A few months back I wrote this post where I awarded some prizes based on my own best and worst transport experiences of recent memory. While at the time these awards were meant to become a regular feature of the blog, shortly thereafter I was re-located to work in Brisbane – which caused me to postpone my planned follow-up posts.

Now that I’m settled back in Auckland for a bit I’m keen to kick things off again, so this week’s award for best transport experience goes to:

Lorne Street: This quaint little street located just to the east of Queen Street has always paled in comparison to the glitz and glam that is found on nearby High Street. Lorne Street, however, is increasingly finding its feet. A few years back Auckland City embarked on a streetscape upgrade that managed to kick-start something of a wave of subtle urban redevelopment. New apartment buildings and higher quality, more intensive shops have attracted new residents and visitors. Now you can find jewellers, cake shops, and Shanghai style takeaway food bars all within about 150m. And at the southern end of the street is the absolutely delightful Khartoum Place, complete with beautiful trees and the Suffragette Stairs/sculpture. Crossing Wellesley Street is the City Library, complete with a new shared space out the front (part of a more recent upgrade). Walking along there yesterday in the sun was just lovely. Credit to the old Auckland City for their work on Lorne Street.

On the other hand, my award for this week’s worst transport experience goes to:

Intersection of Victoria Street East, Bowen Avenue, and Kitchener Street: For those of you who are not familiar with this intersection, it’s located just on the edge of Albert Park, as shown below.

While the intersection does not look that bad from this altitude, from the ground things get decidedly ugly …

For those who can’t see what the problem is let me help: Imagine you are approaching the intersection as a pedestrian walking down the footpath on the right hand side of Bowen Street (i.e. about where the Google Earth label is in the photo). If you then look up beyond the left turn slip lane you will find that there is no pedestrian crossing across either Bowen Street or Kitchener Street (where the green bus and white car are respectively). So if you approach the intersection from this direction and find yourself on the little raised island to the left of the white car then you actually cannot legitimately cross the intersection in any direction, i.e. you actually have to pick a gap in the traffic and run across.

There is no reason (that I can see) for the absence of pedestrian signals on either road; the rest of the intersection has a pedestrian scramble crossing (i.e. all green for peds = all red for cars) so you could include pedestrian signals on both roads without reducing vehicle capacity at all. From what I can tell “fixing” this intersection requires little more than four little “green man” lights, a pole or two, and some paint. The farce is only compounded  by the fact that this intersection is 1) barely 100m from Queen Street and 2) was recently re-sealed.

You may wonder why, out of all the bad intersections in Auckland, I chose this one. Well, I am personally very frustrated by the configuration of this intersection because 5 years ago I spent some time providing written feedback about this intersection (including drawings of the signal phases) to Auckland City. Yet 5 years later absolutely nothing has changed. In this case I just can’t fathom any reason why the intersection would be configured in this way, because it is highly unsafe and unnecessarily so.

So who do we blame? First and foremost it has to be Auckland City Council’s traffic engineers. Maybe I’m getting a bit self-righteous, but I would suggest that the configuration of this intersection suggests collective professional incompetence. So the cold hard hysterical finger of blame has to point at Auckland City Council in general, and their traffic engineers in particular. When I’m not being so hysterical I just feel sad because it feels like the only way for change to occur is for pedestrians to be killed by this death machine.

My boney fingers are crossed that maybe, just maybe, Auckland Transport is able to rectify the issues with this intersection. And before someone dies. Enjoy your weekend.

Share this

131 comments

  1. The shared space out the front of the Library always seems very sterile and industrial to me. The St James is just crying out to be remade into something (anything!) awesome.

    1. Bu yes I do agree with you on the sterility comment – the modernist look of the art gallery could really use being softened with some natural vegetation. I would have thought that a tree or two would have helped immeasurably in this space, but I’m not an urban designer – maybe someone else can provide insight into why the shared space here is so sterile?

      Maybe the council is waiting for the St James to be redeveloped?

  2. Khartoum Place. I’m all for bowling the stairs and making a grandier entrance to the art gallery. The area could be renamed Suffargette square. There is just something trashy about it and out of place about the tiles. I’m sure there’s mixed opinions about them.

    Lorne is a nice area to walk along as it is wide enough unlike when you get to High Street.

    1. Please no, I love the place as it is. It’s cool and quiet and peaceful, I think a lot of that comes from the sense of enclosure you get from the stairs/fountain. It’s almost like a room in the city. Opening it up would make it a corridor, not a place to enjoy but just a place to pass through.

      1. Amen. It is everything that the St James shared space is not. I especially love that it’s form and character dates from a complex set of interactions, from well before we thought bluestone sheer surfaces were the answer to everything.

    2. I second Nico here, Khartoum Place is a “place” in its own right, not just a door mat to the art gallery. I’d prefer if we left this quiet inner-city sanctuary alone and focused our efforts on other parts of the city, which are in more desperate need of improvement.

      1. Can’t share here I’m afraid: I love the bluestone; the people add the colour, the bluestone offers a calm but textured ground for activity. And as for those terrible stairs and worse decoration….. well hardly Auckland’s biggest problem but they almost define separation not connection. Yes and i know containment makes space but these two little squares really need a better relationship than they currently have.

