Traffic calming installations – tell us your view….

Some background to this issue can be found on a previous post.

We have raised concerns about the installation of the Kea Crossings with Franklin Local Board and have had a contradictory response from them.

Given the expressed community concern about traffic, and more recently about the Kea Crossing installations the Patumahoe Village Inc committee believed it was important to generate discussion and comment from the community before taking this matter further.

In addition to general traffic concern, specific comments about the Kea Crossing installations came forward at the Community Open Day in October 2010.

The issue was that the narrowing of the roads actually created a hazard and also was a source of confusion for pedestrians, cyclists and drivers.  Especially for younger members of the community who seemed unsure  whether this was designated crossing or not and therefore acted inconsistently.  Drivers too, are not sure whether to respond to these crossings in a similar way to pedestrian crossings and will also behave inconsistently.

The signage created for use in a urban environment with other visual noise – is also inappropriate for a rural village and is a predominant urban feature in an otherwise rural landscape.  While visual impact is a fundamental purpose of these signs, we consider that a more appropriate method of traffic calming is available in Patumahoe and should have been considered – especially as no other alternative had been offered by ARTA.

Alternative proposal – Patumahoe village

From the first presentation in early 2011 to Auckland Council we have asked for the installation of traffic calming entrances on the four roads leading into Patumahoe – Woodhouse Road, Kingseat Road, Mauku Road and Patumahoe Road.

Given the rural village community, and the reference materials and direction we had received so far, we believed that an appropriate method of traffic calming for Patumahoe would be a combination of:

  • Individually designed welcome signs;
  • Appropriate planting to designate the entry to the village ( and required lower speeds).  This could mean that tree choices are deciduous trees with significant blossoms and leaf changes to create a constantly changing visual reminder.  Flower choices could include spring bulbs as well as flowering perennials and colourful annuals for the same reason.
  • Change in roading surface – approx 6m of cobblestones – to remind drivers that they are entering a residential area.

This solution was favourably reviewed by our Low Impact Design planner from Auckland Council and an Auckland Council spatial planner before being submitted to our Local Board.

Despite these submissions and ongoing contact with our Local Board and Auckland Council, we were not informed of the Legacy project for Kea Crossing in Franklin until we broached the community concern with council following the first installation.

Franklin Local Board 6 March 2012 presentation

This issue was specifically addressed at a Local Board presentation in March this year.  Due to a scheduling error (on my part) and a late start due to malfunctioning AV equipment – we went overtime and were given a further presentation time in May.

However, we did bring up the concerns regarding the traffic narrowing installation in Patumahoe.

The Local Board members received comprehensive notes and a summary from from this presentation and they included the two page document can be viewed and downloaded below:

Traffic Pages From Presentation Local Board 6 March 2012

During the presentation – Local Board members seemed to share our concerns about the issues we raised and we spent some time in discussion with them on this topic.

Following this – we received an email from the Local Board chairman on April 4th:
Andy Baker: “…Would it be possible for somebody to email me the presentation photos regarding the issues with the speed signs and encroachment onto the road that were presented to us. Am in discussions with Auckland Transport and they need convincing there is a problem and want to see the photos…”

These photos were sent as requested –  and no other communication was received on this topic.  However, during the period between April and our next presentation for the Local Board on Tuesday 15 May, further installations took place in Patumahoe. We made contact with Patumahoe Primary School to see whether the Travelwise programme had been kept informed on this implemention and also to ask if any other alternatives had been proposed.  They indicated that they were not informed until the installation was taking place and that no other option other than the Kea Crossing programme had been offered.

Franklin Local Board  May 15 2012 workshop

This was a question and answer session with the Local Board where we again raised concerns about the installations.  However, this time the response was dismissive – with the caveat that “we will not apologise for being concerned with road safety for children…”

PVI wholeheartedly agrees with this sentiment.  However, we do have some concerns that by rolling out a programme with no consideration or input from individual communities, there is danger of implementation not only failing to meet intent – but resulting in contradicting it.

We believe this to be the case in Patumahoe but ask for your views.

Following is the further correspondence with the Local Board that has prompted us to seek community input on this particular issue:

Email dated 28 May 2012:

Hi Andy

Just thought I would let you know that now there are even larger concrete structures in Patumahoe outside the School that form a total block and an even more narrowing of the road. This happened last week. Why could not options such as a zebra crossing outside the school and eg traffic cameras be looked at as much safer options for all. This development has been looked at in isolation to do with school and cars with no overall view taken to transport safety for all users.

What are we best to do from here if we think it is more likely to end up killing someone that what was in place before?

What are some other options that slow traffic down around schools but do not form bottlenecks? (It is well documented overseas that road safety for all it is best to make the area wider rather than narrower

Cheers, Andrew”

Email reply dated 29 May 2012:

Hi Andrew

We had a workshop on an unrelated matter today with the Road Safety Team from AT and I took the opportunity to discuss your concerns raised below with the senior managers who attended.

