The West Town Belt Master Plan is now up for submissions on Hamilton City Council’s “Have your Say” page. For this post I thought I would look back to the 1988 Draft ‘Town Belt Management Plan’ with regard to the Edgecumbe Park concept plan, focusing on ‘Possible future pedestrian underpass combined with the Waitawhiriwhiri Stream pipe to link the W.T.B [West Town Belt] walkway with the river walk system’
Recent sandbagging shows the idea of building a wall and using the existing floor as a pedestrian underpass, with an access path extending under the footpath at the bridge, then looping round and connecting up to the existing river path.
The idea looks like a practical way of providing a safe crossing under Victoria Street. However, there could be a concern with the existing floor being at an elevation of about 12m above sea level, which means it will regularly close due to flooding. As a reference the Grantham Street boat ramp car park is 14m to 15m above sea level.
Option ‘B’ is to build a raised floor. The existing river path bridge is too close to ramp up to, so there is a need for a bridge realignment, or to move or even build a new second bridge.
The existing river path bridge is 2.7m wide, supported by 3 universal beams spanning 20m. Its hand rail tapers out to 3.2m at bike handlebar height[, and its centre line is 5.5m away from the Victoria Street retaining wall. With the river path (Te Awa river ride) becoming busier and busier in the near future, bridge widening may be a good idea here anyway.
In 2005 Hamilton had three bridges with on-road cycle lanes. In 2019 only one bridge has cycle lanes (the south side cycle lane on the Victoria Bridge has been reduced to 1 metre; I’m not sure if we can call that a cycle lane, so maybe we could say 6 cycle lanes in 2005, 1 in 2019). The first act of the 2005 ‘Access Hamilton plan’ was to remove the cycle lanes from Whitiora Bridge, after the then Mayor said that “Access Hamilton’s vision is one of efficient and secure access around the city for everyone, whatever means of transport they choose to use.”
The reality is that the Access Hamilton plan has allowed the car to dominate and once the single occupant car driver starts using a piece of road width, taking any of it away from them will panic them into asking for their right to dominate to be protected. The assumption is that change will be resisted and that resistance will be successful. The 2005 Access Hamilton plan expects this to continue, as stated below:
Some time ago the people from Livingstreets suggested there is room under the bridge to suspend a cycle and pedestrian path.
As an example, in Canada BC, the Richmond Canada Line Bridge has a path bolted to the side of the bridge; this first photo shows the supports.
The scale of the supports looks impressive. Below is a closer look and a link to more photos showing a lot more detail. They show that the supports are made from a Universal Column, with each of these supports being held in place by six bolts. The path looks to be a good 4m wide.
The radius of the curve under the Whitiora Bridge is about 1.2 to 1.3m, and the flat area is about 2m, giving a total of just over 3m of cover above the proposed path, which is similar to the Canada Line bridge.
Question 1 – Is it reasonable to think that if Claudelands Bridge vehicle lanes were the same width as the Fairfield Bridge, there would be no effect on the number of motor vehicles using Claudelands Bridge?
Is it reasonable to narrow vehicle lanes to 3.1m on Claudelands Bridge, so we can use this width to widen the footpaths to 2.6m at a very low cost.
Question 2 – If buses no longer used Claudelands Bridge, we could have 2.8m car lanes and give 8- to 80-year olds the same 2.8m width for walking/biking. Would this be fair?
The bridge has a limit on motor vehicle weights, which suggests that increaseing the bridge’s overall width would need some serious engineering checks and would also add cost, complexity and delay to the project.
Focus on the words “less than nine months” in the above summary of the re-decking of Victoria Bridge in the early 1990s. Among the Hamilton City Council staff there are some amazing people who can make things happen. There are plenty of ideas about what can be done to improve Claudelands Bridge. The Victoria Bridge re-decking example shows that the design and build can be done within a few months. The delay comes firstly from political willingness to actively support change and secondly from the availability of NZTA funding.
CBD Future 2020 Vision: City news Oct/Nov 2005: Traffic and transport – ‘The key changes within the framework are introducing the arterial route, giving pedestrians priority in key areas, one-way traffic flow on Victoria, Ward, Bryce, Knox and London streets and Claudelands Bridge, contra-flow bus and cycle lanes, signal priority for public transport … reconfiguring Claudelands Bridge to include a pedestrian boulevard – Major changes to the role of Claudelands Bridge will strengthen the link between city walkways, proposed development at River Road car park and Claudelands Event Centre.’
