An article in the Herald over the weekend highlighted what has to be one of the city’s most dangerous intersections, the Symonds St motorway on-ramp.

An insurance company is seeking almost $3000 in repair costs from an elderly man who was hit by a car while crossing an Auckland road.

But his family say the 73-year-old has no means to pay, and the case against him is “unfair”.

On November 24 Shulin Guo was hit by a car as he crossed the motorway onramp on Symonds Street to get to a bus stop.

Many pedestrians use the route to cross as it is the only way to access the bus stop.

Guo was hit by a van, knocked unconscious and suffered injuries including broken ribs and cuts and bruises to his face and body.

Guo was taken to hospital, where he spent six days recovering.

Initially he could not remember the incident, but now says he can recall checking for traffic before he crossed.

However the driver of the van and an independent witness told police they saw the elderly man step out onto the road without looking.

Putting aside the issue of the insurance company and who was at fault, this is a a dangerous intersection due to its poor road design. Not including this one, there have been numerous serious injuries here in recent years. Further, the Karangahape Rd and Symonds St intersection, which I assume includes the motorway on-ramp, is currently listed in the top 100 high-risk intersections in the country at number 73. It’s not hard to see why it’s dangerous either.

The on-ramp is effectively an uncontrolled slip-lane attached to the intersection. Vehicles can access it from Symonds St (southbound), Karangahape Rd and from Grafton Bridge (outside of the bus only hours).

The pedestrian crossing

This is also a busy area for pedestrians. As well as people walking through the area, I understand that a few thousand people catch a bus from these stops daily and have to cross the on-ramp. It may only be a short distance but even for able bodied people it can create nervousness. This is in part because it’s not always clear when vehicles come around the corner if they’re heading for the motorway or not.

This is further not helped as this is right at the place a drivers focus and mindset tends to shift from city driving to motorway driving. As many people pass through the intersection they tend to think they’re free of city streets and already on the motorway so start to speed up and narrow their focus accordingly.

So what can be done about it. Below are a couple ideas but there may be others.

Improve the design

An improved design would aim to help to ensure that drivers are travelling slow enough and are ready to stop should a pedestrian cross. This could include some or all of the following, none of which should be very expensive to do.

  • Formalising a zebra pedestrian crossing or at least make it more visual with some colour.
  • The crossing may already seem fairly narrow but it could possibly be narrowed even further to help give a visual clue to slow down. This would also help to ensure there is a shorter distance for pedestrians to cross.
  • Some sort of vertical change, such as a low speed table

Close the on-ramp

Many would think the on-ramp is far too busy to close but I was surprised at just how low usage of this on-ramp actually is. According to the NZTA, fewer than 7,000 vehicles a day use it. It used to be higher, at over 10,000, but usage dropped after the Grafton Gully motorway was built in the early 2000s.

Interestingly, that puts its usage at about the same as the Wellington St on-ramp which the NZTA wanted to close but backed down on. Like with Wellington St, it adds to a part of the motorway network that is already dense with connections and at each one, new connections mean more conflict from merging, often a source of congestion. Perhaps we could even re-purpose the on-ramp and use it as another connection to the Grafton Gully cycleway. Interestingly, Local Board chair Pippa Coom says it was meant to be closed years ago.

These are just a couple of thoughts but I’d be keen to hear others. Something really needs to be done here because this intersection is clearly dangerous in its current form. Positively, AT did reply on Twitter to Pippas tweet saying they’re looking at it.

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  1. It’s awful. I used to catch buses from there sometimes and you feel (and are) really vulnerable. I ride my bike through there now and I see people trying to get from K Rd to the bus stops during the Barnes dance phase, which is probably safer than crossing the on-ramp at the indicated spot but a hell of a long way to walk during a short phase.

    I had no idea it was only meant to be temporary, but that makes the case for closing it even stronger.

    (Side note: it also makes the intersection horrible to ride through. Going straight through on a green with traffic behind me, I’m never sure who’s going to wait for me to get past the on-ramp and who’s going to speed up and cut me off.)

  2. I can’t find the exact date, but i raised feedback with Auckland Transport about this junction around Oct-Nov 2017.

    To my surprise someone called me a few week later, we had about 5 min chat. Basically i was told that this junction has been reviewed by engineers/designers and the conclusion, there was very little working space to improve the junction and any changes would likely result adversely effecting car movements.

