Just over a week ago the new Auckland Development Committee held its first meeting. This committee inherits the work of the former Auckland Plan Committee, which largely was taken up by the work on the Unitary Plan. However the cessation of the main body of that work means this committee can now look a wider range of projects. Responsibilities of the committee include the Unitary Plan, Special Housing Areas, Spatial Plans and City Transformation Projects.
The meeting agenda included a wealth of information with updates of progress on a wide variety of the City Transformation Projects, which cover town centre upgrades, CBD upgrades and legacy greenfield projects like Westgate, Flat Bush and Hobsonville. This post will focus on updates in regard to projects featured in the City Centre Masterplan, as this is the first time we have a comprehensive progress update since the plan was released.
Quay Street Upgrade
As we have highlighted before Quay Street is a real missed opportunity for the city, and having 6 lanes of traffic here is totally over the top.
The Concept Plan should see public consultation in 2014. There was a low quality screenshot included, but it doesn’t really give anything away in regards to the final form of the street.
There is some exciting news though in regards to some low-cost place making exercises, and the Albert Street parklet looks like it was the first of these.
“early initiative trials of concept including Placeman, bike event, temporary street furniture, park-let and safety upgrades.
The update notes $25 million was set aside in the LTP, mostly for 2016/17.
Upper Queen Street Cycleway & Gateway upgrade.
The Upper Queen Street motorway over bridge is currently a very miserable windswept place. It is also well over-engineered for the traffic volume it carries, with 3 lanes in each direction. Strangely it even has parking on the bridge itself. However it will all change in the is project which is linked to the Grafton Gully Cycleway project. This is programmed for construction in 2015/16 at a cost of $1.5 million.
Bledisloe Lane Upgrade
Bledisloe Lane is the covered walkway than runs between Wellesley Street and Aotea Square, and helps build on the lane way network as is opposite Elliot Street. Currently is a rather dark and uninviting thoroughfare.
A concept design has been delivered. The construction should start early 2014, and last 6 months. The total cost will be $3.6 million.
Freyberg Place Upgrade
Freyberg Place currently allows cars through at the northern end which is very strange, and negatively affects the whole space. The render shows that car access will totally disappear which is fantastic, as there is no need for cars to short cut through here at all. Will be built 2014 or 2015 at a cost of $2 million.
Upper Khartoum Place
This is the gateway to Auckland’s fabulous Art Gallery, and is in somewhat of a rundown state. It is currently out to tender, construction should start in 2014. Note that the Women’s Suffrage memorial is being retained as part of this redesign, as this has caused issues with previous upgrade proposals.
O’Connell St Upgrade
Costed at $4 million, construction should commence in early 2014. Initial designs for this upgrade showed a very unambitious upgrade, with only minor changes. However public feedback meant that a shared space appears to be the outcome.
Victoria St Linear Park
Victoria Street is a somewhat uninviting streetscape, and the 4 lanes seem unnecessary considering the also wide Wellesley Street is the next block south. The long term plan is to turn it into a Linear Park to link Albert and Victoria Parks which will provide a high-quality East West Link in the mid-cty area, and that is sorely needed.
Again a concept design for was delivered in October. Construction should start in late 2014 or early 2015, and will be delivered in stages out to 2017. First stage will cost $4.7 million, with total cost of $24 million.
Overall is great to see that a number of exciting projects are likely to progress over the next few years, continuing to improve on the massive gains we have seen in the CBD in recent years.
This is a guest post from NCD
Some months ago we looked at the cost of Road Traffic Accidents (RTAs) in New Zealand.
What if I was to suggest that there is a single change that could be made to Auckland’s transport system that is cheap to implement and that will have dramatic effects of road safety, quality of place and promotion of active modes of transport? Cue incredulity.
First, let’s set the scene. If safety is one of the criteria by which the effectiveness of road engineering is measured, then it would have to be the single biggest failure of a professional discipline in human history. This is after 100 years of effort to improve the situation. How much longer do they need?
When the Airline or Rail transport industries run conferences on “Safety lessons we can learn from road engineering” I hear they aren’t well attended. Ah, that feels better.
And all the while the solution was staring them in the face: Reduce Auckland speed limits to 30 km/hr.
If you turn down the stereo you’ll be able to hear the AA’s howls of protest from your place.