        1. Personally, I don’ think separation is bad … indeed it’s what we do when we create rooms in a house. The two squares themselves, while adjacent, tend to serve quite different functions. The top one leads clearly onto to the Art Gallery, whereas the bottom relates more to Lorne Street. So they are distinct places, or “rooms” if you like with distinct functions.

          I think what Nic is getting at, and I tend to agree, is that you don’t always need a direct visual connection. Sometimes the mystery of what you can’t see is more alluring, i.e. when walking those stairs for the first time I bet most people are wondering what’s at the top/bottom.

          Some of the most wonderful old streets I’ve experienced (in the old parts of Stockholm, Athens etc) are all wiggly squiggly and you have no idea what’s coming up around the corner. That’s indeed what makes it so interesting. Personally I love the tortured nature of the stairs. I’m prepared to accept that not everyone agrees, but even so I don’t think it’s worth spending money on ;).

          1. Oh yes I agree absolutely in the need for compression, mystery, eccentricity, containment, and abrupt scale changes in city places generally. One of the faults of the auto town is the proliferation of wide and uncontained apparently public space everywhere [but then totally used by machines]…And Auckland very definitely lacks intimate spaces; there used to be more but most have been widened to turn alleys into streets and streets into roads and roads into motorways etc…..such is the degraded state of the remaining city.

            But in this case I think it is clear that the lower space works a lot better than the upper one, it has a great urban built quality [bit too fiddly in my view, too much council furniture and stuff] and is certainly too often covered in vehicles. What is good about it is a pretty extreme height to ground area ratio don’t you think?; like a high walled courtyard, and for this the narrowness of Lorne St is vital, and perhaps that wall at the back does good work for this, but at a cost to the upper half which lacks much distinction at all; it’s just a pretty formless through way.

            I agree this is no priority to change but is useful to learn from as we work to return spaces with these desirable human properties to the city.

            And the vehicles all over it can be best addressed by getting them out of Lorne and High in general then better policing….

  3. Walking around a courtyard environment is not transport though. Indeed walking is an alternative to transport, and not transport itself. Think the two examples are good and bad examples of urban planning, not transport design.

    Pedestrians can’t get across the railway between Sturges Rd and Ranui, but we don’t call that a bad example of railway design 🙂

      1. Oh Stu, Maybe walking is a form of transport except in the special cases of walking on the spot, walking on a treadmill (except on a treadmill bike), and walking in a pool whilst tethered. Those exceptions should be detailed in the wikipedia entry for sure.

        I concur about the Bowen Street intersection. It’s particularly bad for pedestrians.
        And I concur about your good example.

  4. “walking is an alternative to transport, and not transport itself.”
    I’m not sure if it is possible to be more wrong. Pedestrians are very much transport and are an afterthought(if at all) with road planners.

    1. Transport moves people, so it’s external to them. Moving yourself negates the need for transport. It’s an alternative. If walking is transport, then you would have to regard the layout of your house as a transport issue, which is getting a bit silly. Put a roof over the area in the top photo and you have a mall. We’re talking urban design here – the good and the bad.

      Regarding the second example, I suspect the expectation is that most people would be on the other side, which does have a pedestrian crossing. The side photographed is not just a block without any buildings, but it also has a footpath further up the hill that takes you to a safer area to cross the road. The number of people trying to cross at the photographed spot is therefore probably minimal, and below the threshold for what is regarded as worthwhile for installing a proper pedestrian crossing.

      1. No, transport is the act of moving about. When you need to get somewhere you consider the options for getting you there. When I leave my house, I could walk, cycle, catch the bus or take a taxi. All are valid forms of transport with their own advantages/disadvantages. Walking competes directly with those other transport modes, therefore is a form of transport.

        Architects and interior designers would argue that transport considerations within a building is also very important, if only because we spend so much time inside. That is transport at a different scale but transport nonetheless. Basically, when you need to get your body from location A) to B) then you have a transport problem, and walking is a form of transport that can help you solve it.

        No, the number of people wanting to cross there is not minimal. I’ve seen many people run across. And with a proper crossing many more would cross there – because they could (i.e. people have learned to avoid it – but they would still vale value it being there). Plus the costs of installing a crossing is very small compared to the value of accidents caused by people running across.

        1. I used to have to rush across there all the time as a student to get to my bus stop. The number of people doing that is not ”probably minimal” as Geoff suggests.
          It is a shite intersection. I don’t know how anyone can look at that and say ‘oh yea thats fine, just leave it like that, no point in trying to improve it’ Mental.

  5. Agreed, this intersection is horrific. Especially considering you have to scramble across the road, where car’s coming down zipping down. Having just come through the university system doing transport, it’s no wonder the traffic engineer’s overlook such things as walkability. Every time the lecturer’s would mention pedestrian’s, it was always as if they were annoying pests that got in the way of their beloved cars, screwing up the phase cycle times.

      1. I study at Auckland uni. I took transport after finding this blog a few years ago. It’s pretty clear when you get to fourth year how clear the focus on road’s is, considering there’s just two transport electives, transport planning and highway design. And in the transport planning paper, there’s one tiny section on public transport, one on intersection/phasing design and another on vehicle flow theory. So pretty much, planning for roads.
        I look around the room and see a couple of hundred engineers all exposed to the same way of thinking, with practically no exposure to P.T/urban design/the livability of a place whatsoever and am not surprised that all of our roads are designed to heavily favour vehicle movement ahead of everything else.
        I didn’t take highway design out of protest, pushed for it, and got a project on optimizing bus patterns through Dominion Road.

