Great di­vide over traf­fic lights

Plans are afoot to im­prove safety at the in­ter­sec­tion of Ta­maki Drive and Ngapipi Rd. Auck­land Trans­port favours in­stalling a set of traf­fic lights. Reporter Karina Abadia asked res­i­dents what they think.

Auckland City Harbour News - - NEWS -

One of the city’s most dan­ger­ous in­ter­sec­tions is to be fixed but opin­ion is di­vided over whether in­stalling traf­fic lights is the best way to make it safer.

The Ta­maki Drive and Ngapipi Rd in­ter­sec­tion is con­sid­ered one of the top 10 high-risk in­ter­sec­tions in the Auck­land re­gion.

Thirty-one crashes have been recorded at the no­to­ri­ous site in the past five years with 25 re­sult­ing in in­jury.

The in­ter­sec­tion is up for safety im­prove­ments as part of the gov­ern­ment’s Safer Jour­neys Ac­tion Plan which aims to iden­tify and fix at least 30 of the 100 high­est risk in­ter­sec­tions by Septem­ber 2014.

Auck­land Trans­port has put for­ward two op­tions – in­stalling lights or adding a round­about – but has ex­pressed a pref­er­ence for lights.

Ve­hi­cle counts in Septem­ber 2012 on both the Ngapipi Rd and Ta­maki Drive ci­ty­bound ap­proaches showed morn­ing traf­fic flows were sim­i­lar, with 2747 ve­hi­cles on Ta­maki Drive and 2693 turn­ing left from Ngapipi Rd onto Ta­maki Drive.

‘‘Traf­fic lights have the ben­e­fit of be­ing mon­i­tored and phas­ing timings can be changed to op­ti­mise in­ter­sec­tion ef­fi­ciency, or in re­sponse to other events on the net­work,’’ Auck­land Trans­port road safety man­ager Karen Hay says.

Ta­maki Drive Pro­tec­tion So­ci­ety chair­man Ken Palmer agrees.

‘‘I don’t think it will hin­der the traf­fic flow into the city,’’ he says.

It is bet­ter to let the traf­fic queue up a bit and then have a traf­fic light phase where the queue gets cleared, he says.

With the round­about op­tion the ci­ty­bound traf­fic will back up on Ta­maki Drive be­cause driv­ers will have to give way to oth­ers turn­ing right onto Ngapipi Rd.

Only the traf­fic light op­tion pro­vides pedes­trian cross­ings and cy­cle lanes.

‘‘[Hav­ing] cy­clists on a busy round­about is pretty risky. Just take the Pan­mure round­about; it’s al­most a death-wish to cy­cle around there,’’ Mr Palmer says.

So­ci­ety mem­ber Dr Peter Har­wood says a round­about will not change the fact the Ngapipi bridge is a real pinch-point for cy­clists.

He sug­gests pro­vid­ing more space for pedes­tri­ans and cy­clists with an ex­ten­sion of the board­walk from Me­chan­ics Bay to Mis­sion Bay to sep­a­rate the foot­path from a ded­i­cated cy­cle­way.

But St He­liers res­i­dent Robert John­ston says a round­about would be safer for mo­torists.

‘‘Peo­ple have to slow down for a round­about and if there is an ac­ci­dent it’s likely to be at a lot less ve­loc­ity than if it oc­curs at a traf­fic light in­ter­sec­tion.’’

It is also bet­ter for the en­vi­ron­ment, he says.

‘‘With traf­fic lights ve­hi­cles are sit­ting there idling which must in­her­ently pro­duce more pol­lu­tion than when ve­hi­cles are ac­tu­ally able to move.’’

Mis­sion Bay res­i­dent John Coutts also supports the round­about op­tion.

‘‘It is very dif­fi­cult for driv­ers to turn right from Ngapipi Rd on to Ta­maki Drive. With a round­about they would get pri­or­ity over peo­ple head­ing east along Ta­maki Drive.’’

In the morn­ing when ci­ty­bound traf­fic is heavy there is also the op­tion of putting in lights at the round­about, he says.

St He­liers-Glen­dowie res­i­dents as­so­ci­a­tion chair­man Keith Sa­vory says Auck­land Trans­port al­ready seems to have made up its mind and has not of­fered suf­fi­cient in­for­ma­tion to help res­i­dents make an in­formed de­ci­sion.

Photo: KARINA ABADIA

Pro lights: Ta­maki Drive Pro­tec­tion So­ci­ety chair­man Ken Palmer and com­mit­tee mem­ber Dr Peter Har­wood sup­port the pro­posal to add lights at the in­ter­sec­tion of Ta­maki Drive and Ngapipi Rd.

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