When thinking about how we get around, walking should form the foundation of the transport pyramid, the thing that we make the easiest and enable the most of. It’s something that we all do (without feet or with a mobility aid) and yet our built environment can be downright hostile to people not in a car. There are many ways this manifests itself and with this post I want to focus on just one of these, missing pedestrian crossing legs.

So what is a missing pedestrian crossing leg?

An example is at Morningside. Say you’ve just got off the train (bottom left of image below) and want to get to one of the shops on the northern side of New North Rd, or perhaps to Western Springs Rd via Inwood St. Instead of just walking up to New North Rd and then crossing to the northern side you first have to wait to cross Morningside Dr and then wait again to cross New North Rd, as shown in blue.

These missing pedestrian crossing legs exist all over Auckland and can create a number of issues. On some intersections this can add a significant amount of time to a walking trip and therefore make walking a much less attractive option. For public transport users it can also sometimes be the difference between whether you make a bus or not. It can also create safety issues because it encourages some people to cross at less safe locations.

As for why these crossings are missing, there’s a simple answer – traffic flow. Our transport engineers and planners have decided that the movement of cars is more important than people on foot or their safety. By removing pedestrian crossings their flawed models say they can squeeze a few more cars through an intersection.

But just how prevalent is this issue?

To find out I thought I’d map out just how many ‘missing’ crossings there were. To do this I’ve scoured over Google maps and streetview to mark out every intersection I can find controlled by traffic lights – this only counts traffic lights on road intersections, so mid-block crossings are not included. To keep it simple, at those intersections if there is a pedestrian leg missing then it is red and if not, it is green.

However, just because an intersection is green it doesn’t mean it’s necessarily friendly to pedestrians. For example, even to get across one side of the Te Irirangi Dr and Ti Rakau Dr intersection requires crossing at least two slip lanes (one of the four of which is also signalised) and up to nine traffic lanes (about 30m). The thought of crossing that intersection on foot is not appealing and I imagine the prospect of doing it would be even less so for those that are less able bodied than myself or trying to cross with children.

Also not counted as red are intersections with mid road pedestrian islands meaning you have to wait in the middle of the road for a second set of lights.

Of course, there are also many other types of intersections that can be hostile to pedestrians (and cyclists), such as roundabouts, but I haven’t included those in this, again to keep it simple.

After scouring the maps, here’s what the result looks like (if you think I’ve missed any then please let me know)

Overall across the entire urban area the numbers are almost exactly 50:50 with 329 red crossings and 327 green ones. However, as you can see there are very different results if we break those down by area.

  • City Centre: defined as the area within the bounds of the motorway noose. Unsurprisingly the city centre comes out the best with 73% of the 64 controlled intersections having crossings on all sides.
  • West: includes Avondale and comes in second with 60% of the 95 intersections in the green – this is in part due to large numbers of controlled intersections the town centres such as Henderson, New Lynn and Westgate.
  • Isthmus: not including the city centre and as far south as Otahuhu. Claims third place with 52% of the 222 intersections showing as green. There are some notable patches of red, such as around Sylvia Park
  • North Shore: sits in the middle of the pack with 49% of its 86 intersections green.
  • East: for the purposes of this includes Howick, Pakuranga, Botany, East Tamaki and Flatbush. This is very red thanks to the major corridors such as Pakuranga Rd and Ti Rakau Dr. Just 40% of 60 intersections show as green and as mentioned earlier, many of those are not that friendly to pedestrians.
  • South: is even more dire, of the 112 intersections, just 36% have all crossings. Things are particularly bad in and around Manukau and Wiri
  • Hibiscus Coast: The smallest of the areas covered with just 17 controlled intersections however only two of them (12%) have all pedestrian legs.

While there are many other factors involved, it is notable that many of the areas with higher numbers of red intersections also tend to have higher levels of car use.

Auckland Transport should have a programme to fix all the red intersections on the map but here a few (dis)honourable mentions to kick things off.

Gt North Rd / Lincoln Rd / Swanson Rd / Buscomb Rd / Mt Lebanon Ln

This giant intersection has it all possibly the most potential crossings needed to get across a single road. Say you were coming from Corbans Estate, just to the south of the image below, and wanted to cross to the corner on the other side of Gt North Rd. You would have to cross two uncontrolled slip lanes and five light controlled crossings walking a total of about 90m to cross a 30m road.

Taharoto Rd / Karaka St

There is nothing remarkable about this intersection but it is possibly the most recent to go in with a missing pedestrian leg with the traffic lights having only been completed just over a month ago showing that these poor designs are still prevalent. The traffic lights were in part the response to the death of an elderly lady trying to cross the road – although it still took nearly three years and as I understand it, was opposed by some of the engineers and local board worried it would slow traffic going to the motorway.

Anzac St / Lake Pupuke Dr / Barrys Point Rd

This intersection is only a few hundred metres from the one above and shows as green on the map above. This is despite it missing a painted crossing marks on the Lake Pupuke Dr arm of the intersection. It also misses the pedestrian signals which I understand means you can cross with the traffic but overall this fees inconsistent with most crossings. I wonder if anyone has followed the three signalised crossings to continue walking straight ahead?

