Just after we learned about the appalling safety report showing Auckland Transport, Police and other agencies showed “an absence of commitment to improving safety on New Zealand and Auckland’s roads“, we learned that red light cameras Auckland Transport had installed weren’t even working and hadn’t for years.

After years of inaction, the highlighting of the issue finally spurred officials to work things out and last Thursday, they were finally turned on.

Auckland’s six new red light safety cameras will begin enforcing today.

Calibration is complete on the six cameras, which were delivered to Auckland and installed in late 2017.

The cameras are owned, and maintained, by Auckland Transport and NZ Police is responsible for their enforcement.

Mayor Phil Goff says “two weeks ago I spoke with the Minister of Police and Associate Minister of Transport to ensure maximum cooperation between Police and Council in activating the new red light cameras. I am pleased they have responded so promptly.

“As a motorcyclist I know well the risk posed by vehicles running red lights and have lost family members and friends in road fatalities. Red light cameras are proven technology that saves lives and having the cameras operating in hot spots around Auckland will help reduce red light running and make our roads safer.

“The six red light cameras in operation from today will be added to over the next ten years with 42 more and help bring down Auckland’s road toll which has increased by over 70 per cent in the last three years.

“Auckland Council is working closely with Government to prioritise road safety initiatives. We will be investing heavily in road safety measures with the regional fuel tax over the next 10 years, directly and indirectly contributing over half a billion dollars more into keeping people safe on our roads,” said Mayor Goff.

AT’s Chief Executive Officer, Shane Ellison, says making roads safer for Aucklanders is AT’s top priority, and enforcement through the use of red light cameras is a key measure in achieving this.

“Auckland Transport is committed to making our roads safer for our communities, and we are working in partnership with NZ Police to do this.”

Superintendent Steve Greally, National Manager of Road Policing, says running red lights is dangerous and is simply not worth it. You could cause a crash and seriously injure yourself, or someone else.

“Our Police work hard every day trying to stop risky driver behaviour, this includes people running red lights. Drivers need to remember that decisions they make impact not only them and their passengers, but everyone else on the road.

“This is why Police continues to work alongside road safety partners such as Auckland Transport, as we all want the same thing – to prevent death and injury on our roads.”

The six cameras are in the following intersections:

  • Lincoln Road/ Swanson Road,
  • Lincoln Road/ Te Pai Place,
  • Albany Highway/Oteha Valley Road,
  • Great North Road/ Karangahape Road,
  • Blockhouse Bay Road/ New North Road
  • Esmonde Road/ Fred Thomas Drive.

Overall, signalised intersection injury crashes have been trending upwards since 2012.

In Auckland, between 2012 and 2017, there were 92 fatal and serious injury crashes due to red light running.

About time but we’re going to need a lot more cameras than 6, red light running has become endemic. The new Regional Land Transport Programme provides $700k of funding in the next year and $8.5m over the coming decade for the roll out of more red light cameras across the region at high-risk intersections. It’s likely that will see about 6 cameras a year installed.

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77 comments

  1. Good to hear they’ll be working, but echo your comments about so many more being required.

    Are they expensive to install and operate? I can’t quite work out why we don’t have more of them. I’m sure it’s prevalent at many intersections, but two near my house I witness red light runners everytime I’m at the lights. Numerous times the ‘green man’ pedestrian phase has started chirping and a bus or car will fly through the intersection 🙁

    1. The cost of installing the digital cameras has reduced over time. It is now under $10K per camera and under $100K including the pole and installation. The main cost is in ongoing staff to collect the film and process the cases caught. Of course that generates far more revenue than it costs, so really there is no excuse not to have done this already.

        1. Sorry I should have said download the images. But unless there is a datalink they need to be regularly checked. It also depends on the regulations. In a past job in a road authority I dealt with some enforcement cameras. There had to be an evidentiary process the collected images went through in order to get notices issued.

  2. About time. Now a question for the group: how do we feel about cyclists running red lights as pedestrians and small dogs step onto the road?

    1. I feel the same about cyclists as I do about cars – they must obey the lights. And the same about pedestrians who start to walk long after the red man has begun to flash.