Claudelands Bridge via Victoria Street (image below): Via Strada Dec 2010: North-east Quadrant (ASB corner) – ‘Both existing approach lanes are retained. The existing eastbound path (towards Claudelands Bridge) is wide enough for shared pedestrian and cycling uses. As it connects to the proposed two-way path on the north side of Claudelands Bridge, two-way cycling is proposed on this path … Additional width will improve the level of service and cater for future volume increases. Analysis with heavy vehicle tracking curves show that there is scope to widen it by absorbing unused kerbside carriageway width.’ South-east Quadrant (TSB corner) – ‘The existing kerb radius is slightly enlarged and features a new kerb ramp for cyclist coming from the east approach carriageway as well as the cycle crossing from the ASB Bank corner. The scheme plan shows an option retaining the bus stop in a bay. Combined with manoeuvring space, there is scope for two of the four existing car parks to remain. An alternative option, not shown on the scheme plan, is to implement a full bus boarder in the travel lane, which allow for all four car parks to remain. This would require that all traffic has to stop behind a stopped bus; this is how the current layout operates whenever the car park closest to the bus stop is occupied. … Cycling into town from the bridge requires a shift from pathway to a shared street environment after using the existing median break cycle crossing facility to cross Victoria Street.’
Hamilton city heart revitalisation project: May 2008: 7.8 CBD and Claudelands Events Centre Pedestrian Link – ‘The existing pedestrian share is approximately 1.5m. The proposed addition would widen this to 5m creating safer walking opportunities and a designated cycle lane separated from traffic. … Ensuring the addition offers the greatest benefits to pedestrians in terms of access, efficiency, safety and route options. This may include revising the location of the addition to the southern side of Claudelands Bridge, thereby allowing greater accessibility to Opoia …’
Hamilton City-heart: Appendix 1 Submission Summaries – [two of twenty two] ‘This should be either on the south side of the bridge or two clip-ons added. This would be needed if greater foot traffic is generated from the Opoia residential area. Also cyclists use this of the bridge when they are coming from the residential areas of Te Aroha Street, Ruakura and Waikato University …’ ‘crossing Claudelands Bridge people often find that they want to be on footpath on other side of bridge’ Overall staff comment – ‘Improved cross city pedestrian link particularly along Claudelands Bridge and O’Neill Street will be required to accommodate increased pedestrian volumes in the future resulting from the re development of the Claudelands Event Centre. The addition of a clip on to the Claudelands Bridge will provide increased footpath space for pedestrians and cyclists. Change will be required to modify vehicle behaviour on O’Neill Street to improve the pedestrian experience, including footpaths, improving lighting and creating safer crossing opportunities. In particular a safe crossing point is needed for pedestrians entering and existing Sonning.’ Additional Staff Comments – [just one of sixteen] ‘Footpath on River Road bridge (eastside River Road) should be widened. A new accessible bridge over Claudelands Road and rail line west of River Road, clearly visible from Claudelands Bridge, linking Opoia area to Sonning carpark should be constructed.’
A recent idea presented to council was from Marcus Brown in 2018 – ‘The basic idea is to shut down the Claudelands Bridge to eastbound traffic between the hours of 5 – 10am on weekdays – and giving commuter cyclists the entire lane for those busy hours. It looks like the only route that uses the Claudelands Bridge is No. 14. It travels half-hourly (so 6 times between 7am-9:59am), and even then has only one stop at Heaphy Tce before linking with Boundary Road. Hopefully there’s a case to be made for re-routing the one line to use Boundary Road during those hours (can’t imagine anyone going to Heaphy then, and wouldn’t add any time to the bus’s return journey)….but worst case I’m sure having a bus come through half hourly isn’t the end of the world.’
Below are City Heart Submission Summaries and Staff Comments
Over the next few weeks there are a couple of important HCC plans that you should make time to submit to. This post focuses on the Hamilton Speed Management Plan. All it ask you to do is answer a yes/no question, and comment if you like; for example, describe a street where the speed limit does not match use. Priority will partly be based on “Places where there is strong community demand for change” (p10).
