Tagged: roundabouts

Nothing like a little controversy

The Dam

The full council meeting on 19 February 2015 will be discussing the Waimea Community Dam and the use of the CCO. Those with an interest should read the agenda. This should be posted live on Monday (16 February) at http://www.tasman.govt.nz/council/council-meetings/standing-committees-meetings/full-council-meetings/?path=/EDMS/Public/Meetings/FullCouncil/2015.

Speaking of the Dam. There are many sources of crop failure. Drought is one. But it appears climate change is also bringing other extreme weather events that are just as likely to wipe out crops (see http://www.stuff.co.nz/business/farming/cropping/65718201/storm-destroys-central-otago-apples).

Amalgamation?

In the immortal words of the castle, “they’re dreamin” (see https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dik_wnOE4dk)

Amalgamation in 2018? Really?

In my opinion, we need more back room co-operation and synchronisation of operational systems and functions to make it cost effective. Given the experiences of dealing with NCC to date, that won’t happen in the time they have suggested (see http://www.stuff.co.nz/nelson-mail/news/66138524/Plan-for-citys-future-laid-out).

Amalgamation is not a panacea. Empirical research suggests the opposite (http://press.anu.edu.au//agenda/015/01/mobile_devices/ch05s04.html).

Tourism

An assessment of the Economic Development Agency, Nelson Tasman Tourism and Uniquely Nelson is being undertaken by NCC in its long term plan. This could lead to the creation of a single agency with an integrated approach to promoting and growing the city. I think I suggested this in a blog sometime ago and certainly endorse this direction.

Traffic lights and pedestrian crossings

I’ve never been in favour of traffic lights.

Nobody likes to stop. And that makes traffic lights or pedestrian crossings, quite dangerous for people.

In my opinion, roundabouts are more efficient and much safer.

Cars don’t race towards roundabouts, as they do amber traffic lights, and that can only be safer for pedestrians and cyclists.

Plus, with roundabouts, drivers get to self regulate, rather than wait for a pre-programmed computer program to run through its pre-determined light phases, that is unable to know if cars are present or not.

But what if we made pedestrian crossing more fun … could that make them a little safer … https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SB_0vRnkeOk

Freedom camping

I always found the title ” freedom camping” to be a very misleading label, given the attached conditions in the law.

On that note it’s interesting to read about other councils grappling with the same rules and their enforcement (see http://www.odt.co.nz/news/dunedin/332815/call-follow-resort-freedom-campers).

Traffic issues and audits

State highway liaison meeting (21 March)

The traffic liaison meeting was held on 21 March 2014 between the New Zealand Transport Agency (NZTA) and council. The meeting is chaired by the NZTA so an agenda and minutes are not recorded by council (at least I could not find a record anywhere on the council web site).

Of interest to me were two discussions. First, a truck effluent station, to be located on the old scrap metal yard near Three Brothers Corner (see http://www.stuff.co.nz/nelson-mail/news/9426081/Stock-effluent-dump-site-cominghttp://www.stuff.co.nz/nelson-mail/news/8094223/City-to-build-effluent-site-out-in-Hope). And the second, was concerns raised over the efficiency of the Queen St and Gladstone Road intersection.

Apparently the truck effluent station was something Nelson council required, but were unable to find a suitable location. Hira had been suggested but proved unsuitable. An alternative location was explored in Brightwater (next to the stock yards), but apparently the local school held concerns, so this was vetoed. Accordingly, it was considered that the three brothers corner area was the best location as trucks would be coming or going to either the Brightwater or Moutre\Motueka areas. Mock up designs were presented and assurances were given that the projected 10 stops per day would not in any way hinder existing or projected traffic use of the round about. NZTA would also be looking to improve lighting around the intersection and access way to the truck station.

In my opinion, the Gladstone Road traffic lights (on both the Queen St and Oxford St) are a nightmare – the phasing is just wrong. A round about would work so much more efficiently. On this point I also raised ratepayers bewilderment as to why they were prevented (at least officially) from turning up into Queent St from the deviation. I was advised by council staff and NZTA that the Gladstone Road and Queen St traffic management system was being reviewed to make improvements. All parties acknowledged it was not working that well.

