Horrible puns aside, there’s something planned for where Sunset Road meets Target Road in the Totara Vale part of the Shore.

And in the developing tradition of Auckland Transport’s proposals of the last couple of years, the proposals are a mixed bag of good and bad.

Sunset Road and Target Road / Caribbean Drive are larger collector roads through the middle of this Auckland residential suburb, leading to the surrounding arterial roads, motorways and, increasingly, busways and new cycleways.

The current roundabout is designed for capacity and (relatively) high speeds, and is painfully unpleasant for pedestrians, with crossings over the approach arms being mere suggestions, rather than actual facilities – let alone ones giving pedestrians priority. There are no cycle facilities, even though Sunset Road and Target Roads are future “Connector Routes” (second-highest hierarchy level) in the Auckland Cycle Network. In what we’d call the “unfunded & nothing planned” subcategory, though. And of course, no public transport facilities either, just to complete the trifecta.

The existing roundabout: No real pedestrian crossings, high(er)speed geometry. The leafy suburbs are… for cars? Auckland Council aerial photograph, 2017.

About the only unpleasant typical roundabout feature this roundabout hasn’t received so far is multiple lanes on the approaches and circulatory.

So Auckland Transport looked at the situation, correctly identified the bad situation for pedestrians, correctly identified that raised table crossings are the best solution to make drivers slow down for pedestrians… and then undermines the whole proposal by adding extra traffic lanes to cross, and still not giving pedestrians priority. Oh, and still no cycle or bus facilities.

New raised table crossings on all approaches? Great. No priority for pedestrians? Hold on… Extra traffic lanes to cross? Now wait a minute… No cycle facilities. Yeah, we saw that that one coming by now…

It reminded us of Brent Toderian’s scale of how to design a city (see at right).

Where does AT’s Sunset Rd proposal sit?

This design is clearly a hybrid born of Auckland Transport being pulled into two directions. Both internally, and also by the general public – including loud minorities of people who can’t see Aucklanders ever embracing getting out of their cars, despite much evidence to the contrary.

On the one hand are the new *requirements* to improve road safety, and make it easier for people to get around in ways other than private cars.

On the other hand is the old-style thinking along the lines of “those raised tables are only going to reduce capacity here, and we already have people complaining about huge delays, so we clearly need to do something to make sure we can get at least as many cars through – preferably more, seeing that we’re already digging things up“.

[Of course, there should also have been someone in the room at the discussion asking about where the cycleways go in the design, but that department got dis-established last year. Them’s the breaks, hey?]

This leads to proposed designs like this. Neither fish nor fowl. Arguably a bit safer and better than before for pedestrians – hopefully. But still with one eye squarely on enabling cars. And with no cycle facilities.

Meanwhile, we look at this modification of what’s there now – and then look at what Auckland Transport’s recently released Transport Design Manual says a roundabout should look like:

A safe roundabout, as shown in AT’s new design manual. All the good things missing at Sunset / Target Road, even though there’s clearly enough space!

This can’t be the way Auckland Transport acts as we go into the second decade of this millennium. And we know that many people agree – for example, Richard Hills, newly re-elected Councillor in the North Shore Ward (three of four quarters of the intersection lie in Richard’s ward):

Well, if there’s one good thing to come from this whole situation, it makes it pretty clear what we want AT to do:

  1. Keep those raised tables. Good stuff. Best part of the design.
  2. Pedestrians deserve priority over cars in a residential neighbourhood: make the crossings zebra crossings.
  3. Lose those extra traffic lanes you’re proposing. You are not “solving” congestion issues, you are just creating expensive new queues.
    • If you absolutely feel you need to keep them, make them into bus lanes / T3 lanes (northern Target Road double through lane?), or split the extra left turn lanes off from the roundabout (left into Carribean / Target Road) – with their own raised slip lane zebra crossings!
    • This would mean that pedestrians would have to cross in multiple steps, but only over single lanes (much safer), and they would have right of way.
  4. Add bike lanes around the roundabout – just because there are still no cycleways on the wide expanse of Sunset Road doesn’t mean Auckland should design new roundabouts any other way than what AT’s own design guide recommends.

Once AT have done all this, then we can agree that they’ve designed a roundabout for for the 2020s. So go and tell them you want them to aim higher. Feedback is open until 10 November. 

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ADD YOUR VOICE HERE BY 10 NOVEMBER

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Auckland Transport North Shore Safety
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3 responses to “Sunset Road, are you meeting your Target (Road)s?

  1. In my business if our work that doesn’t meet acceptable, professional standards we wouldn’t be paid. If for some reason we are unable to deliver to a high standard we don’t accept the commission. What is happening in this Transport Engineers world? Why are we despite the new TDM, despite the draft TDM’s before that and despite enlightened cities all over the world setting higher standards and producing better results, we continue to be dished up this slop. We can blame AT for not setting higher standards or being bullied but I’m sure if the transport engineers all said no more, we could dump these 1960’s Los Angeles design mistakes right now. Perhaps everyone involved needs to be legally liable for the consequential death and serious injury like other workplaces?

    1. Yes. Every professional engineer must demonstrate competency, including keeping abreast of developments in the field. Transport engineers are generally not doing so, and in the process are creating worse environmental and safety outcomes. This means they are not abiding by the profession’s code of ethics. And even those who are competent are required to report those who are not; keeping quiet is not professionally acceptable.

      I’m not sure why Engineering NZ themselves are turning such a blind eye to this sector. It is shaming the whole profession.

      And I realise there are other disciplines involved, but I imagine any professional discipline will have similar codes of ethics.

  2. The frustrating thing about these decisions is they are focused on making the car traffic faster, at this intersection. So now we have faster traffic through the connector route to the motorway onramp and you get to the traffic jam quicker. You’re going to wait at the onramp anyway you don’t need to go through the connector route faster.
    But AT still seem to look at these intersections as an isolated entity at the cost of everyone except those driving double cab utes.

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