The Eye of the Fish

Maximus
December 7, 2010

Why did the chicken…?

I’m getting bored with the stories of people getting bowled over in the buslanes already, and I bet the Council wishes they would go away too – but the severity of the accidents that have occurred so far means that we haven’t the end of this – not by a long way. With Tramways Union spokesperson suggesting that the bus drivers might ‘blacklist’ the site and revert to a different street until it is resolved, that’s a PR disaster in the making, and our new Mayor and Council have got a real problem on their hands. After a Kerry-led Council spending $11million on putting buses through the Mall, it would take an awful lot of roadkill to have to reverse that decision.

First up, the Council have decided on some Public Education – that’s right, hand out leaflets, stick up posters, all telling people the bleeding obvious: there’s a series of large yellow buses coming down the old pedestrian path. Just in case you had forgot. Or were blind. Or really stupid. There’s a number of ways they have attempted to do that – with small ‘Look Left Look Right’ placards, with painted words ‘Look Right’ on the kerb edge, and with the slightly puzzling but much more amusing imaging of a large cock nestling amongst some nice knees.

I can only presume that this is meant to be the answer to the question “Why did the chicken cross the road?” and yet it seems that the Council itself needs a small education in bird sexing – that’s a cock rooster right there, not a lady chicken. Small difference of course – but very important to the rooster concerned I would imagine.

The press have picked up on this of course – with the Dom Post having printed this sign which was on display in Manners St – after accident number 2, ie before the really far more serious accident number 3. It’s the typographic equivalent of crying wolf – having said Blood on the Tracks for a less serious accident, what did they do for the far more serious accident? Well, a “Hair went flying” article seems a bit of a understatement after that. Seeing as the woman concerned has allegedly faceplanted into the concrete kerb at speed, even if it is on a completely separate part of the busroute and not on the actual new narrow Manners Mall route

So we wake today to find that the worst of all things has happened – in the sense of Urban Design at least. Yellow tape being erected to stop people crossing the road? And mention of ‘jaywalkers’ ducking under the tape? Of course people are going to cross the road – what else do you expect us to do – walk down the length of Manners Mall to cross over the street at the lights? That’s never going to happen – and it is ridiculous to think that it might – it’s “Our” street, and we’ll cross it when we want to. Don’t even think of mentioning barriers – don’t go there!

Stephen Judd
7 - 12 - 10

The little sign with the rooster is particularly ill-conceived. It looks like advertising, so of course most people will ignore it. Handy hint: make your safety instructions look like safety instructions, not a marketing campaign.

TIm Hannah
7 - 12 - 10

Both serious accidents have been in old Manners St haven’t they? – where there’ve always been busses but now some go the other way. Caused by habitual road crossers crossing the road and being surprised by a stonking great bus driving the ‘wrong way’ down what was a one way street.

The yellow tape is pretty bloody ugly, but is presumably not a permanent solution, and it’s pretty hard to duck under it without thinkning about the street you’re about to cross. Hopefully it’s a short term unignorable hazard signal while people break old habits rather than a prelude to fencing.

erentz
7 - 12 - 10

Agree the advertising has been a failure. Someone got too carried away with it. People with billboards looking like they’re selling something (making you want to automatically avoid them), etc. But nothing that shouts WARNING anywhere. Big bold 1 foot high letters that grab your attention, something that is out of place, placed where you’re eyes naturally are going to look, as you mindlessly wander down the street. Oddly enough the temporary tape barriers are probably the most effective and cheap thing they’ve done yet to grab the attention of pedestrians.

While I suspect those tape barriers is just to raise visibility and make people think to look… I’m sure there are plenty of fools who are now thinking permanenet barriers are the solution.

