Auckland is in the midst of a road safety crisis with deaths and serious injuries in the region increasing by more than 70% in the three years since 2014. That’s more than five times the rate of travel and three times the rate of increase for the rest of the country.

Yesterday, Auckland Transport released a damning report, commissioned last year by the AT board, looking at the causes of this and what needs to be done to turn it around. You can read the executive summary here, or the full report here. It is highly critical of not just Auckland Transport but other agencies involved with road safety, including the police and indirectly the former government. It notes:

The crisis in road safety performance reflects a number of deficiencies of public policy at central government and local level. Most of all it reflects an absence of commitment to improving safety on New Zealand and Auckland’s roads.

I’m glad the report has come out, it was very much needed, but it also makes me angry as so many of the issues it raises are ones that have been pointed out time and time again but that those in positions of authority choose to ignore. There’s been a complete abdication of responsibility and people are dead as a result.

Deaths and serious injuries in Auckland are at levels not seen since 1994

Auckland Transport

Reading the report, I can’t help but think that if it weren’t for the Urban Cycleway Programme, that we may not have seen anything at all done about safety in any area.

Auckland has had no new road safety strategy approved since AT was formed. Safety on the road network has not been a priority at AT in that time. Roadsafe Auckland has tried to function within limited parameters over the last seven years, but decisions to reduce dedicated road policing resources in late 2016 (later reversed but still causing harm as police struggle to re-establish road policing capacity) laid bare the weaknesses in commitment to the safety of those using New Zealand and Auckland’s roads. It has been “the straw that broke the camel’s back.”

It is difficult to believe that Aucklanders are not concerned about the remarkable escalation in road crash deaths and serious injuries in recent years. But how does Auckland recover from this blight?

Not a single road safety strategy approved by AT, that’s outrageous, especially given how they talk about it as one of their five strategic themes in documents. I’ll address the policing part later in the post.

But it gets worse

Within AT’s own operations there is a major adjustment required to the way that safety is understood and applied across the business in a sustainable way.

Proactive road safety activity has not been a central part of AT’s way of operating and staff at senior and middle levels confirmed this. They recognise this has to change and were without exception ready to do what is required to gain recognition for Auckland over the years ahead as a safe place for all road users. Auckland Transport has a considerable opportunity.

They recognise a change has to happen, what were they waiting for then? Here are some of the things the report says AT should have been focusing on

AT has been focused on implementing the national cycling action plan and relatively small (but important) safety investments on AT’s roads rather than also targeting the critical bigger picture of:

  • leveraging the annual AT major road Capex programme and the annual maintenance programme to deliver important low marginal cost road network safety improvement over time
  • adopting a vibrant regional road safety strategy and action plan including open consultation with Aucklanders
  • delivering an effective community education programme reflecting that adopted strategy
  • actively moving to manage free operating speeds which are in general terms too high for appropriately safe road network operation
  • developing strategies to improve the underlying safety of walking, motorcycling and cycling
  • resourcing within AT at high levels as well as mid management levels the task of building and maintaining active partnerships to influence and support the regional partners and press for the whole-hearted embrace of safe system/vision zero (as well as necessary supportive enabling initiatives to be taken) by the national partners/central government.

So the report calls out AT not just for their inaction in areas where they have direct responsibility for but also for their failure to advocate to central government (and the public) on the weaknesses in the current plans and the opportunities for improvement.

Government

As well as a lack of action by Auckland Transport, there’s also been a lack of enforcement, especially over the last year. But the real reason for that can be traced back to the former government.

Enforcement efforts have been substantially affected from early 2017. NZTA allocations to Police for road safety enforcement were not reduced but Police claimed they could not support traditional road policing numbers with that $960m that was allocated from 2015/16 to 2017/18 over three years. This issue flared up in late 2016, leading to reduced road policing staffing and outputs until it is understood a special additional allocation from NZ Transport Agency was made in the middle of 2017 to break the impasse. By that time however, police had already cut dedicated road policing resources (111 road policing positions across New Zealand and more than 70 of these it is understood were reduced road policing numbers in Auckland. This cut was 30-40% of the total road policing staff numbers in Auckland and represented 64% of the national reductions in road policing FTEs)

Those NZTA allocations to police are governed by the Government Policy Statement (GPS). The NZTA had allocated near the top of the GPS range for road policing but successive GPS’s by the former government had effectively froze funding for road policing for almost a decade. In the real world meant a funding cut. This was largely in part to pump as much money as possible into their Roads of National Significance.

It’s not just funding for policing that the previous government failed to act on. The report also calls out their failure to do anything that might upset drivers breaking the law.

Speed enforcement which would effectively deter speeding and achieve good levels of compliance with the posted limits is also severely hampered by central government reluctance to apply demerit points for camera offences, and an inadequate level of fines ($30) for low level speeding offences – up to 10 km/h over the limit, which is less than a parking ticket and is inadequate to deter low level speeding.

There are other, more direct comments

It is difficult to imagine a less supportive framework to enable Police to reduce speeding than the current New Zealand regulatory settings.

and

Adequate responses to the above policy issues are the foundation of good road safety performance and it can be asserted that not enough has been done by government in introducing new life saving policy directions for these measures in New Zealand.

There are plenty of other government related comments too, for example that road safety improvements have to be balanced off against travel time impacts – where someone dying can be considered less important than some people saving 20 seconds on their journey.

How to fix the crisis

The report mentions a large number of actions that need to be implemented to improve safety in Auckland and New Zealand. These are targeted at the governance, operational level within AT and what their partners involved with road safety need to do. One of these is adopting and embracing Vision Zero.

For their part. AT talked up in their press release about the $700 million being allocated towards safety in the Regional Land Transport Plan. Some of the changes they mention as being implemented come from the report. Far too often we’ve seen safety improvement projects stopped or watered down to appease a vocal resident, especially ones who demand the right to store their private property on public land. It remains to be seen if AT will now start standing up to this.

This report should be a wakeup call to AT and others, so I’ll leave the final comment to it.

Making changes is rarely popular, often meeting illogical but strongly held views and emotions. Stepping up to make a difference requires leadership and courage.

