Tomorrow the Auckland Transport board meet again and here are the highlights from their board reports. You can also watch the open session of the meeting live between 9am to 10:10am via this Microsoft Teams link.
Below are the most interesting items from the closed agenda.
Items for Approval
- Great North Road (Newton) Upgrade – I assume this is to approve moving the Gt North Rd project to the next phase but I’m unsure if it’s putting it through another round of
hellconsultation or if it’s actually moving towards construction
- Congestion Pricing Implementation – Given the government haven’t yet decided on how they’ll respond to the Select Committee inquiry into congestion pricing, I assume this is preparatory work looking at what AT would need to do if it was approved.
- Auckland Parking Strategy – AT have been reviewing their parking strategy for some time now so it should be getting to the pointy end of the process. We’re looking forward to seeing what they suggest. I’m not sure if it will be consulted on
- Minor Cycling Improvement programme – Protection of existing cycle facilities – There has been some noise for a little while now that AT plan to rapidly expand the safe cycling network by adding physical protection to existing painted bike lanes. I assume this is related to that. This map comes from another paper to the board, which also suggests year one of the three-year programme will add protection to around 17km of existing painted cycle lanes across 19 sites.
Here are the items in the normal business report that caught my attention.
AT are currently consulting on what they call Tranche 2A of their Speed Management Programme which focuses on changes to rural roads in the Southeast and to residential streets around a number of schools. I don’t know when this report was written but they say at the time of writing, they’d received 4,035 submissions – consultation is open till 14 November.
They’re also working on Tranche 2B which they expect to go to the board in November, which is interesting as there’s no board meeting scheduled in November. Based on their stated engagement with local boards, the streets in Tranche 2B will be on Aotea Gt Barrier Island, in the Hibiscus and Bays and Howick Local Board areas and on the Awhitu Peninsula. AT also give this bit of feedback from one of the existing speed limit change implementations
Following the implementation of the Residential Speed Management (RSM) area in Manurewa’s Wordsworth quadrant, customer feedback has highlighted the benefits to safety and active mode transport. This RSM, which is the largest area treated or designed to date, was co-funded by the Manurewa Local Board who have supported AT throughout the project. Responses received by the Local Board were very positive with 82% of respondents reporting they felt there was an increase in road safety and 35% reporting they now use at least one more active mode (walking, scooter, or bicycle).
The board are also having a presentation on the emerging results from the first tranche of speed limit changes. There’s quite a bit in there so I’ll cover that in a separate post. along with a separate paper to the board specifically on pedestrian and cyclist safety.
Mt Albert Rd Intersection changes
Consultation on unimpressive changes to two intersections along Mt Albert Rd closed last month. AT say they received 322 comments about them of which 234 are related to cycling. We have to wait to find out the outcome but if it’s anything like other recent consultations, they’ll likely ignore those – and AT’s head of Stakeholder, Communities & Communication basically told the board at the last meeting they
ignore weight feedback from cyclists compared to that from other sources.
Papatoetoe West LTN
Auckland Transport and other council entities were pretty quick to pull out many of the innovating streets projects in suburban areas in response to vocal opponents and not having put much effort into explaining why they were needed. One has survived though, the Papatoetoe West Low Traffic Neighbourhood.
In mid-September 2021, the Monitoring and Evaluation report and supporting data were submitted for the Papatoetoe West Low Traffic Neighbourhood (LTN) trial delivered for Ōtara-Papatoetoe Local Board as part of Waka Kotahi’s Innovating Streets for People Programme. Papatoetoe West LTN was the only project in Auckland that successfully delivered ‘modal filters’ (i.e. roadblocks that allow pedestrians and cyclists, but bar vehicular movements) such that their impact in the community could be monitored in terms of vehicular speeds, volumes, travel time, pedestrian activity and perception of road user safety for active modes.
In general, the trial has been successful in increasing perceptions of road safety with the community. Feedback at community events, including a ‘coffee and chat’ and ’sausage sizzle and kōrero’, has been positive. Localised temporary speed-calming measures have been well-received.
Public feedback both before and after the installation of the trial provides rich data as the LTN trial transitions to permanent improvements through the Residential Speed Management (RSM) programme. The Ōtara-Papatoetoe Local Board have been very complimentary of AT staff efforts in the LTN trial and wish to continue the positive working relationship on this pathway to permanence through the RSM programme.
I’m guessing the COVID restrictions have knocked back the opening of Stage 1 of the busway. Prior to lockdown an opening date in October was being mentioned. Now they say the indicative opening date will be late November or early December.
Meanwhile, they say consultation on the rest of the busway, from Pakuranga to Botany is ready to go so it’s likely we’ll hear about it in the next few weeks.
Micromobility Risk Study
We recently completed a high-level study to improve our understanding of safety risks for micromobility users (e.g. e-bikes, e-scooters, eskateboards and monowheels). Some of the key learnings from the research include:
- Slippery/bumpy or uneven surfaces are the leading cause of solo micromobility crashes.
- Crashes occurring on gradients tend to result in more severe injuries.
- Crashes occurring on the roadway (rather than footpath) tend to be more severe.
- Bike and e-scooter speeds below 20km/h have a lower likelihood of concussion if a collision with a pedestrian occurs, hence a lower risk of severe injury to the pedestrian.
Imagine if AT put as much effort into building safe streets for micromobility users as they do into studying the outcomes of them not doing that.
AT always include in the report any tenders or contracts over $2 million that were awarded. One that stands out is below:
On Bus Connectivity Solution – 3-year contract (2021-2024) for improvements to the on-board passenger information services that will deliver more accurate and frequent data to AT’s real-time data platform, to improve customer experience.
They also had funding approved by Waka Kotahi for a bunch of rail related projects.
I really hope they’re not going to propose an expensive bridge for Church St East to serve two properties when an agreement with neighbouring properties and taking out a couple of kerbs and carparks could solve the problem.
Auckland Rapid Transit Plan
AT have been working on a Rapid Transit Plan for some time. At a high-level, it is about turning the lines on the map we’ve seen for some time with ATAP into a delivery strategy. We’ve covered some parts of it and how it relates to light rail here. On the overall plan, AT say they’re in the final phase which will include incorporating the outcome of the light rail process and the implications of that on the Northwest and North Shore. The final plan is due to be finished in early 2022 and consist of three core sections:
- An overview of rapid transit, its role in the wider transport network and land use planning, and objectives for the RTN’s development.
- A network plan, outlining a vision for the RTN in 2050. This will include technical details relating to its performance against the objectives, an outline of potential options considered, and key next steps for business cases to investigate on individual corridors.
- A delivery strategy, that will discuss how we can realise the plan. This will include possible land use responses, regulatory and policy changes, how we might fund the future network, and how the agencies involved can work together to achieve this vision.
AT have previously reported on local board satisfaction which comes from the council’s Elected Members Survey. This month they have included a few new measures in their reporting, the results of which are quite telling. In particular, more than half of all councillors are not satisfied with the quality of advice they’re getting from AT. The CCO Review last year highlighted the councillors have the power to do something about that. I wonder when they exercise that power?
As mentioned earlier, there are a couple of interesting papers on speed and safety which I’ll cover separately. Given that, if you’re looked at the papers was there anything else that stood out to you?