This is a Guest Post by Lance Wiggs. It first appeared here and is republished with permission.

Dear Shane

You’ve begun your role as the Chief Executive Officer of Auckland Transport at a moment of crisis, with hundreds of Auckland families coping with the death of their loved ones on the city’s roads every year. You have a mandate for change, a laundry list of initiatives, and a public and media ready to hear your actions.

No doubt you’ve heard – formally and informally – from your Board, from the Mayor and Auckland Council, the road lobby and cycling and walking groups. However, I am writing to you as an individual, and from the perspective of your end users – parents, sons, daughters, car drivers, motorbike riders, cyclists, pedestrians, bus riders, and train passengers. People.

I ask for your leadership – to guide Auckland to become the safest city in the world by instilling a world-leading safety culture at Auckland Transport.

You face an overwhelming number of tasks, varying in scope from the trivial to multi-year projects. to do. I am sure, for example, that you have read the Road Safety Improvement Review and its pages and pages of suggestions. But a long list of tasks means that nothing is prioritised; so while a to-do list will be helpful, the real solution is a change in culture, and this needs genuine safety leadership for Auckland Transport, and from you, as its leader.

Your leadership to save lives in Auckland can start by ensuring that your direct reports take a safety-first approach to everything they do. And you can set the expectation that they will set the same standard for their teams, cascading in turn these values to all Auckland Transport workers and contractors, and by extension, everyone living in and visiting our city.

This will be challenging – some people will resist putting safety first, and others will be slow to start to live the value. Everyone will complain about the extra burden. But it will also be inspiring – as we all see the visible evidence of change, and the change in culture that empowers, requires even, everyone to just make things happen.

The challenge also pales before the mandate – to save hundreds of Auckland’s families from coping with the loss of loved-ones who are fatally harmed on Auckland Transport’s network in each and every year.

This looks like a daunting assignment but it is an achievable goal. I know this from my own experiences observing and being part of safety turnarounds at two very large overseas industrial sites, each with thousands of workers and contractors. In both cases recordable injuries and fatal risks plunged, and production soared. I have looked back at my experience to give you some unsolicited advice about to tackle this sort of turnaround.

I hope you take up this challenge, and create a lasting legacy.

Lance

Suggestions for leading a safety culture.

1: Taking personal responsibility for safety of all people using Auckland’s footpaths, bike paths and streets. Live the safety value in your own actions, including:

Talking and meeting with the families of everyone who dies on your watch. Turning up to the funerals, hospitals and homes of the deceased, injured and traumatised. Taking your management team with you.

Starting every meeting, large or small, with safety. These can be a brief as a ‘safety contact’ – a short anecdote on safety (good or bad) that focusses the meeting on the greater aim.

Leading daily safety walks (and rides!) with your management team to observe activity, identify hazards, have structured conversations with staff and contractors, and assign responsibility to fixing hazards.

Demonstrating safety leadership by uncompromisingly putting safety first in planning, and showing visible leadership with dramatic actions like closing streets and lanes to address critical issues, changing work practices, and more.

Conducting layered audits with several levels of staff (and contractors) to deep dive into narrow topics to identify and fix larger gaps in processes.

Reviewing close-out reports for every injury-causing incident with your management team, giving fatal harm incidents even more attention. Ensuring that multiple root causes are properly identified, and Auckland Transport puts in temporary and then permanent fixes to prevent further injury. This is not about punishing individuals – but a quest to learn how individuals can be physically safe.

Requiring the same level of commitment from all of your management team and staff, all leaders of contractors, and all of their staff.

Bringing the board of directors along for the journey, including meetings with families, a safety focus in meetings, and on-site visits. To be fair, the board, and chair, should be with you arm in arm as you drive this journey forward.

2: Systematically identifying and removing hazards, both large and small, using a safety management system for all of Auckland:

Ensuring every employee and contractor is actively identifying hazards. The easiest way to do this is to mandate safety walks (for all supervisory staff), and safety meetings where hazards are identified.

Using the cascaded safety walks, management review of injury accidents, internal and external (public) reporting to identify and classify (severity and risk) hazards across the Auckland Transport ecosystem. Record these in a central system.

Creating and assigning (with permission) actions to Auckland Transport staff and/or contractors for all identified hazards. These is done during or just after the safety walks, in the formal reviews after injury-causing incidents, and by a self-selected or assigned internal team for publicly submitted reports.

