Unfortunately rail commuters on the Southern Line in particular are in for a slow trip home tonight as a result of a women being fatally hit by a train in Takanini. Here are a couple of updates from Transdev.
Rail replacement buses have been arranged for Homai, Manurewa, Te Mahia, Takanini and Papakura Stations on Auckland’s Southern Line. Train services are currently suspended between Homai and Papakura due to a person fatally struck by a train.
Due to the time of day buses may not arrive in some locations until 4pm so rail passengers are encouraged to phone AT on (09) 3666400 to find out about alternative transport options which may be quicker.
Maps to rail bus stops can be found at station entrances.
Delays and cancellations will be in place for Southern and Eastern Line services this afternoon and we sincerely apologise to our customers for the inconvenience caused.
We will update on the resumption of train services as soon as possible.
Transdev staff and customers who witnessed the incident will be offered counselling.
Train services are not expected to resume between Homai and Papakura stations until around 6pm after a person was fatally struck by a train. Police are completing site investigations at Takanini.
Rail replacement bus services are in place at Homai, Manurewa, Te Mahia, Takanini and Papakura stations. In addition, Howick & Eastern buses are accepting train tickets on their services between Homai and Papakura.
Delays and cancellations will continue to affect Eastern and Southern Line train services well into the evening. People wishing to travel by train are encouraged to use the journey planner at www.AT.co.nz or call (09) 3666400 to find out about alternative travel options which may be quicker.
We apologise for the inconvenience and thank rail customers for bearing with us during this disruption to train services.
We obviously don’t know the exact details and it isn’t wise to speculate either however one thing we can be sure of is that this is going to be incredibly upsetting to:
- the women’s family who have lost a loved one
- the driver of the train
- the passengers on the train
- anyone else in the area who may have witnessed the incident
With our new electric trains – which really are both quicker and quieter – already being tested and the first services only ~6 months away it’s timely to remind people to be careful around the rail network.
I’m also aware that over recent months Auckland Transport have once again been reviewing the situation around level crossings. Hopefully this will finally lead to some action as to the removal of level crossings, especially from within the urban area. It’s not something that can happen straight away but is something that we should progressively be working towards, perhaps by doing one or two per year. Of course it won’t stop every incident but should hopefully help reduce the number of them.
This incident also follows a number of accidents on the motorway network on Friday which ground the road network across much of the region to a halt.
Earlier this year, the NZTA launched a new social media campaign, called Drive Social. There are some major issues with the campaign, which would have been oh-so-easy to solve.
The NZTA gets frustratingly close to talking about other road users besides car drivers – saying the campaign was centred around the question, “If we stopped thinking ‘cars’ and started thinking ‘people’, would it change the way we drive?”. They also say:
“At its heart, the advertising poses a common question: If the road is a social space, is this behaviour really that safe for everyone who shares the road?”
Having almost raised the idea that other people (motorcyclists, cyclists, joggers, public transport users) are road users too, they seem to back right off in the campaign itself. These other users aren’t mentioned or shown on the billboards, or on the website, or on the Facebook page (with some minor exceptions).
This picture, currently used as the header at the top of the Drive Social Facebook page, is noticeably devoid of human life, apart from the single occupant in each car. No cyclists, or people out for a walk. Not even a motorbike peeking out from behind a car, maybe in someone’s blind spot – that’d make people think. The image does carry a message about being patient when driving on the highway, or on holiday weekends, but it would have been so simple to expand it just a little bit.
Someone up in Whangarei made this point rather well, modifying one of the Drive Social billboards (the black lines aren’t part of the original design):
To the NZTA’s credit, they’ve put this photo up as a talking point on their Facebook page. The bigger test, I’d say, is whether they have allowed the billboard to remain this way (can anyone in Whangarei answer this?)
Ultimately, the NZTA is trying to improve road safety with this campaign. And people in cars are not the only people who are exposed to danger on the road. As per the stats here, motorcyclists and pedestrians make up a big share of road deaths. Cyclists make up a smaller share, but still much higher than their share of travel would suggest. If the NZTA wants to make inroads into road safety, it needs to start talking about these high-risk groups.
Another issue, raised here, is that the campaign could have lent itself quite well to encouraging carpooling (or ride sharing, which is essentially ad-hoc carpooling). But it doesn’t.
