Name: Judy McDonald, on behalf of Living Streets Hamilton
Organisation: Living streets Hamilton
Postal Address: c/- 29 Claude St, Hamilton 3214
Phone: 07 8552019 or 0274 239191
Fax: 07 8552012
Email: dave.mcd at xtra.co.nz
We wish to present the group’s comments
to the council in person
Our submissions cover areas 6.0 (Growth), 7.0 (Provision of Infrastructure and services), 8.3 (City Safety), 8.7 (recreation), 8.8 (Transportation) and 8.9 (Urban development) as they are connected to availability and accessibility of pedestrian activities in Hamilton.
Living Streets Hamilton is a branch of Living Streets Aotearoa. We aim to promote walking as a preferred mode of transport for short trips, and as a means of recreation and fitness in urban environments.
We would like to congratulate the Hamilton City Council on the recent developments in Victoria Street as part of the City Heart upgrade. The new street arrangements are much more pedestrian friendly, very attractive even now, and will grow ever more pleasant as the plantings mature. More of this kind of thing is definitely desirable!
We do however have a range of ongoing concerns and these are heightened this year by both the general economic recession and a major commitment on behalf of the City Council to a very costly upgrade to the Claudelands Event Centre which appears to be contributing to significant cost-cutting in other areas.
Our main concerns are, as ever, around pedestrian safety, most particularly in the following areas:
- Whitiora Bridge/ Boundary Rd
- Roundabouts at Five Cross Roads and intersection of Heaphy Tce and Boundary Rd
- Fairfield Bridge, both East and West sides
- Victoria Bridge on the east side, where pedestrians run major risks with turning traffic entering Memorial Drive
- Access to Hamilton Gardens from the Hamilton East side of Cobham Drive
- Need for a map for the underground crossing points on Cambridge Rd to access the school and shops
- Need for pedestrian and cycle crossing point on Greenwood St at Duke St intersection.
We have also conducted a small-scale “walkability survey” in a number of Hamilton suburbs, using a questionnaire originally developed in Western Australia and slightly modified for our requirements, in which we have used local community houses and other agencies to contact local residents and seek their opinions on how easy it is to get around in their particular suburb. The results are not unexpected (Glenview and Melville aren’t nearly as nice to walk in as Lake Crescent and Chartwell), but the most useful aspect of the study may be the comments we received about the problems people face. They don’t surprise us either, but to see them repeated several times over, from several locations, does have an impact. Hamilton has a problem with dangerous roads (ie too many cars travelling at too high a speed), and a lack of safe pedestrian crossing facilities to deal with this. The data is attached as an appendix. This sets the background tone for what we want to plead for in this submission. We believe that relatively small expenditures could make a big difference to the walkability of Hamilton, and its attractiveness to both local residents and visitors. If we want to be an events and conference centre, people need to feel safe on the streets.
As an overall warning to cities, the following, from March 28 2009, is a concise account of what is currently being faced in Australia. Hamilton is smaller but the principles still apply.
Lack of light rail risks city's success:expert
- Matthew Moore Urban Affairs Editor
- March 28, 2009
A MEMBER of
the group charged with rebuilding the country's infrastructure has warned that Sydney's failure to
build a light rail system and improve pedestrian access is risking the city's
Professor Peter Newman, a member of the Infrastructure Australia group established by the Rudd Government, has warned the city stands to lose its "competitive edge" to Melbourne and to other cities such as New York, which are removing cars from streets to make them more inviting to pedestrians.
In an interview this week with the Herald, Professor Newman criticised the State Government's opposition to proposals for a light rail network running down George Street. He said it could be built within two years and was a critical step to getting more pedestrians into the city.
On Wednesday he also told a City of Sydney forum, City Talk, that banning cars from city streets and lanes, widening footpaths and building light rail systems through the central business district were measures being adopted around the world. Governments recognised that making cities inviting and vibrant was critical to attracting investment, Professor Newman said.
Young people controlled where a lot of investment went and they wanted to live in attractive cities "that are providing that edge that they are looking for", he said. "Without that they leave, and the capital does not come to those places.
"The processes of meeting and the capital investment that goes with that is now a global competition and that's based around how attractive the city's streets are."
He said Melbourne had bounced back from being a city in decline to one that was competitive globally after a massive increase in pedestrian traffic in the 10 years to 2004.
He welcomed efforts by the City of Sydney to increase pedestrians and cyclists.
For the full article, refer to:
Hamilton has a number of specific issues to address in order to make itself pedestrian and cycle friendly.