Creating the bias and authority for immediate action for these hazards – actions that remove hazards within hours or days with quick fixes. You might need to buy a lot more road cones, but the trick with quick fixes is to give broad authority to all staff within a limited budget. Give everyone permission and authority to make things happen, even it it means going to Bunnings and buying planters.

Systematically reviewing the more serious hazards to upgrade the quick-fixes to permanent solutions that design the hazard out.

Having a bias for very low cost solutions – and keep a close watch on the incessant proposals for more expensive and slower processes to create permanent fixes. Is there a way to do it cheaper and faster? Would the funding be better spent on more implementations?

3: Report to us on your progress

Publish a list (and map) of all identified hazards and allow members of the public comment and vote.

Report, by hazard, progress to put in place temporary and permanent fixes to every hazard. Provide photos, stories and showcase safety heroes from within your staff and contractors.

Measure and report on the output statistics – not just fatality statistics, but hazards identified and closed out, the number of injuries and near misses, and the source of those reports. I will judge you not by the number of fatalities, but by the number of hazards you identify and the speed and methods by which they are closed out.

Work with NZTA and Auckland Council to address the risks that cross your domains. Report on and track the hazards in their domains.

In Summary:

This list is not about finding people to blame and remove, but about cascading safety leadership throughout the organisation so that everyone can come home safely each day. If you adopt an inspirational approach then you have a great chance of taking us with you on your safety journey – and we’d all like to be inspired almost as much as we’d like to be able to walk, cycle and drive our streets in safety.
Yesterday my wife had a meeting in the cafe in the Auckland Transport building, on a morning when a man in his fifties was fatally wounded after being struck by a car on a suburban Auckland road. Despite this the mood in the cafe was upbeat – shockingly so when so many of us hold Auckland Transport responsible for that death, and that of so many others, including a 15-year-old earlier this month.

Each and every fatality is preventable. The person in their 50s was in an area “notorious for accidents”. The 15-year-old was killed in an area that had been repeatedly identified as a fatal risk hazard to Auckland Transport.

Nothing meanwhile has been done to fix the issues I identified after I saw a man pass away on The Strand four years ago. There are still no signs for cyclists descending Parnell Rise, the gravel on The Strand remains and there is no sign of a separated cycle lane.

We wait for the next preventable deaths.

The honeymoon is over. I ask that you hold yourself responsible for all future injuries and fatalities under your purview, and do what you can to reduce harm to us all.

I will personally hold you to that standard, and already hold Auckland Transport’s Board, and Auckland Transport’s staff and contractors to that same standard, and I constantly ask myself whether I am doing enough as well.

Lead us to a safer place.

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85 comments

  1. There is an easy first step – lower the speed limits and buy lots of speed cameras. I can’t believe a speed camera should be expensive these days, if it is then maybe a local firm could develop a system. I would think a high quality video feed to a server should be enough for the server to do image recognition to detect speed and issue tickets – in this case there is no need to calibrate as it is just a camera.

    1. The bureaucrats are too busy fighting over who funds the cameras, who keeps the money, who pays the people to process tickets (to remove the false positives) and who has to waste their time in court when people challenge the tickets. Cheap to buy, expensive to maintain and operate.

  2. Great letter. It would be great if Shane could actually embrace the real meaning of “safety first”. That it indicates a prioritisation and that other goals, e.g. traffic flow, will therefore be secondary and often compromised.

    It’s not “We’ll focus on safety and do everything we can as far is as practical taking into account the impact on drivers and traffic flow”. It’s “Safety is our number one priority and the main measure of success of a project. We will do everything we practically can, including compromising other goals such as traffic flow, to achieve it.”

    Actually it would be great to see AT advertise this change to the public. Be blunt. “Our priorities have changed. Safety is now our number one priority. Traffic flow is not.”

    But it probably won’t happen. Shane seems content to just keep his head down and let AT trundle on.

    1. I’m hoping that Shane is simply too clever to be showing his full hand yet. AT is having a restructure, isn’t it, with the disestablishment of the top tier of posts and establishment of new ones? Surely that’s come from Shane?

      1. It will probably be the same people just the job titles changed under some new organisation charts
        No doubt some future announcement of efficiency improvements changed department charts that better reflect the desires of stakeholders and taking advantage of new technology and modern management to deliver 21st century solutions
        Or snafu

  3. Thanks Lance. I feel there needs to be someone tracking the projects, at several stages of progress. For example, AT are consulting on replace free parking in the College Hill area with paid parking. College Hill is a busy cycling route to the cbd, and will become more so. It needs protected cycleways and a 30 km/hr speed zone. Why waste our money making changes to the built environment that don’t make the wholesale change for cyclist safety that’s required? Tracking what they actually decide to do for each similar project would be great.

