The Wrong Side of my Car

A blog about Auckland City, its streets, and culture shock

1 Jun 2016

Pedestrian improvements in ponsonby — Not too much please

A few months ago Auckland Transport did a consultation for some improvements on Ponsonby Road. Which is very welcome, as that road is at the moment just another miserable 6-lane highway (2 lanes are permanently used for parking) through the city.

Ponsonby road. Find the pedestrian crossing.

One of the more aggravating aspects is the lack of any legitimate way to cross the road if you happen to arrive on the wrong side of my car. An aspect which they are not going to change. So I sent them some feedback to man up an install a proper zebra crossing. And since I gave feedback, I now got the consultation report in my inbox.

How should people on foot cross Ponsonby Road?

Another submission made the point a bit more eloquently than myself:

Regarding pedestrian crossings, Ponsonby Rd is ready to have zebra crossings instead of refuge crossings in all instances.

Pedestrian refuges (especially as built with mountable curbs) are not legitimate means to cross the road -please provide more actual crossings with pedestrian priority.

To which they replied.

Zebra crossings are not preferred on multi-lane roads, because if the traffic in the first lane stops for a pedestrian the drivers in the section lane may not have visibility of the pedestrian and drive through pedestrian crossing which could result in a collision with the pedestrian.

That’s a pretty lame excuse. Pedestrian islands have the exact same problem. Crossing a multi-lane road is dangerous. Of course, with a zebra crossing, traffic law puts the onus on drivers to stop and give way to pedestrians. So as a consequence is that your “pedestrians to blame for accident” statistic goes down the toilet.

Or maybe it is to reduce accidents, because there are more accidents on zebra crossings. You know what, to reduce accidents on the Harbour Bridge, maybe it should be closed for traffic. Boom, accidents reduced to 0! It will not be a popular option though.

And yes I know, the reply mentions stopped cars. If you really don’t understand, go look up the word courtesy in a thesaurus.

The side street problem

That’s a lot of side streets to cross.

There’s another nugget in there, about the speed tables on side streets.

Speed tables will not be marked as zebra crossings. This is because the continuous flow of pedestrians may not allow vehicles to have any chance of proceeding in and out of side roads. This could have the effect of delaying traffic on Ponsonby Road as drivers wait for pedestrians to clear as the driver turns into the side road.

Oh that old chestnut again. Here’s a traffic rule in New Zealand which is unique in the world: pedestrians have to give way to turning traffic at every side street. You don’t see that anywhere else. European cities paint zebra crossings at all their intersections. Not even the United States, the place where the word jaywalking was invented, have that rule: there pedestrians always have right of way, even without any road markings.

What about the continuous flow of cars along Ponsonby Road? How are people supposed to cross? Wait, that doesn’t count, because cars are more important than people pedestrians, right?

…But we’ll eventually get there

It’s old cancerous me again. Yes, at least they will make those kerb build-outs a bit more prominent. And those crossing island will be placed a bit better than they are now.

But still, almost every other city in the world can cope with proper pedestrian crossings around intersections. On all sides. What’s so special about cars in Auckland?

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