I can’t believe it’s already May. What’s happened to the year? Anyway, welcome back to Sunday reading.

Today, I’d like to lead off with an important article by Huffington Post reporter Kate Abbey-Lambertz: “Cities aren’t designed for women. Here’s why they should be“. She argues that there’s an unmet need for urban places that respond to the needs of 51% of the population:

The need for women-focused solutions in cities becomes clear when you look at how they have been ignored in urban design. The built environment — things like the accessibility of public space, zoning for housing and transportation design — can marginalize women and jeopardize their safety.

Women use cities differently from men in many ways, according to the American Planning Association and Cornell University’s Women’s Planning Forum: They have higher poverty rates and different housing needs, are still “responsible for the majority of housework and childcare” and “have unique travel behavior related to their combination of work and household responsibilities.”

Cities’ plans overwhelmingly don’t address women’s needs, their planning or zoning boards aren’t aware of them and local developers aren’t responsive to them, according to a 2014 survey of more than 600 planners that is cited in the report.

Some of the challenges women face may seem simple, such as having to navigate poorly maintained sidewalks or stairs with a stroller or use restrooms without trash containers or changing tables. But many are more consequential, such as avoiding public transit rather than facing conditions, like desolate and poorly lit bus stops, that make them feel unsafe.

Of course, these sorts of changes would benefit just about everyone. Nobody likes waiting in an unsafe bus stop – except muggers, I guess. But while some of us glumly tolerate it, others simply give up and go away.

Meanwhile, the Island Bay Cycleway Blog provides an encouraging story of how a redesigned street opened up new opportunities for a local mum: “How I learned to stop worrying and love the bike“. Memo to skeptics of cycleways: This is how things work out in practice:

I spent a year watching people riding bikes from the safety of the bus, wishing that I too was brave. I wanted to be like them, but how to stay alive on the treacherous Adelaide Road trip? Riding a bike to work was the domain of Serious Cyclists: mostly men, and mostly wearing a lot of lycra. It was not for ladies who like dressing up and who never really bonded with a 10-speed.  I was resigned to just having to wait until the whole Island Bay – CBD cycleway was finished, before I made the switch to riding a bike. In the meantime, I’d violate my personal fitness/environment values every day…

I mentioned to a few people that I wanted to bike to work but felt unconfident, and there was understanding but gentle encouragement. Other local mums were riding bikes – clearly they didn’t share my fear of leaving their children motherless following an accident. One friend opts for the footpath in a really narrow bit of Adelaide Road. Another suggested leaving a hi-vis jacket open so that it flapped in the wind to increase visibility. And if I got a puncture, I could always chain my bike up at that point, and fetch it later. When the Island Bay cycleway was completed it also gave me confidence that at least the start and end of my daily round trip would be comfortable and safe…

In the end, it wasn’t so bad. The worst bit was arriving at my building having forgotten my swipe card (ah the irony). The traffic was moderately light and it was a beautiful day. I confess to a footpath dash for about 50 metres of Adelaide Road.  Big ups to the group of real cyclists who yelled out ‘hi’ as they went the other way (clearly I looked like a novice, but I really appreciated the gesture). I followed others’ advice to sit in the lane when I was going at the speed of traffic, which made me feel more confident as I knew I’d be seen and couldn’t be sideswiped. On the way home, I could leave when I was ready without waiting for a timetable. And on the home straight, you really appreciate the traffic protection benefits of the Island Bay cycleway after negotiating the CBD section.

I’ve continued riding a bike to work and although I’m yet to repeat the feat on a blustery, dark, rainy day, my fear is at least partially harnessed now. And if you should do one thing every day that scares you a little, then I’m set for challenges for the next couple of months!

While this is a good-news story, it also highlights the importance of having a connected network of safe cycle facilities.

On the other hand, here’s a bad-news story. Charlie Sorrel at FastCoexist explains “why traffic studies make our cities worse for everyone“:

When a new development is proposed, typically the developer must do a traffic studies, or traffic impact assessment. Because traffic engineers are engineers, they usually over-engineer, and this, combined with the data from the assumptions, leads to huge intersections designed never to choke up. As you can imagine, that’s great for cars passing through, but terrible for anyone else.

