Just over a month ago I was out at Manukau City, at the open day of the new MIT, which doubles as Manukau station. This is a brilliant facility, with world class integration of land use and transport. If you haven’t been out to check it out, you really should. Very impressive coming up the escalators from the station and straight into the concourse of the campus. If you haven’t been there my fellow blogger Patrick has a post with an excellent photo essay of the new campus.

After looking at the campus I decided to go for a walk around the wider area. Note the whole time I was within the Manukau Metropolitan Centre, and less than 800m from the station entrance. This is an area with a wide variety of shops, apartments, restaurants, offices and services including a large Westfield Mall, courts, MIT and AUT campuses and Rainbows End.. It would certainly be reasonable to expect people to walk from the station (soon to be joined by neighbouring bus interchange) to any of these areas, following the route I took. Would also be very reasonable to walk between any of these activities which is what would usually happen in an urban environment. Manukau is also one of the premier Metropolitan Centres outlined by the council in the Auckland Plan and Unitary Plan, so the pedestrian environment should be of a high standard.

Manukau aerial

However unfortunately what I found was just plain awful, dangerous and embarrassing to roading engineers everywhere (yes I know there are good ones, but your colleagues are largely responsible). These are the 7 photo locations overlaid on a council aerial photo.

This is Great South Road. Almost adjacent to Westfield Mall. Totally out of scale for what should be an urban street, especially considering there is an 8 lane motorway 200 metres away!

Picture 1

This is on Lambie Drive, within 400 metres of Manukau station, and is on what might seem to be an obvious walking route from the station to the Supa Centre, which contains a large amount of big box retail shops. But no consideration given to anyone who might want to go shopping who does not have access to a car (or even chooses not to drive!).

Picture 2

But it gets more embarrassing. Half way along this missing footpath are a few pram-ramps longing for a footpath. Great ‘future proofing’, but ridiculous that the footpath didn’t follow.

Picture 3

This is the roundabout at the corner of Cavendish and Lambie Drives. Like many roundabouts in suburban centres it is designed for speeding truck and trailer units. This of course means usual cars travel very fast around the roundabout. To get the other side one pretty much has to run to the island. People that are elderly or infirm, well, too bad. If you want to visit the Red Cross(!) on the other side of road, get a taxi!

Picture 4

This is Davies Avenue. Doesn’t look anything out of the ordinary for Auckland. However this is a brand new street, that has just had a large amount of money spent on traffic calming. However that calming still required 2 turning lanes, and no zebra to allow people to safely cross the road.

Picture 5

This is Manukau Station Road. Up until 5 years ago this was Wiri Station Road, and also State Highway 20. This meant people on the motorway at Manukau needed to drive along here to head towards the airport. However this has been bypassed by a large motorway, 300m to the south. However no attempt has been made to calm the road to match the vastly reduced traffic volume. Probably could close half the road and it would be fine. While this road may be ok in an industrial area, once again this is a few hundred metres from the station and mall. There is also a very good reason to walk along here, and that is Rainbows End, just out of sight to the right of the picture. Only 500m from Manukau Station, and could be good patronage generator. However no chance when people have to walk along a miserable highway that barely caters for pedestrians.

Picture 6

This is the main entrance to Rainbows End, looking back towards the mall. While there is a signalised crossing, there is only a pedestrian crossing on one out of 4 of the intersection legs. Again what should theoretically be an obvious walking route is awful for pedestrians, and thus encourages more people to drive.

Picture 7

If Auckland Council and Auckland Transport are serious about making Manukau one of the key Metropolitan Centres in the region, they really need to fix totally unacceptable pedestrian environments like this. I would also hope that Auckland Transport realises fixing these issues would help drive public transport patronage, by increasing the reasonable walking catchment. Acceptable walking distance is heavily dictated by the form of the urban environment, and in places this bad people will be put off walking 100m. Sadly Auckland Transport seem to totally ignore walking as a mode of transport, and don’t bother fixing these type of environments.

