In August this year Greater Auckland reproduced a chapter I wrote for a book speculating on our future world, The Big Questions, in three posts; here, here, and here. Included was the section below describing the city centre. In bold is a short description of what I imagine the sensual experience of these future streets will be like:

The whole Queen Street valley will be car-free, plied only by emergency and delivery and service vehicles, the latter at set times. (Most deliveries in city centres will be by e-cargo bike.) Tens of thousands of people will arrive and depart every hour by underground electric rail, by surface light rail, by ferry at the harbour’s edge, by 100 per cent electric buses, by bikes (both powered and not), and on foot.

Especially on foot. Because this century one form of mobility that’s making a huge comeback is proximity: being there already. The Auckland city centre is the fastest-growing residential area in the nation, expanding at six times the rate of the wider city. There are now around 50,000 inner-city residents, and new apartments are rising everywhere. You can feel this presence on the pavement; space given over to vehicle traffic last century will be taken back by people in this one.

Quite soon, say by the mid-2020s, we will be able to experience this future in good chunks of the city centre. Both Victoria and Quay Street are being halved widthways to expand people space, for walking and cycling, for tree and cafe-table space. Loitering is more valuable this century than motoring. The old fume-choked and vehicle-dominated order will quickly become as foreign an idea as the thought of streets filled with horses and carts.

This is the centuries-old power of the city that got lost in the second half of last century, in the automobile-powered anti-urban sprawl era. The city is well and truly back. And the total removal of the internal combustion engine is going to transform the urban experience. It will return the human voice and the scent of the sea to dominance. Citizens will encounter new and old sounds and smells; there will be much more variety; ‘unplugged’ buskers will be effective again; food providers will advertise by their aromas again. This is the return of streets as public places, not simply as traffic funnels.

This also means there is more space for trees on every street, because as the city re-intensifies and more of the street is returned to pedestrians and bike riders, the opportunity to green the streets must be taken. We need the environmental heavy lifting that street trees perform — shade and air purification, combating the urban heat island effect — and also their glory and beauty, and the reminder of our natural selves that only a green city can provide.

To a large degree this writing was speculative, just imagining what it would be like to be in the middle of a large metropolis on an ordinary day in a (nearly) post car and post carbon environment. Well, dear reader, we need speculate no more. Because just a month later I was in Copenhagen and, indeed, there it is. Well pretty close to it. And while you’ll have to take my word for the quality of the smells, the sounds are just as i imagined. With perhaps more clinking and dinging of bicycle parts here than I described.

And it’s truly glorious. The aural and nasal assault we are conditioned to accept in the auto-dependent city is not necessary, healthy, nor productive. And it certainly isn’t pleasant or kind.

The future, indeed, that progressives want.

Now of course I am not saying that Auckland city centre will be exactly the same as this, it won’t, it will be our own version, and all the better for it. For example the attentive reader will notice that I included, earlier in the year when I wrote this, a word that is fast becoming common on our streets but then was not; scooter:

Supporting this, vehicles everywhere are electrifying: bikes, cars, buses, trains, ferries, even airplanes. Everything will automate (ditto — well, except the bikes). Everything will be shared, certainly all those vehicles, but particularly places, and especially the streets. Walking, biking, scootering will boom. The e-bike is the transformational vehicle of the moment.

I had no idea that there scooter would arrive both so soon and be taken up so enthusiastically, but watching this reinforces my feeling that the risk now is on the side being too cautious and stubborn with new possibilities. All kinds of urban transformations are possible now that were previously unlikely to meet the necessary up take. There is now a huge responsibility for those guiding our response to urban growth to be bold and imagine the best of all possible worlds and have a go at creating it in our cities. Because, as I wrote:

The busy peopled city street replacing the fuming traffic-jammed road is at the heart of the solutions to the great environmental, economic, and social challenges of our age. The cities, and the parts of each city, that make this change best and fastest will thrive, and those that cling to the twentieth-century driving and sprawling pattern will stall.

Bring it on, now.

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77 comments

  1. The sun also rises “Gradually, then suddenly”. Limes seem to have precipitated suddenly. I thought it was going to be the CRL, but that’s looking too far off.

    1. E scooters could take the transport sector by storm like the cell phone did to the IT communication sector. Watch to see if they become a status symbol (even if they are just rented) like the must have accessory with Apple high end models and Nokia for people like me who don’t really give a toss and just want a basic model. “I wouldn’t be seen dead on one of those lime scooters I only ride Magenta ones”
      And yes 25 year transport projects like the CRL or 10 year ones like the light rail to Mangere will get overtaken like a landline or a Main frame.