As the traffic blog Urban Kchoze puts it:

Huge intersections like these tend to result in high-speed travel during most periods of the day when it is not congested, creating noise pollution and having the potential for very dangerous crashes … Their surplus capacity may also induce more vehicle traffic than would have happened otherwise. Finally, their huge size makes them a barrier to non-motorized travel.

Instead of a relatively small, slow-flowing road that can be crossed, we end intersections with 130-foot crosswalks, discouraging pretty much anyone sane from trying it. This leads to a self-fulfilling prophecy—future traffic studies assume that all travel is car-based, resulting in more road systems that can only be navigated by car.

This method also leads to sprawl. Because developers have to pay for any redevelopment of the roads, they favor building in areas that need little change. Developing in urban centers costs a fortune when you have to re-route or widen roads, so they look to the edge of town, where the roads aren’t yet near capacity.

The irony is that development in central urban areas wouldn’t necessarily increase road traffic, because many of the visitors would arrive on foot, or using existing public transit. But by developing at the edges of the city, these developments increase car use, further marginalizing alternate transport methods.

I’d add one additional, slightly more technical point to this. The traffic impact assessments I’ve taken a look at typically focus on a quite small area – typically a few intersections in either direction of the development. This isn’t entirely crazy from an analytical perspective, as the further you get from the location, the more diluted the impacts on any individual street become.

However, this style of assessment suffers from an unexamined underlying assumption that development will either occur in the study location or simply vanish. In reality, it won’t vanish: it will go elsewhere. And “elsewhere” may result in worse overall transport outcomes. This isn’t a problem if every development requires a traffic assessment, but typically there’s a size threshold. As a result, traffic assessments become a stick for beating apartment developments and substantial urban redevelopment projects, even around public transport, while allowing small-scale infill and sprawl developments to proceed without issue.

And speaking of substantial urban redevelopment, the Economist reports on a trend towards “ersatz urbanism”: ready-made downtowns that “bulldoze the distinction between city and suburb”:

Today the fad in south Florida is not golf villages or retro towns but ready-made city centres. Half an hour’s drive south of Sunrise, another Metropica-like development, City Place Doral, is under construction. Two others with even taller towers, Miami Worldcentre and Brickell City Centre, are going up in central Miami. A huge development called SoLe Mia will rise in north Miami. All will combine “walkable” shopping streets, offices and homes—mostly two- and three-bedroom flats in towers. Similar developments have appeared in other American cities, and beyond. But Florida is being overrun.

Builders call these developments “mixed-use”, a term that fails to capture what they are up to. The idea of combining flats, offices and shops even in a single building is not new: look at an old New York district like Chelsea. Metropica and its kin try to create urban cores in places that lack them. Whereas new urbanist settlements often promote a small-town ideal, these sell big-city life, which is why they have words like “metro”, “city” and “centre” in their names. The salesmen claim that residents will be able to live, work and be entertained in a single district.

However, one of the issues with the new districts is that they’re typically all built in one go, to reasonably consistent standards and prices. As a result, they don’t necessarily provide the kind of diversity and vitality typical to Jane Jacobs-style urban neighbourhoods. That, the Economist argues, is moving to aging suburbs:

In fact, the low-rise 1960s suburb where Metropica is being built is already full of cosmopolitan surprise. Behind those monotonous lawns lives a diverse population: one-third of the 88,000 people who live in Sunrise are black and one-quarter are Hispanic. The strip malls are filled with esoteric businesses—a South Indian vegetarian restaurant run by Palestinians, a Vietnamese café, a Dominican hairdresser, even a British shop selling Boddingtons beer and scones. Walkable they are not. But by providing places for immigrants to get ahead, the cheap, ugly, car-oriented strip malls of suburban Florida are already doing what cities are supposed to do.

This is a pretty normal process. Older buildings – and older neighbourhoods that have experienced an ongoing trickle of development – offer cheaper space for startups and low-income people. As they age, the new urban centre will also make this transition.

