On Wednesday we reported on Auckland Transport’s new focus on safety. Simon Wilson elaborated further in the Herald on the same day. This was after the Auckland Transport chair and CEO had both presented their new safety plans to the Auckland Council Planning Committee.

The chair and CEO promised ‘safety’ would be the top priority for Auckland Transport, and that their new approach would be based on Vision Zero principles, which is all great news.

However, a tweet made me wonder if Auckland Transport were really committed to safety.

Auckland Transport are currently consulting on safety improvements works in Glen Eden town centre. They claim:

“The proposed pedestrian safety improvements will improve pedestrian safety and accessibility between the town centre and the train station, and reduce the distance pedestrians need to cross the road, making Glen Eden Town Centre a safer and more attractive place to work, shop and spend time.”

This project is part of our commitment to Vision Zero, which is to create a road network free of death and serious injury. We’re creating a safe road system by ensuring a consistent level of safety standards are applied across the whole AT network, with areas like Glen Eden being prioritised. These pedestrian safety improvements will reduce traffic speeds and create safer pedestrian facilities to make Glen Eden Town Centre safer and more attractive.

However, once you look at the drawings there is a stark difference between what AT promise, and what is being delivered.

It looks like Auckland Transport have taken the current sole traffic focus of the main streets through Glen Eden town centre, added some raised tables, and changed nothing else. While the website claims the purpose of the design is about improving safety, it is quite clear that traffic movement and capacity is still seen as a sacred cow that cannot not be touched. This is certainly not a design that priorities safety, but just safety lipstick on a oversized pig of a road.

There are a number of key issues with the design, but I think this picture is best at showing the flawed thinking behind this design.

This road has just plain not been designed to match 30kmh, and looks much more like a 70kmh road. In reality nothing has changed at all. This all too familiar highway design being applied to residential streets.

Further flaws are easily evident. The intersection of West Coast and Bowers Road still has a missing pedestrian leg, and a high radius slip lane.

The intersection of West Coast Road and Glendale Road also has missing pedestrian leg. The only reason for not including a pedestrian leg is for traffic efficiency.The central intersection of Glenview Road and West Coast Road also has serious issues. Pedestrian crossing distances are much too long, and semi diagonal pedestrian crossing is just weird.

This upgrade proposal highlights the key issues with Auckland Transport’s supposed safety focus. They cannot merely say they are following Vision Zero, and change the high level policy. That is just the start. They need to comprehensively rethink every part of their business as usual practice which for 50 years has been focused on moving traffic as efficiently as possible. This is clearly a difficult change, and will take a while to bed in, but there are no signs are at all that Auckland Transport are really serious about this.

Consultation on the Glen Eden town centre upgrade close on Sunday September 9, so if you are interested please submit here.

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45 comments

  1. West Coast road through Glen Eden goes from 1 lane to 2 lanes and back to 1 lane. Let’s stop this nonsense design now. It has become so normalised that AT are incapable of designing any new signalised intersection without it. The reason given is always ‘we have to increase the capacity of the intersection’. The reality is this is completely auto centric.

    1. How right you are. This is an example of what is done in a Vision Zero city:
      https://i.imgur.com/KGofMZU.png

      It REDUCES the number of lanes at the intersection to make the intersection safer. It is the OPPOSITE of what AT does.

      AT has committed to VZ, so this design can go back to the drawing board now.

    2. We seen this done on New North Road in Mt Albert. To the chagrin of a few locals who complain about having to slow down, it’s actually made the whole area safer and more pleasant.

  2. They are trying to placate everyone and satisfying no one.

    West Coast Rd is a MAJOR arterial route for cars, trucks and buses in and out of Glen Eden, parts of Henderson and parts Sunnvale. Anything AT do to stuff the flow up is going to cause traffic problems and they know it.

    It is also a hub of small businesses. Take away parking equals taking away business, yes I know its nice to think that not to be the case but it is.

    Then there is road safety. The old chestnut that speed is the only factor moronically comes into play when it is often numerous other strands that comprise crashes. So they bugger around with the intersections at great expense, do nothing about the potentially lethal railway crossing that is surely the biggest risk to people and solve very little.

    Then they try to think about pedestrians, something that is usually a distant last on AT’s hierarchy of priorities with the tables. And I agree with Bryce, the one into two into one lane arrangement is a cluster intercourse throughout Auckland!

    The conundrum AT have is to keep Auckland moving more efficiently and yet at the same time safely. Trying to do so in Glen Eden without a full redesign and road alignment is never going to happen with this compromise.

    1. The problem is that they see that as a conundrum. They don’t realise the game needs to change. It is no longer keeping Auckland moving efficiently and yet also safely. It is about prioritising safety ABOVE traffic efficiency. Always deal with safety first – then think about efficiency once safety is sorted. Traffic efficiency needs to suffer for that to happen and AT need to own that and deliver that message.

      1. That they have a problem with interfering with traffic flow when this is a town served by the rail rapid transit shows just how far AT have to go.

          1. Apologies, should qualify – pretty good for regular hours commuters. Still waiting on the long-promised 10minute all-day service of course.

          2. Ah, perhaps I should have said that the rail line being there means so much improvement in people flow is possible without having to retain the historical bias for traffic flow.

    2. Cluster Intercourse!! Love it. Reminds me of an elderly lady visiting the US who couldn’t cope with the name “Intercourse” for a local town. She mucked up and called it “Contraception”.

    3. Yes it is going to be worse for cars. That is the point and where Auckland has to go. We have tried making t better for cars for 60 years and this is where we are.

      “potentially lethal railway crossing that is surely the biggest risk to people” – how do you know that? Do you have any numbers to back that up?

      “Take away parking equals taking away business” – again any proof? From the article it seems like all the car friendly changes over the years, including parking, have actually only forced business away from the town centre to Glenmall. So how is removing parking going to make it worse?

      1. Its actual worse than that- those car friendly changes have meant that instead of shopping in town centre or even Glenmall people head to Westgate or other far flung destinations. They have been trained to think a good shopping experience ( !) is one where you land in a vast expanse of parked cars and struggle to walk safely to the mall but once there – ah faceless corporate business.

      2. I have lost count literally of the very near misses (mm’s) of pedestrians ignoring the alarms at the crossing at Glen Eden and walking into the path of trains, especially when the trains cross, I.e. when one is leaving the platform and had passed the crossing and the other hits the crossing. But not only then. Sorry Goosoid, I can’t proof it any better than that but that crossing on the network was one to watch and potentially lethal and bloody dangerous.

        Northcote, Mt Albert and Grey Lynn have all complained about loss of business from loss of parking and or road works.

    4. Please note this Centre has a vehicle bypass. There is no excuse for the excessive width and speed of this road design. This is vision compromise, not zero.

  3. What’s so hard about making it a town center that has traffic calming or a shared zone that connects the train station and upcoming apartments with the town center.

    Routing the traffic away from the station area and closing the level crossing.

  4. Beware if you are submitting: When I submitted online a few days ago I don’t know if I did something wrong or if there really was just one question before you get to the personal details section. The one question was something like “what else could we do to improve pedestrian safety?” Trouble is I can’t go back to check if there were supposed to be more questions because it recognises me and says I’ve already submitted… not quite sure how democratic that is, by the way, for families who share an email address.

    Are there more questions in the online submission?

    1. Has anyone else noticed that there is a curious variability in how AT consult on projects? Sometimes, there is a detailed set of questions with illustrations presented natively on their page. Other times, there is a survey-monkey survey with one or two questions. I haven’t been able to work out if the variation is by business unit leading the project, or what. I’m just … surprised that the organisation doesn’t have a designed and formalised consultation process that they are required to use as the basis for all consultations.

  5. Putting in raised red tables like this without:
    -reducing the default speed limit throughout the city to change the mindset about speed,
    -reducing the severance by reducing the crossing distances,
    -removing all slip lanes,
    -putting in protected cyclelanes,
    -putting in all pedestrian legs
    will simply get drivers used to driving in the same way they always did, but now over red raised tables. I’m sure AT will track initial improvements and use that data as if it’s a long-term thing, which it won’t be.

    A bit like how Auckland drivers were trained to ignore pedestrians waiting at pseudo pedestrian crossings where ‘pedestrians must give way to traffic’. I do wonder how many deaths were caused by that one traffic device decision error alone.

  6. Pedestrians crossing in a semi-diagonal direction.

    Without traffic devices, this is illegal. Despite the fact that vehicle crossings do not line up, so to cross at right angles to the road leaves you walking across a muddy verge in many situations.

    Yet the RCA’s are fine about making it obligatory for pedestrians to walk in a semi-diagonal direction when they do put traffic devices in.

    Decisions in both cases favour drivers, and inconvenience pedestrians.

  7. They have so much road width to play with for ‘safety improvements’ and came up with something so mediocre? How embarrassing.

    Instead of 4 traffic lanes between kerbs they could have either:
    – Cycle lane, island, traffic lane, traffic lane, island, cycle lane
    – Cycle lane, cycle lane protection, traffic lane, island, traffic lane, cycle lane protection, cycle lane

    The first option would work better for buses, since stops could be indented into the islands, and cyclists. The second option makes it easier for pedestrians to cross by only needing to look in one direction at a time. Either way it’s important to narrow traffic lanes and make motorists perceive themselves to be hemmed in by the road environment in order to slow them down to the target 30km/h. This won’t happen with 4 lanes of traffic.

    1. Like we need more cycle lanes. And now they’re going to waste up to $35m to fix one that hardly anyone uses as highlighted in today’s NZ Herald.
      Six cyclists in one hour is hardly a roaring success.

      1. I see you went to the Mike Hosking school of over simplistic and reactionary thinking. I imagine if we built a random selection of roads where none of them joined up, then 6 cars an hour would definitely be a roaring success.

          1. Until a road is built there are zero users. Once it is built cars start using it. The same applies to cycle ways. I have been involved in a number of campaigns to get cycle ways built and it is always the same argument brought up that no one is using a non-existent or inadequate cycle way and it always turns out that if you build it people will use it.

