Wellington Scoop

Crossing Cobham Drive


by Ellen Blake of Living Streets Aotearoa
I’m asking for your support of the Let’s Get Wellington Moving proposal for a new pedestrian crossing along Cobham Drive in Wellington near the airport, and for safer speeds along State Highway 1, also known as Ruahine St, Cobham Drive and Calabar Street.

This route passes through and near to Hataitai, Kilbirnie, Evans Bay, Miramar and Strathmore. These busy high speed roads cause significant severance for the adjoining suburbs, preventing safe or pleasant access to the Town Belt, the shops and the beach. The proposed crossing and safer speed limit is a step forward to address these issues.

We support improvements that will make a more pleasant walk along Calabar Road, Cobham Drive and Ruahine Street and which will make this stretch of road safer for everyone. Surprisingly there are some people who do not agree with this, and want to maintain the car-dominated high-speed environment despite the supporting LGWM reports indicating there will be minimal impact on travel time on this route.

Please have your say today at LGWM – https://lgwm.nz/sh1safety/. Submissions close on Wednesday 28 July.

Here are the highlights from the Living Streets Aotearoa submission.

Internationally 30km/h speed limits are seen as desirable for safer urban roads to minimise trauma caused by road crashes, while most Wellington roads are at 50km/h, 20km/h faster than this safer speed.

As noted in the Case for Change report, there is significant severance for the communities in this area from their daily and desired routes. There is only one small section of this route that is even considered safe at 60km/h and that does not account for increased use by pedestrians and other more vulnerable road users. For this reason we recommend a continuous 50km/h safer speed limit for the entire route consistent with most of the rest of urban Wellington.

Living Streets Aotearoa strongly support an at-grade (road level) crossing of Cobham Drive. We support this proposal in particular because of the speed and ease of implementation so it will get done soon.

We do NOT support a crossing that diverts pedestrians from the road surface and walking desire line via an underpass or bridge, neither of which are suitable at this site. One of our members has written to us to ask:

Speaking up for older people and also those with mobility problems and disabilities, I think that a pedestrian bridge is not a good idea, given the large number of steps you mention. Perhaps you could get a few words in for these groups of pedestrians.

We strongly support this proposal, and believe it could be even better with our recommended changes above. The positive benefits will be transformational for people wanting to walk and avoid the need to drive between Miramar shops, the ASB Sports Centre or Kilbirnie, and far outweigh any negative effects.

As the Ministry of Transport has noted, pedestrians [and cyclists] are legally entitled to be on the road. Motorists have a duty to pay for the facilities needed to keep them safe from motor vehicles.

Ellen Blake is Kaituitui a Whanganui a Tara – Living Streets Aotearoa

Read also:
Transport Forum wants a bridge, opposes a crossing


  1. Brown Baggin It, 26. July 2021, 9:54

    Which beach would people be accessing with this crossing? Anyone who has travelled along the Kapiti expressway (also SH1) will have noticed the pedestrian/cycling bridges as part of this project and I don’t see anyone complaining that they are too difficult to navigate. Why can’t we have the same over this part of SH1? “Motorists have a duty to pay for the facilities needed to keep them safe from motor vehicles??” Sounds like Trump’s wall that Mexico supposedly had a duty to pay for. How about the NZTA do the best thing instead of the cheapest.

  2. TrevorH, 26. July 2021, 13:22

    I am normally sympathetic to Living Streets but the proposal for a pedestrian crossing in the middle of Cobham Drive is dangerous. If an overbridge or tunnel are not suitable for those with mobility issues (who might also find severe difficulty using a pedestrian crossing in the extreme winds that buffet the area), why not construct a raised, covered walkway serviced by elevators either side? Let’s build for the future, not do what is cheapest and invariably satisfies no-one.

  3. Greenwelly, 26. July 2021, 14:32

    “given the large number of steps you mention”. What have Living streets being telling their supporters about any potential bridge? If a bridge was developed, it’s certainly going to be built with ramps, not steps. Living Streets are not happy with a bridge or underpass as it would divert from desire lines. But the current proposal does this in spades with a huge dog leg, marooning pedestrians and forcing them to push more beg buttons to continue their journey …. If we are forced to have a crossing make it as simple and quick as possible – straight across in one go.

  4. Dave B, 26. July 2021, 16:18

    Totally support this. Reduce speed limit to 50Km/h on Cobham Drive and install a signalised pedestrian. This should be straight across both carriageways with all traffic stopping during the pedestrian phase – not staggered and in two halves as per image above.
    The additional cost of installing a bridge or an underpass just to save motor traffic having to stop for up to 30 seconds periodically, is very hard to justify.