  4. Shane ? Maybe we can find his replacement now. Lets be honest we all know it. Hes not the guy for this role. Hes a money man.

    1. From what we’ve seen so far he’s also process oriented just like AT in general. They know the speed limit is too high in the central city, but instead of just lowering it, they will compile a report over the next three years, consult on it, water it down, and then do something half arsed in about 5 years time.
      AT needs a doer in charge.

      1. Talking to local board, current legislation requires that every single street in the city centre (for example) would need to be individually consulted on. Not up to AT – it’s central govt requirement.

        1. Yes, NZTA’s “Setting of Speed Limits – Summary of Submissions August 2017” was a shocker. “Wholesale change to the default speed limits would be a high impact
          change and is not considered necessary or desirable.”

          Matter of urgency to get that one changed.

          1. So, SB, do I read it correctly that while AT still have to consult, they could consult in one go for a huge swathe of the city? And they could use the argument that doing it in one go will assist understanding and compliance? The difficulty is that NZTA won’t allow a default change, so there would still have to be 30 km/hr signs everywhere, but that’s probably not a bad thing anyway.

          2. The NZTA Summary of Submissions is talking about blanket changes to the national 50/100 defaults; that’s not likely to happen quickly. But there could be interest from Govt in adding additional defaults for certain situations (e.g. unsealed roads 80k, within 500m of a school 40k). And there is certainly nothing stopping a local authority from consulting on a number of speed limit changes at the same time on multiple roads (including a whole area); in fact that usually happens.

          3. “A large number of submitters called for a general reduction in speed limits and with it, a reduction in the default speed limits of 50 km/h for urban roads and 100 km/h for rural roads… Skypath and its supporters highlighted the difference between general and default speed limits for urban and rural roads (undivided, single carriageways) in New Zealand and for similar roads in Northern Europe.
            New Zealand (Urban: 50 km/h – 60 km/h; Rural: 80 km/h – 100 km/h)
            Northern Europe (Urban: 30 km/h – 40 km/h; Rural: 60 km/h – 80 km/h)”

          4. How were the speed limit changes for Wynard Quarter consulted on? Street by street, or for the area? Does anyone know off-hand?

        2. I assume that’s why I see some quite permanent ‘temporary’ speed limits then (eg coming into Napier). I guess the council can set a temporary limit.
          AT should lobby the government for change, insane that consultation would need to be done to lower a speed limit.

  5. Wonder if he will respond or just ignore you and never get back like their contact centre generally does (that or the old generic copy/paste responses).

    Compared to NZTA where I generally get decent and somewhat comprehensive feedback in a day or two almost every time.

    1. To my surprise I got a 1 day response to a bus complaint I had recently … A bus blatantly ran a red light at a major pedestrian intersection, I emailed AT right away with the bus number and route number it was on (ironically it had to stop at the next red light about 40m away).

      1. I’ve been quite impressed with the help desk staff. They seem overqualified and also able to cope with the likes of me. 🙂

        As for the bus drivers running red lights and driving too fast: what’s going on? I love to praise bus drivers when praise is due, and always do. But recently, man!

        One of my nephews was hit last month on a signalised crossing by a bus driver running a red arrow. Hit and run. Luckily, he’s ok. But my experience has been that some drivers are racing as if they are late, but then sit at the stops to fill in the time until they’re allowed to leave. The danger they’re introducing is large. Is it just the culture has spread to this or has there been a penalty imposed on drivers for being late or something?

        1. I raised concerns about the pedestrian and bike crossings at the top of Nelson Street/Union Street a couple weeks ago. I used the ‘leave a comment’ website feature. I was phoned yesterday by a safety engineer. He basically put it down to ‘inconsiderate driver behaviour’. But he did tell me that they are given 30 minutes to investigate each safety complaint that is made. 30 Minutes! That is just long enough to look the place in question on a map, look up the database of crash reports, and well, nothing else.

          Then, same day, an SUV came within 20cm of colliding with me and my kids in our bike crossing the same intersection. I expressed surprise and anger verbally, in the way one might expect. Sadly, I was too scared/shocked/angry to get a licence plate number.

          1. That’s terrible, Anthony. The 30 minute window is an example of an institutional barrier to making the changes required, and is exactly why AT need to take note of Lance’s letter.