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106 comments

  1. Wow what a damning report. Inaction from Auckland Transport’s bunch of old white men ELT has clearly cost a bunch of lives. Disgraceful!

    Also Simon Bridges comes out of this really bad as the former transport minister. He should hang his head in shame.

    1. “Old White Men” – why even raise this? Do you think it was an actual factor? I notice you didn’t refer to Mr. Birdges’ Maori ancestry.

      1. Because _as a group_ they are less likely to struggle along a broken-up footpath, crossing a suburban side-street designed to facilitate high-speed cornering, while pushing a stroller and accompanying a small child than other demographics, as an example. I say this as an OWM who now at least thinks about this sort of thing while walking the dog around the leafy suburb.

        1. I classify myself as an OWM but I am often critical of decisions made by them in the past. It’s not sexism or racism, it’s just how the world has worked and to a certain extent still does. It needs to change and I believe that it has started to do so.

  2. Looking forward to seeing how the AT Chief Executive shows that he is responding clearly to this with fresh resource to respond to comments such as:

    “Proactive road safety activity has not been a central part of AT’s way of operating and staff at senior and middle levels confirmed this.”

    It beggars belief that for many years, Auckland Transport’s senior leadership were in the same building as NZTA’s Auckland office, during which time they failed to address safety together, failed to address common funding issues, did not form a single large job together, failed to clearly delineate their roles, did not even try to integrate roles or groups despite huge commonalities, failed to plan for one network until a bunch of lobbyists designed it for them and handed it to them, failed to integrate rail or Police or indeed any other central agency into their common work, failed to regulate the transport system together, and until ATAP 2017 failed to form common direction that engaged both central and local government together.

  3. So basically, the previous National government promised mutually contradictory budget surpluses and tax cuts to get into power then Bill English spent the next nine years trashing the public sector in increasingly frantic attempts to square the economic circle.

        1. Vance, saying “rubbish” every time another piece of Nationals utter mismanagement of this countries affairs is uncovered ain’t going to cut it.

          The current leader of the opposition was the Transport Minister, no less, that saw the police,’s ability to enforce traffic laws almost halted through funding starvation.

          They were shit mate but whilst in government hid it very well never allowing anyone access to the facts. Had they remained the government the defusion and deception would have carried on and we all would be none the wiser or at least left wondering.

          Their agenda lay in cutting tax for the wealthy, tax havens and the like, the cost of which literally cost lives!

  4. One of the more important charts I think is this one. We have long been a lot more slack than Australia, especially around speed enforcement and urban public transport provision, but recently we have been really breaking away against the long term improving trend. Pretty shocking. Every level and every agency needs a shake-up and to *actually* put safety first.

  5. In respect of policing. The cuts to traffic enforcement we do severe it essentially ceased to exist by 2017.

    Not a day goes by that somewhere or another information reveals that cut/frozen budgets, thanks to the genius of the previous government has not done serious damage.

    The cost of lives lost and people injured versus penny pinching by the economic blind idiots like English and Joyce simply beggars belief.

    And yet these morons are still telling us how enviable the economy was. It was more a house of cards built on sand.

  6. The people who write these reports must go to a special school to learn the pompous style required. The six bullet points in the summary, without any clarity, manage to say the following:
    1/ Do low cost safety projects.
    2/ Talk publicly and often about safety.
    3/ Educate people about road safety.
    4/ Reduce speed limits.
    5/ Do something about walking motorcycling and cycling but we have no idea what.
    6/ Nup – this one beats the hell out of me. Just some words. Maybe whoever wrote that wants a well paid job higher up the AT tree.

    1. An engineer lawyer turned teacher I know spent 20 years trying to get lawyers to write in plain English and drop the legalese. Now he’s having to convince other science teachers to stop teaching the kids to write in “Scientific English”. Is it all about ‘talking the walk’ or something?

      1. They marked us down at engineering school if we used first person even if you were writing about what you had done yourself or what you had seen! We had to use the old fashioned technical writing style. I have even read reports where the person refers to themselves as ‘the writer’ in a futile attempt to avoid first person.
        I absolutely hate reading a bio section that is obviously written by the person themselves but written in third person. It is just so fake, like they want you to think the academy wrote it about them. It is part of how I choose who to vote for at local government elections.
        Even worse is this fake exciting corporate claptrap- “vibrant regional road safety strategy”. FFS!

        1. I reckon students should be taught diagramming what they want to say first and then representing that in the plainest English possible. Instead my 12-year-old is being encouraged to use ‘long words’ and has highlighted that as something he can be good at when he focuses. 🙁

          1. Your comment about science teachers is worrying. My 15 year old daughter dumped science as she found it too boring. She says it is more about writing about dull things in a prescribed style than anything to do with science. So that is 3 out of 3 that has avoided NCEA science.

          2. My 16 year-old ASD daughter loves (Cambridge) science with a passion. Hates English because there are no clear right or wrong answers; it’s all about what the examiner or teacher wants to hear.

            Having said that, Miffy is right on the money with his critique. I have worked for several multi-national companies that were very fond of their corporate jargon and fancy ways of bullshitting.

          3. Miffy, the NCEA science is structured in a way that it doesn’t need to be writing focused. So the experience of different kids will depend very much on the school they’re at. Primary school maths has become way too English-focused, too. It’s good to be able to use different strategies. But there should be absolutely no assessment of their ability to put it into words. That’s just the English-focused teachers’ bias. Luckily NCEA doesn’t seem to have quite that problem. MFD, good that Cambridge Science has suited your daughter. NCEA physics suited my son, too. I feel too many kids were put off by the junior science programme.

          4. My daughters all wanted NCEA done and dusted before exams started at the end of the year. English, history and maths make that easy. The first two also encourage opinions, while science doesn’t really want you to have a point of view.

          5. Who cares how kids are being taught to write. It has no bearing on the fact that ATs admitted ambivalence on safety is killing people.

          6. What was AT doing right before 2014 – with decreasing DSI- and thats its doing wrong after that date -with increasing DSI ?

            or are your correlations all wrong and its not AT at all ? seems to be a common rise around the country

          7. Duker, that’s probably a good question. But the even better one to ask is, why was the DSI so high already?

          8. “while science doesn’t really want you to have a point of view”

            You mean like creationism or the earth being flat?

