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A Hot Mess on Tamaki

Auckland Transport have announced they’re installing some interim safety measures at one of the most dangerous intersections in the entire country, the notorious Tamaki Dr/Ngapipi Dr intersection. The changes are hoped to improve things until they can do a proper upgrade on it. The road also happens to be the busiest road in Auckland at least for cycling.

Cycle Sensors and Warnings

Road surface lights with sensors are just some of the traffic calming measures that have been installed at the corner of Tamaki Drive and Ngapipi Dr to improve safety for all road users.

The lights, one of the first times they’ve been used in Auckland, will illuminate to warn drivers that a cyclist is approaching.

In addition, the left turn from Ngapipi Dr into Tamaki Drive now has new road markings and a new recommended speed of 25km/h.

The traffic calming measures are an interim solution ahead of the overall intersection safety upgrade providing traffic signals at the intersection.

This project is expected to start towards the end of this year.

The interim solution will make it safer to cycle on Auckland’s busiest cycle route says Auckland Transport’s Cycling and Walking manager Kathryn King.

“We have a lot of people now choosing to cycle into the city for work and study. On this intersection, people cycling into the city end up in between two general traffic lanes and have to merge with traffic turning left into Tamaki Drive from Ngapipi Road, and these measures will make it safer,” she says.

Bike Auckland chair Barbara Cuthbert says it’s great to see this interim work for this important intersection.

“As well as slowing traffic, we hope the lights and new signage will remind drivers to look out for people on bikes and to merge with care,” she says.

While it is good to see AT putting in some interim improvements, they are really ambulance at the bottom of the cliff stuff. To see how bad the situation can be, this video from our friends at Bike Auckland is useful, their post on the interim changes is also good.

The last time we heard anything about a long term solution was late last year when AT confirmed the decision to put a signalised intersection in. The local board had been pushing for a roundabout (which would have been terrible for cyclists) but AT said their modelling showed it would have resulted in long queues as with a constant stream of traffic coming along Tamaki Dr in the mornings, users of Ngapipi would never have been able to get out. Both options would result in AT extending the seawall further out into the harbour.

So it’s a good time to ask what’s happening with the long term fix?

As it happens AT currently have a consent lodged with the council and open to submission to extend that seawall so they can upgrade the intersection. The issue though is that what’s proposed can best be described as a hot mess.

Essentially it looks like someone has designed it is trying to cater for two completely different types of cyclist, the casual person on a bike out for cruise and the high speed road warrior but to me what’s proposed does neither well, for example:

  • On the northern side we’ve got the existing cycleway continuing to mix with pedestrians – just with a bit more space.
  • We’ve got on-road cycleways for “confident” cyclists but on the Northern Side there are also ramps so those confident cyclists can bypass the lights and race through the pedestrian area if needed.
  • On the southern side we’ve got bike lanes that can only be reached after crossing two lanes of traffic.
  • There are bike advance boxes galore but also bike crossings.

Tamaki-Ngapipi Intersection Consent Plan

Instead it seems to me that they should just design one good and high quality facility that caters to all users, after all if they’re widening the seawall to the extent shown there is a heap of space available. Do it right and if Jacobs can’t do the job (which based on this they clearly can’t), then perhaps it’s time to get in some friendly Dutch or Danish designers/engineers who can*.

While also briefly digging through the consent documents I also came across this version of the design. It seems to suggest that one of the reasons for so much width is so that AT has future space should the wish to widen the road.

Tamaki-Ngapipi Intersection Consent Plan 2

* I’m sure there are many others who could also design this better.

122 comments to A Hot Mess on Tamaki

  • TimR

    Literal greenwash.

  • stu donovan

    Tamaki Drive would seem to be rather vulnerable to rising sea levels. Does anyone else find it ironic that – in this context – AT’s approach to “future-proofing” means spending money to reclaim land to be used for providing more capacity?

    Are they aware that we are rapidly approaching 1.5 degrees average warming? Do they realise that if we hit 3 degrees warming then, as I understand it, approximately 50% of the lifeforms that currently inhabit the planet will be at risk of extinction? (Please correct me if I have this wrong).

    Does AT really think that in 30 years’ time we’ll have the luxury of spending money to widen this road? Rather than building sea walls to protect our homes while also building emergency housing for hundreds of thousands of climate change refugees?

    I’m amazed that so much of what the NZ government spend money on seems to be at odds with the science on climate change.

    Yes electric vehicles are great. But they don’t work so well underwater, from what i understand.

    • Waspman

      Good point. Parts of Tamaki Drive flood in storms and tide surges now anyway, namely those bits that have sunk. Salt water and steel on cars, buses and bikes are a very bad combination. Auckland Council are faced with a North Western motorway scenario of raising it at least on the stretch between Mechanics Bay and Ngapipi Rd which will cost a fortune.

      As a nation we’re doing less than nothing on climate change but until it rates as a polling issue or we gid rid of this government nothing is going to change.

    • Nick

      Good point. It’s amazing how climate change just gets ignored, even though it will have a catastrophic impact on how we live, our security, our economy etc. “Future proofing” in this context should be looking at how we will abandon the road when sea levels get too high.

