As part of a citywide push for safer streets, Auckland Transport is consulting on a 30kmh neighbourhood in Te Atatu South, just south of SH16. See project page here, and a map of the area under discussion here.
This is great news: speed limits set the vibe for neighbourhoods. Not only will a 30kmh zone save lives by putting local wellbeing before rat-running, and people and pets over cars – it’s also the key to friendlier streets, quieter traffic and cleaner air. And, by encouraging more kids to walk and bike to school, it creates a healthier community for eveyone.
This alone will be life-changing for Te Atatu South. But wait, there’s more! We reckon AT can go beyond window-dressing and speed bumps to deliver an effective and attractive result. See below for our take, generated with local expertise from Bike Te Atatu.
Please add your voice in support of the slower speed zone AND our suggested improvements by Sunday 18 November
What should I say in my feedback?
Question 1 asks if you have issues or concerns about the location of the treatments:
- Add robust physical ‘gateway’ treatments – because a zone is only as secure as its borders, and paint is not enough. Especially at the intersection of School Road/ Edmonton Road.
- Add more speed tables to School Road, as it’s a steep downhill.
- Add a zebra on Vodanovich Road at Amberly Ave, so kids can walk to Edmonton Primary through the reserve
- Add a zebra across Grainger Road at Flanshaw (Grainger is part of a notorious rat-run)
- Add a zebra at Flanshaw Road on the southern side of the Royal View Road intersection table
Question 2 asks if you have any other comments or suggestions.
- Congratulate AT for using the term ‘survivable speeds’!
- Please add more trees and landscaping.
- Please remove any existing ‘runway’ centre lines and parking edge lines, particularly on Flanshaw
- Please remove the painted flush medians on Vodanovich Road
- Ask AT to take steps to limit through-traffic, not just slow it down. For example – even as a trial scheme – make Grainger Rd one-way at the western end, to discourage morning rat-running towards the motorway.
Why Te Atatu South, and why now?
The local community has been lobbying hard for safer streets for at least a decade. “We’ve been battling for about three years now,” said a parent at Edmonton School in November 2011 (the child in that news story is now almost finished high school).
High speeds are common; not just the 100kmh+ racers clocked by police, but regular all-day speeds of well over 50kmh. Previous attempts to lower speeds here haven’t worked, so it’s time to go hard.
And then there’s the rat-running. When the traffic’s not fast, it’s nonstop. Years of construction on Te Atatu Road have incentivized people to find ‘short cuts’ through this neighbourhood. The result: at peak times, these quiet streets are clogged with cars, creating noise, constant stress, and danger and discouragement for people walking and biking.
Auckland’s experiencing a road safety crisis: a 78% rise in road deaths across the city over the last four years. Shockingly, 80% of those deaths and serious injuries occur on 50km/h streets. And nearly half involve kids, older folk, people walking, and people on bikes or motorcycles. Bringing speeds down is the quickest way to start reducing those horrifying numbers, and Te Atatu South is on AT’s initial list of places to reduce speeds.
This is a cohesive, quiet, highly walkable and bikeable neighbourhood: although bordered by SH16 and two very busy roads, this area is nestled into a corner where the Henderson Creek pathway intersects the Northwestern cycleway. It’s largely residential, with two sets of shops, a church and community centre. It’s also home to two primary schools: Edmonton Primary School and Flanshaw Road School, which together comprise a roll of about 700 children (Rangeview Intermediate, with a roll of ~470, sits just south of the proposed zone).
So what’s in Auckland Transport’s plan?
- ‘Red carpet’ gateway treatments, to let people know they’re entering a safer speed zone.
- Speed humps, speed tables and raised intersections to help slow drivers down.
- A 30kmh speed limit for the area.
What else is needed?
Much stronger gateway treatments – something physical to oblige drivers to slow down, rather than paint to beg them to slow down. We strongly suggest that Te Atatu South should get the same quality treatments that Herne Bay is getting, that Ponsonby Road already has, and which are planned for Grey Lynn.
Raised tables at the edge of the zone not only tell drivers clearly and unmistakably that they are now in a 30 kph zone – something many will otherwise miss – they also make for safer and easier pedestrian crossings. If it’s good enough for more central burbs, it’s good enough for Te Atatu!
A really robust threshold at School Road where it meets Edmonton Road. This is a massive rat-run route, right past a school. It’s also terrifying (watch this video with your heart in your mouth). It deserves the royal treatment.
Proper zebra crossings on some of the raised tables. We suggest:
- Vodanovich Road near Amberly Ave, so kids can walk to Edmonton Primary through the reserve
- Across Grainger Road at Flanshaw (as Grainger is part of a notorious rat-run)
- Flanshaw Road on the southern side of the Royal View Road intersection table
Subtract some markings. Not only does paint not slow people down, some paint speeds them up! We’d like to see AT remove the ‘runway’ style centre lines and parking edge lines, especially on Flanshaw Road, and the weird painted medians on Vodanovich St.
More trees and greenery! The design is a bit grim and bare-bones. We think Te Atatu deserves more trees and landscaping, for beauty and for amenity. Also, if all (or at least some) of the new tables are flanked by a tree on each side, this helps narrow the road down visually, which reduces the inclination to speed, and lifts the look and feel of the neighbourhood. That’s what we’d call a win-win!
And here’s our stretch challenge to Auckland Transport.
The recently adopted Local Paths Guide offers all sorts of clever options to encourage more walking and biking – and less rat-running – on neighbourhood streets. This would be the perfect opportunity to trial them and see if they help lower the amount of traffic on these streets, not just slow it down.
Here’s something AT could try: make Grainger Road one-way where it meets Flanshaw Road. This is a regular morning rat-run towards the motorway. If it was made one-way, morning traffic through the road would fall steeply, making the street nicer and quieter and leading to less through-traffic in general – including along Vodanovich Road and near the Flanshaw Road School in particular.
Our example below shows what it could look like, if you built out the berms and added some trees. It would be easy enough to do a pop-up trial with some construction-style barriers for a month or two, and watch the traffic melt away.
Side streets that are one way (except bicycles) where they meet busier roads are a common treatment in Vancouver. In combination with a 30kmh zone, they create a network of quiet streets that not only discourage rat-running and are nicer to live on, they’ve helped the city of Vancouver dramatically increase local bike journeys. Here’s one outside a school:
And what’s next?
We’re conscious that AT’s CEO has put on the record that safety, walking, and cycling are now top priorities for the organisation. Of course, every project has its scope; every area treatment has edges, so what’s proposed here is just one piece of the map.
So we look forward to hearing about AT’s future plans for the very hostile Edmonton Road. And we also look forward to plans for connecting the newly calmed zone towards Henderson Town Centre, just down the hill. This is just one step, but it’s a first step, and we welcome it.
For now, this is an opportunity to not only make Te Atatu South’s streets safer, but also nicer. That’ll take a bit more than just paint, signs and traffic calming. The good news is that in the scheme of things, all of this is pretty easy and affordable to do. So let’s ask Auckland Transport to do it right, and do it well!
Have your say before Sunday 18 November!