Category Archives: Roading

Post card from Axenstrasse

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The Axenstrasse is one of the most beautiful main roads in Central Switzerland. It is about 11km long. “On peak days there are up to 14 000 vehicles” (p1 Ref. 1). It is a two-way road with no structural separation of oncoming traffic. On the days I drove this road, the traffic volumes seemed not too different from the 18km-long SH2 drive between Paeroa and Waihi through the Karangahake Gorge, which has a daily traffic volume (DTV) of 8,374, of which 10% is heavy traffic.

This is a great drive for the passenger. Being the driver, my job was to watch my speed and position in the lane. In Switzerland, as in most places in the world, high traffic volumes are needed to justify the building of expensive, high-speed roads. Page 5 of Ref. 1 below explains why this Swiss road allows oncoming traffic that is not physically separated from the other lane as follows: “a DTV 20,000, a Truck percentage of more than 15 % requires two-tube systems”.

Ref. 1 –

Axenstrasse also has a history of many crashes. “Accident Statistics 1990-2015: 547 traffic accidents (5 deaths, 59 serious injuries, 203 slight injuries, property damage amounting to approximately 5 million Swiss francs)” (p15) .

To benchmark this to New Zealand’s SH2 Karangahake Gorge, this report from  Does anyone have up to date crash numbers?

Here is the postcard, Tellskapelle. Magnificent views of beautiful mountains, lake, and Swiss brown cows with bells.

Switzerland TellskapelleAnd below is another post card, of Morschach. We can see pedestrian crossings on this road; something we don’t see anywhere along SH2 in Karangahake Gorge, even when there are recognized access points and places with high volumes of pedestrians such as the Karangahake rest area and Waikino Tavern.

The first question New Zealanders should be asking our highway engineers is: If the Karangahake Gorge was in Switzerland, would Swiss transport engineers allow pedestrian crossings? – More ped crossing Morschach rest area

Switzerland Morschach

A more serious question is what speed limits would Swiss transport engineers use on a road like SH2 through Karangahake Gorge. NZ highway engineers have set the speed limits at 80kph with advisory speeds of 45 – 55 – 65 kph.

Driving the 11 km between Fluelen and Brunnen the speed limit does not go above 80km/h, and there are no advisory speeds. Where the road is not suitable for 80 kph, the legal speed limit is lowered to 60 km/h for reasonably long distances, making it a less hurried drive. There are also reductions to 50 km/h down to 30 km/h in urban areas, encouraging people to stop and spend locally.

Question: Is the Swiss approach safer? Do New Zealanders believe there is a safety benefit to using advisory speeds as opposed to having lower legal speeds? Does the NZTA Speed management guide allow 60kph speed limits on road like SH2 K Gorge? (p12)

Reference notes

A. Here is a You-Tube drive through CH / Axenstrasse

B. Axenstrasse project web site –

“with up to 14,000 vehicles/day”(p30)

“Two tubes? No, because: – Only from DTV 20,000 required” (p41)

C. Locations of speed signs.

South Bound

80km/h sign motorway Brunnen Nov 2013

Starts – 60/80km/h sign Brunnen Nov 2014

50 km/h sign entering Sisikon Nov 2014

50 km/h sign in Sisiken Nov 2014

60 km/h limit ends sign for south bound traffic Nov 2014

80 km/h signs with 60 km/h signs in tunnel before entering Fluelen – see youtube

60 km/h sign at roundabout Fluelen

80 km/h sign on motor way Fluelen

100 km/h sign on to motorway away from Fluelen

North bound

60 km/h sign on motorway entering Fluelen

60 km/h sign entering Fluelen

80/60 km/h sign entering tunnel leaving Fluelen

60 km/h limit ends sign for north bound traffic north of Fluelen

50 km/h sign Tunnel before entering Sisiken Nov 2014

50 km/h limit ends sign for north bound traffic north of Sisiken

60/80 km/h sign tunnel before Brunnen Nov 2014

Old 80 km/h (& 40 km/h) sign tunnel before Brunnen Oct 2013

100 km/h sign motorway Brunnen Nov 2014

Beerescourt census area bright spots

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Beerescourt is a place divided by a transportation corridor, with very limited places to safely cross as a pedestrian. It is a road that limits contact between the residents east and west of the road. However, it does not appear to have an effect on the type of change we see in the images below.

Beerescourt Pop Change 01-13 beerescourt Age Change 01-13 Beerescourt Income Change 01-13

The mesh block census areas that show positive growth in population and income, and have also attracted younger people between the years 2001 and 2013 include the streets surrounding the high ground of Beerescourt Park on the river side of the Ulster/Te Rapa traffic stream, while on the west side of Ulster St / Te Rapa Rd we have the area around Beerescourt Bowling Cub and Beerescourt tennis club. Hobson Street (photo below), being tree-lined, has an additional attractiveness and desirability.

Hobson St

What makes this area dangerous is having the Ulster St/Te Rapa Rd transport corridor through the centre of it, with bus stops on both sides of the road (which is sensible) but safe crossing places a kilometre apart. There needs to be a change in priorities for pedestrian bus users, to allow people to cross to use the sister bus stop on the opposite side of the road. People naturally try to travel the shortest distance and will attempt to cross at convenient places, sometimes taking risks. This type of risk-taking behaviour is well-known to highway engineers, but often the remedial measures are missing for pedestrians, as discussed in the NZTA report. Safety Implications of Flush Medians in Auckland City: NZTA report 312

Page 80: Pedestrian crashes are likely to increase by about 31% if a flush median is installed on a four-lane road, unless other remedial measures are applied.
Page 35: Installing median islands at regular intervals along the flush median might mitigate this, but the question arises whether it is advisable to leave a gap in the island, which may encourage less mobile people to attempt to cross the road.

Ulster St Bus