    I renumber feeling very disheartened after that call. I got told there wasn’t space to put in zebra pedestrian crossing. I then ask could the traffic lights be moved to include that part of the junction, so it could be part of the “barn dance” crossing.

    I strongly believe that AT should be liable for that $3000 repair costs. I doubt i have been the only person to report that the junction is unsafe.

      1. I’m sure what they mean is there isn’t space for traffic to wait at the zebra crossing without queuing back through the intersection.

        1. Yes, I was told that the gap between intersection and zebra crossing wouldn’t be big enough and would cause issues

  3. If I remember the intersection at Krd Symonds st does not have a barnes dance any more AT should bring it back as i would give the pedistrains time to get to the crossing before the next cross now kicks in , and why haven’t they painted zebra markings on the road to warn motorists that it is a crossing point . That way the elderly gent would not have been stung by the insurance companies . What came 1st legs or wheels ?

  4. Close it. Simple. It’s bad for drivers on the motorway, it’s bad for motorists at the intersection of Symonds Street and K Road it’s bad for pedestrians in the city, it’s bad for cyclists, and it holds up buses on Symonds Street.

  5. I can’t help wondering…

    Is it common to have insurance companies go after pedestrians after they’re hit by a car? Or is this a one-off?

    How fast do you need to drive to get $3000 worth of damage after hitting a pedestrian? Or is someone creaming it here?

    And, ugh, what happened to basic decency?

    1. I think he should go to small claims court.
      Is there any real proof that it was the pedestrians fault other than one witness?
      What speed was the car doing? Under 50km/hr? Is 50km/hr acceptable in a built up city? Just because it is the limit that doesn’t make it acceptable at all (or any) times.
      I would say if he was going 30 km/hr which is probably a reasonable speed in a city centre, very little damage would have been caused.

      1. In that situation it is legally always the pedestrians fault. With that set of road design and road markings controlling it, the pedestrian never has right of way and will always be legally in the wrong if there is a conflict.

        It’s a shit design, and intentional to not give pedestrians any priority to avoid traffic having to stop and back up.

        1. I did ask some (as in multiple) Dutch cycle safety experts about the strict liability thing – and their opinion was, paraphrased: “We only introduced that (comparatively) recently. Its all about the infrastructure.”

          Of course if you revert the legal priority here, then the liability / burden of proof also flips onto the driver, where it should be. No need to change the law for that.

        2. Have to remember too that the Dutch strict liability rule applies to who’s responsible for damage/injury costs, not for prosecution charges. Here in NZ, ACC takes care of much of the personal injury claims that keep lawyers busy in other parts of the world…

        3. And of course it is perfectly reasonable for a few pedestrians to be injured or even killed to avoid any possible traffic delays…
          In any other situation such a callous approach to safety would not be completely unacceptable.

        4. There’s no legal concept of “right of way” in our traffic laws, i.e. no-one can get 100% right of way, just precedence over other users in certain situations, all else being equal. Even then, there is still a requirement under the Land Transport Act to not run into other users just because you have precedence over them – “A person may not drive a vehicle… without reasonable consideration for other persons”.

        5. “the pedestrian never has right of way and will always be legally in the wrong if there is a conflict.”

          Drivers never have right of way either as there’s no such thing as right of way in NZ traffic laws. There’s also no legal obligation for pedestrians or drivers to give way to each other when there’s no crossing

        6. “there’s no such thing as right of way in NZ traffic laws.”

          Sigh. So what?

          Maybe that’s an interesting observation for academics and lawyers, but for drivers it doesn’t matter. You still have to give way at a stop sign. As the road code says, drivers on the main road still “don’t need to stop, brake or slow down, swerve or take any other evasive action to avoid you.”

          “There’s also no legal obligation for pedestrians or drivers to give way to each other when there’s no crossing”

          Again, so what? Nobody cares, apart from people studying for their theoretical test. In practice, 99% of the people follow the rule that pedestrians have to give way to cars. Also in practice, car drivers will react very badly if you don’t follow that rule.

        7. That’s not true. Anyone entering a roadway is obliged to give way to anyone already on the roadway. This rule applies equally to pedestrians, bikes and vehicles.

          Therefore where there isn’t a marked pedestrian crossing, anyone stepping into the road to cross it on foot (or in a vehicle or on a bike, or horse for that matter) is required to give way to any driver already driving on the road.

        8. Also one needs to be careful as to what the definition of a “roadway” is. It can sometimes refer to the entire road reserve (this is the border of the land the road sits on one side through to the other side) so certainly includes foot paths thus under this broader definition the pedestrian would already be on the “roadway”.