    1. Would be interesting to know who your lecturer was, I went through Engineering and completed Urban Transport Planning, through our studies the pedestrian and cyclists were actually highly regarded and planned for.

  6. “You may wonder why, out of all the bad intersections in Auckland, I chose this one.” haha.
    Hello Sale St/Wellesley St, Hello Wellesley Street/Mayoral Drive, Hobson/Cook…

    1. Yes, you may notice that my examples are geographically concentrated on the eastern of the city … the west (beyond the Nelson and Hobson traffic canyons) is equivalent to “here be car dragons” territory. I never go there, basically because it’s all awful so I could not pick one part to write about ;).

      1. As a pedestrian I find crossing Nelson or Hobson easy, as the one way traffic means you get a wave of cars, then an empty road. Less coordination required to cross when the vehicles are all coming from one direction. As a motorist, I also find them the easiest to use. Straight in, straight out, and usually free-flowing. Funny how one person’s example of something bad, is another person’s example of what is good!

        1. You forgot to mention that one side of the street you can’t cross at all (Hobson/Cook). You have to make 3 crossings instead.

        2. Like Kent said. Approach from the wrong side of the street and suddenly you have to wait for 3 pedestrian signals to continue your journey. Plus the street environment is so gangrene miserable that I avoid the entire area like the plague.

          1. The main exit and entry arterials for the motorway system are not really places to hang out. The rest of the city is for that.

          2. P.s. Geoff – while I agree with the need to differentiate between streets serving different functions, Hobson/Nelson have gone too far towards catering for the needs of vehicles over peds, as has most of the city.

          3. But if we take that line of reasoning, we have to write off Hobson, Nelson, Cook, Fanshawe, Wellesley, Symonds, Stanley and Grafton Rd.
            There are just too many streets in central Auckland with motorway ramps flooding them with traffic to write them all off as 99% priority for motorway access and 1% for anything else.

      1. Not really, I crossed there this morning and had a look and TBH the Council is being rather lazy as there is a nice spot where they could place a “green man” to sync with the other side and also paint a zebra crossing on the give way turn.

      2. I’m confused spambot – what you’ve just said seems to confirm what this post is about: That Auckland Transport could easily whack a crossing in?

        1. Yes they could but it doesn’t deserve an award for being a “…worst transport experience”, yes it is slightly dodgy but there is a lot worse. You’ve given it an award and portrayed as a nasty crossing where as it has a slight issue which is no bit deal if you open you eyes and use the top 6 inches.

          If you want a candidate for “…worst transport experience” met me at the corner of Parnell Rise and Stanley Street and you can watch all the trucks and cars drive through the red lights when I cross at the lights.

          1. I cross the intersection Stanley/Beach/Strand all the time (I live in Parnell) … still confused by your attitude. The intersection of Stanley/Beach has pedestrian signals on all approaches. Sure it’s a nasty intersection, and vehicles do run the red light (as they do as all intersections) but at least you can still get across safely without having to know the vehicle phases.

            And that’s the problem: You and I know the intersection of Bowen/Kitchener can be crossed, because we’ve had the unfortunate experience of crossing it before. That’s simply not good enough; pedestrians should be able to cross reasonably safely at all intersections in this part of the city centre, without having to cross the road further up to avoid something further on. That’s bad form.

            Note that this prize is necessarily subjective based on my recent experiences in Auckland. Read the earlier post (linked to at the top of the page) if you want a more comprehensive disclaimer. Think of it as a “post on my worst transport experience this week.”

      1. ah not quite that simple. Fine if you find yourself on the South of Bowen Ave, however if you end up on the North of Bowen there is no way to easily get across. This is the CBD! All sides of all intersections should have pedestrian crossings, not just one!

        1. It’s mindboggling in a way that the two intersections on Symonds St near the University (with Alfred St and Grafton Rd, and with Wellesley St) that were muddled with when they did the bus connector thing both don’t have pedestrian crossings on all sides. This is despite the pedestrian phases allowing for all possible pedestrian movements as it is already. Both intersections struggle with the amount of foot traffic they have. People regularly cross the Wellesley St slip road without waiting for the green man, which is going to kill somebody. More worryingly perhaps is the way cars turning right out of Grafton Rd often run the yellow, plunging into the sea of pedestrians that has begun to cross.

      2. No, it’s still a problem Geoff.

        Observing that you can avoid the intersection presupposes that people know about the lack of crossing facilities in the first instance. That’s not acceptable: You should be able to walk reasonably safely around any part of the city centre (especially one so close to Queen Street) without having to know anything about the intersections coming up.

        So nspambot’s comment actually supports the need to fix this intersection, even if they are trying to suggest otherwise – because it means that people without knowledge will end up crossing dangerously, as other commentators have observed.

  7. I nominate Botany Centre next. http://goo.gl/maps/t4jz6
    Yes Botany Town Centre (hate that name) is a bit of an improvement to your average mall. However try visiting Farmers of north side of Ti Rakau Drive, or ‘The Hub’ on other side of Te Irirangi. Within normal walking distance as only 500m between entrance to each, same difference as Britomart to Victoria St. However due to the absolutely bleak and miserable nature of the walking environment most people will not even think of walking. This makes public transport provision much more difficult too.

