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Give the children the ‘keys to the city’

With the introduction of ‘simpler fares’, it is great to see Auckland Transport offering up special child fares for weekends. And the recently announced availability of pre-pay HOP cards in selected supermarkets and other stores is another great step.

But, can we do more?

Recently we were in sunny Queensland for a quick winters break. While there, our means of getting around was mostly using public transport. On the Gold Coast one of the first stops was a 7-Eleven store to purchase some TransLink go cards (South-East Queensland’s version of the HOP card).

Expecting to have issues getting a card set up for our 8 year old child, I was pleasantly surprised to be given a Child version of the go card.

WP_20160629_19_49_25_Pro

This is simply a go card that already has the child concession loaded. While this can be connected to an account, just like the HOP card, it is not mandatory and no identification or proof of age was required. How very simple, quite unlike in Auckland.

Penalty Fares

Another bugbear, and potential barrier to getting children using HOP cards, is the ocurrence of penalty fares

Penalty fares are charged when you forget (or intentionally neglect?) to tag off your bus or train a the end of a journey.

TranslinkAU Penalty Fares

The image above is an example of penalty fares from TransLink. Since the Simpler Fares were introduced in Auckland, penalty fares are now set at 3 zones. That equates to $4.90 for adults and $2.72 for children.

While the penalty fare is probably not too bad, the biggest problem is that, after a number of transgressions, the card can be cancelled. And they can be cancelled with credit remaining on them, unable to be retrieved as I understand it.

This then requires the purchase of another new card.

In order to encourage children to adopt to the new way, we need to be looking at removing or substantially increasing the limit on the number of transgressions before the card is cancelled be scrapped for children?

Should we even be charging penalty fares for children? Let’s take a chance on them being honest young citizens in our fine city.

These children are the next generation of public transport users in Auckland. Let’s get them using it but without having parents worry about errors that could add considerable expense and trouble to parents while the children are ‘learning the ropes’.

Sure, we will have some children using the leniency to personal advantage but, most children and parents are honest. Let’s take a chance on it.

Design

As a way of encouraging use of Child HOP cards, let’s get a Child card up and going for Auckland.

Cards do wear out with use and need to be replaced from time to time and we also know children love collecting cards so lets go a bit further and introduce a competition amongst children to design a new card every year. How cool would that be?

So, what do you think Auckland? Let’s give the children the keys, aka HOP cards, to the city.

Thanks to Tina Plunket for assistance with ideas. Tina has first hand knowledge of the problems caused by children forgetting to tag off.

Orewa Beach and the proposed Sea Wall

This idea that is being proposed is something very much on my mind and I think it will be a very poor plan for Orewa Beach. It will effectively remove the ability (even more than now) to walk along Orewa beach at higher tides. Ben Ross has written a post with some other details here.

Talking Southern Auckland

Orewa readies itself in case of Tsunami

But Seawall will cause opposite to desired results

While Orewa gets itself Tsunami ready in the event that one does ever occur its quest to build a sea wall to stop erosion they will find will have the exact opposite effects they were looking for.

From Auckland Council:

Orewa follows the Tsunami signs and blue lines

Auckland Council will be installing tsunami signs in Orewa next week as part of a community-led initiative to increase the coastal town’s tsunami preparedness.

Six information signs will be erected at the facilities on the Arundel Reserve and Western Reserve, Orewa Reserve, Orewa library, community centre and Orewa Top 10 Holiday Park.

Evacuation signs will be installed to indicate major evacuation routes, and blue lines will also be drawn on the ground to mark the ‘safe zones’ for a tsunami practice walk taking place this month (25…

View original post 1,515 more words

New Lynn to Avondale Cycle Path – an alternative?

On the back of the Waterview Shared Path that is currently being constructed, Auckland Transport are now consulting on a $17.7M shared path from New Lynn to Avondale via the rail alignment.

My question is “is this the best project for the area”

I’m not against the project, more that I think it misses a lot of potential and I see it as the ‘cherry on top’ once other parts of the network are finished. By using the rail corridor a lot of potential origins and destinations are missed.

Let’s start with Avondale College (and Intermediate). Between these 2, adjoining, schools there are just under 3,000 students. Yet, according to Travelwise statistics, just a very few ride a bike to school – just 16 or so according to the latest Travelwise count.

Numbers from Census statistics indicate there are 3,867 residents within 2km of Avondale College aged between10 and 19 years old.

This is what a 2km radius of Avondale College looks like.

Avondale College 2km radius.png

Dutch statistics for cycling show us that 4km to 6km per day (or 2km to 3km each way) is a very normal trip distance and they have built their cycling network to support these local trips. (some areas in the Nethelands have longer commute statistics but these tend to be in more rural areas which also have great cycling amenity – places like Assen)

Dutch Cycling Statistics distance per day by age group

Dutch Cycling Distances by age.

 

“So, provide us an alternative” I hear you say.

