Street Smart (Summer 2019)

From the front...

Summer 2019

Seasons Greetings!

It has been a visual spectacle of moustaches around Abley in November, with 13 employees embracing Movember, to raise awareness and money for men’s health. By sporting a moustache and competing in the Movember Move (walking or running over 60km during the month), our team enjoyed some rigorous “mo” banter around the coffee machine, while reflecting on the more serious issues around men’s health.

It’s hard to believe the end of the year is now upon us, but I’d like to take this opportunity to thank our entire team for their hard work in 2019. Over the last few years Abley has been fortunate to sustain substantial growth and diversification of our services, along with a new brand, new offices and restructuring of our teams – it continues to be an exciting place to be!

I also want to thank our clients for choosing to work with Abley and enabling us add value to your projects and your organisation. It really is a privilege to be part of your journey and we look forward to the opportunities in the year ahead.

On a personal note, this Christmas I am sailing in the Sydney to Hobart yacht race on the same boat I crewed from Fiji to New Zealand. 

I’d like to wish you and your families an enjoyable Christmas and holiday break, keep safe and I look forward to catching up in the new year.

Steve Abley
Chief Executive

people walking across a road

New tools to assess urban road safety

Pedestrians, cyclists and motorcyclists are most at risk of trauma during road crashes. Unfortunately the number of incidents involving these vulnerable road users is increasing. 

This is a challenge for councils and state transport authorities who need to understand and prioritise improvements in order to maximise safety gains and move towards Vision Zero, a vision adopted by Transport for NSW which states that no loss of life on the roads is acceptable.

We have recently completed field testing in Sydney of two safety frameworks that we’ve developed to help road controlling authorities quantify vulnerable road user risk. The Urban Safe System Assessment (USSA) builds on the Austroads Safe System Assessment Framework process. USSA reviews the likelihood, severity and exposure for key crash types affecting pedestrians, cyclists and motorcyclists. It relies on the underlying principle that if you make a corridor safe for the most vulnerable road users, then it will be safe for all road users.

The Multi-User Safety Assessment on the other hand, aims to identify behavioural and environmental factors that contribute to crashes. It builds on road safety auditing practices, but unlike road safety audits, provides a structured approach to the assessment which allows comparisons between corridors. Assessors are also compelled to consider how the issue affects different user groups. Elderly, able-bodied and pedestrians with disabilities are considered in addition to cyclists, motorcyclists, micro-mobility users and motorists.

Our field testing in Sydney showed the challenges that this city is facing, given the high volume and mix of users that major arterial roads must accommodate. This includes large trucks, buses, cars, pedestrians, cyclists, motorcyclists and the recent phenomenon of Uber Eats delivery staff on electric bikes and scooters. As routes become busier, mistakes will inevitably occur and it’s going to be increasingly important to minimise mistakes that cause death or serious injury.

These two new tools developed by Abley provide guidance on how to manage risk to vulnerable road users through infrastructure and speed management, helping to close the gap between today’s situation and achieving Vision Zero.

Dr Shane Turner
Technical Director, Road Safety

screenshot of the Abley preferenced based cycle routing tool

Using spatial analysis on transport networks

Using spatial analysis on transport networks enables powerful insights, allowing answers to fascinating questions like “which areas of NZ are more than 30 minutes’ drive from a hospital?”, “what are the carbon emissions of my shipment options?” or “where should I locate a new retail branch?”.  

As specialists in both transport and geospatial analytics, the team at Abley regularly use network analysis techniques.

As an example, we recently helped a client to understand their carbon emissions, using ArcGIS Network Analyst to model and measure emissions of freight deliveries. Using network analysis for carbon accounting allowed our client to quickly compare dozens of delivery options via an interactive web mapping application. They were able to identify options with the lowest time, distance, cost and carbon emissions, allowing them to make well-informed and environmentally-conscious supply chain decisions.

For another client, we built a cycle route finding tool with OpenStreetMap data to give users a choice of cycle routes based on a variety of preferences. Using Network Analyst, the tool allows the user to select the fastest route, or the quietest route, which minimises busyness by prioritising routes with cycle infrastructure (cycle lanes, shared paths and separated cycleways). This provides users the choice of a route that is often both quieter and safer than the fastest route.

Abley continue to enhance our capability in this area. We are now building a nationwide multi-modal transport network, derived from OpenStreetMap data. This incorporates cycling, walking and public transport (with schedules). It will be used across multiple projects but initially as a tool to measure the accessibility of essential community services throughout New Zealand by each transport mode.