Mt Wellington Hwy / Sylvia Park Rd

This intersection has not a single pedestrian crossing on it

There are many more that could be mentioned.

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84 comments

  1. Haha, the dreaded Sylvia Park intersection. When I worked in Carbine Road I used go for my morning run around Hamlins Hill (out top left of the photo). I would arrive at this intersection from the bottom right wanting to cross diagonally to the top left. Everyday was an Adrenalin rush and I took to running in a hi-viz jacket just to get through this intersection unscathed. Eventually I gave up the unequal struggle and ran the other way; for a circuit around Panmure Lagoon. Better for the soul and longevity.

    1. Yea that whole area is really unfriendly for pedestrians. I walk from Sylvia Park to Pacific Rise (just off Sylvia Park Rd) every day and it’s risky. There’s no crossing in the area so it’s a matter of working out the ‘best’ place to cross.

      Been working with AT to get something installed, but it’s slow.

  2. Matt, this post really begs the question. Why is a volunteer from a not for profit organisation doing this vital piece of work? This map and the plan to reduce the red should be front and center on the ‘Getting Around Auckland’ page of Auckland Council’s website. Wishful thinking. If such a page existed it would be sponsored by the car industry and only focus on one mode. So I guess I’ve answered my question. Thanks for the hours of effort that went into this.

  3. Wow amazing work. What an indictment of Auckland Transport and all their hollow words around caring about road safety and supporting mode shift.

    This contempt that traffic engineering treats pedestrians with makes me so angry. What a gutless profession.

    1. Quite right. Time those software engineers, process engineers, electrical engineers, mechanical engineers, structural engineers, industrial engineers et al did the right thing vis a vis pedestrian crossings in Auckland.

      Seriously, why is your (justified) ire not directed at those who set policy and those who determine how those policies are implemented? Start with those who are paid the most…the so-called leaders and directors; the ones who get paid the really big salaries.

      1. I’m sure you’ve read the code of ethics, MFD.

        I face professional traffic engineers who are not following it, constantly.

        That’s not been my experience in other branches of civil engineering.

        1. If employees are engaging in unethical behaviour, Heidi, why do their managers/employers not take action? Where is the leadership for which (allegedly) very high compensation packages are awarded? Where does the buck stop?

        2. Their managers have taken action, they are the very ones who sign off on these shit designs, they are the ones who could take a policy to their political masters and end this sort of crap. But they don’t so long as the decision makers prefer this.
          What gets built is not an engineering issue, the engineers can design and build anything the people paying for it want and that meets whatever the political masters set as their standards. These roads are all administered by a road controlling authority, a low status branch of our government but still a part of government.
          The results you see are political and that is why the debate is here on a political forum.

        3. Pretty much that miffy. Don’t blame the engineers. Blame the people that set the budget and decide where and how money is to be spent.

          All those crossings could have been added long ago, but instead money gets spent on other stuff.

        4. Heidi, I doubt they’re chartered engineers or engineers at all for that matter. Safety is front and centre for engineers, including transport engineers. If the people you refer to are chartered engineers, and are making deliberate unsafe designs, make a complaint otherwise you’re just as bad.

        5. In this post, we have the example of Auckland’s proliferation of legless crossings. This is clearly systemic – that’s how we have a map of legless crossings like Matt has documented. It’s clearly an ongoing problem – they’re still being installed. They are a safety hazard, so who’s at fault? At any particular crossing, do designers say that they’re “OK here, they may make the pedestrians have to walk further but they’re still safe?” That’s not ok. That’s ignoring international research that systemic issues like this contribute to DSI. As a system, they make walking less attractive, preventing physical activity, contributing to health problems, reinforcing car use, and they mean that across the transport network, thousands of pedestrians weigh up the risks of not having to be delayed so long, and sometimes they get hit.

          The first rule any member of Engineering NZ needs to abide by is
          1. Take reasonable steps to safeguard health and safety.

          In other projects, managers not keeping abreast of developments in their field, like using concepts of traffic evaporation, are preventing trials of new street layout designs.

          Some urban planners and designers know the benefits for safety, health and climate. What they need is the various engineering silos in AT to back their innovative designs and solutions. They essentially need the traffic engineers to challenge the managers. But it’s been the engineers who’ve said silly things to me displaying they don’t believe in traffic evaporation. It’s the engineers who haven’t been following the international projects that have shown that you can reduce vkt and create serious modeshift through the creation of low traffic neighbourhoods.

          In the process they are not abiding by these rules of Engineering NZ:
          2. Have regard to effects on environment
          4. Act competently
          You must ensure that your relevant knowledge and skills are kept up to date…

          How does a member of the public report this sort of thing? I’ve given people the chance to pick up their game. I’ve done that by telling them the situation to their face and in front of their colleagues. Next step, who knows?