  5. Ian Apperley, 26. July 2021, 18:32
  6. Dave B, 26. July 2021, 21:27

    Ian Apperley. Interesting article you referenced above. However it relates specifically to pedestrians crossing at traffic-light controlled intersections, not at mid-block crossings such as the Cobham Drive one will be. The article mentions that the problem worsens as intersections become more complex with multiple approach roads. It also states that danger for pedestrians worsens when signallised intersections are far-apart, and that “more pedestrian crosswalks with signals at closer intervals may be needed on some streets”. This article is not really applicable to the Cobham Drive situation.

  7. Henry Filth, 27. July 2021, 5:16

    Why choose the most disruptive option for every group of potential users?

    A well-designed, well-sited over bridge, mimicking the form and function of a roundabout, with access by ramps, lifts, and stairs, please. Something positive, where pedestrians aren’t pitted against cyclists pitted against disabled access pitted against drivers. Surely the planners, architects, and engineers can come up with something better suited to the issue than a light-controlled pedestrian crossing

  8. Patrick Morgan, 27. July 2021, 9:23

    Here’s our guide. We support the planned crossing, and ask for some design improvements.

  9. TrevorH, 27. July 2021, 10:39

    Henry Filth: LGWM and the Council are marching to the beat of a different drum which is to make life as difficult as possible for car users. Ideology trumps common sense again.

  10. nemo, 27. July 2021, 11:07

    Not getting any support from me on this one Ellen Blake. Their proposed ground level pedestrian crossing is a rubbish design which will be hated by vehicle drivers and cyclists. Any enforced pause here is unnecessary when a well designed ramp and bridge would enable continuous movement from one side of Cobham Drive to the other, while also not causing road rage from irate drivers. Why choose a design which NZTA and LGWM readily acknowledge will only reduce traffic accidents by half, instead of choosing a design system that could eliminate accidents completely? Vote for something that saves the day: a bridge, with ramps.

  11. Rubber glove, 27. July 2021, 12:16

    TrevorH. I think you’ve found the real motivation for this, another way to further infuriate motorists in the vain hope it will make them give up their vehicles. You only need look at the supporters of the proposal to come to this conclusion. News flash – it won’t work.

  12. Local, 27. July 2021, 12:41

    Nah Nemo. People will just run across the road if there is a bridge and ramp. Eliminate accidents completely? You must be joking. I agree with you that their proposed design is expensive rubbish … They should just paint some zebra lines and get on with it. Every driver understands a zebra crossing. So do pedestrians. Then, spend the money left over, on a cycleway near you.

  13. Dave B, 27. July 2021, 13:22

    Unbelievable. Such hostility to the basic concept of allowing people to safely cross a road, as is provided-for all over the place. Why not advocate a pedestrian over-bridge at every crossing-point if it is so vital here? Or admit that this would be over-the-top (pardon the pun). The time to do this would be if the route ever gets made into an official motorway, which hopefully it won’t.
    In the meantime it remains a local access road, no different from Wellington Road a few hundred metres to the west which carries largely the same traffic, and which also has traffic lights and pedestrian-crossings.
    The speed limit on Cobham Drive also needs reducing to match that at Wellington Road.

  14. Chris Calvi-Freeman, 27. July 2021, 15:27

    Four possible solutions:
    Lights: relatively cheap; minimal delays to traffic as not many peds.
    Overbridge: very expensive; some peds won’t use.
    Subway: as for overbridge.
    Bring road up over an at-grade ped subway: best solution but hellishly expensive: therefore unjustifiable

  15. Wellington Inc, 27. July 2021, 15:53

    LGWM has lost all remaining credibility with this. Agree with Trevor H and others re their motivation and the polarisation it will cause. This road is too busy for a press-button pedestrian crossing and a bridge/ramp or tunnel is easily justified. A crossing will be bad for pedestrians and cyclists as well as disruptive for motorists. It will be unsafe if impatient and jaywalking pedestrians cross carelessly. People won’t run across this road to avoid a climb just as they don’t currently. It’s too busy.

  16. Dave B, 27. July 2021, 18:42

    Wellington Inc, If the road is “too busy for a press-button pedestrian crossing”, then it is also too busy for the traffic-light controlled intersections at Evans Bay Parade and Kilbirnie Crescent, and should therefore be made into a full motorway with grade-separated-everything and proper on- and off-ramps. That way, motorists could whizz along unimpeded and save maybe a couple of minutes to the airport.