I’m guessing the full $11m hasn’t actually been spent yet though, much of that will go on Cuba St. So perhaps they should hold off doing anything to Cuba St until all of this mess is worked through.

seaphorm
7 - 12 - 10

the problem with educational campaigns is that people aren’t consciously stepping in front of buses, so education will not totally work.

it’s all about automated behaviours. when people walk about (by people i mean all of us).. they tend to be doing things other than concentrating on their path. they’re listening to music, thinking about the poor cricket result, fantasising about some girl at work etc etc. their body is taking the journey on autopilot based n the fact that the person has done that journey before. it’s muscle memory. we don’t think about walking… we just do it.

when you go and do a thing like add a two way road where there was previously a one way road, muscle memory takes a while to catch up. people will automatically look one way then step out. no amount of education will change this behaviour, and there’s no way of predicting just who will do it.

the only way to beat it is to either wait until people change their automated behaviour over time, or put something physical in people’s way to force them to think about the crossing. permanent barriers aren’t necessary and would provide a long term annoyance. but temporary ones would certainly stop the accidents for long enough that people change their subconscious behaviours.

Robyn
7 - 12 - 10

Yah, the problem seems to be with the parts of Manners St that are now two-way. Old Manners Mall looks so different that people seem to just know it’s a two-way road.

This sort of thing happened when Ghuznee went back to being two-way, yeah? And even now some people cross on autopilot without checking first.

I was talking to someone recently who couldn’t understand why the council hadn’t erected barriers, as there are by Victoria Uni. What, a half-metre fence along Manners St that people can hop over? Or perhaps a 1.5 metre fence that will make Manners St feel like a cattle run?

I reckon it’s just a matter of people getting used to the new traffic patterns. The cautionary tale of the Lady Who Got Her Face Smashed Up Rool Bad might be what does it.

Ryan
8 - 12 - 10

I was on a bus just leaving the Manners Mall area a couple of years ago, outside Arty Bees, when a drunkish teenager crossed the road right into the bus without looking and of course it hit him. It could have happened anytime, but if it had happened this week, it would have been Because Of The New Lane. Are we comparing the number of accidents with the usual amount? There are accidents in that area throughout the year, not just when lanes change.

Alan
9 - 12 - 10

Went down Manners St yesterday – by Te Aro Park – and the Council have been busy affixing metal balustrading to the thin upper edge of the kerb – metal railings with skinny flat feet hastily welded to some old railings. Looking like a very obvious, but very temporary means of getting people to look both ways before crossing. No more excuses for FacePlant girl.

Interestingly though, they haven’t done that to the new bit of the Manners Mall. Not sure about the other end, near Boulcott St.

minimus
10 - 12 - 10

We should just be glad we’re not getting these buses I suppose
http://www.theonion.com/video/obama-replaces-costly-highspeed-rail-plan-with-hig,18473/
(for the uninitiated, this is a satirical news site)

minimus
14 - 12 - 10

For lack of a better place to post this…
Does anyone have ideas for proposals for wellington?
https://smartercitieschallenge.org/
IBM’s Smarter Cities Challenge is a unique three year $50 million grant program designed to help 100 cities, competitively selected, to gain access to the technology and problem solving capacity to address the challenge and opportunity of making themselves smarter.

Maximus
16 - 12 - 10

From the paper / stuff today:
“A fourth person has been knocked over by a bus in Manners St. The latest incident happened about 2.15pm yesterday outside Banks Shoes at the intersection of Cuba and Manners streets. The driver, Tramways Union Wellington branch president Nick Kelly, said hitting a pedestrian was his worst nightmare.

A witness saw a man in his 20s walk into the path of Mr Kelly’s bus, which was heading toward Willis St. The man was knocked over and left dazed but unhurt. An ambulance arrived but he did not need medical treatment.

“He was OK,” the witness said. “People were helping him up. He sort of dusted himself down. He was very lucky, mainly because the buses are going a lot slower.”

Mr Kelly said he saw the man wandering along the edge of the footpath, braked and took evasive action before hearing a thump.

“He was drunk. He wandered out into the road. He walked into the bus and fell over. It shook me up a lot. You become a lot more wary. You see pedestrians and think, `is this going to happen again?’ It’s not nice. It’s your worst nightmare as a driver.”