        9. Legally, the “road” is the entire road reserve including footpaths and berms. The “roadway” is generally the bit between kerbs i.e. “the portion of the road used or reasonably usable for the time being for vehicular traffic in general”.

    2. I remember a case a few years back where a kid on a scooter was hit by a car and the insurance company went after the kid’s family. At the time I was disgusted by this behaviour, and also by the police who supported the insurance company saying that the kid had no right to be on the road!

      1. This is why so many pedestrians are hit by cars because it is “never the drivers fault” so effectively the driver doesn’t have to take responsibility to drive safely where pedestrians are concerned.
        This really needs to change if the burden was flipped the other way people would drive slower and take more care at intersections and far fewer people would be killed and injured.
        Everyone would be better off.

        1. Although I agree that pedestrians should always have the ROW, I don’t think the burden of responsibility has as much impact on the way people drive as we’d like to think. In the US pedestrians always have the ROW in a crosswalk, and a crosswalk is defined to include any extension of an intersecting footpath or straight line between curb cuts, so it doesn’t have to be painted to be considered a crosswalk, yet driver behaviour around pedestrians varies dramatically in different parts of the country. It has a lot more to do with local culture, pedestrian confidence (this one is actually influenced quite a bit by the knowledge of ped ROW) and especially design.

  6. If the ramp was closed or changed, I’d hope that the bus lane will continue straight through instead of making buses switch to the center lane then go left again for the bus stop. The traffic movements are chaotic at this intersection. Walkers always get cut off by inconsiderate drivers on the south bound krd sliplane too.

  7. Good idea. Not only would closing it make the intersection far safer for pedestrians, it would (ironically) also increase the capacity of the motorway. Merge conflicts from too closely spaced motorway on ramps are the number one cause of motorway capacity reductions. The gap from the end of this on ramp taper to the start of the next merge from Grafton Gully is only 160 metres – way too short – compared to a desirable minimum of 800 metres. SH1 capacity southbound would be increased by closing this.

  8. I second Chris R – cycling through the intersection from the university along Symonds Street, you have no idea who is going to cut in front of you to try and access the on ramp, it’s bloody sketchy.

  9. From purely a south bound motorway perspective this onramp causes some problems as the vehicles merging come on well under posted or traffic limit speeds, as NZ drivers do, and then get caught up in the slow merge from the port and in turn it stuffs the flow for traffic south bound.

    So given its not well used, closing it makes a lot sense. It’s not like there isn’t a smorgasbord of options in the city.

    Still, it’s no where near as bad as Market Road or Gillies Ave on ramps.

    And I think a crossing is still going to be high risk to pedestrians no matter what.

      1. Market Rd has two off-ramps to be more precise, a north and a south one. Incidentally I heard years ago that the Gillies Ave on (and off?) ramps were only put into the design after pressure from the local residents there.

        1. They were designed from the get go, to work together as a pair with Khyber Pass ramps, to avoid the need to add any difficult/expensive to build, off or on ramps at Khyber Pass and/or avoid having to put any On-ramps at Market Road.

          So folks who needed to get to Khyber Pass from the north, could simply get off at Gillies and loop around that way.

          And folks who needed to get off at Gillies coming from the South used to be able to loop around on to the Khyber Pass on ramp to do so.

          Nowadays to do this you have to take the long way around the back streets to Boston Road from Khyber pass Off ramp to do this, as they outlawed that U turn capability a while ago.

          But I think the traffic weaving and ducking and diving that goes on here between Khyber and Gillies ramps was simply never envisaged by the original designers.

          Made worse when going north by the need to get out of the left most 2-3 lanes if you are heading over the bridge or on SH16 (the North West Motorway).

          If anything the Khyber Pass ramps should never have been added as they’re the actual problem here.

  10. Close it already. Was always intended to be temporary, installed when the entire motorway stopped at Symonds St while the connection to the harbour bridge under K Rd was being built. Was never intended to be kept. It ruins K Rd by dragging motorway-bound traffic through it, creates friction on the m’way, S it is too close to Grafton on-ramp, and is clearly dangerous.

    1. The Symonds St on-ramp was also the main route for traffic from the Northwestern motorway (via Great North Rd) from 1971 until the direct link opened in 1988. No justification for retaining it today, those 7,000 vehicles can use Grafton Gully or Khyber Pass on-ramps easily enough.

