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Vauxhall locals issue go-slow challenge

Flagstaff Team

Pedestrian-friendly… A graphic impression of how a mixed-use zone in Vauxhall Rd could look

Vauxhall residents worried about traffic safety around their neighbourhood shops have come up with a colourful scheme to curb speedsters.

As part of the plan, they want a 20km/h speed limit imposed approaching the junction of Vauxhall Rd and Tainui Rd.

Other “traffic-calming” measures would include raised pedestrian crossings and bright signage painted on the road, with chicanes installed well to the north and south of the shops. A spin-off of the proposed design would be wider pavements, with planting, to enhance the café lifestyle that has emerged around the village hub.

The Vauxhall Neighbourhood Society presented its plan to the Devonport-Takapuna Local Board late last month.

This was prompted because current conditions were “an accident waiting to happen”, Keith Robinson told the board’s community forum. Further impetus for the project came from a serious accident in July, he explained. This involved a car and a skateboarder, and left a young man badly injured. Earlier the same day, a female cyclist had also been knocked over, he later learned from a café owner.

The society’s detailed presentation included designs by local architect Ken Davis.

After hearing it, the board directed the society to Auckland Transport (AT), which makes roading decisions.

Robinson told the Flagstaff later that residents had held concerns about safety for some time. “Every time you go up there to the cafes or for a walk you see a dangerous situation,” he said.

Speeding drivers heading south downhill along the wide, open Vauxhall Rd from Narrow Neck, and those who did not observe stop signs when turning out of Tainui Rd, were particular problems, endangering pedestrians using the crossing at the intersection. Students alighting from buses, cyclists and those on scooters also added to congestion in the area of concern which ran down towards Albert Rd.

Young children were among those at risk, including “free rangers” from the beach heading up for an ice cream or drink from the shop.

Creating a mixed-use zone would make drivers more aware of the need to take care, reckons Robinson, a retired engineer.

He is now seeking a meeting to put the case to AT, armed with examples of other areas where this approach has been adopted.

“There can’t be any higher priority inside Auckland Transport than road safety,” he said.

The society has collated examples of speeding breaches, both from police who have clocked people travelling at 70km/h in a 50km/h zone, and from locals who say sometimes much higher speeds are reached. Shop owners are also keen to see changes.

Drivers routinely underestimated the dangers ahead at the junction, said Robinson. Signage was inadequate and line-of-sight poor. This included from side streets, such as Bond St. Improving all of this would better signal to drivers that they were entering a shared space and should slow down.

Robinson said he and Davis hoped their “conceptual” ideas for Vauxhall would focus the attention of the experts.

They would then want the community to provide feedback to ensure any scheme was fine-tuned to best suit local needs.

The area was getting busier, with more young families moving in, so doing nothing was not an option. But a way forward initially might be to trial temporary calming measures to build acceptance.  

“We’re keen to build up some support behind the concept and see something actually happen,” said Robinson.  

This article originally appeared in the 29 January 2021 edition of the Flagstaff. Read online here.

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