      There is no excuse, but the consequences are generally less severe than a car or bus hitting another vehicle (except perhaps to said cyclist or pedestrian).

      1. You have so much more visibility as a pedestrian or cyclist, you can quite clearly see if anyone is coming. And if you are wrong you are very unlikely to cause serious harm to anyone other than yourself. So why wait? Especially as waiting for a green normally means competing with cars and more danger.

        1. The problem is the same could be said for cars when it is a red light and you can see clearly that no one is coming. e.g right turning arrows when you need to wait for the next cycle. No one would agree that it is OK for the car to run a red light and yes I think there should be more cameras.
          I don’t have much issue with cyclists going on the ped crossing phases as long as they treat it as a stop sign first then cross slowly.

      2. except sometimes it’s only when the red person begins flashing that it’s even safe to cross, because so many cars are running the red light during the few seconds of green person flashing. Crossing Nelson St at Union St is a perfect example.

    2. The sole purpose of traffic lights is to prevent cars and heavy vehicles from hitting things. If there were no cars there would be no traffic lights, they are not needed for cyclists.

    3. There’s the reason that cyclists run red lights, and it’s to do with the acceleration ability of a bicycle from a standing start, vs that of a car.

      Cyclists filtering and running reds actually makes life easier for motorists. If you enforced that law, the logical response from a cyclist would be to sit in the middle of the lane as they got up to speed, rather than risk being gutter roadkill. No doubt this would be more frustrating for those in their cars..

          1. As is ever going over the speed limit, overtaking without 100 metres of clear road ahead, indicating for 3 seconds, etc. Most car drivers would break all of those rules on almost every journey they make!

        1. Sometimes the law is an ass. I’m sure you break the law every time you overtake a car on the open road.

        2. To put it a bit more bluntly, as a cyclist you have a compromise between obeying the law and not getting dead.

          If you wait until the green light, you’ll end up crossing the intersection along with the very dense traffic from that queue of cars behind you. Very, very dangerous.

          If you cross during a Barnes dance, then you get a head start on those cars.

          1. Barnes dance? Is that something to do with Barnes-Wallis, inventor of the bouncing bomb?

          2. Ha. I always thought it was “Barn dance” – i.e. a likening of the movements of pedestrians across all four approaches to an intersection when all traffic is stopped, to traditional community dancing or ‘square dancing’ which in days-of-old (prior to community-halls being available) used to be held in barns.

            But as chance would have it, the traffic-engineer responsible for advocating the practice was at intersections was Henry Barnes and it is plain to see how a play on words produced the term “Barnes Dance”.

            The technical term for it is “Diagonal crossing”, because when all traffic is stopped, pedestrians are at liberty to walk diagonally as well as orthogonally across the intersection.

    4. In my opinion a red light should be a stop sign for cyclists – ie. if there is nothing coming you can proceed after stopping to check. However, cyclists should never be going through red lights if pedestrians are about to step out.

        1. You might need to check your road code – a red light and a stop sign are two very different things. One allows you to proceed once you have checked that there are no vehicles coming, the other you have to wait until it is replaced by a green light.

          Basic stuff most of us learnt aged six while watching our parents driving, but clearly not everyone.

          1. I’m well aware of the current laws regarding cyclists and traffic lights. My comment was suggesting that they should be changed so that a cyclist can treat a red light in the same way they are required to treat a stop sign.

            This require them to come to a complete halt, but once they had checked for pedestrians and other cars they could proceed if it were safe.

          2. To use railway parlance, a red light is a “Stop-and-stay” signal. A stop-sign is a “Stop-and-proceed” (if safe to do so).

    5. I don’t agree with cyclists running red lights, but I do think that cyclists should be able to use pedestrian phases through an intersection (which would remove maybe 90% of so called red light running by cyclists).

      Some lycra rodies like to power through reds so they don’t break their stride, but I think for most “normal” cyclists red light running is actually just trying to get out of the way of the traffic and avoiding being the meat in a car sandwich once the light goes green.