Kent did a post “Slow Down” which made some of the points below. But that was like, you know, way back in 2012, and not much has happened in Auckland since then, so here we go again. That post has a graph showing that the risk to cyclists of a fatal accident reduces dramatically as speed reduces.
Here’s a similar one from SFstreetsblog (a prettiﬁed version of http://www.nhtsa.gov/people/injury/research/pub/HS809012.html )
Occasional contributor Glen K will dispute the ﬁgures, but even the most conservative ﬁgures I’ve seen show you’re four times more likely to die at 50km/hr compared to 30km/hr.
A few months ago Bryce P. did a post on the Cycle Action Auckland site that linked to a study in the British Medical Journal, and it’s that study that I’d like consider in a bit more detail. It shows a 42% injury reduction in areas of London where speeds were dropped to 20 miles/hour. It’s hard to convey how signiﬁcant this is. If this was the 1990s we’d have a GIF with stars exploding, a scrolling ticker, and that number jumping out of the page to meet you. In the world of public health interventions a 5% reduction in morbidity or mortality has researchers high-ﬁving each other (OK, academics don’t high-ﬁve, but you get the idea).
From the report: “Casualties as a whole were reduced by 41.9% (95% conﬁdence interval 36.0% to 47.8%), with slightly larger point estimates for the reductions in all casualties in children aged 0-15 and in the numbers killed or seriously injured. The numbers of killed or seriously injured children were reduced by half (50.2%, 37.2% to 63.2%). The point estimate of the reduction in number of people killed was slightly smaller at 35.1%, −1.9% to 72.0%).”
The study is robust (see the conﬁdence intervals above. The sample size was almost a million accidents!), and checked for things like migration to neighbouring roads. Here’s a map showing how much of London is covered:
The authors of the study in a subsequent interview have estimated the 30km/hr zones are saving 200 lives a year in London, and this would increase to 700 if the zones were implemented city-wide. The onus is on those who want to leave them at 50km/hr to demonstrate that the productivity gains justify the 72% increase in injury and 100% increase in child serious injury and death that the higher limits cause (because that’s what proponents the status quo are arguing).
Why is this strategy so successful? Because at its heart it takes the HPtFTU seriously. The what? The human propensity to fuck things up. (Complaints about the language to Francis Spuford.
The airline industry has also been taking the HPtFTU seriously for quite some time now, with spectacular results. That’s why planes have co-pilots, why airline mechanics account for the tools they might have left lying inside the engine, and why airlines run a “no fault” reporting system.
Here’s a chart from the NZTA’s 2011 accident report. It’s titled “Factors contributing to crashes” It could have been titled “The HPTfTU while driving”
The problem though is that “Too fast for the conditions” in 29% of crashes might lead one to think there’s 71% of accidents where speed wasn’t a factor. Actually, there’s 100% of accidents where speed was a factor. (I don’t believe any stationary cars are represented in the stats). You could argue that “too fast for the conditions” should be at 100% – if not too fast for the condition of the road, then too fast for the condition of the driver’s mind!
And this is why taking the HPtFTU seriously and reducing speed limits is so effective- it affects every type of crash. Texting, changing the radio channel, thinking about something else, pretending not to look at the hottie in the car next to you, assuming there won’t be anyone coming, sun in your eyes, headache, recent argument, arrogance, ignorance, incompetence, unbalanced. We aren’t about to stop being human, and we need speed limits that reﬂect that.
All this saving lives is sure to have some side effects. Yessir. Our city becomes a much nicer place to be. Auckland goes up a few notches on the awesomeness scale. Other modes of getting around become more attractive, safer, with all the health beneﬁts that Mr Money Moustache has so eloquently described. There’s real potential for a virtuous cycle of improving conditions causing more people to change modes, which further improves conditions which causes….
So what’s stopping us just doing it? There are three main objections to lowering urban speed limits: “we’re different”, productivity losses and the difficulty of enforcing limits.
The “we’re different” argument could also be called the “we need to study that” argument. This is a typical official response from NZTA/MOT/AT. The coroner just released a report on cycle accidents in NZ. Sample size: 13. Glen K. very kindly pointed out that 13 isn’t a very big number, and he has data on 84 fatalities. Good point. And that’s why the London study mentioned above is so important. A million accidents gives real statistical grunt. Londoners are human too, they live in streets, drive similar cars. What isn’t needed is another study. What’s needed is leadership. Action.
