At the recent public meeting in Red Beach, Auckland Transport made much of the technological bells and whistles that are being deployed for the trial of Dynamic Lanes during peak hours on Whangaparaoa Road (from Red Beach Road to the highway). It includes 19 cameras, which the engineer described as “overkill”, but also a sign of their desire to cover all the angles.
In fact, the idea of the lanes being monitored from on high in a control centre in Takapuna is a graphic illustration of the top-down approach that lies behind so much of the community’s concerns.
There is no doubt that a lot of very knowledgeable people have spent a lot of time on the project. Their intention is to ease congestion for commuters within the existing road space and tight budgets.
It appears a lot of information has been gathered, via surveys and camera footage. This paper repeatedly asked Auckland Transport (AT) for its driver surveys and the information it was gathering on the road in order to make that public but it was not forthcoming.
The community’s concerns regarding safety for pedestrians, cyclists and those who need to turn in and out of driveways or side roads while the Dynamic Lanes are operating, which are shared by the local board, should have been the starting point. Solving those required in-depth discussions with those affected, right from the start, a year ago.
Problems raised needed to be solved before the next step in the design process. If that meant delaying the start of the trial, so be it.
Rightly or wrongly, residents have been left with the feeling that their serious concerns were not given the same status as a lot of whiz bang technology.
The Dynamic Lane system appears to be flexible, adaptable and tightly monitored. But perhaps a bit less remote camerawork and a lot more walking alongside the people who live on and use this stretch of road was needed.
A collaborative process, not just within AT itself, but with the community fully informed and backing it, would have resulted in a project that did not leave people feeling fearful.