Ghost parcels. Auckland.
Ghost parcels. Auckland.

John Greenfield. “Ghost Parcels Show How Urban Highways Squandered Valuable Land“, StreetsBlog Chicago. Captivating images and interesting discussion about the ghost parcels that remain after the motorways wiped away neighbourhoods.

Alissa Walker. “How a Former Video Game Designer Created the Best Intersection For Bikes“, GIZMODO. Nice story about  how quickly innovation in street design is being applied around the world.

The US’s first “protected intersection” opened this month on a busy corner in Salt Lake City. With only a few modifications to the traditional car-centered intersection, it keeps cyclists completely separated from vehicular traffic, makes them easier to see, and even gives them a head start at the light.

Andreas Lindinger. “Transforming a street: Before-After images of Vienna’s Mariahilferstrasse” Vienncouver. Neat before an after swiping images from Vienna.

Before and After (via Vienncouver)
Before and After (via Vienncouver)

Pippa Coomb. “Free our streets for bikes! Taking inspiration from London’s FreeCycle” CycleActionAuckland.

Of course it made me wonder when we are going to have Auckland’s first genuine FreeCycle-style event with the roads made available just for people on bikes. We’ve had Playing in the Streets in 2012, Ciclovia in 2014 and Open Streets Auckland earlier this year, which were lots of fun and opened streets for people to enjoy … but just didn’t cater for riding en masse on a dedicated route. Besides FreeCycle, there are lots of other successful examples from around the world – NYC has the Tour de Brooklyn, the Tour de Bronx, and the epic 5 Boro Ride. So why not Auckland?

Rachel Bachman. “Do Bike Helmet Laws Do More Harm Than Good?“, Wall Street Journal.

Some cyclists and academics say helmet laws discourage a convenient form of exercise in an era of inactivity. Sedentary lifestyles can have quieter but wider long-term effects than bike crashes, such as billions of dollars in health-care costs for chronic conditions, they say.

Piet de Jong, a professor in the department of applied finance and actuarial studies at Sydney’s Macquarie University, actually calculated the trade-off of mandatory helmet laws. In a 2012 paper in the journal Risk Analysis, he weighed the reduction of head injuries against increased morbidity due to foregone exercise from reduced cycling.

Dr. de Jong concluded that mandatory bike-helmet laws “have a net negative health impact.” That is in part because many people cycle to work or for errands, experts say. People tend to replace that type of cycling not with another physical activity such as a trip to the gym, but with a ride in a car.

David Levinson, “No New Roads: A Strategy for the Future of Transport“, Strongtowns. An excerpt from the new book The End of Traffic and the Future of Transport by David Levinson and Kevin J. Krizek.

Eyeing technological advances with current trends, we envision scenarios that are in stark contrast to the conventional planning done by most governments and industry trade groups. In short, we conclude that the US should largely stop building new roads and widening existing ones. Instead communities ought to gracefully abandon excess lanes on underutilized or redundant roads. All of this points to shrinking the size of remaining roads, managing those roads better with location-specific, time-of-day pricing, and reducing the share of the surface of those roads devoted to the car.

Kate Abbey-Lambertz. “How The Decline Of Cars Is Changing Cities For The Better“, HuffPost Business.

Since those days, Schwartz has been joined by many experts who realize cities and their residents suffer when cars are the top transportation priority. At the same time, Americans have been driving less, with the annual number of vehicle miles traveled, or VMT, declining since 2004. The trend is so surprising that it took awhile for experts to believe it would be sustained.

“There was a revolution that nobody noticed,” Schwartz told The Huffington Post. “Everybody kept predicting they would go up. …. In 100 years, there has never been such a rapid change in transportation since the advent of the streetcar and the automobile.”

Schwartz said much of the VMT drop is due to millennials, who are driving less than their predecessors and relying more on bicycling and public transit. More millennials want to live in walkable communities with public transit than do older generations — though the majority of millennials still live in suburbs.

Schwartz often warns mayors that to keep young residents from moving away, they need to build dense downtowns, public transit and walkable streets. Those features attract 20-somethings — and also have economic, health and environmental benefits.

Lois Cairns. “Christchurch’s 50kmh speed limit too high, expert claims“, Stuff. NZ must be one of the last OECD countries to get the memo that slower speeds make safer streets. Here’s a nice article on research and advocacy of Dr Glen Koorey on the subject in Christchurch.

Dr Glen Koorey, a senior lecturer in transport engineering at the University of Canterbury, believes the city’s roads would be safer if the slower speed zones that apply outside many schools were applied in other parts of Christchurch too.

Research shows that crashes at speeds of more than 40kmh have a much higher risk of killing or injuring someone.

