

        Again, morally and ethically, roads don’t have any agency. No evil intent. The problem is the driver – the problem is ALWAYS the driver.
        Perhaps we need to stop blaming the “victim” here and focus on the perpetrator. Just as wearing a miniskirt doesn’t mean you want to be raped, having a wide open intersection doesn’t mean people have to speed.

        They. Make. A. Conscious. Decision.

        When you give batsmen helmets, they forget how to hook properly. When you give people bike helmets, overall health benefits drop because people don’t cycle.

        What sort of message does changing road design send? That people don’t have agency – they aren’t responsible for speeding, not indicating, not giving way, that the road is responsible.

        • That’s the wrong approach in designing systems. Be it in product design, software development or (I’m assuming) street design. Blaming the user will get you nowhere, you’ll just end up with a design which is 100% logical and functional, but also not usable by humans. Humans make mistakes. Humans don’t always behave rational. A lot of times you have to change designs to make it more clear to users how to use the systems.

          To give a simple example: doors usually open in only one way. You can make that clear by putting up “push” and “pull” signs. But the need to put up signs is often already a sign that the design is flawed. In a lot of public places, doors have a flat plate on one side, and a handle on the side you have to pull. That design is self-explanatory. You simply can’t pull on a plate. I find it interesting to read about these kind of topics, a popular book about it is “the design of everyday things”.

          What you sometimes see when an artery through a town centre gets refurbished is the introduction of slight bends in the roadway. For instance, instead of a continuous meridian there is only a short meridian around crossings, and after that the right of way has a slight bend towards the centre of the street. These bends are a clear hint this is a street and not a race track, and is probably (?) more effective than putting up speed limit signs.

    • That’s not how a “safe system” works; you don’t just blame the user. Sure, you educate/enforce the road users and hope that they will do things properly. But you also accept that we are human and not perfect, and therefore make mistakes as well. That’s where the other parts of the system come into play, i.e. vehicles with better protection/prevention systems, roads with better designs and reduced hazards, and lower speed environments that reduce the severity of the outcomes.

  • Jacques

    What about the intersection of Newton bridge and SH16 on ramp? Is it that stats aren’t available because it’s NZTA’s domain?

  • Ak-Sam

    There are some very easy fixes.. Great North Road/Bullock Track for example has plenty of space for a slip lane (western springs edge) that would vastly improve sightlines for cars pulling out of Bullock Track. There’s also space for a central median, and moving the bus stop 40m away would be another blindingly obvious move. I guess the crashes don’t reduce the LoS for the motorway onramp so there’s no budget or desire to fix it.

  • Stuart

    Regarding the Rosebank – Ash intersection, I have raised pedestrian safety with AT and I got this response.

    “an Auckland Transport engineer has visited the site and undertaken an initial review of the suggestions you have provided. Further detailed investigation now needs to be undertaken to ensure a comprehensive review of your feedback. This investigation has been prioritised and programmed for review, following which we will be able to provide you with the outcome and recommendations of our assessment. Thank you for your patience while we look into this matter and you can expect to receive an update from us by mid-February 2016”

    I also raised the issue of red-light running to which they responded “has been identified as high risk and as such a red light camera has already been installed at this intersection for enforcement in March 2015”.

    But it’s certainly not preventing continued red light running on the right hand turn that I most frequently notice. Do these cameras only point in one direction?

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