We are excited about the value that network analysis brings to a range of challenges and look forward to applying our growing expertise in this area. If you would like to explore what network analysis could do for your next project, please contact our team.

Abley team receiving an award on the careers page of the site which also has traffic engineering job opportunities.

Celebrating success

The Abley team and NZ Transport Agency were thrilled to celebrate the recent successes for the Safer Journeys Risk Assessment Tool (Mega Maps), a geospatial web application that assists road controlling authorities to improve the safety of their road networks.

Mega Maps won silver at the ACENZ INNOVATE project awards held at the Christchurch Town Hall on Friday 9 August. It also won the ‘Spatial Enablement’ Award at the NZ Spatial Excellence Awards held at Te Papa Wellington on the 17 October, and the ‘Leadership Award – Road Safety’ at this year’s Trafinz Conference, held in Hamilton from 11-13 November. These award wins recognise the role that Mega Maps has to play in making our roads safer, benefiting all road users.

Congratulations to Becky Tuke who was awarded ‘Highly Commended’ for the Rising Star Award at the annual Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport NZ (CILT) awards on Friday 18 October 2019. This award recognises a young employee (under 35 years) in the transport and logistics sectors who embodies the mission of their employer, consistently produces quality work and displays characteristics that are valued by their peers and colleagues as well as managers.

In September, Abley were proud to be announced winners of the ‘Sustainable Journeys Award’ at the Australasia Fleet Safety Awards 2019 for our travel planning programme TravelWhiz. The award category ‘Sustainable Journeys’ specifically recognises organisations that have done the most to reduce risk and fuel emissions by introducing sustainable travel, such as encouraging cycling, walking and public transport as alternatives to driving a motor vehicle.

Buller walking action plan

Walking is often the ‘forgotten’ transport choice, yet most people use a footpath every day. It’s also one of the first skills we learn and continue to use throughout our lives. Walking positively influences the health and wellbeing of both individuals and communities, so it’s essential that we find ways to proactively support walking across all abilities, ages and stages.

Abley has recently been working with Buller District Council and key stakeholders to develop a walking action plan for Westport, Reefton and smaller townships. The aim was to identify and prioritise actions to work towards “a walking environment that is safe, convenient, attractive and accessible for all”. There is fantastic work already being done by local community groups with the development of routes such as the Kawatiri River Trail, Kawatiri Coastal Trail and the Council footpath resurfacing programme. Our main focus was to work with residents and key partners to develop community-oriented priorities for the townships within the district.

After a review of the existing network and community engagement, we created a prioritised walking network and action plan to deliver a safer and more accessible walking environment. The plan was developed to align with the Government Policy Statement, NZ Transport Agency funding processes and national and local health objectives, in order to help secure funding for new and improved walking infrastructure.

In Westport, the focus is on enhancing the existing network, whilst creating new footpaths in Reefton. The plan includes actions to improve pedestrian safety in the smaller townships within the district. Providing connections to key destinations, recreational routes and safe pedestrian access on the State Highway are the key priorities district-wide.

Tracy Fleming
Senior Transportation Engineer

Bridget Carden profile picture

Staff profile: Bridget Carden

Bridget started in the Abley Christchurch office as a graduate from the University of Canterbury in 2015 and has since gained a broad range of experience in transport planning, traffic engineering and road safety. Now Hamilton-based, Bridget is looking forward to connecting with and working alongside our clients in the Waikato region.

Bridget’s recent projects include:

  • Working on the Te Kura O Take Kārara Primary School (currently under construction) in Wanaka through master planning, design and travel planning phases
  • Assessing road safety risk for vulnerable road users on some of Sydney’s urban arterials
  • Developing a speed management implementation plan for the Hurunui District
  • Refreshing Timaru’s active transport strategy
  • Safety audits for Marine Parade and High Street in Christchurch
  • Technical analysis to support the development of NZ Transport Agency’s ‘Standard Safety Intervention Toolkit’

Bridget has excellent problem-solving skills which she draws on in her role as a project manager.  In 2019, Bridget’s work in the road safety sector was recognised when she was selected as one of five finalists for the New Zealand 3M Traffic Safety Innovation Awards.

Outside of work, 2019 has been a very big year for Bridget. Her milestones have included getting married, travelling overseas to attend the Netball World Cup, and moving to Hamilton. It’s great to now have an Abley presence in Waikato, so if you’re looking for a local expert with regards to transportation or road safety advice, do touch base with Bridget.

