Vision Zero for Auckland

Fanshawe StreetOn 2 June 2015 Robert Su, 33 was heading home from work at the ASB bank to his family in Hillcrest. Like hundreds of commuters he was walking from Wynyard Quarter to the bus stops on Fanshawe Street. Tragically while crossing the road he was struck by a truck and killed. The exact details of the crash have not been released but it is highly likely that a range of factors were involved – speed, driver error, vehicle design,  road design, weather conditions. Flowers have been placed in memory of Mr Su at the pedestrian crossing.

The day after Mr Su’s death a woman was killed in Orewa as she crossed the road marking a week when two pedestrians were also seriously injured and a rider on his way to work was almost killed.  So far this year 14 pedestrians have been killed in NZ, 4 in the Auckland area.

Photo credit: @ByTheMotorway
Photo credit: @ByTheMotorway

What I find particularly tragic and frustrating about Mr Su’s death is that the road he was expected to cross is designed like a motorway for speed and traffic efficiency. For drivers coming off SH1 there are no clues that Fanshawe St is the gateway to the central city. For some time office blocks have been going up near by but no changes have been made to the road to respond to changing land use and the growing numbers of people walking (and cycling) through the area.

At a time when the Auckland Council family of organisations is working to make the city the most liveable in the world through a whole range of transformational projects we continue to let down our most vulnerable road users.   Improvements are definitely underway (eg removal of slip lanes in the city centre, complete street upgrades) and various campaigns take a safe systems approach to road safety supported by the NZ Police but what I think is missing is a comprehensive, everyone on board, Vision Zero  response where we, collectively as a city, do not consider any fatalities or serious injuries are acceptable or inevitable.

Letter to the NZ Herald 15 June 2015
Letter to the NZ Herald 15 June 2015  

I think Auckland needs to officially adopt Vision Zero (as the Mayor of NYC did in January 2014 ) with a clear action plan.  It will need support from politicians, traffic engineers, transport agencies, all road users and grassroots campaigners. Most importantly it will require a huge culture shift in our attitudes to driving  and acceptance that managing speeds is at the heart of improving safety.

There is strong community support for improving public transport and providing greater opportunities for active travel (as indicated by feedback on the Auckland Council’s Long Term Plan) but too often resistance if this means slowing down drivers. It is far too common to hear complaints that speed enforcement is “revenue raising” and politicians shy away from taking decisive action on speed control in the face of evidence and the recommendation of safety experts. 

 Vision Zero AKL – embracing street design, slower speeds, rules changes,  education and enforcement -I think could provide the right platform for far greater public support for the concept of putting the safety of people first.

In the meantime I think there is the need for immediate action focused on city centre streets so that no one needs to be put at risk of getting killed on their way home from work.

Fanshawe Street missing ped leg
Photo credit: @BytheMotorway
  • Remove motorway signage from Fanshawe St
  • Install the missing pedestrian crossing at the intersection of Fanshawe St and Halsey St (this needs to happen before the new Fonterra HQ opens)
  • Enforce the speed limit particularly on “motorway” style city streets like Fanshawe, Hobson and Nelson
  • Implement the 30km/h speed limit for the City Centre and Wynyard Quarter (as proposed in the City Centre masterplan)
  • Repair the urban fabric of the city where footpaths connections are missing 
  • Target road safety campaigns

(this is my initial list as a non expert – I am sure there are many more actions requiring immediate attention)

Update 17 July 2016 

I’ve joined the call to for Vision Zero to be adopted for NZ to bring down road toll 

More reading

 Five key lessons from Europe’s Vision Zero Success

1) Managing speeds — and speed differentials — is a top priority

In all three of these countries, the leaders of traffic safety efforts emphasize that managing speed is the number one determinant in their successes in improving safety.

Over the past 15 years, the national governments of Sweden, the Netherlands, and Germany have all proactively and systematically changed their approaches to speed. Each nation (to differing degrees, but all significantly) has lowered speed limits for a clearly defined hierarchy of roads and corresponding speeds. For instance, the Netherlands has shifted…

  • from 50 kilometers per hour (kph) to 30 kph on smaller, residential streets;
  • from 70 kph to 50 kph on bigger, or what we’d consider arterial roads; and
  • from 100 kph to 70 kph on the freeway-like roads outside cities.

In each of the three nations, nearly everyone I’ve spoken with credits speed management as the greatest contributor to their success in improving safety on the streets and saving more lives.