On to productivity losses. We’re in a city where the CCFAS is projecting average speeds of 11km/hr in a few years, so that pretty much closes the case for the city centre. Second, I’m not suggesting we change motorway speeds. Allowing 100km/hr on motorways would reduce the productivity losses for most longer trips around the city, especially once the WRR is completed. So balding, grumpy traffic engineer, I offer you an olive branch: you’ve done a great job of making motorways safe. Thank you. (But no, the answer to every traffic safety problem is not “make the road into a motorway”)
As for suburban travel, arguing for productivity losses being the reason not to change implies 50km/hr is some sort of sweet spot where we’ve got the balance between safety and productivity right. Not so, says 100 years of stats. With a 30km/hr limit you could expect a 5km suburban trip to take about 10% longer suggests some research. That’s a difference measured in seconds, not minutes.
Arterial roads are a bit trickier- you’ve got the trade-of between them being routes that are useful for active modes, and the fact that they move a lot of cars. Places like Dominion Road. Here’s a proposal: reduce speeds on arterials to 30km/hr until separated infrastructure is built for vulnerable road users. Let’s see how fast AT can build bike lanes then!
The argument around difficulty in enforcing limits seems to be enshrined in NZTA’s big fat book of road engineering wisdom- you can’t reduce a speed limit much below the speed the traffic is observed to travel at. Enshrined defeatism. I don’t believe this approach is taken with open road limits, and it shouldn’t be a factor in urban speed limits either. The whole self-explaining streets idea is great, but realistically, they aren’t going to be everywhere in Auckland any time soon.
Why don’t we try lower speed limits and see how it goes? I suspect it is not a problem that liberal speed camera deployment wouldn’t ﬁx, and wide scale changes would create a mini ﬁrestorm of indignation, so AT gets a free publicity campaign.
And what’s the worst case scenario? We have to add the traffic calming in later. That’s not the end of the world.
In London the zones have mostly been done with traffic calming while Portsmouth in the UK and Graz in Austria have changed most of their streets to 30km/hr without traffic calming, and Cambridge (UK) is currently proposing to change all but arterials with a budget of only £500,000.
And the secret formula for change? Stroppy women plus visionary leadership. I’m conﬁdent that NZ has the former, if not the latter.
One of the key factors that is identiﬁed in bringing a change in the Netherlands from a car oriented society to a more balanced one was that women (in the 1970′s) got angry enough about road fatalities that they got stroppy and organised. Brett Toderian made the same point about Vancouver not allowing motorways in the city centre: it was protesting women that were a signiﬁcant factor. We need some Kiwi women to continue the tradition. An aside to AT: how’s your board and executive management gender balance?
Lastly, a personal plea to Lester Levy. You’ve had a large and signiﬁcant role in leading Auckland’s health institutions- thank you! This is really a public health issue that spans health, transport, community and environment. There is no other measure that can be implemented with such huge gains for so little cost. You and your board have an opportunity to show real leadership. Ask AT’s management to report at your next meeting with either a plan to implement widespread 30km/hr zones or a convincing argument why the status quo of a steady stream of death and injury is the best they can do. Failure to do anything on your watch is making a decision that in effect says “I’m going to sacriﬁce some Auckland lives for an unproven efficiency gain.”
On my recent trip to the cities of northern Spain it was hard not to notice how thoughtfully every corridor was designed for all users as outline in this previous post. Of course this is completely unremarkable to the locals, it’s just obvious to them that:
1. The public realm must be built to accommodate all users, and
2. That safety for all is the first priority.
Well here’s another example from what I consider to be one of the most civilised urban places on earth, this is the Eskalduna Zubia, a bridge [Zubia] charged with the quotidian business of carrying a whole lot of traffic over the River Nervión that divides the city, shot on that same autumnal afternoon:
Nothing much to see here; just like a typical four lane arterial in NZ, even a bit of a flush median, that use of roadspace that clearly obsesses Auckland Transport with its universal value. It’s not till you see what’s concealed by the dramatic steel structure on the right of frame that my interest in this Zubia starts to make sense:
Securely separated from the traffic on the same bridge and even protected from the weather! No need to build a barrier between the cyclists and the pedestrians as there is so much width that contact is always easily avoided. The cantilevered roof makes for a completely structureless open side directing the walkers’ attention upstream away from the traffic [for those not staring at their phones]. As everywhere in Bilbao, cycling is not considered a dangerous activity so no one is forced to wear extreme safety equipment as if they are steeplejacks.
