Kāinga Ora are currently in the process of building thousands of new homes all across Auckland within the existing urban area. This is obviously a good thing and support it, Auckland Transport started a project to work with Kāinga Ora on this.
The latest version of ATAP, which was released in early 2020, included this with a $400 million budget as part of the Government’s Auckland Housing Programme (AHP). It noted of the programme’s focus on Northcote, Mt Roskill, Māngere, Oranga and Tāmaki:
Kāinga Ora expects that in the AHP areas their developments, along with private sector developments, will deliver up to 17,000 new homes between 2018 and 2031. This includes replacement of existing dwellings as well as the development of additional dwellings. Mt Roskill, Māngere, Oranga and Tāmaki are the highest priority locations requiring investment over and above what is provided by developers (including Kāinga Ora) or by other parts of ATAP 2021. Investment in these locations, generally to support smaller-scale bus priority, walking and cycling improvements, intersection upgrades or improved access to the rapid transit network, will help their redevelopment deliver important transport outcomes like mode shift and safety. Business case work is underway to identify the detailed nature and timing of investments in these areas.
That sounds good. The Regional Land Transport Programme highlights that most of the money would be spent in the latter part of the decade.
But then back in April last year, AT said this about the work in their report to the board.
Auckland Housing Programme
The ATAP process identified support for brownfields development as the highest priority for growth investment. To support the Auckland Housing Programme in brownfield areas AT will need to develop ways of working with Kāinga Ora. The Business Case for this investment is progressing and is investigating the public transport and walking and cycling infrastructure to encourage sustainable transport behaviour, along with intersection upgrades to minimise impact on the operation of the surrounding road network.
There is a subtle but important shift in that statement from the one in ATAP, dropped are delivering on the outcomes of mode-shift and safety and added is the focus on minimising the impact on the operation of the surrounding network – a common phrase used by AT to mean “we can’t impact traffic flow“. I noted as much in my comment in that post
Those intersection upgrades sound a lot like AT engineers are planning a suite of intersection expansions to push more cars through intersections. If this is what is being planned it would only serve to further encourage driving and make congestion worse. It also ignores that AT needs to reduce vehicle travel.
We haven’t seen the business case AT have been working on but yesterday, thanks to a tweet by Puketāpapa Local Board member Jon Turner, we got a first look at the kind of thing these changes might deliver, and it’s not good.
Does this seem bad to anyone? Upgrade as part of the K.O intensification works, but missing a pedestrian crossing leg (which would also connect to the proposed shared path) pic.twitter.com/xXdJWCbP8H
— Jon Turner (@JonTurnerNZ) May 23, 2022
The intersection is Dominion Rd and Youth St, which is part of the Roskill South development shown below.
The intersection is currently controlled by a stop sign and clearly is not fit for purpose with a wide mouth, which makes it harder for pedestrians to cross safely. There is also no safe way to cross Dominion Rd to access bus stops – for example, would you trust children dashing across two busy lanes to the meagre and narrow traffic island and then doing that a second time.
So an upgrade is definitely needed, especially as with all the new housing, a lot more people are likely to want to get to and from bus stops. So let’s take a look at some of the issues with this proposal.
- Missing Crossing – it’s 2022, how is it we’re still even suggesting building intersections with missing pedestrian crossings.
- No Raised Table – We’re now starting to see raised tables being used to cover intersections, making them safer by slowing vehicles down and also further making it easier for pedestrians to cross as they have a level surface. An example of one Auckland Transport have recently proposed is the much busier Maioro St and New Windsor Rd intersection
- Turning Lanes – If ever there was a sign that the focus of this intersection ‘upgrade’ was about making it easier for cars, it’s the multiple turning lanes. The plan proposes widening Dominion Rd to accommodate this yet if you were to suggest doing this to add say a cycleway, they’d reject it outright. There are also the multiple turning lanes out of Youth St, a small side road unlikely to have a lot traffic. A single lane is unlikely to cause any issues for traffic but allow for a shorter and safer pedestrian crossing. In fact, given the wider development and the many other ways of accessing it, consideration should be given to preventing right turns into or out of it all together.
- Cycling Facilities – other than some painted box on the intersection, including one a cyclist would have to cross two lanes of traffic to reach, there doesn’t appear to be any facilities to improve safety for or encourage people to ride a bike. This is especially important as just 300m north of this intersection is the Southwestern Shared Path that links to Avondale and Onehunga.
Everything about this intersection screams that it was designed focusing on the outputs of a traffic model, reminding me of this old cartoon.
In 2022 and especially given the focus on the need for mode-shift to help reduce congestion and lower emissions we should be seeing much better than what we’re seeing here. Instead we continue to see business as usual designs focused on moving cars first and people second.