On a different note, here are two interesting pieces of research from Australia. The first deals with the impact of council amalgamations in New South Wales. Economics professor Brian Dollery writes that “the evidence is against ‘bigger is better’ for local government“:

In all three cases, the architects of compulsory amalgamation have been under the sway of the dogma that “bigger is better” in local government. Ratepayers are told amalgamation will herald a new dawn of lower rates, cheaper services, improved service quality, enhanced financial viability and superior administration and planning…

Are these claims consistent with the empirical evidence? My colleagues Brian Bell and Joseph Drew and I investigated this question for NSW’s 2004 forced amalgamations.

We took advantage of being able to use 2014 data to compare the performance of merged councils with their unmerged counterparts over ten years.

We compared amalgamated “general purpose” councils with their un-amalgamated peer councils in the same local government classification. We thus had the benefit of a “natural experiment”, being able to compare the two groups of “like” councils against a common set of performance indicators…

We found no statistically significant differences in the performance of the two groups of councils against these criteria. This falsifies past claims by the Carr Labor government that its forced amalgamations would substantially improve NSW local government financial performance. It also undermines the Baird Coalition government’s claims for its proposed mergers.

It’s important to note that Dollery and his co-authors have only looked at the financial performance of councils, rather than overall economic or social outcomes in the areas they govern. It’s possible that there are some wider benefits – e.g. from better planning for region-wide growth. However, these findings do suggest that there’s a case for skepticism about the case for mergers.

The second research paper also deals with the impacts of a “natural experiment”: a change in land use planning frameworks in Queensland. Economists Cameron Murray and Paul Frijters find that the benefits of the policy change disproportionately accrue to politically-connected landowners. From their abstract:

We use a unique regulatory event that occurred in Queensland, Australia, from 2007-2012, to examine the predictive power of landowner relationship networks and lobbying behaviour on successfully gaining value-enhancing rezoning. A State authority, the Urban Land Development Authority (ULDA), took planning control away from local councils in selected areas in order to increase the speed and scale of development in those areas, in the process increasing land values. Using micro-level relationship data from multiple sources, we compare the relationship-network characteristics of landowners of comparable sites inside and outside the ULDA areas, finding that ‘connected’ landowners owned 75% of land inside the rezoned areas, and only 12% outside, capturing $410 million in land value gains out of the total $710 million from rezoning. We also find that engaging a professional lobbyist is a substitute for having one’s own connections. Scaling up from our sample of six rezoned areas to the hundreds of rezoning decisions across Queensland and Australia in the last few decades, suggests that many billions of dollars of economic rent are being regularly transferred from the general population to connected landowners through political rezoning decisions.

The authors have also written a non-technical summary of their work here, along with some potential policy solutions to the “corrupt land rezoning decisions” problem.

Queensland is considerably more corrupt than New Zealand (at least, I hope that’s the case!), but it would nonetheless be interesting to see what you’d find if you did a similar analysis of the impact of Auckland’s Special Housing Areas.

That brings us to the week’s final article: Bernard Hickey’s take on a potential land tax, which is a policy that would capture at least some of the unearned gains from land speculation:

Mr Key has suggested a land tax targeted only at non-residents, but with some sort of three year exemption for expatriates who own houses here would be the best way to take some of the heat out of the housing market and comply with our trade agreements.

It is already looking like the sort of highly-targeted tax that is shot through with exemptions and loop holes of the type that killed off the original version of a land tax that was eventually retired in the early 1990s. Foreign investors must already be calling their tax planners for some early side-stepping tips.

It is not the version of a land tax that was proposed in 2010 by the Tax Working Group that Mr Key set up and which he has already rejected once. That land tax was a broad tax on everyone owning land. No specific rate was proposed, but former Reserve Bank Chairman and Tax Working Group member Arthur Grimes put forward a paper in late 2009 that estimated a 1% land tax would raise NZ$4.6 billion and cause an almost overnight reduction of land values of 16.7%. That would have bought a substantial income tax reduction and avoided a GST increase.

Enjoy the rest of the weekend!