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23 comments

  1. It’s not just Christchurch that has too high a speed limit, anywhere that pedestrians and cyclist have to share the same space as transport should be 40kmh, the only high speed should be on motorways and rail, if a speed is likely to kill it should be considered high speed, or isn’t life worth it.

  2. Even 40km/h is arguably too high; you can halve again the risk of fatality and severe injury by going from 40k to 30k. Makes more sense in some of the “low hanging fruit” areas I identified of suburban shopping streets, residential traffic calmed areas, and around schools.

    1. i agree 100%, just the average motorist shows complete contempt for limits unless they think they might be caught. put a police car behind somebody and their driving behaviour changes rapidly.

  3. Were we live is 70kph and what makes it more dangerous are the cars parked blocking the road edge making it necessary to move into the fast traffic flow, as a start they could ban parking that impends cyclists and pedestrians and make designated parking bays were properties have no parking, if people have to walk it will be good exercise.

  4. I like the protected intersection concept, but the promo video hardly referred to pedestrians, I think that speed tables for the crossings on the bike lanes would enhance the concept by slowing cyclists at the intersection and promote cyclist awareness of peds

  5. I love that fact that cars can go fast down roads mounting curbs and killing young girls. But Trains can only go 2 km/h through Baldwin Ave lol, maybe cars need ETCS Level One 😛

    1. +1 +1 +1
      The disparity between safety regimes on road and rail is a long-standing source of concern and bewilderment to the few that bother to think about it. The absurdity of it needs hammering home as most people have a complete blind-spot to this. Good that you highlight it here!

    1. If the benefit of the motorway is higher then would motorists be prepared to pay a toll higher than the rents that could be collected from that land if it was developed? I highly doubt it.

      1. Except you make the assumption they would still be slums today rather than re-developed. Downtown used to be a slum isn’t anymore. Canary Wharf used to be a Victorian age dock, now it’s one of the premier business districts of the world. St. Giles in London used to be the symbol of the slums of London during the Hannoverian and Victorian eras with the famous painting of the drunk mother on the steps with gin dropping her baby on the levels below without a care. Now it’s a retail area.

        1. Right so Canary Wharf with river views on three sides of south facing offices and apartments is comparable to Newton Gully? It was a complete hole until the government spent a fortune on the Jubilee Line extension and building the Limehouse link- the most expensive road in Europe. Yes Newton gully could be redeveloped today but if the motorway hadn’t gone through there it would have been built somewhere else and that area would be the centre where people would have put their businesses.

          1. the state highway network should never have come into the city. From Ellerslie it should have veered west along current SH20-SH16-SH18 route, which I understand was the original plan until the roadies at Auckland City Council convinced central government to ram it right through the guts.

            Harbour bridge should have been connected with high capacity arterial boulevard, which had some connectivity with local streets.

            In this way, Auckland could have been more like most of those wonderful European cities which have comprehensive orbital highways which are well connected via urban boulevards that also support PT and higher density development.

            Instead we got the CMJ. And it’s a heap of shit.

          2. My view is that the Auckland City people managed to get too much focus on access to the CBD and that came at the expense of insufficient capacity for through traffic. Now we all get delayed when we just want to get past the CBD. As for convincing the government to put the motorway close to the CBD there really wasn’t much convincing. It was the obvious route, some old houses that needed demolition on land that was low value.

  6. “Motorway a higher benefit” – not really mfwic. Over time, because of proximity to the city, Newton would have have redeveloped into a mixed use area in the way Morningside is now and in the way Ponsonby and Grey Lynn have changed from cheap houses to desirable residential. K Road would have retained its earlier status as the leading second tier shopping area.
    I don’t mind an efficient motorway out in the country snaking through the hills but motorway interchanges especially in the centre of cities are not only wasteful of space but are incredibly ugly.
    Furthermore, when the bridge was constructed for vehicles only, those of us living on the Shore were forced into car and motorway use. Initially this was ok but m’way extensions mean that those people who start from further out are given user preference and it becomes very difficult to gain entry from Tristram in the peak. Which is why I love NEX and the busway.
    And why I want the govt to support public transit and stop building/widening motorways anywhere near Auckland.

    1. I forgot to mention the rating potential for Auckland City if the CMJ was not there, would be considerable – represents a big income loss for the city not really balanced by further out income gains.

      1. Ok so what loss? Housing on the CMJ land would have been instead of housing elsewhere in Auckland so the city would simply have collected the same rates from a different area. A dead weight loss? Not in my view as the benefit of moving freight and 200,000 vehicles per day needs to be included in that assessment. A loss of irreplaceable land? No the CMJ uses less land than the domain does and yet it is used by more people. A loss of 50,000 people from the CBD? Well only ‘True Believers’ subscribe to that nonsense. To be true that would represent something like 1 person per 0.8sqm or a density higher than Bangladesh. A loss of some romanticised walking, cycling and PT based future? Well that just wasn’t going to happen and it didn’t. If you guys are right try lobbying to have it removed. No party that wants to govern will do that.

