Vision Zero in action Vision Zero in action

By 2050, we aim to eliminate deaths and serious injuries on the transport network in Auckland.

To achieve this vision, as a group of partners we are embracing the essential elements of Vision Zero. Here is what that will look like for Tāmaki Makaurau.

Designing safe places for people Vision Zero will come to life by putting he tangata (people) at the centre of our transport system. We will do this at the early planning stage and throughout the design and operation of the transport system.

The general principles of safe design and operation are known. Yet, because Vision Zero is a new approach in Tāmaki Makaurau, we are still building local evidence for proven safe programmes.

Now and into the future

Vision Zero means as partners we’ll work together to each play our role. Here are examples of Vision Zero in action.

  • To make higher speed rural roads safer, we’ll introduce median and side barriers. These prevent cars from running into oncoming traffic and losing control. Flexible barriers absorb much of the force in a collision, reducing the impact to the human body and allowing the vehicle to come to a gradual standstill. In other parts of Aotearoa, median barriers have reduced head-on collisions by 92 percent and deaths and serious injuries by 67 percent (Draft Standard Safety Intervention Toolkit, NZTA, February 2019). We’re currently building flexible median and side barriers as part of the Dome Valley safety improvements.
  • Our urban transport system will be built and operated for people. You will be able to easily access public transport that’s convenient and frequent and already the safest mode of urban travel. Since January 2018 we’ve installed 19 automatic pedestrian crossing gates at rail level crossings.
  • We’ve also trialed real time driver fatigue and distraction detection on our buses that monitor driver wellness and can alert drivers and the depot.
  • To make ferry boarding safer, since 2017 we’ve made it easier for passengers to wait on the stationary part of ferry wharves and put slip resistant marine flooring on gangways and pontoons.
  • You’ll be able to enjoy more spaces designed for walking and cycling. Parents can feel more confident about their children walking or cycling to school. Research in 2015 demonstrated a 37 percent reduction in school aged walking/cycling deaths and serious injuries for 20 schools with electronic school speed zones and Travelwise programmes, compared to 20 control schools (Road Safety Promotions Evaluation Report, Auckland Transport (2015-16).
  • Around the region, raised pedestrian crossings will protect you as you cross the road, like the one now on Sandringham Road near Ethel Street. When riding your bike, you’ll enjoy protected cycle lanes that have curbs or physical barriers, like the one along Quay Street. We’ll conduct motorcycle safety trials such as electronic warning signs for turning.
  • Speed management is central to achieving Vision Zero. This means infrastructure and speed limits need to reflect the true risk of the road. We’ll work closely with Police on enforcement and use more automated technology to help reduce the risks for everyone. 30km/h speed limits have been successful in our city centre. In Wynyard Quarter, between 2012-2017, there was an average of one death or serious injury a year - this has been zero since the 30km/h speed zone was introduced. On Queen Street, there’s been 36 percent reduction in deaths and serious injuries since 30km/h speeds were adopted in 2008 (Road Safety and Safe Speed Programme, Auckland Transport 2018-19).
  • We’ll continue to grow and share best practice knowledge about staying safe for everyone using our network; whether it’s by motor vehicle, bike or public transport. We’ll run education programmes to emphasise safe behaviour like wearing seatbelts, complying with give way rules, driving sober and alert, and reducing distractions. Where safe behaviours need enforcing to save lives across the wider system, we’ll work together on safety campaigns. As an example, working with Police on red light running campaigns, including safety cameras, has helped with the significant drop in injuries from this type of crash from 2017 to 2018. We will make more use of safety management tools to identify where we have the highest risk, like the Urban Kiwi Road Assessment Programme (Urban KiwiRAP) mapping tool for safety at a planning level, and the Safe System Assessment Framework for selecting the right engineering treatments. We’ll also work to influence safety legislation and policy as appropriate.
  • Many urban arterial roads are indicated as high risk for a range of vehicle and active mode users, so there will be a range of new approaches in these locations. Many rural roads are high risk and have a different range of solutions. Not all communities are equal, so extra effort will be made to provide high-risk communities and age groups with safe transport.

Vision Zero Principles in Design Guide

A first look at Vision Zero principles for designers in Auckland Transport’s new Urban Street and Road Design Guide

In September AT approved several new transport design documents as part of the Transport Design Manual (TDM), including the Urban Streets and Roads Design Guide (USRDG). Further documents are being released/produced in late 2019 and 2020.

The Urban Street and Road Design Guide (the Guide) incorporates the new vision zero approach into Auckland’s multi-modal urban context and shows the key concepts behind vision zero in a more detailed way for system designers.

This guide is part of the larger Transport Design Manual (TDM) and is the first to be reviewed as part of AT’s Vision Zero commitment. Using the design guide will help Auckland reach the goals in the Vision Zero for Tamaki Makaurau road safety strategy and actions in the Road Safety Business Improvement Review.

The Design Guide is useful for those wanting more background to the high-level design principles for achieving Vision Zero, and an introduction to Vision Zero for Auckland’s urban transport context (pdf pages 10 to 13).

Urban Street and Road Design Guide (PDF 12MB, 110 pages).

Urban transport safety is a key part of Auckland’s safety issue

High volumes of mixed traffic, including pedestrians, cyclists, motorcyclists, mopeds, scooters, trucks and double decker buses all moving about in complex and busy places require a different approach to rural road safety.

In Auckland 72% of DSI in the past 5 years occurred on the urban network. National figures show more risk on high-speed rural roads, yet almost half of all New Zealand deaths and serious injuries are urban (48% for 2014 -2018).

For urban areas in particular, land use planning and mode shift can be considered additional ‘pillars’ in safe system thinking as it reduces exposure to risk by reducing vehicle kilometres travelled (VKT) and public transport trips are safer than private vehicle trips. However, public transport does rely on people feeling safe while walking or cycling to the stop or station.

Safe, healthy, sustainable transport are linked as design principles

The Guide recognises that mode shift, land use and transport planning contribute to safer transport, and a broad approach to vision Zero looks to increase years of life lived not just reduce life lost. Good street and network design protects life in a broad sense, supporting healthy and sustainable transport choices, while also eliminating the risk of traffic death or serious injury.

More emphasis on ‘place’ in road design can lead to better interventions for safety in our communities (e.g. slow speed zones where there is a lot of crossing and turning and roadside activity). Safety improvements familiar on local urban neighbourhood design will begin to be seen on larger busier roads as design takes up the shift in priority to getting everyone home safe.

Principles of Vision Zero for Design

The design guide includes the main principles of Vision Zero and how these can be incorporated into urban neighbourhood and street design.

  • People are vulnerable. 
  • People make mistakes. 
  • The transport system needs to be forgiving and ensure safe outcomes for people. 
  • System designers are responsible for improving the system if human errors lead to serious outcomes.

Human vulnerability

Expressed in design terms as maximum survivable impact speeds for various types of impact. These are the internationally recommended values for design of a safe transport system:

  • 30km/h where there is a mix of vulnerable road users and motor vehicle traffic.
  • 50km/h other areas with intersections and high risk of side collisions.
  • 70km/h on rural roads without a median barrier to reduce the risk of head-on collisions.

Human fallibility

Because we know that about half of fatal crashes and near 75% of serious injuries are the result of system failure (rather than extreme behaviour like alcohol) there is significant potential to save lives with design. Knowledge of predictable errors and ways to design for attention and control of severity of outcomes will be fundamental to successful vision zero design.