    • Bruce

      Steady on Stu…
      1) Technology is rapidly improving in several areas that will result in a lot less carbon emissions in future (solar is improving in efficiency about ).5% pa while dropping in price by about 10%pa, EV and batteries are dropping in price each year, nano-tech, wind, sea, etc, even the perennial nuclear fusion is finally starting to see some advances ) further to that there big advances happening in carbon capture/removal systems (i.e sucking CO2 from the air). A lot more work needs to be done but I think this is something that will happen.
      2) If things get really bad then we can resort to climate geo-engineering (releasing fine particles into the upper atmosphere to reflect light back out – effectively providing a level of shading), other options include launching what is effectively a giant sun umbrella into solar orbit (between the earth and the sun) to reduce the amount of the suns energy reaching us. This is a known phenomenon as we saw a large drop in global temperatures following Mt Pinatubo’s eruption in the early 90’s.
      Further to this the sun is currently heading towards it’s lowest levels of sun spots in centuries with a reduction in radiation emitted (the last time was known as the Maunder Minimum – little ice age). Many scientists think that we will actually have another Grand Minimum which will result in lower temperatures for about 35 years – which would effectively give us a 50 year period to play catchup with getting CO2 under control.

      In terms of this intersection it does seem a bit silly that they can’t build a protected cycle lane on the North side straight through so that cyclists don’t have to stop – or mix with pedestrians on the footpath.

      • stu donovan

        Wishful thinking about future technologies seems unlikely to save us Bruce.

        That is, emissions need to peak now in order to avoid catastrophic climate change. You may have other data, if so then id like to see it.

        If/when sea levels rise, then this road will be largely useless. As will a whole load of other infrastructure.

        We’ll need all the money we have to protect our homes and/or build new ones.

  • Call555

    Matt L, the great thing abut being a consultant is that we can come up with a prime solutions to problems without any interference of dictation from our clients or other stakeholders. Not.

    • So when the client says “design me something that will kill people” the consultant just says “sure that’l be $$$ please”. One of the huge issues in this country is the consultants are too scared of AT and NZTA to tell them they’re being ridiculously stupid if they are. As Stu says below, there could be a situation in the future where consultants who design crap like this end up getting taken to court for just blindly doing what they were told. If you’re hired as an expert then that means you also need to provide expert advice including telling the client they’re wrong if they are.

      • mfwic

        You do have to tell a client they are wrong if they are and you have to explain the consequences of what they are doing. And then you are done. If the client has a statutory authority for something then they have responsibility. That is the whole point. The requirement to explain is there because sometimes we work for people who don’t understand what we do and are not usually involved in our type of work. A homeowner who might want to use a small beam they already own, or a company doing a one off development of their own office. But when an organisation with legal authority and on going responsibility says this is the required standard for all such projects and says they accept this level of risk at all of their projects, well that is pretty much it. Try a private prosecution of someone who followed an authority specified standard if you want to risk your cash if you want. But as I said elsewhere good luck finding anyone to work in the field if you won.

    • Peter Nunns

      Anybody with clients, customers, or stakeholders faces these constraints. This isn’t a unique challenge for consultants, and nor is it one that should get them off the hook for producing something unworkable. In particular, IPENZ members are party to a code of ethical conduct that states, among other things:

      “If you have reasonable grounds to believe that an engineering matter has, or could have, adverse consequences you must bring the matter to the notice of the relevant regulatory body unless, having made inquiries, you are satisfied on reasonable grounds that the matter is being dealt with through an appropriate process or in an appropriate manner.”

      On a practical level, I would observe that projects like this often fall over in the option development stage – i.e. people don’t consider the full range of options available to address the problem, or improperly exclude some options that could have worked better. I haven’t read the reports in detail, but it looks like MWH did an options assessment in 2013 that identified a signalised T intersection *without* a slip lane as the preferred option. The Jacobs report rejected that conclusion in favour of slip lanes, apparently largely on the strength of intersection-level traffic modelling.

      However, the Jacobs report doesn’t seem to have comprehensively assessed the available options. There is no sign that it:
      * Compared intersection options with and without slip lanes – an important omission given that their report apparently overturned the recommendations of the 2013 MWH report
      * Analysed different options for cycle safety, including separated cycleways and conversion of parking.

      Proper options analysis is important. A good consultant would make it apparent that there *are* a range of options, rather than focusing on single design, and provide enough analysis to let the client make an informed decision. While the Jacobs report does contain a lot of useful information on the problems at the intersection, e.g. showing that 43% of the crashes at this intersection involve cars hitting cyclists, it doesn’t give a good idea of the options for addressing them.

  • Early Commuter

    Roundabout with heaps of trees to slow people down. Done.

    • Stu Donovan

      I was also thinking along these lines, with the only caveats being:
      – You’d also need signalised pedestrian crossing on each approach; and
      – It may screw vehicles turning left from Kepa Rd into Tamaki Drive in the morning, as the former would have to yield to vehicles going straight through on the latter.

    • mfwic

      Roundabouts don’t work so well when you have unbalanced flows. Signals can ration the capacity to each approach as well as stopping the cars so people can cross. I don’t understand the problem with this. It isn’t like it is virgin foreshore, it has been totally modified in the past, why not modify it again to provide some safety and convenience? Remember this has been left as it is in the past as people thought the south eastern arterial link across Hobson bay would remove most of the traffic. If we are not building that link then we should fix this intersection up. Does anyone seriously think we will retreat from Tamaki Drive due to sea levels changing? ‘OMG there is water on the road for 1/2 hour per year, what should we do? What should we do?’ Let’s abandon one of the nicest parts of Auckland. Or maybe it just has to go up a bit if it proves necessary.

      • Nick

        If we have the 2-3 metre sea level rise that we on track for, yes absolutely the road will be abandoned. But then that will be a fairly minor problem compared to everything else Auckland will have to deal with.

        • mfwic

          OK 2 to 3m you say. At the current rate of 1.7mm per year (1870 to 2004) that will take around 1200 to 1700 years. If Chicken Licken is right then we might get 1m by the end of the century. Even that is just a bit of fill. I vote we don’t panic and plan this intersection based on what is needed to make it safe and useful. If the water level rises it seems unlikely it will happen suddenly.

