Hobson St runs through what is probably not only the densest residential neighbourhoods in Auckland, but probably all of New Zealand. Yet despite the huge numbers of people in the area, nothing has been done there to improve things for thousands who live there. Instead, it acts like a sewer, draining vehicles from the western side of the CBD out of the city. Many drivers, eager to get home, race along it like it is part of the motorway network. Combining dense urban areas and five-lane psuedo motorways is a recipe for disaster, and in fact has seen disaster in the past.
Auckland Transport is working to transform the city into a safe place for people to walk around.
The latest proposal is aimed at improving Hobson Street where someone was recently killed, and a number of people have been seriously injured, crossing the road.
AT is proposing a new signalised crossing between Wellesley and Cook Streets (136 Hobson Street), to make crossing the five lane road safe.
Manager for Walking, Cycling and Safety Kathryn King says people need safe places to cross the road and a lack of crossing points leads to deaths and serious injuries.
“Auckland Transport is committed to creating a road system that keeps people safe. We are dedicated to zero deaths and serious injuries and we are coming up with plans to meet that vision.
“We know that this is a common place for people to cross the road so we want to ensure that we are meeting their needs. This is a busy road with around 35,000 vehicles per day but we want to help create a city centre that is easy for people to move around on foot.
“We expect a high level of community support for this proposal. Around 2,300 people cross the road between the Wellesley and Cook Street intersections each day so this crossing will be well used and will protect people travelling on foot through this area.
“This proposal shows our focus on moving people around the city, not just vehicles.”
Auckland Transport will be consulting local residents and businesses about the crossing, with a plan to install it in the 2018/2019 financial year.
My main concern with this is why it needs to be consulted on at all. This is a critical piece of safety infrastructure and we don’t consult on whether the water networks should be separated, or if private businesses should be able to ignore health and safety legislation so why do AT need to consult on improving safety on our streets.
There has been some concern that a single mid-block crossing won’t be enough to change behaviour and that we’ll still see a lot of unsafe red light running. Interestingly I think that might be helped a little by the Convention Centre. One of the images released this week (below) shows a mid-block crossing between the casino and the convention centre (as well as an air-bridge). One mid-block crossing in the wilderness on it’s own might not change the worst behaviour but two in successive crossings should help make things safer for those on foot and bike. Both will help to detune the city and make it more people friendly
And while we’re talking about consultations, Auckland Transport have come to their senses and are looking at permanently closing car access to Freyberg Square (with the exception of emergency and authorised vehicles). This will be achieved by just leaving the retractable bollards up.
I guess it’s better late than never but it is a shame as the design of the square was compromised a bit to retain vehicle access.
If you’d like it to be car-free, make sure you submit by 1-July. The consultation for the Hobson St crossing closes 14-June.