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  1. We already have a tax on land – rates. Although the value of the land is used only as a proportional tool for rates purposes. Auckland Council rates also generate $200m+ in GST.

    1. Rates are levied according to capital value, not land value, so they’re by no means the same as a land tax.

        1. Of course capital value includes the value of land, but a lot more too. Land value is about 50% of my residential capital value, and it will be a much greater proportion in some places, much less in others. Therefore, as I said, rates are nowhere near the same as a land tax.

  2. Hi, Urban Kchoze author here. I just want to point out that your point about how traffic impact assessments concentrate on a small local area, leading to constant pressure on regional road links is indeed included in my original blog:

    “So though the traffic study may help avoid local congestion around the development, it will only channel more and more cars onto the major regional roads, which are not considered during that process. These major roads, usually administrated by DOTs or Transport Ministries, are often the only rapid links available to connect people with the rest of the region and will in essence be treated as car sewers by developers and planners, more and more cars will be fed to them, which eventually results in congestion. Of course, congestion of major regional roadways that are vital for freight transport inside a region is a major issue. As a consequence, these State/provincial entities will have to plan for more and more interventions on their roads to keep increasing capacity and deal with all the traffic cities bring into them.”

    Personally, I am not quite sure how to feel about fastcoexist’s article. On one hand, I like that what I wrote has been given more reach, spreading knowledge of these issues around, even through an article that is basically a summary of my own blog (even re-using my images, which, granted, I took from Google Earth, so I’ve no claim on them). On the other, as a blogger, I’m a bit like a masochist… I live for the hits. So for probably hundreds if not a couple of thousands of people to have read this article and not my original one (though granted there is a link to my article on their website) is a bit annoying to me. Just annoying mind you, I have not monetized my blog nor do I plan on doing so.

    Then again, my most popular blog page is essentially just summarizing a zoning document put out by the Japanese government to explain their zoning system, so it’s not like I’m one to talk.

    1. Do you read here regularly? I love your blog, and check it far too much for new posts. It’s interesting from the perspective of a traffic engineer as well.

      One of the ideas I’d love to see adopted here in Auckland is transport taxes for new construction to be levied per car park, not per dwelling/sq m as they are now.

      Also everyone reading this should also read the original Urban Khoze article (http://urbankchoze.blogspot.co.nz/2015/09/the-idiocy-of-traffic-studies.html) and really it should’ve been better included in the article body. It’s a good insight into how suburban development is encouraged to worsen sprawl.

      1. Thank you for your kind words. I do want to keep writing, but I’m busy at work and my new Xbox One has rekindled my love of gaming, eating into my time for blog-writing.

        I get the mails for new articles on this website, but I don’t read everything. Specific transport issues in NZ may be interesting case studies, but they’re only partially applicable to my own work and city. I’m more interested into interesting comments on general theory of transport and urbanism.

    2. Hi Simon – always good to see you in comments! We think your blog is great! And yes, I probably should have just linked to your original post instead, as it made those points eloquently.

    3. Except it is not a study of traffic impacts that encourages developers out of centres. It is the consent authority requiring developers to widen intersections if they get LOS F. Studies don’t bite but rules do.

      1. Yes. But in an environment where some people are looking for any possible reason to oppose new housing supply, the existence of traffic studies creates a stick to beat development with.

        1. But the basic argument is flawed. Like saying studying medicine makes more people sick, or the economy would be better if we didn’t collect any data.

          1. Err, no. Bad analogies. The temporal sequencing (and hence plausible causality) is completely different.

            In medicine and economics, gathering data on what *is currently* happening cannot cause that to happen. For example, getting an x-ray doesn’t cause your leg to break – it only reveals whether it was *previously* broken.

            Traffic studies, on the other hand, tend to be done *prior* to development approval. Consequently, they do not represent a case of observing what’s actually happened, and then choosing how to respond. Instead, their forecasts are often used to *influence* design of nearby streets (or project approval).

            As Simon V’s article points out, this often creates a situation where traffic studies become self-fulfilling prophesies. The model predicts that new development will result in traffic, so intersections are widened to accommodate the predicted traffic, which makes it difficult not to drive, which results in traffic.

