Welcome back to Sunday Reading. Here are a bunch of interesting things I came across this week and some recommendations from the GA team.

From Paris to New York, we’ve matched metro maps against versions that only include fully accessible stations. The results are discouraging – but are any cities doing it right?

The place that’s doing it right might surprise you. Has anyone done this for Auckland stations? Nick Van Mead, “Access denied: wheelchair metro maps versus everyone else’s“, The Guardian

This is heavy. A roadway fatality has a devastating impact on the lives of numerous people including the driver. It’s unthinkable that we accept this as normal when there are proven solutions. Alice Gregory, “Accidental Killers: The challenge of living after you’ve caused another’s death” The New Yorker.

There are self-help books written for seemingly every aberration of human experience: for alcoholics and opiate abusers; for widows, rape victims, gambling addicts, and anorexics; for the parents of children with disabilities; for sufferers of acne and shopping compulsions; for cancer survivors, asexuals, and people who just aren’t that happy and don’t know why. But there are no self-help books for anyone who has accidentally killed another person. An exhaustive search yielded no research on such people, and nothing in the way of therapeutic protocols, publicly listed support groups, or therapists who specialize in their treatment.

When I first moved to Auckland I found it dull and empty. Things changed once I started working in town and joining the masses on PT. There’s something magical about quietly, or otherwise, sharing space with a bunch of strangers. Here’s a sweet photo essay on the daily drama that unfolds on the New York subway. “An Ode to Acts of Kindness on the New York City Subway“, The New York Times.

For many New Yorkers, their subway line is a second home. They see their neighbors on the same route; they know which car will be closest to their exit; and they have favorite spots for the ride. Mr. Wagner, who has been taking photographs in the subway since 2013 and whose book, “Here for the Ride,” will be published this week, likes to stand in front of the doors. “I can see everything in the car that way,” he said.

When Mr. Wagner started taking pictures, he studied the work of Robert FrankGarry Winogrand and Roy DeCarava. “I’m constantly dissecting what were they saying and how were they engaging with their time,” he said. He saw this image as a 2017 homage to those photographers, and was taken with how it spoke to the fashions of the day. “And it speaks to how youth occupy space, how these couples are engaging with each other and making this little bit of time on this platform enjoyable,” he said.

Here’s an interesting article on what cities might look like designed for the expected increases in rainfall and flooding. Strange they didn’t include the Netherlands who have been doing this for decades. The featured image (top) is a new development in Delft where 17% of development land area is devoted to storing water.  “What would an entirely flood-proof city look like?“, The Guardian.

The reality of climate change and more frequent and intense downpours has exposed the hubris of this approach. As the recent floods from Bangladesh to Texas show, it’s not just the unprecedented magnitude of storms that can cause disaster: it’s urbanisation.

In late 2015, affiliate fellows of the Runstad Center for Real Estate Studies at the University of Washington’s College of Built Environments came to  Auckland on a study tour. They spent a week looking around and talking to everyone, Here’s their report.  Warning- it’s overflowing with admiration.   “A City to Love: Auckland’s Visions of a Public Realm“, Arcade.

Auckland’s vision is to be the world’s most livable city. This audacious goal, first proclaimed by Mayor Len Brown in 2012, once seemed out of reach given Auckland’s notorious reputation as “the city of cars” (Auckland has among the highest number of cars per capita of any city) and what New Zealand planners call the “Auckland disease,” a mix of short-term thinking and parochial disagreement. Yet great strides have been made in a remarkably brief time to transform Auckland into a design-led city taking hold of its destiny. The city has done so with a creative and coordinated effort consisting of rigorous research, visionary plans, public outreach, post-occupancy assessment, and a willingness to take risks. This has yielded increased economic revenue and transit ridership, an enhanced public realm, and a fundamental shift in the way Aucklanders view themselves and their city.

When Amazon announced their plan to open an second headquarters (HQ2), they set our some clear location criteria. It read like a magnet cities laundry list of requirements- cycleways, good transit, and urban amenities. Here is a great article on how the transit part of the equation must be an effective, city-wide, multi-modal network, not just some shiny new trains. Laura Bliss, “Amazon’s HQ2 Hunt Is a Transit Reckoning“, CityLab

“Whatever city Amazon chooses may pledge to adjust its transportation infrastructure to better serve the retail behemoth’s needs. Their first instinct probably won’t be to shine up their grubby old buses. Subways and light rail looks better, like it would draw suburban commuters out of their cars. But that’s a bias that might get them in trouble. Transit investments that don’t support people who already ride transit rarely deliver meaningful ridership gains.

That’s it for this week. Hope you’re enjoying the remainder of the weekend.

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  1. Some of the arguments against cul-de-sacs also apply to shared spaces and to where AT proposes to put the footpath level with the road (eg Hurstmere Rd).

    The flood-prone city link doesn’t work.

  2. Thanks for the interesting reading. The location of cities with 100% of metro stations fully accessible doesn’t surprise me. Presumably this sort of design has resulted from their litigious society. Why has ACC not measured up as being equally effective in pressuring for good design?

    1. More likely, Washington DC and Los Angeles are just amongst the newest systems; older systems often face huge challenges in retrofitting station layouts that never anticipated lifts and step free routes. The joys of modern building regulations are generally under-appreciated.

  3. Amsterdam: that perspective looks very similar to Auckland. How incredibly stupid we’ve been.

    Paris: Wow, is that for real? I knew about the Paris Plage, but that map is incredible. I’ve used google translate to check I understood. Indeed, the note for the large area says: “Paris is closed to motor vehicles, including two-wheelers. Only the vehicles defined by joint order of the police prefect and the mayor (public transport, emergency vehicles, taxis …) are allowed to circulate, their speed being limited to 30 km / h”. Even the Arc du Triomphe now pedestrianised?

    Question for us all: does Paris have better land use and traffic models, or did they just walk away from planning with black box models?

    1. I’m pretty sure if you drive a Mercedes, Porsche, BMW etc. you are entitled to drive down any street in Paris you please 😉

      1. Oh flip, I missed that! Ha ha ha. More fool me. Thanks. Journee never made sense to me, I always think it should mean journey not day…

  4. Not really disagreeing with the points about cul de sacs, but I do think most of their bad effects if walking and cycling links are provided to allow people to exit by active modes. That could actually make a lot of short trips faster by foot or bicycle than car.

    Effectively that is how a lot of Dutch cities have made cycling faster than driving, by forcing cars to use longer circuitous routes while cyclists and pedestrians use the more direct routes.

    1. +1, cul de sacs for cars are great and cheap. Erect half a dozen bollards or install a rain garden and you’re done.

      1. So, to retrofit a classic cul-de-sac suburtb like, say, St Johns, you’d put bollards or rain gardens at maybe 16 locations along Norman Lesser Drive, Grand Drive and Panapa Ave, to ensure that each property can be reached by car via one route only, but by many if walking or cycling. 🙂 We’d have trying, eh?

        1. Yep, you’d probably get all access through Norman Lesser Drive, Truman Street, Grard Way, and Grand Drive, but deliberately disconnect all four of those accesses from one another.

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