  2. So Copenhagen doesn’t have diesel buses roaring through its centre or waiting at stops with the engine ‘idling’ at 80 decibels then?

    1. Not in the very city centre, and nor should they be in Auckland’s.

      There should be no diesel engined vehicles in any crowded area.

      Replace diesel buses with both electric trains (Light and Heavy) and electric buses with urgency.

      And replace all service and delivery vehicles serving metropolitan centres with electric vehicles.

      Same down at the docks; visiting ships should be engines off and connected to the grid (cold ironing). PoAL should be using electric locos between port and Wiri depot. And a programme to convert the ferry fleet to electric should also be expedited.

        1. I wish for city streets with electric everything. A smart courier company would go electric then lobby the xyz out of the Council to mandate it.

      1. ‘There should be no diesel engined vehicles in any crowded area’
        Let me fix that statement for you
        ‘There should be no diesel engined vehicles’
        If we ever get serious about air quality and pollution then a total ban on diesel engined vehicles should commence with private passenger vehicles. Its sickening to watch tv ads extolling the virtues of ‘crossover’ and SUV ownership. One ad even says their new efficienter diesel engine is good for the planet.

        1. Agree, that’s the longer term aim, in fact no internal combustion engined vehicles.

          However both the first step to this and the most urgent starting place is those areas with lots of people… it is perforce a transition.

          But we lack sufficient urgency; perhaps our institutions are too complacent and too close to vested interests in the status quo?

          1. When I read ‘longer term’ I usually interpret this to mean beyond my lifetime and the majority of people alive today.
            Anyway, Queen St 20 minutes ago a diesel bus stopped in slow moving traffic was belching out an obnoxious mix of blackish crud plus, no doubt, invisible poisinous gasses. I walked closer to buildings to avoid the stench.
            We need action on this sooner, not later.
            Right away I would insist on massive diesel pollutant level reductions as part of diesel engine WOF. The technology is available to achieve this now. For example:
            https://www.catalyticexhaust.com/product/diesel-exhaust-purifier-scrubbers

          2. Even their ‘slow implementation’ path would have their fleet at 100% electric by 2028.

            Our Mayor committing to the C40 Fossil-Fuel-Free Streets Declaration to procure only zero-emission buses from 2025 and to ensure that Auckland’s city centre has zero emissions by 2030 is just appalling.

            Why can we not have a commitment to only procuring zero-emissions buses right now? Why wait 7 years? Where’s our transport champion?

          3. Bogle – I’m surprised that you have any Diesel buses left up in Auckland – as they all seem to have been sent down to Wellington, to belch smoke and soot into our atmosphere down here. Curses.

            They are appalling, and no one wants them. We are only saved by our customary strong breeze – without which, I think the entire city would have suffocated already.

          4. Poor Wellington. In fact, Auckland has more windy days than Wellington does, so you’re probably stuck with the fumes going nowhere on still days more often.

          5. MDF you’re talking about rate, which of course is limited to total generating capacity of the stations, here we’re talking about ability to store water to generate at another time rather having to use it constantly to meet demand. Water in a hydro dam is effectively a battery, and a better one if we have more flexibility to manage its use… it’s a change at the margins, but then that’s where it matters.

          6. “here we’re talking about ability to store water to generate at another time”

            But what other time? If the objective is to remove the requirement for fossil fuel peaker generation then the times of peak power demand are the times that additional hydro generation is required and they are already running at peak output. The constraint is not the volume of water behind the dam walls but the capacity of the equipment that converts that water to power.

            PV is wonderful technology. I have designed a lot of it during my 23 years in the industry. It exhibits 3 modes of variability; daily (relatively simple to buffer), weather-related (somewhat more expensive to buffer) and annual (very expensive to buffer).

            In the New Zealand electrical loads are greatest in winter when PV output is at its lowest. Not a good fit for matching supply with demand. The idea that hydro generation can be foregone in summer to compensate for lower PV generation in winter is fanciful. There is neither the volume in the lakes nor the generation capacity.

            The answer to NZ’s high power demand lies with long-haired teenage girls. They require 35 minute showers in order to wash that hair (I know this because at one stage I had 3 long-haired teenage daughters). Not washing that hair or cutting it short would result in a 27.2% decrease in peak power demand.

          7. Presumably someone has worked out the peak additional daytime load if we used electric vehicles entirely. How would that compare with our evening peak?