            There are so many examples of dangerous infrastructure throughout the city. I was noticing a stretch of Great North Rd yesterday in Pt Chev, 6 lanes wide, with no footpath. The cars got six lanes, and the pedestrians couldn’t even get a footpath! Worse, it passes a site that is going to have a 67-apartment block development built on it soon. I can think of dozens of reasons why people might want to walk along a footpath next to their homes. But I suppose when push comes to shove, they’ll just walk on the road to rescue the lost pet or the letter that blew away. And then if there’s an accident, the blame will be placed on the pedestrians or the drivers instead of on the irresponsible road authorities that built it.

  6. Come on, we can do better than just discuss Shane. What I found interesting about Lance’s letter is the idea of fixing the hazards as they appear as a way to reinvent the organisation. My initial position would have been making sweeping changes first: eg employ swathes of parking wardens, resurrect the regulations as something drivers have to follow, default 30 km/hr everywhere that cyclists are entitled to be, with enforcement, (to be raised on a road once protected cycleways are installed) etc.

    What Lance is suggesting is quite different: look for the hazards daily, and fix them immediately. Where the hazards dictate a bigger city-wide change is required, I guess that’s becomes a logical outcome too.

    What do others think of his suggestion? Certainly he comes to it after good experience and with a proven record.

    1. Identifying and rectifying hazards immediately is great but I worry that it’d be easy for a large organisation like AT to become myopic in their pursuit of this. You could end up with a lot of sticking plaster solutions on the gaping wounds of entire corridors that are intrinsically unsafe.

      I prefer your proposed starting approach: Apply the blanket tools we already have (lower default speed limits, better enforcement, less on-street parking etc.). Then start addressing the individual hazards.

      1. Perhaps both directions can be achieved at once. What I like about Lance’s idea is that it’s more likely to feed and nourish a helpful and change-oriented mindset within AT. The overwhelming response I get from AT is always “oh, we’d love to, but”. Actual quotes:
        “Good luck trying to do that”
        “Yes, I really pushed for that in … But no, the traffic guys wouldn’t let us”
        “That’s how I interpret it too, but that’s not necessarily how everyone in AT interpret it”

        Daily contact with Auckland’s dysfunctional infrastructure by walking around and deciding what needs immediate attention must surely breed a ‘we can fix this’ mentality. That would be transformational for everyone dealing with them.

  7. Am I allowed to say, without getting shouted down, that I think the concentration on “safety” in all things in NZ, is just overblown bullshit? I’m not saying that Lance Wiggs letter is this (TLDR), but having been way too lax on safety, NZ as a country has now swung way too far over to the other side. It’s often mis-guided.

    Orange Hi-Vis do not make you safer. Looking out for yourself makes you far safer.

    Plastic Hard Hats do not make you safer. A concrete beam falling from height will still crush you like a fly. Better to be be aware yourself.

    Wearing a hi-vis jacket and a bike helmet do not make you safer. Being alert and keeping out of the way of truck drivers will give you longer life.

    Buying loads more road cones, Lance, does not make you safer, but instead just makes more plastic debris. Driving slower, and more carefully, between lines of cones, works better than speeding through wall to wall cones.

    We used to have a man on a mower, mowing verges, with the truck he came on sitting parked with flashing lights. Now we have compulsory 2x Fulton Hogan trucks with flashing signs warning us before hand, complete with a bloke in each, and then more signs etc. Total cost of mowing verges has gone up at least 500%, probably over 1000%. Is it really necessary?

    Safety needs to be about being sensible and not about the over the top response we have now….

    1. Lance got results. What you didn’t read was that he was “part of safety turnarounds at two very large overseas industrial sites, each with thousands of workers and contractors. In both cases recordable injuries and fatal risks plunged, and production soared”. I think we can say that he’s not suggesting an over the top response but a practical one.

      Bloody hard to look out for yourself as a 7-year-old in a city where you can’t even see over the roofs of the parked cars to try to cross a four lane road with no pedestrian crossing, and drivers regularly drive up onto the footpath. Etc.

      Get over the “Looking out for yourself makes you far safer” mindset. That kills kids. It’s not enough.

    2. With roads a simple mistake can be the end of a life. I don’t think there is any human (average or not) that will never make a simple mistake in their life. We should do all that is practical to prevent people losing their lives for making simple mistakes, not blame them for making the mistake.

    3. Hard hats aren’t intended to save you from a falling beam, they’re there for the smaller things like accidentally dropped screws etc. Hi viz is useful on construction sites with lots of people on foot mixing with heavy machinery. Unfortunately hiviz has been misused in general life now. Reflective surfaces are useful in low light situations. Have we gone too far? It’s a mixed bag and will hopefully slowly sort itself out in a balancing act but in general, too many people were dying in workplace accidents and it needed sorting.