          9. More like is nuclear power a good idea? Or are weed killer resistant vegetables a worthwhile investment of people’s time and money? Science allows a few people at the knowledge front to have ideas and views but for everyone else it is taught as dogmatically as religion.

        2. RE: Bio sections – Artists often write their own bios and always in the third person. They do this because that is what their customers expect, in order to take them seriously. This poses a question: Do customers expect this because it’s the norm, or is it the norm because that’s what customers expect?

          Ok, pointless solipsism aside I do understand why “sciency” fields have an aversion to first person – Objectivity. It’s hard to kill your babies, so how do you convince your peers that you’ve killed your babies? By having “somebody else” do the write up. Ignoring for now that writing in the third person does tend to assist in objectivity, even if only slightly. Also ignoring the pointlessness of it, as it completely fails to address ego or subconscious bias.

      1. What do you think it means in terms of community groups who have been trying to make safety changes, offering themselves as guinea pigs for tactical urbanism, etc… do you think it means they are allowed to play too?

        1. Yes and they should be encouraged as part of; “building and maintaining active partnerships …. to press for the whole-hearted embrace of safe system/vision zero”

  7. Reading the post confirms everything that I’ve experienced in trying to make our city safer. It’s been an exercising in getting pushback from AT at every stage, despite the really understanding and progressive people employed there who are equally frustrated.

    Angry? It doesn’t even start to describe how I feel about what’s happened to my city and its people. Now I guess I read the report fully and feed that into my AIF submission.

  8. “Far too often we’ve seen safety improvement projects stopped or watered down to appease a vocal resident, especially ones who demand the right to store their private property on public land.”

    My experience is the polar opposite: residents’ requests year after year for basic safety improvements (narrower roads, traffic calming, slower speeds, safer crossings, better footpaths) watered down or stonewalled by AT.

    1. It’s accurate if you replace ‘resident’ with ‘small business owner’ (who are also residents). Removal of any on-street parking within 100m radius of their premises WILL cause their business to collapse so they must agitate against it as publicly as possible.

      1. You’ve touched upon one of my major bug bears – WTF are business owners in this country so averse to evidence based decisions?

        The whole “my customers must be able to park right outside, or they’ll go elsewhere” claptrap is one of the more aggravating aspects of that aversion to evidence based decisions and I can’t help but see red every time some project is delayed because of that claim without any evidence to back it up.

    2. Both happen. Petitions for traffic calming ignored. Petitions for stopping cycleways listened to. That’s the inherent bias.

      1. Traffic calming ignored ? Cant be as they are everywhere.
        Its mostly because money means they cant afford every single one , or they are doing them in groups so it makes it a coherent system rather than dalmatian style.

        1. Main Highway (west of the motorway) in Ellerslie is a good example of where traffic calming could be an idea. It’s busy during both peaks, though more in the afternoon peak.

          PM peak, if you follow the red on Google Maps, it would tend to suggest that people are using Main Hwy as a rat run to get on to the motorway heading south (rather than taking Gt Sth Rd). As for heading north I’ve not actually paid any attention, but do now wonder what the source of the traffic is.

          1. Main Hwy east of the motorway is a trunk, sure… West though? I’m struggling to see how it’s a trunk. All it does is divert people from the largely non-residential route to Gt Sth road via an easy desire line past houses, a school and two business parks.

        2. Duker, in Pt Chevalier we’ve had a problem of boy racers travelling at speeds in excessive of 100 km/hr. A large petition calling for traffic calming measures on the most-affected streets (not arterial) was ignored by AT.

    3. I agree. We’ve asked for a road-calming measures (small residential street, but because of the gradients cars ten to speed through), were told that a single speed bump is going to cost 70k and because there’s been no accidents – AT can’t see the need.

  9. So Auckland has a lack of leadership, vision, strategy, commitment. Boring. Tell us something we don’t know. What a waste of time and money to produce that report.

    Table 1 is bogus. If you used the 2013 stats, Auckland would have seen a 33% increase to 2017 and the rest of NZ a 54% increase. Shock! Horror! Auckland is performing better than the rest of the country! The wonder of stats. Make them say whatever you want. That automatically shows bias in the report.

    Any report that has a 12 page executive summary is a waste of time. If you cant do it on one page, you don’t know how to write a report, don’t know how to communicate, don’t understand what you are reporting on, don’t know why you are reporting or who you are reporting to. I bet only 5 people will completely read that 120 page report. I certainly wont. Enough waffle to feed Africa.

    I find it silly comparing Auckland to the rest of NZ. May as well compare Auckland to Chatham Islands.

    400 people dead is horrible.But it isn’t a crisis for Auckland. That is just click bait scare tactics. A dilemma, trouble, mess, utter shambles, total embarrassment perhaps. But not a crisis. Are we heading to a crisis? Yes, which is why we need to take action now, but lets not get caught up in emotions and forget the data. MoT data clearly shows that most deaths are rural drivers/bikers who speed, drive drunk and lose control. Maybe an epidemic of stupidity?

    I did a quick check of MoT death stats vs Stats NZ population stats by region and you get this graph:https://ibb.co/dvHGbJ

    Deaths per 100,000 population gives a very different picture. Auckland is the least deadly region along with Wellington. Auckland is trending down because of population growth. Waikato, West Coast, Southland and Northland are the worst which are driving the increasing road tolls.

    I totally agree that AT has been totally incompetent dealing with road safety, but we need to look at the facts which suggest Auckland is the least worst region when it comes to road deaths. Lease worst. We are still doing a crap job with serious injuries which may be a totally different picture, but I couldn’t find regional data for them already collated.

  10. The report talks about policing by the NZ Police. AT are also responsible for policing, on matters such as illegal parking, which they are not doing. The reduction to safety for vulnerable road (and footpath!) users is high, as a result. The lack of enforcement from AT isn’t due to the cuts to the NZ Police Force. Why isn’t this discussed in the report?

      1. Bullshit! Can you not see the world from the position of a six-year-old’s eye level? What was once a safe place to walk, to play, even, is now a fucking parking lot, complete with moving traffic.