    1. Yip, Botany is rubbish. How about the ‘new’ Westgate mall that is linked to the ‘old’ Westgate mall by, you guessed it, a 6 lane road crossing. When I questioned the council 18 months ago as to why this should be allowed and a underpass across Hobsonville Road not built, they responded by saying there was not enough money Surely the developer should be paying for this? (As an aside, it’s the same development company as at the Milford mall).

  8. Not only is walking a form of transport, but it’s ‘integrated’ with every other form of transport! How clever is that? Unless you restrict yourself to drive-through MacDonalds (and even Auckland doesn’t have that many of those) driving (or the bus or train) without walking won’t get you anywhere very interesting.

    That Symonds St crossing with Grafton Rd and Alfred St at the University is an interesting case of anti-pedestrian design: most of the day outside the rush hour, more people on foot have their journeys disrupted by the lights at that intersection than the drivers whom the lights is very generous to. During term time, there are probably as many journeys across Grafton street on foot, as there are in cars along Symonds St – at any rate, it would be interesting to do the numbers and find out if that (Friday evening guess) is correct! It’s pretty clear too, from the fact that there is at least one serious accident there every year, that the provision for pedestrian crossings on that stretch of road is inadequate.

    1. Oooo David you’re right on the money there. Those intersections on Symonds are a real bug-bear: Why is there not marked crossings on all approaches? Again, you have the scramble crossing happening anyway. I wish the NZ Police would monitor the red-light running a bit more too, as well as the pedestrian mall on Alfred Street, which is blatantly flaunted.

      1. Haha, I flouted the Alfred St mall/busway one night recently – simply because it is so long since I’d been there I had no idea it was no longer a proper road. But it wasn’t blatant. And I didn’t flaunt myself. Well, maybe a little bit.

      2. I’d say they ought to put in some waterfront-style retractable bollards on Alfred to physically prevent motor vehicles dashing through the mall – these could presumably be set off by (secure) transponders somehow before buses approach (I assume buses still run down Alfred Street? Haven’t been up that way for some time).

          1. Retractable bollards *would* be a grand idea – agreed – but in practice they end up breaking more often than not, and need a bucketload of maintenance. I work in a London borough and we don’t use them anymore for these reasons. I’m not entirely sure why they’re so error-prone, though.

        1. Interesting to hear of those failures Lloyd. Wonder whether something like this (http://www.bullyboy.co.nz/) might fit the bill better – only moving part is the actual bollard, no hydraulics or mechanical parts to fail. These are the exact units used at Viaduct Basin in Auckland IIRC.

          1. These are great, however the main problem with bollards, and these ones included is the time to come up and down. You have two bus routes running through here at 10 – 15min frequencies at peak times. The Bollards will spend the vast majority of the time moving up or down. They are not designed for that continued movement that would be required so possibly prone to failure.

    2. In practice, Alfred is hardly a pedestrian mall. It’s not a shared space like Fort St, etc., which have no separation between footpath and roadway. Alfred St has footpaths, a clearly designated roadway, and gardens to help keep pedestrians where they’re ‘supposed’ to be. No wonder people treat it as a road.

  9. Lorne Street? Are you making a clever statement about how terrible things are in Auckland, such that this is the best we can come up with?

    Every so often I walk through Khartoum Place and find a bunch of motor vehicles occupying it, usually contractors or couriers. I’m not opposed to service vehicles being parked as needed, but the square is already tiny, and hosts at least one car-port (obscured in your photograph). Could they not find some other place to put their vehicles?

    What luck, Lorne Street is naturally endowed with two lanes of on-street car storage! Or is that too precious to dedicate for those functional users rather than the motoring public?

    Those storage lanes also squeeze the marginal pedestrian paths. The novelty of a simulated narrow street wears off once you’ve stepped in and out of motor traffic a few times just to let an elderly person or a parent with a stroller walk through. These narrow paths also host a generous helping of street furniture, much of it being signage to serve the aforementioned stored cars. Periodically, loads of trash will line up kerbside — the 21-bin salute.

    How about all those nice shops and apartments? The next time you walk through Lorne, I encourage you to estimate the off-street car storage facilities along the way. Then consider just their frontage cost on the street — all the lost opportunities for dense, human-friendly development, which could amplify what’s already there. And then perhaps consider the opportunity cost off the street, in terms of dwellings and residents (likely non-motorists). So some of these storage lots are deviously disguised while others are obvious, but all are barren and inhuman.

    The shared space bit of Lorne is often deserted (basically, outside of business hours), and motorists abuse its parking allowance routinely. I no longer think it remarkable to see a car hastily making a forbidden right turn onto Wellesley Street from the southern side. Still, I’ll wait for the new developments to settle before passing judgement on the whole shared space.

    I’d hate to think what universal accessibility is like on Lorne and Khartoum, with those narrow paths, street furniture, stairs/escalators, and general over-saturation of motor vehicles (doors opening, driving across the pedestrian path, abuse of disability parking, routinely risky speeds and turns). What’s it like on a wheelchair, on a bicycle, for 8 year olds and 80 year olds?

