We have a job this year. Auckland’s future will be influenced by the outcome of the local elections. We need to see our city become safer and healthier, with infrastructure modified for a more affordable and low-carbon future.
Auckland Transport, despite its internal wranglings, has the beginnings of a programme to deliver change. We also have councillors willing to champion it. Roll on election: we now need to replace all the obstructive councillors with more progressive ones, so that the transformation of Auckland Transport from roads-first to a safe multi-modal people-focused organisation can continue.
Under the Local Government Act, our Council is required to plan for present and future generations. Councillors favouring easy status-quo votes over good planning are failing in their legislative duty. And that’s particularly hurting our kids.
The most urgent job is to address the safety crisis, to make the city safer for its most vulnerable citizens. As the Auckland Regional Public Health Service submitted recently:
Speed limits are currently at a level that is known to be unsafe. Auckland Transport is required under the ‘Land Transport Rule: Setting of Speed Limits 2017’ to set speed limits that are safe.
Estimates from the International Transport Forum show that out of 26 international cities, Auckland has the second highest pedestrian fatality rate.
Reducing speed limits makes our roads safer for all road users – fewer collisions, fewer injuries, fewer deaths.
Communities in which it is safe and easy to walk, cycle or take public transport are associated with healthier populations.
Late last month, two Kowhai Intermediate students were hit by a van. They were simply walking to school, crossing an arterial road on a green man. Both were hospitalised, one was critically injured.
I’m aware of a few others just this year: a 15-year-old seriously injured by a car when he was just walking to school on the footpath of an arterial road, another crossing a road that had no pedestrian crossing its entire length yet lines of parked cars obstructing visibility. And pedestrians have been struck by cars and buses in locations where the safety need had been highlighted multiple times.
Every one of these tragedies was in an area with a speed limit known to be unsafe. Each one was:
no accident. It was a trap knowingly set … predictable and preventable
Auckland Transport plans safety improvements, only to have them overturned by external pressure. What can they do if the councillors themselves are throwing obstacles in its way? The quotes below are from politicians of left and right – their names and parties don’t matter. The quotes are simply material to discuss, so we can be prepared with questions and information for all our candidates, citywide.
Many of you have written to me in the past requesting pedestrian behaviour should be better managed – it is absolutely frightening to have someone step from the footpath onto the road into the path of your vehicle without looking. That’s actually one of the drivers (pardon the pun) around the slower limits. They want to ensure that even if people make mistakes it shouldn’t cost them their life. An argument against is to point out the lack of pedestrian safety campaigns that target pedestrian behaviour. Should this not be explored before undertaking a change of this magnitude?
This councillor makes an argument against ensuring that a mistake made by someone walking doesn’t kill them. Yet motorists make mistakes all the time and usually it’s someone else put at risk.
Public Meeting TONIGHT on Auckland Transport’s [email protected]#%^& ideas for St Heliers (and Mission Bay).
If you feel your candidate is inciting conflict, call it out.
Here’s the NZTA’s Crash Analysis System’s data for St Heliers. Some of these dots represent multiple crashes (the 10 dots at the corner of St Heliers Bay Rd and Tamaki Drive represent 44 crashes, for example). The red dots are serious injury, blue are minor injury.
“To solve a problem, you have to have a problem,”…[the councillor] said she could not see how 12 new raised pedestrians crossings could have solved three serious crashes in St Heliers over a five-year period.
Imagine how that comment makes those victims and their families feel. We need to preempt injury; sometimes a place needs fixing even if no serious crashes have occurred. Poor safety also leads to minor injury crashes (many resulting in long-lasting discomfort for victims), low physical activity rates, and low independent mobility rates for children.
My article made it clear I support lowering road speeds in suburban streets with lots of people about, but not on the main arterials.
Slowing speeds down across the board will just make things worse.
Children walk along and cross arterial roads too, like the children hit this year. Should children be denied the safety offered by international guidelines for speed limits on arterial roads just because a few councillors can’t take on new evidence and ideas?
