Personal reflections on urbanism, urban life and sustainable urban design in Wellington, New Zealand.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Walk shorts

Here's a few quick links about walking in the city.

You may have seen a segment on Campbell Live on Monday about the links between urban form and physical activity, based on research into "Activity Friendly Environments" by Dr Grant Schofield at AUT. While people have been researching the links between poor urban design and obesity for some time, it's interesting to see it in a New Zealand context. Not surprisingly, central Wellington was mentioned as a great example (high density, mixed use and a well-connected street grid), whereas Albany was the poster child for pedestrian-hostile sprawl. I haven't been able to find much of his research online, but here are the slides (4.1MB PDF) from his presentation to the 2006 NZ Walking Conference and Study Tour.

Even Wellington could do things better, and while it's generally regarded as a good walking city, there are still a lot of cars getting in the way. Inconsiderate drivers who run red lights (hey, it's only pedestrians) can be particularly frustrating (and potentially lethal), but here's a way to get back at them. Snapt is a form of "name and shame" website, but I think it avoids the pitfalls of dodgier sites like the "CYF watch" blog. Send in your photos of red light runners and other offenders (including pedestrians and cyclists who flout the laws, of course), and it might help relieve some of your frustration. I think you could just set up a continuous webcam at the corner of Willis, Manners and Boulcott St: there's be at least one violation every phase.

Walking around Wellington is generally very safe, but it's understandable to be a bit wary after dark. Living Streets Aotearoa understand this, and they've produced a walking map of Newtown and Berhampore that includes the locations of street lights (758kB PDF). Keeping the streets safe at night uses a lot of energy, but perhaps this post from Treehugger has the answer: a self-powered street light combining solar panels and a vertical-axis wind turbine. Perfect for Wellington, where it's either sunny (like the last few days) or windy (the rest of the year).


At 5:17 pm, February 07, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

My most dreaded intersection for red light runners is on the Basin Reserve at the Dufferin St/Patterson St intersection. So many cars heading up to the tunnel blatently run this red light, often at speed.

My other pet gripe isn't just as a pedestrian when cars "block the box" at intersections, forcing pedestrians to move around them, and often you'll even see them jamming up other traffic on other streets. In NYC this is an instant fine and signs everywhere warn against it. This is against the road code why it isn't enforced is beyond me.

At 5:58 pm, February 07, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"My other pet gripe isn't just as a pedestrian when cars "block the box" at intersections, forcing pedestrians to move around them,"

Sometimes it is sooo tempting to take a short cut through the offending car. Open the back door on one side of the car and exit on the other. But I guess that really would be tempting road rage. :P

At 12:53 pm, February 08, 2007, Blogger Baz said...

Not as much as climbing over their bonnet. Boy, does that cheese them off.

My pet peeve is people who think the pavement is an extended parking area, forcing pedestrians (especially those who can't squeeze through gaps due to pushchairs etc) onto the road. This isn't a casual mistake: it takes a particular brand of stupidity or contempt.

At 1:31 pm, February 08, 2007, Blogger Tom said...

"This is against the road code why it isn't enforced is beyond me."

I agree: it irritates everyone, and helps create a cycle of red-light running and intersection-blocking.


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