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Bring on the pedestrian crossing

Takapuna Beach is one of Auckland’s many fantastic assets yet the beach has long be separated from the town centre by The Strand, effectively a back street with only a purpose to provide access to parking. Yet the people on foot using the main access from the town centre, down from Hustmere Green, have long been cut off from the beach by the below signs.

This situation was made even more absurd after the addition of the new playground last year, seen in the background of the image above drawing in even more families and children to the area. We and many others have for years requested that these signs be removed and proper crossings be put in.

Finally, Auckland Transport have agreed to do something about it, for this crossing at least.

 

Parents’ safety concerns have been answered as Auckland’s hugely popular Takapuna Beach Playground is set to get a zebra crossing.

…..

Since opening in August, there had been numerous comments from the public to the North Shore Times calling for a designated crossing across The Strand.

But it was Auckland councillor for the North Shore Chris Darby who made an official request to Auckland Transport (AT) to investigate the playground’s safety and its case for a zebra crossing.

“During a visit to the beach last October, it was apparent that the throng of families accessing the playground was creating a serious pedestrian safety issue on The Strand,” Darby said.

“There’s a certain irony in this outcome as, for some years, there have been efforts to create a safer crossing of The Stand from Hurstmere Green to the beach but pedestrian counts did not substantiate it.

“Who would have thought a playground would create so much buzz? A cafe owner told told me there was an uplift in business with families discovering Takapuna for the first time.”

Auckland Transport will be installing the zebra crossing within the 2017/2018 financial year. This means it could be up to 18 months before the crossing is installed.

But AT media relations manager Mark Hannan said it is considering installing temporary warning signs, which can be “done quickly and relatively cheaply”.

Hannan said costing for the overall project had not been done yet, but The Strand met all of the criteria necessary for a street to qualify for a zebra crossing.

“Several factors are considered prior to putting in a pedestrian crossing, such as the pedestrian demand, traffic volumes, crash history, and proximity to driveways and side streets,” Hannan said.

“Our traffic and pedestrian counts indicate this site meets the criteria for a pedestrian crossing.”

Why it will take so long to put some white paint down on the road?

Unfortunately that isn’t the only sign telling pedestrians to give way in Auckland, it isn’t even the only one in Takapuna. Councillor Darby’s comments also highlight another, frequent issue, how we prioritise movement. In NZ the default in all situations is to do as much as possible not to inconvenience drivers in the slightest. Despite what numerous strategic documents say, maintaining the flow of traffic is normally treated as more important than the safety of people on foot, even when those on foot outnumber those in cars. Pedestrian crossings will only be provided if enough people are prepared to cross a road regardless. The problem with that it can often be the same as trying to determine the need for a bridge by counting the number of people swimming across the harbour.

 

We need to change our streets and our attitudes to users to fit more in line with the pyramid above and how different would we feel about crossings if they were designed the other way around?

50 comments to Bring on the pedestrian crossing

  • Great post, thanks Matt. I’ve often wondered why Road engineers and Road Safety managers in NZ are so reluctant to put in pedestrian crossings. In addition to the reasoning you provide, I also think it comes down:
    1) to a fear of who will get the blame if things go wrong. If there is no pedestrian crossing then if a pedestrian gets run over then we can clearly blame the pedestrian. However, if there is a pedestrian crossing provided and a pedestrian gets hit then questions might be asked of the road engineer as to why it happened – is there a fault with the crossing design or location?
    2) the risk of public criticism that a pedestrian crossing was implemented but nobody uses it.

  • Pukekohe King Street is peppered with signs telling pedestrians that they should give way to motor traffic – and King Street is practically a shopping mall in its layout.

    jj

    • Yes – probably the same theory that we get for why there is no pedestrian priority in the city at Shortland/Jean Batten/High street – ‘too many pedestrians – vehicles will be impacted too much’ . Good article. Much to be done.

  • SamsonT

    If there is no marked crossing then otorists and pedestrians have equal right if way. That sign is legally incorrect and should be removed immediately.

  • SamsonT

    If there is no marked crossing then otorists and pedestrians have equal right if way. That sign is legally incorrect and should be removed immediately. Signage like this and similar signs at courtesy crossings do nothing but perpetuate the myth that pedestrians always must give way make my blood boil

    • Nick R

      Thats not true in practice, because without any specific controls anyone entering a road must given way to users already on the road. So stepping from the footpath into the roadway requires giving way to any cars on the roadway.

      You could however technically walk down the middle of the lane and through intersections is if you were a car, and drivers would be required to give way to you as usual. But in practice you would probably get run over, and definitely abused!

      • GlenK

        You’re forgetting this:
        “11.1 Use of footpath and roadway
        (1) A pedestrian must, at all times when practicable, remain on the footpath if one is provided.”

