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Project background and concept

The intersection of Sale and Wellesley Streets in Auckland has traditionally presented a significant challenge in terms of pedestrian and cyclist safety. Traffic lanes were excessively wide – up to 35m kerb to kerb on the pedestrian desire line – encouraging high traffic speeds, with many vehicles entering Sale Street at speeds in excess of 50kmph. This posed a real danger due to the high volume of pedestrians in this area.

In addition to safety issues, there were also amenity issues, including long wait times to cross the intersection and the inability to use the natural desire line caused by the wide crossing distances and high vehicle volumes and speeds.

A permanent intersection upgrade was being considered by Auckland Transport, but a timeframe was unconfirmed. This opened an opportunity for an interim intervention to improve the safety of the environment in the short term.

What was changed

Auckland Council’s tactical urbanism response included removing 17 carparks to de-clutter the area and minimise vehicle movements. Traffic lanes were narrowed, and the corner radius between Wellesley and Sale Streets was tightened using a palette of paint and planter boxes to form a new ‘kerb line’.

The crossing distance on the desire line was shortened by 63% to 19m (including an existing refuge island). Planter boxes were weighed down with layers of rocks before being filled with soil and planted with a bee-friendly species mix to add to the sustainability layer of the project.

An accessible crossing point was installed further west along Sale Street using tactiles and temporary kerb ramps to assist mobility-impaired people, more vulnerable users, people with prams etc. This reduced the crossing distance from 17m to 8m (53%).

For further traffic calming, polka dots and a double speed bump were applied to the section of the street adjacent to the City Works Depot entrance. The polka dots were installed using a thermo plastic application, a highly durable and low maintenance product that meets slip/skid resistance requirements.

The removal of parking and lane width reduction has allowed for a sizeable piece of public realm to be reclaimed, defined by a wavy line ground graphic (thermo plastic) that references the stream that once flowed across the site. This area of the city is low in street tree numbers so tree planter boxes have been installed to add greenery. Additional tree planter boxes are planned.

Aerial view of Sale Street

An accessible crossing point was installed further west along Sale Street using tactiles and temporary kerb ramps to assist mobility-impaired people, more vulnerable users, people with prams etc. This reduced the crossing distance from 17m to 8m (53%).

Results

  • The 85th percentile speed of vehicles entering Sale Street (westbound) dropped from 39km/h to 34km/h.
  • The 85th percentile speed of vehicles eastbound on Sale Street dropped from 43km/h to 39km/h.
  • The 85th percentile speed of vehicles westbound on Sale Street dropped from 45km/h to 37km/h.
  • The number of vehicles going faster than the speed limit dropped from 5-6% to 1%.
  • The average cross time for pedestrians dropped by nearly 40% to 8 seconds.
  • The maximum wait time to cross dropped by 43% to 19 seconds.
  • The number of vehicles on Sale Street travelling in excess of 50kmph over a 7-day survey dropped from 1305 to 251, an 81% decrease.

View the short video below.

Following on from the success of this project, the temporary measures have informed the design of the permanent intersection upgrade programmed for 2020.