Lately I’ve spent a lot of time jogging in the Domain, taking every lane and pathway I can find in and around the park. Recently one thing has dawned on me, it is simply impossible to walk to the museum on a footpath. There aren’t any!

That is super crazy in my mind, why are there so few footpaths in the Domain? On foot you have the choice of walking in the road, or on the grass. The latter is ok in fine weather, but it rains one day in three in our fair city so the grass is often soggy.

Take this for example, the route between Parnell Rd and the museum. Just along here is the bus stop where both Link buses announce that you should get off for the Domain and museum. No footpath on either side! You can however see the clear desire line for pedestrians where the grass has worn away where the footpath should be.

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Fancy that, the city’s premier park and one of its main attractions, mere minutes from the high frequency shuttle buses service the city centre… and not a footpath between them. Even more curious is when you talk a look across the road. Here we have the entrance to the Sensory Garden, stocked with plants of interesting scent and texture developed so that people with limited vision can enjoy the gardens too. Behind that, the Blind Foundation headquarters and series of vision related healthcare clinics. If there was anywhere in the country you would want a proper footpath, it would be right here!

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Then if you do manage to make it along the road on foot to the museum, you are confronted with this. Acres of tarmac striped out for cars, recently designed and built… and still no bloody footpath, let alone a crossing!  There is a footpath on the far side, but that ends abruptly in a loading dock facing a five way traffic junction. I can see more pedestrians than cars in this photos, so I guess at least we Aucklanders are a hardy bunch (or at least we are used to dodging cars). What went wrong here, why are we still building this sort of thing?

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47 comments

  1. I tried walking from Birth Care to the museum along Maunsell Rd Ext with my newborn son in his buggy. There are so many signs in the middle of the foot path that it’s a mission with a buggy. You don’t see street signs in the middle of a car lane, so why are they in the middle of the walking lane? Why aren’t the signs on the grassy area? It seems like a lack of respect.

    http://goo.gl/maps/F67bg

    1. did the exact same thing 2 months back, over hummocky grass and asphalt, dodging cars. Even for people parking there aren’t any paths to walk along safely. The pedestrian crossing just leads to grass. weird.

    2. Ah, but you aren’t allowed to have the traffic sign too close to the road edge, because the poor cars might hit it (from memory, the requirement is that ideally it should be 0.6-0.8m back from the kerb). That’s why it’s much closer to the middle of your dinky narrow footpath than you want. Car dominance everywhere.

    3. I had a similar experience trying to walk through the Domain with a buggy… I had thought it would be a great place for a buggy stroll, but turns out it’s all curbs, stairs, grass and roads…. and the occasional footpath that leads nowhere. Must be a nightmare in a wheelchair too.

  2. Does Auckland Transport control the roads in the domain or are they “carriageways” through reserve land? Cycle provision is rubbish too – why is there no southbound cycle lane on Domain Drive? No room? Why not make it one way for motor vehicles?

    https://goo.gl/maps/Ge6Yc

    1. I don’t know about the specific example of the Domain, but I have been told that responsibility for roads within parks has been clarified, and it lies with Auckland Transport. Something to chase AT and the Local Board about I would say.

      BTW the Waitematā Local Board is very switched-on about pedestrian issues. I would presume that Pippa Coom and co. are already onto this issue – has anyone run this past her?

    2. We recently tried to get a ‘stop / go’ traffic control permit for Domain Rd, next to the band rotunda. Answer came back with a firm ‘no’. Apparently Domain Rd is too important as an arterial for Moto vehicles. How did it get to this, where a city park is compromised by the need to move motor vehicles at peak times?

  3. Yes, It is very difficult for pedestrians walking from the Parnell Rd side to the South entrance of the museum, especially over the grass in winter if you’re very young or very old, in a wheelchair or a buggy. I think Auckland council controls the ‘roads’ and pathways.

  4. I know this is a blog, but if you were a journo Nick R you would seek comment from them. You otherwise haven’t answered the question you posed. And you haven’t conjectured:

    -was it built during the grand age of motoring? (even Futurama had elevated walkways)
    -was it just pre-motoring when people just walked on dirt tracks, but these dirt tracks have been paved over
    -did a tram once run to its door?