          • Dave B (Wellington)

            Who says it will remain at 1.7mm/year? You make the mistake of assuming the process will be nice and linear and predictable. “Status-quo stasis” they call this response, or NFWRB (Nero fiddled etc).

            The warnings being sounded by the scientific community are that those ice caps could melt in a rush and if that happens then a new reality will take over. Maybe the scientists are wrong, but it is a high-stakes gamble to bank on it.

          • Nick

            Ah well, the use of the words “Chicken Licken” in a comment about climate change tells me all I need to know

          • gks

            1.7mm/year is not the current rate.
            3.2 to 3.5 mm/year since 1993…

          • mfwic

            Does it matter if it is 1.7mm per year or 5cm followed by nothing for 2 years followed by 30cm? This road is all fill that was dumped there in the 1930’s. Do you imagine they were worried about the sea? We could easily dump another 500mm or 1m of fill on top. The idea that we would retreat from a road already built on reclamation laughable.

          • Roger W

            Actually if the latest ice shelf goes, the estimate is ~10cm in 15 years from that one event.

            Interesting note. (with a grain of salt since I haven’t seen the source publication or data) based on US data, you are now ~9.5x more likely to be killed in the next 100 years by an ELE (Extinction Level Event like asteroid impact or climate change) than in a car accident.
            Humans suck SOOOO BADLY at intuitive risk assessment.

        • Lloyd

          Widening the base of the road now might be just what you need if you have to raise the road 3m with a sea wall……….

        • Lloyd

          Where are the tram tracks? Surely the extension of a tourist tram along Tamaki Drive must be included in any development of this intersection, and be part of any Minister of Tourism’s projects for the next three years?
          Good intersection design would have bicycles crossing tracks at right angles.
          If we need some trams how about buying them from Hong Kong?
          Look at this
          http://www.bbc.com/autos/story/20160822-rebuilding-hong-kongs-20p-time-machine

      • stu donovan

        Yes, i think current warming trends are likely to mean that sea levels rise enough within your lifetime to render this road unusable.

        I’d also like to point out that my comment on climate change was not to suggest that we shouldn’t be fixing this intersection. It is to suggest that we shouldn’t be reclaiming land to provide additiobal vehicle capacity unless we have some form of strategy to protect that investment from rising sea levels.

      • A mere 16,000 years ago, sea levels were 130 metres lower than they are now, and there was no Cook Strait (you could walk from Cape Reinga to Bluff). So, it’s risen an average of 8.1mm per year. Puts the climate change prediction of 1.7mm into perspective. Sea levels are not a constant, they go up and down with the ages.

  • Simon

    This model of designing cycle infra where we throw things against the wall and see what sticks is madness. It seems that in this country we have very little experience designing good cycle infra so what we design is rubbish, but if that’s the case why not just steal designs from those who are already recognised as doing this well. Lift the design of a good T intersection directly from google maps (or better still from some European safety evaluation and draw it to the dimensions required.

  • Nick

    As consulting engineers we get very little appreciation for the great changes we make to the world. So as Call555 says, its great to see someone bitching about the work we do given the constraints dictated by our clients (constructability, cost, time, impact on the environment – demolishing and re-building a sea-wall is not a simple task!) and the constraints of DESIGN CODES!

    • Stu Donovan

      what design codes are you referring to?

      I note that AustRoads is not a statutory document, nor is it (in most people’s opinion) good practice in terms of cycle and pedestrian design guidelines. There’s many better pedestrian/cycle guidelines out there, such as Nacto. To put it another way, from what I know there is no legal reason why “local” design codes such as AustRoads should be preferred over more specialised design codes developed for other jurisdictions. I could be wrong on this …

      Moreover, under the new health and safety legislation passed by this Government, it may be possible to prosecute engineers who design pedestrian and cycle facilities to AustRoads standards, especially if/when accidents occur. I hope it doesn’t come to that, but I can’t help but suspect that the profession won’t face its AustRoads addiction until it’s forced to by way of litigation brought by cycle advocacy groups.

      It’d be interesting to see the shit hit the fan at that point.

      • GlenK

        Actually, from now on, cycle designers here should be starting with NZTA’s Cycling Network Guidance released last month (http://www.nzta.govt.nz/walking-cycling-and-public-transport/cycling/cycling-network-guidance) – that’s the official guidance, not Austroads. Obviously too late for the design work to date for this particular intersection, but it could still be amended if need be, I guess.

        The next challenge is to roll out associated industry training on all this – well actually, industry training over the past dozen years has already taught >1100 people how to plan/design cycling, but it does need to be updated to reflect some of the newer intricacies of neighbourhood greenways, protected bikeways, intersection treatments, etc.

        Another initiative being looked at is the formation of a specialist industry group for ped-bike practitioners in NZ to improve development and sharing of best-practice (bearing in mind that in many cases we’re still trying to work out just exactly what that might look like in NZ – and no we can’t always just “copy what the Dutch do”…). In a fairly short time, we’ve gone from spending $100m a year, so it’s not surprising that we’ve had to upskill a lot of people very quickly – and that will continue to take a while…

        • Matthew W

          “and no we can’t always just “copy what the Dutch do””

          Would you care to elaborate? I understand there are some legal restrictions (which could be changed), but apart from that?

