This paper describes the main findings of the Auckland Self-Explaining Roads (SER) project and outlines some actions and recommendations for advancing the SER concept in New Zealand.
The SER concept focuses on functionality, homogeneity and predictability to make roads safer and more user-friendly for residents, pedestrians, cyclists and motorists. The methodology for this project focussed on developing a process for identifying functional road categories and a design template based on locally-appropriate road characteristics taken from functional exemplars in the study area. The study area was divided into two sections, one to receive SER treatments designed to maximise visual differences between road categories, and a matched control area to remain untreated for purposes of comparison.
Two distinctly different road categories were developed. For the local road category key elements of the SER design for the area included: a target design speed of 30 km/h, increased landscaping and ‘community islands’ to limit forward visibility and removal of road markings (and in some cases signs).
For the collector road category key elements included: increased delineation, addition of cycle lanes and improved amenity for pedestrians.
Approximately 7 km of roads received treatment. Speed data collected three months after
implementation showed a significant reduction in vehicle speeds on local roads (with mean
speeds at or below the desired 30 km/h design speed) and increased homogeneity of speeds
on both local and collector roads. The objective speed data, combined with residents’ speed
choice ratings indicated that the project was successful in creating two discriminably different road categories. Video data is currently being analysed to examine road-user behaviour and interactions.
The findings suggest that an SER approach to road design can work for New Zealand. However, further work in the following areas is needed:
A functionally based road hierarchy for New Zealand
Application of SER principles to arterial roads in urban areas
Application of SER to new urban areas and subdivisions
Application of SER principles to rural roads
Wider implementation of significantly improved public involvement processes developed within the SER project
A wider and deeper understanding of SER principles by all and their implementation within day to day RCA and NZTA planning and engineering processes
Continued refinement of SER street designs
The wider benefits of SER designs, such as modal shift, health and increased community ‘value’.
A programme of work by NZTA is addressing many of these areas. It is also important that continued objective evidence is used to underpin policies and practices that emerge.
Hamish Mackie (TERNZ Ltd), Samuel Charlton (Waikato University), Peter Baas (TERNZ Ltd)