        So, assuming there is a footpath, walking down the road isn’t an option…

        • Patrick McDonald

          Good point but what about the fact that at least half of the Strand only has footpath on 1 side of the road way. The other being a big driveway (provides car parking but still legally a driveway read SHARED USE ZONE!). So when the path end what do the little 3 and 4 year olds do then?

    • GlenK

      Not completely true, although “right of way” is certainly a misnomer – a traffic rule might give you PRECEDENCE over someone else but never absolute right of way. The Road User Rule also has this to say about pedestrians crossing a road:

      “11.6 Loitering on crossings or roadways
      A pedestrian or rider of a mobility device or wheeled recreational device must not remain on the roadway, including a pedestrian crossing or school crossing point, longer than is necessary for the purpose of crossing the roadway with reasonable dispatch.”

      So pedestrians are not completely equal with motorists (except in a shared zone) in that they can’t just hang around in a roadway like a driver can. But equally all drivers also have an obligation not be careless towards other people, so they can’t just run over someone standing on the road in front of them when they have adequate time to avoid them.

  • Such a lack of Zebra crossings in Auckland, I can’t even think of any near me. Just “pedestrian refuges”.

    Crossing can be a nightmare around here, when the traffics backed up its fine, you can just pass between the stationary cars, but when its slow-moving at peak times its near impossible to cross and your left standing there like an idiot for 10 mins waiting for it to either come to a standstill or until some driver who has a clue lets you cross.

  • Chris O

    The battle for Takapuna might be won (within 18 months…), but the battle for High St – Jean Batten Place goes on. I know Pippa Coom on the Waitemata Local Board has contacted AT a couple of times about it and been rebuffed. The need is glaringly apparently to anyone except apparently, the AT traffic engineers.

  • helgaarlington

    As a start, what if pedestrian cross lights showed at any time in a phase that crossing is safe? I’m not suggesting holding traffic for no one, but there are often times when it’s safe – and yet the lights don’t operate without the button push. And I think often more than once in a cycle?

  • mfwic

    Why would cycling ever get priority over public transport?

    • Dan C

      Because it saves the taxpayer money?

      • mfwic

        Really? Delaying a bus with 60 people on it so someone on a bike can go saves us money? If that is true then I am all in favour of it. We should have special bike level crossings where trains have to slow down and giveway to cyclists. We could rip out bus lanes on arterial roads and make buses mix with other traffic to free up space for separated cycle lanes. Forget light rail we could put a high speed cycle track down the centre of Dominion Road. Oh wait that’s all crap isn’t it.

        • Sailor Boy

          This is surprisingly disingenuous from you, John.

          The choice isn’t a bus lane or a cycle lane, btw. Looking at the MW Motorway corridor: We can build a 6m wide cycleway from Westgate to the CBD, or we can build 2% of the busway, or 0.5% of a 6 lane motorway.

          Alternatively, it’s the CRL or a city wide network of protected cycle lanes on every arterial road.

    • Sailor Boy

      Because it is more spatially efficient.

    • dr

      I’m sure there are a lot of ways to argue this point (and I’m not suggesting this priority is neccesarily right or wrong). My perspective is always that local ‘traffic’ gets priority. Walking and cycling are almost always local traffic – people who live and work in the area and not just transiting through. Public transport obviously deserves priority, but should we prioritise getting there or being there?

      On top of that, there are health and population wellbeing factors – perhaps there is some clever maths that proves this wrong (i.e. how much energy needed to be grown, transported and eaten to power cycling vs digging up and burning oil to move a car\diesel bus, but also accounting for living patterns – car drivers and longer distance bus commuters tend to live more suburban and carbon heavy lifestyles by default).

      Next up is vulnerability – those that need to most protection need to best (read: safest) infrastructure. This has to take into account human nature. Prioritising vulnerable meat bags over airbag-laden 2-ton-metal boxes should result in safety of the vulnerable users being a prime consideration at every intersection/conflict point.

      Finally (and my perspective is obviously pretty biased), I made the ‘sacrifices’ required to live in the CBD. That means I cause no congestion, no road wear, no transport-related pollution in my day to days (though I’m stuck on a contract in Albany at the moment, kill me). People arriving in the CBD (my neighbourhood!) by transit are certainly more welcome than thosse in cars, but I do not accept that the ‘outsiders’ should recieve higher priority on my local streets than I do – I feel that I deserve to be able to cross the street and get to the supermarket on my bicycle without pollution and noise billowing in my face from a dirty diesel etc.

      There are of course strong arguments for movement getting priority, but ultimately what is the point of a place if it is compromised in getting there – if you destroy a place’s value in making it accesible?

      • nonsense

        this, what the doctor said

      • mfwic

        Well that makes sense to me. Why shouldn’t people who live in the CBD be nimbys too?