        1. mfwic, not so when it was planned and built. The CMJ was absolutely a transfer of rates income from the old Auckland City Council to other outer authorities, was absolutely part of the transfer of wealth from urban to suburban. Was and is absolutely the privileging of distant communities over proximate one. The privileging of the access of the distant over the local.

          As for freight, of course that would have been better served by a bypass around the city than one through it; as every transport consultant of any worth at the time advised. Instead road freight has to mix it with little jonny being driven to Grammar and suburbanites commuting into city office buildings by car; daft.

          The CMJ and SH1 through the city is a result of cost cutting and sort-termism and, especially, hick-town anti-urbanism that still bedevil infrastructure decision making in Auckland and NZ. And of course it has not saved us money, but rather continues to soak up ever more investment, nor made us rich; it has made the city inefficiently dispersed with a hopelessly collared and restricted centre.

          But it is a huge sunk cost so we have work round it and ameliorate its more egregious effects rather than remove it. But certainly stop feeding it with any more connections like the stupid AWHC as currently planned. That would be a folly of stratospheric heights. It’s done, live with it [bury it!]; but don’t double down on the thing.

          1. Patrick 1/ Agree, the rates income was transferred but it was a transfer not a net loss to society. 2/ Freight only cares about travel time/distance. If you can get a truck back and do one more delivery then you have a gain. The best option is a direct route that is unimpeded. We could have that now with either road pricing or more capacity. Going around is second best. 3/ That’s your opinion, mine is that CMJ continues to give enormous benefit to the region at a cost to a few. 4/ Yes it is a sunk cost but if that land truly had much benefit it would have been built over by now. That fact is the land has less value than the cost of the bridge structure needed to do that.

            In terms of value I say it has added more to the region than it lost. Most of us benefit from it, a few were bought out, and some have to look at ugly structures.

          2. But you are comparing CMJ to no solution, not CMJ to the alternatives [see Stu above, plus the bus/train integrated Rapid Transit system we are only starting to build now]. There is no dispute that the growing city needed road investment; the argument is over what kind and where. You are suggesting that because it is there it was necessary; this is circular. And of course landuse pattern has been shaped by was built so some imagination is required to understand just how much else could be different. I know this is difficult and leads to the very prevalent status quo bias in these discussions: if we built it it must be the best answer. I say nonsense to that. But we don’t do imagination well.

            In fact a lack of imagination is probably my single biggest criticism of our institutions responsible for the city as it is. Too many higher altitude decisions made on the basis of lower level technical criteria. Technicalities are always important; plans must be be within the realm of the possible!, but are secondary to strategy. The other criticism as mentioned earlier is that we always do everything on the cheap, like it seems we are with the CRL now, the through city m’way appealed as a solution for competing uses as you say, so now it serves no one well; especially road freight. Is, or at least soon will be, constantly near infarction [especially as NZTA are abandoning the policy of ‘rationing’ of traffic onto its core with widening on all three approach m’ways; happy days.]

            Time now for a radically different approach to infrastructure investment, post Waterview. But no-one is suggesting closing what we’ve got.

          3. Had the motorway gone through Mt Roskill and Avondale with no motorway through CMJ then the city would still have faced huge pressure to widen Gt South Rd, Broadway Khyber Pass etc as that would still have been the most convenient route. Likely the impact would have been greater for less achieved. Given the harbour bridge went where it could be built cheapest then without CMJ it probably would have been Ponsonby Road that would have been destroyed. In my view almost any alternative outcome would have been worse than what we got. Yes we go for the cheapest, in part because we don’t really have a lot of money. at least with CMJ we got a fully connected system (eventually) and only lost some houses in a crappy part. I actually like ho the motorway largely fits into low lying areas and makes use of topography as best as it can. There are daft parts like the Newmarket viaduct which was designed by a railway engineer and then rebuilt even higher by our generation! But in the main we inherited something that works well without inheriting a massive debt that a larger system would have required. As for confining the CBD, I think that is actually a good thing that will help get even higher densities there.

  7. Another advantage of driving only 30 is that it’s easier and less abrupt to stop your car.

    Being considerate to others often involves stopping: eg. let a pedestrian cross the other half of the road, let a car pull out of a parking spot, let a bus come out of a bus stop. Showing that little bit of courtesy will make traffic much less aggravating than it is now. And driving slower makes it much easier.

    And yes, it may “disrupt the traffic flow” but you were going to stop for that traffic light a few metres further anyway.

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