The Greens have attacked the campaign, calling it a waste of money and pointing out that the $1.6 million used to make it could have subsidised a million public transport trips. Cue hyperbolic response from the PM: “The Greens are opposed to roads and that’s because they want everyone to either to walk or cycle”. I don’t think the entire campaign can be labelled a waste of money, but by gosh it could have been so much better.
Reading through the NZTA’s material around the campaign, it seems like this is the starting point, and that they’ll build the “drive social” slogan into their other advertising work. There’s room to improve – the campaign just needs a bit of tweaking.
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.
The use of red light cameras are very much a case of using a stick to try and get the right behaviour out of motorists. I think it is generally accepted that more of them are needed, however they only have a limited application as they are restricted to light controlled intersections. There are a lot of areas around the city where we may want to improve driver behaviour – especially in some of our residential areas where some of the biggest issues come from speeding drivers.
We here at the blog are very supportive of suggestions to lower speed limits in residential areas and in town centres to improve safety. We have seen this happen already along Ponsonby Rd where the speed limit was reduced to 40km per hour and in Queen St where the limit is 30km per hour. It would be great to see this concept expanded out to more areas however changing a sign doesn’t always change behaviour judging by the speed I still see some cars doing down Ponsonby Rd. While more enforcement might help, it may not be practical to do on a regular ongoing basis. In some of these cases, perhaps instead of using a stick we should also consider using a carrot approach. One such place where a carrot idea is an idea being tried in where else but the Netherlands.
The method being used seems quite simple and appeals to people to work together as a community. It works by using a fixed sign to monitor the speed of vehicles passing by it and how those speeds compare to the speed limit (in this case 30kph). This is similar to signs we already have here but there is a catch. At the bottom of the sign is a counter and for every vehicle that is travelling under the speed limit, €0.03 is paid into a fund for improving the local neighbourhood. For every vehicle that travels faster than the limit the same amount is deducted.
All up it seems like a very neat and unique way to encourage people to drive slower. I can imagine they would be great for quite a few neighbourhoods around Auckland – although even just lowering speed limits in residential areas would be a nice start. Are there any other carrot type ideas that you have seen out there?
Auckland Transport is starting a new campaign against red light running and have the backing of the police. Here is the press release:
Auckland Transport and Police are combining their efforts to make motorists, motorcyclists, cyclists and pedestrians safer at traffic light controlled intersections.
A month-long campaign to raise awareness is being launched by Auckland Transport, while Police will be conducting enforcement campaigns at high risk intersections.
Auckland Transport’s Road Safety Manager Karen Hay says red light running causes crashes and costs lives. “The annual cost of red light running is estimated at $43 million and sadly the practice injures or takes the life of Aucklanders.”
Between 2008 and 2012 there were 11 fatalities, 169 serious injuries and 1466 minor injuries at intersections where motorists failed to stop at red lights.
To get the message across that “Red Means Stop” Auckland Transport is today launching a campaign using online, busbacks, billboards and radio.
The campaign has the full backing of Police. Waitemata Road Policing Manager, Inspector Mark Fergus says “Together with Auckland Transport we hope to reduce the road trauma that occurs when motorists drive unsafely at intersections.”
Auckland Transport’s Community Transport Manager Mathew Rednall says, “We need to get the message to everyone who uses our roads that there can be serious consequences if you ignore a red light.
“The most common intersection crashes are due to poor observation and failing to give way or stop including at red lights.”
This campaign follows an announcement last month that the government is stepping up the use of red light cameras, it expects to see new generation cameras appearing at intersections from the end of next year.
A Red Light Camera Pilot has been running in Auckland since 2007 it has found:
75 per cent public support for the use of Red Light Cameras
43 per cent reduction in Red Light Running, on average
69 per cent reduction in Red Light Running crashes, on average
32 per cent reduction in rear-end crashes (estimated)
93 per cent reduction in social cost of crashes (estimated)
The recently established Auckland Road Safety Executive Governance group, comprising representatives from Auckland Transport, NZTA and NZ Police, has also agreed to expand the current CBD red light camera operation to cover at least an additional five intersections identified as high-risk red light running crash sites, using the existing cameras. The sites have yet to be confirmed.