I also raised a question over the Oxford St intersection. In my opinion, the Oxford St intersection should also be a round about so that cars can manage their own way out of the petrol station as well as in or out of Oxford St. However, I was advised that the road width could not sustain a round about, so that idea had to be ruled out.  Similarly I think a round about at the Queen St intersection would be much more efficient than the lights. The roundabout in stoke (on the highway bypass) works very well in keeping traffic flowing. The fact a lot of traffic bypasses Gladstone Road’s traffic lights in favour of Hill St or Wensley Road shows the lights are not working.

Audit subcommittee meeting (26 March)

The audit subcommittee meeting was held on 26 March 2014. Cr King and Cr Sangster submitted their apologies. All other councillors (Cr Higgins, C Inglis, and myself) were in attendance.

As the information from the Auditor was considered confidential this meeting was closed to the public. Accordingly I am unable to report much on what was discussed. However, I can say that I came away from the meeting with confidence in our overall performance and reporting. Noting that our debt levels continue to be a major area of concern.

a copy of the agenda and minutes of this meeting can be found at http://www.tasman.govt.nz/council/council-meetings/subcommittee-meetings/audit-subcommittee-meetings/?path=/EDMS/Public/Meetings/AuditSubcommittee/2014/2014-03-26.

 

The case against traffic lights – removing the roads to nowhere

As some of you will be aware, I tend to share my thoughts and musings on topical issues on my “greening tasman” facebook page (see http://www.facebook.com/greeningtasman). However, to ensure others can hear about my thoughts and ideas, I have summarised them below.

A traffic light obsession

Why has there been such a heavy use of traffic lights in Richmond?

Do we have to many traffic engineers looking for work?

The reason I ask these questions is the simple fact that we have a lot of traffic lights in Richmond. So many in fact, they we’re starting to look like parts of Christchurch. Yet, probably the most successful traffic management system Richmond has experienced is the roundabout at the Queen street and Salisbury road intersection. The design has stood the test of time and been incredibly successful and very cost effective. Yet there are rumours of its planned demise and the introduction of traffic lights.

The Queen street roundabout has proven that roundabouts work in Richmond. Given the communities drive for cost savings from council and the roundabouts proven success, I hope we do not waste our money converting it to traffic lights.

It also baffles me why more roundabouts were not introduced further down Salisbury road. Instead, we have more traffic lights, which as the case studies below show, cause more costs and time wastage than they are worth.

In my opinion, we need less traffic lights, not more.

Interestingly, several jurisdictions in North America have instituted policies whereby the feasibility of roundabouts must be evaluated for all new intersections, for existing intersections where traffic signals are warranted, or where capacity or safety problems have been identified. New York State is one example. The Regional Municipality of Waterloo in Ontario, Canada, is another (see http://green.blogs.nytimes.com/2008/12/30/roundabouts-efficient-or-annoying/?_r=0).

Real life case studies

This brings me to the real life case studies against traffic lights. These case studies provide very compelling evidence for not using traffic lights. They show towns with traffic lights and then the effects after their removal. The case studies show improved safety and traffic flow. This is because cars slow down when approaching roundabouts, whereas they tend to speed up to get through traffic lights. Flow is also improved with a good roundabout design as the drivers are best able to self manage the process. As you will see in the cue studies, tacks of cars waiting to move to the next set of lights are removed and travel times actually improve.

The first case study is the regeneration of the small village of Poynton (see http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-vzDDMzq7d0).

The Poynton case study provides a compelling argument for why we should be removing traffic lights and using roundabouts. Especially in areas like the Queen street intersection and along Salisbury road.

Other case studies, for example the village of Portishead, have shown what happens when traffic lights are switched off or temporarily removed (see http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZeryaK22ntw). If all this interests you then check out the theory behind these real life examples above at http://www.equalitystreets.com.

In my opinion, these real life case studies are a lesson for Salisbury road and Gladstone road.