Submission on the North Shore City Draft Walking Strategy

Submission on the North Shore City Draft Walking Strategy

Introduction


Living Streets Aotearoa is a national organisation with a vision of

More people choosing to walk more often.

The objectives of Living Streets are:

  • To promote walking as a healthy, accessible, cheap, sociable and environmentally-friendly means of transport and recreation.
  • To promote the social and economic benefits of pedestrian-friendly communities.
  • To work for walking-friendly communities with improved access and conditions for walkers, pedestrians and runners.
  • To advocate for greater representation of walker and pedestrian concerns in land use and transport planning and urban design.
  • To raise the profile of walking through education, debate, campaigns, publications, seminars and conferences.
  • To foster consideration for people with special mobility needs

Living Streets North Shore is the North Shore based branch / walking user group of Living Streets Aotearoa, which is working to make all areas of North Shore City more walking-friendly.

Living Streets North Shore represents a group of people from community, transport, health, recreation and other sectors of North Shore supported by Living Streets Aotearoa to advocate for better walking infrastructure and policies and for the needs of those using the pedestrian facilities of the city.

For more information, please see:  www.livingstreets.org.nz    

We welcome this opportunity to submit on North Shore City’s Draft Walking Strategy. We generally support the strategy. We also acknowledge and welcome the North Shore City Council becoming a signatory to the International Walking Charter.

Supporting Statements


Living Streets North Shore supports:

The Vision of the Walking Strategy (p. 6). We would like to see this placed within the text of the Executive Summary.

The appointment of a Walking Coordinator (Strategy 1.0, p.47). This position must be adequately funded and resourced and able to function across all council departments including transport, parks and sustainable environments.

The establishment of a Pedestrian Advisory Group and Walking Forum (Strategy 3.0), p47). Living Streets North Shore and its parent body would expect to be consulted as key stakeholder in these groups.

Advocacy to regional and central government for adequate funding to support regional and national “active transport” and physical activity goals (Strategy 4.0, p47). This should include advocacy for funding of maintenance as well as new projects.

Key Issues


We would like to highlight the importance of the Walking Strategy addressing the following issues more implicitly:
·       Analysis of North Shore environment
·       Speed Reduction
·       Vulnerable pedestrians, including the vision and mobility impaired, children and the elderly
·       Signage and links to recreational and public transport facilities
·       Maintenance
·       District planning which supports mixed use development
·       Parking provision and its relationship with the promotion of walking in town centres

Analysis of North Shore environment

We believe the North Shore Walking Strategy needs to be supported by evidence more specific to the North Shore environment. It is important that the Walking Strategy issues specific to the North Shore environment, for example, acknowledging that many workers travel long distances to work in other parts of the region. This suggests that it will be very important to improve the infrastructure around public transport facilities.

Speed Reduction

A key to making walking (and cycling) safer and more pleasant throughout the city, is the need to reduce traffic speeds. The optimum speed for neighbourhood and town centre roads could be as low as 20km, however any reduction from 50km would increase the actual and perceived safety of pedestrians1.

In particular 40km zones around schools should be supported. A goal of this strategy should be the implementation of 40km zones round all schools.

The strategy should also seek a commitment from the Police to enforce 50km zones in residential areas and the gazetted speed limits on arterial roads, highways and open roads in the city.

The Auckland Regional Road Safety Strategy (currently in draft) should be a key reference for this strategy in relation to its targets on speed reduction and the safety of pedestrian road users. The role of road safety needs to me explicitly stated within the list of Strategies.

Vulnerable pedestrians

The draft Walking Strategy refers briefly to accessibility for pedestrians. This needs to be more clearly articulated as referring to the needs of vision impaired, mobility impaired, children and older people, the most vulnerable pedestrian road users.

The primary concerns of these groups are safe crossing points, particularly to access public transport, schools, shopping centres and community facilities.

The provision of well maintained, even footpaths and off road walking routes is also of primary importance. Footpaths and offroad routes should be maintained at a level suitable for wheelchairs, mobility scooters and pushchairs where ever practicable. The RTS142 as amended should be complied with wherever possible, particularly at public transport interchanges and shopping/community centres.

Signage


The provision of high quality, high visibility signage is critical to the success of this Walking Strategy. The North Shore has many existing walkways, easements and footbridges linking cul de sacs and through reserves. At present very few of these are signposted. Signage which is visible and indicates links to adjacent roads or parks would raise awareness of walking routes through the city and assist locals and visitors alike to find their way around the city on foot. Large reserves where there are a range of walking/cycling routes would benefit from wayfinding maps indicating such routes and their links to other key features in the city. Printed maps would also support transport, health and tourism goals.

The negative impact of cul de sacs on walking behaviour can be mitigated where there are visible, safe and pleasant pedestrians links.

There is a particular need for signage into “hidden” reserves which may be “land-locked” by surrounding properties.  Consideration also needs to be given to the provision of parking adjacent to these reserves so that they can be enjoyed by the young and old alike.

Signage that indicates the approximate time a particular route will take to walk should also be planned as part of the strategy. It appears people are unsure how whether they can walk 1 – 2 km but would be happy to undertake a 15 – 20 minute walk.