        • dr

          Don’t ask a question if you aren’t willing to make any effort in the discussion. Shock, horror, people have different opinions to you. That’s what I get for making an effort, more lazy trolling.

      • Buttwizard69420

        “This is a local shop for local people, nothing for you here”.

        I can assure you that is not the case on Tamaki Drive, where the whole city comes to play, rendering the road useless for residents who actually live there. How refreshing to know that public spaces aren’t there for all Aucklanders and the logical trade-off for having amenities at a much closer convenience than your fellow man, and that you can merely tell them all to bog off.

        • dr

          How do you take “I should have at least as much rights to my local streets as non-locals” and interpret that to “stay out we don’t want you”? This place couldn’t exist as it does without businesses and associated ‘non-residents’ – everything I’m saying is about people who are in the city, not just residents. Everyone who arrives here becomes a pedestrian, a temporary resident – as I already said and failed or chose not to comprehend, it’s absurd to compromise the value in a place for the sake of those who care only about passing through, parking on or getting in and out. The CBD has more value than a set of motorway offramps into parking garages – you or anyone else not valuing that doesn’t change the fact.

  • 18 months. Did this year’s paint brush crop fail or what?

    My impression is that resistance against zebra crossings is not a NZ problem, but an Auckland problem. You see them in other cities and towns in NZ.

  • I noticed Botany Town ctr & Westgate have quite a few crossings, I was actually surprised to see so many in Auckland.

  • Ah you’re up against the great pedestrian Goldilocks number. More mysterious than the Higgs Boson; TEs will say there is either not enough or too many pedestrians present for a crossing, whichever one suits the situation better. Because of course pedestrian amenity that competes with traffic FLOW must be resisted (TE religion), and because numbers of moving ‘things’ are the only issues at stake in their reduced world.

  • Rich C

    It’s a fair bit further north, but I’m amazed the crossing smack in the middle of Wellsford hasn’t been removed by some zealot from the NZTA. But I’m glad it’s still there, despite the 3k + northbound tailbacks those thoughtless pedestrians occasionally cause…

    • Yes, I don’t mind the slow through Wellsford just to see the town a bit better as you drive through. My examples mentioned above are easy to keep as they are not arterial or through roads of course.

    • Auckland is really an outlier here. This is very noticeable if you travel around. I noticed the same in Paeroa. Zebra crossing on SH2.

      Meanwhile we’re mostly stuck with “pedestrian refuges” on even the smallest local streets. For a serving of lame excuses you can dig up the consultation report from last year on Ponsonby Road.

  • dr

    If we can’t even get one through a parking lot street to a children’s plahground at the beach without months of wrangling and gnashing of teeth and shouting from councillors, what chance does my petition on a crossing for Cook street (a motorway offramp) stand?

  • Jon

    Perhaps AT Traffic Engineers should be called “Pedestrian Engineers” to refocus on making pedestrians priority?

  • Jeff Parkinson

    Excellent post that highlights the confusion regarding priorities for crossing a street. There are numerous examples of where better thought out pedestrian crossings would make significant improvements to everyday life. Alas, it seems that little is ever learned in these cases as can be seen by the North West development and the so called “shared zone” of Maki Street – so called as most drivers don’t slow down or make any attempt to recognise people walking between the shopping centre and the eateries.

    • Bryan

      My experience with Maki St has been the opposite – most drivers slow down in the shared space, but aren’t aware of pedestrians because they’re distracted working out where the road went. Good to see that some of the turning lanes into Maki St have been removed. 🙂

    • mfwic

      Somebody thought building a street with no parking was a great idea. Now you have to park on the other side of the mall to get to Nandos and cross a chaotic one way street being used for two way traffic that looks the same as the footpaths do. I have even seen people parking on the pedestrian only part because it has the same paving. It would have been less confusing to everyone if it had just been pedestrianised.

  • Harrymc

    It’s obvious: “I” drive everywhere and I’m important (more important than those plebs on foot), therefore “everyone” who drives is more important. Simplistic I know but that about sums up ‘their’ attitude.

  • I am happy to paint the pedestrian crossing and I can do it next weekend. (This debacle is shades of Rio de Janeiro. A prominent statue was defaced and the Council said that they could not clean it immediately as this would cost about $10k. A frustrated local went down with a scrubbing brush and cleaning product and reported that it took him about 1.5 hours to clean. Are our infrastructure providers as inept as in that very corrupt city?).
    In the 2017-2018 year – what a joke.

  • Another one of my favorite signs in Takapuna is on the footpath near the mall. “Watch out for cars.”

