This is a guest post from reader Bryce P

The safety of children walking and riding to school has been in the news this week with another crash resulting in severe injury while a child was walking to school.

Back in April, local Hibiscus Coast media wrote a story about red light running near some local schools. In an attempt to make things safer (?) adults were handing out hi-viz flags to cross the road with. “What?” I hear you say. “Surely this only happens in the USA?”

Here’s what it looks like on a school day.

Millwater FLags

So just how did an intersection in a brand new Auckland suburb get to this point?

Firstly, as you can see on this map there are a number of schools in this area. There is also a cycleway/shared path nearby.

Millwater SchoolsUnfortunately, most of these schools are what AT described to me as ‘destination schools’. What are Destination Schools? These are schools that are designed with the expectation that a significant number of pupils will be driven from further away (also some bus and some local). Silverdale Primary can be seen with the purple outline and the remainder, in blue and brown, are destination schools. With all this traffic congregating in a small area and with some significant student numbers, combined with a student ‘drop off’ area on Longmore Lane, it is not surprising that there is heavy congestion and therefore some pressure on the intersection at school start and finish times.

Silverdale School AT Walking School Bus

That’s the problem, so what fixes are there. Since April, I understand there has been enhanced police enforcement of red lights at the location. Auckland Transport are also (just now) putting a couple of measures into place.

What about a long term fix? May I suggest we close Longmore Lane to vehicular traffic?

So where do drop offs and bus services go then?

Millwater CarparkConveniently, just 400m away, is the car park for the local sports fields. At the times schools are starting and finishing, this carpark is empty. Instead of dropping off in the school, parents should be using this carpark as the drop off/pick up area. Doing so takes the cross traffic away from the main intersection.

Along with these options, and in conjunction with the new Hibiscus Coast bus network, is the potential to create a couple of new bus stops on Millwater Parkway, just to the south of Longmore Lane, for both local and school buses.

So, do parents really need to drive right onto school grounds to drop kids off? Aside from exceptional circumstances, no, of course not. Fortunately the school has a staff carpark which would be suitable for limited numbers of special cases.

In removing Longmore Lane, and therefore the student drop off carpark, the school gains some extra grounds for other uses. Maybe a bike skills park on the old car park? Bike racks?

So how much importance are we going to put on children walking and riding to school with minimal risk of injury from a motor vehicle crash? Is it time to make some tough choices? Which politicians will put there hands up to demand change? Will we continue to prioritise the flow of motor vehicles over the rights of other road users?

While on the subject, Stella Maris also own land nearby and there are plans for another destination school (Secondary School) later. In my opinion, this is a poor location and is best kept for housing, or even mixed use, to tie into the town centre across the road.

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  1. I spent most of a week at that intersection in the local shops delivering training. I was a bit taken aback that the roading design was so obviously abysmal give the volume of traffic that certainly will pass through that intersection and that it will only double, treble and more once those green spaces are full of homes and businesses.

    I could get bitter about it……but why is street / traffic design so often done badly? Simple math will reveal expected flows from various types of land use and they already have the information for the existing roads.

    For what it’s worth, I was taking the bus up there each day from Greenlane…and had to walk a fairly long way (1.5 km-ish?)up to the nearest bus stop on Hibiscus Coast Highway. It seems Auckland Transport doesn’t add buses to new suburbs until a year after everyone has got used to doing everything by car. You’d think it would require an infrastructural view……not a “nice-to-have-later” approach.

    Google Maps shows no public transport at all in the entire Millwater Park development. Nothing. There are only school buses (028?)…and adults can’t use those.

    1. The Hibiscus Coast new network roll-out added the 985 through MIllwater. Unfortunately Google aren’t terribly quick at updating their maps with new stops/routes despite being contained in AT’s GTFS file.

  2. “So, do parents really need to drive right onto school grounds to drop kids off? Aside from exceptional circumstances, no, of course not.”
    Absolutely agree. There is only one reason we provide drop off areas within school grounds and that is because AT demands them. They cause the Ministry all sorts of delay if they dont get there drop off area. There are far better uses for the land and far safer ways of dealing with kids but but none of that cuts it with AT. It makes me sound even older than I am but everything was so much easier before amalgamation.

  3. The whole Millwater development is one huge clusterf*ck of a design. It suits nobody (certainly not pedestrians or cyclists or buses and it is a maze nightmare for cars to. Whoever designed the layout of this development needs to be taken outside and shot).
    It is only about half built so there is the potential to remedy it but this would be costly.

    1. Totally agree. In Millwater the shortest route between any two points feels like a long, leisurely loop around the whole development.

        1. If you know exactly where to go. Otherwise it’s still a maze. Should have been built grid style or one of those other designs promoted on here.

        2. I agree and I live in the area. there are sections that have been sort of grided but overall it looks like a maze where you have to find the shortest route

  4. Something else that I observed while there was a school patrol on the driveway crossing from Kingsway Primary. Yes, a footpath-driveway crossing patrol!

  5. That first picture is quite impressive, you hardly even see the curvature of that corner! How large is the radius of that turn?

    And pedestrian flags. Whoever thought of that as being a smart idea should be sentenced to have a few of them fixed to his car at all times.

  6. when I drive I always make a point to kill or at least permanently maim all the kids I see not wearing high-viz. Same for possums.

  7. One of the main issues with that corner is actually the cars parking further down the road outside kingsway on the side of the road and in some cases both sides, distracting drivers as you try to work out if you can actually get thru. I would totally agree with the first post that this is a very poor design, made worse recently by the new off ramp from the motorway, thus making this a rat run from the motorway up to Whangaparoa lights as another way to avoid the Silverdale traffic jam.

    Coming back to the parking however, the road is simply not wide enough for parking on one side without traffic having to move right across to be on the centreline, or over it if you want o be carfeul of kids running out between cars. Add people parked on both sides and traffic driving along Millwater road has to negotiate a chicane and then effectively a one lane section meaning as a driver you are scanning ahead to see if there are cars coming, are they stopping, or do you have to, can you get thru etc etc at a time when the priority is actually watching for kids first and orange lights, so all up it becomes a very busy area for a driver.

    Add in that all buses stop in Longmore Lane so kids going to Kinsgway have to walk across to the school, thus increasing the numbers of kids on that crossing at times, this does not help.

    Finally, the worse culprit at running orange lights is often the buses themselves turning! Closing Longmore Lane to cars will make little difference. removing some of the distractions for drivers and getting rid of the parking outside Kingsway would help.

  8. There is a definite planning problem; Was the subdivisional plan complete when these schools were planned? It seems crazy that planners did not perceive the need for other than car/bus delivery of children to the gates.
    I don’t know what the meaning of “Parkway” is. but it implies that there would be parking along it. It seems to me that the Parkway may be used as a motorway and that the speed limits need to be reduced through this area to say 20kph. That there needs to be provision on the side of the Parkway for the parking of buses. A red light camera position established and that it is snapping at least 3 months of the school year and issuing the tickets for both speed and light infringements.

  9. These comments are well made. As a positive, there are good separated cycle pedestrian lanes of decent width. But ….. it is really difficult to get from one side to the other. There are very few crossing points and a steep kerb, and raised traffic island in places. So to get from the northern cycle way to the main shopping centre requires a full dismount, traverse the kerb, and traffic island (where one exists) which all takes time and affects judgement about gaps between the vehicles. It is simply a connectivity oversight. Kids especially should be able to use these with safety but a parent would think twice about letting them where crossings are so difficult.

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