    There’s a lot to like about Lorne Street the way it is and the way it has improved. It is a great platform to build on, but for now it still shows a fundamental deference to motoring that spoils the experience for everyone else. Worthy of a prize? Hardly.

    1. Yup you’re pretty much bang on with your comments – Auckland is terrible for a pedestrian and Lorne Street is one of our better streets, even if it’s still not very good. The award is, I guess, more given to the businesses that have populated Lorne Street in the past few years. Completely agree with the fundamental deference comment, but aside from the shared spaces streets like Lorne are the best we’ve got (and because it’s been on longer the land uses have had more time to respond). Giving transport prizes in Auckland is like putting lipstick on the proverbial pig.

    2. Non-motorist, I think you’ve raised two good points, but two relatively straightforward fixes.

      In the first case we just need to wait for the inevitable shared space-ification of Lorne St proper. So the city loses a couple dozen of it’s 50,000 car parks and gains immeasurably in the urban environment, pedestrian provision and accessibility (goodbye kerbs and cars blocking every path).

      In the second case, they need to sort out the St James business. It’s sat mothballed too long. There is good potential there, plenty of people coming and going by the library, and a couple of busy bar/restaurants at the southern end… but apart from that it’s all inactive frontage. The simple answer is to activate it. A good plan to restore St James will naturally include activating the east frontage, but why wait that long? Can the owner of the site and the building, together with the council (who are custodians of the main theatre itself if i’m not mistaken) not work out a deal to let some spaces on a temporary basis?

      By my reconing there is the old foyer bar and main entrance, the large stage door area, and three or four other doors along that edge. Any one of those would make a fine bar, cafe, pop up store, boutique, craft market, gallery, or even -heaven forbid- noodle bar or purveyor of smartphone covers.

      Between the Library, the CBD and AUT next door there has to be the catchment and foot traffic to make that site work. Let’s see some tables out in the street and some people enjoying themselves.

  10. While Lorne Street has improved, I feel somewhat sad that it was upgraded when it was and not a couple of years later. If the upgrade had been a bit later I think it would have become a shared space like Elliott.

    1. You could look at it that way, although I suggest a more optimistic perspective:

      The Queen and Lorne Street upgrades were effectively forerunners to the shared spaces. It was the success of the (albeit imperfect) upgrades to Queen and Lorne that gave much needed momentum for ongoing street improvements in Auckland. I’d see them as an important part in the evolution in public/political thinking about Auckland’s City Centre. Note also that going back now and turning Lorne into a shared space would not be THAT hard, so it’s by no means a missed opportunity.

      The key message is that they’re imperfect, but essential to us being in the position now where we can say “righto chaps push on.”

  11. I don’t necessarily agree that Lorne STreet is always empty. On sunny days I often see people sitting out on the library steps. Admittedly this might be because the general shadiness causes it to be cooler than most places and thus pleasant to sit in on a sunny day. But anyway, my point is that it’s not always deserted.

    1. I agree with you Lucy, Lorne Street south is not empty it’s just a bit sterile. I think you will find that many of the people sitting on the steps are visitors making use of the libraries free WIFI ;).

    2. Lucy, if you were responding to my comment, you might notice upon a closer reading that I said it was often deserted, not always deserted. And to be clear, I mean at times when even other parts of Lorne Street are active, not at unreasonable hours.

  12. And to top it all off the Bowen/Kitchener crossing includes a full dedicated slip lane half way round the block just for feeding the parking building. And it’s perfectly phased so that when you cross and walk along Kitchener the cars using the lane can run you over as they shoot into the building. Good times!

    1. And do you know the history of council ownership of the site of that parking building? It was acquired for a train station that was to be connected to the big Terminus via a tunnel. It was to be the city station. Not the best plan compared to actually linking the lines up (now there’s an idea!), but instead we got the parking building, later doubled, that means that Kitchener, Bowen, and Victoria Sts will always be fully of impatient drivers not sauntering shoppers and poetical undergrads.

      Lorne ain’t that great in itself, but the people are there in sufficient numbers to make it better than the street programme suggests. Both Lorne and High are still over-dominated by vehicles and have just been remade. But we still should be able to de-car them further as the big expense in those street works is on the services under the paving and they won’t need redoing if the carriageway were to be made flush. A bit of storm water rigging perhaps….? Let’s join up the shared spaces…..

    2. One of the fundamental objectives of this intersection is to catapult cars into the Victoria Street car-park at approximately Mach 3 speed.

      That slip lane …. grrrr. get rid of it. kill it. destroy it. AUCKLAND TRANSPORT fix this flaming intersection!!! Rant over.

    3. Also a joy is how Bowen Ave lacks pavement for much of its length, for no particularly obvious reason: http://goo.gl/maps/S44Ii (no idea if that link will work, but it’s easy to see on streetview). It’s just altogether weird around there. Almost like they didn’t want pedestrians to use it, or something

        1. You’re right – I meant Kitchener. And you get a better view of what bothers me in the street view if you turn around 180 degrees and look the other way! A fail all around on that post.

