Council Seeks Better Street Design


The North Shore City Council is to be congratulated on the launch of a handbook providing high level, best practice guidance for transport projects.

It focuses on best practice guidance and an integrated approach to transport projects through various departments within territorial authorities.

The introduction points out:

“Delivering better quality places cannot take place without delivering better quality streets.

Unfortunately in New Zealand, as in many other developed nations, the unthinking application of traditional road standards,developed over decades, has tended to cause conflict with good urban design.

Our towns and cities are full of standardised roads and streets that are essentially designed to meet the needs of motorised traffic which – often without the designers intending it – actively discourage people to walk, cycle or take public transport.”

It notes that the UK Government published Manual for Streets in 2007, which for the first time recognised that streets have a value as places and are not simply corridors for movement.

It says that recent experience on busy arterial routes has shown that urban design-led approaches to streets can bring significant road safety and quality of life benefits – the two are not mutually exclusive.

The handbook isn’t a blueprint or a firm set of rules.” Streets have different and more complex issues to be balanced, compared to inter-urban roads; and have to fulfil many functions which are often in competition for limited space or resources.”

The handbook notes Devonport's strong local character

Launching the handbook, North Shore mayor Andrew Williams said that while North Shore City Council has shown the initiative in producing the book, it had regional and national applicability.

It was hoped it would become a valuable reference document for professionals involved in the design and procurement of transport projects, as well as for politicians, developers and communities in the years to come.

Download the handbook here




  1. Steve Withers says:

    It’s good to hear a local Council waking up to their city as a living space. Unfortunately, North Shore City Council’s planning leaves a lot of be desired. Examples of very poor - even broken- urban design are legion. Among them are the many busy interestions with round-abouts that have no cross walks: Target Rd & Sunset, Sunset Rd and east Coast Road….and almost anywhere in Abany or Rosedale. Any pedestrian takes their life in their hands trying to navigate these corridors of moving steel. Bicycle riders are even worse off in many ways as they don’t really have a secure path on the roadway or off it.

    I walk to and from work several times each week. North Shore City most definitely was not built with pedestrians in mind.

  2. ingolfson says:

    Well, they can’t retrofit all in one go. Design of new elements like the intersection works and the Lake Road widening that is just starting south of Esmonde Road appears to be higher spec and more ped & cyclist friendly.

  3. rtc says:

    I think shocking examples can be seen on the newly upgraded Esmonde road which is full of slip lanes which give full priority to cars - there’s not a pedestrian crossing in sight!,+New+Zealand&gl=ch&ei=MbrrS-QU1KE4x9TRqwg&ved=0CCEQ8gEwAA&ll=-36.794698,174.773047&spn=0.00064,0.001116&t=h&z=20

    Furthermore, how is someone supposed to cross Eldon Street - obviously not by foot. This is such a simple thing to retrofit - come back with some orange paint and paint some zebra crossings….yet Auckland is full of streets which completely ignore that people actually use their legs to get around.

  4. ingolfson says:

    Rtc, both the locations which you show DO have pedestrian crossings, the footpaths and even the drop kerbs can clearly be seen. They do NOT have zebra crossings (i.e. pedestrian priority), true.

    However, simply painting zebra crossings on these locations would be the worst you can do, and I would bet you 2 to 1 that we would see INCREASES in pedestrian accidents here. Zebras without associated works make crossings less safe. For them to work here, they would need to be raised crossings (tables).

    That said, I was not talking of Esmonde Road - I agree with you that design of the road IS pretty bad, and more motorway-type than anything.

  5. rtc says:

    Hi ingolfson, both the roads that I have indicated here DO NOT have pedestrian crossings on the two left turn slip lanes. On these lanes, pedestrians have absolutely no priority and have to wait for breaks in the traffic. I do not consider putting a dip into the kerb to be a crossing. If giving priority to pedestrians results in more accidents then this means police need to spend time enforcing the road code which gives pedestrians priority when crossing on a zebra crossing. As it is if a car hits a pedestrian crossing here the pedestrian is at fault because they are walking across an unmarked road, with a pedestian crossing the car driver would be at fault.

    In countries like Switzerland every single intersection has a zebra crossing and none of these are composed of anything more than yellow stripes - I’d say pedestrian vs. car accidents are significantly lower there than in Auckland and NZ.

  6. ingolfson says:

    Rtc, we are having a misunderstanding here - a “pedestrian crossing” does not legally or in traffic engineering practice mean there is any sort of priority for the pedestrian. A pedestrian crossing is a point at which pedestrians are intended to cross - and both the slip lanes have them, clearly indicated by the drop kerbs and the tactile indicators.

    It also isn’t as simple as enforcing the road code against drivers - pedestrians are at fault too (which is why accidents are known to rise after zebra crossings are put in). Even on a zebra you do not have the right to suddenly step on if that would force a motorist travelling at legal speed on the road to come to a screeching, swerving halt three cms away from you (or worse).

    I do agree with you that we need a change in driver behaviour and more pedestrian priority, especially in town centres and residential areas. I do not feel however that pedestrians should be given priority everywhere, and Esmonde Road IS primarily a motorway feeder, so for example OVER it, certainly no zebras. On the side roads you discussed, zebras might be considered, but you cannot simply drop your hat on the ground and say “lets do this” when the change will kill people (people who had priority while being hit are still dead). So here and now, in NZ in 2010, you cannot simply mark zebras everywhere - they need to be backed up by measures like raised crossings or slow speed zones.

  7. Su Yin Khoo says:

    Igolfson, I think that motorists are *supposed* to slow down when approaching zebra crossings and be ready to stop for people—especially kids—crossing.

  8. ingolfson says:

    Yes, Su Yin, they are. But if a guys stands close enough to a pedestrian crossing and then spends the time talking to his friends, and suddenly turns around and steps onto the crossing, even careful driving may not save him. Neither will he be “in the right” if he literally RUNS onto the crossing.

    If one was able to look at all vehicle-pedestrian accidents in New Zealand with some sort of omniscience, I feel that you would probably see that the fault for them is shared pretty well among the pedestrians AND the drivers AND the traffic engineers, rather than just among the drivers.

    The wider point I am making is that paint doesn’t change a traffic environment alone. You need more.

  9. Jeremy Harris says:

    NY has a guidebook for street design that is simply excellent and should be stolen (which NYC actually encourages) and adopted NZ wide…

    Great to see the first steps to this here…


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