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RTF wants bridge, not crossing, on Cobham Drive

News Release – Road Transport Forum
There is insufficient evidence to support a pedestrian crossing and consequent speed reductions on Cobham Drive, the State Highway 1 route to and from Wellington airport, says Road Transport Forum (RTF) chief executive Nick Leggett.

Submissions close this week on Let’s Get Wellington Moving’s proposed crossing on Cobham Drive and lowering of speeds on State Highway 1, east of Mt Victoria. The RTF is part of a group of Wellington businesses and stakeholders frustrated by Let’s Get Wellington Moving’s progress and focus.

“I’ve said before, Let’s Get Wellington Moving is a misnomer and to get things moving, we’ve got to stop slowing things down,” Leggett says.

“This is our main state highway and vital route to Wellington’s airport, we don’t want to see time added to that journey without strong evidence, which is currently missing in action.

“We believe all road users need to operate in an environment where road safety, the impacts of transport on our environment, and the transport of goods by road can co-exist and we proactively participate in central and local government conversations about how this can happen.

“What is concerning is that they talk, but they don’t listen. And they can’t produce sufficient evidence to substantiate significant changes to the roading network that favour cyclists and pedestrians over motorists, and spend vast amounts of rate and tax payer dollars.

“We believe they are talking about spending around $1 million for a raised pedestrian crossing, with lights, for a handful of people who might want to cross this road where they don’t need to. This will disadvantage the 35,000 vehicles that typically use Cobham Drive every day.

“We have seen no cost-benefit analyses to underpin this crossing and we know that a controlled pedestrian crossing will further slow traffic on this vital route – to a stop when the lights are red and to a crawl to get over the raised crossing.

“The guise of road safety can’t be taken to mean safety at any cost and we don’t believe New Zealanders have signed up for that.

“We believe Let’s Get Wellington Moving has missed one critical scenario in its planning, that of doing nothing and maintaining the status quo. It jumped straight to a starting point of delivering a crossing, regardless of justification and cost.

“We urge Let’s Get Wellington Moving to develop and provide a more balanced case on the impacts of this proposal on all parties, and in particular to provide quality data on the economic and social impacts,” Leggett says.

The RTF submission to Let’s Get Wellington Moving is available here.

About Road Transport Forum New Zealand (RTF)

RTF provides unified national representation for several regional trucking associations. RTF members include Road Transport Association NZ, National Road Carriers, and NZ Trucking Association. The affiliated representation of the RTF is about 3,000 individual road transport companies which in turn, operate 16-18,000 trucks involved in road freight transport, as well as companies that provide services allied to road freight transport.

The road freight transport industry employs 32,868 people (2.0% of the workforce), has a gross annual turnover of $6 billion, and transports 93% of the total tonnes of freight moved in New Zealand.

Living Streets supports level crossing across Cobham Drive

16 comments:

  1. Dave B, 26. July 2021, 16:58

    Contrary to Nick Leggett’s claim above, a pedestrian crossing will not “disadvantage the 35,000 vehicles that typically use Cobham Drive every day”. It will delay by up to 30 seconds, only a small proportion of vehicles that happen to get stopped by the periodic pedestrian phase. Also, the proposed raised crossing will only be slightly raised. It is not intended as a speed-hump and it will not reduce traffic “to a crawl”. This is simply scaremongering.

    And if, as Leggett claims, there is only “a handful of people who might want to cross”, then logic suggests that the beg-button will rarely be pressed and vehicles will rarely be delayed. However, I suspect that there will be many more than just a handful of people, thus increasing the justification for this needed facility.

     
  2. Local, 26. July 2021, 18:24

    Nick, people generally do not use pedestrian bridges. If they have to climb (or wheel) up, they prefer to run across the road directly and they do. That will slow the cars down if anything will!

    Living Streets are right. So is traveller. One simple pedestrian crossing is all that is needed. Do we really need to be consulted yet again by LGWM on the obvious? Just get on with it.

     
  3. Robert D, 26. July 2021, 18:28

    And if as stated the numbers (a handful) are correct, where’s the justification for spending $1,000,000? If that cost is correct.

     
  4. Ana, 27. July 2021, 8:49

    The consultation is a faux one, because the choice is for a crossing or not. Surely a proper consultation would have a number of options? The previous consultation was for a bridge but people did not think the bridge was in the right place and the only option was to vote ‘no’ on that occasion as well. Hire some people who know what consultation means.

     
  5. Mike Mellor, 27. July 2021, 13:11

    Ana, this is the first time that there has been consultation on a crossing of Cobham Drive. There has been a petition in favour of a crossing, which in the small print (which many people won’t have read) narrowed this down to a bridge. The results of that petition have been twisted by some, who say it supports a bridge or an underpass over an at-grade crossing. As neither an underpass nor an at-grade crossing are mentioned in the petition, this is clearly unsupported nonsense.

    It is common to consult on a preferred option, which is what LGWM is doing – rightly so, since an at-grade crossing has by far the best benefit/cost ratio. Doing this will make the community as a whole better off. Doing nothing means that things will just continue to get worse; if we build a bridge or a subway we will never get our money back, and the community will be worse off.

    As with any consultation you can say what you like, so you are fully at liberty to support any of the options outlined – but be aware that anything other than LGWM’s preferred option will make the city a poorer place.

    Your choice.

     
  6. Mike Mellor, 27. July 2021, 13:37

    It’s a shame that the RTF doesn’t appear to have read the proposal. If they had, they wouldn’t be making such elementary mistakes as saying:

    * “they can’t produce sufficient evidence to substantiate significant changes to the roading network that favour cyclists and pedestrians over motorists, and spend vast amounts of rate and tax payer dollars” – they have produced the evidence, on their website, for spending what in roading terms is a very small amount of money (for every 50m of its length, Transmission Gully is costing more than the entire cost of this crossing – that’s “vast amounts” for you) to offset to a small extent vehicle dominance here.

    * “for a handful of people who might want to cross this road where they don’t need to” – but they do need to cross it somewhere, and currently there’s nowhere.

    * “We believe all road users need to operate in an environment where road safety, the impacts of transport on our environment, and the transport of goods by road can co-exist” – except, apparently, when those road users want to do something as simple as exercise their legal right to cross the road.

    * “We have seen no cost-benefit analyses to underpin this crossing” – just reading the proposal is an easy fix for this!

    * “We believe Let’s Get Wellington Moving has missed one critical scenario in its planning, that of doing nothing and maintaining the status quo. It jumped straight to a starting point of delivering a crossing, regardless of justification and cost” – this is just plain nonsense, since the benefit/cost analysis that they have missed does all of these things, comparing the proposal with the status quo and including all costs and benefits – and taking all these things into account an at-grade crossing is the best value for money, better than doing nothing and much better than building a bridge.

    If the RTF had taken the trouble to actually read the proposal, they would in fact find that it ticks most of their boxes, the only negative being slight vehicle delays – a small price to pay for a proposal that brings significant benefits to the community as a whole.

     
  7. Claire, 27. July 2021, 14:22

    Mike: Sometimes cost analysis is not all there is… how about the public good. Predetermined choices are consultation that never happens. An overbridge is the obvious choice on Cobham Drive with very gradual ramps.

     
  8. Wellington Commuter, 27. July 2021, 15:56

    “It is common to consult on a preferred option, which is what LGWM is doing – rightly so, since an at-grade crossing has by far the best benefit/cost ratio. Doing this will make the community as a whole better off.” I looked at their consultation page and could not find any detailed analysis report. All I could find was the statement “These requirements mean it would be very expensive (we have estimated it could cost between $10 million and $17 million), and the long ramps mean it would not provide a direct walking and biking route for all journeys. The high cost of an overbridge would not be supported by the additional benefits it would provide, with a benefit-cost ratio below 1, especially compared to the more cost-effective option of a crossing controlled by traffic lights.” If the detailed analysis supporting a lights-based level crossing is so clear, then where is the detailed report? I have come across too many transport projects where the preferred option has “the best benefit cost ratio” but, on closer analysis, I find the figures are cooked to make the preferred option come first.

    Until LGWM adopt a more open and transparent approach to informing the public of their recommendations for transport improvement investments, I will take proposals such as this one with a large pinch of salt.

     
  9. Bill Beale, 27. July 2021, 16:06

    There is of course a crossing at Evans Bay Parade just 600m away, but for what look like being mostly recreational users at the place proposed, a bridge with a gradual slope will be be safer for pedestrians than a crossing, will enable crossing without waiting, and will not impede vehicle traffic on the major airport route.

     
  10. Mike Mellor, 27. July 2021, 21:37

    Claire, Bill: a footbridge with gradual ramps is definitely *not* an obvious choice for the people for whom it’s intended, because ramps take a lot of climbing; because of their length they take people out of their way; and the top of a footbridge will not be a pleasant place to be in the prevailing southerlies. These reasons mean that people will prefer not to use the bridge, and cross the road anyway, at continuing considerable risk.

    It amazes me that people want to spend millions on something that people won’t want to use, when a better, cheaper alternative is available.

    And “just 600m away” means a 1.2km return walk, and I’d certainly be a non-recreational user (not that there’s any indication that users will be mostly recreational, or why that would matter – we don’t differentiate between car trips on that basis).

     
  11. Claire, 27. July 2021, 23:17

    Mike: I doubt people would be going anywhere in a southerly. Traffic fair hoots along there – it’s not the correct place for a cheap crossing.
    Megabucks has been spent on a cycleway that’s hardly used nearby. So let’s get this right and spend the money. Or slow the speed right down and that will be annoying.

     
  12. Wet sponge, 28. July 2021, 9:41

    Claire: great point, when it comes to cycleways it seems money is no object but a bridge is too expensive? Once again the mask slips and reveals the anti-car agenda at play.

     
  13. Mike Mellor, 28. July 2021, 9:56

    Claire, I see multiple people on the cycleway every day, so I’m not sure why you’re saying that it’s hardly used.

    I should have said that it’s the prevailing northerlies that would be the main weather issue, though southerlies would of course not be that pleasant. To suggest that people don’t go anywhere when it’s windy is frankly bizarre, and to spend millions on a facility that would be very unpleasant in the prevailing winds even more so!

    But you’ve put your finger on the real problem – speed. And you ignore the dangerous annoyance, that of not being able to cross the road safely – effectively a wall between Miramar and Seatoun.

     
  14. Dave B, 28. July 2021, 11:09

    Distance between Wellington Road and Calabar Road roundabout = 1300m

    Time taken to traverse this distance at 70Km/h = 67sec
    Time taken to traverse this distance at 60Km/h = 78sec
    Time taken to traverse this distance at 50Km/h = 94sec

    Theoretical time-cost of reducing to 70->60Km/h = 11sec
    Theoretical time cost of reducing to 70->50Km/h = 27sec

    Actual time cost of reducing the speed limit as above is significantly less than this as it is currently not possible to drive the full 1300m at 70Km/h or even 60Km/h (acceleration and deceleration from 50Km/h at either end, plus a roundabout in the middle. And at congested times 70Km/h is also not possible.

    Actual time-cost of reducing 70->50Km/h is probably less than 20sec.

    Reducing the whole of Cobham Drive to 50Km/h would bring significant safety and amenity benefits for an absolutely trivial cost to vehicle-users.

    The time-cost of adding a signalised pedestrian crossing would probably be a max of 30 seconds, only for those vehicles unlucky-enough to get stopped right at the beginning of the pedestrian phase. The majority of vehicles would not get stopped for that long, or would not get stopped at all.

    I see no valid argument against lowering the speed limit and installing the signalised ped crossing.

     
  15. Dave B, 28. July 2021, 11:37

    Dave B – Actually that’s not quite true (critiquing my own comment above). At congested-traffic times, as soon as the pedestrian phase begins, a queue of stopped vehicles would likely build up – possibly extending back into the roundabout. Under these conditions it may not be valid for me to claim that the effects would be minor. However a similar situation currently prevails at the Wellington Road traffic lights and we manage with that somehow.

     
  16. Greenwelly, 28. July 2021, 14:49

    Another unanswered question is would this crossing operate independent of the existing light phases at Evans Bay Parade (totally on demand), or would its phasing coincide with this intersection (pedestrians would be required to wait) – this would have an impact on the extent of delays (of both vehicles/and or pedestrians).