    4. The whole issue here is that we need to stop putting the responsibility for safety on individuals’ actions when we have clear, effective system changes we can make to reduce harm.

      Hi-vis on a building sight doesn’t protect you from a falling concrete beam (that’s not what its for anyway) – not having people wandering underneath poorly secured beams keeps them safe.

      Similarly, sure, don’t make the cyclists wear helmets and hi-vis, instead physically separate them from the truck drivers that kill them

        1. I guess enforcement, mainly. Much more than we have, and the cost of it needs to be acknowledged as yet another cost imposed on society by driving as mode of transport.

          And the other factor is that whether tiredness, learning to drive, texting, emotions, or drugs are involved, speed is the factor that makes the outcome fatal or serious. So designing the environment to ensure speed isn’t possible. Especially where vulnerable road users can be.

    5. I agree, in many ways the safety culture has gone way over the top. But just not when it comes to road safety.

      On the roads, 400 deaths per year and 10x that number of serious injuries is still somehow considered “OK”, given that we have yet to take action meaningful enough to prevent it from continuing to happen, year after year.

      The roads now stand out as a glaring anomaly in a society where safety is being rammed home in so many other areas.

      Hopefully this government will do what others have failed to do and seriously crack down on it.

      1. 30% of accidents the driver has been under the influence, right there is a huge issue in NZ, enact zero tolerance and educate people, there’s little hope for older people but drill it into them when they are young and the problem will eventually go away, like it has in Scandinavia.

        1. Zero tolerance? So you can get pinged if you eat a dessert with alcohol in it? And if you have a couple of drinks one evening, you can’t drive the next morning? And if you’ve had two sips of wine and then someone asks if you can drive them somewhere an hour later, you can’t do so, even if you stop drinking right there and then?

          Maybe the issue went away in Scandinavia because the attitude changed because of the Vision Zero approach to road safety.

    6. “having been way too lax on safety, NZ as a country has now swung way too far over to the other side” – not when it comes to road safety; we still happily kill 300-400 people a year and injure ~10,000. Show me another industry in NZ where we put up with that…

  8. Killed and maimed by Auckland buses, poisoned by Wellington buses. Are the right people running public transport ?

    Come to Wellington and get your fill of cancer causing particulate matter. The Greater Wellington Regional Council made sure that the 59 non polluting trolley buses couldn’t be part of the new PT bus contracts starting next month. Against a public outcry the trolley buses were withdrawn in October 2017, and replaced with old diesel buses ex Auckland as an interim measure until new low emission diesel buses were to be introduced next month. Only in the last few weeks have we learnt that the mainly existing Euro 3 bus fleet will remain for seven or more years. Euro 3 emissions standards were drafted 18 years ago and have long since been replaced. Euro 6 is the latest base standard in Europe, although it isn’t up to the even stricter Californian emissions standards.

    The noise and emissions impact of the residents of the former trolley bus routes has been substantial. Seatoun has become a diesel bus hub directly outside private residences, with buses from before 6 am until after midnight and about to see a bus every 5 minutes in peak hours (10 – 15 in non peak), and which will sit idling whilst they wait for scheduled departure times. Those living along the new No. 2 route will have pollution levels higher than ever experienced before, and those who sit at street side eating locations along the “Golden Mile” don’t realise what damage they may be doing to their health.

    Diesel particulate matter has been deemed as hazardous to health as asbestos, by the World Health Organisation.

    Four current Wellington city ward GWRC attempted to get the trolley buses retained but were out voted by the other 8 members from outside this city, and the chair. Wellington City Council sat on its hands and did nothing to ensure the health and safety of its ratepayers were protected by the change from non polluting buses to polluting ones. One WCC councilor berated me for suggesting this is a backward Capital.

    Re-Volt Wellington, a community initiative, has been set up to get the GWRC to introduce battery buses ASAP. Their web site is http://www.revoltwellington.co.nz

        1. A total of 25 people were killed in accidents with buses in 2015, it doesn’t break down how many were killed by a bus, I’m guessing it’s not very many. A google search netted me one incident where a bus killed 2 people this year, it looks like in this incident it was not the bus drivers fault. Buses aren’t the pedestrian killing death machines Keith thinks they are.

    1. If you’ve only recently found out that NZ Bus will be able to keep some of their existing fleet, then you haven’t been following the process as this has been known for years. Same applies to Mana Coach for Newlands routes.