        1. Sorry, Duker. I didn’t mean to be rude. I’ve been angry since a near-miss on Tuesday night. It’s an epidemic where I am. I’ve been walking along with kids and had drivers scoot off the road onto the footpath and verge within a couple of metres of us. Pedestrians, including people with pushchairs, or small kids on bikes often have to go around cars parked on the footpath part of the vehicle crossing, by venturing out onto the busy road. Also, tradies’ vans are often parked at night in the vehicle crossing near an intersection, posing a visibility problem for cyclists and children. (Wormald Engineering, incidentally, need to talk to the Wainui Rd employee, btw.) And when you’re cycling along a congested, heavily parked-up road, and wonder how kids would cope, then look at the footpath cluttered with cars, you realise they wouldn’t even try.

          I think there’s a misunderstanding amongst people that they should park on the verge to keep out of the traffic flow, or something, it’s so widespread.

          1. Did you phone in an actual complaint to AT ? They have enforcement during the evening. Doesnt seem to be an issue where I live as most park on the roadside, but its clearly a problem where you travel( maybe clearways yellow lines restrict on street parking) Im not sure about cars ‘whizzing by’ that happens all the time anybody on bikes or walking has to be extra vigilant any time they venture onto roadway.

          2. What I really want to do is do a comprehensive photo survey of my suburb to show the extent, and turn it into a post and a campaign. (But I already have a stack of half-written articles I don’t have time for given the number of submissions I’ve taken on. 🙂 )

            If AT took on board the messages from this report, I imagine they’d deal with it without my having to campaign.

    1. I have many times been in touch with AT regarding footpath safety. I was very motivated after having experienced my son been taken off the sidewalk 2x by cars pulling out of drives blocked from view by high fencing. Councils regulations around front yard fencing are in direct conflict with what they recommend as good practice in Councils Design Manual. Classic example of not walking their talk. Good practice re front yard fencing is not higher then 90 cms. Reason being that drivers pulling out of their drives can see children and vice versa. I have done a Pecha Kucha presentation with AT being present, written to the Transport minister, mentioned in submissions etc. All it takes is to change fence regulations. Just this measure could reduce school related traffic as it would make it heaps safer for kids to walk.

      1. Yes, writing one thing but never enforcing it is exactly the sort of thing that I hope will change after this report. And you bring up the important point that Council planning impacts footpath safety too.

        Council should explain why they have consented, for example, a new 4-house development, that has 4 vehicle crossings, 2 of them double, leaving almost no intact footpath that isn’t also a vehicle crossing. They should have been able to require a single driveway, leading to a parking area in the middle of the development. This would have been much safer for pedestrians and cyclists.

        Or another example, a single house being renovated into a McMansion near me, with its one vehicle crossing being changed to two, one of them double. Again, leaving almost no intact footpath.

      1. Darn it. Funnily enough I was away in the Philippine jungle fighting human trafficking for two weeks. I lost my note fleeing giant mosquitoes and angry guerrillas.

        I was trying to post a link to a graph and I think it is blocking me. Oh well.

  11. Politicians are super sensitized to adverse comment. Unfortunately comments like those being posted on Stuff at the moment about a proposal to instigate a 30k zone throughout the CBD are very succesful in scaring politicians from making what otherwise are sensible decisions. Another example. What is the actual gain in restoring the 100K speed limit to the Waterview tunnel given that it is definitely a reduction in safety? The current very significant increase in road injuries and deaths in spite of safer cars, better roads, and more rigorous driving tests, shows that current policies are failing abysmally . Radical and descisive action is required right now. Leadership on this important issue has been totally absent for far too long. For a start speed limits need lowering. The default urban area speed limit should be reduced to 40k and the default rural speed limit on undivided roads to 80k. .(Some low hazard roads could have higher limits on a case case basis). If done now and with effective enforcement, by the time of the next election the significant drop in the road casualties will provide an evidential counter to the irrationa bleatings of the irrational vroom vroom brigade.
    Speaking from experience, the receipt of a speeding ticket is far more educational than any amount of advertising guff. And it is effectively a self funding.

    1. I feel we need someone charismatic and made of teflon to front this. The wholesale change in speeds that will surely be coming (and it needs to ensure that traffic mixing with cyclists doesn’t exceed 30 km/hr – so let’s think about what limit it needs to be based on that) will of course be most effectively delivered with enforcement and ticketing.

      But I think the advertising guff is also key, in order to have the public onside. Far better for the majority of people to be making changes to their speed because they’re picturing the people who would be injured if the city doesn’t make the change, than for the majority of people to be making changes to their speed just because they’re afraid of a ticket. It follows through to how the public respond to someone else who is speeding; actively flagging them down or stopping the laughter about it, vs joining in the reactive complaints and agitating for change back.

      1. And another aspect of helping get 30kmph for our streets is to show how pleasing it can make the area look – so not just speed limit signs and the odd speed bump but family friendly streets as done in Europe, make the streetscape ones that you want to walk along and say hi to neighbours.

  12. There was a recent panel discussion on RNZ National on this subject. A great summary was made (by Allan Dick) that the government & AT can choose one of two options:

    A) dumb down everything with lower speed limits, speed bumps and vertical markers everywhere, tighten rules and focus on cameras/enforcement. or:

    B) improve driver training requirements (and ‘urbanise’ the road code, which doesn’t apply well to city traffic/motorways). Germany was used as an examplar of this model.

    It was predicted the government and AT would choose “A” as it’s an easier political response. However international evidence suggests that’s a band-aid approach and really, better training (cultural shift) is the key.

    In reality we do need some of B) because A) takes time. It’s hoped that B) isn’t forgotten down the track.

    Ped, cycling and PT priorities are kind of seperate – they should just be improved anyway (Cost-benefit analysis should incorporate safety & enforcement cost aspects of each investment).

    Link to RNZ https://www.radionz.co.nz/national/programmes/thepanel/audio/2018643992/road-safety-week-2018-listener-irritations

    1. I agree that some of B is needed. However, regardless of how well trained drivers are, they will sometimes make mistakes. We need to have speed limits and road designs that make sure we don’t have the death penalty for simple mistakes.