I also got scale plans of the kea crossing structures that have been recently changed and which you are obviously referring to. I am also waiting confirmation from the school as to what their position is or was during the discussions involved in their travel planning.

The response I have received and is one I find very difficult to argue with (and I did spend 5 years as a road safety coordinator so have a pretty good understanding of these types of things), is that the priority here is to provide the best possible safety for the pedestrian users and in particular the school children who use the kea crossing formally or as an informal crossing point. The changes were made as the belief was that what was initially installed did not provide adequate safety at a number of engineering and other levels. From what I am told, the school have been extremely supportive of this as a kea crossing. The positioning of this crossing has been done at what is believed by the expert safety engineers to be the safest point in regard to visibility of road users and logistical relevance to the school, which is the main purpose of its existence.

The interesting thing in regard to the design is that the width of the small raised islands is actually narrower (or meant to be ) than that of a car parked legally elsewhere on the side of the road. Which does create a conundrum in that if we were to accept that this type of structure or island is unacceptable on this road, then we would have to also accept that following your line of argument, that vehicles parking on the road verge as they can now are also as dangerous and should be prevented from doing so. I am not sure that this is a suggestion the community would think to be all that pragmatic or acceptable and certainly would not be one I would be willing to stand up in Patumahoe and champion. However you may be braver than I.

It is accepted that the road narrows at this point and that does naturally put those on cycles further into the lane. However the AT staff believe cyclists simply have to do what they do elsewhere with parked cars or similar issues by signalling and moving out safely into the lane for the few short metres it takes to pass the islands.

I guess the keys for me is that the priority must be for the pedestrians users and in particular the children and also that these structures are used all over the country and are designed to be less restricting that parked cars. I do not believe there is actually much of case for changing it and that all road users including vehicles, cyclists and pedestrians simply have to share the road and drive to the conditions.

Sorry there isn’t an outcome you desire but I have trust in the experience and expertise in the information provided on this one.

Regards, Andy”

Patumahoe Community workshop 11 June 2012

This issue was briefly discussed during the Open community workshop on Monday 11 June 2012, and the response was in line with our initial concerns rather than the Local Board viewpoint.

Given this anomaly we have sought to gather input from the community before continuing.

One of our committee members has drafted a letter to Auckland Council: Local Board, our representative councillor Des Morrison, Penny Hulse – Deputy Mayor (and Community Development Manager).  This draft is shown below and we invite your comments.

 

 

Making the Main Road in Patumahoe Safer – Draft for Community Review July 2012

 

 

Comments

  1. Nick Woolf says:

    Hi, The response from Andy baker defies belief, if this is the quality of thinkling that is controlling the structures along our roadways we need to be very scared.
    There is a good case for a narrowed crossing point in front of the school but all the other Kea crossings/narrowings are clear hazards, these pinch points are no different to negotiating parked cars, they are squeeze zones waiting to kill riders trying to compete with a car and a Kenworth.
    There are several more enlightened & effective methods of calming traffic that have been proven in Europe, Andy’s response sounds more like scrambling for excuses for having spent thousands of ratepayers dollars on a clearly failed initiative rather than being willing to take a clear & open view of effective road safety, if Andy Baker and the Board were genuinely “concerned with road safety for children…” they would not have constructed these “killing zones” along our highways.

  2. Patumahoe Village Inc says:

    Hi Nick,
    The Kea Crossings do seem to be a particularly old-fashioned and much maligned method of traffic calming. If you search Wikipedia under “traffic calming” – the road narrowing approach is defined – “However, some UK and Irish “traffic calming” schemes, particularly involving road narrowings, are viewed as extremely hostile and have been implicated directly in death and injury to cyclists.[6][7}”.
    We are particularly concerned because we have been advocated for the implementation of some of the other methods since the beginning, and despite many opportunities for Auckland Council and Auckland Transport to inform us of their plans – they have failed to do so.
    We are unable to comment if we are unaware.
    However, if it seems the concerns of the committee are shared by the community – and it seems they are – we will continue to ask for change.
    Regards, Paula

  3. Chaotic Simplicity says:

    Was also speaking to one of the parents from Patumahoe this morning, and she cycles with her kids to school every morning from Sedgebrook Road.

    Last year, immediately after the first installation – she informed the school of the hazard it presented to cyclists by forcing them into the path of the traffic.

    Of further interest – is that fact that she now crosses over to Hunter Road and uses the footpath (and by doing so, she readily admits that she provides a hazard to pedestrians) but in terms of personal safety for her children, believes this is the better option.

    Unfortunate that other transport modes were not considered when rolling out this scheme.

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