For a number of years now, Auckland Transport have been rolling out cameras to help enforce bus lanes in an automated and consistent manner. That enforcement is a critical task to ensure that they stay free of cars so that buses can run faster and more reliably – thereby making buses more attractive to use. It has the added benefit of making it safer for AT staff than having people standing on the side of the road.

Back in February AT announced they would also use the technology to enforce the T3 lanes on Onewa Rd. Onewa Rd is Auckland’s oldest transit lane and pre-covid the lane was so successful that it carried about 19% of the vehicles on the road during the peak but was moving about 66% of the people. Those using the lane move down the corridor about four times faster than those in the general traffic lane.

Installing the cameras is great and something we support, but what we aren’t supportive of is how AT seem to be installing them after seeing this tweet yesterday.

Putting a pole like this in the middle of a shared path defies belief. It also appears to not just be a pole but one with a box with sharp corners that sticks out from the pole at about head height.

We already have far too many issues with pedestrian and bike infrastructure being compromised, be it from parked cars due to a lack of enforcement or a legacy of laziness from engineers. AT should be looking at how they fix those existing issues and the last thing they should be doing is to add to them.

The Herald picked up on this yesterday afternoon and give a bit more detail about it.

North Shore residents are up in arms about the placement of new T3 cameras on Onewa Rd which they say present a safety hazard for pedestrians.

Concerns have been raised about the poles for the cameras, which some locals say will block the path, and their installation has been described as “incompetent” by a local politician – but Auckland Transport says that the installation is not yet complete and will include added safety features.

Photos shared online of the recently-installed cameras show them sitting in the middle of the footpath that runs alongside the busy road, which is home to schools, churches and childcare facilities.

…..

Speaking to the Herald today, John Gillon said locals would be “throwing their hands up in horror” at the placement of the poles and described their installation as “incompetent”.

“The placement has not given any consideration to anyone walking or cycling on the footpath,” he said, pointing out the footpath on the southern side of the road has been designated as a shared path and cyclists are encouraged to use it.

He said the local board had been pushing for the footpath on the northern side to also be converted to a shared path and that the installation of the poles was unhelpful to the local board’s aim to enhance the area for walkers and cyclists.

The herald also have a photo with a second example

Unlike the first photo, the footpath is right up against the property boundary so there’s no berm. But the question is why this, and the existing T3 sign pole are not right up against the kerb. They were shown this way in the images AT shared about the project.

AT’s response to the Herald is below.

A spokesperson for Auckland Transport told the Herald they had to take a range of factors into account when placing the poles and the installation was not yet complete.

“The delivery team worked with traffic engineering and a road safety audit was completed, to support the positioning of hardware,” the spokesperson said, adding that they need to be built around existing services.

“Standards not only apply with the footpath, but also for services running below the ground, power lines running above, tree canopies and existing street hardware.

“The installation is not complete at present, as there are other elements to be added. We are yet to install tactile warning strips by the poles for people who are visually-impaired,” they said.

If a road safety audit signs off putting a pole like that in the middle of a shared path you really have to wonder just how reliable that safety audit process is. A few tactile strips also aren’t going to stop someone taking an eye out when they hit the protruding box on their bike, or they try to go around the pole on the road side to avoid a pedestrian only to clip the pole with a handlebar and fling themselves onto the road.

Come on AT, I’m sure your talented engineers will be able to find a solution to this.

Share this

75 comments

  1. Totally incompetent placement, but also one hell of an ugly looking pile of junk hoisted up that pole. Their promo pic made it look just like a chubby lampshade, but that thing is UGLY beyond belief, with its wangle-dangles protruding above and below, and other bits of hoohaa hanging off, plus the world’s baddest square-edge head basher ready to strike a gash into the forehead of anyone unfortunate enough to collide with this. Send that thing back to the lab for an urgent redesign!

    1. Those camera poles were actually designed by a lady who has no nose or mouth. Nobody is sure how she keeps her sunglasses on, given her disability, but we are all too embarrassed to ask.

      1. Miffy, are you suggesting that’s why the design of the poles is tasteless and they don’t pass the “sniff test?”

  2. It really appears to be a one size fits all kind of approach.
    It’s as if the install instructions say that the camera has to be in a certain location relative to the traffic lane and that is where is is put.
    There is no thought about how it will affect walkway / cycleway users.
    Can you imagine what would happen if a cycleway sign was erected on a lane marking with pretty reflective markings so car would see it and drive around it. So why do they think that is an appropriate response to blocking a cycleway or walkway.
    It really is a reflection of AT’s car oriented thinking

  3. This strikes at the heart of the organization, “its just a footpath,the plebs can walk around it”. The contractors surely must have been embarrassed, doing the job,but did it to spec. Of course the proper solution is to convert T3 to bus lane,which would not require such intimate monitoring,but just can’t bring themselves to such a “radical” step.