A councillor requested of AT:
1) Detailed evidence of deaths and injuries within the last five years in the affected areas (not just totals, but specifics of each and every incident that lead to death or hospitalization within the affected areas within this period).
Apparently, this councillor was invited in to look at the data that is available for each crash.
2) Specific evidence that the proposed changes would have affected the outcomes in these incidents (not just generalized safety theories, but specifics as to how these theories would have applied in each of these incidents)
The specifics for how safer speeds affect driving culture are more broad brush than that. No-one can look at a crash and say definitively what would have happened, just what statistically was more likely to happen. Looking in detail at the crash records would also be of dubious ultimate value; the “Turning The Tide” report recently recommended we “Train police to minimise a pro-motorist bias in enforcement and crash investigations.” Until that’s done, the crash data has limited use.
Three times they have failed to supply this information. I have since complained to the Ombudsman. Why is AT being so evasive? One can only conclude its because the facts don’t support its agenda.
The councillors were given extensive information compiled by experts. New Zealand is a member of the OECD, and its International Transport Forum compiles and analyses research from all OECD countries, so it has a big pool of data. It is their guidelines that Auckland Transport is following in its safer speeds programme. Rejecting their findings amounts to Trumpian-style grandstanding.
(Credit: Average Joe Cyclist, ElectricBikeBlog.com)
Inherent in Auckland Transport’s plans is the assumption that slowing the speed limit will reduce cycle accidents. However, there appears to be abundant evidence that many cycle accidents are unrelated to speed limits. For example, in Holland, older men falling over on e-bikes while stationary are behind the rising death toll among Dutch cyclists. Cyclist deaths in Netherlands now surpass the numbers killed in cars. Please provide evidence that Auckland Transport’s policy of encouraging cycles will not result in a higher road toll as a result.
If we adopt safer speeds and develop a cycling network as the Netherlands have done, all the evidence suggests we will reduce the number of lives lost in our community. There’s still a lot more work to be done. One day our currently most egregious safety issues may be solved, and older men falling over on e-bikes when stationary will become the most important issue to tackle.
According to the government’s own studies: nationally, only about 15 per cent of fatal accidents occur above the speed limit.
Speeds that lie between a safe speed and the current speed limits, are unsafe speeds. It’s also the range where most travel occurs, so it is no wonder that’s where many fatalities are occurring.
What is the percentage of deaths caused by pedestrians who are crossing roads but not using the crossings?
In case your candidates are also searching for victim-blaming data, Auckland Transport replied “For the five year period 2013-7 there are no NZ Police records in online NZ Transport Agency CAS system of pedestrian at-fault deaths due to pedestrians not using a pedestrian crossing”.
How is AT paying for the 30 kmph consultation process?
What impact on journey times are you contemplating with this new speed limit regime?
How much money is spent annually on orange cones?
How much money is spent on leasing orange cones?
If you’re faced with the “no money for safety” miserliness, you could bring up 60 years of over-investment in roads that needs to be righted. Or that the costs of keeping pedestrians and cyclists safe from the dangers posed by vehicles is supposed to be covered by motorists, and there’s a debt to be paid because this hasn’t been done.
Engagement with NZ Police with Respect to Delays Caused by Accidents.
The best way to reduce delays from crashes is to make the whole system safer overall. Safer speeds will add a few minutes’ in travel for a far more reliable journey time meaning most people will be able to actually leave home later each day. We need quality, un-biased data to design a safer system. Putting pressure on the Police to work quickly at this time doesn’t assist that.
All candidates will talk about the change they’ll bring. The key is to discover the basis:
- Real change to our transport system, to make it safer, healthier, and more sustainable,
- Real change to how consultation is done, to remove bias for the status quo,
- “Change” that amounts to a reversion to previous norms, by cancelling the real programmes of change.
An engineer, a doctor and a councillor walk into a bar. The engineer proposes best practice solutions to real problems of safety and health. The doctor welcomes the proposals. The councillor calls the engineer an unelected idealist.
What does the voter do?
(Speculation about the identity of the councillors and candidates quoted is not the intention of this post; comments to that effect will be deleted.)