          • GlenK

            Actually, legal things are quite a biggie, although work is underway to address these. For example, all those wonderful Dutch separated cycleways? Don’t have priority over turning traffic here as they would in NL. We also have to contend with different behaviour of road users (due to limited experience of cycle priority facilities, etc); just look at the fuss in Island Bay Wellington over a fairly unremarkable cycleway…

          • Matthew W

            Does anyone know if those rules are likely to be changed? I agree the give way issue is fundamental to implementing what would be accepted practice elsewhere.

        • stu donovan

          Glen k – thanks for that. I still understand that engineers are ultimately liable for safety of their work even if they follow NZTA guidelines.

    • If it isn’t going to be the paid experts that stand up to the agencies and call out their bad habits who else is so well placed to do so?

      And if consultants won’t do it; expect to get called out by advocates. It can be a tight little circle with everyone blaming someone else, or, even better, an Australian Book! AUSroads made me design a lethal intersection.

      Similar to the situation at the national level where gov agencies tell us they are just following policy, while the Ministers all say they are just following advice. That cosy and cute circle has to be broken if the world is to improve.

    • Nick

      Maybe we just need better consulting engineers then. Architects, for example, also have to come up with designs that meet the needs of a clients and comply with a variety of codes etc, but we don’t end up with buildings that look this laughable!

      • Stu Donovan

        I think we need a couple of things:
        1. Well-funded cycle and pedestrian advocacy groups who are willing and able to prosecute engineering companies for designs that are a danger to public health and safety
        2. Proactive and independent professional engineering body who are 1) willing to audit designs; 2) censure poor outcomes, and 3) update training and design codes accordingly
        3. Thorough review of evidence base for the professional practices of transport engineers led by Royal Society of New Zealand, NZ Association of Economists, and potentially other related organisations.
        4. Reform tertiary education courses for transport engineers to reflect aforementioned points 1-3.

        Anything else?

        • An issue I’ve raised with many, including likes of MoT is that NZ is just so small and of course dominated by the NZTA and a lesser extent AT. It’s far to easy for these organisations to effectively blacklist a company for not doing exactly what they want or opposing them. In other countries, say the US, if you do something one council/transport agency disagrees with there are plenty more local/regional/state agencies you can go and get work from.

          Not sure what can be done to stop this issue from happening in NZ

        • mfwic

          Take a breath Stu. Engineering companies are not road controlling authorities. Road controlling authorities write the brief and are responsible for what ever they choose to put on the road. Not the people they paid to knock out a plan for them. If the RCA says Austroads then that is what they get. If they say use the criteria set out by the Tokoroa Washerwomans Society then that is what they can expect. If you don’t like the brief then lobby. But the day you show a public liability for a plan by a third party with any form of damages is the day everything, including cycle projects, becomes extremely expensive. Be careful what you wish for.
          As you know I am no fan of the Vogons at AT and I am certainly no cheerleader for thems but this plan looks to me like what we might expect where two arterial roads meet. Someone asked for one of everything and the designer gave them that. If you think the tune is wrong blame the conductor not the orchestra.
          Other than being too low lying you haven’t set out a criticism, ironic for someone in Holland.

          • stu donovan

            Wow you’ve really gone bush with that comment.

            My understanding of new health and safety legislation and IPENZ code of ethics is different from yours. That is, using code specified by client is not an reasonable defence. Nor is your distinction between RCA and engineers; the latter are responsible for safety – regardless of who they are employed by and where they sit in process.

            In terms of Netherlands, my understanding is that it’s one of the most well-prepared countries to withstand sea level rise. Mainly because its water management systems are so well-developed. But that’s just hearsay; definitely needs to be fact-checked.

          • stu donovan

            P.s. You seem to incorrectlt assume that my comments are criticisms of the design. Thats not correct. What I am criticizing is the absence of thought being given to climate change, and how it might impact this investment.

            My comments on safety are simply to note that if there are issues, and these issues could have been avoided through simple design changes, then the engineers could be liable. Emphasis on word “could”.

          • mfwic

            Firstly I am not involved in this deign but my guess is that if the water level rises they will probably treat it at the time by dumping more fill on top. Remember this whole road is fill that was dropped there by men with wheelbarrows. There is probably more fill there already than anybody’s worst guess of future sea level rise. Surely you wouldn’t expect people to raise the rod now just in case?
            Second if you are briefed to use a standard and you do then that is the perfect defense. The code of ethics was changed specifically because some people didn’t adhere to a standard, they did their own thing with tragic consequences. There has been a lot of hysteria about the Health and Safety changes but again none of it has actually moved responsibility for roads onto third parties. They write the brief, choose the standards, hire the designer, are responsible for getting safety audits and choosing what to build on their roads. Parliament set that up for a purpose. If you don’t follow the standard but claim you have then you are in the gun. If you dont like the result and tell them why you are clear.

          • Matthew W

            Yes getting someone prepared to carry out a private prosecution would be interesting. The new H+S legislation says that the designer must provide a design without risk so far as is reasonably practicable. The designer is just as responsible as the RCA, they are both “PCBU’s”. A good test of reasonably practicable is – is something safer possible? and – is it reasonable to include it in the design? If you can say – “Hey in the Netherlands (or whereever) this design would not be acceptable and here are a bunch of real-life examples which are much safer and would be possible to implement in this situation”, you would have a pretty good case. Unfortunately someone would have to get hurt or killed before such an action was possible though.

          • Matthew W

            mfwic I dont think the new legislation does and doesnt do what you think. The new legislation *specifically* makes designers as well as principals equally responsible for a safe design. In fact as experts designers are likely to have more responsibility. Nowhere in the legislation does “following the brief” count as a defence.