Some readers of the blog may also be interested in what it is like to cycle around Manukau. The Regional Cycle Network suggests there is a great connected cycling grid, however I can tell you it would certainly be worse than walking. I’ll blog those pictures next week.

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  1. Is there a case for changing the roles along the lines of USA where a pedestrian has right of way at an intersection? If a vehicle hits a pedestrian at an intersection the driver of the vehicle is at fault.
    Narrower roads slow traffic. Decide how fast the vehicles should be travelling and gauge the road width accordingly. Do not consider parking on the carriageway as part of the road design. Parking (except for accelerating and decelerating buses) means that the parking area can be of lower construction cost.
    As a pensioner that walks with a stick I vouch for the unfriendly nature of the roads around the Wiri Centre.

  2. You are right ! Being crazy enough to have spent a significant amount of time trying to walk around Manukau (say to Kmart/Harvey Norman Complex
    or the Warehouse or Hayman park or the indoor kids playground, PaknSave, etc etc from the bus stop at the mall) I can say the environment for walking is a huge disincentive

    Add to that a stroller or try doing it was a person who is vision impaired and has a guide dog (we used to do RNZFB collections at the Warehouse)
    and you will find it is not really set up for that at all. Its a combination of the way things are laid out (or not laid out) some quailities of the path as well as the
    traffic in the area is voluminous and fas. Actually I have to say though the ability to walk those roads now (and cross them) has actually improved
    a lot comparatively to what they were – addition of several sets of lights in key places helped ….
    One of my concerns when the train station stopped where it did (the Manukau council had the option – though costly – to extend it further but decided it was too costly per length of track)
    was the ability of someone like my Mum and her Guide dog or my pre-teen as she gets older to get safely from the train station to say the mall or the movies etc etc ……
    I have not tried that walk in a while I hope as things develop it all gets streamlined

  3. Te Papa North ought to be the catalyst to improve walking and cycling in the area. Otherwise visitors will just drive in and then drive off again and be left wondering why they stuck this museum out in the middle of nowhere land.

  4. Brilliant. No one ever walked around there so they didnt build for walkers so no one ever walks around there now so they don’t build for walkers now…. Easier to bulldoze the whole area and start again rather than to try and retrofit. Until Westfield sees any value in making the area walking friendly, I don’t think you will see much change there.

    1. Until Westfield sees any value in making the area walking friendly, I don’t think you will see much change there.

      Westfield don’t own most of the roads. They certainly don’t own Manukau Station Road, or Cavendish and Lambie Drives.

    2. Westfield (or now Scentre as it is called) only own the mall building, they do not own the car parks – council does and leases it back. So the Council has a reasonable free arm to do some serious redevelopments on those car parks if it chooses to do so. In fact Council owns most of the land in Manukau so yeah again – potential

  5. ***** This comment has been edited for violating user guidelines: http://greaterakl.wpengine.com/about/user-guidelines/ *****

    I can appreciate that building a footpath to nowhere to ridiculous, as are the blind person strips but the rest of this piece is ridiculous.

    This area is a major vehicle interchange and the changes suggested would massively increase congestion, travel time and pollution. The answer to transport issues is not to totally stuff the roading system.

    Walkers have access to the area. It’s called footpaths and walking that little bit extra to the next set of lights to cross the road safely.

    1. So at the set of lights that Luke has highlighted, could you explain how you might cross the road safely if not crossing in the single direction provided for?

  6. My wife had some work at the AUT campus in Manukau a few weeks ago and I accompanied her with our 5 year daughter. While she was busy, I thought I’d go for a walk with my daughter to the Westfield mall and run some errands, buy dinner etc., but the traffic was so fast and the roads so broad, we had to use our car. Seemed quite ridiculous for such a short journey, but that’s what the infrastructure was designed for- push you off the sidewalk and into your vehicles. It’s a terribly-designed centre, especially since so many young people, who are usually quite willing and able to walk around to get things done, live nearby.

