DCC staff consider cost of Barnes Dance conversion

Sue BidrosePedestrians will not be dancing across Dunedin's intersections anytime soon, after Dunedin City Council staff baulked at the cost.

Council staff had been asked to consider converting six signal-controlled intersections along Princes and George Sts to Barnes Dance crossings.

Barnes Dance crossings stopped all vehicles and allowed pedestrians to cross in any direction instead, and calls to investigate the idea had come from two speakers at a recent council public forum.

However, council strategy and development general manager Sue Bidrose said staff had investigated the idea several years ago, and concluded traffic congestion that resulted would make the main streets "unworkable".

"At the moment you have two phases for each set of traffic lights . . . once you get a Barnes Dance you have a three-phase set of lights.

"It holds up the traffic quite markedly."

Cost was also an issue, with a "back of an envelope" estimate suggesting it would cost $80,000 to conduct a new detailed investigation of the idea, including traffic modelling work, she said.

It would also cost a further $20,000 to change markings and signal phases at each intersection, she said.

That meant the total cost could rise to $200,000, if six major intersections were changed between Cargills Corner, in South Dunedin, along Princes St and George St, to the Pitt St intersection, she said.

"Nobody would do that because it would be a waste of money," she said.

Instead, council staff would consider possible improvement options - including a Barnes Dance crossing - for Cargills Corner over the next few months, as part of South Dunedin revitalisation work, she said.

Options for other central city intersections would be considered as council staff looked at various ways of improving inner city traffic flows, as part of work on a new central city strategy already under way, she said.

That project would continue for the next few years, identifying short and long-term projects, but it was not yet clear when Barnes Dances would be considered, council city development manager Anna Johnson said.




Barnes Dance costings

You can make a canny guess at where a council functionary stands regarding any project:  the estimated costings presented to public and coucillors are either enormously high or unrealistically low. 

Now, just for a moment look at one can-do approach to reintroducing the highly pedestrian-friendly Barnes Dance instead of the can't-do version promoted by Ms Bidrose.  First, consider - and here, I mean policy which is a matter for our elected representatives, not staff - whether the priorities are a gradual discouragement of having the centre of the city dominated by private cars or not.

It is people who spend money, not cars. People walk into shops and buy stuff.  People make the retail area lively and appealing.  Who wants to spend time in a town centre where hardly anyone else is around and there's no buzz?  Who wants to be delayed at every corner, sometimes twice?

If the mouth-work about using buses is not empty pseudo-eco-babble then proceed to the next step which I propose here.  Don't hire yet another expensive consultant, just do it.  At one intersection - just one.  Find out from practical observation precisely how it works here, now, in Dunedin, not in some theoretical model. [Abridged]

Cuts : Nose : Face

This is just a blatant illustration of the degree of cost cutting happening within the council.   No reflection on Ms Bidrose or Johnson, they're just doing what they're told.  God forbid, they should be seen to be making a difference or using their initiative.

Some people will approve of the narrow mindedness I'm sure.  Other people will see the bigger picture and realise that in the current climate, Dunedin's long term competitiveness as a city will continue to be undermined by this kind of short sightedness.

Doesn't sound like very much money

When you spend $200,000,000.00 on a stadium the majority of people don't want and then tell that same majority that they can't have something small because it's all been spent, that's a bit rude.

Right hand rule

Surely the upcoming change to the right turning rule is going to cause traffic chaos and gridlock on George St anyway - there's bound to be a need to ban right turns and re-stripe the right turning lanes away or to change the lights to include right turning phases and during that process trialling a barnes dance should be easy and cheap.

Instead it may be time to work hard to get traffic to use Gt King and Filleul streets instead and give pedestrians a little more ease of use and safety - remember that while only some of us drive cars, all of us are pedestrians and should be treated equally.

Déjà vu

Barnes Dances well now what could you say about that?

Mmm déjà vu comes to mind!

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