          2. Peter, observation always has an effect on the phenomenon observed. Remember your philosophy of science here.

            If you don’t think research into house prices has an effect on house prices…

          3. Yes, that was the exact point that I was making *with regard to traffic studies*. Information gained from analysing or modelling social phenomena is often used to make decisions that then affect future outcomes. There’s an entire subfield of economics devoted to figuring out the implications of this for market behaviour and policymaking – for example, the much-maligned Efficient Markets Hypothesis.

            This isn’t a “philosophy of science” issue. By contrast, the observer effect refers to cases in where use of measuring instruments (e.g. a tyre pressure gauge) changes the physical state of the system (e.g. because you have to let out a small amount of air to check pressure). The Hawthorne effect is an analogue in social sciences – i.e. people who know they’re being observed behave differently.

            However, observer effects are not necessarily a problem for science (or social science), as it’s possible to design instruments (or experiments) that minimise the impact of taking observations.

  3. The whole idea of “traffic impacts” is ridiculous. We don’t do supermarket impact studies or electricity usage impact studies, because these services charge the user a market rate. Traffic impact studies are just studying the effects of unpriced roads. If a community wants unpriced roads that is their choice I suppose, but I can’t then see the justification for blocking development as a result of that choice.

    1. Exactly! Given the problems with defining a credible counterfactual for traffic studies, I don’t think that it should be possible to turn down developments on the basis of traffic impacts. The traffic will simply go elsewhere, possibly with worse consequences.

      However, I do think that it’s valid to consider city-wide transport outcomes at the *strategic* planning level – i.e. as an input into decisions about where to enable growth in a region. Those types of studies are less problematic as they assume that development must go *somewhere* in the region rather than simply vanishing.

    2. Perhaps communities might want unpriced roads with effects of development mitigated to keep those unpriced roads at no worse than level of service E. That would be their choice too I suppose.

      1. I find rules that restrict individual liberty to prevent impacts that are entirely due to a policy of socialising those costs to be pretty close to mob rule. The usual example is having socialised healthcare and then trying to restrict people from making choices that increase their risk of illness or injury. At least with socialised medicine it is arguably an efficient way of running things. Not so with roads in congested cities, adding insult to injury.

        1. Except that it is impossible for any individual action to not have some negative impact on others due to the fact we live in a physical world.

          The usual libertarian response is “sue your neighbour if he makes too much noise” or “sue your neighbour if he burns smelly wood in his backyard and you get it in your lounge”, but really, is that the most efficient mechanism?

          If I currently enjoy a utility level of X, and your building a road reduces it, I guess you could just compensate me for the lost utility. But boy that’d be a horrible world. We’d end up suing fat and ugly people for reducing our pleasure of sitting watching the world from cafes.

          1. “The usual libertarian response is “sue your neighbour if he makes too much noise” or “sue your neighbour if he burns smelly wood in his backyard and you get it in your lounge”, but really, is that the most efficient mechanism?”

            Nice straw man. But even so, that’s almost certainly more efficient than implementing bureaucratic controls on each and every activity that might cause someone discomfort. Which is what you usually advocate for.

            Also, with congestion pricing, this isn’t a matter of theory: Real-world evidence (see e.g. London, Stockholm) shows that it really works.

          2. EC, There is a major difference between the externalities you mention and congestion. Congestion is only something that affects other road users – other people who are trying to use the same resource. So it is only a pecuniary externality and can’t therefore be relevant to regulators in terms of externalities. If you allowed pecuniary externalities to be an effect you could sue over, or block development over, you would have people going to the environment court complaining that the price of coffee at their local cafe is going to rise. Pecuniary externalities aren’t usually considered relevant but congestion is a spurious anomaly.

          3. Matthew – while I strongly agree with you that congestion pricing is the best way to address congestion, I don’t think you’re right to say that congestion is a pecuniary externality. Theory and evidence suggest that it’s a technological externality.

            Because additional vehicles on the road impose delays on other road users, the marginal social cost of driving is higher than the marginal private cost. (MPC=ASC in this case. All of this drops elegantly out of a BPR congestion function, incidentally.) That’s more or less the definition of a technological externality – when demand increases, deadweight costs increase.