          • mfwic

            Matthew W I dont think meeting a brief is a defence, but meeting a statutory authority standard probably is. It is hard to think of a better defence. To expand your theme I dont think the Act will achieve what the authors wanted. Most people don’t set out to design shit. Now the same designs will cost more as the designers have to pay more for insurance and litigation. Are the public better off? I doubt it.

          • mfwic: ‘I was only following orders’

            What could possibly go wrong?

            [apologies to Godwin]

          • mfwic

            Well Patrick the alternative is let engineers do what ever they think is right. Could you imagine what I might come up with? I would close Ngapipi and build the old Eastern Highway link across Hobson Bay instead. We either use a formal brief and standards or we don’t.

          • Nonsense strawman; it isn’t an either or situation. We just want the paid experts in this situation to speak truth to power up the line and say to the RCA that what they are asking for is suboptimal, not best practice, and probably unethical. In the nicest possible way of course. I know this is harder than just whipping out the usual old crap followed up efficiently by your invoice, but, you know….

            Sure it’ll mean losing the odd job, but also can lead to greater respect and more work, depending on how well the client is taken on that journey. But that of course requires passion and dedication, a little more than punching the clock and blaming the client [or AUSTroads] for poor outcomes.

            What we suspect is that many of the consultants don’t really want anything to change, and want to keep doing the same old crap that’s already there; easy innit?

          • Sailor Boy

            Mfwic must work for a rubbish consultancy, the major consultancies in NZ all go back to the client to refine brief where the original was not the best.

          • Chris M

            Patrick – why do you assume the designer did not do this? Without knowing anything about the project, I had assumed the designers would have done just what you’re describing – discussed the design with the client and highlighted the key issues. And the client would have taken these into consideration, along with a wide range of other considerations (political climate, wider strategies and policies, wider transport network decisions etc etc.), and then made their decision taking the big picture into account. The designer has to then accept that decision – it’s not their place to make those project decisions because they’re not the best placed to do so.

            I don’t see it as a matter of passion. Technical specialists should stick to the technical work. And client organisations operating under elected representatives should be the ones making the value-based decisions.

          • Matthew W

            Except Chris, that the designer is legally obliged to design this to be without risk so far as is reasonably practical. They can’t contract out.

            If a structural engineer presented drawings to a client for a multistorey building, and the client said “Actually, I’m not that interested in designing for a seismic event, can you please cut down on the steel reinforcing?”, do you think the engineer should just shrug their shoulders and follow the brief?

          • mfwic

            The difference here is that AT have a statutory role of deciding what to do. They are not some naive client who doesn’t understand the outcome. Ethics is not about achieving your political view, it is a neutral system. Expecting the consultant to decide what goes in instead of AT is as daft as thinking an accountant can make up tax rules for his or her client, or allowing a lawyer to tell their client ignore the law ‘your brother in law was a dick, stuff him!’ I am sure the people who did this design will have taken their responsibilities seriously and quite frankly I can’t see what is wrong with the plan. It is a damned sight better than what is there now and all this sea level stuff could easily be levelled at the existing rail line as well. Perhaps we should abandon the Orakei line as the sea may or may not rise over it.

          • Sailor Boy

            ” Ethics is not about achieving your political view”

            Isn’t a safe system approach which reduce death and serious injury on the roads over time now a requirement for funding from the NZTA? I struggle to see how something this far from best practice could possibly meet that requirement.

          • Matthew W

            Clients don’t have to be naive to want to cut corners. Quite the opposite. Consultants are the experts, they have a duty of care. AT are a PCBU as well, they arent immune from the law. They don’t rule by fiat. And it follows those working for AT as experts can’t hide behind any such power. So yes AT should carry the can, but the consultants better have a very robust paper trail telling AT at every turn that the intersection might end up killing someone or they will be going down too.

        • Chris M

          It seems to me that pretty much all the solutions offered up in the comments for how to improve this intersection are decisions that AT would have to make, not the consultant. Making changes to the wider cycling network, changing policy on climate change, changing to a fundamentally different intersection form and changing the relative priority of different modes have all been suggested. These are all in AT’s court.

          I would’ve thought targetting the road-controlling-authority would get better results than targetting the designers would, given this is where the decisions of consequence are ultimately made.

          ps. just seen your latest comment. I think where I disagree with you is whether “simple design changes” could fix this intersection. I think the main issue is probably wider than this, and therefore outside the scope of what the consulant could’ve done.

          • mfwic

            Exactly Chris M. AT is the decider. Any other process would be unworkable. That is why they are called a Road Controlling Authority. It is what authority means. Can you imagine if power was transferred to a coalition of numpties?

          • Yes, I can. It is called Parliament.

          • stu donovan

            I think we’re talking about two different things. You’re talking about who should be responsible for directing changes to be made. I agree that’s AT.

            Legally, however, “should” doth butter no health and safety parsnips. Specifically, under new health and safety legislation designers, as well as principals, are legally responsible for the safety of their designs.

            Being a technical expert, under this legislation, means refusing to sign off on designs that you don’t think are safe even if your principal directs you to. And yes, even of they are an RCA and have developed design codes under other legislation, such as LGA and LTMA.

            Basically, i think you and mwfic are misinterpreting how liability is allocated (rightly or wrongly) under new legislation.

          • mfwic

            I will keep on saying it. We don’t sign off on designs, we are not approvers and we don’t issue producer statements. We draw stuff and make recommendations. Those in authority can do what we suggest or do something different. It is their choice. In the last two years I did a signalised intersection, a RCA asked me to also do a seagull and assess it. I pointed out we shouldn’t do them anymore as there is evidence they have very poor safety outcomes. They wanted one considered so I drew it, assessed it and recommended don’t do it. They had both options safety audited, the auditors said don’t do the seagull, do the other. In the designers response I pointed out that was what I had already said. The RCA agreed then sent it to Wellington (so you can guess who the RCA is) and Wellington said do the seagull. They approved that one and rejected the other. All we can do is tell people what might happen if they don’t act on our advice. If they want to do the wrong thing that is their business. These things are rare events but sometimes all you can do is print out the reports and emails and shove them in a folder in case it hits the fan.