      1. “Germany was used as an examplar of this model”… Germany has speed limits of 30km/h on urban streets and 50 – 80 km/h on rural (undivided) roads. Until we do something similar in NZ, we will continue to have high rates of death and carnage.

        PS: Allan Dick is editor of a number of Driving magazines and typically driving aficionados don’t like the idea of lower speed limits.

  13. From the report: “A number of national and regional strategies and plans provide the Strategic Context for addressing Auckland’s road trauma challenges.” Several documents are then listed.

    They don’t list the Transport Design Manual. The TDM proposes a far safer built environment for our city. It was supposed to be online by the end of November. In the light of this damning report, can AT speed up the process for producing documents like this?

    And also, when I ask for paper copies for a community placemaking design group, instead of replying that you won’t do so, how about providing them as part of:

    “delivering an effective community education programme reflecting that adopted strategy”

  14. Query for people who work with the One Network Road Classification system, the classification system that forms the basis of assessment criteria in the IAF, and therefore central to the changes we need to make for safety.

    We don’t have equivalent national ‘level of service’ classification for public transport or walking or cycling. The One Network Road Classification is probably alright in its place, but it is all about consistency for drivers, and has not provided consistency for vulnerable road users; it has certainly not provided a safe environment for them. Does the requirement that the ONRC forms the basis of assessment in the IAF therefore work against safety? Should, in prioritising investment funding, ONLY programmes that focus on safety for all road users be used as this basis?

    Can someone who works in the area please advise?

    1. The onrc guidelines include levels of service for PT services, cycling, walking, and safety. Good practitioners apply them all despite the political pressure often present to only focus on travel times for drivers.

      1. Thanks, Sailor Boy. I’m a bit confused now. The draft IAF says,

        “In the absence of a defined levels of service framework for walking and cycling the default is the Cycle Network Guidance – Planning and Design (CNG) to guide appropriate levels of service (using the Austroads Level of Service (LoS) tool).”

        I’d been wondering why the new AT LoS tool wasn’t appointed as the default tool. Now I’m wondering why they consider they don’t have one if it’s in the ONRC.

        Is it about quality – is the government not happy with the ONRC quality as regards walking and cycling, do you think?

  15. No demerits from speeding cameras makes sense to me, because they can’t tell who’s driving. They should however raise the fine until it is a sufficient disincentive to speeding.

    1. On that logic, shouldn’t the fine be waived as well. Why would you impose a fine on someone who was not driving the vehicle?

        1. Someone can get someone else to pay a fine if that person accepts it was them driving. For demerit points, can’t you simply advise the authorities who was actually driving? Again, you’d have to have the person who was driving accept this. In either case, if they didn’t I suppose you don’t lend the car again. I can see the difficulties that could arise where there’s a power play in a relationship, of course.

          It does make a good case for using a public car-share like Cityhop.

        2. You don’t currently get demerit points for a speeding fine, so i don’t know what you mean when you say you can’t transfer something that you never get.

          If they introduced demerit points for speed cameras, then of course you would be able to transfer them if you weren’t driving the vehicle, that’s how it works in other countries.

    2. When speed cameras were introduced the commitment was made that they would not incur demerit points. This was notionally at the time to get the public onside with their introduction. Oddly it seems to be one of the only commitments not broken by politicians in this country, I think the concern is that the public may then start to see police using the thin end of the wedge to get new policies introduced and then gradually ramp them up over time. I think there would be more support for it if cameras were used in a more targeted way at black spots rather than places where it is easy to meet the quota. The new cameras that calculate average time between points are better in this respect.

  16. the crazy thing for me is the difference in how we treat rail and road. yesterday a council press release talked about how great it was that rossgrove terrace had been gated properly, noting there had been ‘four near misses since 2015’. !! There are probably more than four near misses at an intersection like Union/Pitt/motorways/Nelson every day and yet nothing gets done. Maybe we should be gating these intersections so that once the light is red you simply can’t proceed. Sarcastic, but…..we treat people on foot and bike like idiots at train crossings (because occasionally they are) but in cars, when they’re wielding a 1.5 tonne machine, not so much.

  17. So Auckland has a lack of leadership, vision, strategy, commitment. Boring. Tell us something we don’t know. What a waste of time and money to produce that report.

    Table 1 is bogus in some respect. If you used the 2013 stats, Auckland would have seen a 33% increase to 2017(against pop increase of 10%) and the rest of NZ a 54% increase (against a pop increase of 7%). Shock! Horror! Auckland is performing better than the rest of the country! The wonder of stats. Make them say whatever you want. That automatically shows bias in the report which is suspect using stats to show Auckland in the worst possible light. Nothing wrong with that, but it should state that clearly.

    Any report that has a 12 page executive summary is a waste of time. If you cant do it on one page, you don’t know how to write a report, don’t know how to communicate, don’t understand what you are reporting on, don’t know why you are reporting in the first place and don’t know who your audience is. I bet only 5 people will completely read that 120 page report. I certainly wont. Enough waffle to feed Africa.

    I find it silly comparing Auckland to the rest of NZ. May as well compare Auckland to Chatham Islands.

    400 people dead is a horrible indictment on this country. But I struggle to see it as a crisis for Auckland. That is just click bait scare tactics. The word is totally over used. A dilemma, trouble, mess, utter shambles, total embarrassment perhaps. But not a crisis. Are we heading to a crisis? Yes, which is why we need to take action now, but lets not get caught up in emotions of a colourful graph and forget to interpret the data thoroughly. MoT data clearly shows that most deaths are rural drivers/bikers who speed, drive drunk and lose control. Maybe an epidemic of arrogance and stupidity?

    I did a quick check of MoT death stats(not serious injury) vs Stats NZ population stats by region and created a graph, but the site won’t let me post it for some reason. I graphed deaths per 100,000 population by region which gives a very different picture. Auckland is the least deadly region in NZ by a large margin along with Wellington. Auckland is also trending down. Waikato, West Coast, Southland and Northland are the worst which are driving the increasing road tolls nationwide.

