Piece of Cake #1, Barnes Dance Repair

This is a follow up to our recent Piece of Cake posts and general discussions around walkability in Auckland. Over the next several weeks we will be posting summary sheets that compile many of the issues identified in the posts. Ultimately, we will organise the sheets and comments into a document to submit to them to people that care (hello?).

Feel free to comment, critique, re-order or otherwise provide input. As you’ll see below, we’ve had to limit the locations to five (which wasn’t easy). It would be good to list additional places where relevant conditions exist.

The first sheet is related to dedicated pedestrian cycles AKA Barnes Dances. Thanks DavidO for the money quote.

“Barnes dance crossings are one of the very few (only) glories of traffic management in Auckland. We should make every crossroads a Barnes dance and the city should market them as a tourist attraction. I know this proposal is ‘inefficient’. I don’t care. Reclaim the streets!”




Is this a Barnes Dance?

Barnes Dance, Queen Street, Auckland

Barnes Dance, Queen Street, Auckland

The Queen Street Barnes Dance is a joy to use. The Barnes Dance, AKA – pedestrian scramble is an intersection design from the 1940’s that has since fallen out of favour with both traffic engineers and even urban nerds like Jeff Speck who cautions that only big cities with pedestrian crowding should use them:

The Barnes Dance was introduced to avoid conflicts between turning vehicles and pedestrians in crosswalks, another example of “pedestrian safety” being used as as an excuse to limit pedestrian convenience in the service of traffic flow.

The Queen Street Barnes Dance is in a league of its own. With such heavy pedestrian demand the scramble phase has been doubled through the typical signal timing cycle, making it highly useful for people walking, especially if their movement is diagonal.  Increasingly, the scrambles or dedicated pedestrian phases are being used around other intersections in the CBD. You may stumble upon them accidently and eventually realise their use, or maybe you’ve stepped off a corner and had a close call with a bus.

For a little holiday fun, here’s a contest to see if you know your Barnes Dance/Pedestrian Scramble/Dedicated cycle. Likely you will be guessing since there is a very little indication on the ground. For the record I am guessing on at least two of them.

A. QUEEN ST – Is this a Barnes Dance



B. Karangahape Road / Mercury Lane 



C. Queen Street / Quay Street



D. Symonds Street / Grafton Road



E. Symonds Street 



F. Karangahape Rd/ Symonds St 



Of course the takeaway is that there are many simple ways to better demarcate both pedestrian crossings generally and Barnes Dances specifically.