          • Matthew W

            You don’t need a building consent for civil works like intersections, so why would you sign a producer statement (and as an aside producer statements are not a part of the building act anymore, BCAs just ask for them to make their lives easier.). Who signs the drawings? If you don’t even have to sign drawings then kudos to you that sounds like a sweet gig.

    • Sailor Boy

      “As consulting engineers” – You’re trying to speak for me.

      “we get very little appreciation for the [piss poor] changes we make to the world [such as this layout where space for cycling is effectively unlimited and we still get it wrong].” – fixed that for you.

      “So as Call555 says, its great to see someone [correctly identifying egregious errors we make, that bring the entire profession into disrepute, within] the work we do given the constraints dictated by our clients (constructability, cost, time, impact on the environment – demolishing and re-building a sea-wall is not a simple task[, yet even though we got approval to do this to gain the extra space needed, we still can’t design safe cycle infrastructure]!) – fixed that one too.

      “and [we consider] the DESIGN CODES [to be constraints, rather than enabling documents and rigidly stick to those with which we are comfortable, rather than applying those which will yield the best results]!” – fixed that one too.

      Seriously, this design is not acceptable at all, just because it complies with Austroads does not make it good traffic engineering.

  • The video still clearly shows where the marked cycle lane goes, but the cyclists are out in amongst the traffic, well away from the cycle lane. What is wrong with the current design that causes them to leave the marked cycle lane and go the wrong way?

    • Nick R

      It’s quite clear in the video, the problem is the cycle lane runs into a sweeping high speed free left turn onto an auxiliary lane, without a give way, stop sign etc. Constant stream of traffic turning at speed to acellerate up the four lanes section. Therefore it’s usually safer to disregard the ill conceived cycle lane and stay in the straight through lane, for those riders going straight through. Of course then you have the problem of merging across to the outside lane again.

    • Did you watch the full video, if they follow the cycle lane it means they have to wait for a gap in the traffic to continue going straight ahead and even then it’s still a mad dash across the lane to a narrow footpath

    • NCD

      What you’re saying Geoff is that cyclists going straight ahead should have to give way to cars turning left out of Ngapipi, but cars going straight shouldn’t have to?

      • That’s the design, and therefore the intended method of operation, so yes. I don’t see a problem with it. But if the slip lane is regarded as dangerous (it’s very narrow and is actually quite easy to cross, but I accept some cyclists hate the notion of giving way to motorists), then put up some basic protection. Oh wait, that’s what they are doing!

        • Bryce P

          The proposed design does not meet basic standard guidelines from places that have researched the living daylights out of these things for decades. It’s rubbish and needs to be thrown out and started again.

  • TheBigWheel

    There are three fundamental problems with this intersection today.

    1. No give way for general traffic at the left turn out of Ngapipi
    2. No safe crossing of Tamaki Drive (from Ngapipi) to/from the waterfront – for people walking or cycling
    3. The narrow width (of road and footpaths) on Ngapipi over-bridge

    The design resolves the first two, at considerable cost, and not exactly elegantly. Though as noted, working to design constraints. I understand there is a degree of future proofing built into the plans, which may provide the means to address the third problem. Nothing here will be optimum until that is sorted. Maybe the Quay St to Tamaki Drive cycling project will resolve that?

    I look at this intersection and wonder whether this is a candidate where a better solution might be to provide an elevated route for pedestrians and cyclists: a bridge up and over Ngapipi on the southern side of Tamaki Drive and a T-off across Tamaki Drive from the middle of Ngapipi.

    There’s already a spectacular bridge at Point Resolution. How about another one here, only one that you can ride over?

    • Good grief no; that would have to be a vast and complex structure to accommodate the intersection, and be but a brief moment of respite on a route that needs sorting.

      The first solution is a full separated bi-directional cycle lane instead of parking on the north side. Pedestrians entirely liberated from any bike users on the seawall walk. Then the intersection itself can be addressed, with signalised crossing from Ngapipi to the new cycling route.

      The Local Board needs to drop its insistence on parking all the way along the seaward side. Safe movement for everyone must have priority over free vehicle storage for a few.

      • TheBigWheel

        The proposed solution itself is a “a vast and complex structure”. By contrast there are some very slender, elegant over-bridges for cycling around Europe.

        Whilst the ultimate solution for east-west Tamaki Drive walking and cycling is indeed fixing the northern side cycle (shared) path, as fully as possible along its length, that does nothing for people walking or cycling to/from Ngapipi who want to access the waterfront. (GI-Tamaki Stage 4 will in the longer term provide an alternative, better route west, but not east.. Ngapipi then right turn into Tamaki is the only safe-ish, flatt-ish route to the waterfront from much of the Eastern Suburbs).

        Today, it can take 3-4 minutes to make that crossing, in three separate unsignalised and quite dangerous stages. The proposed intersection redesign at least delivers a robust solution to that problem.

    • GlenK

      Everyone focuses on the cycle movement across the left turn. While definitely daunting, the major cycle crash problem is actually the right turners INTO Ngapipi hitting westbound cyclists. The proposed intersection would appear to address that too by separating this right turn movement with signals. Unfortunately the interim works just installed don’t appear to have tackled this at all.