Here is an equivalent four lane bridge in inner Auckland, like the Eskalduna Zubia it is between two busy pedestrian and cycling generators; in this case the inner city Universities and the Domain/Parnell/hospital:
I’ve had to use Google maps for the image because it is illegal as well as impossible for anyone not in a moving motorised vehicle to go here. And from above:
There is nothing in this picture except total misery. It’s even laughably hopeless for the only mode its built for. Every time I have driven through here I marvel at its counterintuitive over-complication and the near uselessness it offers for all vehicle movements except the most simple motorway exiting. And of course it is pretty much murderous for anyone on foot or cycling; this glorious intervention in the name of movement efficiency turned a sylvan inner city glade into, at best, an insurmountable barrier and total aesthetic horror. People stay away even from the parts they are ‘allowed’ to be on. Like the once leafy and lovely Grafton Road. The slip lanes at every turn of every intersection make negotiating what footpaths there are there deadly and extremely frustrating to use.
Grafton Rd from Symonds St
I have discussed the waste and hopelessness that is the road engineering in Grafton Gully with many of those involved in its creation and they all cheerfully explain how dysfunctional the process was with Transit and Auckland City Council squabbling over who should pay for any amenity beyond these basic and clumsy roads and neither giving in. Transit arguing it is only responsible for the cheapest way to move traffic and all else is someone else’s problem, and ACC arguing that as it is Transit’s works that are causing the problem they should include the fixes in the cost. I guess we can see who won that argument. NZTA [who inherited this mess but are of the institution that made it] are still happily wasting all this inner city real estate: It is neither being efficiently exploited nor have they returned it to the haven of solitude and clear air it once was for all Aucklanders. And of course it remains part of the fearsome rampart that is the ring of motorway Severance that hacks inner Auckland to shreds.
Here is the one piece of walking and cycling amenity on this whole section of upper Wellesley St:
Yup that’s right, it’s a sign telling you that you can’t walk to that big park right in front of you without going, counterintuitively again, in some completely other direction for some considerably much longer time. I have had to help explain this to baffled european tourists staring at their smart phones showing a nice big park and the Museum right there…. ha, welcome to clean, green, oh wait…..
Grafton Gully and Symonds St Tunnel Plan 1950s
This is how it was sold to us by the first iteration of place-wreckers-by-motorway, it reads:
The Grafton Gully and nearby areas will be the focal point of of a network which will be among the most important in the Auckland Master Transport Plan. The original Grafton Bridge was merely built to span a bush clad gully. Among other things there will be a twin tunnel, nine chains long, with the rest “cut and cover” passes.
Well wouldn’t that have been good? Tunnelling instead of severing. It is a tragedy that not even short sections of these routes aren’t underground. It is time not only for NZTA to complete the range of movement modes across this route but also to make good on the promise to bury their horror as much as is possible so Auckland can get at least a small amount of functionality of this place back.
Let’s see what they do in Bilbao? Do they have motorways there?
Sure they do, and guess what?, a great deal of them are underground, especially under green space, in order to maintain surface continuity and and reduce severance.
The age of severing urban motorways and incomplete streets is well and truly over. Aucklanders have recently managed to stop one appalling new motorway, The Eastern Highway, and got the next one put substantially underground, Waterview. It is vital that we demand that the mistakes of the past are learned from as well as looking at other places that seem to have been able to do things well first time. But also insist that the broken pieces are fixed before our institutions engage in even more destruction.
There is little point in moving tin a little quicker through our city if we substantially harm that place and the quality of life for its inhabitants in the process, and at such high cost.
Dominion Rd (Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Libraries, 7-A10950)
Dominion Rd. 2013
Inspired by Los Angeles Metro’s blog series Then & Now, here is a look at the intersection of Balmoral Rd and Dominion Rd. The historic image is sourced from the Auckland Council Heritage Image collection, and identifies the following businesses:
…showing the premises of Mrs Porter, Dressmaker and Fancy Goods (right);from left in Balmoral Road to Dominion Road: Balmoral Soda Fountain and Confectionery; Powells Prams; Boot Repairer (Charles Leonard); Staceys Cake Specials; Capitol Theatre on Dominion Road.