      1. And those stairs up from Kitchener to Bowen lead very directly to this point, http://goo.gl/maps/OO4U0 — with a natural desire line across Bowen to Albert Park. I don’t know the history of the spot, but it looks like the fossilised remains of an uninterrupted walking path. I don’t dare try to estimate how many people cross there, but it would be a substantial figure. If you were to walk nearby during the daytime, especially when the local universities are on, you’ll see them constantly coming off the assembly lines and Froggering their way across. Partly due to the grades and on-street parking, it’s somewhat deceptive to judge oncoming vehicle speed, and easy to underestimate how far you need to walk, and surprising for motorists to have a pedestrian pop out suddenly.

  13. Love the story of the guy who parked in that slip lane to the carpark because he read its markings as saying “ONLY PARK CAR”.

  14. If you take the whole area into account you can see why there is no crossing there, and that one is not really needed.

    1. Phil. I see people running across the road there all the time so would have to disagree; a crossing is definitely needed.

      1. Heres a picture – http://tinypic.com/r/s6ra61/6

        The red lines show the the paths to take, the blue line shows how people are most likely accidentally getting to that corner. The path once you cross Ktchner street from Courthouse lane can direct you there but why would you go that way? people coming from Princess st cross Kitchener street (with no crossing) and stay on the wrong side of the road – that seems to be the main problem i can see. The reason theres no light controlled crossing from Princess street to the island is missing for a reason, instead of crossing the road you should go down Kitchener st or use the light controlled crossings.
        There are so many other intersections that are the same! learn how to walk people, If the intersection has a missing light controlled crossing theres a reason, and you should not cross there, simple as that.

        If i am wrong about this tell me how are people finding them self on that corner needing to cross there?
        If it looks dangerous then DON’T CROSS find another way.
        .

        1. Phil the thing about humans is that they’re, well, human. Not machines. It’s easy, well understood. Every pedestrian is the same, they want the same thing; they want to be able to walk in the most obvious and direct route they can to their destination. No amount of cages, or rules, or hopelessly indirect but safer routes will change this. It is insane that traffic engineers just ignore this [pace Max], or perhaps are trained or instructed to ignore the likely behaviour and needs of humans not in cars, in order to shave a millisecond off the waiting or travelling time for another group of humans who are in vehicles. A group for whom the energy that must be expended by taking the long way round is not their own.

          Any vaguely attentive enquiry into street design in Auckland will see that near total auto-priority is an accurate description of the result of the labours of those responsible for it even if it doesn’t match their self-image [Max excepted].

          Perhaps we need to abolish the whole idea of Traffic Engineering altogether and create a new department at the School: Human Engineering.

        2. Phil, people walk down Bowen Ave from the Waterloo Quad area to Queen St, that’s logical and direct.

          Then some of them who happened to pick the north side of the street find themselves on a corner with no crossing. You are suggesting they should then walk all the way back up to the top of Bowen Ave, cross at the lights, then walk all the way back down again on the other side to cross safely.

          What you’re really asking is for every pedestrian in the city to know in advance that there isn’t a pedestrian crossing where one would logically be at the bottom of the hill leading into the core of the CBD. (FYI there is no crossing of Kitchener St either.)

          1. Patrick said: ” Every pedestrian is the same, they want the same thing; they want to be able to walk in the most obvious and direct route they can to their destination. No amount of cages, or rules, or hopelessly indirect but safer routes will change this.”
            Yes thats why people run across the motorway too!! so your saying everytime someone crosses the motorway where there is no bridge or subway we should build one at that place?

            Nick R: Theres no direct “safe” route to that corner from Waterloo Quad, If they are on the north side of Bowen Ave coming from Waterloo Quad they have already crossed without a light controlled crossing.
            And if you do find yourself at that corner or anywhere thats not safe to cross then yes turn back! common sense!

            I don’t think you understand my point.

          2. Oh and Nick R said “What you’re really asking is for every pedestrian in the city to know in advance that there isn’t a pedestrian crossing where one would logically be”

            What i’m saying is that if theres no light controlled crossing then there must be a reason why, As this example shows. if you cross from north side Waterloo Quad to West side of Princess, to get to North side of Bowen you have to cross without a light controlled crossing (theres the hint not to cross there) and by doing that you get your self to the corner at the bottom of Bowen street.

          3. Phil what if you just want to go hang out on that bit of green space (read a book, have some lunch, kiss your girlfriend), and then afterwards, no matter where you came from, head down to Queen St? Seems bizarre to me you wouldn’t just walk down the hill. This is the CBD not a grass verge by a state highway.

          4. I do understand Phil, I walk that route daily. What you’re saying is at the top end people should systematically work their way through three signalised crossings on a 98m long route to move 12m across the top of Kitchener St. I just cross with the lights myself. That’s the real point here, the phasings actually stop traffic already, a pedestrian crossing of the top of Kitchener St wouldn’t change the intersection or timing one iota, it would just be a case of painting the lines and popping up the signals.

            It’s the same at the bottom end at the top of Victoria St, the phasing is already there to have a Barnes Dance, they’re just missing one set of painted lines and pedestrian signals.

            It’s laugable that you think there must be a reason why the lights are missing, other than the traffic engineers who designed it though it was perfectly fine to assume pedestrians should cross three sides of the intersection rather than waste money on extra signals.

            I’d have to ask you one thing, if crossing design is based all around good reasons, why is there a signallised crossing across the top of Bowen Ave at all? Once you cross to the island of park between Bowen and Kitchener it is impossible to leave without going back the way you came or crossing the road without a signal.

