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How many people must die for Auckland Transport to act?

I’ve been to write this piece a number of times but struggled. Not because I don’t know what to write, but because it makes me so angry and frustrated. Too many people are killed or seriously injured on our roads.

“Vision Zero, an ethical approach to transport safety, was developed in Sweden in the late 1990s. It places responsibility on the people who design and operate the transport system to provide a safe system. It is a transportation system designed for human beings, which recognizes that people make mistakes and that human bodies are vulnerable to high impact forces in the event of an accident. To protect people from forces that can cause traumatic injury, we need to look at how the whole system works together to protect everyone who uses our roads.

The page that makes that bold claim that “No fatalities or serious injuries are acceptable” has had few updates since 2020. Auckland Transport’s Monthly Crash Statistics – Road Fatalities and Serious Injuries page does not hasn’t been updated since April 15, 2021 and most of the data is from 2020. No surprise, they never took road safety seriously.

But it’s too important – people are being killed. It’s not just numbers – real people are dying on our roads in preventable situations.

Levi James (19) was killed while riding his bike to see his grandmother.

On March 5, 2022, Levi James (19) was killed while cycling to his grandmother’s house. Not only is this a terrible tragedy, it was preventable – Auckland Transport had recently completed a project in this area, but refused to consider basic safety upgrades for bikes, even though their own plans and policies l demanded. And improvements recommended by an independent security review have also not been implemented. They blamed budgets, but he’s a cop – there are simple solutions that don’t cost much. And this is intended to be a priority regional route on the strategic cycle network. Read this article on Greater Auckland for more details.

12 weeks since this terrible tragedy and Auckland Transport have done nothing.

In an email to a council worker after Levi’s death, seen by the Herald, a member of staff at Auckland Transport (AT) said the organization had considered removing parking outside the stores as a “quick win”, however, this would require consultation with the businesses and individuals affected. parties.

“We anticipate that given the downtown environment and the businesses that operate there, there would be varying responses and that would take several months.”

– Father’s grief as authorities fail to act following the death of his teenage cyclist son in Royal Oak, NZ Herald May 27, 2022

That should be completely unacceptable, but that’s how Auckland Transport responds. Four years after the tragic loss of life at an intersection in East Tamaki, there is still no sign of action from Auckland Transport despite a coroner’s ruling that the alignment of the road was the main cause of death .

William Wiki Teoi was hit by a car while crossing East Tamaki Rd in Ōtara and later died at Middlemore Hospital of heart failure in March 2018.

The 84-year-old had attempted to cross the busy dual carriageway because a nearby pedestrian crossing was not accessible in his wheelchair.

William Wiki Teoi was killed trying to cross the road at East Tamaki.

Why did it take so long to do nothing? Auckland Transport decided to do something else instead, widening the road instead of building a safe passage for people.

I fought with Auckland Transport to get them to build a level crossing near my place of work – as we were promised in 2015. And again in 2017, 2018, 2019… When they finally did something thing (on one of the five crossroads), they managed to make it a full meal.

How does this continue?

Auckland Transport has a serious cultural problem that needs to be addressed. And the culture is driven from the top – executive management and the board. So what are we saying at the highest level of Auckland Transport? At their board meeting on May 26, 2022, this is what appears in their papers.

The AT Security team is aware of these concerning trends and continues to implement recommendations from the 2021 Business Improvement Review. One of the key actions was the development of the Advocacy Plan, focused on increasing our influence on policy and regulatory changes to support our Vision Zero strategy, such as our ongoing work with New Zealand Police to increase enforcement efforts and with Ministry of Transport fines and penalties. Exam.

AT Board documents 26 May 2022

Because an organization that takes Vision Zero seriously will ensure that security is an issue that everyone considers and not just “the security team”. Developing an advocacy plan will not bring back Levi, William or the 59 people killed on Auckland’s roads in 2021. Vision Zero requires a system response, not an accountability team to advocate change. “System designers are ultimately responsible for the level of safety of the entire system – systems, design, maintenance and use.” is what their website says, but their board documents say otherwise.

The data here is from December 2021, almost 6 months ago. Worse, the comment here is identical to the comment that appeared in the same report (but a different graph) in March 2022. Not only did AT do nothing between these meetings, but they are just copying and pasting their apologies.

AT Board documents 31 March 2022

I have never seen an organization do so little in the face of such a horrific and preventable tragedy. I’ve worked for organizations that have hurt and lost people, so don’t kid yourself about how difficult that can be. But either way, I’ve seen people try to solve the problems, focus on the immediate problem, and focus more on health and safety throughout the organization. Auckland Transport seems immune to the very humane response that we all need to do better to ensure people get home safely.

The mayor and councilors helped build that culture when they voted in favor of an emergency budget proposal that cut funding for safety programs, knowing full well it would lead to more serious injuries and deaths. on our roads.

I have attended meetings and watched elected officials and council staff debate which part of the council should pay for critical safety infrastructure for children. I saw the determined school rep come back month after month, begging for action, no more words or promises. But instead of keeping our tamariki safe, Auckland council got distracted by their own internal processes.

I have written to the Managing Director of Auckland Transport asking why their organization is not responding, although I have little confidence that I will get a reasonable response.

What will it take for Auckland Transport and Auckland Council to act?

— Light of Damien
Originally published here.

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