            By contrast, pecuniary externalities (aka irrelevant things we don’t need to consider in cost benefit analysis) arise in the context of an upward-sloping supply curve for which MPC=MSC. In this context, increases in demand will push you up the supply curve, raising prices. But there are no added social costs from this – the losses for some people who get priced out of the market are counterbalanced by gains for others who are willing to pay the higher prices.

          4. Thanks Peter- I am not an economist – I should put that disclaimer on my comments. I agree that congestion is a technological externality treated at face value. I guess what I am saying is rivalrous road use is pecuniary or at least it would be if we had efficient road pricing. So in a road pricing world all that would happen as a result of a development is the price would increase. There is no true externality associated with that price increase – the resource is still being used efficiently. In that world talking about road use impact from an “environmental effects” perspective would really be invalid.

            So when I am saying congestion is not an externality, it is shorthand for saying that if we managed road use in an efficient way, increasing demand for road use from development would not give rise to an externality. Now I have typed it out I can see it is just a tautology, but what I am really saying is: “If you want unpriced roads, don’t complain about congestion! And definitely don’t stop people building things on their own land!”

            However, as far as your comment goes – it was my understanding that externalities that arise due to policies to socialise costs deliberately aren’t really externalities. Like me going and using the public health system, even though it would fit your definition. That’s because we have made a deliberate choice to set things up that way.

          5. I see your point and agree with it. To boil it down:

            1. Congestion is a technological (“real”) externality.

            2. But if we priced it, it wouldn’t be an externality any more.

            3. We should price congestion rather than trying to manage it through inefficient development controls.

          6. Yes that’s what I was saying. It’s all a bit obvious when boiled down, and could probably be said about any externality currently dealt with via planning.

            There is a bit more to it though I still think, coming back to ECs comment. For a typical externality such as air pollution from a factory, there are “one way” costs imposed by the development on the neighbours, simply because the neighbours live next door. For a new development that results in more congestion however, there are two sets of externalities. There is the externality imposed by the new drivers on the existing drivers. But equally there is an externality imposed by the existing drivers on the new drivers.

            In the first example of air pollution, you could have the neighbours compensated by the factory (or the factory not built, or built in a way that reduces the effects). However in the congestion example, you have these opposing sets of externalities, so it is not at all obvious which group would end up compensating the other if efficient compensation mechanisms were in place.

            For the first example, it is possible the outcome from a planning regime would look very similar to the outcome from an efficient tax or compensation regime. So it could be said to be a good second best. But for congestion, imposing costs on the developer to widen an intersection for example or preventing the developer from even building the development is unlikely to look anything like what an efficient compensation/tax outcome would look like. So it is highly unlikely to be a good second best outcome.

            So to summarise: Congestion always has two or more sets of externalities acting in opposite directions. Focusing on only one side of those externalities doesn’t make a lot of sense.

          7. [This comment has been deleted as it is arguing against a point of view that other commentators aren’t espousing. Arguing for the sake of arguing is discouraged by our user guidelines.]

          8. [This comment has been deleted as it is arguing against a point of view that other commentators aren’t espousing. Arguing for the sake of arguing is discouraged by our user guidelines.]

          9. “I’d be quite happy to live in a world where my neighbour can build a 4-storey apartment next door, as long as he recompenses me – let’s say a nice round $10 million, based on the fact that I am the only accurate observer of my own loss of utility. ”

            Yes but when it comes to the loss of utility being due to congestion, the neighbour could equally say that you are reducing the utility of his prospective residents by using the road. And that their loss of utility is $20million! Please pay up or stop driving.

          10. [This comment has been deleted as it is arguing against a point of view that other commentators aren’t espousing. Arguing for the sake of arguing is discouraged by our user guidelines.]

    3. Are you trolling?
      We do supermarket impact analyses before they get resource consent. We do impact analyses of liquor venues before they get licensed.
      And … using a range of virtualisation techniques, we do, indeed, calculate the likely electricity consumption of a building before it is built

      1. By “supermarket impact” I was talking about the impact of a development on the usage of supermarkets in the area. Ie Would they get overused and is that therefore a reason to deny consent?