          But members of Engineering NZ have a bigger responsibility, under this rule:

          3. Report adverse consequences
          If you have reasonable grounds to believe that an engineering matter has, or could have, adverse consequences [signficant harm or significan damage] you must bring the matter to the notice of the relevant regulatory body unless, having made inquiries, you are satisfied on reasonable grounds that the matter is being dealt with through an appropriate process or in an appropriate manner.

          If we’re going to break through the status quo into a better transport system, we’re going to need engineers to do so.

        6. Heidi, this should not be happening on ‘new’ pieces of infrastructure. Retrospective corrections to existing infrastructure while simple in theory will always hit the hurdle of cost (if you’ve got 100 things to fix but budget to fix only 10, then some things just won’t happen). Maybe if everyone accepted a rates increase, it would be sorted. But back to new infra, there should be safety audits done and within those audits I would expect to see missing pedestrian crossing legs on intersections for example. What the really interesting thing to see would be how many safety audit recommendations are actually taken on board in the design process.

      2. I think the engineers need to take some responsibility. Most of those other engineering disciplines you mention would not prioritise cost or throughput over safety even if their boss asked them to.
        If traffic engineers just stick to guidelines and rules and direction, is that actually engineering?

        1. Electrical engineers prioritize cost all the time. Google “design for manufacture”.

          I imagine that many other engineering fields have similar focus on “cost efficiency”.

        2. I completely agree that the top of the organisation has to lead this. Claes Tingvall, the creator of the Vision Zero concept, is clear on this.

          But in the situation we have, where the leaders are not doing so, professionals should be demanding change. That is part of their job.

        3. The engineers need to take responsibility, as well as their leaders. Imagine if this was in the health system. If leadership/management proposes a cost-cutting or time-saving measure that risks harm to patients then it is the doctor’s responsibility to push back. “First, do no harm” is the premise underlying the code of ethics – should apply in many other professions that impact peoples safety.

        4. Jon_K: Any idea how many deaths and injuries per year are caused by NZ based electrical engineers? I imagine it is an insignificant fraction of those caused by traffic engineers.

        5. “But in the situation we have, where the leaders are not doing so, professionals should be demanding change. That is part of their job.”

          As a 22 year-old, straight out of engineering school I would have struggled with the power balance associated with standing up to management over a safety issue. Not so much now but I am working within an organisation with a very strong (and effective) safety culture. An engineer that promotes or accepts unsafe equipment, situations or behaviours is swiftly invited to leave.

          Here’s a quote that I value:
          “The culture of any organization is shaped by the worst behavior the leader is willing to tolerate.”

        6. @ JimboJones – Electrical and electronic devices have to satisfy a great many standards, including safety standards. This regulation is a big influencer in management ensuring that a safe product is released. Engineers want to provide an elegant and effective solution, management want to cut costs. Engineers try to reduce costs to satisfy management.

          The difference between transport engineering and designing a commercial electrical/electronic product is that TE doesn’t have the same degree of regulation around product safety – The company/manager who approves an unsafe electrical product is more liable than the engineer following orders. Where’s the same liability for the managers of TEs?

          What I’m saying is that you’re still blaming the wrong people.

        7. “Any idea how many deaths and injuries per year are caused by NZ based electrical engineers? I imagine it is an insignificant fraction of those caused by traffic engineers.”

          Who makes decisions to run electrical pole lines right next to roads (and in some cases on the outside of tight bends)? Any idea of how many people have been killed or injured by smashing into power poles? Is it engineers? accountants? managers?

        8. I’m not blaming the 22 year old. But there are certainly senior engineers who should be questioning this type of behaviour these days. In AT it feels like many of those senior engineers are still promoting traffic flow at all costs.

        9. Traffic Engineering is not Engineering. “Engineering” gives it a status that does not merit. Traffic Engineering is to Engineering what Aromatherapy is to Medicine. That’s not to say that all traffic engineers are bad, it’s just that the discipline itself is quackery. The best traffic engineers will freely admit this.

        10. So when you state “I think the engineers need to take some responsibility” you mean just the ones who should be “questioning this behavour”, ie the senior ones?

          Firstly, how do we know that they are not questioning? Maybe they have been but have been told to toe the corporate line.

          Secondly, is in not reasonable to posit that they have been promoted to senior engineer as reward for their behaviour? (ie embracing the corporate strategy?

          Thirdly, is it not possible that these “senior engineers” are living examples of the Peter principle?

          All of these possibilities point towards deficiencies in a culture that emanates from the very top of an organisation.

          Lastly, why is anyone surprised when “traffic engineers” produce designs which prioritise traffic? There is an inbuilt solution bias to solving problems relating to moving people and things.

        11. MFD I’m a senior engineer in a completely different field. If I was still designing and building things like it was 1999 I would be out of a job. Maybe its just the difference between the private and public sectors?

        12. “If I was still designing and building things like it was 1999 I would be out of a job.”

