Takapuna Beach is one of Auckland’s many fantastic assets yet the beach has long be separated from the town centre by The Strand, effectively a back street with only a purpose to provide access to parking. Yet the people on foot using the main access from the town centre, down from Hustmere Green, have long been cut off from the beach by the below signs.
This situation was made even more absurd after the addition of the new playground last year, seen in the background of the image above drawing in even more families and children to the area. We and many others have for years requested that these signs be removed and proper crossings be put in.
Finally, Auckland Transport have agreed to do something about it, for this crossing at least.
Parents’ safety concerns have been answered as Auckland’s hugely popular Takapuna Beach Playground is set to get a zebra crossing.
Since opening in August, there had been numerous comments from the public to the North Shore Times calling for a designated crossing across The Strand.
But it was Auckland councillor for the North Shore Chris Darby who made an official request to Auckland Transport (AT) to investigate the playground’s safety and its case for a zebra crossing.
“During a visit to the beach last October, it was apparent that the throng of families accessing the playground was creating a serious pedestrian safety issue on The Strand,” Darby said.
“There’s a certain irony in this outcome as, for some years, there have been efforts to create a safer crossing of The Stand from Hurstmere Green to the beach but pedestrian counts did not substantiate it.
“Who would have thought a playground would create so much buzz? A cafe owner told told me there was an uplift in business with families discovering Takapuna for the first time.”
Auckland Transport will be installing the zebra crossing within the 2017/2018 financial year. This means it could be up to 18 months before the crossing is installed.
But AT media relations manager Mark Hannan said it is considering installing temporary warning signs, which can be “done quickly and relatively cheaply”.
Hannan said costing for the overall project had not been done yet, but The Strand met all of the criteria necessary for a street to qualify for a zebra crossing.
“Several factors are considered prior to putting in a pedestrian crossing, such as the pedestrian demand, traffic volumes, crash history, and proximity to driveways and side streets,” Hannan said.
“Our traffic and pedestrian counts indicate this site meets the criteria for a pedestrian crossing.”
Why it will take so long to put some white paint down on the road?
Unfortunately that isn’t the only sign telling pedestrians to give way in Auckland, it isn’t even the only one in Takapuna. Councillor Darby’s comments also highlight another, frequent issue, how we prioritise movement. In NZ the default in all situations is to do as much as possible not to inconvenience drivers in the slightest. Despite what numerous strategic documents say, maintaining the flow of traffic is normally treated as more important than the safety of people on foot, even when those on foot outnumber those in cars. Pedestrian crossings will only be provided if enough people are prepared to cross a road regardless. The problem with that it can often be the same as trying to determine the need for a bridge by counting the number of people swimming across the harbour.
We need to change our streets and our attitudes to users to fit more in line with the pyramid above and how different would we feel about crossings if they were designed the other way around?