      1. I remember as a kid sitting in traffic going up Khyber Pass Rd after travelling from southern motorway to link to the western. Going the other way wouldn’t people have used Newton Rd then Khyber Pass? Either could of been used I guess going south.

        1. They did do that but only only once the NW motorway was built back from Newton Road to Waterview and was linked up with SH16 at Waterview [mid ’80s from memory?].

          Before then coming east you’d have to get off at Waterview, trundle down full length of Gt North, then on to K’Rd, then onto the Southern via this on ramp. At some point, once the NW Motorway started/ended at Western Springs, then you’d be able to hop on from GT North Road on the NW motorway going to Newton, then trundle slowly up Newton, then slowly down Khyber Pass, then trickle onto the Southern.

          Not sure when the Newton Road over bridge/on & off ramps were built/opened but late in the ’70s or early ’80s I’d guess so it was used like this for 8-10 years.

          I do recall seeing endless nose to tail traffic both ways up/down Khyber Pass road and Newton Roads all day every day in the ’80s there.

    2. How about this idea.

      Close the on ramp to traffic,

      And turn that on ramp, via a small switch back linking track from the Grafton Gully cycleway near the Symonds St underbridge area up and onto the now “former on-ramp”.

      Thus eliminating a major city traffic and motorway bottleneck – while providing walking and cycle access/connectivity to Symonds St environs near K’Rd/Grafton Bridge – which the GG cycleway has been crying out for since day 1.

      And all without the need for a dedicated [and no doubt expensive] linking structure coming down from Symonds St bridge area or going through the cemetery to the west of Symonds St overbridge.

      The on ramp is steepish going up to Symonds St end, but its walkable and cycleable I think especially if you’ve just ridden up the Grafton Gully, so this bit will be a relative piece of cake.

      Kind of like throwing down another “Half Nelson” on a no longer useful piece of Motorway?

      Agree the on ramp was ever only intended as a temporary Motorway access measure. It was supposedly only intended as a stop gap “on ramp” until other parts of the motorway came on stream, but like a lot of temporary stuff built in Auckland over the years, it’s stayed around – long after the party has finished and everyone else has gone home in fact. So long in fact, its now like some sort of homeless old tramp who continues living in a run down old sleep out out the back of the house, that even the new property owners are seemingly too afraid to evict as no one can remember now what the reasons were and for how long he was originally allowed to stay on.

      Auckland Motorways are littered with lots of these remnants of former [but usually now retired] on-ramps, For instance there used to be a major one heading south right on the corner of Grafton Road and Carlton Gore Roads – nearly opposite the former Whitecliff Art School buildings [which the former Art school is now used for something else].

      It does seem odd though that for a supposedly temporary structure, that they created that expensive volcanic stone wall down the left hand side of the on ramp as you go down the on ramp. Maybe it was them trying to put lipstick on a noisy pig?

      As I do gather/seem to recall that wall was a condition of being able to put a on ramp here as the city council of the day didn’t want the on ramp tyre/vehicle noise to make the adjacent cemetery too noisy for the people visiting the graves there.

      Meanwhile completely ignoring the “other” cemetery and a couple of church(es) they’d let be dug up to put the motorway right through just around the corner – between Symonds St and Upper Queens St over bridges!] where the massive motorway trench is now. All of which used to be a nice piece of gently sloping/flattish land linking to K’Rd.

      1. “Auckland Motorways are littered with lots of these remnants of former [but usually now retired] on-ramps”

        Would be an interesting exercise, wouldn’t it. Identifying all of these for re-purposing to walking/cycling/busway, if only as part of trials.

        1. Yes. I was part of a group that redesigned the Symonds St / K’ Rd / spaghetti junction for a post-carbon future. It was really fun seeing the opportunities. But I also like your idea of identifying all the remnants and redesigning them first. Good idea.

        2. Well, we can’t make Lightpaths out of all of them, but certainly there’s a few opportunities.

          I dream of the day in the future when we take traffic lanes away from motorways and build cycleways, like a cycleway on the Newmarket Viaduct for riders to and from the southeast (with electric cars it will be less noisy and stinky up there in 20 years).

        3. Well Max the Northbound Newmarket Viaduct Was built for 4 lanes of traffic, but they only put in 3 and a bit as the motorway north of Gillies Ave couldn’t cope with an extra lane. But they made it the same width as the southbound lanes are, so 4 can fit in.