      IIRC standard conditions were to be 50% new fleet in short term in each directly appointed unit. In NZ Bus’s case, I understand this is by the end of the year due to delays in finalising contract (& thus later order placement).

      IMO the worst current buses for particulates (smoke belching) are the 1st generation low floors (numbered in 600 & 700 series) – they’ll all be gone in a month, if not sooner. Depends what gets transferred from NZ Bus Hutt fleet after end of service today (new operator & Euro6 fleet from tomorrow for Hutt routes except Eastbourne).

      Golden Mile: there will be fewer services than now & many will be euro 6, compare that with a number of euro 1 & 2 buses roaring up and down now (so an improvement over current, but could be better – ideally more electrics).

      Buses idling at terminus: how about prohibiting idling – as was done a Newtown Park terminus years ago …

      A few questions (perhaps you could provide some links):

      Has NZ Bus has been given a longer term exemption from new bus requirement?
      Has NZ Bus been given exemption to use Euro 3 buses beyond arrival of new buses?
      You appear to suggest that no new buses will be used on new route 2 (Seatoun-Karori via Hataitai) – can you back that up?

      I find it implausible that none of $30 million worth of new buses NZ Bus are getting for Wellington will be used on this route, with NZ Bus running Euro 3/4 clunkers indefinitely day in day out. (Obviously the deckers will not be running to Karori, but they’re only part of the $30 million.)

  9. Barking up the wrong tree.

    You state the alarming rise in fatalities and levels not seen since 1994.

    What has changed?

    Auckland Transport are primarily responsible for infrastructure. Has this changed, and if so for the better? I would suggest yes.

    Road user behaviour, one would have to assume this is the main cause of serious injuries and fatalities. Whose duristriction is this? NZTA and the Police

    In relation to the statistics you refer to, consider that the population of Auckland accounts for 33% of the New Zealand’s population, but in 2017 accounted for 16.8% of fatalities and 27% of serious injuries. If you like “under quota”. This is even more relevant if you also consider the volume of road users concentrated in Aucklands infrastructure as opposed to the rest of the country.

    I’m not suggesting that Auckland Transport can’t improve safety, but to suugest the CEO should be shamed by attending funerals is quite frankly ignorant. I am also curious as to what you expected to find in the “Auckland Transport Building Cafe” on the day the 50 year old was killed, a wake? The man was killed by a hit and run driver!

    Pull your head in and understand people cause accidents. Roads, bridges, cycle lanes, bus stops, traffic lights, tunnels, etc don’t move, therefore are not going to kill you!

    1. The are aspects of road user behaviour that are the jurisdiction of AT. Illegal parking, for example, which is an epidemic, and making our foopaths and streets dangerous for children, pedestrians and cyclists.

      People cause accidents, yes. And the first place they do that is in the decisions they make in our transport infrastructure and regulations. Footpaths that peter out to nothing. Footpaths that are too narrow, forcing pedestrians onto the road to pass each other or to pass obstacles. Intersections that are causing DSI at the rate of one per 2 years, yet have nothing done about them because that would affect the flow of traffic. Lack of safe places to cross roads.

      Attending funerals is not suggested as a way of being shamed, but of being connected. Have you dealt with AT? If so, have you not discovered an inertia that needs to be cut through with a good dose of purpose?

      Lance makes these suggestions after doing them. What’s your experience of turning an organisation’s practices around so that drastically fewer people die?

    2. They are crashes. Not accidents. Everyone makes a conscious choice getting into a murder-box and driving really fast, not looking out for other road users, texting and drinking and what not. Crashes happen because drivers are far too lax. It should be classed at least as manslaughter in all cases, murder for drunk driving or speeding.

  10. I agree that all deaths are a tragedy for loved ones. However, I suggest the author and this site start checking their statistics. Ministry of Transport data does not support even the opening sentence. In the Auckland region over the last 12 months, 61 people have died. Over the past 24 months, 3 cyclists have died on Auckland regional roads.

    1. I guess there are a few words I’d change in “with hundreds of Auckland families coping with the death of their loved ones on the city’s roads every year”

      For starters, the grief lasts forever, not just the year it happened, so what number of families are actually grieving every year? The cumulative numbers are too huge to countenance. Then of course, you’d need to remove the word ‘coping’ because we know that many don’t.

      And serious injuries can be just as devastating, so once you include those… well, basically, it’s a crisis. In what other area of our lives do we put up with such accident rates?

      Trying to understand the decisions of the past is difficult. Trying to understand people resisting change today is more so.