          …and I am confident in guessing that your ethics as an engineer have not substantially changed since 1999. The legislative landscape around health and safety has changed, employers are willing to spend more to achieve H&S outcomes etc etc. The claim that you would be out of a job suggests that your employer or client now places a higher value on H&S and has a culture that reflects that.

          “Maybe its just the difference between the private and public sectors?”
          I suspect that Miffy has it nailed. AC/AT talks a good talk vis a vis safety but has not changed the organisation accordingly for political reasons; pushback by those who are vocal or hold sway.

          Not an environment that I would want to work in.

        13. A rant.
          Unfortunately traffic engineers are at a major interface of the unaligned interests of the public, politicians and significant business interests. They probably entered this profession because of an interest in cars anyway so moving cars swiftly is in their DNA.
          Who are the traffic engineers masters? Their immediate masters are the CEO’s of government, or council organisations reporting to politicians.
          Car manufacturers sell cars on the basis that they will get you places faster, driving a car skilfully is fun, evidently, and implied with this is the premise that faster is even more fun. Car manufacturers spend a lot of money trying to persuade you that their model car asserts your personality, even going as far as praising their new aggressive styling.
          Newspapers are as much about selling advertising as selling news, and the motor industry is to them a key purchaser.
          Politicians are dependant on commercial entities donating to party funds and to favourable press as much as to not pissing off the public.
          And motorists do get pissed off being impeded.
          So making car transport slower for even the very best of reasons, saving lives, meets significant public and political pushback.
          The NZTA fiasco is the result of a CEO prioritising not upsetting anybody over improving safety.
          Unfortunately this culture developed over many years, is proving very hard to dislodge. The leadership must come from unambiguous political direction. Time to step up, beyond glib statements, Phil Twyford and Phil Gough. Demand harm reduction targets not just yet another report.
          And to the CEO’s of those government and council organisations, weather the undoubted criticism, and place a huge more emphasis on reducing our disgraceful road casualty rates. These are real people that should not be dying.
          And to traffic engineers, it is not all about the flow, it is about integrating provision of mobility with all the other functions required of our cities and countryside.

        14. Don, you’re on the money with almost everything there, a great rant.. but I think demanding Twyford and Goff to step up misses the real root of the problem. They are democratically elected and as you referred to earlier in your rant, car drivers get angry and are noisy voices whenever they’re impeded. As long as these voices remain strong, Twyford or Goff cannot just do what they want. If they impede traffic flow and piss off too many people then someone else who doesn’t impede traffic flow will be voted in. Their hands are tied to certain extent. The root of the problem here is democracy.

  4. Special mention for the one between Lightpath and Nelson street, not only for being in a completely embarrassing place, but also for being completely without benefit for other traffic flow.

  5. Traffic Engineering, as it is mostly practiced in New Zealand, is a ethics-less, intellectually stunted, and obviously failed pseudo-science that somehow has been allowed so much power over our world and lives.

    The great mystery is how come, in the face of the endless death and misery it presides over, is it so resistant to self renewal? To recognising its failures and generating solutions? This is, after all, what engineering, and science in general, is particularly good at. Sometimes too slowly, certainly, but failure is in fact the key to advance in evidence based fields; it speeds innovation and ingenuity and change. But for this process to work failure has to be recognised.

    It must be that it admits no failure. Traffic Engineering, then, is surely the only branch of that noble trade where killing its users is accepted as just fine. Perhaps, in the case of the human walking, or even for all humans, by deciding they are not actually the user. Only machines are…?

    Really? Anyone got a more convincing theory?

    1. Is it at the engineering level, or is it above that at the organisation level? Who controls the final decisions, the values, expressed in these designs? Isn’t it executives and committees like the Traffic Control Committee or Road Corridor Committee?

      I don’t believe it’s the public, cos when ever they are asked properly the public consistently ask for better and safer streets and places.

      1. Both, Dave.

        But having said that, there are plenty of people trying to change things in AT. It’s just that the models, the processes, the culture, and the management are against them.

    2. I can’t say I know a lot about the field other than what I read on this blog, but there does seem to be a lot of car-centric safety rules (removing trees / wide roads / etc) and very little people centric rules. Why wouldn’t there be a rule that all traffic lights have to have crossing in all directions?

      1. Here’s how I understand the modelling works during the design to see if a pedestrian leg can be signalised.

        The models assume that if a signalised crossing *could* have someone press the button to cross, that someone will press it *every cycle* and someone will walk across for that *entire crossing phase*. In reality, the button may only be pressed one in three cycles, and often, the pedestrian might skip across quickly, allowing the turning traffic that also gets a green to go earlier. What this means during design is that if they compare including a signalised crossing with not including it, the difference the model shows in traffic flow is massive. Which is erroneous. But the upshot is they can’t put the crossing in.

        The engineers know this. But they’re still under the impression / instruction? to optimise traffic flow and this error serves that purpose.

        I’ve been told AT need to be freed from the models they are required to use, as if it’s NZTA’s? role to do that. I’d like to know if this is true and if so, what that would take.