        1. That’s exactly what happens with liquor licences
          In some countries – for example Germany – they have historically (not sure if sitll the case) done an impact analysis for any type of new retail outlet e.g. a bakery where there is already saturation.

          Red-in-tooth capitalism may sound good to some, but it’s not gentlemanly, and any limits we can impose on it – setting up a bakery next door to another existing bakery – are good.

          1. Sorry I am not benig clear:

            We dont get prospective developers of apartment buildings to study the effects of their development on the capacity of nearby supermarkets, or cafes, or petrol stations. i.e. More residents will place more demand on the existing supermarkets. We dont do this because unlike roads, those services are priced efficiently and so it is irrelevant.

          2. Oh, I get your point. Yes, you are right, but we do consider the impact on other public goods like sports fields and parks.

            Now, if you want to start pricing sports fields (and I don’t mean for just organised sports) and parks, feel free… but I think your political career might be short lived 😉

            [This comment has not been deleted as it has stayed on topic.]

  4. Regarding Florida…I am actually living in Orlando, FL at the moment on a Disney College Programme at the moment. And the amount of dangerous intersections that I see and use makes me shudder, Orlando has the highest pedestrian fatality rates in the USA and it’s not hard to see why, with its appalling designs, bad driving caused by ignorant and lost drivers as well as high speeds it’s just a recipe for disaster…Here is an intersection that I frequently cross here…


    This is a supposedly 65kph/40mph highway, with the majority of drivers going about 85kph and when you are trying to cross that intersection, you have to look over your right shoulder for the cars turning left onto the 535 and sometimes wait in the middle of the road for a car to finally give way to you. I’ve been here 5 months now and I had 2 close calls already. This intersection already had had two International College Students killed by hit and runs and just today there was another fatality from an accident between two cars caused by a red light runner!

    1. Yikes. That’s ghastly. The people who designed and approved that should just stop. Stay safe out there…

  5. Cycle lanes that remove ratepayers on-road parking are ridiculous. In Manurewa main roads now have unused cycle lanes that were originally not marked as no parking. Auckland Council has woken up to that error and they have now painted yellow no parking lines.

    Parking is now on the verge, path, et al with seemingly no enforcement from Auckland Transport.

    1. Rates do not pay for, or imply any rights to, adjacent on-road parking.

      Whether or not the side of a particular road should be designated as a cycle lane, parking, bus lane, or extra motor vehicle lane is a road planning decision that may change over time.

  6. The lack of benefits of Council amalgamation probably holds in Auckland as well. Imagine if you were asked to construct a pyramid over a specified area. You can either build a single enormous pyramid or you can build lots of little ones covering the same area. The little ones use less resources. Exactly the same thing holds for staffing a Council. The bigger it is the more staff you need and the more you have to pay them. As for efficiency, it is harder to find the specific person you need to deal with in the large Council than it was in the smaller ones.

    1. M-form organisations are always the best. Centralisation never works due to the distance between decision-making and action. See German tactical success WW2.

  7. Could someone refer me to the posting regarding the Auckland City Rates take that pointed out that overall the rates had not increased drastically. I think it needs tob e updated or brought up again in the light of Palino’s Manifesto.
    I wonder just what drastic measures he will take to reduce rates by 10%.

  8. Queensland is considerably more corrupt than New Zealand (at least, I hope that’s the case!), but it would nonetheless be interesting to see what you’d find if you did a similar analysis of the impact of Auckland’s MUL.

  9. Interesting report re the city design for Women article – this related one might be of interest to you.
    from the Journal Geoforum entitled: “Cultures of mothering and car use in suburban Sydney: a preliminary investigation” from 2000 but very highly cited – interesing read.
    This one is 2016 – related topic – and open access
    “Gender, ethnicity and sustainable mobility: agovernmentality analysis of migrant Chinesewomen’s daily trips in Sydney”
    From the Journal “Applied Mobilities”

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