    I totally agree that AT has been totally incompetent dealing with road safety and need to do more, but we need to look at the facts from every angle and this angle suggest Auckland is the least worst region when it comes to road deaths. Lease worst. We are still doing a crap job with serious injuries which may be a totally different picture, but I couldn’t find regional data for them already collated. If you look at the data, when it comes to spending money on reducing road deaths it should be spent on rural roads outside of the Auckland region.

    1. What a load of tripe. AT have been ignoring people when concerns are raised and if this report changes that inhouse attitude, this will be good for road safety in Auckland. To simply dismiss the report is to ignore and disrespect the people that have paid the ultimate e for this inaction. Look beyond the numbers, is isn’t a spreadsheet, they’re people. People with families and friends.

      1. They took 120 pages to write nothing we didn’t already know and they did it by talking about a “crisis” in Auckland using stats to show a biased picture. Appealing to emotion and ignoring the stats removes a lot of credibility.

        We already know what we need to do, but we choose not to.

        This report will be just be filed away to gather dust like all the rest until this really becomes a crisis in a few years.

  18. Hi Folks a very good article here and these stats do not surprise as i regularly walk and cycle around Auckland. Two very low cost and easy measures to implement which I believe would have an immediate and significant reduction in incidents.

    1) Full pedestrian protection on all major intersections with high pedestrian counts as mandatory. The cost of a few seconds of phase time does not equate to an injury to a pedestrian especially in city center areas.

    2) Removal of slip lanes around high pedestrian areas and adjacent to cycle corridor / lanes.

    I am frankly gobsmacked that these items are not addressed immediately and failure to high light some low hanging fruit would be deemed as negligent.

    Yes we would have further travel time issues and added congestion but other factors such as safety should be higher up on our priorities.

    Stanley Street / Parnell rise has been a bug bear of mine for some years and 0% action here as in the too hard basket.

    Having a high speed slip lane at the end of Grafton Gully cycle way with no visibility is also semi ludicrous! these are just two examples off the top of my head that i can think of!

    Thanks for highlighting this and another good read from the contributors?

  19. One of the things that puzzled me two or three years back was when two management positions got merged: the road safety portfolio got merged with the walking and cycling portfolio. Both roles were big and chunky even before the merger and I tip my hat to anybody who takes on the combined job. The role has since been held by the very capable and effective Kathryn King but looking at it from the outside, it is one huge job. Too big? Maybe it’s part of the wider problem of marginalising safety within the organisation.

  20. One interesting graph was a comparison of Hospital death rates between NZ and Australia, with NZ survival rates being worse than Australia. The obvious recommendation would be to improve the ambulance and hospital system to reduce the death rate.

    One graph which was strangely missing was the number of deaths due to drivers evading police, dangerous driving, drugged driving and similar offences where the driver was not adhering to the posted speed and had no intention of even considering it. Reducing the posted speed limit will not reduce deaths due to these drivers.

    Better measures would be to focus on
    – Increasing the number of roads with a divided median rather than removing them, this has been a major life saver, especially of innocent victims.
    – improving driver standards, to ensure they keep in lane, and looked before they changed lanes, performed U turns when it is safe and when there is not traffic.
    – Revising the various NZTA codes to ensure simple safety measures are followed, such as sensible positioning of signs including temporary traffic signs. banning reversing onto a highway, putting a blanket 5 kph speed limit when driving across a footpath or berm.
    – Reducing speed in some areas may help, but does not seem to have made a positive difference where it has been done on SH2.

    The report provided no real analysis of why there was an increase in the death and serious injury rates. A review of NZ Herald and Stuff was more illuminating, but as we know these are not ‘learned journals’.

    Having read the report I thought it was a waste of money. It focuses not on preventing injury just reducing the effect.

    1. Hospital survival rates are also hugely dependent on the age of the victim, with elderly people having the worst rates and children having the best. It’s possible that for some reason elderly people are more likely to be hit here? Just a thought…

  21. Don’t expect much from that group except a lot of meetings followed by a swag of reports, none of which will have the slightest chance of being implemented

  22. The collapse in road policing as a result of the complete lack of interest in road safety by Commissioner Bush (a convicted drunk driver) is an appalling indictment and he should resign.

  23. My thought and tears are for the 15-year-old cyclist killed on Friday night on Oteha Valley Rd, and the family. Let’s face it, they’ll never recover. I think this accident was at the place highlighted by Marty in the post “Cycling’s missing millions”:

    “I just hope nzta gets someone that knows about cycle way design to design the cycle ways along state highway corridors ,what there doing at Albany to Constellation dr cycle way beside the new bus way is a joke ,at the Albany end it stops at Oteha Valley rd by motorway on/off ramps there is no way to get to the cycle way safely”

    It’s just not OK. We have failed our teenagers. We don’t let them drive, so they risk their lives to have access to their city. We MUST have safe cycling infrastructure. Anyone who complains about the cost are as much to blame for these deaths as the authorities like NZTA and AT and the National Party. Marty also said:

    “theres next to no chance of getting cycle lanes on Oteha Valley because theres no cycle funding north of Takapuna for the next 10 years”

    Well I haven’t looked into the details of ‘road improvements’ in the area to see if cycling improvements can be done from that budget, but there is just no excuse for every area of Auckland to be fixed. We must stop the money being wasted on Mill Rd. Cut the SH1 and SH20 “improvements”. Cut all the other road capacity increases. And put that into safe active mode infrastructure.

    Maybe our teenagers can all live to tell the tale of how a society made the choice to change from being killing, callous and irrational, to respectful of life, caring and logical.

  24. From this dreadful situation, maybe some leadership?…

    “Auckland Transport chair Lester Levy said the organisation would adopt a ‘Vision Zero’ approach, which originated in Sweden and functioned on the premise that no loss of life due to traffic incidents was acceptable.

    Lowered speed limits, more safety cameras and high friction road surfacing, better pedestrian infrastructure, and strengthened partnerships between local and government agencies would help lower the road toll by up to 20 per cent over the next three years, he said.”

    https://www.stuff.co.nz/auckland/104040917/aucklands-rampant-road-toll-out-of-sync-with-the-rest-of-new-zealand

    1. I wonder what Levy would say if it was his family members who would die in the remaining 80% of the road toll that he thinks would remain. I’m thinking of that Vision Zero ad that puts the road toll in perspective by personalising it…

      Maybe he’d say that we need to do more than what he’s listed.