        1. Depends on the model. At the Sidra course they will teach you to do a run with the pedestrian phase and do another without. If there are hardly any pedestrians you report the without and note what happens when there is a pedestrian. If it actually runs for a pedestrian 1/2 the time then you can factor that in.
          But there is no connection between how you tested the intersection and whether or not you need to make provision. Even if pedestrians are very rare you should at least provide them a safe facility for when they are there. The idea that there are not many so we never have to think about it is stupid. It was stupid 30 years ago when Manukau and NZTA did a lot of them and it is stupid now after the practice spread like a rot.
          When i worked in the UK the approach was quite different. It was common to provide no pedestrian signal or phase but if you did that you kept the phasing really simple like two phases at a cross roads without green arrows so it was obvious when to cross.

        2. What’s your advice for a project that’s under consultation at the moment, then, with a missing pedestrian leg for this reason?

        3. Heidi that’s exactly a perfect example of why the outputs from transport models should always only be treated as interesting partial information, and not gospel. Or worse, and far more common, as having a veto over designs….

          Any number of small inputs like this result in completely whack outputs, and are invisible to anyone looking at the results. Results which because they are expressed numerically imply an accuracy that’s just plain nonsense.

        4. Heidi tell them in their consultation and tell them you will write to each of their board members if the go ahead with it. They only do what they think is popular, it isn’t engineering it is politics. They will try and tell you it is technical and you won’t understand, but you are too smart for that shit, don’t let them fob you off.
          As an aside it might be worth looking at the crash records for the red dots and forward the results to the coroners office. The only way to change these appointed Directors at AT is to embarrass them.

    3. Its like the whole industry seems to be exempt from the health and safety rules that every other business or department have to follow. No other business could prioritise throughput over safety to anywhere near that degree. AT probably have more health and safety initiatives in their offices (in case someone gets a paper cut) than they do on the streets.

    4. If you have a problem with the ethics, complain to Engineering New Zealand. It’s not the engineers who are the issue, so much as the poor management decisions.

      The practice is vehicle-centric, because of the management of the engineers and engineering consultants. AT watered down the pedestrian focus on the St Heliers proposal from what an external consultant wanted – Are you going to blame the external engineer or the ones who make the calls?

    5. The exact same argument could be said for food manufacturers, super markets and restaurants killing people who eat too much of the wrong food.

      Same for manufacturers and retailers of alcohol and tobacco.
      Same for people who buy mobile phones which rely on child labour in Africa to produce raw materials.
      Same for people who eat meat, driving the demand to cut down the rainforest.

      Humans are selfish and unethical quite often and in many different ways, not taking responsibility for the indirect problems caused by their actions.

      Traffic engineers aren’t intentionally killing people any more than doctors are killing fat people or lawyers are causing crime.

      1. That’s not really the same argument.

        When it comes to consuming meat, alcohol, tobacco and even phones, there’s a large element of consumer choice. People can make a difference, to the world and even more so to themselves, by exercising reasonably straightforward choices. To a large extent you can then let them be responsible for their choices.

        But people like traffic engineers and software engineers design *systems* that, unavoidably, take away choices from end users. Thus, they (and their organizations) carry greater ethical responsibility than, say, a butcher or liquor shop. It’s even more acute for public-sector projects like roads or the IRD, which one can’t realistically opt out of.

  6. Matt, the amount of work you fit in astounds me. Thank you. This was massive. And I was cheeky enough to ask you to put in more grades – so green only goes to an intersection that is actually safe. Maybe one day. 🙂

    But as Mt Plod has said above, AT should be doing this work.

    There was a safety review, but it seems to have faded in the engineers’ memory; they seem to now think they’ve escaped having to change. This is a big fail. And it’s deep.

    it’s in operations – leaving large multilane intersections where children cross with signals working only for the traffic, not for the pedestrians ALL DAY without any assistance for the pedestrians.

    It’s in design – as plenty of unsafe new projects show.

    And it’s in understanding. AT’s engineers are not keeping abreast of developments in their field (many of which have been around for a long time). I’ve started telling this to their faces when they come out with the usual tripe.

    Angry? The word doesn’t do justice to the feelings I have around this betrayal.

    1. Perhaps Greater Auckland should start lobbying Government for the Health & Safety at Work Act to be amended to include a requirement for Road Controlling Authorities to eliminate or reduce risk to road users and pedestrians on a So Far as Reasonably Practicable basis in the same way that they have to for their employees? I think the threat of criminal prosecution for failure to do so would focus RCA managers and staff ( and hopefully influence elected officials)

  7. A short walk from me is the small roundabout on the corner of the Ellerslie Panmure highway and Great South Road. Every day dozens of people risk their lives crossing from the busy business park to the other side of the highway. The footpath just seems to disappear, the traffic is going fast and coming from all directions.
    If a business or building site was that dangerous to the general public it would be shut down (or at least have warning signs). If someone dies the owner and engineer would be prosecuted.

