Narrow focus not way to get city road network optimised

Nose-to-tail traffic crawls through central Dunedin. PHOTO: OTAGO DAILY TIMES FILES
Nose-to-tail traffic crawls through central Dunedin. PHOTO: OTAGO DAILY TIMES FILES
Dunedin needs a roading network that makes the best out of what the city offers, writes Dunedin heritage developer Stephen Macknight.

We have been encouraged to provide feedback on a couple of proposals for major changes to our inner-city roading network. I have found this very hard to comment on as there is no real explanations as to why these changes are being proposed, or if they could even work.

When we look at what the network needs to achieve we’d come up with something like:

• Efficient movement of vehicles (both private and public).

• Safety for vehicles, pedestrians and cyclists.

• Enhance the city environment locally and overall.

Does the idea of changing the one-ways to two-ways, one local and one taking the heavy traffic achieve this?

We don’t have the information to know if this can move traffic as efficiently or more efficiently than what we have now, but given the more complexity of movement on a two-way road, and slower speeds, you would have to suspect it could work only if much of the traffic was moved to the enhanced harbourside arterial route.

While this proposal would probably enhance the safety of cyclists, as they would no longer be on a complex cycle lane tacked on the side of a state highway.

However, this is not the ideal place to put a cycle/pedestrian-friendly street, as it is largely a semi-commercial street on the fringe of the CBD. This type of change is already being planned for George St, so why not put the cycle lanes there?

I suspect the main purpose of the changes is to improve the amenity value in the proximity of the new hospital. However, it does not help other areas.

It puts the bulk of the heavy traffic through Railway Station precinct, and along Cumberland St North, through the university.

Unlike the hospital, which will be accessed largely directly by vehicles, these areas have high pedestrian numbers, and should not have their environments degraded as part of any proposed works.

I believe that it essential to look at this work city-wide and it must include vehicle movements, access to sufficient car parks, pedestrians, cycleways, George St, the one-way system, and the connections between these.

I suggest what could make the best of our resources would be:

• Remove the cycleways from the one-ways and use the extra lanes for increased traffic flow, and to provide better resilience when a lane is unavailable due to maintenance work or the like.

• Ensure there is good access to parking for the inner city, hospital and university as directly as possible from the one-ways.

• Create a high quality inner city cycle network that is good enough to encourage people to want to use it. If we are to do anything at all with cycleways, they need to be safe, interconnected and desirable for a wide variety of user groups. The proposed network would be based around George, Princes and Leith Sts, giving University connections. It would also have good east-west connections.

•  Provide a pedestrian-friendly George St, while providing good drop-off, pick-up and disabled access.

• Enhance the harbourside bypass to ensure it takes as much traffic away from the inner city as possible.

•  Investigate putting all SH1 traffic on to Cumberland St south of Queens Gardens, as this is wide enough to take all the traffic in both directions with little disruption, therefore enhancing traffic flows.

While this is simply my version of what could work, we do need an overall plan such as this encompassing all these elements in order to ensure we make the best out of what we have.

I would suggest that now it appears we have Kobus Mentz from Urbanism+ looking at the George St proposal, we should open up the scope of their work to ensure all these aspects are looked at as a whole.

I also suggest we should listen to what they say.

We need to move away from consultation based on narrowly focused user groups, and more towards a common ‘‘good’’ for the general public, both now and into the future, in a sensible and realistic way.

I do believe that most people share surprisingly common vision on what they think this would look like.

Comments

Not hard to see the personal interest here. The one-way system is THE major artery of Dunedin. The fact that it has been cluttered with all sorts of 'stuff' is the cause of most issues. Open it up and let the traffic flow.

What personal interest? Community good?

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