Pedestrians and the flyover

by Ellen Blake
Pedestrians are the transport system users who spend the most time travelling through the Basin Reserve… The transport effects and impact of the Basin Flyover project will be most keenly felt by pedestrians. Living Streets opposes the proposal in its entirety.

We do not believe it’s a necessary project to improve the walkability in this area, or that it will provide a better more pleasant pedestrian environment. But, in the event that the Board supports the proposal we have gone through what it would mean and what we suggest …

… The New Zealand Pedestrian Planning and Design Guide (published in 2007 by Land Transport New Zealand) recommends a structured process to provide for pedestrians within a road corridor, when pedestrians already walk or wish to walk within a deficient road corridor. The hierarchy for considering solutions puts providing new pedestrian route alignment and greater separation as the first choice.

We are not aware that any other option was considered in this area for pedestrians. The pedestrian assessment provided a one day count of pedestrians in 2009 and a three day survey of pedestrians in 2012 and from this pedestrian routes were assumed and it doesn’t appear that destinations were surveyed.

And the increase in the pedestrians seems to be largely based on population growth … The picture provided by the project “Pedestrian Assessment” does not show the level of pedestrian activity or the future possibility clearly or the attractiveness of walk routes, nor is there a study of the current footpath level of service…

The guide to undertaking the community street review is 2010, as seen on the New Zealand Transport Agency website as a suitable way to assess pedestrian needs. Specialist witness Andy Smith noted that the nature of the walkers has not been fully considered in the report. He noted that this area has an unusual mix of users including children accessing a number of schools, commuters and walkers seeking to access the Basin Reserve itself.

So we don’t know the pedestrian travel time through the area, the condition of the footpaths, how long the crossing wait times are, how long the cross time is, or the adequacy of current lighting, etcetera. And they all contribute to a good level of service for pedestrians. And because we don’t know, it would be impossible to determine what a construction or post-construction level of service is and if it is changed from the current.

There has been no analysis of bus passenger and pedestrian interactions even though we know that there has been an issue at the bus stop on Adelaide Road. The analysis is forever lumping pedestrians and cyclists together as a single group which is unhelpful. Walking and cycling have quite different behaviours and needs and use different parts of the road and to improve mode share for either mode, a separate
analysis is required, it is the minimum required.

The pedestrian counts showed high numbers of pedestrians in the area, so we know that it is a well-used place, yet it is difficult from the assessment to see why any of the proposals were made. It seems that the Abley peer review supports our position by stating that there is too much uncertainty surrounding future predictions of walking demand. Detailed modelling is required. I have read somewhere that there seems to be an origin destination survey being done for
pedestrians but I haven’t seen any data on that.

The extensive amount of modelling of vehicle patterns around the Basin has been considered inadequate and not providing a useful picture of vehicle issues and causes, yet the key outcomes of the project are not all about private vehicle use either and there is even less information on other modes….

Technical report 4 stated that “No footpaths will be removed in this project area”, yet the western side footpaths are all removed as are the eastern side Basin Reserve footpaths and also the north – western corner of Buckle Street and these are going to be downgraded to shared paths.

Now, a shared path with cyclists is clearly a reduction in level of service for
pedestrians and hence in walkability … The Pedestrian Design Guide describes the advantages of shared paths as mostly accruing to cyclists and that shared paths are
generally proposed with cyclists in mind. The only benefit for pedestrians is if a facility would not otherwise be built, which was the rationale for putting the pedestrian – cycle bridge on to the flyover. Consideration of shared paths is only
recommended where the combined flow of pedestrians and cyclists is light, that is 200 users an hour, and the Design Guide goes on to list the disadvantages for pedestrians, which are many.

he different speed of pedestrians and cyclists lead to inevitable conflict. Some pedestrians, for example, older people feel insecure walking among faster cyclists. More space is required than for a footpath due to the need for a cyclist to pass pedestrians travelling in the same direction. The behaviour of children and pets being overtaken by cyclists is unpredictable, although I would say that the cyclists are the unpredictable ones.

As the volumes of all users increase, conflicts between their needs can
insignificantly affect the quality of provision for both pedestrians and cyclists. (These bits are all from the Pedestrian Guide as well, so it is not me making this one up.) So, most cyclists will not divert from a roadway that provides the faster route, so that shared paths really completely replace the need for onroad provision.

And while segregation by markings or surface treatments reduces the conflicts, users are poor at keeping to their part of the path. Segregated shared paths require considerably more space. So, there is a lot of confusion about pedestrian and cyclist impacts and effects from this project and it is not helpful to combine the two different modes in the assesssment model and forecasting.

There has been no analysis of what is required for an improvement in this area. We believe that much of the potential demand for cycling facilities in this area will come from adult commuter cyclists and those are the users that travel faster than other cyclists and increase the adverse effects noted above and it is therefore totally inappropriate to share footpaths with young walkers.

The Abley peer review says “It is agreed that the new and improved walking and cycling facilities and an environment established by the project is likely to induce considerably more pedestrian and cycling demand”, so it is assumed that numbers of both pedestrians and cyclists will increase, so all those effects of use.

So, the Abley peer review states that it considers the project provides an improvement for pedestrians and cyclists, but then it goes on to note that “recent large observed increases in pedestrian activity in the general vicinity of the project raise some questions over the suitability of the design, of a proposed shared path facility in particular”.

The shared path will not futureproof the transport system in this area and will constrain pedestrian use. Further, an increase in conflicts with cyclists will occur. This project is an opportunity to create a better transport system with proper cyclelanes, footpaths and priority. It is not a chance to solve a cyclist problem by creating a new problem for pedestrians and especially not in this school
dense area with its complex transport flows.

Shared paths are a significant adverse effect and that effect will extend beyond the project area by encouraging cyclists onto footpaths and other areas as we have seen along Karo Drive or the inner city bypass. Along that road the absence of appropriate and required signposting of shared paths contributes to this. This attempt to normalise higher speed vehicle use on footpaths clearly does not consider the present or future needs of pedestrians and walkability.

Living Streets does not support the stopping of footpaths and creation of shared paths anywhere in this high-used pedestrian area and we ask the Board to please reject them.

Ellen Blake is a Mt Victoria resident and a member of Living Streets Aotearoa. This is an extract from the evidence which she gave, on behalf of her organisation, to Day 55 of the Board of Inquiry into the Basin Flyover proposal. A full transcript of her evidence is here.



  1. City Lad, 14. May 2014, 21:56

    Good that pedestrians are being represented. Full marks to the Mt Victoria resident for her comprehensive submission. Bikes and pedestrians don’t mix. And a bike is a vehicle and should be kept separate at all times from folks walking.

  2. Ron Beernink, 15. May 2014, 12:31

    Great, very thorough! I agree that mixing pedestrians and cyclists should be avoided. I can sympathise with the comment that some cyclists can be unpredictable, and that the speed at which some cyclists go can make it a risk for pedestrians. (Particularly if road / sports cyclists will use the shared path on the Bridge).

    One only has to look at the Wellington waterfront by Frank Kitts Park where it’s a daily chaos with some cyclists going too fast, a number of pedestrians being totally oblivious to cyclists (focusing on their mobiles and listening to music), and kids doing what kids do. It is waiting for an accident.

    So yes, the shared pedestrian/cycle path on the bridge leaves a lot to be desired! As the whole proposal does.


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