Whitiora Bridge/ Boundary Road: This area is a nightmare for both cyclists and pedestrians, as we have stated in past submissions. We are extremely concerned that improvements to this area have been postponed, and the project is now in the unfunded category. In our view, Whitiora Bridge in its current state is as dangerous as the Victoria Bridge was before its upgrade. A teenage cyclist was killed on the Victoria Bridge and the outrage that followed was instrumental in getting the widening done. Do we have to wait for the same thing here?
The absence of cycle lanes and the absence of safety rails on the footpath make pedestrians and cyclists feel very unsafe on this bridge. It is common to see motorists pulling out into the opposing lane to try to overtake cyclists on the bridge. This has to end badly at some point. Many pedestrians have expressed the fear that they will be knocked off the path and into the traffic lane by a cyclist or a mobility cart coming up unheard behind them. It is common to hear people comment that they walk across the bridge holding on to the bridge railing and trying to stay as far from the edge as possible. This is not by any stretch of the imagination a “pedestrian-friendly” environment.
Because there is only a path on one side of the bridge, the difficulty in crossing Boundary Rd is another hazard for many walkers. A refuge island is, as we have previously stated, very little use when dealing with a three-lane road which can at times have almost unbroken streams of traffic. Unless you can run, you’re stuck. Anyone with mobility problems of any sort, or anyone with a baby buggy, finds the crossing extremely stressful.
We recommend that if money is genuinely unavailable to improve the area by adding clip-on pedestrian and cycle facilities, the best course of action is to revert to a two-lane bridge. The cross-city arterial has also been put in the unfunded basket, so the raison d’etre for the increased bridge lanes has also vanished. Yes, two lanes will cause traffic jams. This might be a good idea. As motorists sit in their cars watching the cyclists whizz by in their nice safe restored cycle lane, they can contemplate the wisdom of leaving the car at home and taking the bike, using their feet, or taking the bus. Once this becomes a safe pedestrian and cycle route, people may realise that it is only a 20 to 25 minute walk to get from Claudelands, Fairfield and Enderley in to the central city. No parking problems, a pleasant way to get your daily 30 minutes of gentle aerobic exercise, and the whole city benefits from it.
Action requested: Put the Whitiora Bridge back on the funded projects list, or alternatively convert back to two lanes with cycle lanes each side.
Roundabouts at Five Cross Roads and Heaphy Tce/ Boundary Rd: These are probably the worst pedestrian areas in Hamilton. There are no safe crossing points and traffic can be extremely heavy. They are dangerous for pedestrians, cyclists and motorists alike and there are regular accounts from drivers who go well out of their way to avoid these roundabouts.
We are pleased to hear that light-controlled crossings are being considered at the mosque roundabout at Heaphy Tce and completely support this idea, as it will provide at least one safe crossing point on an otherwise very difficult stretch of road.
Five Cross Roads is appalling. Past suggestions from council staff have included the possibility of stopping Brooklyn Rd and thus converting the area into a normal four-part crossroads, which could potentially be light controlled. It is difficult to see any other suitable method of dealing with this area. The prospect of even further increased traffic coming from the Claudelands event centre if the arena is built is very worrying, as visibility at the Brooklyn Rd entrance to the roundabout is poor and the space between road entries is very small. The potential for accidents is correspondingly high.
Actions requested: Replace the Boundary Rd/ Heaphy Tce roundabout with traffic lights, and investigate the possibility of removing the Brooklyn Rd entrance to Five Cross Roads in order to allow the development of a light-controlled intersection.
Fairfield Bridge. Both ends of this bridge are a pedestrian no-go zone. There are no crossing facilities of any description. On the west side, again thanks to a bit of strategic three-laning to speed up traffic flows, there is no safe place to cross Victoria Street between Whitiora Bridge and the Beerescourt lights. The road has no median strip, so unless you are highly mobile, crossing is a bit of a lottery. At Fairfield Bridge itself, there is no way to progress further unless you take the path under the bridge. This is not attractive at night, and many women would not be happy to attempt it even in daylight hours, because it is out of sight and below street level. It is essential that pedestrian phases be incorporated in the traffic light sequence at the bridge.
On the eastern side, a maze of roundabouts faces the walker, along with very heavy traffic flows at precisely the times of day when workers are likely to be trying to walk to the central city. There are no pedestrian crossings anywhere, and the road is very wide. Pedestrian-controlled lights some distance from the bridge may help, especially once the walkway under the bridge on the eastern side is completed. This area is overlooked by houses and is less likely to be a “lurking spot” than the path on the western side. The ideal solution would be fully light controlled intersections instead of the roundabout but we appreciate this is costly.