Bridget Carden
Senior Transportation Engineer

Developing an Integrated Network Operating Plan for Palmerston North

Transport systems are complicated and involve managing competing demands of different modes, growing populations and changes in land use. A Network Operating Plan (NOP) offers an agreed process that links network operation and planning decisions with strategic goals.  

The NOP process enables development of a network that is well planned, serves all users and functions effectively.

Rapid growth in the Palmerston North region required a rethink of the transport infrastructure and investment to deliver the right infrastructure and services at the right time. Palmerston North City Council, in partnership with NZ Transport Agency, Manawatu District Council and Horizons Regional Council, appointed Abley to develop a Safety and Access Network Operating Plan for Palmerston North and the surrounding satellite towns.

The process began with the determination of the NOP which provided a structure for stakeholders to come together and agree how the transport network should be planned and operated. This moves away from the traditional prioritisation of transport networks by function (i.e. motorways, arterial, main roads and local roads) to focus on an integrated hierarchy of elements based on users and their mode choice, surrounding land use, function of the road and travel demand at particular times of the day.

The analysis drew on numerous data sets (District Plan, crash records, volumes, speed and RAMM) for each mode to provide robust evidence to test interventions and compare strategies. Stakeholder workshops were undertaken to ensure buy-in and ownership of inputs, analysis methodology and the output.

Exposing the operating gaps and comparing a range of interventions ensured resilience against potential issues and ensured that investment was focussed on the programme objectives to provide a safer land transport system with reduced modal conflicts.

The outcome of this work is a Network Operating Plan that defines the road user hierarchy, identifies the performance deficiencies and enables network performance measurement. The Plan includes twenty interventions that best address the greatest gaps in performance, in terms of both safety and access, to be implemented over the next three years.

Steve Carruthers profile image

Steve Carruthers
Associate Transportation Planner

A street with separated cycleway

Applying the Healthy Streets approach in New Zealand

Regular physical activity addresses many of the key health issues facing society today. Not only does activity help prevent obesity and age-related diseases, it also improves general health and wellbeing. Our street environment has a significant impact on whether people choose to use more active travel options such as walking, cycling or public transport.

The Healthy Streets Approach was developed by Transport for London to encourage people to use cars less, and to choose active and public transport more often. Studies suggest that appealing public spaces result in healthier residents and more efficient transport networks. 

Transport for London’s Healthy Streets Check is a tool that scores a proposed scheme on 10 indicators, based on user experience. The overall score shows the strengths and weaknesses of the proposed street treatments. This provides a consistent framework for assessing existing and proposed designs, and presents the results in a way that the general public can understand.

At Abley, we have been using this tool to assess streets in New Zealand. The approach provides a good indication of which streets require urgent attention and identifies quick wins in scheme designs. It can be used for specific locations or city-wide, to rate streets and display results spatially. Using the tool to assess new street designs provides the greatest opportunity to support active lifestyles through high quality environments. Key design opportunities identified in our healthy street assessments include providing seating, shelter, street crossings and trees.

The holistic nature of the Healthy Streets Approach, combined with New Zealand-based research on what people value about different street types, makes this a powerful tool going forward.

Further growth & diversity for the Abley team

We’re excited that our team continues to expand and evolve. Please join us in welcoming our newest team members:

Charlotte Harris heads up our Shared Services team in the new role of Commercial Manager. Charlotte has a legal background and brings strong strategic management and contractual experience to the team.

Fiona Mohan joins our Auckland team as a Principal Project Manager, with eight years’ experience in GIS and software development project management in the health services industry. 

Benjamin Walch, Transportation Planner, gained most of his experience in transportation planning in the UK working with councils to reduce car dependence and promote transportation alternatives. 

Kate Brill has also recently joined our Auckland team as a Principal Transportation Planner, with extensive previous local experience.

Gavin Jeter joins our Christchurch team as a certified FME Specialist from Kansas City, USA, where he has worked for the past 13 years. 

Shonel Sonakjee adds a broad range of experience as a Transportation Engineer, previously working in South Africa and Christchurch. 

Fraser Dixon has been working at Abley as a student intern for the past two years and now joins our team as a Graduate Transportation Planner.

Abley team photo Dec 2019

Join our team

We are always on the hunt for talented professionals to join our award-winning team.

If you have transportation, spatial or software development skills and experience, and you are looking for an exciting new opportunity, we would love to hear from you! 

View our careers page for more info.