    1. Exactly, the pandering to motorists in the form of a T3 lane is tragic, my biased brain imagines most of them are just parents driving their 2 kids to school anyway, rather than people car pooling to go to the CBD

  4. The problem needs to be sorted as there are lots going in.

    I suspect the solution of just putting it beside the kerb will be resisted because cars might hit it. I think, too, that it’s an example of the limits to the incremental improvement approach. The area needs a transformation of the transport system, and there are senior planners who understand what this means. Trouble is, that would require leadership, democratic engagement, and AT to be prepared to take the steps to shift modeshare radically. (Decide and provide rather than predict and provide.)

    1. Complete utter and entire incompetence. The placement of a pole on a roadway doesn’t need more leadership and democratic engagement it requires AT to hire some competent people. The sort of people who would rather resign than hand in work like this. It beggars belief that someone would be proud of this solution. Well obviously they aren’t as the “installation not complete” is pure responsibility avoidance. Well maybe it will get some AT leadership – promote the responsible and fire the walking and cycling team. Oh, they’ve already done that.

      1. The placement of a pole on a roadway doesn’t need leadership but I believe the avoidance of situations like this (where no solution for the pole will probably be a truly good solution), does…

  5. The funny thing is if they had said “oops we just sent the contractor out and he did this, we’ll fix it” it would actually sound more competent than “we did a whole lot of safety analysis and decided that was the best spot”. Maybe that should be their new policy: do no design at all and just do stuff and then fix it when everyone tells them they are wrong. Seems a lot cheaper than their current policy of doing lots of expensive and time consuming design and consultation and then fix it when everyone tells them they are wrong.

  6. Anyone who walks or cycles Onewa Road will know that this is only the latest in a long line of cock-ups that compromise the footpaths.

    The pits for these poles wer dug out back in February and have been sitting waiting for completion for nine months with shovel loads of hot ash and plastic boards the only effort to repair the works.

    There are signs everywhere – most comically the shared path signs that tell you the shared path ends when you come to a side road and then another that tells you it starts again on the other side.
    It’s hardly a shared path. I would say 95% of cyclists take their chances on the road because of the number of intersections and signs. Its only cycling infrastructure on one of AT’s cute little maps

    1. Surely it fits the “shared” model? With shared streets, AT allows cars to be parked all over them, and here, because the footpath is not wide enough for parking the path becomes a repository for other things.

  7. Dear AT Board,

    Things like this make those generally interested in improving both Transport and the public realm think you’re asleep at the wheel.

    My understanding of the core functions of a board are governance, oversight and the management of risk, in this case reputational risk. If this is how you are measured, you may well understand why I and several other think you are failing.

    The Minister fronted up and engaged, maybe it’s time for you to do the same.

  8. Maybe the pole can’t go right against the kerb: it seems on double decker bus routes AT have moved objects away from the kerb (or realigned the kerb away from objects) as I guess double deckers travelling in a bus lane near the kerb can lean some way over the kerb due to the road camber, especially allowing for the road to subside near the kerb over time as is often the case with the heavy double deckers travelling on it. But it seems it should be possible even on narrow sections to put them hard up against the property boundary, if that puts the camera on the wrong alignment vs the traffic lane the camera could be suspended off the pole with a perpendicular beam?

    1. I imagine there are underground cables along there so they can’t install the post. I wonder if they could have a dog leg in the post just below the footpath so it is anchored in the ground under the footpath but the post comes up on the boundary.

    2. Obviously, if the pole was placed right on the kerb, you would have stories about passengers showered with glass as the bus hits the newly installed cameras. A lot of people on this site seem to have no idea about high vehicles and road camber. But really, the placement might not be ideal but there are so many other obstructions on the narrow footpath along Onewa, do a few more really matter?

      1. ” But really, the placement might not be ideal but there are so many other obstructions on the narrow footpath along Onewa, do a few more really matter?”

        I have 20 dishes on the side already, there is no point putting this plate in the dishwhasher.

        If you need to fix something, the last thing you want to do it to make expensive commitments to make things worse.

