Having read the Dominion Post article (28 August 2021) on the pedestrian crossing debate, I thought that this would be a good topic for this week’s blog.
Bluntly speaking, Let’s Get Wellington Moving (LGWM) is anti-cars and they will do anything to remove cars from the city, no matter what the consequences, or whether their position stacks up. They are refusing to take a holistic approach to the city’s transport woes. In the article quoted above, the three-year programme director Siobhan Proctor has effectively shafted the business community and most Wellingtonians.
Proctor stated, “we know that if you put in bridges there will be a certain number of people who won’t bother using them because they don’t want to climb stairs or a ramp.” Is there any research to substantiate this claim? What percentage of people is she referring too?
If this were true, why was the bridge built over Customhouse Quay joining the Civic Centre and the harbour? This expensive bridge should never have been built by Proctor’s argument. Further, the bridge over State Highway Two joining the carpark and Korokoro is even more extreme than what is being proposed on Cobham Drive. With Proctor’s argument, this bridge never should have been built. Instead, a pedestrian crossing should have been built with traffic lights. Not only because there are those who do not like using stairs or ramps, but the bridge was too expensive to build in the first place.
Proctor also argues that the new crossing would add a 15 second delay to travel. Has she considered the compounding effect such a delay can cause? A cascade effect occurs when you create a delay such as this. Traffic would bank up either side of the lights, causing further delay. It is simple maths. I can vouch for this when I drive into the city from Lower Hutt in rush hour. Missing the green lights firstly at Kelson adds to the trip, which is then compounded at Belmont, and more dramatically at Melling. Green lights at all these points will mean my trip into Wellington at 7:30am could take 28 minutes. Red lights at these points will mean the trip can take anywhere between 45 to 60 minutes. I have calculated that missing each set of lights at Melling adds a minimum of 12 minutes onto my trip into Wellington. As I have previously written, this is a cost to productivity and the economy, additional fuel costs, and of course pollution, as it is known cars idling cause more pollution than when moving at 50 to 80 km/hour.
If cars are stopped at the Cobham Drive pedestrian crossing, the compounding effect would be greater than 15 seconds for one group of people crossing at any point in time. If five minutes later another group use the pedestrian crossing, 15 seconds becomes many minutes as the traffic further back builds up with the same problems as driving into the city from Lower Hutt.
Here are some more examples. One of my squash partner’s lives in Miramar and drives to play in Thorndon on Wednesdays and Saturdays. Recently he told me it took him 45 minutes to get from Miramar to Thorndon to play squash on a Saturday afternoon. With the pedestrian crossing and my calculations, his 45-minute drive could become 50 to 60 minutes to go 10 km. Secondly, I received a response from my last article on this, from one of my readers in Australia and I quote:
“I have to say that being out of Wellington for 8+ years means that I am pretty much unaware of what has been going on but hells teeth, the proposal to reduce the speed limit on Cobham Drive, install another set of traffic lights and a pedestrian crossing is simply beyond belief. It would be absolutely catastrophic and exceedingly dangerous, and what I am conjuring up in my mind is the sheer frustration of people (like me) running late for an outbound flight and having to drop speed and potentially stop to let a pedestrian or cyclist or little old lady cross one of Wellington’s busiest roads. I have driven many times from Auckland city to Auckland airport where there are long stretches or road without any impediment of traffic lights or pedestrian crossings – and where they are located there is a bloody good reason for their existence. And what is the reluctance for creating an overbridge, it seems to be an eminently sensible outcome”.
Proctor has tried to argue that so few people wanting to cross Cobham Drive will not have a material impact on businesses or traffic flow. She fails to accept the fact that much of the pedestrian traffic may also occur in both morning and evening rush hour. Further, people just do not walk along evenly. They come along randomly and in batches. They may not turn up for an hour, but then again, five or six crossings may occur in a few minutes. Imagine the compounding impact that would have at rush hour.
Lastly, Proctor tried to diminish the opposition to this proposal by saying that 74% of submissions came from motorists. This is the point. A Cobham Drive pedestrian crossing will affect most users. I was one of the 3,479 respondents and one of the 56% opposing the crossing (the figures in the Dominion Post do not seem to add up: 56% opposed to 25% – and 43% strongly disagree). Does that mean my submission is irrelevant? She is arrogant and condescending when she states that walking and cycling groups largely prefer a pedestrian crossing, thus completely ignoring the majority. She openly expresses her bias and that of LGWM. As one of my readers wrote, the submission was slanted in its design, and they put it most eloquently when they wrote:
“The thing I find most irritating is the language used in the consultation documentation and the questions you have to answer present the proposal as a fait accompli leaving very little opportunity to counter the proposal or just fundamentally disagree with it. They have already decided this will go ahead and will manipulate the feedback to justify the need to implement”.
In summary, Siobhan Proctor has openly stated LGWM’s position. Regardless of what the majority want, they will proceed with the crossing. They have ignored the business community, and the impact a pedestrian crossing will have on the economy, the environment and travellers. As Nick Leggett has previously stated, they talk a lot and do not listen. We have been ignored, as ideology rules again.