Maintenance

The Walking Strategy needs to emphasise more clearly the importance of maintaining quality walking infrastructure both on and off road which mets pedestrian guidelines.  This requires cross-department support from transport, parks and environmental services. There needs to be a monitoring plan to audit all walking routes on a regular basis. Waliking advocacy and community groups could be contracted to monitor selected routes but the onus should be on council staff to ensure these routes are maintained within guidelines. It should not be up to the public to report substandard infrastructure. There needs to be cross-department agreement on how these costs are budgeted rather than a “not our responsibility” approach.

District Planning

There is mention in the strategy of intensification but there also needs to be consideration of mixed use zoning in any revisions of the District Plan which would support the objectives of the Walking Strategy. Quality mixed used developments allowing for residential, retail, commercial and transport activities in close proximity will enable walking to become a more viable transport and recreational option for those living in that area.  Provisions in the Building Code will also support this approach but the District Plan can be a more effective driver of walking friendly urban planning.

In any consideration of urban planning the importance of pleasant, that is aesthetically pleasing, walking environments should be uppermost. North Shore City has an abundance of sea view, elevated ridges and landmarks, coastal environments and leafy, long established heritage suburbs  New and existing developments should take advantage of these attributes to encourage walking for transport and recreational purposes, and planners should ensure these attributes are protected when approving changes in land use.

Parking

At present there are minimum requirements for parking provision in the District Plan. The Walking Strategy should acknowledge the work being done at a regional level to move to a regime where provision for parking can be reduced where there is good access to public transport or viable walking routes.

Technical Issues

In this section, we raise some concerns with the design of the Draft Walking Strategy document and the consultation process.

Ease of Use

It is recognised that making draft documents available via the Internet is a cost-effective way of distributing such documents to a city-wide audience. However there are inherent difficulties in accessing a complex document electronically, particularly in the “framed” environment existing on the North Shore City website. This means that direct links cannot be used and it is difficult to display a full page width on screen at 100% magnification or greater.

The provision of the document in PDF format, a direct replication of the printed document makes sections of the report, in particular section 10.0 where landscape pages are provided, almost impossible to read online.

Providing the document in full colour means that when printed, some pages do not reproduce well in black and white.

We suggest that:

Documents are formatted and designed in a way which is most suitable for onscreen display and black and white printing if this is to be the primary means of distribution.

A limited number of printed full colour documents be made available on request for those who wish to make fully informed submissions.

Documents should be made available on the website, unframed and in html format as well as in PDF format for maximum accessibility.

Maps

Maps are a powerful means of providing geographical information, but only when they are well reproduced, include meaningful keys to colours and symbols used, linked to explanatory text and impart accurate, up to date information.

Three maps (Figures 6, 7 and 8) are used to illustrate section 6.0 on pages 37, 38 and 39 respectively.

Figure 6 is labelled Green and Blue Networks. It is unclear to what extent these networks currently exist. There is no explanation of the star or dotted lines around this map. It is difficult to know how this map adds to the Walking Strategy document.

This map does not reproduce well in black and white.

Figure 7 Key Transport Corridors contains a number of features which do not have corresponding keys so it is unclear what this map illustrates. Again this map reproduces poorly in black and white and there is little explanation of how this map adds to the Walking Strategy.

Figure 8 Walking distances to town centres. This map has a better legend than the other two maps. This however raises other questions. For example, a “town centre” is illustrated at a location which appears to someone familiar to the area to be in the vicinity of the Bayswater Ave/Balfour St, Bayswater intersection. There is one small dairy at this location so it is difficult to know to what extent this represents a “town centre”.  There may be other instances of 'non-existant" town centres on this map.The text suggests that this map represents distances from town centres. However it is unclear how this is illustrated. It is also noted that no consideration appears to be given to actual walking distance in relation to available roadways and walkways which represent that actual route which would need to be traversed between destinations. This map is indistinct both in colour online and when printed in black and white.

We suggest that careful thought is given to the inclusion of meaningful and readable maps which convey useful and accurate information in the final Walking Strategy.

Conclusion

Living Streets North Shore welcomes the opportunity to comment on this draft Walking Strategy.

We acknowledge the progress the North Shore City Council has already made by signing the International Walking Charter and supporting the first national Work2Work day.

As a group passionate about representing the needs of all pedestrians, including those with vision or mobility impairments, we ask to be considered a key stakeholder as the Walking Strategy and Implementation and Action Plans are progressed.

References
1. Public Health Advisory Committee. (2008). Review on international evidence linking health and the urban built environment. Wellington, N.Z. Public Health Advisory Committee.  Online link (accessed 9/03/2009).

2. Road and Traffic Standards Series (2002), Part 14 Guidelines for facilities for blind and vision-impaired pedestrians (RTS14) Land Transport NZ.

Contact

Living Streets North Shore
C/o Gay Richards, Convenor, Living Streets North Shore
20A Roberts Ave
Bayswater, North Shore City, 0622

Ph: 445 6568
Email: gay.richards [at]livingstreets.org.nz

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