  7. Cycling through Manukau is dire. I was doing a loop via the airport one day and decided to continue down GSR past Puhinui Rd and then go back towards the airport along Manukau Station Rd. hah! Followed it down to where I assumed I’d find some kind of link through to Roscommon Rd, and instead found that I had to go all the way back up to Puhinui Rd because there is no consideration given to cyclists anywhere east of the airport and west of Great South Road. It’s diabolical.

  8. It’s a huge missed opportunity, downscaling all these roads should have been tied into the motorway being built. However, it’s just been left as it is and in a few years traffic volumes will be back up to the pre-motorway levels and AT will then use that as an excuse to do nothing. Even in central areas, AT refuses to do anything to roads like Gt Nth Rd that parallel oversized motorways because of the ‘impact’ on car speeds. They could have quite simply gone in here with paint and plant pots and turned half the lanes in protected cycle lanes and widened footpaths, instead it’s just left as the status quo. Compare this to what cities with sane planners do. Zurich built a motorway bypass of the city and used that as the reason to massively downscale and close off all the roads previously used by that traffic. In the process leading a lot of urban regeneration in parts of the cities previously choked with traffic. It’s just so logical. Why is AT so incompetent?

    1. Not incompetent BBC. Probably intentionally apathetic, or negligent.
      Manukau Station Rd probably should be cut down to one lane. It is empty most the time. The problem is that there arent many people around to take avantage of any new space created.

      1. That’s changing and will continue to do so as the transit links start to provide people with the option of getting there without a car.

    2. In reality, downscaleing local roads requires a combination of four things:

      a) funding (it may be cheap in comparison, but not when looking at discretionary budgets)
      b) local support
      c) political support
      d) policy support

      On a), we have very little money set aside for such projects. In fact, arguably none. On b), too many locals still scream whenever we touch any car-centric feature. This depresses c). I am aware that Auckland Council (not Auckland Transport) is pushing for policies that would road-diet major urban arterials where road capacity is provided elsewhere nearby (like with Waterview). But with all the other factors, the number of cases where “no brainer” changes are left undone will dog us for decades more…

    3. Can you explain how reducing traffic speeds and increasing travel time has a net benefit?

      If you push cars from GNR onto SH20, you just slow down SH20.

      There may be a few people who get increased amenity, but most of us work, and don’t benefit from a few plants on somewhere like GNR

      If you suggest adding dedicated buslanes to GNR (i.e. not reducing transport capacity), then that’s different – but reducing capacity for some hipster-friendly and nonproductive design features is stupid.

      1. Cars don’t buy things; people do. Encourage people to an area and the economy in that area improves. It’s being demonstrated on Queen Street, and cities that have overcome their car bias in favour of bicycles are reaping the rewards.

      2. “Can you explain how reducing traffic speeds and increasing travel time has a net benefit?”

        Simple – one of the greatest immediate benefits is reduced traffic crashes. This country has a despicable level of traffic deaths and serious injuries, compared to other OECD countries. Getting away from a system that prioritises speed would leave a lot more people alive and productive, lowering hospital costs and other costs of a system that kills and multilates hundredss and thousands each year. And even without the additional benefits that would flow from slower speeds (such as greatwer walking and cycling), the societal costs would be pretty minimal. You’d take a few minutes longer to get somewhere (most delay is at traffic signals anyway).

      3. Reducing traffic speeds does increase flow! Smoother flowing traffic increases average traffic speed and increases volume.
        It is not too late to improve Manukau, it does need strong leadership though.
        It needs reduced parking areas which isolate the commercial areas and a cost on the parking to produce 85% occupancy and encourage parking away from the centre and use of public transport to the hub with easy walking access to the comercial establishments.