    3. Can you imagine walking on that footpath then with the chance of a bus hitting you because it’s leaning over the kerb? Sounds like a terrifying terrible “shared path” that needs significant improvement

    1. These poles are all the way up Onewa road about every 100 metres apart. I’m no expert but Id say this is a 5G cell tower and it has very little to do with monitoring the T3 lane.

        1. Hardly. I am merely pointing out that I doubt that this is to do with monitoring the T3 lane. From what I know of 5G they need to be spaced about every 100 metres, and this is what it looks like to me.

          What is it with people having to jump to conclusions about who people are all the time based on no information. Calm yourself down please.

        2. Grant, ironic to mention having no information as Roeland’s post shows is a perfect description of you. Take your tinfoil hat somewhere else

  9. This is the usual AT operation. You can’t impede motor traffic in any way but you can do anything you like to pedestrians and cyclists. Even calling this a shared path is a cruel joke.

  10. For most people the economy and jobs is top of their list when it comes to an election.
    Surely AT will be building infrastructure that helps reduce costs for families and cuts congestion and emissions.
    Commuting and transport costs are high for families both in time and money.
    AT are not business friendly when they won’t support active transport.

  11. It’s about as absurd as calling the footpath a shared bike lane – and what an abomination those poles are – are they full of spy equipment or something?

    Nearby recently at the top of Hinemoa two large electrical transformers were replaced and plonked right on the footpath barely leaving enough room for a pram or wheelchair. I sent an email to AC never heard back. There’s huge amounts of parking space that could have been used for this purpose.
    Honestly I just give up now, what is the point in trying to improve anything

  12. Why can’t the poles be placed behind the footpath, in the same line as the lightpoles? Cantilever an arm out to hold the kit in the right place. Do something a whole lot smarter with the head mangler box. Not too hard right? Of course, best option would be to not need the camera in the first place.

    1. This was my thought. It would probably be at risk of being collected by a bus or tall vehicle if it was curb side, so setting it to the far side of the foot path with an arm would have worked. Wallet too tight for that, perhaps?

    2. I think the services argument may be a red herring, looking at the GIS maps and the concrete placement,
      It looks like they just used a standard pad foundation and out right ignored the users of the shared path.

    3. AT has recently installed cameras in the bus lanes on the Great South Road at Greenlane, and these are supported on perpendicular arms cantilevered off the light poles which are located at/near to the property boundary (new specially adapted light poles were installed). So there is certainly precedent for a non-intrusive design.

    1. In the middle of the track probably, judging by the so called planers and engineers who happen to fluke getting a degree in some thing or other and don’t have an ounce of common sense or practicality . Maybe they don’t have a degree and are just plain stupid and council or AT is the only place they can get a job.

      1. From the Wiki:

        “Nevertheless, Bordeaux has experienced problems, with APS being so temperamental that, at one stage, the Mayor issued an ultimatum that if reliability could not be guaranteed, it would have to be replaced with overhead wires.[citation needed]”

        Also, what happens if the live section connects to the puddle you’re walking through?

  13. I think it’s clear what’s happened here. AT are just reminding people who want to walk or bike that they should “get off the road and either stay at home or get in a car you bloody idiots”.
    They aren’t allowed to say it in their strategies so instead they express it through street design.

  14. Why can they just add the signage from the white pole to the new pole ? , or is that to complicated for the pole designers . But then again they don’t walk anywhere at the best of times .

  15. “The delivery team worked with traffic engineering and a road safety audit was completed”

    In other words the road engineers, did a road safety audit for vehicles on the road. And the vehicles are safe as there is no poles in the middle of the road or anywhere near it.

    I feel like this is some sort of farce. If only there was a pedestrian and cycling active mode engineering team within AT who also just go ‘not my problem’ and stick a bunch of cones & signs up in the middle of the road.

    If there really was a professional engineer who signed off on this design, a contractor who did the install without any sort of query as to if it made sense, and finally somebody who justified the install with ‘we haven’t put in warning signs yet’ (WTF would a project planner put in a big post and then plan to put in safety elements later?), then I am just embarrassed by the level of incompetence on display.

    What the hell is wrong with AT and how can we get this fixed?

    1. “In other words the road engineers, did a road safety audit for vehicles on the road. And the vehicles are safe as there is no poles in the middle of the road or anywhere near it.”

      A road safety audit considers the safety of all users on the road (property boundary to property boundary). The real issue is that a road safety audit identifies issues but the road controlling authority decides how to respond. AT have obviously responded by just accepting the risk here.