          2. I once commented on here that in general, drivers are becoming more aware of cyclists, but that there are a few pockets in the city where you don’t feel safe because of bikelash aggression. This is one of those pockets – cars parked deliberately across the cycleway. Retailers that make cyclists feel really unwelcome. I used to cycle there; I don’t now. But that’s not due to any deficiency in the cycleway, it’s due to the local bikelash making me feel unsafe.

          3. People don’t prefer to use their cars. Read Patricks post on the big questions part 2. It is driven by policy. i.e. if you have a policy of road building with a comprehensive networks of roads taking you door to door then you will assume “people prefer to use their cars”. And when the alternative is a few kilometres of bike lane that merges into an unsafe section of road then yes, it will appear to the simple mind as though people prefer cars because thats the choice most people will make. However, with a complete network of bike lanes taking you door to door, costing you nothing in petrol, and keeping you healthy, peoples preferences will change.

          4. Some people might prefer to use their bikes, especially if they’re going on a social thing (meeting friends at a cafe), but for me if given the choice of cycling 40 minutes each way to pick up 5kg of dog food vs driving 15 minutes each way to do it, I’ll choose the car every time. For both speed, and because I’m not necessarily time rich.

          5. And the many others like you are beneficiaries of much public money. Your decision would be fine if you were having to pay for the space your mode occupies (it is the least space efficient), the reduction in active mode share your mode causes (driving makes cycling and walking less safe and pleasant, and the public health effects of this are massive), the environmental damage your mode causes (climate change, road runoff, air pollution).

          6. That is a long distance to go just for dog food.

            You also probably don’t need to bring 5 kg at once. The fact that people do that anyway is a consequence of how inconvenient it is to drive to a shop and find parking.

  8. I think AT lacks imagination.

    It is like a building designed by Engineer instead of Architect.

    The result is a house that ticks the box but failed to impress.

    1. If the challenge was incorrectly identified then the resulting design wilĺ always be crap, regardless of whether architects or engineers were used to produce it.

  9. Leaving crossings off intersections? In a town centre? Seriously?

    Here I was thinking we’re in the middle of 2018 when obviously I’ve been transported in time back to 1990.

    Regardless of other issues, that alone means the design should be rejected.

        1. Not to mention NO crossing on Glenview for train commuters coming from the park and ride and, later, the apartment block. Unbelievable.

          1. Where would the people from the park and ride cross Glenview to take their children to school before catching the train, I wonder? The lack of pedestrian amenity on Glenview Rd caught me out once when going from the train to the chapel. And I noticed it did with some much older mourners, too, who weren’t quick on their feet to cope with the fast traffic at the bend where the chapel is.

            Using Waikumete Rd on the way back was no better – I wonder if that will be improved for pedestrians once the apartments are finished?

  10. As a resident of this part of Auckland, the biggest problem with these changes are they are the transport equivalent of slapping some lipstick on a pig. Re-painting the road and putting in some glorified speed bumps won’t achieve much. The addition of an insta-slum apartment complex (it will all be be social housing or very low cost rentals, why we insist on repeating the mistakes of the past beats me) on the corner of Glenview and Waikumete road is just going to add to the chaos, and worse make people think twice about using the park and ride, which is already in a ridiculous location.

    1/ It is critical that someone bites the bullet and grade separates the rail line at Glenview road. It would be difficult to design a more dangerous and downright stupid than the one which currently exists if you tried. Given the importance of Glenview road as a link, there isn’t a lot more you can do to improve this intersection (even down to reluctantly accepting the need for a diagonal pedestrian crossing, even though in reality this will just see people weaving through cars to go a bit straighter across the road – do the people who design these things not understand the most simple aspects of human psychology?) so…
    2/ Add a controlled pedestrian crossing to West Coast Road just before Captain Scott Road. Next one lane Captain Scott Road road from the roundabout to West Coast road and close the entire right hand lane of Captain Scott road from Glenmall to West Coast Road, so you can’t turn left or right into this street from West Coast Road.This would free up the bypass considerably at this point.The build a roundabout at the Oates Road/Glendale road intersection. This now makes the bypass usuable.

    People often disembark from the train to use the supermarket before heading home. Therefore they should extend the pedestrian overbridge at the city end of the train station over WestCoast road, add escalators and and make it disability friendly. Get as many people as possible trying to cross West Coast road from the station to use this overbridge to get the pedestrians away from the killer road slalom that is West Coast road at Glen Eden.

  11. Grade separating the rail and Glenview Rd would almost certainly mean trenching the rail and Glen Eden station. Probably not a bad thing for rail as the station is the high point with lines descending east and west. The only other alternate I could see was removed with the corner site Glenview and Waikemute now being built. There could have been a possibility of a road bridge over rail lines allowing level crossing to close. This would likely have left enough room for housing development and perhaps a roundabout junction at Glendale West Coast Rd and the bridge over to Glenview.
    Insta-slum apartment complex? that whole development is a pig, completely out of character for Glen Eden village and the new village focus as it overtowers everything else.
    Will it actually be occupied by people taking advantage of the location next to the rail station, commuters? If it’s main function is social housing, low rent apartments, then how long will slummification take? Maybe one positive is that it will empty out the unsecured P&R so that further similar blocks can be built.

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