      1. So what you’re saying is you really do agree with cyclists running red lights, for the reasons you cite.

        1. No I don’t agree with cyclists running red lights, but I think the rules around some of the reasons they do (but not all) should be changed so it no longer constitutes running a red light.

          I.e. cyclists should be allowed to ride with the direction of pedestrian crossings (the trying not to be in front of the cars when it goes green thing), but not ride across a pedestrian or traffic phase (the roadie I’m too important to stop thing)

          1. I believe cyclists are technically allowed to “walk” red lights with a pedestrian phase. I.e. dismount and wheel their bikes through with the pedestrians. That is how I normally do it and it avoids the provocativeness of ‘running’ the red light. I suppose it is ok if you ‘run’ through it on foot.

      1. “Based on what we saw and measured, we recommend measures that promote separation rather than sharing.” Bring it on… 🙂

    6. Red lights turning green elicit predictable behaviour from motorists. Running perpendicular, two or three cars are going to accelerate to try and beat the red. Behind me, an SUV driver is going to accelerate without looking up from his phone until he’s doing over 50. That bus is going to overtake me, then immediately cut me off pulling into a bus-stop. Someone is likely to try left turn over top of me without looking. And occasionally someone will press their clutch and rev the engine at me to achieve, well I don’t know what.

      If I can skip all of that, by stopping, checking, and then slipping quietly through, I’m totally going to do so. On a Barnes Dance or a pedestrian phase, I always cross as a pedestrian.

      Often I don’t go through a red, as it is obviously not safe. But when it is safer to do so, I stop, check and go. I have kids. There, on the bike with me.

      1. What it needs is a ‘bicycle’ indication alongside the ‘green man’ to legitimise the process for cyclists. I have seen that somewhere or other – probably in Europe.

  3. This is heartening. So much has been highlighted by the Road Safety Business Review and other reviews. Good to see some action taken and looking forward to more.

  4. The thing is, these cameras should be easily funded by the fines. I mean its hardly rocket science these days to video an intersection and detect a car running a red light. A few grand for a camera and a one off investment for some detection software.

  5. The success of the cameras will be helped by the publication of Statistics and Photographs with appropriate details hidden.
    I also feel that the education of Bus Drivers would help public acceptance.

  6. I guess what I’m saying is that we’re still forging the etiquette around this stuff, and more than once I’ve commented to a cyclist flying past me and my small dog, in full lycra, and received a shout and a raised middle finger back. We actually need to spend some time and money doing more than telling motorists they’re naughty, and create a set of public standards and expectations for all road users. The consequences are greater for cyclists and those on foot if we don’t (eyes and ears off the phone while you’re crossing a road, peeps). Oh, and skateboarders are like cyclists right? There’s mass confusion out there, and some risk-taking behaviour too. Which is not to argue against red light enforcement – of course that’s a given. But no one really knows the rules.

    1. I saw a [email protected] cyclist the other day – Tamaki Drive pedestrian crossing outside Kohi Cafe. He flew through at full speed while cars had stopped to let people cross. Almost hit someone and acted like he was the one inconvenienced.

      That’s definitely in the “not cool” category.

      Cyclists need to treat pedestrians the same way that they would like to be treated by cars.

    2. I think that’s a fair enough call, Peter. I guess what the cyclists here are saying is that if we create a new set of public standards and expectations for all road users, they will have to be based on a few hard facts:
      – there’s almost no infrastructure for cyclists. New cycle infrastructure is rare and much of it is not safe. So cyclists, in order to simply get from A to B, are having to swap between car infrastructure and pedestrian infrastructure. Don’t blame cyclists for that. Forcing cyclists to use just the car infrastructure and rare cycle infrastructure will stifle mode share shift, because it is simply not safe.
      – the road rules were not written by cyclists. The abilities and needs of cyclists are different to other users, and road rules written by cyclists would be very different. They’d account for our better visibility of all things ahead and to the side of us, our worse visibility of things behind us. They would take account of the huge advantage in stability to a cyclist of slowing but not having to stop. They would take account of the slope of each approach to an intersection and how that impacts the cyclist’s ability to signal, turn to see, brake, etc.
      – bicycles aren’t killing people like cars and trucks are.
      – pedestrians and cyclists need to be able to make use of any routes that are more direct.