        2. I think there still is a place for bio-diesel in NZ for truck freight. Plenty of marginal land, locally produced, significantly reduced emissions, lower oil imports, local money staying in the local economy. It’s win-win for the most part. At least on the way to a full electric future.. I suppose you could use it as a feedstock for electricity production, but I’m not sure if that is that efficient.

          1. You may want to read this if you think bio fuels are a good option. It seems the best they can come up with is some sort of pyrolisis method of producing a bio oil from wood. This would require natural gas to produce hydrogen the bio oil would then have to be refined at a new refinery probably at Marsden Point. This would be an extremely dirty process sort of like the old coal gas plants but with the added logistical problem of sending all the product the length of the country to be refined then redistributed back to the user. I can’t see it happening.
            The best thing to do with the slash or purpose grown biofuel is to burn it locally to produce heat or steam for local industry. Like dairy factories. freezing works, vegetable processing, pulp and paper etc. It could also be used for local heating or domestic heating as wood pallets etc.
            https://www.scionresearch.com/__data/assets/pdf_file/0005/63293/Biofuels_summary_report.pdf

          2. Biofuels are used in the US as a means of funnelling tax payers money to farmers in the smaller states. Even the littlest states get two senators each so if you want to get anything done you will need their support. It is why the grow so much corn and soy at prices well above market value.

          3. The liquid fuels industry is spruiking both biofuels and hydrogen as fight back against having their entire lunch eaten by the electricity generation and distribution sector…. The former is a crock, the later fraught with problems compared to its pure electric rival.

            It is time to get on with the electrification of everything, and forget the stinky old tech of burning dead stuff in each vehicle to get around. Liquid fuels are going the way coal burning steam trains… gradually; then suddenly.*

            *apologies to both Mr Plod and Ernest Hemingway.

          4. The west has spread chemical and fossil fuel-driven agricultural and horticultural practices into bioregions where the practices are particularly damaging, resulting in loss of food security and famines. To then convert vast acreages of their own soils into biofuels so they can continue to excuse their combustion engine-driven lifestyles is just energywash.

          5. Miffy, the US is a terrible example. Brazil is the best example of biofuel that makes sense economically. Ethanol from sugar cane. It’s been working fine in Brazil for decades without subsidies. It’s proven and it is economically sustainable. And has very little to do with rainforest destruction(blame mc donalds). Sugarcane won’t work here, but we could easily do something similar, probably with ethanol from plant matter like hemp.

            Bio-diesel is an interim solution as we transition away from ICE vehicles which will take decades. Not everything in transport can be turned electric, at least not any time soon. Waiting for electric trucks could take decades because of the costs and technology involved.

            Locally produced bio fuel is far far better than imported fossil fuel. Better for the economy in many ways and better from an emissions perspective.

            Also, we don’t have a stable electricity supply. NZ is a very risky location to invest in large-scale electricity production because of the way the market is structured. Our market is actually in trouble because of this. No one wants to invest in large scale production that is needed if we want to transition to an electric-dominated transport system. With most our wealth tied up in housing, we don’t have any money to invest in power generation. What use is electric transport if we have to burn a crap-load of coal to do it??

          6. Presumably no-one wants to invest in large scale electricity generation because there is no guarantee of demand. If the market knew for sure that demand would double in the next 15 years it would have no problem building the infrastructure to meet that demand.

          7. So you can use good farmland to produce sugar based ethanol or in New Zealand’s case vegetable based bio diesel. And bear in mind that continuous cropping is very hard on the soil it burns carbon and then take into account the emissions from the fertiliser, tilling and harvesting processing plus transport. And we need the good land to produce food. The world is waiting for a process which will breakdown cellulose to produce liquid fuels but it hasn’t happened yet and maybe never will.
            We could use marginal land for solar farms. If the panels are supported high enough above the ground it will be possible to graze sheep or cattle under them. And if the grazing is done right it will sequester carbon in the soil.
            There is 2000 megawatts of consented wind and geothermal generating projects which could be started almost immediately and Transpower is working to strengthen grid resilience. The fun and games on the wholesale electricity market over the weekend just shows how unreliable gas powered electrical generation is.when one faulty valve can close down virtually all the gas fired power stations. Just as well it wasn’t in the middle of winter.
            However the eternal/internal combustion engine is not going to fade away graciously so maybe we may have to have bio diesel.
            Its a pity because I think its a dead end.