  8. 623 New North Road is a childcare facility with their entrance at the back of the property on the corner of Western Springs Road and Inwood Street. If you used the pedstrian access directly onto New North Road and want to cross to Inwood Street without proceeding all the way to the lights you could either cross before the intersection and then have to cross Inwood Street as well, or face crossing to a very anti-pedestrian set up of raised planted areas. Not that I would really want to cross New North Road in peak morning traffic with a child or children when that is then three lanes of traffic and one of parked cars.

    Another hidden issue with this is that mapping sites that tell you how to get between places are very much set up for motorised traffic. To the point that if you are using one to work out how to get between two places as a pedestrian the line showing your route travels down the middle of the road.
    Both Google Maps and OpenStreet Maps were unable to cope with an imaginary trip from the cafe on Morningside Road to a randomly picked home on the opposite side of Western Springs Road if you were walking. Both got it rightif the trip was done in a car. Google Maps made cyclists take the same route as motorised vehicles and OpenStreet Maps asked cyclists to make an illegal u-turn.
    Neither of the sites written instructions for pedestrians mention crossing roads as both of them are still fundamentally treating pedestrian trips the same way they would one made in a vehicle.

    1. Thanks Matt for another great post.
      Sorry to divert you to another subject, but related. A beautiful example of AT’s engineers ignoring safety is the great report done by Robinson Transportation Consulting regarding the Avondale roundabout design that has been completely ignored by AT, see https://fyi.org.nz/request/11327-royal-oak-roundabout-walking-and-cycling
      Recomendations include:
      -30km/hr speed limit through the village
      -Options other than a roundabout
      -Provide an alternative off-road shared path
      -Provide optional bicycle ramps to and from shared crossings through the
      roundabout intersection
      -Consider…bicycle priority into the roundabout entry lanes and possibly protected signalised crossings for pedestrians.

    2. You’re right about these OpenStreetMap routers being road-focussed. A default assumption is made that roads have a footpath on each side, and thankfully in Auckland we generally do have footpaths. Where a road does not include a footpath, this detail can be added into OSM, and the road will not be an option in the routing.

      However the routing engines will prioritise footways – if they have been mapped. This is of course dependent on someone having taken the time to add seperate footways. These ways need to be mapped out in detail by contributors – and should reflect what is actually physically on the ground. For example you shouldn’t really map dodgy shortcuts over median islands, even if the majority of people use this route.

      Check out the walking routes from Kingsland Station to Eden Park – this is an area where I recently made some additions to OSM to improve the routing for foot access.

      And if you have the time, join in improving the map in your area! It’s quite satisfying

      1. Taking your example the instructions read:
        – Start on unnamed road
        – Turn right onto unnamed road
        – Reach destination
        Very vehicle biased when compared to an alternative:
        – Start on unnamed path
        – Turn right onto unnamed path
        – Cross Sandringham Road
        – Continue on unnamed path
        – Cross Walters Road
        – Reach destination

        If you had changed your destination to say 50 Walters Road you would see that once you are instructed to turn left onto Walters Road the line on the map goes up the middle of the road, not along the footpath. Again there is no indication of the need to cross the road to reach the destination.

        The same bias is true of Google Maps routing for pedestrians.

        I have made a few changes on OSM but find the underlying way roads are treated frustrating. A two way road gets one line down the middle unless there is an island which makes the map show the road as widder even if the island fits perfectly with the median strip and the road width has not changed.

    3. To be fair they will also show the route for cars in the middle of the road. It is up to you to figure out that you have to drive on the left, and to walk on the footpath.

      Google Maps correctly figures out that the roundabout at the Ellerslie – Panmure Highway off-ramp is not accessible for pedestrians (I think it is part of the motorway).

      Probably they make a few assumptions, like not having intersections you can’t cross on foot, and which turn out to be wrong in Auckland.

  9. Fantastic work Matt; and as others say above, it really shouldn’t be you who has to put this together… AT and the council should be onto it and have a plan to make it better.

  10. Lee no it is not and Auckland only thing.
    Ashburton has five sets of lights and only one has pedestrian crossings on all four sides and it really didn’t take that long to find an intersection in Christchurch using street view that didn’t have pedestrian crossings on all four sides.

    1. Yea there’s heaps and heaps in Christchurch, would be cool to see the same map down here. It’s nationwide becase the problem is not down to just a few rogue traffic engineers – it’s a societal problem about how New Zealanders trade-off safety and convenience. It’s similar to the speed limit debate – change will require a shift in public perception, not just wringing out a few individual engineers.

  11. Yes, have experience of trying to cross from the Corban Estate to Buscombe Ave at Lincoln/Swanson/Mt Lebanon. It’s so tempting to just brave the traffic (extremely unwisely). Great to see this highlighted.

  12. What an excellent analysis. It is so timely. Just yesterday I unexpectedly encountered one of these intersections where I had to cross two legs (with sloooow phases) because one was missing. It was so frustrating. Some days I get excited because I see great plans for improvements (OuterLink route, Point Chev cycleway etc) and then others I feel like we’ve got a long long way to go.

