Consultation is an important part of the process for public agencies but getting it right is easier said than done. Sometimes the issues with consultation stem from what is included, sometimes from how the results are interpreted – only those passionate enough either way tend to respond – and at the moment we’re seeing another issue entirely.
Auckland Transport currently have a whopping 55 consultations that close on Friday and another one closing a week later. Those consultations range in size from large region-wide and city-shaping plans down to minor changes to kerbs.
One of the issues with this is that consultations tend to draw out those most opposed to any particular change and with so many happening all at once it makes it difficult for those interested in making the city a better place to keep up. It also has the feeling of a student who has left their assignment to the last minute and is now rushing to get it completed on time.
What I think all of these consultations, and some of the content of them, highlight is that our consultation processes seem to be broken with agencies seemingly now feeling they need to consult on even the most minor changes. Perhaps in some of the local situations, like town center improvements, they should take a leaf out of Panuku’s book from Takapuna and send some people to interview locals. This could be particularly useful in catching the actual thoughts of the community rather than just those with the loudest voice.
Over this post and others this week we hope to shed some light on as many of these as we can.
Region-wide pedestrian crossing improvements
AT have proposed to upgrade 49 existing pedestrian crossings across the region but that they’re consulting on all of these individually is a good example of how broken the system is.
In most cases the proposals involve adding raised tables and other measures such as better lighting and high friction surfacing to existing pedestrian crossings. This is good.
One of the issue stems from the fact that each crossing is subtly different from each of the other locations provided, for example, some have kerb build-outs, some have median islands and some have just the raised table. This means that each proposal has to be consulted on individually and makes it particularity difficult for the likes of our friends at Bike Auckland as some will have greater impact than others for those on bikes.
There is also an element of why they’re even bothering to consult with some of these changes. They’ve been identified as being needed for safety and an element of “stop wasting time and just get on with it” at play. Perhaps the best example of that is the Railside Ave crossing proposal. This is for the crossing outside the train station. It is already on a raised table and they’re consulting adding better lighting, adding smart studs in the road and it seems removing a hump for pedestrians from the existing median island.
Mairangi Bay town centre safety improvements
AT say they want to make the Mairangi Bay town centre safer.
We are proposing to make changes to roads in Mairangi Bay town centre in order to improve safety and accessibility for all road users, especially children and people walking and cycling.
That last word is particularly interesting as I can’t see anything in the proposal that does anything for cycling. Not even a painted bike lane – but it does retain a large painted median and a lot of on-street parking. The raised tables will help slow most cars down but can anyone really see kids riding through here?
Torbay town centre safety improvements
Similar to Mairangi Bay, AT say they want to make the roads safer for children and people walking and cycling in Torbay. Like Mairangi Bay, there doesn’t appear to be anything for cycling with changes limited to a few kerb buildouts and raised tables.
There even remains carparks on the outside of a roundabout.
Safer Communities programme – Mangere Bridge
The safer communities programme is slightly different to most consultations in that it appears to be more working with the community before coming up with the solution, something we need more of. AT say are on the third and final step of that process.
Safer Communities programme – Mt Roskill
Similar to above, Mt Roskill is in the the third step in a larger consultation process.
I’ll try to cover some of the other, bigger consultations in larger posts, starting with Grey Lynn this afternoon.