      1. In response to Heidi

        Again I think you are missing the point.

        Yes AT are responsible for parking, but it isn’t the infrastructure that is the problem, it is driver behaviour.

        Yes I have had lengthy experience both in NZ and overseas in transforming organisations, but in regard to road safety the low hanging fruit is driver behaviour.

        Regardless of how wonderful the infrastructure is, people will die if that infrastructure is used carelessly.

        If you seriously want to target an issue, look for its root causes. In regard to driver behaviour, I would suggest;

        1) Disregard for others – this is a societal problem, not just behind the wheel
        2) Lack of driving skill – this is a matter for those who issue licences and enforce road rules
        2) Soft penalties – behaviour can only be changed if penalties hurt
        3) Distracted drivers – the use mobile phones

        AT have very little, if any, influence on the above. If you want to have a dig at the people who can make a difference, I’d suggest you start at the top. Jacinda? Why not ask her to attend funerals rather than those so far down the food chain, and in a part of that chain that won’t be able to produce the results you feel so strongly about.

        In summary, to affect change you need to start a snowball. This starts by identifying the mains things where change will drive the snowball. What AT does won’t do this.

        Barking up the wrong tree!

        1. Sweden achieved a dramatic drop in DSI by halting the focus on driver behaviour and instead accepting as normal. They changed the environment instead.

          Can you give an example of a country which has had as effective a programme at cutting DSI as Sweden has, by focusing on driver behaviour?

          1. What you actually mean is they made the driving tests harder to pass, they made it mandatory for learners to go to driving schools, the price of learning to drive is vastly more expensive than in NZ, they can’t start learning until they are 18, parents are not allowed to be the primary instructors. They have zero tolerance, they also have higher speed limits than NZ does. There main roads between centres are also almost always divided multilane highways, no double lane roads divided by a strip of paint.

            Scandinavian drivers are a lot better drivers than kiwi drivers, I detest driving in NZ when I come home on holidays. We have no motorway sense, we tailgate, don’t indicate, don’t drive to the conditions, our roads are full of nasty unsafe older motor vehicles.

        2. Ban private cars from using all streets. Problem solved. An action not related to driver behavior and entirely within AT’s power.

          Speed bumps every 5m, making it impossible to drive more than 10kmph. Problem solved. An action not related to driver behavior and entirely within AT’s power.

          Remove on-street parking. Narrow roads to reduce speeds. Sharper corners to reduce turning speeds. Traffic signal phasing to slow traffic. Bus lanes and cycle lanes everywhere. Closing roads to through traffic. More one way roads for the purpose of reducing road widths and discourage driving. Plenty of things AT can do right now to reduce the road toll, but choose not to. Nothing to do with driver behavior.

          However, you do make a fair point that there are areas outside of AT’s authority that also need action, AC,NZTA,MoT etc.

  11. What would happen if all Roads remained as 50kph, everything else (streets, avenues, etc) were to be 30kph. Reducing the speed of traffic makes it safer and average seppd to destination is not affected greatly.
    We need to do something to reduce speeds on the streets where we live.

        1. Older people and very young people can be killed by a car travelling 10kmph, just like you can drown in a puddle. The unrestricted sections on Germany’s autobahns have a lower road per km than the restricted sections.

          I do agree that driving is a privilege, but if it cost as much to learn to drive in NZ as it does in Scandinavia where the driving standards are so much higher only the upper middle class and above would be able to drive. Paying 5000 NZD for a license would be impossible for most kiwis.

  12. Reply to Bruce

    Auckland Transport is responsible for all of the region’s transport services (excluding state highways), from roads and footpaths, to cycling, parking and public transport. (extract from the AT website)

    Please take note of the word “services”

    I’m not sure which police officer you talked to but AT cannot do anything but issue “stationary vehicle infringements”. Police have juridstiction to enforce moving infringements. The Police do not report to AT.

    Land Transport Rules are acts of parliament. NZTA and the Police are the bodies responsible for enforcing these.

    AT is 40% funded by NZTA, 40% by Auckland Council, and 20% self funded. Work out the chain of command.

    I am not trying to defend AT, but please people take your case up with those responsible.

  13. This is getting a bit like the trains cause accidents, or truck drivers are always at fault scenarios. Like it or not but cyclists need to do more to ensure their own safety, simply because they are the vulnerable parties. Sometime it is not their fault, and sometime it is their fault, but the outcome is usually the same, they are the victims. For starters they need to ensure they are seen, even if it means wearing hi viz clothing every time they hop on their bikes. I’m a driver, and a cyclists, and from what I see every day, some cyclists can be seen from a mile off, and those are usually given a wide berth by motorists, and others can’t be seen until you are almost on top of them, and I wold hazard a guess that they are the ones having the most problems with the traffic.

