Orakei’s Proposed Design for its St Heliers Town Centre Leads to Breaches of the Vienna Convention (in terms of Safety)

Auckland Transport and Orakei Local Board needing reminding on Vision Zero

What? A Design Breaching the Vienna Convention aka International Law? How so. Well we start with with Dooring:

Dooring is a traffic collision or crash in which a bicyclist (or other road user) rides into a motor vehicle’s door, swerves to avoid or is struck by a door that was opened quickly by an occupant who failed to check carefully for approaching traffic.[1][2] 


How does Dooring breach the Vienna Convention? Well read the post and find out below.

The Definition of Vision Zero: Vision Zero is a multi-national road traffic safety project that aims to achieve a highway (or road) system with no fatalities or serious injuries involving road traffic. It started in Sweden and was approved by their parliament in October 1997. Wikipedia

I’ll go one step further that this includes cyclists NOT getting injured by being doored from parked cars on the road corridor as well. Yet this is what exactly what will happen if the St Heliers Proposal by Orakei Local Board, and Orakei Ward Councillor Desley Simpson through Auckland Transport goes through.

From Auckland Transport:

Proposed new safety plan for St Heliers Village

Auckland Transport (AT) will soon be releasing a new proposed safety plan for St Heliers Village.

Following the negative response from hundreds of St Heliers locals over a proposal to install 12 raised pedestrian crossings in the village, losing over 40 carparks in the St Heliers Business district, the plan has been revisited.

A key part of that change was to form a working group with the St Heliers Business Association and the St Heliers/Glendowie Residents’ Association representatives to deliver on improvements to the village that were evidence based.

This process included Councillor Desley Simpson and Colin Davis of the Ōrākei  Local Board who have business improvement districts as part of their delegated responsibilities.

AT’s Group Manager Network Management, Randhir Karma, says “In working alongside these community representatives for a number of months, we have shaped a new proposal which we hope better reflects the needs of the local community, but which also meets our safety objectives.”

The safety improvements now proposed include no loss of carparking in the area, and some small bus stop changes to make outdoor dining less affected by bus fumes.

Pedestrians benefit from four new zebra crossings at key points within the village and the resurfacing of footpaths as soon as funding is available.

While the seaside wooden boardwalk remains dedicated for pedestrians, cyclists benefit from a widened and lengthened shared path on the seaward side of Tamaki Drive (separate from the boardwalk).

It is envisaged that this shared path would be approximately four metres wide enabling sufficient space for cyclists but also allow for pedestrians and those exiting their vehicles, including those with push chairs and wheelchairs, to safely navigate their way without negatively impacting any carparking.

The usual white line will be painted down the middle of the shared path for the further protection of walkers and other vulnerable people.

Under the proposal there are also two new raised pedestrian crossings (similar to those outside Kelly Tarlton’s) to meet the 30 km/h speed reduction approved by the AT Board and due to be implemented in 2021.

St Heliers Business Association Chair Peter Jones says “I am pleased to see improvements for the village that will assist business growth and safety. AT have indeed listened to the concerns from the Business Association and I’m grateful for that.”

St Heliers/Glendowie Residents Association representative Mike Walsh says “We are very pleased that the original proposals that would have introduced 12 raised pedestrian crossings and removed over 40 car parks have been withdrawn. This means the village can continue to be a convenient place for locals to use and helps the village businesses and service providers remain viable.”  

Ōrākei Ward Councillor Desley Simpson says “The best outcome from this issue in my opinion has been a change in both attitude and thinking from AT as to the way they go about public consultation.  The process they now use internally has additional steps to ensure they are more open and transparent. Including key local stakeholders and elected members in discussions before they go to the wider public is a key to their success moving forward. I’m very pleased to see this new process piloted successfully in St Heliers.”

Ōrākei Local Board member Colin Davis says “We are pleased that the hard work and cooperation has paid off and that an improved safety solution for the wider St Heliers town centre has been found.  We look forward to receiving further input from the community and seeing the safety improvements in place.”

Feedback on the proposal is open from 12 October to 2 November 2020.

Find out more and have your say at: https://at.govt.nz/projects-roadworks/st-heliers-village-safety-improvements/

St Heliers Working Group:

  • St Heliers / Glendowie Residents’ Association
  • St Heliers Business Association
  • Ōrākei Ward Councillor
  • Ōrākei Local Board
  • Auckland Transport

Source: Auckland Transport

This is the render Auckland Transport has given us of what they propose for the area:

St Heliers “Safety” Improvements. Source: Auckland Transport

Note where the white line is and the cycle lane is.

Now for actual reality on why the improvements are not Vision Zero:

The reason why the cyclist is cursing is because the bike lane put them on a direct collision course for a parked car door and consequently they got DOORED and landed flat on their face onto the pavement. This is the consequence of sub-standard planning and engineering that not only defies Vision Zero but puts cyclists and car passengers at increased risk for serious injury (remember Vision Zero is about eliminating serious injury).

To make matters worse how these “improvements” were reached by this supposed Working Group were anti democratic:

And to make it worse what has been proposed through Auckland Transport does not even meet the Street Design Manual they are meant to follow:

Also as international literature shows it is walkers, cyclists and transit users that bring patronage to public area and its supporting hospitality agents – not cars. Orakei needs to learn this rather fast rather yesterday.

Patronage mode share to hospitality https://theconversation.com/parking-isnt-as-important-for-restaurants-as-the-owners-think-it-is-74750

So even how the proposal for St Heliers got this far given it was done in an anti-democratic fashion, defies Auckland Transport’s own Design Manuals, and runs against best practice per international literature is nothing short of insanity.

So everyone we need to submit the following:

  1. No to the proposal as it was:
    1. Done in an anti democratic fashion
    2. Defies the Design Manuals as cyclists are prone to being doored
    3. Defies Vision Zero in harm reduction owing to again cyclists being prone to be doored
    4. Defies international literature on what best supports a public area and hospitality agents
  2. Alternative we want:  the original proposals that would have introduced 12 raised pedestrian crossings and removed over 40 car parks. Those car parks would be a grade separated cycle lane which cyclists and scooter users could use without the risk of being doored or collecting pedestrians on the footpath. The extra pedestrian crossings mean more places for families, the elderly, our mobility citizens, and everyone else to cross safely. All as part of actual Vision Zero and all that attracts more patrons to nearby businesses.

To submit: https://at.govt.nz/projects-roadworks/st-heliers-village-safety-improvements/ by November 2!

The Vienna Convention in regards to Dooring

The Vienna Convention does state that Dooring is illegal:

Many countries are aligned with the Vienna convention which states: “It shall be prohibited to open the door of a vehicle, to leave it open, or to alight from the vehicle without having made sure that to do so cannot endanger other road-users.” (Article 24 — Opening of doors).[5]


Any action that leads to a cyclist getting Doored goes against the Vienna Convention. I would also wager that any Design by a Transport Authority or Governing Authority that leads to an increased or undue risk of a cyclist being Doored would contravene the Convention as well. Note: A footpath or even Shared Path alongside the “road” where the cars are is still inside the actual Road Corridor itself – thus the term Dooring applies.

So with a bad design, and now the Vienna Convention having a say on Dooring I wonder what Desley Simpson, the Orakei Local Board, and Auckland Transport have to say about the entire mess!.