  13. In my recent trip from Melbourne, most signalised intersections had pedestrian legs. But they usually allow filter right turns at the same time which is something I don’t think I’ve seen here.

    For example if the missing leg in the Taharoto Rd / Karaka St intersection was implemented, the pedestrian crossing the missing leg and vehicles turning right from Karaka St would both have a green light.

    There needs to be a compromise and I feel the more you need to give way to pedestrians the more normal it would become. Walking around Melbourne every time I walked across a roundabout or T-intersection the car would give way.

  14. And additionally there are intersections with no crossings at all. Like my street. Which on my side is a no exit street but if you wanna exit it on the other side there is one of the Auckland main and busiest roads with no crossing and no space in between the traffic lanes so you have to cross it at once meaning you have to stand and wait for the traffic in both directions to stop to be able to cross it. Often see kids running for their lives. Also the same if you wanna exit by car going straight or right. You have to wait few minutes cause there are no traffic lights. If you’re in a hurry maybe you gonna make a risky move. I’ve messaged AT and all the local board members and a councillor about that about a year ago. Got responses that yeah they gonna look at it/investigate etc because (of course) the issue was raised several times in the past and get back to me. Of course that never happened. I’m afraid the only way to improve it is when some kids will try to cross the street and it will end in tragedy and get into papers and that’s when they will even bother looking at it.

  15. Karaka St, Takapuna is a disgrace and not just from a safety perspective. For those who don’t know it, it is a non descript crescent with about 40 houses on each side. It does provide access to a DHB car park, but having lived in the street traffic is moderate – it’s a destination not a thoroughfare.
    But hundreds of thousands of dollars must have been lavished on it over the last five years. First AT installed a traffic Island at the corner and a slip lane. After the tragic death of the pedestrian, back to the drawing board; remove both the traffic island and the slip lane.
    Inept, or just feels that way?

  16. I believe the problem of car-centric thinking stems from the population and its perceived preferences. There remains a groundswell of opinion out there that ‘the car is king’, that roads are for cars, that car-journeys are by-definition more-important than non-car journeys, and that speeding up car-travel should be an absolute priority. Political decision-making and engineering-design largely reflect this perception. The chorus of complaints from ‘entitled’ drivers every time some little thing appears to threaten freedom of car-use, simply confirms in the minds of politicians and decision-makers that “this is what the people want”.
    Add to this the fact that many politicians, decision-makers (police and judiciary) are of this same view themselves, so they personally don’t want to see any clampdown on car-freedoms. And those not-of-this-view who may try to challenge the prevailing culture find they are up against enormous resistance.

    However, change in cultural-perceptions has been happening, gradually. The fact that a discussion like this can be had among concerned individuals is testament to this. I have lived in New Zealand since the early-1980’s, and back then I felt like a lone voice. No-one seemed to see anything amiss with car-centricity. The problems it caused were simply shrugged-off as the price of progress. An annual road-toll of 700+ was accepted. Universal car-use was assumed and planned-for, and the demise of public transport was not challenged.
    So although car-centric attitudes remain deeply-ingrained today, they are facing far more of a challenge now than they were 35 years ago. The passage of years has woken many people up, opened their eyes and changed their ideas. An older generation has died out and a new one has replaced it with differing priorities. I remain hopeful that the bastion will eventually crumble, but I am staggered at how long it is taking.

  17. Dave, I agree and the entitled car drivers whose views are being challenged sound a little like Jeremy Clarkson;
    “Former “Top Gear,” host Jeremy Clarkson said that climate change activist Greta Thunberg has killed the car show in an interview with The Sun.
    Clarkson blamed the 16-year-old campaigner for weaning young people off cars.
    “Everyone I know under 25 isn’t the slightest bit interested in cars – Greta Thunberg has killed the car show … They’re taught at school, before they say ‘Mummy and Daddy,’ that cars are evil, and it’s in their heads,” Clarkson told The Sun. “

  18. +1
    Peds also have to contend with traffic which gets a green light at the same time as the ped phase and often filters through pedestrians, and is a nightmare for the more physically challenged who take longer to walk across the road.

    Where I currently live pedestrian phases are protected phases and it is so much safer and more comfortable being a pedestrian.

  19. That Mt Wellington Hwy / Sylvia Park Rd example is even worse, once you realise that to the north it is completely impassable since the motorway interchange doesn’t even have a footpath on the west side, and to the south there is a triple-laned roundabout, with only a tiny sliver of footpath.

    Now let’s all be surprised at the mall expanding its parking facilities.

  20. You hint at mid road pedestrian islands in a negative way. The main problem I see with these is the lack of shelter for pedestrians potentially caught there waiting for the second stage of their crossing. This could result in crossing against the signal. Otherwise what is wrong with them if they allow crossing on an otherwise non pedestrian section of road?