    But wait, haven’t a majority of Wellingtonians roundly rejected “4 lanes to the planes” by their election of councillors who opposed this? Isn’t LGWM proposing a mass-transit solution which should make Cobham Drive less-busy and less-needful of being turned into a motorway? So why advocate a motorway-style solution for this one particular pedestrian crossing?

  17. Mike Mellor, 27. July 2021, 21:44

    Wellington Inc: “People won’t run across this road to avoid a climb just as they don’t currently”, but in the real world they will, just as they do now, as can clearly be seen from the well-worn paths across the central reservation. Unfortunately, not all of them make it.

  18. Local, 27. July 2021, 21:54

    Ah now here’s a solution: light rail to the airport and an airport bus … that would cut down many of the ‘busy cars’ that some of you think we need to plan around.
    I can’t believe that a pedestrian crossing can cause so much angst and cost so many dollars and so much time wasting.
    As for Wellington Inc “People won’t run across the road to avoid a climb just as they don’t currently”. They do run across the road now and one person was killed there; and they do on Jervois Quay to avoid a climb across that bridge.

  19. Ellen Blake, 27. July 2021, 23:39

    Brown Baggin – this will provide better access to Evans Bay, the closest beach for Kilbirnie people and seriously underused.

    Ian Apperley – Selective quoting “On major roadways, nonsignalized intersections are also problematic, Hu said. Wide roadways . . ”

    Currently those that can run across this road. An at-grade or road level signallised pedestrian crossing provides the most accessible option for all pedestrians.

  20. Hessian sack, 28. July 2021, 9:46

    If I lived in Kilbirnie and wanted to go to a beach, I think I’d visit Lyall Bay. To all the people saying no one would use a bridge because they’re too lazy to walk up it, if they’re that lazy and impatient they’ll push the beg button and then run across the road while they are waiting for the lights to change. Then cars will be stopped at a red light with no one crossing. Also I thought we were encouraging exercise, so what’s wrong with walking or cycling a few hundred extra metres to the existing crossing?

  21. ThankYouDriver, 28. July 2021, 10:39

    This is a great change, make it happen! Reducing the speed is good as well. If you’re rushing to the airport, you’ve probably left it too late.

    However, will the planners listen to our feedback? They seem to do the opposite of what people want.

  22. Dave B, 28. July 2021, 11:18

    Hessian sack, interesting argument about the exercise-benefits of forcing people to walk or cycle significantly further than they need to. But just think: there would be far greater exercise-benefits if we forced all vehicle-users to stop driving and walk or cycle instead. Why should only those who already walk or cycle be forced to exercise more?

  23. John Rankin, 28. July 2021, 11:38

    Chris Calvi-Freeman: Lower Cobham Drive under an at-grade pedestrian crossing, like the Arras Tunnel but shorter. Avoids delay and inconvenience to both drivers and people on foot and bike. Not sure the benefit would justify the cost, but would be my second preference, after traffic lights as LGWM proposes.

  24. Hessian sack, 28. July 2021, 12:38

    Dave B – because they’re the ones who keep using the exercise excuse as reason we should all be cycling. Lead by example I say.

  25. Mike Mellor, 28. July 2021, 15:14

    Hessian sack: we should all be walking, cycling or using public transport more in order to reduce our carbon emissions (this is getting more urgent), to reduce congestion, and to reduce overall costs to society (the private car is the most inefficient user of urban roadspace). Exercise is a very good consequence – but it’s just one reason.

    Calling people who are already walking or cycling “lazy” is an interesting way of describing them: how do you describe people who choose not to take this exercise?

  26. Henry Filth, 28. July 2021, 16:40

    Surely it can’t be beyond the abilities of the planners, architects and engineers to come up with a proposal where everybody wins, nobody is inconvenienced, and nobody has to wait for anyone else.

  27. Ray Chung, 28. July 2021, 20:34

    Just wondering, have any of the Eastern ward councillors considered what the residents there want?

  28. TrevorH, 28. July 2021, 20:56

    Ray Chung: I doubt it very much. We never hear from any of them. It’s time to reestablish the Eastern Suburbs as an independent borough. Our interests are not being represented or considered in the WCC.

  29. Peter S, 28. July 2021, 22:01

    Henry Filth, only in Neverneverland would there be a situation where “everybody wins, nobody is inconvenienced, and nobody has to wait for anyone else”. There would be bridges and underpasses at every intersection in the land and roads would magically expand and contract as the amount of traffic varied. And there would be no cost to ratepayers and taxpayers, because money grows on trees.
    Back in the real world, people who don’t use cars will finally have a safe option to get between Miramar and Kilbirnie. But all the pro-road people are catastrophising the situation because it might take them a few seconds longer to get to the next set of lights.