What’s changed? There is considerable erosion in this area from road widening. As many as ten buildings were removed from three of the four corners leaving swirling slip lanes and leftover green space. Today the area consists of restaurants and a few local services such as a dairy and dry cleaner. The Capitol Theatre was re-opened in 2009.
The tram lines have been removed, but the urban structure of this historic neighbourhood supports some of the highest levels of PT patronage in the city. On weekdays there are more people in buses moving down this street than there are cars.
The shared space on the western end of Fort St has been particularly successful in both revitalising the public realm and encouraging adjacent businesses to invest in the area which has helped to bring it alive. We have been keeping track of the works to create a shared space on the eastern end of Fort St and it seems there are already some really positive results coming from the work. Nick was there on Friday and took these shots noting that there were two different bands playing which caused enough people to gather that cars struggled to get through.
On the same day our good friends Craig and Sydney were also there and took this photo of the scene, note there are at least four different bars with seating out that you can see in the photo
They also created this image showing just how much change there has been
It’s truly remarkable just how much change there has been turning a street that was focused on the storing and moving of cars to one that is about the people. The benefit of this to local businesses is likely to be substantially higher than that of the lost carparking, something also pointed out by reader Aaron Schiff on his blog.
Here are some shots I took while walking along one side of the River Nervión in Bilbao, Spain, on an autumnal Monday afternoon last month. The banks of the Nervión are Bilbao’s waterfront, but until recently this river had the unenviable reputation of being the most polluted in Europe. This was because until its stunning place-centred reinvention Bilbao was an extremely grim centre of little beside post-industrial decline and environmental damage. Unlovely and unvisited, although with great bones Bilbao, used to be known to the local Basques as ‘El Botxo’: The Hole.
Bilbao city has a population of around 370,000 but serves a wider area of about 1 million people. The latter metric is more comparable to the full Auckland Council region.
Yes, there in the background is the thing you all know about Bilbao: Frank Gehry’s Guggenheim Museum. The success of the Guggenheim in putting Bilbao on the world map is undeniable but it isn’t what makes this city, and the other Basque metropolitan areas, simply the most civilised urban places I have ever visited.
There are a whole lot of factors that contribute to the success of these urban places such as the natural environment, the architecture, the density of the habitation, the focus on quality public space, the efficient transit systems, and of course, the food, and I will cover these in other posts. But here I just want to look at the treatment of one city route.
All through northern Spain I was struck by the routine and seemingly effortless way that the public realm is built for all users. There are plenty of shared spaces in these cities too but this an important connecting road that demands throughput as well as place quality; it needs to support reasonable speed for all vehicles; trucks, cars, buses, and bikes while it is also a lovely riverside place to linger. These contradictory needs are met well through separation.
This route displays the classic deliniation of modes as defined by speed and mass into three zones each of increasing vulnerability and decreasing speed: Vehicles>Bikes>Pedestrians. I love the way that the bike lane has no elaborate and expensive barrier between it and the traffic lanes. There’s no need, and such a structure would only hem in both areas as well as block pedestrians from crossing randomly where and when possible.
Everyone catered for, the cycle lane is high enough quality [not intermittent] for the sporty as well as the slow riders, but also accommodates roller-bladers and joggers. Which means these faster moving humans are not bothering the slower walkers, families, or slumberers on the footpath, and nor are they holding up the traffic nor risking life and limb by having to mix it with those more lethal machines. Space is made for trees and benches, signage is unobtrusive:
Here is a perfect example of safety clearly being the first priority of the local authority and it being delivered efficiently through environmental design. This is a Complete Street. Looks easy doesn’t it?
Walking along here I found myself thinking about our streets and specifically our waterfront, Tamaki Drive in Auckland, and the enormous difficulty there seems to be to get that flagship place into a safe and efficient shape for everyone. Tamaki Drive has had recent improvements since a number of high profile tragedies there but these are fitful and have been very hard won. I think it is worth trying to unpack why civilising our streets in general is so difficult.
I have followed the advocacy of the Local Board for Tamaki Drive [see their plans on the AT website here and here] and the tireless work of our sister group Cycle Action Auckland here. Great work, but is there any sense we will ever see these changes along the whole route? Here is a visual from the Local Board doc:
This looks simple enough to achieve.
Except there is an expensive problem concealed in this graphic. As shown here this is no cheap and easy lick of paint but an expensive extension of the seawall on the right of the picture would be required to supply enough width for the missing Active spaces as well as the current vehicle ones. Major cost and an unwanted change to a functioning and complete sea wall.