      • TheBigWheel

        True, the right turn into Ngapipi has been the cause of many of the actual crashes. Though there are countless near misses associated with the left turn from Ngapipi and straight onto eastbound – you can even see some of those in the Bike Auckland video.

        There are a number of problems with the right turn. One of the unsolvable ones being the height difference from the top of the Ngapipi overbridge. So a stationary bicycle (or car) in the right hand lane is obscured from vehicles approaching from behind until they top the bridge. I suspect this is compounded by the fact that the turn is unsignalised: drivers sometimes “nip across” in small gaps in the oncoming traffic, alongside a bicycle.

        My solution to this problem: never turn right from Tamaki Drive into Ngapipi. Keep going to the traffic island, wait (for ages..) and cycle back to Ngapipi. Painful, less than ideal, but much safer I think.

        I believe the usual solution to challenging right turns is to provide for a signalised hook turn, which this design does, sort of, if you cross Tamaki Drive at the eastern side of Ngapipi and cycle across the crossing and simply keep going on Ngapipi.

        • GlenK

          It’s mostly not about cyclists turning into Ngapipi, it’s about motorists doing that and not seeing the cyclists coming from the east on Tamaki Dr. I think there’s a slight kink in the Tamaki approach that doesn’t do any favours to people seeing bikes; taking the bike lane away from the traffic lane a bit on the approach (i.e. crossing Ngapipi a metre or so further south) might be all it takes to greatly improve their visibility.

          • TheBigWheel

            It’s some time since I read the AT report into who hit whom, and I suspect you may well be right GlenK. But again the actual crashes are not the whole story. Near misses are good indicators of safety issues. As for cyclists turning right into Ngapipi, I can attest to experiencing some of those myself. As a result of which I changed my route to the meandering hook turn down the road. Waiting on a bike in the right hand lane to turn right into Ngapipi is just mental, a scary place to be. No thank you. Needs fixing. The proposal does that.

  • Cyclists having to wait 30s? F**k that!

  • Alex

    Will the northern section be protected? or will it still have the old Tamaki Drive dangerous painted lines?

    Why cant they just do a Quay St doubled lane northern protected section. I’m pretty sure with those extra width their reclaiming, they have space for two cycle lanes at the northern side.

    Have these so called engineers ever been to Tamaki Drive? The amount of pedestrian (joggers) and cyclist are too big to have a shared path. They both need a dedicated safe lane.

  • The Real Matthew

    All cyclists have to do is get off their precious bikes for 30 seconds, cross the road and get on to the cycle path that already exists.

    Any money used on this intersection for upgrading cycle facility is a total waste of money.

    The sense of entitlement amongst the very small cycling community knows no bounds.

    • Ben

      Tell that to a kid who wants to cycle along the waterfront safely without being intruded upon by self-entitled motor vehicle users. Remember, cyclist and pedestrians were here first way before motor vehicle was invented! Streets are for people, cars are just guest!

    • All the drivers have to do stop their precious cars for 30 seconds, wait for other cars to pass ……. the sense of entitlement of single occupant drivers taking up so much space ….

      The intersection is getting upgraded because it’s a death trap and one of the top 10 worst in the country. Most of the upgrades are also about making it safer for drivers too.

    • Nik

      Why should cyclists disrupt their mode of transport, when in terms of costs and benefits, the benefits of their form of active mode are outweigh the costs substantially?

      The mono-modal thinking that you continue to espouse seems to belong in a bygone era.

    • The problem anyway is not 30s waiting, the problem is people dying.

  • Geoffrrey

    “Cyclists approaching when flashing….” !!??

  • john smith

    Let’s be clear about our use of terminology. There is no ‘cycleway’ or ‘cyclepath’ on Tamaki Drive. There is a narrow, tree-root-buckled, rubbish-bin-obstructed footpath, on which someone at some point has painted a white line, presumably so they could claim that they’d done something for cyclists without actually spending serious money.

  • john smith

    Am I reading this right? Instead of one free left Ngapipi>Tamaki lane, there will be TWO*. and a cyclist or pedestrian going west on the south side of Tamaki will have to press the beg button and wait TWICE. What ridiculous overdesign for what is actually a fairly minor suburban intersection. All to appease the angry gods of free flow and big-radius curves.
    I say, get rid of the free left lane (light controlled or otherwise*), and make this a common-or-garden four-square T-intersection, just like hundreds of other minor arterial road junctions which must have just as much or more traffic. Or, if you really insist, with a LOW RADIUS free left lane around the back of the traffic light – WITH A ZEBRA CROSSING, as is universal (indeed, legally mandated) in this position in Australia, and I never cease to be amazed at the negligence of the NZ authorities in not doing the same.
    * Is the intention that this will be a free left turn unless someone presses the beg button, or that this light will change regularly in sync with the rest of the lights?

  • Well, we have zoning codes to ensure every new subdivision we build just a disaster. And we have road design standards to ensure every road we build just a disaster. It’s a, um, interesting way to organise things.

    Let’s get some hints from Europe about what’s broken in the existing situation:

    – It’s very rare to see a slip lane where you don’t have to give way to cyclists and pedestrians.
    – It’s very rare to see such high-speed turns. As Bike Auckland points out, there’s drivers taking that turn at over 40 kph.
    And maybe more country-specific, but:
    – in Belgium it’s very rare—even on motorways—to see lanes 4m wide.

    And about the stopgap measures:

    – I’ve never seen a flashing “cyclists approaching” sign.
    – I’ve never seen an advisory speed sign on a slip lane.

    I would be very surprised if those measures slow down traffic at all.

