Why is the CEO of Auckland Transport saying this? (comment was made to local board members).

He either means that they aren’t currently up to scratch as walking routes or more likely based on the tone of the tweet above (and from others who were there) he was meaning that they shouldn’t be walking environments. This is seriously concerning.

Here’s map from AT of all of the arterial and strategic routes in the city and there’s a lot of roads that we apparently shouldn’t be walking on.

Arterial Roads

Of course many of those arterial roads also have town centres on them, places we want locals walking to and around.

One possible explanation for this comment may come from the general approach to “roads” at AT as revealed in their new Draft ATCOP. While I haven’t been able to get through much of the 1,000 pages yet, in chapter 7 this is how they explain the road hierarchy:

“Arterials have an important strategic movement function and focus. Collectors and Local Streets have a combined movement/access function. Lanes/Service Lanes and Shared Zones/Spaces have an access/place emphasis.”

It’s hard to know how to comment on this since it is so far from a progressive  understanding of streets.

There was also this tweet from Vernon but as he points out, it’s very concerning that the CEO of Auckland Transport would mix up motorways and arterials

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  1. Yeah odd – I thought it was a given you don’t walk on motorways …..the only people I know to have tried that are either drunk or broken down and walking along the side to get to the nearest place to get off ………….
    If he did indeed mean arterial routes that is concerning but does really explain why (given Gt South is a primary arterial if I read your map right) it often takes me near 10 mins standing with my pram to get a break in the traffic to get across it !!!!!!! Perhaps it even explains the old dude in the beat-up car who poked his tongue out at me the other day while I was waiting to cross – perhaps he was trying to tell me this was not a place for walkers 🙂
    I think Hill Rd is a secondary arterial – and that would concur with what I was told by a local board member a few years ago ………and that might explain why it is so hard to get them to make crossing it along its length a little more pedestrian friendly ….I know I have queried it before as have others……..lights would impeded the flow of traffic which is probably not going to wash with a secondary arterial ………its really ashame their is a community centre and further down the Botanical gardens on that road ……….

    1. NZTA is required to provide for walking & cycling along “state highways” (though often, all they do is provide wide shoulders, and even those are still missing in much of NZ). They are still not required to do anything of the sort on motorways.

      Admittedly, they have gotten beter on that count, but the example of the relatively recent SH18 Extension between Westgate and Greenhithe shows that they haven’t consistently got “all modes” into their heads yet. Even when they do provide such links, they are usually one side only, potentially screwing people living on the other side.

      1. Even worse is the older bit of SH18 from Paul Matthews to SH1 which connects Rosedale Industrial area (North Harbour) with the bus station. I regularly see people walking on the grass because there is no path. I worked for NSCC on the designation, we asked Transit to provide a footpath and they refused because of a Transfund policy that they couldnt be funded. I asked who wrote that policy and they said “We did, when Transfund was part of Transit NZ.”

        1. That bit is awful, needs to be a walkway and cycleway put through before any vehicle improvements occur.

        1. Yes, but the rules exempt NZTA on state highways that are ALSO motorways from their responsibilities to provide for walking. Cause walking is illegal on motorways, as is cycling, so the policy writers said “All good, our work here is done”. I am quite serious.

        2. It’s fascinating watching NZTA try to square that with adding cycle ways into their motorways designations. I believe Grafton Gully may be the first stretch of motorway designation to actively cater for pedestrians as part if the cycle way project.

        3. I think that walking/cycling facilities are prohibited within motorway designations, so NZTA is not allowed to provide them in those circumstances – which makes Dr Warburton’s comment even more bizarre!

        4. Legally they are not allowed; Physically they are there. NW cycleway, Grafton gully Cycleway currently under construction.

        5. Hi TimR – as people said, the existing paths along many motorways already ignore the fact that technically, peds aren’t allowed (cyclists have a legal exemption on these routes).