But looking closer at the shots above and it is clear that pretty much the only difference between the Bilbao treatment and Tamaki Drive is that in Bilbao they have clearly used what would automatically be an on-street parking lane in Auckland for other modes. We are constantly told that there is very little budget for cycling. But really this is a road corridor safety issue not just a cycling one. To create competent Complete Streets we need to grow out of this narrow mode specific focus. Below, only the lower outcome can be quick and affordable:
On so many Auckland streets already existing space that could cheaply become bike and/or bus lanes or better pedestrian space are currently reserved for either on-street parking or painted medians. Yet there seems to be a default idea that the addition of the missing amenity can only ever occur without any reduction in these uses. This explains why when we do add the missing lanes they stop and start so much and why it seems to take for ever and costs so much to get any change. Yet pace of change and low cost are vital; as shown in this great explanation of this process from NYC.
The lesson from these other cities is that it is the priority given to the additional parking and turning space for vehicles that makes the completion of our streets so difficult and expensive. It is this culture that is the blockage in the way of completing our streets. And that this extra vehicle amenity should properly be considered secondary to competent safe road design for all users.
Of course I understand the desire for parking, especially free or rather publicly funded parking and of course it should be provided where possible but I think it is important to be clear what the costs of prioritising it over basic road safety design are. Both in terms of death and injury, and in infrastructure dollars and pace of improvement. The clear way forward for this and other Auckland roads is to fix the safety issue first, from road corridor budgets and existing space, and then address the community’s desire and willingness to pay for additional amenity like free waterfront parking as the extra ‘nice to have’ that it is. Here again is a visual from the local board document showing how quickly these streets can be fixed:
It seems to me that a very simple change in thinking needs to occur here. But we need clear leadership from senior people within AT and AC, from the Mayor, and especially from the AT board and chief executive, about what constitutes the priorities for competent street design, and the cost of any additional amenity, say like parking, be clearly expressed and not done on the cheap by failing to provide the basic safe and Complete Streets for all users.
A congested road with no transit priority or cycle lanes is a sign of technical incompetence and political failure.
And of course it’s not just waterside routes that need thinking about safety and parking supply to be more sophisticated than is currently the case; here is a look at Ponsonby Rd.
A story in the NZ Herald yesterday has scratched the surface on of the key problems that do exist with shared spaces.
Everyone knows the Maori language has taken a battering, but in downtown Auckland, a seat in the form of the word “reo” has been put near the middle of the road outside the central library and is now scraped and bent out of shape because of vehicles banging into it.
The Auckland Council spent $95,000 buying the seat and $10,000 installing it.
And now it is likely to have to pay even more to move it.
The three letters, about 0.5m high, and are set well out on Lorne St, a thoroughfare that has been converted into a “shared space” – a paved zone used by cars and pedestrians.
The letters have cast bronze tops and sides supported by a galvanised steel frame. The bronze is a close colour match to the paving that surrounds it.
Council spokesman Glyn Walters said two cars were known to have hit the structure, in August last year and September this year.
But judging by the shape it was in, and considering reports from onlookers, there have been more crashes.
From what I’ve seen of the seat I would say there have been a lot more than two crashes and this seat isn’t alone. Many of the seats in other shared spaces have equally taken a battering from careless drivers and it really does concern me that some drivers aren’t able to see what’s on the road ahead of them – how would they react to a kid standing on a road wearing dark clothing? It’s not like the seat is right at the start of the street and unsuspecting drivers come around the corner and aren’t able to see it, it’s 75m from the entrance of Lorne St which can only be reached by turning off the narrowed Rutland St.
I’ve highlighted the location in red in the image below, also note that vehicles are only allowed to travel north on the street as opposed to the other section of Lorne St on the other side of Wellesley which is South only.
I would suggest that there are two key reasons for the seat being hit
- Drivers are travelling too fast – as noted by one comment in the herald article about a delivery person on a scooter who crashed into it and who was also travelling the wrong way down the street.
- Drivers are being impatient by trying to get around a pedestrian or illegally parked car.
In both situations the problem is not that the seat is there but that drivers aren’t paying enough attention. Here is another image showing the location of the seat in relation to the rest of the street thanks to Craig and as you can see it is a long way down the street (vehicles have to drive towards the camera).