          5. They will all learn pretty quickly. There is a safe crossing point 30 metres away. it is not sensible to have two sets of crossing lights 30 metres apart. Even if you put a set there people will still jaywalk or cross somewhere else. Can’t win.

        3. I used to think that it was a case of them trying to tell us to use the other side as well. But it’s obvious that pedestrians were intended to use that side of the road and cross at that spot. Why have a paved sidewalk from the top of the hill right down to the bottom of the hill, a graded slope from the sidewalk to the road, and a pedestrian refuge if you don’t intend people to cross there? That argument doesn’t really fly…

          1. I just walked down that very desire line and, shock horror, cross the street directly at both the top and bottom. Did a little survey in the few minutes it took me to walk down (About 9pm on Monday night). There was one bus and one car coming up the hill, no vehicles going down. There was myself and a couple in front of me walking down the northern side footpath, and I passed four people coming the other way. Not a single person was walking down or up the Albert park side footpath.

            Now that’s a very small sample, but it tells me that’s a pretty busy pedestrian route to have seven people in a couple of minutes late in the evening, and all of them on the north side of the street. That’s where the strong desire line is, thats where the crossings should be.

            It’s actually quite logical if you think about it, Bowen Ave is the only direct and not too steep street between the central CBD and the Waterloo area between Wellesley St and Shortland St.

  15. I just don’t think it’s that empty at any time – except when it’s raining or late at night and then I think it’s not surprising there aren’t people there. I go to the central library a lot and i park my bike there and I very often see people hanging on the steps. Yes, it’s a concrete expanse with no trees. Maybe I personally would like a little more greenery. But it seems to be working for a lot of people and isn’t that the ultimate test?

    1. P.s. And I think a previous comment from someone highlighted what the main problem with that space is: The lack of frontage and activity from the St James side; I’d expect to see lot’s more people there if there was something happening on both sides of the street.

  16. Alexi: That foot path on the north side of Bowen Ave serves the park. Yes you can cross there, but no direct “safe” route can get you there. so if your comfortable crossing without a light controlled crossing then go for it. you already would have done so somewhere else to get your self to that corner.

    1. Strange arguments Phil. You seem to have missed one of the key points: There is no logical reason for not having a crossing at this point.

      The intersection operates with what’s called an “all-green” pedestrian phase. That means that all the vehicle movements have a red light and all of the pedestrian crossings are green, i.e. at that time no vehicles are allowed to travel through the intersection. By extension, this means that pedestrians can safely cross in any direction without requiring any modifications to the traffic signals, i.e. the ped crossings will not add delays for cars.

      I suspect the reason crossings have not been provided is that historically this intersection may not have operated with an all-green pedestrian phase. As such extra ped crossings would have increased delays to vehicles. But it’s different now and the pedestrian crossings should have been provided when the signal phasing was changed. There’s no real reason not to, from what I can tell.

      P.s. You’re drawings are not very good – you’re suggesting that pedestrians, should they find themselves in this position needing to cross the road, should detour for 5-10 minutes up Bowen to cross over and go down the Albert Park side. That’s madness!

      1. I never said there shouldn’t be one there, i was suggesting a reason why there isn’t one.

        Stu: Your saying its madness to choose a different path when faced with danger? I never said not to cross there i was saying there are safer alternatives, is an extra 5-10 mins of walking too much to save your life?

        1. And what was your reason? That there’s alternative paths? Well I would dispute whether they’re reasonable alternatives I guess. Personally I’m not prepared to circumnavigate half the city to get across the road and I don’t think it’s reasonable to expect pedestrians to do so.

          In terms of whether 5-10 minutes is worth one’s life, that’s a little OTT is it not? The question is not whether one values ones life, but whether Auckland Transport (and Auckland City Council before them) should have installed a crossing here.

          Most people suggest yes, and for good reason. I’d suggest that you go to this intersection on a reasonably sunny work day and have a look for yourself. You would easily find most people who walk down that side of the road crossing at the intersection.

          So like Patrick suggests, it does not really matter what you want humans to do, what’s more important is what they do do.

  17. I clearly have too much spare time to continue this argument haha but here another picture. – http://tinypic.com/r/11wa7ht/6

    Green line is the path the intersection crossings guide you to take.
    Red Line is the path people want to take i guess
    Yellow Line is the path Nick takes i guess
    Orange Line is the path nick should take
    Light Blue line is Swan leaving the park
    Dark Blue line is a safer alternative for Swan.

    Does this not make sense to any of you? My point is that paths are provided, they may not be the one you personally want or the one all the sheep follow.

    Clearly if the red line is the most preferred path then we need to have 2 light controlled crossing, not just the one the original post complained about. Although the east end of Kitchener street may be safe enough without one.

    Do you understand what i’m trying to say yet?
    I dont see it as the worst transport experience.when theres clearly guiding ways to avoid crossing there.

    Blah blah blah am i getting through to anyone?? hehe

    1. No, because it’s not reasonable to suggest that people should detour such a way to avoid walking somewhere simply because some douche bag traffic engineers could not be bothered considering pedestrians at the intersection Victoria/Bowen intersection.

      You arguing for the indefensible, IMO.