The Speed Management Plan is a good one. Hamilton’s Vision Zero goal of not accepting any loss of life on our city’s roads is ahead of the Safer Journeys plan that NZTA is still working to. However, I would like to see one line added to Hamilton’s Speed management Plan. The need for this comes from a missing 20 km/h speed limit, which is already commonly used in New Zealand. My suggested line is in Italic bold below, with links to rules already using 20 km/h as a maximum speed. (see the NZ road code and Hamilton’s own Parks, Domains and Reserves Bylaw below)
“8.4 Vehicle speeds
within parks – No person shall drive or ride any vehicle in any park at a speed
in excess of 20 kilometres per hour, except where indicated by the council.”
NZ road code: “If a school bus has stopped you must slow down and drive at 20km/h or less until you are well past (no matter which direction you are coming from)”
Driving tests web site explains: “in case a child dashes across the road … It’s set low because at 20kph almost all pedestrians hit will survive … Children are more likely to run out into the road without looking, and the school bus is a large obstacle that obstructs their view of the road.”
In Hamilton most school students travelling by bus will be using the public service. The case of a person running across the road from a bus stop still exists. One way of reducing the risk or severity of harm in the case of a child dashing across the road from a bus stop is to reduce the speed near the bus, as shown in this 150m-long 20km/h bus zone in Koblenz.
The NZ Post rule around the use of Paxsters is another
example that 20km/h is a reasonable and practical speed. Below is a letter from
NZTA allowing Paxster post vehicles to use footpaths.
“Operators are required to assess local conditions in order to determine a safe speed, such as the presence of other footpath users, obstacles (e.g. rubbish bins), blind spots, high fences, slippery surfaces and reduced visibility. According to Stu Kearns*, travelling at a speed of 15 km/hr may be safe in most instances, speeds of 20 km/hr or more will never be acceptable.”
*Stu Kearns was head of the police serious crash unit in Auckland
Adding foot path width to a steel bridge looks easy, below is an example from New York.
First a bit about safety – Every second month a driver of a motor vehicle makes a mistake at the 35 km/h corner on the western end of the bridge.
Clearly the speed difference between the present 80 km/h legal speed limit and the design speed are too far apart, NZTA knows safer speeds improve safety and in the future the legal speed limit along Cobham Drive will be 60 km/h.
For now Cobham Bridge is one of the heaviest trafficked 2 lane section of road in Hamilton, its 2017 traffic count of 31,100 vpd was up from 30,700 vpd in 2016. Fairfield Bridge show there is a maximum capacity a road can carry. Cobham Bridge has not yet reached its growth limit. Let’s say the ‘ideal’ vehicle lane width is 3.5m with 1.8m clearance, with a theoretical capacity of 34,000 vpd. If the volume capacity was reduced by 70% of the ‘ideal’ by changing the lanes widths to 2.8m for motor vehicles and 1.8m for cycle lanes, the maximum vehicle capacity could be about 23,000 vpd which is roughly a third less than the 2017 count of 31,100 vpd. Is it possible in 2021 when the Hamilton bypass is open and traffic volumes drop, to change the lane widths to suit 33% less motor vehicle traffic?
Going back to the start of this post, on-road bike lanes are okay for fast and confident cyclists or E-bike riders, but for the 8- or 80-year old cyclist they are unlikely to feel safe. Adding width to the existing paths looks like a sensible thing to do.
First a few statements: ‘narrower cycle lanes were three to four times less safe than wider cycle lanes.’ (NZTA Report 389: Cycle Safety: Reducing the Crash Risk) and ‘A one-way cycle-track of 2.00 m[2.01m+ is good] or narrower is not a good cycling-facility’ (The Netherlands – CROW Design manual for a cycle-friendly infrastructure 1996 (Table 4.3*)
The total road width on Victoria Bridge is 9 metres. Presently each car lane is about 3.3m wide and the shoulder lanes of 1.2m maximum (reducing to not much). We could have 2.5m car lanes with 2.01m bike lanes – ‘New Zealand legislation states’ that a “lane for the use of vehicular traffic … is at least 2.5 m wide” This would be safe for people biking, but is it reasonable and practical?
The table below starts with the ‘ideal’ vehicle lane width as 3.5m with 1.8m clearance, if the theoretical capacity is between 30,000 to 34,000 vpd. With the car lane capacity at 85% of the ‘ideal’ for Victoria Bridge – 3.3m with 1.2m shoulder – the vpd total equates to 25,000 and 29,000; which is what the above graph shows. If lane widths were changed to 77% of the ‘ideal’ – 3.0m car and 1.5m bike lanes – the count could be expected to equal about 23,000 to 26,000 vpd. The 26,000 vpd is just above what the Victoria Bridge has been carrying for the past six years (from 2012). Would this be reasonable or practical?