  • john smith

    There is no basis in law for the pictured ‘motorists have right of way’ sign. Road rules are in the Land Transport (Road User) Rule 2004. There is NO rule to the effect that a pedestrian must yield to a vehicle except at a marked crossing. I take this to mean that a pedestrian is entitled to cross a road at the time and place of their choice to the same extent that a motorist is entitled to drive along it. (In the Australian road rules I believe there is a general rule that a pedestrian must not enter a road in a way that causes a traffic hazard, but there doesn’t seem to be anything comparable in the NZ rules.**)
    TBC

    • I think there is in some parts of the States. At least my wife, visiting someone in Seattle (mind you, this was 1995; might have changed since then), started to cross in the middle of a block – no traffic anywhere and it was a longish distance to the traffic-light-controlled corner – was startled by her friend’s shrieking at her not to do it. Not because of danger; because she could get a $200 ticket for jay-walking. (The friend ended up walking to the corner and waiting for the lights).

      America, the land of the free.

      jj

  • john smith

    [continued] The so-called ‘New Zealand Road Code’ (this appears to be merely a plain English website based on the road rules, which of course has no legal significance itself), talks about responsibilities of motorists to yield to pedestrians on a pedestrian crossing but, regrettably, does not clearly explain rights and responsibilities in relation to pedestrians in other situations. It says nice things like ‘watch out for elderly people’ and suchlike but it does not clearly say when and where a driver must yield.** This is very unsatisfactory.

  • john smith

    Land Transport (Road User) Rule 2004:
    10.1&2 A driver approaching a pedestrian crossing must yield to a pedestrian who is crossing or waiting to cross. A driver in a shared zone must yield to pedestrians, but a pedestrian must not ‘unduly impede’ the passage of a vehicle.
    11.1 A pedestrian must remain on the footpath if one if provided.
    11.3 A pedestrian must not cross a road within 20 metres of a pedestrian crossing, traffic light, overpass or underpass which is ‘reasonably available’ to them.
    11.4-6 A pedstrian must cross a road at right angles as far as possible, not loiter while crossing, and must not enter a pedestrian crossing in a dangerous way (that is, when an approaching vehicle would not be able to stop)
    [to be continued]

  • john smith

    [continued] 3.5 At traffic lights, a pedestrian may enter the crossing on the green man but may not enter against the red man.
    4.4 A driver on a driveway must yield to a road user on a footpath.
    These appear to be all the rules relevant to this discussion.** Note also 7(2) of the Land Transport Act 1998: A driver must not drive in a way which, in all the circumstances, is dangerous to any person. Arguably this means that effectively a driver must yield to a pedestrian on a road in any position if it is possible to do so and not doing so would cause injury.

    ** comments based on a quick browse, so correct me if I’m wrong.

    • Mm quite ambiguous. Note the explicit mention of driveways. I’m quite sure that if you’re walking on a footpath and reach an intersection, you have to yield to traffic in all directions.

      This sometimes comes up in discussions about cycle lanes and shared path. Separated cycleways sometimes revert to painted cycle lanes at intersections because otherwise they would not have a right-of-way (i.e. you’d have to yield to cars).

      A more visible manifestation is the forest of “shared path STARTS / ENDS” signs on shared paths, e.g. the one along Onewa Road. If you cycle along that path you have to yield to any car traffic at any side street.

      • john smith

        “I’m quite sure that if you’re walking on a footpath and reach an intersection, you have to yield to traffic in all directions.’
        I can’t find anything in the road rules that supports this statement. The rules say a lot about where drivers must yield to other drivers, but as far as I can see they are completely silent on the question of how drivers and pedestrians should yield to each other, apart from the rules relating to marked crossings and driveways.

    • GlenK

      There was a similar discussion in a TransportBlog post recently (http://transportblog.co.nz/2017/02/01/invisible-infrastructure-turning-the-corner-campaign/). If you read the comments there, you’ll see that some attention is being given to exploring the legal options for introducing more pedestrian priority across side roads (indeed, I’m grappling with the report for NZTA right now…).

      BTW, it’s important to appreciate that “pedestrian crossing” in the Road Rules legislation specifically refers to a “zebra” crossing only. So most of the rules mentioned above aren’t applicable to other crossing places like refuge islands and raised platforms (there are separate rules for signalised crossings and school crossings too). You are correct that a motorist can’t just blithely run over a person in the road that they’ve clearly seen with adequate warning, but the other rules you have listed also oblige a pedestrian not to loiter in the road, walk down it if there is an adjacent footpath, or step out suddenly in front of traffic. Beyond that, you’re free to do what you like…

      • Good to see that based on a need that AT has responded by installing a pedestrian crossing, but there are locations where the sign helps avoid confusion so pedestrians don’t expect they can just walk out and the car has to stop…

        Devonport has 7 pedestrian crossings in very short space, and one location has this sign because the pedestrian volume is low, but the painting and road-surface could be confusing.