They have also produced this video and image which people should start seeing around the place as part of the campaign.
It is good to see some action on addressing red light runners however the details don’t give any mention of additional enforcement other than a few other red light camera locations in the central city. Hopefully the police will be able to get out there and beef up enforcement at the same time too.
In the last few weeks, there have been several tragic transport accidents overseas – including train accidents in Spain, Switzerland and Canada. These serve as a reminder that there is always a risk with heavy objects travelling at high speeds. There’s risk whether you’re talking about trains, or cars, or skateboarding rhinoceri. In fact, trains and buses are both safer than cars, in terms of the chance of a fatality per passenger kilometre. Air travel is the safest mode of travel by a massive margin. Anyway, we’ve covered these things before and I don’t want to retread old ground.
When it comes to major, high-profile crashes, there’s not much the typical punter can do to prevent them. But we should all remember to stay aware of our surroundings, whether we’re walking, cycling or driving, and try to minimise the chance that we’ll be involved in accidents.
So stay safe out there, everyone. I’ll give the last word (song?) to an award-winning ad:
A few months ago, Campbell Live ran a story about drivers that use dodgy and illegal tactics to jump traffic queues. They looked at drivers using Tristram Ave to access the Northern Motorway.
The response from that piece has obviously been fairly strong as yesterday they ran another story looking at a few other locations.
The reality is that this kind of behaviour occurs all over Auckland. It not only pisses people off who are driving as they should but it also contributes to congestion. What I want to know is if anything can be done about it, short of tying up heaps of police resources on enforcement. I do know that you can submit a complaint to police but I wonder how many people actually do so or how effective it is as to my knowledge they only send the offending driver a letter telling them not to do whatever they did again.
I know a lot more drivers, as well as cyclists/motorcyclists record their trips these days which can be especially useful in identifying bad drivers. The prevalence of smartphones can make it much easier for people to do this so I would be also be keen to hear which apps you use (personally I’m keen to hear about a good android app).
Of course one of the biggest benefits of using PT, especially rail or buses in dedicated lanes, is that users can be largely immune to the antics of idiot drivers. Instead of being stressed out in traffic you can sit reading a book, play with your phone, listen to music or any number of things. Perhaps this point needs to be raised more often and some edgy marketing campaigns targeting hotspots could be run by AT once the new bus network has been rolled out.
Drivers running red lights at intersections seems to be a big problem in Auckland and as a pedestrian in the CBD especially, it doesn’t take long to see it happening. A few years ago a trial of red light cameras was initiated between the former Auckland City Council and the Police was met with stunning success in reducing this from occurring. Sadly despite the success, the cameras can’t be rolled out to other problem intersections as the law doesn’t allow for it. Even worse is that the Ministry of Transport appears to be the ones dragging the chain.
Bureaucrats are being accused of risking lives by dithering over policy guidelines for posting cameras at the country’s most dangerous intersections to stop drivers running red lights.
The Automobile Association is despairing that Government officials are trying to reinvent the wheel more than four years after the former Auckland City Council and the police launched a successful trial of digital cameras in the CBD.
Auckland Transport reported in September 2011 that three cameras rotating around 10 downtown intersections had reduced red-light running by 43 per cent and crashes attributable to such offending were down a stunning 69 per cent.
More recent figures have been unavailable from the council body, but one industry source believes no more than about 10 vehicles a week are now running lights at each site, such is the trial’s continuing effectiveness in reining in drivers.
Even so, the Ministry of Transport has missed two deadlines for producing a national policy for cameras to be introduced to other potentially lethal sites such as in Manukau and elsewhere around the country, although it says it is working hard to complete the task.
“We’ve missed a couple of deadlines but we’re still working to put out the best policy we can,” a spokesman said.
But AA spokesman Simon Lambourne says the Auckland trial has confirmed the effectiveness of site selection criteria and the delay is unacceptable after crashes involving vehicles running red lights caused 10 deaths and 194 serious injuries nationally over five years to the end of 2011.
“It’s simply not good enough – the Ministry of Transport is now trying to reinvent the wheel and the police bureaucracy is not supporting this as much as it should, given the road safety benefits,” he said.
“The Government often talks about cutting red tape and making New Zealand a more productive economy but here’s a classic example where they could cut the red tape and improve the safety and lives of New Zealanders.