Well, adding cycling facilities to Rata / Ash Street seems like an obvious choice. Also, add cycle paths from Avondale Station down to Avondale College via Rosebank Rd doesn’t seem very difficult. The added advantage of this is it avoids the need to go though the Avondale train station.

New Lynn to Avondale via Rata_Ash St.png

Some quick checking on GIS shows that the Ash/Rata corridor has minimum of 4m footpath/berms on each side of the road. The Whau overbridge also has existing paths and likely room to add cycling.  What I have also discovered is that the narrow path outside the racing club is only because the racing club has buildings in the road corridor (if GIS is correct).

Ash St Racecourse GIS with line

Avondale Racecourse boundary (in Orange)

Added to this route, there is huge potential for cross routes from south to north. There is also a large street network that can benefit for a lot of traffic calming and filtered permeability.

So there is my idea. What do you think? Like I have said, I’m not opposed to the rail corridor idea, I just don’t see it as the most pressing route for the area and at a projected price of $17.7M could we get bigger bang for our buck?

The Franklin Road Letdown

Anyone who has been following the proposed upgrade of Franklin Road will be aware that there has been considerable support for quality cycling infrastructure as part of the project. In this post from Transport Blog Option 3 was presented. This is best practice cycling infrastructure as is found overseas as it provides not only actual safety benefits but also creates cycling infrastructure that ‘feels safe’ to riders. (David Hembrow provides are great explanation of the 3 types of safety here)

Unfortunately, Auckland Transport have decided to just install painted cycle lanes (courtesy of Bike Auckland)

Last week, at the opening of #Lightpath, Freemans Bay Primary children were part of the opening ceremony.

cycleway-opening-ceremony_500x620

Freemans Bay Primary sits here (shown in Green). Franklin Road is highlighted in Orange.

Franklin Rd_Freemans Bay Primary

As you can see, Freemans Bay Primary School is in close proximity to Franklin Road and would seem to be a very valuable cycling route to enable children to cycle to school. Unfortunately, the design chosen by Auckland Transport will effectively force any children who would like to cycle (and indeed if their parents are game) to simply ride on the footpath. Illegally.

In fact, Auckland Transport see Franklin Road like this

“Franklin Rd is more set up for confident cyclists “

Effectively, the young, the old and cyclists with less confidence have been completely left out of this project. Which is a sad reflection on our transport agency responsible for safety of all transport users.

 

 

 

Millwater Intersection Safety

The safety of children walking and riding to school has been in the news this week with another crash resulting in severe injury while a child was walking to school.

Back in April, local Hibiscus Coast media wrote a story about red light running near some local schools. In an attempt to make things safer (?) adults were handing out hi-viz flags to cross the road with. “What?” I hear you say. “Surely this only happens in the USA?”
Here’s what it looks like on a school day.

Millwater FLags

So just how did an intersection in a brand new Auckland suburb get to this point?
Firstly, as you can see on this map there are a number of schools in this area. There is also a cycleway/shared path nearby.

Millwater SchoolsUnfortunately, most of these schools are what AT described to me as ‘destination schools’. What are Destination Schools? These are schools that are designed with the expectation that a significant number of pupils will be driven from further away (also some bus and some local). Silverdale Primary can be seen with the purple outline and the remainder, in blue and brown, are destination schools. With all this traffic congregating in a small area and with some significant student numbers, combined with a student ‘drop off’ area on Longmore Lane, it is not surprising that there is heavy congestion and therefore some pressure on the intersection at school start and finish times.

Silverdale School AT Walking School BusThat’s the problem, so what fixes are there. Since April, I understand there has been enhanced police enforcement of red lights at the location. Auckland Transport are also (just now) putting a couple of measures into place.

 

What about a long term fix? May I suggest we close Longmore Lane to vehicular traffic?

So where do drop offs and bus services go then?

Millwater CarparkConveniently, just 400m away, is the car park for the local sports fields. At the times schools are starting and finishing, this carpark is empty. Instead of dropping off in the school, parents should be using this carpark as the drop off/pick up area. Doing so takes the cross traffic away from the main intersection.

Along with these options, and in conjunction with the new Hibiscus Coast bus network, is the potential to create a couple of new bus stops on Millwater Parkway, just to the south of Longmore Lane, for both local and school buses.

So, do parents really need to drive right onto school grounds to drop kids off? Aside from exceptional circumstances, no, of course not. Fortunately the school has a staff carpark which would be suitable for limited numbers of special cases.

In removing Longmore Lane, and therefore the student drop off carpark, the school gains some extra grounds for other uses. Maybe a bike skills park on the old car park? Bike racks?

So how much importance are we going to put on children walking and riding to school with minimal risk of injury from a motor vehicle crash? Is it time to make some tough choices? Which politicians will put there hands up to demand change? Will we continue to prioritise the flow of motor vehicles over the rights of other road users?

While on the subject, Stella Maris also own land nearby and there are plans for another destination school (Secondary School) later. In my opinion, this is a poor location and is best kept for housing, or even mixed use, to tie into the town centre across the road.