Streets lead to safer NZ
The streets of South Auckland could soon be paving the way for transport solutions nationwide.
Te Ara Mua - Future Streets is being trialled in Mangere Central, with the aim of improving walking and cycling options in the area.
That will lead to better road safety and health benefits, project leader Hamish Mackie says.
The suburb has been chosen because it has plenty of destinations that can be reached by foot or bike but it is not easy getting to them, he says.
"In terms of need it's an area that ranks quite highly as far as road safety goes."
The project's success could have an big impact for communities across the country.
"There's strong interest from a national point of view.
"It's a bit of a flagship for work that could happen around Auckland and New Zealand," Mr Mackie says.
Solutions could be as simple as changing the site of a pedestrian crossing and improving access for elderly or disabled people.
And bigger projects like developing better links from one location to another could also be considered.
The key is to talk with the community before making any decisions, he says.
"We've got to work together."
Initial engagement has already begun with the Mangere-Otahuhu Local Board and other groups.
Two public meetings are next on the agenda.
Local board transport spokeswoman Lydia Sosene is right behind the project.
Community engagement is essential to developing better transport solutions for Mangere, she says.
"If you've done something that's not fit for purpose, you've done all this flash work then the community comes out and says ‘what's this?' "
Auckland Transport community transport manager Matthew Rednall says the project is funded by the government and will be carried out over four years.
Transport research company Ternz, Auckland University, Massey University and Auckland University of Technology are also involved in the research.
Other information like traffic counts will also be taken into account.
Mr Mackie says Mangere East has been chosen as a control area, which is vital given the research's scientific nature.
Information will be collected but no changes made for some time, he says.
But there is to be given preference once the research is complete.
"Whatever we learn from here, Auckland Transport have given priority to Mangere East," Mr Mackie says.