  25. Agree with Ari’s comment: “The wonder of stats. Make them say whatever you want.”

    It seems the Report is full of faulty or speculative assumptions. It says “there may be other factors influencing this large increase in DSI” (emphasis added) and refers to stakeholder information, including from the New Zealand Police. I myself have little confidence in police reporting of accident causes. As a traffic lawyer I see many cases where police have misreported on accidents and causes. I also understand from senior police that there has been a practice of not correctly reporting offences and not charging offences, at a time that coincides with the lower DSI referred to in the Report. Obviously, such a practice would distort the statistics and show a false current upward trend. That would be further distorted by the failure to appropriately factor that 2013 had the lowest DSI since 1952, meaning that labelling the current increase as a “crisis” is simply sensationalist. It may also be telling that the lower DSI between 2007 and 2013 coincided with the global financial crisis which led to modified spending behaviour, including in transportation related areas.

    In my view the Report simply parrots politically correct ideology without a sufficiently solid understanding of the reasons underlying the numbers. It seems to me to be in large part the tip of a propaganda plan to push more intrusive state controls on citizens, such as point to point speed cameras and other technologies mentioned in the Report – something that a recent survey said some 67% of people did not want. This just seems another step by Auckland Transport to add to its already massive CCTV surveillance system on Aucklanders: https://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=11550646. All this without proper public notice and consultation, in creating an unprecedented surveillance tool that AT routinely give police very loose access to.

    Don’t get me wrong, one death or injury is too many. However, many of the statistics used by government to justify enforcement technologies and penalties simply don’t stand up to scrutiny. See some of the comments and information here: https://www.drinkdrivelaw.co.nz/speeding-offence-lawyer/. As Mike Hosking says, maybe they’d like us to go back to a horse and cart. The reality of life is that driving is inherently risky, even at lower speeds, when sober and not distracted. In the words of the Supreme Court of Canada, “it must be borne in mind that driving is an inherently dangerous activity, but one that is both legal and of social value”. There are studies and empirical examples that show safety can actually be enhanced at higher speeds and with more tolerance to speed limits. AT will never refer to those because it doesn’t support their agenda, or the financial incentive to continue ticketing safe drivers.

    Then there’s this comment in the Report: “Drink driving offenders should not have recourse to the courts to seek a work-related driving license while serving a full licence suspension”. That is completely void of reasonableness and reality. Thousands of workers get limited licences every year to allow them to drive for work purposes – not to the pub on Saturday night. Without a limited licence thousands risk losing their jobs and impacting adversely on their family and others, including taxpayers picking up the pieces. Yes, the disqualified driver should have considered that possibility before driving intoxicated. However, as an experienced drink driving lawyer I can unquestionably say that most people disqualified for drink driving do not reoffend and do comply with the conditions of their limited licence. If someone is minded to disobey the scope of their limited licence, isn’t that person the type that will just drive without any form of licence at all? The controls of a limited licence are good and they work. Again, the Report is just politically correct nonsense and lacking in a proper foundation for its recommendations.

    1. Gosh, that’s a long comment. Did you write it over many days and only just press “post comment” today, or did I just miss it?

      You talk of police “not correctly reporting offences and not charging offences, at a time that coincides with the lower DSI”.

      I know that the causes of accidents are sometimes recorded as “pedestrian heedless of traffic” when it should have been “speed”, or “pedestrian wearing dark clothing” when it should have been “no safe pedestrian infrastructure” etc. But how are you suggesting that the deaths and serious injuries were simply not attributed to roads at all? Did the policy put them down as “overdose” or “slipped on kitchen floor”?

      In any case, you’re saying then that our current DSI is more correct than it was, yes? Well, our current DSI is a crisis! As I have repeatedly said, everyone must stop looking at why our statistics have risen, and look at why they were so poor to start with. But you go further:

      “meaning that labelling the current increase as a “crisis” is simply sensationalist”

      Sensationalist, indeed? The report said:

      “Road safety performance in Auckland in recent years, particularly since 2014, has been most
      concerning… Auckland is experiencing what could legitimately be described as a crisis in road safety performance.”

      Yes, it discusses the increases, yes it discusses why Auckland’s increases are so much worse than even the rest of NZ when the rest of the OECD is getting better, but it doesn’t ONLY discuss the increases. It uses the words “road safety performance”. This many people being killed and injured seriously is indeed a crisis, regardless of whether it’s involved an increase.

      I must ask why you are bothering to call this sensationalist? It is not; we have a crisis. What are you trying to achieve? Stopping the road safety improvements? Undermining the shift in investment away from driving infrastructure to investment for other transport modes?

      You use the words “politically correct ideology”. Do you not realise that no-one can claim that term always: what is politically correct ideology changes with the government. We had 9 years recently, during which being “politically correct” involved beneficiary-bashing, having a tirade against the “nanny-state” ideas of Labour, or spouting bollocks like “safety can actually be enhanced at higher speeds.” As an engineer, I’m afraid that all you did with that statement was convince me that you either don’t know how to read scientific papers critically or you’ve used the word “can” in a deliberately misleading way. I’m sorry that the current political climate so obviously pains you, but perhaps you could reflect on why it is a call for safety, to prevent unnecessary death and suffering, that has so gotten up your goat?

      This road safety review is a good thing. The changes that will hopefully be made are good changes. Does that threaten you? Is it that there is something you feel you might lose through these changes? And is what is really bothering you that preventing death and injury is just too GOOD and UNCHALLENGEABLE a reason to be able to fight it without looking like a BADDIE yourself? Does it leave you feeling compromised?

      1. The report was mostly waffle. Like I said, looking at the stats can say Auckland is less worse than the rest of the country based on per capita figures. They just chose the stats that looked worst and called it a crisis.

        My blocked comment actually went through later on, so the link to the graph is in my first comment halfway up the page. When you look at per capita, Auckland is the least dangerous city in terms of road deaths in NZ.

