A personal view,
by Councillor Steve Morris
Admissions that NZ Transport Agency and council are deliberately increasing congestion to force people to walk, cycle or catch a bus has hit a raw nerve.
Ask people what the city’s number one issue is and traffic is the most frequent answer. It is unbelievable those we trust to fix it are deliberately making it worse.
Regarding traffic congestion, NZTA’s chief executive recently told Parliament: “Through queues rather than traditional speed signs and other things, we slow communities down.” But the attitude gets worse. For example, when the announcement came that the Bayfair to Baylink overpasses had been delayed for another year, NZTA told frustrated motorists that “behaviour change” was needed instead of offering an apology.
By “behaviour change” they mean if you don’t like it, get on your bike!
A couple of years back, they told residents gathered at a Marae in Hairini that they should leave Tauranga if they didn’t like the traffic. You can imagine how that went down, especially among people whose ancestors have lived there for hundreds of years. They later apologised.
Council is in cahoots with NZTA in slowing down traffic. Just look at the proposal for a cycleway on Totara Street. It includes traffic lights for people turning left off Hewletts Road. Both NZTA and council are aware that it will cause longer tailbacks on the bridge but are happy with it, because the added delay encourages “mode shift” or, in other words, get on your bike!
NZTA’s Te Reo name is Waka Kotahi, which means we’re travelling in the same canoe. I’d like to jump out now, please.
**Clarification from Waka Kotahi Transport Agency
The word which Nicole Rosie used at Select Committee - when describing the Innovating Streets Programme - was “cues”, not “queues”. She was talking about how these pilot projects are setting up streets in different ways, so that “through cues rather than traditional speed signs and things, we slow communities down".
One method of creating safer spaces on city streets for pedestrians and cyclists is by making temporary physical changes to some streets, which can be more effective at reducing traffic speeds than lowering speed limits - by providing visual/tactical cues for drivers to slow down.
You will find many examples of projects which use such cues on the NZTA website: https://www.nzta.govt.nz/roads-and-rail/innovating-streets/about/