And this is what it looked like shortly after installation
And here is what it looks like now after being battered by cars (as well as skateboards). You can see the R has been bent out of shape and broken. Again thanks to Craig for these photos.
The herald article ends with
Walters said the seat was installed in 2011 just before the Rugby World Cup. The council was now assessing the cost of repairing or moving it.
“Shared spaces are a new part of Auckland’s city centre public space experience and have so far been well received by the public and local businesses.”
Meanwhile, next month the Auckland City Council plans to install coloured planter pots in Lorne St outside the abandoned St James Theatre.
It’s clear the council need to do something but to me moving it seems to be the worst option. The coloured planter pots sound good so how about using some of those further down on the same side of the street in front of where the seat is or even perhaps some artistic bollards, just something to further alert drivers that they are in a different environment and need to drive more carefully. To me moving the seat would only serve to make the road appear wider for drivers encouraging them to speed even more and making the area less attractive to pedestrians.
I think it would also help immensely if the St James could be reopened and that side of the street activated drawing more people to the area because as the saying goes, there’s safety in numbers.
Yesterday the government announced the formal transport plan for the Christchurch central city which is one of the parts to the Christchurch Central Recovery Plan. I’ve had a brief look through the plan and I must say that overall, it isn’t too bad. You can read the plan here. It appears that one of the key actions has been to prioritise streets for different modes instead of trying to make all streets do all things for everyone. I think that this is a good strategy and something that should be thought about for Auckland too. Here is the plan showing all modes.
One of the central themes to the plan appears to be about making it easier to get around the city by walking and cycling while reducing the impact from cars. One of the key parts to this is that the inner part of the central city will have the speed limit reduced to 30km/hr and the document also says that it will be more than just putting up some signs as the streets will be designed to reinforce the speed limits through streetscape upgrades. The outer zone will remain at 50km/hr although they say some of the residential sections will be managed with lower speed limits to “fit with the surrounding environment”.
Overall that seems very positive and Auckland could perhaps learn something. Queen St has a 30km/hr speed limit but that is the only street to have one in the CBD (although the shared spaces help to encourage people to drive slower.
One thing I like is how the plan frequently talks about the need for the central city to be people friendly to encourage people to once again visit the central city. I couldn’t agree more as it is people that buy things, not cars. In the core (inside the red dotted line on the image above) the plan talks about how some streets will be pedestrian focused either by being pedestrian only or becoming shared spaces. The plan also mentions that additional walking connections will be encouraged through the introduction of laneways (and they will be required in the retail precinct). The walking plans all sound really good however the key will be how they implement them.
Like the walking section, there are a lot of positive aspects about this plan with it even talking about having some physically separated cycle lanes in some places (although just how many will be like this is still to be decided. The plan also talks about providing more cycle facilities around the city and requiring developers to provide cycle parking (this is happening in Auckland as part of the Unitary Plan). It even talks about the how cycling parking needs to be provided at the bus depot and at some of the major stops to enable people to combine cycling and PT.
Victoria and Colombo Streets which both extend outside of the slow zone will have the 30km/hr speed limit imposed and the plan says that they will be redeveloped to prioritise walking and cycling while the parts that have PT on them will have that PT priority measures included. Here is an image of what the change may look like.
If the after image is what actually happens then that’s a nice change.
The plan talks quite a bit about the bus interchange however it only says that bus priority will be provided on streets where necessary which seems a bit weak. In saying that it appears that Manchester St will get a physically separated central busway for about 600m as shown in the image below. For most of the city the bus network has been consolidated onto two way streets to make it easier for users to understand – except for in the south of the city.
As mentioned earlier one of the great things about the plan is that central part of the city will have the speed limit reduced to 30km/hr which should really help improve safety and comfort for pedestrians. However one disappointment is that the two way system will be retained with the exception of northern pair of Salisbury and Kilmore. The plan also says the roads “will be enhanced over time as needed to cater for increased traffic volumes.” That doesn’t really sound ideal and seems more about moving as many cars as possible improved only by the fact there is a lower speed limit so time will tell if they live up to the promise of being more friendly for everyone. Here is a before and after from the document showing Montreal St which appears to have been narrowed and had decent chunks of parking removed.