          So there is hope to purloin a lane, which even with barrier type protection [Like that glass barrier in St Marys bay] would still make a pretty generous lightpath arrangement.

          Of course, what do you do either side of the viaduct is a different story, but there is a possibility.

  11. This is a ridiculous and unnecessary on-ramp and is the cause of much of the congestion on Symonds St and Anzac Ave. Also, southbound buses using the bus lane have to cross in front of vehicles wishing to use it and there is no bus priority signal there, so there is a big conflict. No wonder cyclists use the pedestrian phase to get across.
    Vehicles wanting to use the on-ramp can use the Grafton Gully one – it is very close, easy to get to and has much larger capacity. Having used it from Stanley St for a number of years I can say that it isn’t usually all that busy either, even in rush hour. I think Phil Twyford and Phil Goff need to come to the party here.

  12. A second issue is the placement of the bus stops – possibly the most useless in the world. Literally hundreds of metres from anywhere the passengers are likely to have started.

    The only reason for placing them there are because this is the widest part of Symonds Street, and god forbid that we take up any of the valuable road space elsewhere for the buses (even though I guess 70-80 per cent of people using the corridor are on buses).

    1. A very good point. Having said that, if the stops opposite The Langham were reopened, would there be enough space for all the stops, or would you have to split across two zones?

      I’ve no opinion on whether the on ramp should remain or not, but it’d be easier to move the bus stops than to get NZTA to close the ramp.

  13. >, there was very little working space to improve the junction and any changes would likely result adversely effecting car movements


    All they need to do is install a pedestrian cross button at the current “pedestrian crossing” ramps,
    which would trigger the current pedestrian crossing phase across Symonds street ( between the bridge and the Traffic island)

    This adds no more complexity to the current intersection, but when triggered would prevent traffic from coming round from K road or straight through from symonds street, thus allowing the ability to cross.

    If they wanted to go full Traffic engineering on it they could install a full light controlled crossing, that had a delayed red light and cross signal connected to the turning traffic phase to allow traffic time to clear the intersection before activating.

    (There is at least one set of crossing lights in Wellington that have a “delay” on some of the red lights to allow traffic to clear the intersection before the cross phase is activated..

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  14. The road code states that a vehicle must be driven at a speed so it can stop in half the clear distance ahead. If a vehicle couldn’t stop in time to avoid a little old man toddling across the road, it was going too fast, therefore breaking the the law. Taking into account the factors around the intersection, it could be argued that the motorist was driving dangerously, therefore why wasn’t he prosecuted for dangerous driving.

    1. If the man stepped out in front of the van just before impact (and by the rather risky design of that gap/crossing with vehicles coming behind you, that is exactly what can happen) then the road was clear ahead of the driver right up until that moment. It is not a crossing where the pedestrian has right of way. And therefore that driver was not doing anything wrong. And if that is the case, I don’t think your proposition will fly.

      Otherwise anyone who steps in front of any vehicle regardless of if the driver can react in time is blame free.

      1. I wonder what the driver of the car *thought* the man was about to do as he approached the crossing? I hardly think this pedestrian moved so quickly towards the crossing that the driver couldn’t have predicted it. What really happened is that the driver was given few cues by the road design that this was a crossing, and that the appropriate speed needed to be low enough to be able to anticipate a mistake.

        This is a classic case where the road design caused the severity of the injury.

        Does Vision Zero in Sweden extend to regulating the actions that insurance companies are allowed to take? Seems to me the no-blame approach would require this.

      2. There is no reason to have an expectation of a pedestrian free environment anywhere in NZ except on a motorway. Therefore your excuses as a motorist are pretty limited if you hit someone who is crossing a road.

        The “Southern Motorway” sign which announces this is a motorway and it begins here, is halfway down that on ramp, well past the point where the pedestrian was crossing. So this is the signal that its reasonable for vehicles only from here. So in theory up to that point its all AT’s roads/responsibility and any normal 50 kph road with all the attendant issues like pedestrians etc.

        Before that point there are a pair of mandatory “No pedestrians” and “No cycling” signs [red border] – and these are well before that motorway sign. And serve to tell cyclists and pedestrians to not use the narrow footpath or road there. But these appear at most on ramps anyway so are not new here.

        But before them, is the gap in the fence where people can, and indeed, are, expected to cross the road at that point. And just as important – thats the only place they can cross!

