KiwiRail and the New Zealand Transport Agency have led the development of a New Zealand design guide for pedestrian and cycle facilities at rail crossings, both alongside roadways and stand-alone. ViaStrada were commissioned to develop this guidance and worked with Stantec who were developing parallel new guidance on risk assessment of level crossings.
This work aims to fill a gap in cohesive policy, information and guidance on providing for pedestrians and cyclists at rail crossings in New Zealand, particularly level crossings. In general, previous guidance has been more developed for roadway crossings than for pathway crossings. The Urban Cycleways Fund and NZ Cycle Trail programmes have accelerated a number of cycleways throughout the country that are in the process of being designed and constructed, requiring clear and consistent guidance nationally so that safety doesn't get compromised.
The work undertaken included:
- Background literature review and collection of best practice from NZ and internationally
- Ongoing liaison with reference group of key stakeholders
- Development of a draft Interim Guide for stakeholder review
- Preparation and presentation of guidance material at industry workshops
- Finalisation of Guide for industry use, based on industry feedback
The new guide (now available for industry use) aims to provide a more consistent approach to choosing appropriate rail crossing treatments in New Zealand for pedestrians and cyclists, based on an objective understanding of risk and international best-practice. Key over-arching principles have been identified for planning and design safe crossing facilities, namely:
- Minimise the need for at-grade crossings
- Seek user awareness of crossings and trains
- Seek user compliance when crossing
- Safe, accessible and practical for all users
- Appropriate & consistent treatments for the actual risk
- Crossing treatments should be maintainable
Some new types of warning devices and crossing layouts have also been proposed for trialling, such as chicane-style crossing approaches and dynamic LED warning signs.
ViaStrada recently updated the Guide further, taking into account initial industry feedback, with publication of this update imminent.
NB: ViaStrada staff Axel Wilke, Warren Lloyd, Gemma Dioni and Glen Koorey have also been trained as certified assessors for KiwiRail's new Level Crossing Safety Impact Assessment (LCSIA) process, which is now a requirement for all new or upgraded level crossings in New Zealand.