    2. My path starts where the orange and yellow do, but follows the red one. So yes, if you wanted me to take the ‘right’ path down Bowen Ave I would have to make three crossings via that yellow route instead.

      Up there is a lot of ‘stuff’ several office buildings, the Fonterra headquarters and a few hotels. Plenty of demand to walk between there and the centre of the CBD. Actually thats a good point, lots of visitors in three big hotels, they aren’t going to know there isn’t a crossing right at the bottom of the hill, they are just going to walk down the street and only find that out when it is too lane.

      The orange path is no good, have you every walked down there? For a start it is about the steepest street in Auckland, too dodgy to walk down in the wet and a mission to walk up.These is also no footpath at all on one side, and walking along the northern side you have three unsignallised crossings to make. It’s also a longer route and not as pleasant as the one along the park.

      I’d prefer to stick to crossing at the two signallised intersections where traffic gets completely stopped and crossing is safe. All I ask is that they put in the painted white lines and a little red and green man to formalise it.

  18. How bout this example? – http://tinypic.com/r/2crlzzc/6
    You want to get from the red dot to the green dot – is the orange line is where you should walk because the “douche bag” who designed the streets here didn’t make a direct path to your house? and that the Yellow line a path that had been provided is not reasonable to suggest people should detour such a way? instead of trespassing through peoples properties.

    Or how bout this – http://tinypic.com/r/2n1w0on/6
    Because the “douche bag” who put a park here didnt prove a concrete foot path and your shoes are getting muddy walking on the grass you’d complain becasue the green line is too much of a detour to be reasonable?

    Those examples are extreme but my point is a path is provided down kitchener street which the intersection crossings guide you to take but you don’t seem to understand that. you keep telling me that people should be able to walk in a straight line and we should accommodate for every single persons request.

    How about that Lorne Street that you like so much? those stairs don’t go in a straight line up the hill you have to zig zag up there! should we demolish that and build the stairs straight between the two streets.

    I think were getting way off track here, the original post said “There is no reason (that I can see) for the absence of pedestrian signals on either road” i simply offered a reason why there isn;t and provided examples to explain my reason why.

    If you can’t see the reason i’m explaining then your as closed minded as the “douche bag traffic engineer” who designed the intersections in a way that doesn;t please you.

    Can we move on? lets start a fundraiser to pay for the signals!, go stand on the corner and collect a $1 from everyone that crosses there! if that route is in such demand then maybe we could raise enough money 🙂

    1. Phil, you haven’t offered a reason why the pedestrian signals aren’t there, all you’ve said is there are other routes people could conceivably take. Let’s get right back to the root of the problem: The pedestrian phase already exists, the lights stop all the traffic so that people can cross. It is actually perfectly safe and easy to cross at that intersection if you are used to the signal phasing, the only thing missing is the actual lines on the road and the flashing man signals. There is no good reason to not have them at this intersection, the demand for crossing is definitely there (please go spend ten minutes at the intersection yourself if you don’t agree), the traffic phasing allows for it, saying people should walk back up the hill and down again to double back to a crossing just to save a couple of light boxes and paint on the ground is ridiculous.

  19. Not aware of the full details, but general comment:

    Phil: People should use route X or Y.

    Others: but in fact, for whatever reason, many use route Z, which is unsafe because of the lack of pedestrian crossings at key places, and that’s a problem.

    Comment: it’s the duty of a professional to respond to human behaviour as it is, not just as they would like it to be. Pedestrian desire lines are very fussy things. Have you ever seen a new civic space, designed by tidy-minded lines-on-maps planners, and noticed how quickly people will beat a path straight across the flower bed the blocks the best route from one side to the other?

    If the situation is unsafe because pedestrians behave the way they always do, it’s the duty of a competent planner to make it safe. That means either installing the missing crossings, or if you wish putting up a few barbed wire fences at strategic locations so peolpe can’t get onto the unsafe desire lines (I would suggest that in this situation the first is preferable).

    Simply saying, ‘they should know better’ doesn’t cut it.

  20. And another thing: if you have a broadly diagonal route in a broadly rectangular street grid, you will very often get to a corner where you have the choice ‘cross now, or turn on this side and cross at the other end of the block?’

    It’s completely natural to let that decision be influenced by what the green man is doing when you reach the corner. If he happens to be green for you, you will naturally cross at once to take advantage of it. If he’s red, you will probably turn without crossing and hope you get lucky at the other end of the block.

    In this case, if you’re on the south west corner of Princes St/ Bowen Ave, heading roughly west, it’s natural that you will cross at once onto the west side of Bowen Avenue if the timing of the green man happens to favour that (and you’ve forgotten about the problem point lower down that prompted the post).

    According to Phil’s logic, the green man for people crossing Bowen Ave westward at this point should be shouting, ‘Cross here only if you want to sit in the park. Otherwise, naughty naughty!’

    Sorry, but urban environments just don’t work that way. People simply do not pay attention to that level of regimentation. They walk where their eyes tell them they can.

  21. Oh, and being a latecomer to this debate I’ll just add the little tidbit – The Waitemata Local Board have added the pedestrian-hostile design of this intersection to their list of things they want Auckland Transport to resolve. Sadly, Auckland Transport seems to consider Council recommendations as friendly suggestions, and Local Board recommendations as petty nuisances…

Leave a Reply