    Even motorists are pedestrians at some point so why has no provision been made for the sacred motorist to get from car to buildings?

    1. Pedestrian access to the Museum main building is adequate to excellent from the carparks under, next to, and nearest it. The nasty 5-way intersection is from the last several years. Some work has been done of late to ease access from the playing fields (used for parking on ANZAC Day) to the Cenotaph.

    2. Hi Ricardo, you are right, I’m no journalist!

      It might not be clear above, but the key point is this area was all rebuilt only a few years ago when they opened the new museum extension. That five way intersection loading dock thing is a very recent development.

      It’s also this way through a lot of the Domain, like around the wintergradens and duck pond too.

  5. How did we ever sink to such a level of neglect for PEOPLE in this counrty? People who are not in cars, that is.

    Could be an Interesting subject for a study in human psychology. Looking back from the perspective of some happy future-time after this crazy unbalance has been righted, such a study could yield useful insights into herd-mentality, compartmentalism, and other weaknesses of the human condition.

    1. Ah, classic nonsense.

      I’m still looking forward to the guest post “places in Aucjland we haven’t fuc*** with the private motorcar”; although on balance it may prove impossible.

      It is perhaps a small mercy the flying car has yet to be invented.

  6. Generally speaking the roads in the Domain have so low usage that people walk/run on them without incident.

    The possible exception being the link to Parnell Road which does have a footpath on one side

    1. Disagree – they are predominately used for free all day parking for local workers (a simple roster can beat any parking warden) though they are definitely used as a rat run to avoid park road.

    2. Disagree too. This is my back yard as it were and I jog through the domain several times a week. The only road you would remotely consider walking on is Lovers Lane, and only because it’s been pedestrianised. The rest is regularly full of through traffic cutting between town and the eastern suburbs.

    3. Totally incorrect. In 2010, the eastern half of Domain Drive (i.e. east of Lower Domain Drive, essentially) had over 8,000 vehicles daily according to AT’s traffic counts. That is something like half of Sandringham Road’s flows, i.e. starrting to verge on major arterial.

      Sure, it must be lower now, after the traffic calming of recent years, but I would be surprised if it has dropped below 5000.

  7. All roads in the domain should be treated as shared spaces rather than explicit footpaths added (which would just give motorists more expecetation that they don’t have to share their road). It’s principally an area to be enjoyed by people without cars and isn’t there a 30 speed limit throughout?

    1. This is an elegant solution. Perhaps in addition to this the “road” could be made to run in only one direction too, thus preventing people from using the Domain as a shortcut and rat run. I used to live around the corner and frequently went for a run in the Domain and the number of motorists driving well over 30kph was crazy and, quite frequently, these drivers would give people walking on the edge of the road very little breathing room as they speed past.

  8. The people in the picture are probably walking to their car. I have found it easier to walk across the fields rather than alongside the roads within the Domain.

  9. Such a good point! Why are there no footpaths to the Museum? I’m very interested in conducting research to get a pedestrian / public transport user perspective of access to Auckland’s major recreational areas and places of interest. I am increasingly concerned at the way our footpaths are becoming dangerously narrow or non-existent. Another example is Tamaki Drive where the width of the pedestrian lane in this ‘shared space’ is not even wide enough for two people to comfortably walk together along this beautiful part of the city. If anybody would like to help scope the research or share ideas please ‘reply’ and I’ll be in touch.

  10. This is one of my regular walking loops. Frequently coming up in conversation as we pass through that spot how ridiculous this park is to not have footpaths.
    The domain is just a giant carpark by design. It could so much more. It needs wide generous footpaths connecting every main access point, graded to be suitable for cycling and wheelchairs.

  11. I always walk on the road, against the flow of traffic so I can see who’s coming at me. Occasionally I get tooted at. One idiot even had the nerve to stop his car on the broken yellow lines to tell me get off the road and walk on the grass. I had to explain to him that I wasn’t breaking the law and pedestrians may use the edge of the road when no footpath is provided.