In theory the Victoria Bridge could be improved by changing lane widths The problem we have is that the car and bike lane widths would be at recommended minimums, and humans make mistakes, Presently at 50 km/h the person using the narrower cycle lanes has a 50/50 chance of not being killed in a crash, a 1.5m bike lane is the tipping point between safe and unsafe. So a safer speed limit would also be needed to be added to the improvements, which would have the added benefit of giving traffic a more even flow.
Summing up: would it feel safer, will more people bike instead of drive, would more people be using Victoria Bridge if single occupant car drivers did not dominate the road space, is this solution reasonable and practical?
Germany’s experience of moving from a 50km/h to a 30 km/h urban speed limit showed – ‘frequency of accidents was unchanged, but severity was reduced’ – While this is not the focus of this post, it is a key point to consider.
Adding a new car lane upstream on Whitiora Bridge in 2006 was an absolute fail for people who walk or bike and it had almost no effect in reducing traffic counts on Fairfield Bridge, What is does show is the lack of effect of changing road lanes and widths on traffic counts on Fairfield Bridge. The in 2013 Pukete Bridge had 2 lanes added, again removing the on road cycle lane, forcing fast cyclists to either enter the motor vehicle lane or to mix with people walking. Again, there was almost no change in traffic counts on Fairfield Bridge. These attempts show how unsettling of adding car lanes can be, it increases car use, makes life more dangerous for cyclists and pedestrians, and has very little effect on reducing congestion.
The ideal lane width is stated as 3.5m, with 1.8m clearance to fixed obstacles close to the road. When these measurements are reduced, traffic flow is reduced. At 3.0m with no obstacle-free zones, the number of cars is said to be 58% less than with an ideal lane width. Based on the said 58% the Pukete and Whitora Bridges, with ideal lane widths and obstacle-free zones (which are used by cyclists) could move 34,000 vpd. Whitora Bridge would be okay as a 2 lane road with cycle lanes. Another important measure is ‘Traffic delays on urban roads are principally determined by junctions, not by midblock free flow speeds’.
For Fairfield Bridge the junctions at each end have been modified a number of times over the years, with the same outcome for people driving cars and limited improvements for walking and biking. The time maybe right to try a safer speed limit, so traffic moves at a more even pace; it is safer for people on bikes to mix with motor vehicle traffic; and there is a reduced to risk of harm to pedestrians crossing the road to get to the bridge foot paths or to spend money at the local shops. For people driving cars, based in Germany’s experience of moving from a 50km/h to a 30 km/h urban speed limit showed: ‘Volume were unchanged’ – ’Frequency of accidents was unchanged, but severity was reduced’ – ‘Air pollution was reduced’ – ‘Noise was reduced’ – ‘Fuel use increased or decreased depending on location’
Waitawhiriwhiri Pa – ‘The pa, which Maori records confirm was called Waitawhiriwhiri, was sited in the vicinity of Kotahi Avenue (some 200 metres south of Milne Park).’* The 2019 West Town Belt master-plan draft revA, shows this above the Waitawhiriwhiri Stream outlet, north side.
The 1988 Draft ‘The West Town Belt management plan’ (p12) tells us ‘The smell from an old sewerage system discouraged use and development of the gully until the late 70s when the area was cleared and an access-way developed. Since then the Hamilton Junior Naturalists have been involved in planting areas of the gully in native trees with the longer-term objective of creating an area typifying low bush succession of the Waikato. The club have produced a ‘Vegetation Survey’ on the kahikatea Type Forest Community as a guide to their planting strategy.’
The 1988 Draft ‘West Town Belt management plan’ included the
above concept Plan, which shows that in the last 30 years none of what was
proposed and possible has been done.
Background notes for the 1988 Draft ‘West Town Belt management plan’ set some policies (it references: Hamilton City comprehensive development plan) for the parks’ use, such as – ‘A greater use should be made of the City’s gully systems, particularly as a linkage role and for “adventure’ type children’s play areas and where possible for such activities as cycling and horse riding, and a limited amount of building should be allowed on reserve land in general’. And back to the 1988 Draft plan under the heading ‘Children’s Play’ (p59), there is a call for a “wild imaginative, adventurous play environment in both Willoughby and Edgecumbe gullies (Valley of the Dinosaurs and Valley of the Druids?).”
