Sometimes there isn’t the space or the resources to ensure everyone gets exactly what they want but, if you have a closed mind, you can’t come up with the innovative solutions that are required to ensure a good result for the community as a whole.
It was therefore very heartening to read the Auckland Transport (AT) report on the Esplanade on the agenda of the last Waiheke Local Board meeting. It gave the results of the Post Implementation Monitoring Surveys AT had been asked to undertake by the current Board. It gave the results of their survey when the road was closed to traffic in March 2011 and again this March, nine months after if was re-opened.
Despite the doom and gloom predictions of disaster and carnage that would happen there if anyone was foolish enough to step onto this ‘dangerous’ road if it was re-opened nothing could be further from the truth. In reality more cyclists and pedestrians are using the road than ever and are doing so while sharing the space with cars, motorcycles and mopeds. The number of cyclists has doubled, the number of pedestrians is up by nearly 50% with car numbers matching those of pedestrians. The community has embraced the environment as a shared space for all. Here is ATs conclusion:
“The Esplanade is considered to be operating safely for all road users. The traffic calming measures….are effective in lowering vehicle speeds to a level that is appropriate for a shared use route. Traffic volumes are low and drivers were observed to be driving in a manner that is appropriate for a shared use route and exercised courtesy and caution when they encountered vulnerable road users.”
As Janet Hunt, the noted writer, conservationist and former Waiheke resident, said to me when I met her on the Esplanade a few days after it was opened, “I was opposed to the road being re-opened, but I think your Board has done a fantastic job of making it a safe and attractive environment. I've changed my mind and now think you've done a wonderful job and should be proud of your achievement.”
It is such a shame that, as the AT report notes, all 5 current Board members still want the road closed. They are an example of a Board that is exclusive, who are driven by a Green ideology that is exclusive, and they will continue to divide the community and work solely for the benefit of their own supporters, and of course, their own kids.