        1. Why would I do that? I have a duty to try to improve my own city and reclaim it so children can walk and cycle safely.

      1. Bollocks it is, it really isn’t especially when there are groups of 2 or more idiots riding side by side on country roads, it’s downright dangerous, they really are taking their lives into their own hands. I’m a mountain biker so I don’t ride on the roads, it’s just not worth it unless there is a cycle lane.

        1. What’s more dangerous about a country road compared to mountain biking? Isn’t it the traffic? That’s what I meant by the ‘environment’. The danger from cars is what makes cycling dangerous, not an inherent lack of safety in cycling.

          1. Roads are for motorised vehicles, cyclists are the interlopers. A lot of cyclists ride like they have a death wish. It’s about time police also tickets cyclists for a lot of the really stupid things they do. That’s why I keep my cycling to an environment where I’m a menace to walkers and not being menaced by vehicles.

          2. Ah, I see. Roads existed a long, long time before the existence of motor vehicles. This is at the nub of the inequity we need to right. Roads are for people to get from A to B. Drivers have taken over that space, and leave other users endangered as a result. The cost of now re-establishing basic rights of access for people is a cost imposed by drivers.

            And in this era of understanding about climate change and pollution, it would be nice if drivers gave up their dominance of the collective space to people using sustainable modes with a little more grace.

          3. Chief, I think you lack some perspective here. A motorway is a road for cars. A railroad is a road for trains. On your typical rural road, everyone — pedestrians, bicycles and cars — will be using the same space. Historically, pedestrians and bicycles came first, in that order, and cars were the (rather deadly) interlopers.

            In cities we call the space between the buildings ‘streets’, and they are public spaces for people, just like parks and playgrounds.

            The easiest way over here is to understand that is to visit a mall. You have to park somewhere in a parking lot, and then walk into the mall. You’re not allowed to drive your car around in the space between the shops, not even for that 5 minute dash to grab a bottle of milk. Air conditioning and shelter are nice, but the main attraction of malls is that these spaces are not made inhospitable to people by all that traffic going through.

          4. MC2221 is both right and wrong. He is completely wrong that roads are for motorised vehicles – by mere fact that unless there is a completely separate cycle path, then of course the road has to be for ALL traffic. Fact. No Arguing.

            But then he is also completely right that some cyclists ride like they have a death wish, and that stupidity hurts us all. Last night in Wellington, while I was waiting at the sidewalk, in the rain, in the dark, on the busy main thoroughfare of Taranaki St, several cyclists went past me – not one with a red tail light. Absolute total idiots. And some of them cut over Vivian St (State Highway One) in that rain, between the traffic, without the benefits of reflectorised clothing, or front or back lighting. Also seen the day before – someone skateboarding down the most busy lane, at night, wearing black jeans and a black jacket. I mean – how stupid can you get?

            Nobody deserves to die – but all these people are sure going out of their way to make sure that they have the greatest chance of reaching that goal.

            Curiously, all the cyclists I saw were wearing helmets (except the one cutting across the traffic, who just had lot of hair and was, I suspect, probably homeless). Just what IS the point of a helmet if you ride like that?

          5. Riding in the rain or the dark without light indeed is stupid, and among the few bicyclists I encounter, most of them indeed ride without light in the dark.

            Then again, go out in heavy rain, and count the amount of cars driving around without their lights on.

            Partially I think this is because so many bikes are sold here without the essential stuff fitted. No bell, no lights, no reflectors, etc. In that situation, assuming for instance that a pair of lights is enough, or getting the wrong type of lights, is an easy mistake.

  14. In reply to Heidi

    No I won’t try again, but instead give you some food for thought on Sweeden.

    Fatalities in Sweeden per capita have been on a decreasing level from 1990 records, as they have been in most of the developed world.

    The most rapid decline was between 2000 and 2010, and the rate of decline has now slowed.

    If you take the time to read OECD reports on Sweedish road safety you will note some of the key aspects as being;

    1) Enforcement of helmet laws for motorcycles and mopeds
    2) Enforcement of the use of seat belts
    3) Introduction of speed cameras
    4) No distraction laws – mobile devices banned
    5) Combatting fatigue

    Yes there are some infrastructure items that are sighted as “may have influenced”, but the above is far more relevant.

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