Monthly Board Report February 2015

This is my first report for 2015 covering highlights from December 2014 and January 2015.

Welcome Queens WharfOpening up the city centre to people

Despite the transport messaging that the Central City was “closed” the streets of Lower Queen St and Quay St were very much full and open to people over Auckland anniversary weekend.

I enjoyed the impressive 3 days of events for Auckland 175th birthday that included the Waitematā Local Board supported International Buskers Festival and the Story of Auckland in Shed 10 (I attended the launch of both). It was great see so many people enjoying the waterfront and finding time to give feedback about improving the city centre.

The weekend really showed the huge potential for improving downtown by re-prioritising road space.

Saving the Pohutukawa 6

I have provided regular updates on the Board’s opposition to Auckland Transport’s proposal to remove 6 mature Pohutukawa trees on Great North Road. The latest update is attached (ATTACHMENT A) following on from the Commissioners decision on 17 December to recommend removal.

Cycling & walking investment

I am really delighted to have been appointed to the Urban Cycling Investment Panel by the Transport Minister on the recommendation of LGNZ.  The launch of the urban cycling programme was held on 30 January 2015 on the old Nelson St motorway off- ramp (ATTACHMENT B). I attended the first meeting of the panel in Wellington on 8 December.

causeway opening group2015 is going to be the year to celebrate new cycling infrastructure in Auckland starting on 20 January when I joined the Albert- Eden community, Cycle Action, David Shearer MP and NZTA to celebrate the opening of the new causeway bridge on the NW cycleway.

The much anticipated and beautifully constructed Westhaven Promenade opened at the end of January. It is perfect for cycling with children in a safe, attractive environment but still needs to be connected to all the way to Silo Park. Auckland Transport announced on 30 January that Westhaven promenade January 2015construction of the final leg of the shared path on Westhaven Drive continuing along Beaumont Street is starting in February with a completion date in March (the shared path is intended as an interim measure).

Over the summer break I enjoyed one of the many cycling adventures now possible in Auckland (ATTACHMENT C)

Speed enforcement

In response to the many unjustified and ill-informed attacks over the summer on the NZ Police in response to speed limit enforcement I decided to write up my personal experience that influences my personal support for the safer systems approach to road safety (ATTACHMENT D). On the positive side I think there is a growing demand for slower speeds especially on residential streets and in the city centre.

Kelmarna Community Gardens

I attended the Kelmarna Community Gardens Trust public meeting on 29 January that gathered people together to reflect on their connections to the garden and to help plan the future now that Framework has withdrawn as a tenant.

It was an incredibly positive, well attended meeting demonstrating a huge amount of support for the gardens to continue as an organic farm with a place for everyone.  The Trust, with the assistance from Council officers, is considering options for managing the gardens going forward.

Everyday is your chance to make this city a little betterPlacemaking

The January Inner City Network meeting was hosted by Waterfront Auckland. Frith Walker gave an excellent presentation on placemaking that inspired the many people who attended to consider what it is possible to achieve in Auckland with clear vision and creativity.

Way finding

Street signage has been a topical local issue over the summer in response to Auckland Transport’s trial new signs on city streets (so far mainly in the Fort St no exitAlbert- Eden area). The Board has not yet been asked to give formal feedback on the design.  In the meantime I continue to push for way finding signage for pedestrians and cyclists on streets that are only NO EXIT for vehicles (such as on Fort St).

I was impressed to see the new way finding signs that have gone up in Myers Park. They are clear and well-designed providing a best practice template for future way finding designs.

Berm planting

At the Board’s December meeting we passed the following resolution in an attempt to progress Auckland Transport’s draft guidelines to encourage responsible plantings on grass verges. In the meantime “happy berms” have appeared over the summer.

Some of the events I attended during December and January

Grey Lynn library cake cuttingThe centenaries of Parnell Pool and the Tepid Baths were celebrated in December and the Grey Lynn Library’s 90th birthday.

Mayoral Reception on the occasion of the Battle of the River Plate 75th anniversary commemoration with the remaining 5 survivors.

The final Citizenship Ceremonies of 2014 were held on 1 December at the Town Hall (I was in the official party for the afternoon ceremony)

Auckland put on a beautiful morning for the Ironman 70.3 on the waterfront. I attended the welcome function on 16 January.

I attended the Breakers game on Friday 23rd January as a guest of the Mayor

It was sad to farewell Chris Davidson at the end of January as the CEO, Parnell Trust but he leaves the Trust in great shape.