          I have heard NZTA are looking at changing this, but they have talked about that for a while… (to my knowledge this has nothing whatsoever to do with RMA – this is a zoning / policy isssue, not anything else).

  2. David Warburton’s comment was part of a response to a question I asked after his presentation at the LTP 2015 -2025 scene setting workshop yesterday (for all elected representatives).

    My question was along the lines – We’ve heard international speakers tell us that we need to prioritise pedestrians (including Gordon Price who spoke in the morning and says walking should be our first transportation priority) and this is reflected in the Auckland Plan and the City Centre Masterplan. Given that one of AT’s priorities is increasing the mobility of cars/easing congestion how does David plan to reconcile the conflict between these priorities particularly in the city centre?
    David responded that he didn’t think there is a conflict and that it is about balancing transport choices and providing a range of choices and that in some places like arterials there isn’t a walking environment.

    As Cathy Casey has put on her FB page “There was stunned silence when CEO of Auckland Transport David Warburton said arterial roads are not walking environments. Glenda Fryer and I shouted out “What about Dominion Road?” and Helga called out “What about Sandringham Road?” and then people were calling out roads all over the show. Mr Warburton then backtracked saying by “arterials” he meant motorways!

    1. Thanks, Pippa. Context helps. So the ‘motorways’ claim was only after he got caught out saying what he actually believes. Who hired this guy?

    2. This should be a serious incident for AC, I hate to think that the CEO of AT thinks I shouldn’t be walking to the gym, or pub, or supermarket because some cars also use the route.

      1. I agree that it would be so limiting if you walked most places and could not walk beyond arterial road boundaries ..even if I never frequent the pub ……as with my Mum who walks most places she goes since she no longer can drive (the guide dog does not have a licence either) and even with me with the double pram the busy arterial roads as they are now are really almost impossible to safely cross and you do end up limited to a smaller area or going an extra km or so to get your destination via to a light controlled crossing if thats even possible ….if those roads were to become more focused on shifting cars that would make life even more tricky …I always imagine what it might have been like in the days where people had no roads but were bounded by geographical boundaries such as rivers and mountains …how does that parallel to the development of busy arterial roads and in particular motorways….would be interesting to know how the development of arterial roads and motorways affects suburb boundaries and sense of suburb/community ….probably some research out there ….

        I really need to check up again the rules regarding crossing to the virtual traffic islands and waiting …..it would make it easier to get across Gt South in a more timely manner – though I very rarely risk it given the once of twice I have stood their briefly I have had cars change into those islands basically on top of me and the pram …….probably not worth it given its probably a matter of optimism and faith sitting astride two streams of traffic and being the bottom of the food chain 🙂

        1. It is definitely legal to use the median strip as a crossing island, but you need to pick your spot! Couldn’t imagine trying to do it with a pram!

  3. Having bicycled along a lot of the length of GSR north of Manukau Station Rd, I would rate the section from the 666 GSR business park to Otahuhu as some of the most pedestrian-hostile non-motorway roading in the city. Very few pedestrian crossings anywhere along that massive stretch, few pedestrian refuges, no fewer than four lanes, and in some places no footpath (thinking particularly of the eastern side of GSR coming out of 666).
    I think that’s exactly the kind of thing that Mr Warburton has in mind, and he obviously doesn’t see anything wrong with that.

    1. Also the previously-mentioned pedestrian-opposed “pedestrian crossing” at Main Highway Ellerslie on the way to the motorway, where a friend who lives in the southern side of the intersection has waited 12 minutes for a pedestrian phase. There would be a commission of inquiry if we expected drivers to wait 12 minutes for a green light, but no problem wasting 20% of a pedestrian’s hour in the name of traffic flow.

        1. What details, Ari? It’s a single-stage intersection, no stops in the middle, just cross from one side to the other. Routinely takes in excess of five minutes to get a cross phase, and if you happen to be very unfortunate with your timing it can be a really criminal waste of a large chunk of an hour waiting for a green man. You made a bet, you lose. How are you going to pay me?