“These crashes have an average annual social cost to New Zealand of about $47 million.”
Mr Lambourne said Auckland Transport calculated a return of $8.20 for every $1 of the $750,000 invested in the trial in its first three years, and there had been unprecedented support for red light cameras from 75 per cent of surveyed Aucklanders.
I don’t know how many other issues have such widespread support, and would be so effective. The fact that the ministry appear to be mucking around over this is absurd. What’s worse is it appears that part of the reason for the delay is that officials are worried about there being too many of them.
Institute vice-president John Gottler said the Government had evidently been worried needlessly about facing demands for red-light cameras at intersections throughout the country.
“Unfortunately, there was this perception that every signal in the whole country was going to have a speed camera, and that’s not true.”
In delivering its report to the ministry before Christmas, the institute also identified a range of measures such as altering traffic light phasing.
Mr Gottler said that meant no more than 20 to 40 sites throughout the country should need cameras as the ultimate driver behaviour modification tool, backed by existing fines of $150.
Auckland was likely to need most of them, given that offending was far more prevalent there than anywhere else, to be followed by Christchurch and Wellington “and then the rest of them will be scattered here and there”.
But ultimately it would be up to the Government to provide financial support to match local efforts and to the minister to say:
“I’m going to invest in saving lives”.
It doesn’t often happen but I fully support the AA in this case. The MoT need to pull their finger out and get this legislation in place.
The other bloggers and I have been looking at simple “piece of cake” solutions that Auckland Transport can implement to improve the quality of life for pedestrians. The idea is that the solutions can be quickly and cheaply implemented. Work is going on behind the scenes to progress the ideas raised and we will be talking more about these soon,however I wanted to share and get feedback on one of these.
The change is simple and only requires a bit of paint. What’s more we’ve already seen some examples of it cropping up in both the central city and in the suburbs so it’s not even revolutionary. The idea is to paint light-controlled pedestrian crossings red, as has been done at the recently installed pedestrian crossing on Victoria St:
The crossings painted red are much more visible than simple white lines on the road, sosurely must be better for safety. As a driver it acts as a great alert to tell you that something has changed, and you should be more cautious. That is exactly the kind of environment we want to be creating, not just in the central city but in many other places around the region. It can also work well for Barnes Dance style crossings, such as in the image below from California (I also like that the diagonal crossing is fully marked out):
The biggest problem is that over time the paint degrades due to vehicles driving over it, as you can see is starting to happen in the first image. However there are many more advantages to this idea. A frequent issue at intersections are drivers who, perhaps out of confusion, use the crossings as the vehicle limit line – stopping right on the edge of where pedestrians are walking. Painting these crossings red might help to address this issue by making it clearer which lines are specifically for the crossing. It might also assist in reducing the number of cases where people enter intersections during congestion and subsequently block them, because it would be easier to judge how much space is available.
What I really like about this change is that it can be implemented at every intersection without there having to be a debate around the priority of different modes at intersections. And lastly, I love that it adds some colour to our urban environment.
What you think? Should we paint all of our crossings red? Are there any downsides? Do you have any other simple suggestions for making existing crossings safer?
There are some great traffic engineers out there, some of whom frequent this board a lot. However, I get the feeling that there’s still a big section of that profession who would think that this is a good outcome:
From Manila in the Philippines – hat tip to Gordon Price.
It’s amazing how many discussions I’ve had with traffic engineers that result in them suggesting a pedestrian overpass or underpass around a busy road – supposedly for pedestrian safety but I think more realistically to limit delays for vehicles. Slightly more enlightened engineers will discuss the various options for trying to provide better pedestrian facilities without affecting traffic flow. It seems to take a really enlightened traffic engineer to understand that, particularly in areas with a lot of pedestrians (like the whole of Auckland’s CBD) we might actually want to negatively impact upon vehicle speeds in order to make life better for pedestrians.
The typical defence from said engineers is that they’re only trying to give effect to a policy decision made by others to maximise roading throughput. Does this excuse fly? When looking at the CBD, it seems like the policy documents have been saying forever that pedestrians are important yet we still end up with high-speed defacto motorways all over the place. I’m not entirely sure whether this excuse is valid – what do you think?