  12. Whatever happened to legal requirements for pavements beside urban roads? Is that just something I assumed was true because it was logical?

  13. Not only that, some wayfinding signs down Symonds St would be great too. I’m often stopped by tourists wondering how to get to Parnell or the Domain/Museum.

  14. All the roads in the Domain should be grassed over; it’s a park, not a race track. It is NOT essential to drive through the Domain; there are plenty of other options.
    I’ve played cricket and football in the Domain many times and can recall using my car to get there only a couple of times.

  15. But much worse than the roads in the Domain are the roads to the Domain. Our standard map for tourists shows that the direct straight route to the Domain is along Wellesley St. But of course it is impossible for a pedestrian because NZTA built the bridge for cars only. Some tourists get to the Museum on the Hop-on Hop-off Shuttle and then decide to walk back to their hotel along Wellesley St. They can often be found wandering in the desert of Stanley St, completely lost.

    1. Don’t think the one from grafton quite joins up without walking on the road, if I’m following you right.

      There is indeed a special path from Lower Domain Dr, but the crucual thing is you can’t just walk up the street as you’d expect, you have to search out the one non-footpath path.

  16. It’s an old problem for the Domain: people v. traffic engineers. My grandfather, the late Norman Thomas, was convenor of a conference in 1934 that sought to preserve as much as possible of the Domain from the obstinate ambitions of the Auckland City Council’s City Engineer, even then obsessed with sealing the whole space under a sea of asphalt. The agitators were partially successful in managing to stop the construction of a road from the Duck pond through to Stanley Street, even though it was partially formed in 1938 in contravention of an agreement that nothing would be done: http://paperspast.natlib.govt.nz/cgi-bin/paperspast?a=d&cl=search&d=AS19370804.2.136&srpos=110&e=——-10–101—-2%22N+R+W+Thomas%22–

  17. A Domain masterplan is in development that will go out for consultation (there is a strong push is to improve pathways and accessibility)
    Governance and budget for the Domain has been a bit complicated because of a split in decision making between the Governing body and Waitemata Local Board
    A new joint committee was established on Tuesday that will help progress the masterplan
    Item 17 on our agenda
    http://infocouncil.aucklandcouncil.govt.nz/Open/2015/02/WTM_20150210_AGN_5100_AT.PDF

      1. Are you (Local Board) being consulted on with the current Parnell Rail Station saga, Pippa? I am worried that the current design will really make the Greenways route from Parnell / Newmarket tunnel much harder to build.

  18. Actually, there kind of is. From the Winter Gardens it’s straight up to the Museum and can be accessed via the Centennial Walk. Which means there is pretty much a direct path route from the heart of Auckland Uni to the Museum. However, the quickest way of doing this means walking pass the loos by the pond instead of following the path which stops at the loos… hence kind of.

  19. Near my place, there’s a park next to a kindergarten where we regularly take kids cycling. Up the middle of the park is a driveway to the scout hall. The driveway to the scout hall is closed with a chain link fence. So what does the scout master do? DRIVES UP THE FOOTPATH THROUGH THE KIDS~!! What an ignorant f**kwit

    1. The sense of entitlement of people in cars never ceases to amaze me. A saw a guy stop right in front of me in the cycle lane on Lake Road by the fire station yesterday. Well half his car was in the cycle lane the rest was out in the car lane.

      There is parking for cars another 50m up the road by the golf course.

      This of course forced me to swerve out into the traffic. I stopped next to his window and told him he was in the cycle lane as I know some people genuinely don’t seem to know they exist – even though there are cycle stencils every 50m.

      I wasn’t aggressive or rude, I just asked if he realised he was parked in a cycle lane.

      He obviously did know because he immediately told me to “f&^k off”.

      And apparently cyclists are arrogant and unreasonable.

    1. And “Mr Mamedov parks in the Domain as it is close to his work.”

      Great, so more public space being used to subsidise businesses and allow people to store their private property. Much better than using that space for actual people to enjoy.

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