Category Archives: Advocacy

Ward St – Benchmarking

Success involves having records showing that more people are staying longer in Ward St. This post has two safety comments and two examples. First: with more people, mistakes and crashes will happen between different road users, so we need our political leaders to set maximum speeds. They could opt for a “choice of 30 km/h instead of 50 km/h, [where] the estimated reduction in fatal crash risk is 95%”, or even lower, like 20km/h to avoid serious injury. The second comment shows this approach can work: ‘New York City committed to strategies to protect pedestrians, the most vulnerable street users. In 2017, the 32 percent decline in pedestrian fatalities was the steepest-ever one-year percentage decline in the City’s recorded history.’

The Science of Safe Streets (p22) isn’t hard to understand, but what NZ traffic engineers have done traditionally is to try to separate road users and move pedestrians to where they want them to cross. So question one is: where do people actually cross on Ward St?

Moving on to Example 1 – Schloßstraße Koblenz: Having walked this street a number of times, each time I found myself walking in the centre of the street. Even though this is also a place for motor vehicles, it did feel the centre was the right place to be. I think this came from the open space, with uncluttered sight lines, which creates a vacuum that pulls life to the centre. It also has the ‘boutique stores, retail and inner city living … 24/7 living’ of Hamilton’s Future 2020 Vision utopia, as described in a longer quote at the end of this post.

Example 2 – Neue Straße Ulm: This carries motor vehicle traffic in a area between the city’s main square in the north, in the older city, and the river promenade in the south. My reference says it moves 13,000 vehicles per day, which is in between  Hamilton’s Anglesea St at 12,300vpd* and Tristram St at 14,560vpd*. (*five year average 2012-2016). I have walked across this street more than once and it did feel OK. I think what makes it OK is the flush surfaces. What was also noticeable was that the vehicle lane was identifiable more by its different surface texture than its colour. There were some bollards but these weren’t placed to stop motor vehicles from accessing courtyards if they needed to.

The following is from a German planner explaining shared space, and the link that follows directly refers to the Neue Straße shared space

If cyclists, pedestrians and car drivers are to share narrow spaces as equally as possible and at the same time increase the quality of stay for residents and visitors, this is only possible if the speeds fall. Because the higher the speed and the different the speeds of the various road users, the greater the required safety distance between the individual road users, the louder the traffic, the stronger the tunnel vision is, which prevents us from perceiving others. Shared space means that the speeds of car and bicycle traffic are closer and traffic is flowing more smoothly … This means that every road user is aware of the fact that he has to come to terms with the others. This promotes mutual consideration. These two basic rules are mainly there to break the dominance of the car. This leads to more equality of all road users. Because only those who feel safe, also like to cycle often … Visibility is essential for communication between road users … Although Shared Space clearly promotes cycling, it cannot be seen as a measure to promote cycling. Cyclists must also be considerate in a shared space …towards pedestrians. Besides, shared space is not a solution for everywhere.

If you would like to know more about what it feels like to use this Neue Strabe. Councillor Siggi Henry has been he many more times than me. Her contact detail can be found here.

Back to Schloßstraße Koblenz, above photo looking towards the Electoral Palace (note 20kmh speed signs), and here is how the locals talk about this place.

Created with numerous trees as an avenue, the heart of the street between the Centre and the Electoral Palace beats, making it an ideal connection between the city center and the Rhine promenade … Fringed by the pleasant green of the shady trees, the open-air shopping mile invites you to stroll and stroll. The range of resident businesses is unusually rich. In addition to traditionally run family businesses, you will also find modern start-ups. All together lend the Schloßstraße their special character with high-quality goods. A balanced ratio of numerous specialist shops, service providers, cafes and restaurants with comfortable outdoor seating offer the opportunity to linger longer in the Schloßstraße.

Schloßstraße/Casinostraße Koblenz crossing (mid-way)

 

Waitawhiriwhiri to Ward, Town Belt – land use

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This post is a measure of land use in the breathing place known as Hamilton’s western town belt (WTB) area between Frankton, the central city, Waitawhiriwhiri stream and Ward Street. I’m still finding John Claudius Loudon’s writing on breathing zones a helpful reference. This is my reading of his writing (my emphasis):

“ In the country zones we should permit individuals, on proper conditions of rent and regulations, to establish all manner of rural coffee-houses, and every description of harmless amusement we would lay out as park and pleasure-ground scenery, and introduce in it all the plants, trees, shrubs which would grow in the open air, with innumerable seats, covered and uncovered, in the sun and in the shade … and other natural-looking scenes, with walks and roads, straight and winding, shady and open .. Breathing ground should be marked out as not being built on, for the sake of the health of the poorer part of the inhabitants … Breathing places will be found to present advantages which no other form or disposition of breathing places could produce … we hope, also, that the legislature may not think it unworthy of their attention to take into consideration the subject of breathing places, on some systematic plan, calculated for the benefit of all ranks in all parts of the British metropolis”

The green belt this post is looking at is about 35 hectares in total; I’ve measured 56% as not built on or enclosed. A third is enclosed/fenced, mostly for rugby (5 ha), followed by cricket (3.5 ha), golf (2.2 ha), bowls (1.1 ha), and tennis (0.4 ha). These uses do fit the description of “on proper conditions of rent and regulations, to establish all manner … of harmless amusement”. Sealed car parking areas (3 ha or 8%) don’t fit the “we would lay out as park and pleasure-ground scenery … natural-looking scenes”. Sadly, parking areas are irresistible to people who travel primarily by car and are involved in decision making, but they are not good for “plants, trees, shrubs which would grow in the open air”.

To finish I’ll have a short rant.

Every new enclosure within the green belt involves the infringement of somebody’s personal liberty, in a reverse way. Here it’s not entirely a question of taking something away from the public. Having paid events and organised sports is good for the city. But the risk to open spaces reappears in the form of ‘fouling our nest’ by needing to pipe away run-off because of large impervious surfaces, starving trees of water, and also creating delays in returning under-used fenced spaces to open public use.