Here is a great 15 minute look back at the work of Streetsblog and Streetsfilms from New York, that articulates the motivation behind what we do here at Transportblog. However modestly compared to their output. This is a worldwide movement; the profound improvement of lives, one street at a time. It is also, I believe, unstoppable, simply because it is so effective, so overdue, and therefore so powerful.

And it is, ultimately, about ending the dominance of our streets by traffic, about returning balance to this easily overlooked but vital slice of public space. Everything is interconnected in this increasingly urban age, and the street is really were it all comes together in the city. Get the streets right and so much else will follow; from human wellbeing to wealth creation and equity, from public health to personal freedom and opportunity, from environmental sustainability to social resilience and security.

A great thing in the film is also something we are seeing here; the mainstreaming of these ideas into our institutions. This does sometimes lead to confusion for some people, as when the Council, Auckland Transport, or NZTA do something we agree with we do of course praise them, yet some people think we should only ever be critical and never supportive. This is naive and would be counter-productive. Rather we would love to be made unnecessary; we believe our views are rational and supported by evidence and deserve to be the official ones. Here’s to the next decade and more of constant improvement and reasoned and evidenced activism. And thanks for reading.

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8 comments

  1. Saturday’s free parking and inept train scheduling for the Santa parade sadly suggests your welcome advocacy, if anything, needs amplifying. Keep at it, please! We have a long way to go before inhabiting the streets of Auckland is comparable to Copenhagen. Keep posting, please.

    1. Yes, and while there are great people all through our institutions and elsewhere who get it and are working hard to improve things there are also those who, for various reasons, are fighting hard for the status quo or worse…

    2. How did that situation with the Santa parade actually turn out? It surprises me to no end how convenient driving over here is, even during rush hour in the middle of the CBD. Was it actually a problem on Sunday?

      (not that I’m particularly fond of that convenience, the price we pay for that is indeed the miserable environment on many streets for people outside their cars)

  2. I know I am older than I would like, but I really hate what the provision for all the single occupant, driver only vehicles has done to our city of Auckland. I truly wanted no more expenditure on motorways back in the mid-nineteen sixties.

    However in my circle of friends and acquaintances nobody else seemed to care. It all seemed like a lost cause, so you go with the flow and think this is the way it is always going to be in the future.

    My discovery of Transport Blog was a revelation. It is an every day read and in my view, the information and analysis of transport matters is superior to that provided by the mainstream press and official bodies like the Ministry of Transport and especially NZTA.

    I sense that public perceptions are gradually changing. Please continue the momentum……………..for a better Auckland

  3. It’s a global movement within a limited context. Western nations mostly, and only in large cities, where infrastructure ceases to function properly because employment is centralised into a small area.

    There’s no Wanganui Transport Blog, or Napier Transport Blog, simply because the issues raised here are not on people’s minds there. Transport and urban layout are fully functional in such areas, along with house prices remaining affordable.

    Large cities are a struggle to maintain – and a costly one. I applaud your efforts, but if you look at greater Auckland, outside the CBD, the problems are just getting worse, and there’s no obvious large scale change of direction taking place. I suspect 20 years from now, Auckland will be a very difficult and expensive place to live.

    1. Yes you’re quite right, Whanganui and Napier are not the model, and this is simply because of scale (not centralisation, which occurs in both those places too but those whole towns are small enough to only exhibit urban conditions in minor ways; centralisation is simply spatial efficiency and is observable everywhere and through all ages. It is not a mistake or a conspiracy but a function of geometry).

      And you’re right that the more suburban and dispersed parts of cities exhibit this revolution less than denser centres. But it is also clear that the direction of the economic and social pull globally, especially in the developing world, is inwards; this is already another Great Urban Age. This of course brings enormous challenges as well as opportunities, or opportunities within the challenges. This global trend is showing no sign of stopping or reverse yet, even in little old NZ, no matter how cheap a dwelling is in Whanganui. So making this change as well as possible is our focus.

      Even, or especially, in auto-dependent suburban cities in the west, like Auckland, the answer in the suburbs to this boom looks for them to mirror the big centre in their own way. So by intensifying and enriching the texture of activity and walkability at each sub-centre, and interconnecting these variously scaled, diverse, and specific sub-centres with spatially efficient Transit and Active systems then this revolution and its benefits can spread out to the wider cities. This is what the next couple of decades will see happen. And, I suggest, smaller versions of this pattern will in fact also occur in regional towns, well at least the ones that have enough economic vitality to be thriving (so more likely Napier than Whanganui). Whether it’s Howick, or Manukau, or Mt Roskill, everywhere, these places need to be connected together and to the centre city with efficient and frequent Transit, AND get the cars off their front porch and get activity and people back. Get more there, there. In their own specific ways, reflecting their historic pattern. Those places that do so better and quicker, will thrive more, will keep more of their own business…

  4. This blog is terrific, great for open discussion and debate. I really enjoy reading it.
    I’m hoping I can end up working in a transport related field of AT, Auckland Council or the private sector, as it was my passion during study.

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