Injuries claimed at Little Bucks

Bucklands and Eastern Beaches Ratepayers and Residents Association chair Steve Udy (right) and Olympian and Bucklands Beach resident Bruce Kendall at the site in question at Little Bucks in November. They said the “fix” was neither safe nor cost-effective.  And the seawall remained unfixed. Photo Therese Henkin

Two people have been injured falling from a crumbling seawall next to relatively new pedestrian pathway at Little Bucklands Beach, two residents claim.

Bob and Jocelyn Fyfe of The Parade have raised the issue in the interests of public safety and awareness.

“We would like to bring to your attention a safety issue that has been escalating on The Parade at Little Bucklands Beach,” they said.

“The road at this northern end has been narrowed, not conforming with NZTA standards, by a path which has been created using railway sleepers attached to the existing roadway on the beach side.

“The seawall in this area has eroded to an extent that the public, who used to use it as a path, are now walking on the road.

The couple said to solve the problem, the Howick Local Board came up with the current configuration.

“The new path created by railway sleepers on top of the road is adjacent to the eroded seawall,” they said.

“There is an unprotected three metre drop from the kerb to the sea. We have already had two ambulances sent for people who have fallen into the sea. In one of the cases, the lady, apart from her injuries, suffered extreme hypothermia by the time she was rescued.”

They said Auckland Transport was not happy with the idea, however pressure from the Howick Local Board forced the scheme through.

“The non compliant narrow road has created a dangerous set of problems for users and residents,” they said.

“Fast moving traffic heading south are less than a metre from people using the existing footpath and residents maintaining the berm,” they said.

“The available roadside parking for residents and visitors is now on the beach side and requires them to cross the road (no pedestrian crossings available). There is extensive new house building in this area and visibility is limited by commercial vehicles and the bend in the road.”

They maintain the new set up has encouraged the public to continually walk on the seaward side of the road way.

“The existing footpath is basically redundant. There is no traffic calming or pedestrian crossings to slow the traffic as all the other beaches in the area have,” the Fyfes said.

“Requests to council for a safety inspection team to look at the situation are in vain as the local board are assuring them the problem is now solved. This needs to be sorted before someone else ends up in hospital severely hurt.”

Howick Local Board was contacted for comment.

Howick Ward Councillor Sharon Stewart said it is “really upsetting” to hear that members of the community are being injured along this walkway.

“I support the continued investigations by the Local Board into safety improvements in this area. As Auckland’s population increases, so do the transportation needs,” Cr Stewart said.

“It’s important that Auckland Transport, Council and Local Boards work together to create solutions that keep our communities safe.”

She also urges everyone driving in Howick to observe the speed limits and drive to the conditions. “Ours is a close-knit community. It’s important that we are considerate drivers and look out for each other.”

Auckland Transport responds:

The Parade does meet the standard for local roads under the Auckland Transport Code of Practice – it is a local road so does not come under NZTA standards which apply to rural roads and highways. Auckland has many roads that are narrower.

This road has a speed limit of 50km/h so there is no excuse for traffic to be moving fast. The road has been narrowed to slow traffic, people have a responsibility to drive to the road conditions and to look out for other road users and pedestrians.  It is common practice to make roads narrow so that people slow down.

The wide shoulder provides an area that can be used as a footpath, it is very safe and is protected from the traffic by the parked vehicles.

Supported by Auckland Transport, the Howick Local Board decided that widening the shoulder provided a cost effective solution to a variety of safety problems including:

  • Keeping people exiting parked cars well away from the seawall
  • Narrowing the road to slow traffic down

The sleepers are similar in height to the existing kerb but are painted white, have reflectors nearby and are preceded by clearly marked cross hatching on the road all warning people that they are there.

The Local Board is currently investigating further options for The Parade including pedestrian crossing points.