The last section I will look at is parking and there appear to be some good things here too. The plan says the amount of on street parking will likely reduce overall due to many of the previously mentioned plans. In the core the parking will be focused on serving the disabled, deliveries and short term parking. Within the zone parking maximums have also been applied to try and reduce the amount of vehicles that need to travel through the more pedestrian focused areas. Public parking will be managed through initiatives like time of use and variable pricing. The plan also talks about how the preference is for any off street car park to have active street frontages which should hopefully reduce some of the impact of parking buildings.
All up there are some very positive things for Christchurch in this plan and some that would be good to use elsewhere. For example it would be great if we could a 30km/hr speed limit across the Auckland CBD. What’s perhaps even more positive is that Gerry Brownlee has been talking up how important it is for the city to be friendlier for pedestrians and cyclists.
Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Minister Gerry Brownlee says reducing the speed limits of Christchurch’s inner-most streets will provide for a more people-focused environment in the redeveloped city.
The new 30km per hour limit is a significant factor in the Christchurch Central Recovery Plan transport chapter “An Accessible City,” released today, which explains the transport system which will support the new compact CBD core.
“Overall we are trying to make the central city as attractive as possible for people to come in and shop, socialise and live, and I’m confident executing this plan will help meet that goal,” Mr Brownlee says.
And you can even hear him saying it will encourage more pedestrians and cyclists in this piece from TV3.
I must say, it’s really nice to be able to talk positively about a government announcement on transport for once. If only it happened more often.
Excellent news today that Lonely Planet has ranked Auckland as one of the best cities to visit.
Auckland has been rated one of the world’s top 10 cities to visit by travel bible Lonely Planet.
The city, which attracts 1.8 million foreign visitors a year, sits alongside iconic places including Paris, Zurich, Shanghai and Vancouver in the ninth annual Best in Travel guide, published today. The book highlights the best trends, destinations, journeys and experiences for the upcoming year.
Auckland was praised for its newly revitalised waterfront districts such as the Wynyard Quarter, and shopping and dining precincts such as the City Works Depot and Britomart.
Also singled out are black-sand beaches on the west coast, the Waitakere Ranges, Rangitoto Island, Waiheke Island, the 77km Hillary Trail, the SkyWalk atop Auckland’s Sky Tower and the refurbished Auckland Art Gallery.
“Auckland is often overlooked by travellers eager to head for the stellar alpine and lake landscapes further south, but food, arts and exploring the coastal hinterland are all excellent reasons to extend your stay in New Zealand’s biggest and most cosmopolitan city,” the book says.
Auckland’s many festivals and events, vibrant Maori and Pacific culture and impressive line-up of major sporting events also got a mention.
The only criticisms of the city of 1.4 million people are the traffic and the “inconsistent (but always entertaining) form of the Warriors”.
Auckland has some stunning natural beauty with a mix of harbours, islands, mountains, forests, beaches and rural areas which all combine to make the city extremely unique and it’s not surprising to see some of recognised. However it is the praise for the likes of the Wynyard Quarter and Britomart precincts that are the most interesting as they have been showing that Auckland does now have the ability to make some great urban spaces if we put our mind to it. Further as the lonely planet recognition shows, these spaces don’t just benefit locals but can also help tourism and that’s not just good for Auckland but for the whole country as it makes NZ as a whole a more interesting and viable destination.
What’s also notable about the urban areas mentioned is that they aren’t car free but that cars don’t have the same level impact as they do elsewhere. The focus has been improving the pedestrian realm rather than simply moving as many cars through the area as possible. As we have also seen with the shared spaces, this can have considerable positive impacts for nearby businesses. It really makes me wonder that if we are starting to get recognition for a few relatively small areas, just imagine what people will think if we can do other similar and great developments all over the CBD and city fringe. For example around the rest of Wynyard Quarter, around the Aotea, Karangahape Rd and Newton stations CRL stations and in fringe suburbs like Ponsonby, Newmarket and Parnell.
The quality of Wynyard is something picked up on by Brent Toderian who is currently visiting the city and who is speaking tomorrow night (although I think the event is full)
Number one on the list is unsurprisingly Paris which is a tourist mecca however it’s also worth noting one of the things being done to improve the city.
With a push to reduce the cars clogging one of Europe’s most congested cities, Paris has been reborn. Socialist mayor Bertrand Delanoe has created more pedestrian-friendly areas, particularly along the riverbanks.
Readers submitted these photos of interesting art pieces along Quay Street. Perhaps it is related to the Art Week? Four down and only 116 more bollards to go.
We’ve come for your bollards.
Art Week 2013