  30. John Rankin, 29. July 2021, 9:22

    Henry Filth and Peter S: lowering Cobham Drive under an at-grade pedestrian crossing, like the Arras Tunnel at Pukeahu but shorter, would be a solution where “everybody wins, nobody is inconvenienced, and nobody has to wait for anyone else”. Whether the benefit would be worth the additional cost is a decision well above my pay grade. I tend to stand in the same real world as Peter. Start with a light-controlled pedestrian crossing and if the catastrophists are proved correct, build a traffic underpass. I agree with Ellen Blake and “do not support a crossing that diverts pedestrians from the road surface and walking desire line via an underpass or bridge”.

  31. John P, 29. July 2021, 9:40

    I am
    pro pedestrian access
    pro cycle lanes
    pro public transport
    pro light rail
    and very much pro a well-designed bridge, build it and make sure you future proof it by leaving room for the light rail to fit under it. This will at least maintain the already constricted current transport flows while better public transport options are introduced. It needs to be considered this is the only viable route servicing the airport and the growing eastern suburbs, ignoring this or wishing away this fact will not work.
    Unfortunately it appears all this discussion is pointless as the ‘consultation’ appears to be limited to what colour would you like the buttons to be on the pedestrian crossing.
    I despair…..

  32. greenwelly, 29. July 2021, 15:41

    John P. Light rail is going nowhere near this part of Cobham Drive

    IF it eventually goes to Miramar and the Airport, and by recent reports that’s a big IF… it will go down Rongotai Road… and only swing onto Cobham drive east of the ASB sports centre.

  33. Dave B, 29. July 2021, 17:02

    John P, if at some stage in the future a bridge is considered necessary, I am sure that the presence of a ground level pedestrian crossing installed back in the early 2020’s will not be an impediment. But surely for the time being, the proposed pedestrian crossing is the best and quickest expedient.

  34. John P, 29. July 2021, 19:14

    greenwelly. Apologies – was not suggesting the bridge would be in same location as proposed pedestrian crossing, I had also not realised that route planning was so advanced.
    Dave B. It would appear that some people consider the bridge necessary (or at least very desirable) now.
    Transport to and from the airport and eastern suburbs is barely working at times and is steadily getting worse, this has a cost both financially and environmentally. Increased housing density + new developments such as Shelly Bay & Mt Crawford will only exacerbate things. To address this we need improved public transport, better cycle and pedestrian access, better ideas, better planning. Rather than being ‘consulted’ on a series of unconnected cheapest expedients which appear unlikely to fix anything or end up being cheap I would love to see an overarching aspirational master plan showing a future goal state and then a planned series of steps required to eventually get us there. I absolutely understand this wouldn’t happen overnight and may need some tweaks over time. I had sort of hoped LGWM might be the agency to provide this but instead I am left with helping choose what colour buttons I get to push – as I say I despair…..

  35. Dave B, 30. July 2021, 0:38

    John P, I agree we need so many things to be improved and an “overarching aspirational master plan” would be a great help, but as we are painfully aware, this is unlikely all to happen quickly. Meanwhile, people need to cross Cobham Drive, and it seems to some of us that the objections raised by others of us to a simple signallised pedestrian crossing are based on fallacious arguments. I won’t go over it all again.

  36. Henry Filth, 30. July 2021, 4:31

    Re beach access, where is Evan’s Bay beach? I can place Hataitai beach, but not Evan’s Bay – unless it’s the strips of gravel along the west coast of Miramar? And doesnt Kilbirnie go to Lyall Bay anyway? Puzzled. . .

  37. Stephen Moore, 3. August 2021, 13:23

    What a brilliant LGWM idea.
    – Ask pedestrians to wait in the cycle lane and where highspeed bikes risk crashing into them
    – Position crossing not in the direct walking route between Miramar and Kilbirnie (that’s in front of airport) so a detour is required.
    – Position the crossing close the the existing crossing at St Pats.
    – Undertake public consultation and when pointed out the level of public opposition state that consultation is not a vote and will ignore the outcome.

  38. Greg B, 28. August 2021, 12:53

    How embarrassing that our erstwhile business ‘leaders’ cannot get their collective heads around the need for a safe pedestrian crossing. It’ll literally add a few seconds to only some journeys. [via twitter]