    And apart from the things pointed out above, some other things I noticed in that final design:

    – the cycle lane on the south side crosses the slip lane at a very shallow angle. Isn’t it better to have a slight curve to the south, so you spend only half the time crossing that slip lane?
    – the proposed right-turn lanes for cyclists are, well, for the brave only. The standard Dutch solution is to implement this as a hook turn.
    – what’s the point of that bike box on the slip lane?

  • Nick

    Someone has to ask the “stupid” question, but would another option be to just close this junction to vehicles? A cursory glance at a map would seem to show it’s not really that essential. What areas does it serve that aren’t connected by other means? Anyone heading into the city from Orakei / Mission Bay could either join Tamaki Drive further east, or head west via Parnell etc.

    • Early Commuter

      Amen. It’s a rich man’s highway – every dollar spent is just subsidising the transport costs of eastern suburbs millionaires. What a shame John Banks didn’t get his motorway built, that eyesore right through the heart of the eastern bays would have crippled a few capitalists!!

    • Linz

      Yes it could be closed off – city-bound traffic would then go via Shore Rd/Ayr St or Remuera Rd. Similarly by making this a simple light-controlled T-intersection it would reduce the appeal of this route to the city and a good proportion of this traffic would find another way.

      I would like to see the stretch of Tamaki Drive from this intersection to the port reduced to one lane each way for general traffic. This would reduce the racetrack speeds and allow space for bus lanes (and future light rail) and allow space for separated bike lanes, returning the full width of both footpaths to people walking: safe for all at a fraction of the cost.

      We could achieve the goal of liveability in this town much faster by drastically reducing incentives to fast driving.

  • Matthew W

    What is wrong with a roundabout for cyclists? They are very common in the Netherlands.

  • Ossu

    Sorry if this has already been covered, but why don’t they simply turn it into a basic signalised T-intersection with no slip lanes? Seems like that would be the safest design.

    • mfwic

      I am not involved but my guess is they found they needed two left turns running into two lanes and found this a cheaper way to achieve that while still providing tracking for the very large trucks that use this route. The port generates a heap of traffic on Ngapipi heading to the industrial areas. The left lanes have to be signalised as there are tow of them so there will never be a free left. The Ngapipi and Tamaki Dr west roads are regional arterials while Tamaki east is a district arterial, that will have influenced the design.

      • That’s weird, don’t those trucks go via SH1?

        And anyway, that’s two lanes over 4 metres wide. What on earth do they want to fit through there?

        • Alan J

          I hate this junction, crossing on foot is a death trap

        • Bigted

          Where did you get 4 metres from, a standard traffic lane is 3.5 metres (give or take) and I didn’t notice any width dimensions on the picture.
          Some trucks will use that road, the port does discourage their traffic going that way but some still do and there are the ones servicing the areas around the back of GI and Panmure that it makes sense to go that way.

          • There’s a scale in the bottom right corner. That left turn will be about 9m wide.

          • Bigted

            Thanks I didn’t pay that much attention, it looks to be just under 10 metres including the cycle lane from that scale. While it looks wide if you put a bus (even a standard one) in one lane and bicycles in the cycle lane there is not a huge amount of room.

          • GlenK

            Yeah, the tracking paths of heavy vehicles around corners require more width unless you want the two lanes conflicting with each other. Could include a mountable apron if you wanted to constrain cars a bit more.

    • Bob

      Finally someone stating the obvious common sense answer. Why not just treat it as a normal signalised T intersection? Put a normal cycle lane on each kerb and get rid of those extremely dangerous slip lanes.

  • Looks like they plan on mowing down some Pohutukawa too… oh dear.

  • john smith

    I don’t buy the suggestion that this intersection needs Rolls Royce design to handle trucks.
    If this were a plain vanilla T intersection without slip lanes, you would have: looking east in Tamaki Drive: left lane straight ahead, right lane turns right. There’s no problem with swept path in that direction.
    Looking north in Ngapipi: left lane turns left; right lane turns left or right. Trucks turn left from the right lane. Yes, the swept path might intrude into the left lane, and motorists have to learn to keep out of the way of turning trucks just like they do in similar situations everywhere else.

    • GlenK

      They will want to run the Ngapipi left turn as much as possible to reduce queuing, including when the Tamaki right turn is going. You can’t do that if you have a mixed left/right lane out of Ngapipi. You also can’t design two turning lanes that require motorists to just ‘know’ to stay back when alongside a truck. Better to use a ‘C roundabout’ design where the truck has to straddle both lanes, but I don’t imagine that does wonders for capacity.

  • Jason

    The left turn lanes are NOT slip lanes! They are fully signalised! In what way is this unsafe? Given that they probably wanted to just leave the existing shape intact to save cost I can’t see how it could be any safer than what the design shows.

  • Early Commuter

    I need to comment on some of the aspersions being cast earlier and the “I was just following orders” defence.

    Now, usually what occurs with this is that someone states “I vow to obey” or “I will do what Auckland Transport says.” This creates a moral obligation, and according to Kantian ethics, one that indeed overrides other considerations such as consequential harm (short version: if you promise to do something, you do it, even if that results in harm).

    https://ethicalrealism.wordpress.com/2011/05/18/kants-categorical-imperative-and-the-situation/

    So, when we say that consultants have a higher duty than simply upholding their “sworn vow”, we are making a potential ethical issue (unless we are pure consequentialists). In my mind, a world where it is never OK to break promises (the Kantian world) is likely to be better than a world where it is OK to break promises (the “consultants shouldn’t listen to their masters”) world. If you have a world where it is sometimes OK to break promises, you run into some very slippery moral relativism (cultural ethics = female circumcision).

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