    1. This specifically hints at places like Fanshawe Street in front of Victoria Park, where you have to wait for 2 distinct signal phases to cross the road. Instead of 1. At that particular crossing, you often have to wait for another couple of minutes right there in the middle for that second green man.

  21. Great insight to these hideous crossings. Yes I and other family members have walked back from VTNZ to Sylvia Park or to a bus stop and that sure is designed as a traffic only zone. No foot path even on the south side from after the VTNZ to the Mt Wellington Highway. Going to be a challenge to get bus, cycle and peds
    more priority through here.

    1. Driving towards Otahuhu then slip lane south to the southern motorway vehicles accelerate before the 100 in anticipation of it as soon as they take the turn right where people cross. They then have a another road to cross before the crappy narrow path squeezed under the motorway over bridge with wire mesh.

  22. Sylvia Park is so bad for pedestrians. All of the surrounding intersections are terribly designed and, worst of all is the motorway interchange and underpass.
    Link: https://goo.gl/maps/rprHwEk2n8EyK8yu9

    I pass through here often and it infuriates me. The onramp/offramp intersections don’t have any pedestrian legs, with multiple lanes and slip-lanes everywhere. The whole northern side of the road has no footpath. The way to go under the underpass is a narrow, steep path on the other side. It’s atrocious, especially for being near a train station and mall.
    How are elderly or visually-impaired people supposed to navigate these intimidating streets?

    Why is there so little money or motivation to fix these dangerous environments until someone dies? To ‘minimise disruption to road users’? For all the government and council’s talk of road safety, there’s not a lot of practical action (apart from median barriers or speed limits).

    1. Yes, & here is the lack of path on Sylvia Park Rd I mentioned above:

      https://goo.gl/maps/kTyk4RqYxFqqMgYu8

      A number of the paths just end. The safest way out from the VTNZ if traffic isn’t the right conditions is walk 8mins back around towards Great Sth Rd (light controlled crossing at the end but two slip lanes) & catch a bus towards the mall. Either that or navigate around the 6 lane roundabout back towards Otahuhu to catch the bus.

      1. Scrolling around there does my head in. “Deficient” doesn’t do it justice. “Dystopia” is more like it. It looks like a 7-year-old has made it for his toys, but he only has cars and trucks in his toybox. No people. In addition to the narrow footpaths without any buffer to the traffic, that aren’t continuous, and the lack of pedestrian crossings:

        No maintenance of vegetation, so it just covers the footpath: https://www.google.co.nz/maps/@-36.9208805,174.8404143,3a,90y,248.57h,89.55t/data=!3m6!1e1!3m4!1sW8Nt5lfDaDBGhRlXV4lUWQ!2e0!7i13312!8i6656

        An overly wide driveway entrance and a truck on the footpath, because that’s what you do… :/ : https://www.google.co.nz/maps/@-36.9211615,174.840653,3a,90y,70.86h,66.76t/data=!3m6!1e1!3m4!1sDJaLkPs7uBlYKoX2GxOo1g!2e0!7i13312!8i6656

    2. The area around the Takanini motorway interchange is just as bad, if not even worse due to the constant construction. There are slip lanes on and off the motorway with no controlled crossing (one being a high-speed offramp), the on/off ramp traffic lights have no crossing provisions and the footpath on the eastern (Manurewa-bound) side of Great South Road simply gives up and disappears before it even gets to the motorway interchange before reappearing randomly at the lights for the new subdivision on the Manukau Golf Course. One would hope that some of these issues will be fixed once the works are finished. Though in fact the whole stretch of Great South Road in Takanini is terribly designed and does not work for traffic, pedestrians and cyclists alike.

      1. I’m late to the party here – but SL – thank you for mentioning that area – It’s shocking, most of Great South Road is … even further south just a bit towards Walter Strevens Drive/Great South intersection, a few years ago AT removed a pedestrian leg that was provided for.
        Insert sarc comment about traffic flow on Gt Sth Rd being so good around the Takanini area now.

  23. Ahhhh roundabouts and the clusterf**k that is Northcote Rd/Lake Road speed calming, but still not crossings despite school routes.

  24. Morningside Drive wasn’t the best example to start the story with, because there is a pedestrian underpass to take the pedestrians going north under the railway lines – crossing New North Road, however, is another matter, but no worse than any other place in Auckland where a pedestrian wants to cross to the other side of a busy road.

    1. People aren’t going to use the underpass at the southwestern end of the platform if they’re going to the shops opposite the Morningside intersection or to Inwood St.

      1. Morningside will need proper lift access to the platform from both sides like other busy stations, maybe in conjunction with the road/rail grade separation work (however that is done).

    2. “no worse than any other place in Auckland where a pedestrian wants to cross to the other side of a busy road.”

      Luckily we have international guidelines about what the speed limit should be in such circumstances: 30 km/hr.

      And yes, pedestrians need frequent pedestrian crossings. It may be no worse than the rest of Auckland – that’s the point. Much of Auckland needs to change.

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