        So yeah claiming he jumped out at me is being a little vague about being an inattentive driver at best, but as it didn’t go to court we don’t have all the details of exactly where the ped. was standing/crossing and whether he was going from the cemetery/Grafton bridge footpath to the Symonds St footpath or the other way round etc.

        So, to be fair to the motorist, there are two potential issues here that may have been at play.

        1. The elderly gentlemen who was hit hails from China, which is of no consequence – except like the US and other countries, China drives on the right.
        So it would be dead easy to instinctively glance or “look the wrong way” [left] before you crossed the road, if crossing to the Symonds St foopath – thus not seeing any cars coming at you from your “blind side”.

        [Which is possibly why the hit pedestrian could correctly claim as he did, that he did look before he crossed and why the motorist and witness could say that they think he did not – with both being right].

        2. As pointed out below, that railing with the crossing at the end with the way it initially curves away from you then merges into the stone wall leads you as a motorist to believing that pedestrians are quite simply unable to cross here, so its telling you not to expect any.
        So why is there any need to look out for them?

        Simply this ramp needs to close. Its use by date is well and truly over.

        But if AT and NZTA haevn’t got the balls to do so and/or refuse to close the on ramp.

        Then they need to move the crossing point and railing gap at least 1 more like 2 car lengths closer to the Symonds St – so that is more visible to all and actually matches the desire lines of the pedestrians using it.
        And secondly they should paint a “raised table” on the road so it looks 3 dimensional to drivers using the on ramp – so it makes it obvious that people can and do cross here, without actually making the road go up and down. Which may be more of a problem than it solves if they did put a raised table here.

        If in order to do that they may well need to extend the footpath out into a flat “triangle” of raised concrete curbing – where that painted triangle is in the picture above. Which is where the edge of the on ramp road starts and the bus lane area starts.

        Do something like AT does in a central median strip.
        This moves pedestrian a lot closer to the desire lines, makes them more visible to motorists as they are now “higher up” when standing on the curb side and not part way down a slope as they are now. And also make motorists slow down as the road looks narrower.

        Its well overdue for a tidy up, its been a real health hazard for decades. So stop muckng about AT and NZTA.

  15. Yes agree with the others above, close it. The only downside I see is express buses running south won’t have this fast option after first coming up a fuller length of Symonds St. This may have fairly big effect on cars running up Queen St to get to it also. Check what Google suggests from central parts of the CBD and the times are pretty close between the options of Grafton Gully or Hobson St, especially earlier in the day.

    1. Those buses will be able to use a Wellesley Street busway cross town and then straight on the heavy vehicle lane at Grafton Gully (not that there will be many express buses soon)

  16. Formalising a zebra pedestrian crossing or at least make it more visual with some colour.

    The crossing may already seem fairly narrow but it could possibly be narrowed even further to help give a visual clue to slow down. This would also help to ensure there is a shorter distance for pedestrians to cross.

    Some sort of vertical change, such as a low speed table.

    Ye, yes and yes, absolutely. Even a signalised crossing incorporated into the K’Rd/Symonds lights.

    However, this ramp is also used by buses, the AUT Campus Shuttle as well as southern buses on positioning trips. Re-routing them would add significant time and distance to what can already be a very long peak period trip on the AUT bus.

    1. “Re-routing them would add significant time and distance to what can already be a very long peak period trip on the AUT bus.”

      Would it? The bus could leave from the Wellesley St (eastbound) stop and get straight on at Grafton Gully).

  17. This onramp also adds risk just after where Northwestern motorway traffic merges from the right-hand side – you get vehicles merging from both sides around a very bendy section of the motorway southbound at 80 km/hr plus.

    Close the onramp. Not far to either Nelson St or Grafton Rd onramps instead.

  18. Thank you for this excellent post. I stopped using this bus stop which I had daily for years because of one too many scares. It’s very dangerous and I also hold my breath when I see people crossing heading directly for the bus stops rather than go directly across the crossing and then cross in the motorway on ramp path to get onto the footpath with the bus stops. Madness. Close the on ramp please. I can’t believe it was temporary and still operating. Great suggestion Ms Coom to make it part of the K Rd changes.

  19. The Top 100 Most Dangerous Intersections document you linked to has Symonds / Karangahape marked as “An agreed plan is in place”. The plan must be pretty vague if they’re still “looking at options”.

    How many of the other dangerous intersections on this list that look as though something is happening are really at “looking at options”stage?

    1. Really good point. They’ve had time. What’s the hold-up? Can’t an unnecessary injury shame AT into solving its momentum issue? AT: just close it tomorrow morning, before anyone else gets hurt. You can sort the paperwork tomorrow afternoon.