        2. Easy win to Matt I’d say – I’ve been stuck at the intersection in the car for nearly 5 minutes (if you come up to it as the light goes Amber, you’ll wait 4+ minutes for a full cycle of lights around all the other roads, before it comes to you again).

          And if as is common, many ped crossings only trigger every second phase – once you press the “Beg” button, you’ll easily spend 8 minutes waiting once you press the beg button.

          So, yep, $100 bet due to Matt, or are you Ari, going to decline, on the basis that you are without honour?
          Or Perhaps a ceremonial handing over at the Film night?

      1. Thanks for the link,I was looking at the other end. I understand now.
        Worst case scenario it would take you six minutes to cross three crossings for three sections of the road. Best case would be two minutes. Five minutes sounds about right. 12 min would be almost impossible and I would say your friend had a broken stopwatch. My bet doesn’t apply here as it isn’t your average 4 road intersection plus you are crossing 3 different sections of road.

        1. No, Ari, a straight crossing of that one section next to the red pin. One stretch of road. I’ve personally waited seven minutes. Not crossing from the left-turn corner opposite Wilkinson to the other side of Main Highway then crossing Main Highway again. Crossing the one east-west section of Main Highway from the triangle between the north-south section and the left turn bus lanes and then ending up outside 207 Main Highway.

          Your wilful misconstruction of the scenario does you no credit. It’s a single crossing, and I’ve personally waited seven minutes to make it. I walked up the eastern side of Main Highway from the village, crossed to the divider, then waited seven minutes from pushing the button to getting a green man. Seven minutes, Ari, for a single phase. Not two minutes. Not five minutes. And definitely not multiple phases to cross multiple segments of the road.

  4. Reading about pedestrian amenities in ATCOP really revealed to me how backward the traffic engineers are when it comes to considering pedestrian utility and safety. It’s like reading a manual written in the 1950s. There are a number of really quite unacceptable assumptions though the heart-leaping moment is when you realise that there is nothing in the code relating to the time it’s estimated for pedestrians to cross a road of a given dimension at, for example, signalised intersections.

  5. This statement is more non-sensical when you consider the design of pretty well every post 1960s housing development in Auckland. The main roads are either 1. the only roads that actually let you go straight from A to B and/or 2. The means of getting across most natural/man made barriers.

    For example try walking anywhere in Kelston or Glen Eden to anywhere in Te Atatu or Henderson taht does not involve GNR and its dangerously narrow seperation of footpath from the road. The suburb design seems o go out of its way to forcd peds to walk along the arterial road.

    1. Why are you walking Bob? Get off the road!!

      Seriously though, we have that stuff due to old thinking in olden days. Still hearing that stuff from ANYONE in AT, let alone the CEO, in 2014 is just a very sad indictment of our lack of progress in this city.

      Glad to hear from Pippa that there was a stunned silence from Councillors. There is hope yet.

  6. I just found something in the plans for GNR, from Henderson to New Lynn, that left me stunned. Lets see if i can copy it and paste a link. Back soon.

      1. So, thats bus, then car, then walking, then cycling then something else at Peak times
        and Car, then bus, then walking, then cycling, then the something else off-peak.

        Not exactly following the recommended guidelines to elevate walking, cycling, PT, then trucks and with cars at number 5 is it?

        What dipshit thought up this priority – at least they’re being honest, but thats about the only thing thats positive that I can see.

        1. The project is a piece of junk in my opinion and I may have mentioned it in front of some AT engineers today :-). 4.5M bus / bike lanes and shared paths. Why not just do it properly and add actual separated cycle tracks?

        2. And I seem to recall that it’s one if the few areas in auckland that is actually zoned for more intensification in the PAUP than was in the draft last year. Another own goal for integration of land use and transport planning, set up and put in the back of the net by AT. Up there with Lincoln Road proposals.

          I hope the west councillors who are encouraging the increased density realise what AT are doing to those aspirations.