      1. “A road safety audit considers the safety of all users ”

        Incorrect. A road safety audit should consider the safety of all users. It often does not. And even when it does, the authorities often override the concerns, especially if they are listed as “minor” or “moderate” which most auditors would consider a pole in the middle of a footpath / shared path to be. There will be some fancy words, and a resolution that some advance warning needs to be given, and then it’s signed off as safe – while of course it’s just another danger added to our already crappy infrastructure.

        Of course if the pole was right on the kerb edge, it would count as a “serious” or “significant” issue, because that would affect cars, who are going fast blah blah blah, and that would not be disregarded.

        Having seen far too many safety audits be disregarded in the quest for “getting it done”, I can see only too well how this happened.

        1. “A road safety audit should consider the safety of all users. It often does not. ”

          Too true.

          I also completely agree that concerns for active road users are routinely under rated for severity and routinely under treated by RCAs

    2. “What the hell is wrong with AT and how can we get this fixed?”

      AT has a “Customer Experience” Division, who are busy holding agile sprints, using hundreds of colourful post it notes. Unfortunately the “facilitators” are run by people who don’t leave the building, and have no experience of the real world.

  16. From the herald article.

    “”The installation is not complete at present, as there are other elements to be added. We are yet to install tactile warning strips by the poles for people who are visually-impaired,” they said.”

    They aren’t finished yet, even more hazards for cyclists to go in.

  17. If you just rely on engineers to design, they will only think about functional.

    Aesthetics is not really their concern.

    Therefore any good design must be driven by designers/architecture before engineer

    1. Any auditor who does not look for active mode safety factors is already negligent, including formally according to the audit guidelines. However, many auditors don’t have the proper skills – and the issues on pedestrian / bike concerns that audits do identify are often considered lower-ranked, respectively are just tinkered with, rather than resolved.

      1. I think that a lot of auditors underestimate how easily a cyclist or pedestrian can be seriously injured in a collision with a fixed object. Downhill cyclists are probably doing at least 30km/h here, and that makes death or serious injury more likely than not in a collision with an infrangible object.

        1. So probably going faster than any vehicle on Onewa Rd, at peak. Sounds like they need their own cycle lane….

  18. “Let’s install these cameras to discourage cars from using the bus lane, which will get more people onto public transport and other more environmentally friendly alternatives, and we’ll achieve this by installing the camera in the middle of the footpath, which people use to reach public transport or for more environmentally friendly alternatives” AT’s reasoning

  19. The good people of Brussels are letting a good thing slip. I only saw one car blocking the shared path.

    There was enough tarmac there for most of Auckland to park in. And they would.

    1. Yes. I don’t know what kind of black magic they have over there but you can have even just a painted bike lane and almost nobody will park in it. It is almost like people are afraid something will show up to take their car away.

      Keen observers will notice that Auckland employs the same black magic to clearways.

    1. for which pole the white or the Galv , as the white pole is basically has a small wedge in the base holding it and then just pull it out and throw it over the fence . Whereas the other seem to be positioned to capture the follow of the traffic down the road and with all the tree huggers out there that tree by the light stand would not allowed to be touched .

  20. Does anyone know what is actually inside these installations? Normal traffic cameras are a fraction of the size and seem to perform their function well enough. These boxes seem remarkably large and visually obtrusive for something that is intended simply to monitor traffic in the bus lane.

    1. It could possibly be telecommunications device for 5g similar to what they have out in areas of East Auckland on the street light poles .

      1. Surely these are 5G cell towers? They are pretty much every 100 metres all the way up Onewa road. I’m no expert but I am sure that they wouldn’t need that many just for monitoring a T3 lane. Was there any notification given that this was happening?

  21. Breathtaking. If they can’t put it at the kerb edge because they worry about a car hitting it, then how about putting it on the far edge and angling the mounting so that the camera is in the same place in the air. Y’know like, I don’t know, the poles that hold up street lights which generally aren’t in the middle of motorised traffic lanes 🙂

    1. In the olden times most power poles were next to the gutter then motorists complained that the poles use to jump out in front of them , so they then moved them when the buried the cables .

    1. I would say that this is the roll out of 5G cell towers up Onewa road and not a T3 lane monitoring system. The towers are about every 100 metres = what 5G needs to be. Was there any public notification that this was happening?

    1. The good old Bucks Free Press! Lived in Aylesbury, Princes Risborough and Haddenham. Cycled the highways and byways of Bucks on a rental tandem with a nurse from Bavaria.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *