14 Jun 2021

Poor pedestrian crossing design a danger in Auckland CBD

From Checkpoint, 5:53 pm on 14 June 2021

The CBD is home to nearly 40,000 people, but moving around the area by foot is not always the fastest. 

Auckland is no stranger to traffic, especially in the CBD, so we are encouraged to ditch our cars and walk. 

But how efficient is it really to get across town on our own two feet?

RNZ reporter Louise Ternouth and video journalist Sam Rillstone put this to the test on the corner of Cook and Vincent Street and walked back to the office to see how long it took and how many crossings were along the way. 

With no straight crossing across the road, it took nearly five minutes to get from one side of the road to the other - across three sets of lights. 

It was causing huge frustration for pedestrians RNZ spoke to and businesses along the street echoed this concern. 

Wahlee from Wahlee Co on Hobson Street did not mince his words when asked about the traffic light crossing at the end of the street.  

"Makes my face twitch you know, from our point of view it's one of the highest densities of people in New Zealand here with all these flats, and to cross the street is very difficult."

They often needed to get supplies from across the road themselves. 

"We go up to the lights and go across and back around you know or down the road it's a bit of a circuit, but that's what you have to do because it's safer and you have a trolley anyway so you're pushing things," Wahlee said.

Some people were so frustrated they were taking risks. 

He admitted sometimes - he did it too.  

"Once my dad and I were looking at this lady and we were worried because we thought she was playing chicken, yes I do, yeah I do it myself." 

It was a similar situation on Symonds Street. 

Reaching one bus stop was a particular challenge - with no direct crossing, pedestrians were sent in a U shape - forced to wait for the green man three times. 

Auckland University population and environmental health professor Alistair Woodward said it was taking a huge toll on pedestrians. 

"It's very stressful but you know it's worse than that last year there were 30 percent more deaths and serious injuries amongst pedestrians than there had been the year before. The wellbeing of pedestrians in the city is a very serious issue." 

And that meant more people hopped in their car due to frustration. 

"We have to shift trips from motor vehicles to other forms of transport," Prof Woodward said. 

Checkpoint took these concerns to Auckland Transport. 

Spokesperson Natalie Polley said they were aware of issues with both the crossings RNZ looked at. 

"So we're definitely looking at Hobson Street and Symonds Street, Symonds is in the connected communities programme which is part of our New North Road improvement corridor. 

"We look at areas that aren't performing as well as they should be [for] our pedestrians, so we're doing the study on Hobson Street that'll look at the feasibility of installing an additional crosswalk at that intersection."

But Auckland Transport could not provide any further details or when pedestrians could expect to see any physical changes begin.