We suggest that this area is probably responsible for stopping many residents in the River Rd area from walking to work on a regular basis. As with the Whitiora Bridge, if it was a safe path it would allow easy access with a 20 to 30 minute pleasant walk into the CBD.
Action requested: Install pedestrian phases at the traffic lights on the west side, and investigate the feasibility of pedestrian controlled crossing lights on the eastern side, or longer term, the replacement of the current intersection with traffic lights.
Victoria Bridge: Trying to cross from the end of the bridge on the east side to continue up Bridge St to Grey St is a very dangerous exercise. Pedestrians face turning traffic from two directions, and both sets are likely to be impatient and failing to pay attention to footpaths. The ridiculous aspect in this case is that a solution is quite readily available and has already been discussed. We are still waiting for it to be implemented. There is a path available under the bridge which comes up on the southern side of Bridge St (rather than the northern side). If this path was upgraded and adequately signposted, it would avoid pedestrians ever trying to cross on the northern side. Once onto the southern side of Bridge Street it is safe to cross at the Grey St intersection because there is a light-controlled crossing. The under-the-bridge path is currently a problem because it is accessed by steps at the end of the bridge. A ramp approach is needed, and very clear signage would be required to tell pedestrians how to handle the crossing, but it should not be a huge undertaking. The safest cure would again be traffic lights at the end of the bridge, but this could have interesting effects on traffic flo.
Action requested: Install improved access to the existing under-bridge path, improve lighting and provide large clear signage indicating the safe route for crossing. Consider the possibility of light-controlled pedestrian crossing at the end of the bridge.
Access to Hamilton Gardens: We know this is a problem because it is a state highway. However, the gardens are one of our major tourist attractions (even bigger than the Waipa Delta!), and having no way to get there on foot from the Hamilton East side is a very bad look. (We appreciate that there is access along the river walkway but this is not the most direct route for anyone in the main Hamilton East shopping and residential area). The obvious solution has been discussed many times: an at-grade, pedestrian controlled traffic light system at the end of Nixon Street. Most of the time it would have no effect on traffic flow, occasionally it might cause a minor delay, and very occasionally it might cause considerable delays when major events are on at the gardens. Again, the delays might encourage motorists to contemplate other transport options for those sorts of occasions.
Action requested: Coordinated approach with New Zealand Transport Agency (NZTA) to install pedestrian-controlled lights at the end of Nixon Street.
Walking/Cycling Route alongside North Island Main railway: One of our members has brought this to the attention of the group as being a very valuable strategy. Considerable discussion occurred at council level in 2006 and 2007 regarding the development of walk and cycle ways in the area of Queens Ave, Kahikatea Drive and Innes Common, with a scoping report in 2007/2008 on the use of the maintenance track on the East side of the Main Trunk railway line as a walk and cycle way in to the city centre. We would like to see further attention given to this as another possible way of providing safe cycle and pedestrian access to the city, away from main road areas.
Action requested: Continue to investigate the feasibility of using railway maintenance corridors to provide safe off-road walking and cycling paths, and suggest to government that this route be put forward as part of the National Cycle Route
Subways maps for the Hillcrest pedestrian tunnels on Cambridge Rd: The major arterial roads running through Hillcrest past the primary school and the supermarket/shopping complex do not have surface pedestrian crossings and although there are in fact safe underground crossings they are not well marked. In order to get from the New World corner to the other Hillcrest shops without running between cars, pedestrians need to know which subway tunnel to use. A few diagram-style maps in the area could help a great deal.
Action requested: Provide a few simple diagrammatic maps in prominent places near the Hillcrest shops and New World supermarket to instruct pedestrians on how best to use the safe crossings available to them.
Pedestrian crossing / controlled intersection at Duke St/ Greenwood St intersection: While the modifications to the current Killarney Rd/ Greenwood St intersection to convert it to a light controlled intersection are excellent and will improve pedestrian access in the area considerably, there is another very dangerous area further down Greenwood St at the intersection of Duke St and Greenwood St. This is a hazard for all road users: pedestrians, cyclists and cars alike, as traffic attempts to join the major arterial Greenwood St from both ends of Duke St. Cyclists are in considerable danger because of the speed of motor vehicles on this stretch of road, and even cars attempting right turns into the traffic stream have a lot of difficulty at some times of day. A light-controlled intersection at this point would help everyone.
Action requested: Investigate the installation of a traffic lights, including a pedestrian phase, at the intersection of Duke and Greenwood Streets.
As we have said before, Hamilton has the potential to be one of the most pedestrian-friendly cities in New Zealand. At the moment we are a long way from that. We would like to see a change of direction.