      2. What is such a ‘mode priority’ list supposed to mean? The amount of traffic that goes by the various modes at present, in size order? What we want to encourage in future? How we are going to allocate our money?

        Does the ‘mode priority’ template for arterial road mean we should spend all our money making it easier for cars to go faster, and none on providing an adequate environment for pedestrians – even if the latter would only be small change from the total budget?

        Can you imagine the utilities department writing a similar ‘utilities priority’ list: “1. sewerage. 2. stormwater. 3. electricity….’ How useful would such a list be? When budgets are limited, we’ll do the sewerage but not worry about the stormwater?

        What simplistic nonsense. Urban infrastructure is a bunch of things that have to work together as a network. If your arterial roads give a low priority to pedestrian safety, then you are reducing connectivity in a way that will also reduce pedestrian use of all the other streets of the city.

        ‘Safe environment for pedestrians & cyclists’ should be a non-negotiable condition of all roadworks (except maybe motorways) in the same way that ‘provide sewerage and drainage’ is for property developments.

  7. Slightly off topic, but have any of you seen the AT response to the CCO report? I’m told they want to kick the two Councillors off their board, severing their democratic connection to the city.

    1. To be fair, I understand that is what SOME of the people they asked on the AT Board that said that. It isn’t, as far as I know, the position of either AT as such, or the board as a whole. Correct me if I am wrong, as I haven’t found the time to read more on the report either.

    2. That’s perfectly on-topic, George. It would be taking Councillor impotence over AT to its logical conclusion, but I’m still hopefull there may be resistance.

      “I hope the west councillors who are encouraging the increased density realise what AT are doing to those aspirations.”

      They’d better be doing more than wringing their hands.

  8. While I have never crossed the intersection in question on foot, I have waited well over 5 minutes in a car trying to make a right turn into Wilkinson Rd from the motorway off ramp, so I think its fair to assume Matt’s statements are correct. This intersection prioritizes the main flows over all other possible movements.

    1. Yes I understand you can wait longer as a driver especially if you get a green but can’t move, but that is almost never the case with a pedestrian. But I can’t think of any situation where you would take more than 6 as a pedestrian.

      1. Seeing that most pedestrian trips are (or are supposed to be) under half an hour, how is even adding 6 minutes acceptable? It is a failure of city and transport planning when crossing a road quite literally takes you long enough to have a coffee between pushing the button and getting across!

        1. Thank you Loraxus for putting this systemic traffic engineering fail into a human context. Perhaps AT might consider installing pop up coffee bars at all signalised intersections where pedestrians potentially have to wait longer than say 4 minutes as an indication that they acknowledge there’s a problem. It could be highly profitable! Oh no, I’m sorry, it’s an arterial; no pedestrians wanted.

      2. I’ve given you a situation, Ari. Could a pedestrian cross without waiting for the cross phase? Certainly. Is that safe? Frequently not. Is that safe when I’ve got my infant son in a stroller? Hell no!

        The phasing is such that pedestrians only get to cross the east-west section using the north-south crossing when traffic travelling south on Main Highway has the light to turn right towards the motorway or travel straight across to Wilkinson Rd. After that, there is no pedestrian phase whatsoever for all of the other phases, which run Main Highway east/west turning right for either northbound Main Highway or Wilkinson Rd (sometimes there’s no traffic for Wilkinson so there’s no right-turn phase for eastbound), then Main Highway east/west going straight, then Wilkinson Rd (if there’s traffic, which really sucks if you’re a cyclist and there are no cars to trigger the lights), then back to the southbound on Main Highway.
        The problem is that east-west Main Highway gets really significant priority over all other traffic flows, and especially gets more priority than lowly pedestrians. At some point this weekend (though it’s not so bad outside the morning and evening peaks it can still be pretty bad) I’ll try and get a video to demonstrate how poorly pedestrians are treated by this intersection. Deny all you want, Ari, I’ve found you your single-stage crossing that takes more than four minutes to cycle through a pedestrian phase.

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