        I’d also agree with Alistair that inaccurate reporting by police is a problem in terms of determining causes of crash, but I disagree with the argument of pc ideology or whatever. Inaccurate reporting doesn’t remove the actual DSI. Real deaths and injuries, which is the problem that we do need to deal with. We already know the solution that other countries have been doing for years, we just choose not to do anything about it.

  26. Someone needs to take a look at the shared space that is Elliott Street in the CBD. For those who don’t know it, this street is one-way and there are no kerbs. Cars freely mix with people who cross wherever they need to. There is no speed limit posted at the entrance, just a “shared space” sign.

    I use this street on foot regularly and have seen numerous near-misses, always caused by vehicles travelling too fast. Have also seen pedestrians making evident their displeasure at cars travelling too fast. Sure, pedestrians should not walk out heedless, but the problem is car drivers not proceeding cautiously. On one occasion recently, I was horrified to see a courier van accelerate up Wellesley Street past the Civic and turn sharply into Elliott Street, cutting the corner as he did. The street, as usual, was filled with pedestrians, and by great good fortune nobody was struck.

    This street definitely needs speed bumps. I would be interested to hear the number of non-fatal pedestrian accidents that have occurred in this street, since unlike fatalities, they get no media coverage.

    1. How about a statue or sculpture on a big concrete plinth in the middle, that leaves only 3m gap to one side. That would slow them down to walking pace pretty quick, but would still permit delivery trucks and fire engines to get past.

      1. That would force vehicles to either the right or left, directly into the path of pedestrians walking up and down the street. Did you read what I wrote: THERE ARE NO KERBS and no footpaths.

        Vehicles are more or less guided down the centre by trees and seat benches to the left, and parked vehicles to the right. It’s very easy for pedestrians to walk out from between those parked cars because there is no delineated kerb.

        Painted lines on each side might help, but the problem is cars travelling incautiously. I’ve seen them driving at 50 km/h down the street with pedestrians on the street everywhere. That’s far too fast for the conditions, but your typical SUV driver says “it’s my road, it’s your responsibility to keep out of my way”.

        My judgement is that this street is dangerous, with the onus totally on pedestrians to watch for and keep out of the way of drivers who literally are barging their way through.

        1. Yes precisely. Currently vehicle drivers are guided down an open, straight, flat paved and unecumbered clear lane in the middle of the street. Hence they drive down it at speed.

          If there is a large visible obstacle in the middle then drivers will be forced to slow to a crawl to navigate through a tiny gap around it. There is no way an SUV driver could do 50km/h in that circumstance.

          FYI the pedestrians have right of way on that street, vehicle drivers are required to give way. We just need a roadway design that gives the right cues to that effect. Basically it needs to be a pedestrian street where pedestrians can and do walk wherever they like, and any driver that wants to drive down there needs to crawl along to maneuver between obstacles.

          The onus is on drivers to follow the law, and on the street design to support drivers following the law.

          1. And if one big concrete plith isn’t enough, move some of the benches further out into the middle and install a couple more stone planter boxes and the like. Just keep doing that until the traffic is forced to crawl at walking pace.

          2. It’s not working that way at present. Drivers are not crawling along at walking speed but are intimidating pedestrians.

          3. Yes, exactly why there needs to be more obstacles to driving quickly and not a clear runway for cars to speed down!

          4. The lack of kerbs (pointed out in all caps above) is a pretty clear cue.

            This is an enforcement problem. Whatever we build there, without enforcement drivers will just get used to driving at speed all the same. And it will be even more dangerous than now because of all the swerving.

            And maybe a regulation problem. I don’t think there’s any special speed limit signs on Eliott Street. So unless I’m missing something else you’re in fact allowed to drive 50 km/h.

          5. NZTA’s definition says that in a shared zone, “the needs and comfort of pedestrians are paramount. People cycling and driving in shared zones are expected to act like guests, traveling in a way that is consistent with a walking pace, and are legally required to give way to pedestrians.”

            So it’s a failed shared zone, failing due to lack of furniture, lack of signage information, lack of enforcement, but it has also failed for a more fundamental reason: why did AT bother allowing car access anyway? For the main length, between Wellesley St and Darby St, there are a sum total of 5 garages; they look from street view to be individual spaces. For the sake of 5 car spaces, they are allowing this danger for all the pedestrians? That’s mad. Those car spaces could be put to better use. Excellent loading zone provision at each end is needed, but Aucklanders can get used to using hand trucks like in every major city.

          6. Roeland is correct. There is no posted speed limit, so a driver would have a good defence if he struck a pedestrian at 50 km/h. It’s currently entirely left up to the driver’s discretion. Many drive at a crawl, others at up to 50, which is inappropriate for the conditions.

          7. Yes, there needs to be much better physical cues.

            The irony is that the shared space layout in Auckland doesn’t fit the international model where traffic is forced to slowlywiggle and weave through obstacles, because it has distinct ‘footpath’ sections and distinct ‘road’ sections, with a furniture zone in between. Having a delineated walking zone either side was a demand of the walking and distability advocates… however it has the unintended consequence of creating a fast clear traffic lane in the middle.

          8. Well… There’s no kerb. There’s benches right next to that open space. The light poles are not where they usually are. It’s quite unusual to have this type of pavement on a roadway. And there’s people walking all over the place.

            How much more physical cues do you want? It should be obvious to any driver that you’re in a shared space.

            And true, they could introduce some bends or chicanes for cars, but the current setup has the advantage of keeping cars further away from the buildings.

            Probably the answer is one of:
            – First of all, I would expect a blanket rule that any shared zone has a speed limit of 20 km/h
            – Enforce as necessary. People will get used to it.
            – Limit access by car to a few set hours of the day for deliveries.

            You don’t ‘force’ traffic to slow down by making it more dangerous. That will just get you a couple of broken benches (or worse) every so often.

            You can always wonder how the Netherlands is doing it. Count the chicanes in the following street view:
            https://www.google.com/maps/@52.3725901,5.2204096,3a,74y,166.05h,96.08t/data=!3m6!1e1!3m4!1sBLvOYB0nwYCgFszG4rT95Q!2e0!7i13312!8i6656

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