The gradient of the path entering Egdecumbe Park from Uster St is deadly. The path entrance needs to be moved north to start below the rise, where there is a desire line path into the gully. From this starting point a new shared-use path should be built with a gradient of an accessible standard.
Sight lines into Edgecumbe Park from the corner of Victoria and Edgecumbe Streets need improving, so should ‘dodgy’ activity happen in this park it is not being hidden.
Back to Concept 1: ‘Possible future pedestrian underpass combined with the Waitawhiriwhiri stream pipe to link the WTB walkway with the river-walk system’ – this does sound like a practical idea.
Further reference: West Town Belt Background Information –
Library REF S 333,783 099 311 51 HAM
m pipe to link
In this post, [my words are in square brackets], the bold type is my emphasis, and p refers to page number. The main text comes from:
‘HAMILTON CENTRAL AREA’– (HCC Library REF-S-711.5522099334-AND)
A Planning Design Study By James A. Anderson, M.A. (Hons), Dip.
Presented towards the requirements of the Royal Australian Planning Institute Examination – June 1973
Open Space Potential – p7
The central area of Hamilton has three assets as regards open space, each of which has great potential for recreational development and improving the aesthetic character of the city. These are the riverbank known as ‘Hamilton Parade’, the Town Belt, and Garden Place.
p8. The Town Belt is also a priceless asset, and its ‘erosion’ by uses other than open space
or recreation is to be regretted.
The future use of this belt needs careful planning if what remains of it is to
continue to serve the people of the city as the founders intended when it was set
aside in 1879.
p12. (9) Figure 7 shows that much of the Town Belt has been eroded for purposes other than recreation, or is leased to sporting organisations which effectively exclude the general public from their areas except when competitive events take place. Little land is therefore left for casual use by the public. A close examination of future policies towards the use of this Town Belt land is needed.
p27. The Town Belt has been seriously depleted since 1879 when it was laid out (see Figure 7). A large part of the southern area has been subdivided for residences, two schools have located on it, the City Council has taken one section for a workshop and depot and another, by the river, for a water treatment plant, now obsolete, and large areas have been leased to sports organisations, thereby effectively denying access to the public for much of the time. Seddon Park, the city’s major cricket ground, Rugby Park, the premier rugby ground, the Hamilton Squash Club’s premises and a tennis club are the main areas concerned here. These areas are fenced off and although theoretically the public can use them, in practice they are excluded except for the times when matches are played. Thus, Hinemoa Park, the Lake, and small patches elsewhere are the only areas of open space remaining for passive use or visual relief.
p28 – It is very important, therefore, to preserve what is left of the Town Belt as open space. This includes recovering areas such as the City Council Depot and former Waterworks sites. The continued use of certain areas for active sport would seem desirable, although further buildings such as the Squash Club’s facility, especially since this is a club with necessarily restricted membership, should be prohibited. Major sporting grounds such as Seddon Park and Rugby Park provide entertainment on a regional scale for important matches and their location here can therefore be justified in terms of the number of people they serve. However, attention must be given to providing adequate off-street parking in their vicinity [*]. An increased use of school facilities by the community could help to bring the areas taken for schools back into public use. [* what does “adequate” off-street parking mean? Presently 8 to 10% of usable land within the West Town belt is used for parking, and we might ask “what is too much parking?”
p28. The Town Belt must be consolidated to serve its
function as an ‘edge’ to the inner city, providing ‘visual relief’ from built-up areas on either side. In order
to create the sense of a ‘core’ to the city, high rise development within the
central city should be confined to a relatively small area.
(iv) Areas eroded from the Town Belt over the years for
Municipal uses must be returned to open
space uses. [Include bowling green]
(iv) Major sporting grounds are an acceptable use on Town Belt land since they provide an amenity for large numbers of the public on the occasion of major sporting events. However, the provision of adequate off-street parking must be ensured. [What is adequate parking? NZTA report 374 ‘Comparisons of NZ and UK trips and parking rates’ tells us ‘meaningful comparative analysis of sports fields … is not possible’ p66. Is car-parking within the Town Belt area already eroding useable space for recreation?]
(v) No further Town
Belt land should be allocated to clubs with restricted membership, particularly
if it involves the erection of buildings.
p71. The Town Belt should continue to serve a dual function
of providing major sporting facilities and areas for passive recreation and
visual relief. To this end, further
building on it should be restricted and areas held for municipal purposes
returned to open space. It will thus serve as a frame for the central city.