      Now, what shall we do with that space? Could be fun!

  20. As a resident of the K Road area I use this on ramp regularly throughout the week. It is very convenient, particularly since Grafton Bridge cannot be used by cars during week days to reach Newmarket. On occasions I need to head south in peak traffic and not use this ramp the alternative is to head up Symonds Street and then Khyber Pass. This is often a nightmare of traffic congestion. It is very easy and glib to say ‘close it’ but remember local residents use it and if it closes cars will simply head to khyber pass and clog that.. talk of closing Wellington Street is another issue… where do Newton residents then go? A dog leg journey via Franklin Road or down Nelson to Fanshawe? Nelson now had bigger queues due to the cycle way. I’m not criticising cycleways and I’m in favour of lots more public transport.. some of my issues will be solved when the rail tunnel is completed as I live close to the K rd station.

    1. If you are in the K Road area (I used to live here too) the best thing to do is actually to drive 300m down Pitt Street and turn left onto the on-ramp there. That is usually faster than queueing up on K Road to get to the ramp by Grafton Bridge, and driving across to Khyber Pass is usually a big and unnecessary hassle.

      1. +1, K Road residents should use Nelson Street southbound and Fanshawe Street northbound. You live in the central city, you shouldn’t expect fast driving access everywhere.

  21. I became an advocate for closing the onramp around the time the CMJ walking & cycling masterplan was presented to the Transport Committee in 2012
    Report Item 9 (page 67 re what proposed at Symonds St)
    Presentation by NZTA

    It includes the closure of the onramp as a long term priority (10 years+)

    I heard from NZTA officials then that the Symonds St onramp was meant to close once the CMJ was complete (Grafton/Port onramps) and that there is a lot of internal support to close the onramp because it will improve the overall efficiency of the motorway network. However no one at the transport agencies wanted to be responsible for the closure because of concern about the backlash following the campaign to keep Wellington St onramp open.

    Ideally the onramp should be closed as part of the K’rd upgrade but this was the limp response in the feedback report “The access to the Symonds Street on-ramp will be retained and it is not within the scope of this project to consider closure of this ramp. Any closure has wider city centre network impacts that would need to be further investigated”.

    Review of the impacts of closing the onramp was promised 5 years ago so it really is time for action by AT and NZTA with safety being the priority.

    1. Thanks Pippa. AT is acting like a BCO, a backlash controlled organisaion. Do you think they are unaware that if fear of backlash determines their actions, the public are encouraged to rise up and fight to be heard? Is this not simply encouragement to set up camp on the onramp? (Choose your style of hat for this January sun.)

      1. I have said before that AT is a very risk-averse organisation because whatever their decision, they risk copping flak from so many directions – Interest groups AND the general public AND their own Senior Management AND Council politicians.

        That’s the problem with their vaunted independence. Instead of “freeing them up to do the right thing” as Rodney Hide sold the CCOs to us, they are instead looking over their shoulders at even more masters than before.

      2. This is likely to be NZTA’s call but AT probably hasn’t pushed very hard for improvements. To be fair to both agencies it is likely that they’ve wanted a stronger political mandate to put safety first and close the onramp.

        I’m hopeful we are going to see a very different approach going forward (due to new govt direction/new CEO at AT) that will see decisive action on issues like Symonds Street.

        1. “To be fair to both agencies it is likely that they’ve wanted a stronger political mandate to put safety first…”

          They should not need a mandate to prioritise safety.

        2. My impression is always that there’s a strong mandate to prioritise throughput over safety. And also that for politicians, pursuing anything else (like vision zero) is political suicide.

          Just look at how drivers interact with pedestrians — kiwis seem fairly comfortable with the idea that occasionally people die in traffic. The idea for instance that you can cut off a pedestrian who is halfway crossing the street at full throttle is pretty unique in the world.

          It’s a democracy. For the majority of people, driving convenience trumps life. So that’s what we get.

    2. “Ideally the onramp should be closed as part of the K’rd upgrade”


      I can already hear the opposition screaming from my house. Close it, but not in a way that bikeways become the scapegoat again.

  22. Hi,
    Where I live we have raised pedestrian crossings with speed humps in front of them on multilane arterial roads carrying far higher traffic volumes than this on-ramp.