      Some shared paths in Australia have a 8 km/hr speed limit for the bikes. I think that’s fair on pedestrians. And I think it’s fair to say, too, that cyclists need to be able to go faster than this, safely, on separate cycleways.

      1. I guess they could introduce a special cycle phase at every set of lights. Not sure drivers would like an extra phase though…

      2. “Bicycles aren’t killing people like cars and trucks are”
        +100!!!
        Maybe once there is a national crisis on cyclist vs pedestrian road tolls then we can have more serious enforcement on cycling and road rules , until then @peter b … I don’t take your comments too seriously

        1. You don’t need a national crisis. With cyclists one every 50 years would be enough to change every single road rule (look what happened to the guy on a track bike without a front brake that killed that woman in the UK that stepped out in front of him). More than one pedestrian is killed by a motorist every day in the UK and no one bats an eye.

  7. Completely agree. NZ’s approach will always be the cheapest we can get away with, which is how cyclists got the special privilege of being able to mix it in the bus lanes. If that’s not a form of ethnic cleansing I don’t know what is… More dedicated cycleways, yes please. And more driver education, and a rethink of Franklin Rd that accounts for the kinetic energy and reaction time and surprise generated by a roundabout on a hill. I struggle to see how that one will work – and I’m a local. Up from Hamilton for the day? I can see the tears.

      1. Drive down from Ponsonby Rd in the rain, through the roundabout at Wellington St with the new judder bar/crossing/cycleway and oops! another on the way out. So many surprises at once, it seems to assume everyone passing through it knows what to expect. I’m sure it makes perfect sense on a flat piece of paper – but drivers will be bewildered and cyclists will expect drivers to stop for them… I think it’s been very poorly thought through.

        1. So, Franklin Road/Wellington Street now has four ped crossings and cycle crossings, where is used to be ‘fend for yourself and good luck’. So that’s great.

          But, when a car is turning left through at a roundabout, the driver is looking right, for a gap in the traffic. They are worrying about who will hit them, not who they might hit coming out. So drivers turn left, looking right, and drive straight into the pedestrian crossing, just turning eyes back to the road in time to hit the brakes in surprise.

          My kids Playcentre is right on this corner. I’ve had a near miss on foot already. Then I drove through it, and realised where I was looking, and I’m a pretty conservative and safety conscious driver. So, always make eye contact with the driver.

          (*Why do we call them ‘near misses’? It was a near hit. It was a miss.)

          1. I have family living in Georgina so I’ve struggled through the roadworks as a pedestrian many times; I just haven’t walked around there recently.

            There are people on this blog who like roundabouts and claim they can be good for active users if done well. Can you see how this one could be improved, Anthony and Peter? Or is it that we don’t have the road corridor width required to do them well?

            For the sake of safety, should they just use traffic lights?

  8. But nothing about Nelson st which was the intersection highlighted as being booody awful? This is a step in the right direction but look what they’re not saying.

  9. “We will be investing heavily in road safety measures with the regional fuel tax over the next 10 years, directly and indirectly contributing over half a billion dollars more into keeping people safe on our roads,” said Mayor Goff.

    Meanwhile about 10 billion dollars will be spent in the next 10 years into making it less safe, by building more roads and widening others, and thus inducing more traffic.

    Actually getting some working red light cameras is great, even if it’s like being allowed to start to learn our ABC. But the decisions made around funding will work against the city’s safety, modeshare and carbon emission objectives.

  10. To add to the “reasons” (not excuses) that people (cyclists or motorists) might not stop at red lights are short light cycles. There are intersections, and Nelson St is full of them, where by the time the first driver in the queue actually gets into gear and starts to move, only three or four cars get through before amber. In situations where phasing has people held at crossings, such as in Victoria St, as the lights ahead are green, the temptation is to get to the next set of lights as quickly as humanly possible, at maximum acceleration, to beat the red, or face a further delay. Not excusing running lights, but these are factors in how drivers behave and under the laws of unforeseen consequences, perversely shortening cycles can generate more kinetic energy at the lights, and greater chance of misjudgement. Catching crims is one thing, but encouraging safer driving practices surely ought to be the goal here.