  9. Strangely i was down in Manukau last weekend (driving due to large load) but found myself thinking there is little to love down there. I cycle through on the GSR regularly but wouldn’t cycle down to Manukau to shop out of fear for my personal safety. Over the weekend I was at the Supa centre and found that although the two stores I wanted to go to were only 200 metres apart as the crow flies, it was easier to drive from one to the other, then drive over the road to Spotlight. It really is the very worst sort of urban design.
    Occasionally I need to walk from Bakersfield Place (off GSR) to the mall. There is so little consideration given to pedestrians that I end up dodging 4 lanes of traffic, hiking over a grassy knoll, jumping off the retaining wall then walking through a carpark. I have no idea how anyone with a disability copes.
    I know retro-fitting these sort of design shambles is expensive but if we’re going to put tertiary institutions and high-density accommodation in that precinct, then we need to be doing much much better.

  10. I went to Botany Downs shopping centre last week, and that is just as bad if not worse. I felt it was better and safer to drive to a shop across the road! I prefer shopping centres with a smaller, more human scale and narrower streets.

  11. Manukau has the potential to be a great 21st century centre. Auckland Council and Auckland transport especially just need to act on it and do something about it or else it’s going to remain a fragment of the 1970’s.

  12. I agree with a lot of what the author says in the original post, but really, it’s not that hard to cross Manukau/WIri Station Road.

    I used to do a lot of work out this way (at places on both side of that road) and never had an issue getting across. There’s a massive grass median you can shelter on.,

    However the lack of zebras at the free turns (and the same on Fanshawe Street in town) is terrible

    1. So that’s great if you’re an able-bodied adult; generally we can easily get past any minor obstacles (or lack of facilities) when crossing or walking alongside roads. Not so great if you’re a kid, an elderly pedestrian, or have some kind of mobility, sensory or intellectual impairment – which is about 1/5 of the population. It is notable that these groups are also less likely to be able to just “hop in a car” instead – generally they don’t have one. That’s what proper universal access walking provision is all about.

  13. If we are serious about improving walking and cycling environments there are two key areas that need to change:

    1 – The EEM needs to be updated so that benefits to pedestrians and cyclists can be properly quantified.

    2 – traffic engineering standards need a major overhaul so that they don’t continue to favour vehicles and traffic flows over every other user of the road space. Case in point, why should zebra crossings require a warrant and only be acceptable once a certain number of pedestrians need to cross? How are you going to encourage behaviour change with that approach?

  14. Another problem generated by the increasing number of people working in the Manukau City Centre area is long term parking is now at a premium – ask any of the Council staff working here..

    I generally think parking encourages traffic, but in this area maybe introducing kerb-side parking along the streets shown in the photo essay would be a very quick way of introducing traffic calming, by narrowing the wide roads, and this would provide long-term parking for workers and students in the area. I am sure there would be many happy parkers……

    1. That is the last thing you need to add is more on street parking in a Metropolitan Centre. In any case parking especially on street will be restricted even further under the Metropolitan Centre Unitary Plan rules once operative.
      Any how what parking issues? Go use the AT Parking Building on Ronwood Avenue which has All Day Parking at $4.50/day… That building is empty most days of the week so no issue there.
      Or catch the bus or train to Manukau City Centre – once the new bus network gets going from next year and the South Link is built

      1. Parking on Manukau Station Road is not a bad idea as a traffic calming tool. And the Unitary Plan doesn’t affect on-street parking – I thought you’d know that.

        1. Hmm should have mentioned the Auckland Plan seeming it guides the other plans under it. Anyhow why more parking though onstreet? Why not concentrate it to parking buildings such as the AT one or buried under commercial developments?

  15. Yes Ari, Money talks. Getting Westfield and their tenants on board is the key. Once they can see the potential of huge flows of customers that don’t require acres of valuable land filled with car parks they’ll get it.

  16. Only takes one rightwing troll to ruin an xcellent thread. Good modding guys. Agree with others, apart from MIT, might be worth demolishing the rest, giving new urban fabric a go.

  17. Luke C, have you only just arrived in Auckland!? What you speak of is endemic. Heritage areas aside, this is the kind of city we have built. Someone mentions Albany – but you could chuck in vast swathes of the city. Some places where sprawl occurred – like the North Shore – are saved to some extent by their topography and geography, but nonetheless the car is king. We’ve been sold a lifestyle based around the car and rolling that back will take generations, sadly.

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