    1. Speed humps might be the only way for that to work; generally zebra crossings are avoided on multi-lane roads because one vehicle stops but the adjacent one doesn’t because they can’t see the pedestrian crossing who is shielded by the first vehicle… (the other problem is that multi-lane roads are typically higher speeds, exacerbating the problems if someone gets it wrong)

      1. Agreed. (There are/were flat ped crossings here with no speed humps on multi lane arterials and they give me the heebee jeebees.

        The posted speed limit on the arterials is 60kmh but there is a 20kmh buffer so operational speeds are up to 80kmh & the driving culture is aggressive.
        The speed humps and raised ped crossings work fine in such a speed environment.

  23. Or reshape the intersection so that the access to the on ramp is a really small radius curve. Like turning a corner. Major inner city bus stop with no way to access it safely is completely crazy.

  24. Liability would depend on the facts of the case. If the pedestrian steps in front of a vehicle in a way that gives the motorist no chance of stopping, pedestrian is liable.
    If, having regard to the exact timing, sight lines, speed and braking distance, the vehicle could have stopped, the motorist is liable. A motorist does not have the right to keep their foot on the throttle and mow down a pedestrian just because they think the pedestrian shouldn’t have been there.
    Whether the pedestrian was on a marked crossing or not, or whether they looked before stepping out, does not in any way change the motorist’s responsibility to avoid a collision if possible.

    1. It not uncommon now to have pedestrians step out on to a crossing without looking. I have changed my driving behaviour to be ready to stop if no clear sight line or pedestrian near crossing after a few near misses. Regardless of your rights as a motorist you don’t want to cause harm. Close the thing!

  25. Closing that onramp is an eminently sensible proposal but would trigger the impatient ilk who agitated to get the speed limit around the Waterview tunnel raised to 100kph (saving themselves a measly 2 minutes of travel time at best). NZTA rolled over like a puppy on that one, and if they did the same with the onramp then a precedent would be set and we would never be able to get rid of it. Sadly I think it would be best to save this up for an incident where motorists are injured and a driver is clearly at fault.

  26. I crossed this every day for almost 3 years, and certainly have seen some near misses.

    I was also equally concerned about the bus stops along this section. Incredibly busy, especially during University term time. However the space for pedestrians is severely limited due to the narrow path and seriously poorly designed bus shelters. (They appear to be examples or tests of each type of bus shelter, small and large.)

    Because there was such little space you’d find people often overflowing into the road; not great when you have buses sailing up behind you.

  27. 1. Could this location be a candidate for a tactical “trial” closure for a few months, to be extended indefinitely if successful. It would be relatively cheap project to put some temporary concrete barriers or planter boxes across the on-ramp and re-mark some lanes. There shouldn’t be a need to wait for major / permanent project. NZTA have shown they can do trials with EVs in priority lanes, and AT has shown they can do it with taxis on the Grafton Bridge.
    2. I’m pessimistic about the suggestions made in some comments to provide a signalised crossing, either as part of the Barnes dance or separately. This is because as confident pedestrian here there are far too many easy opportunities to cross between vehicles, several times per traffic light cycle – so I predict most pedestrians won’t bother requesting or waiting for a signal.
    3. The 7000 vehicles per day is that low I guess is partly because NZTA constrains how many vehicles per minute can go through the ramp signal at peak times. But there’s a marketing opportunity here for NZTA if they do close the on ramp, they can advertise which on-ramps they are changing the signal timing on to take the capacity previously used by the Symonds St ramp, to show the public that, overall, no peak-time capacity out of the city is being lost when the on ramp is closed.

    1. Further to point 3 – in the evenings there is quite often a backlog of traffic that has turned right out of K Rd with nowhere to go because the on-ramp is full, and so cars are blocking the intersection during the pedestrian phase of the traffic signals.

    1. Here’s a thought. How about NZTA / AT take a strong stance on safety and say something along the lines of : This on ramp is very dangerous for anyone wanting to cross here. we will not compromise on Safety for the convenience of a few motorists. As this onramp was only ever meant to be temporary and there are alternatives we have made a firm decision to close the onramp.
      There will still be backlash but if they repeatedly respond with “we will not compromise on Safety for the convenience of a few motorists” the message will eventually sink in and next time they want to do something primarily for safety reasons there will be less resistance and we might begin to see the beginnings of some real culture change around transport safety.

    1. That’s insane. I’d imagine that the CCTV footage is taken for traffic flow information, but there should definitely be a requirement that it is then retained if there is such an incident. How would you go about putting in place such a requirement?

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