    1. To be fair the city centre is made for people on foot. Short phases with frequent pedestrian crosses are sensible.

      1. Long phases with more pedestrian crosses in the cycle also work. Who says you need to go through a complete round before a pedestrian phase? But very short phases do mess with people’s driving, in ways we shouldn’t encourage.

  11. One thing I’ve learned today: Peter Barrett is obsessed with cyclists. On the other hand, cars running red lights get no opprobrium from him at all.

  12. Jesus wept, a concern troll successfully changed the topic of these comments to “those darn cyclists”. I wish more people would realise when they’re being played.

    1. A concern troll huh? Pretty offensive. Someone who wastes your time and webspace raising questions you’d rather not discuss, or fails to kick high enough in your line of cheerleaders? No, there is a comments section here and unless you’d like to have me exiled to a gulag as a dissident, I may continue to voice the odd concern over what happens on our streets, Daphne. So sorry.

    2. But I have to say there’s an element of paranoia in your comment – do you really think dark forces are trying to hijack web forums to defeat cycling in Auckland? Subvert our conversations to evil ends? No, people just want the bloody place to work properly.

  13. It isn’t rocket science. A cycle is a road vehicle covered by the road rules, That means STOP for red lights. NOT sneak across pedestrian crossings (unless walking). Absolutely cyclists should stop where there is red lights on cycleways for example Quay St. Many consider stopping is optional but especially on Quay St the lights are there for pedestrians to cross. In these situations umbrellas are exceptionally useful. Anyone hit by a cycle knows how damaging they can be to a pedestrian.

    1. Well I just saw a cyclist make a right turn from Ponsonby Rd into Franklin Rd against a red filter arrow and across the path of an oncoming truck heading for a construction site. Bloody murderous truckie had to slow down. Consider the cost to the nation if that manoeuvre had failed. Guess his brakes were painted on…

  14. I’d like to nominate the intersection of Tristram Ave and Wairau Rd as a prime candidate for a red light camera. Red light-running there is chronic.

    1. Red light camera’s should just be standard at all sets of traffic lights. The cost of them is a small fraction of all the infrastructure at a signalised intersection (poles, lanterns, detector loops, pedestrian call buttons, cabling, control cabinet etc). Yes retrofitting them can be expensive but it’d be trivial if it was included in a routine upgrade.

  15. A bit off subject, but I think it is time an education programme was started to highlight the dangers of pedestrians and cell phones. I am seeing quite a few pedestrians so distracted by their cellphones that they lose perception of where they are, in some instances, just stepping out onto a busy road. I went ape at one you woman who stepped out in front of my truck on St Lukes Road, and just got a blank stare in reply as she continued her cellphone conversation

    1. Pedestrians watching cellphones not just problem on roads, also problem on footpaths as well. They’re not going to run anyone over, but jeez, makes it hard for the rest of us to get anywhere as they dawdle along in their bubble, oblivious to everything and everyone except their screen.

      Anyway…. original topic was on red light running. Someone in the comments said about changing the film? The new cameras are digital, so have no film, and can send massive amounts of images of law breakers back to base. They have a digital speed camera in Ngauranga Gorge – collects more money than any other camera in NZ. Makes hundreds of thousands in fines each year. Surely it makes sense then to buy a few of those babies for problem red light intersections in Auckland?

      1. Yes, a few, a few dozen, a few hundred? And where else can we use technology for cheaper, quicker enforcement to bring about a better city?

        I’ve been reading about advances in parking management – and how one camera (mounted presumably in a car but potentially on a bike? 🙂 ) can quickly scan the registration numbers so a computer can check against the online and phone app payments.

        And I’ve been wondering about whether something similar could be used for illegal parking. How easy is it for a computer to recognise legal and illegal parking?

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