          8. Royce, there may be 2000MW of consented generation capacity and people trying to sort out the grid BUT the future of electricity generation and distribution should not be mega power generators and lines companies.
            Distribution of power generation is the future, right at the power user location. For home consumers this should mean rooftop photovoltaics and for those in suitable locations small wind and hydro generators. Either completely powering or vastly reducing grid dependency for home consumption. Also EEV charging
            Existing grid power is probably best for larger consumers such as rail public transport.

          9. Yes we can have roof top solar but then you also need batteries to make it economic for the home owner. But if you think about New Zealand as a whole we don’t need batteries because we have lots of hydro storage.When the sun shines the grid operator just throttles back the hydro and the water saved can be used when the sun doesn’t shine. Maybe an innovative retailers can come up with a plan to reward roof top solar owners. But at the moment I think it is not economic because you are not at home to use the power when you are generating it and its off peak power that the retailers don’t want to pay you much for.. One thing I thought of was to directly attach the solar panels to your hot water cylinder.
            This way you just have to pay for the panels and there would be no need for grid tie inverters or batteries.So every house could have 500 watts of panels and the necessary wiring so that the solar power is used first with a top up from the mains if the temperature get too low. Apparently it costs a dollar a watt to land panels into New Zealand so maybe a grand a house for the whole system. Bigger families could have more panels. So you would just replace your mains hot water element with a dual voltage one. Apparently these can be purchased online.

          10. Gasoline is in effect super concentrated biofuel. If I remember correctly one tank of biofuel requires enough ‘food’ to eat for a couple of months.

            Are we even sure that producing 1l of biofuel requires less energy than what you get from your litre of fuel?

          11. Royce you don’t _need_ batteries for distributed solar, in fact your hot water cylinder is already a battery, and your e-bike and e-car can be too, or e-whatever, but so is the grid itself… which is essentially those hydro dams.

            More distributed solar feeding the grid during the day, the less we need to run water through turbines for factories, offices, and air-con/heating. Same of of course applies to wind farms, only 24/7.

          12. Patrick – peak demand in NZ is winter evenings. Unless we can power our houses independently on winter evenings we will still need just as much generation and distribution capacity to meet this demand, this is where the costs lie in NZ’s electricity network.

          13. Some of that peak demand is hot water, which as Patrick indicates can be heated during the day. Storage heaters can use the electricity during the day and release it as heat in the evening. Appliances including ovens and slow cookers can run during the day.

            We fed 10 kWh to the grid today, after meeting all our electricity needs and charging our battery. On Friday it was 20 kWh. In the peak of summer it’ll be more. The more people who can do that, the less water will have to be spilled from the dams, reserving that capacity for other times.

            Even burning biofuels is better dispersed. On-farm and small community biodigesters make a lot of sense. Taking waste materials and capturing the gases for energy production is a whole lot more sensible than converting land that could be either in production or providing a biodiverse ecology for biological resilience.

          14. jezza, perhaps you didn’t read all the ways I mentioned daytime solar capture can be time shifted? As part of the mix of course, solar is useful but no single answer. Wind is the huge near term opportunity in NZ (as Transpower say in their study; a perfect match with hydro).

          15. There is little to gain from reducing hydro demand during the day as the rivers all have minimum flows that are consented, it would likely just result in more water being spilled.

            Previous research has suggested that solar will have a minimal impact on the NZ electricity picture, although I think that will change with electric vehicles, as they are ideal to charge during the day.

          16. What Patrick and I are suggesting would reduce electricity demand during the day and during the peak. Against a background of population growth, ever-pursued economic growth and electric car charging where people haven’t organised solar themselves, that results in less additional demand on our power stations.

            And given that places without hydro are using water to store energy produced with solar, I’m afraid I can’t believe that there isn’t scope for pairing our hydro up with solar.

          17. jezza that really is not the case, except in very wet years and for the Waikato north of Taupo. There’s lots of capacity for storage in much of the system especial in summer, when, usually it’s sunny and sunny for longer…

            And unlike coal plants for instance hydro is actually really responsive, can be turned up and down in short periods; produce on demand. They open the turbines on the Waikato system about 1/2 an hour before the AKL evening peak…

            It is true that the consented lake levels are very tight on the Waikato system but there is little storage capacity there anyhow except Taupo; it is a run-of -the-river system rather than more separate lakes in the South Island.

            Every other source enables the possibility of conserving water in the hydro systems, though of course our market rather than co-ordinated structure doesn’t necessarily incentivise that….

          18. The Waikato actually has a reasonable amount of storage. While it only has 1m to play with on Lake Taupo, it’s large surface area means that is reasonably similar to Lake Tekapo, which 8m to play with. Hawea and Pukaki can both store more.

            It’s not the lake levels I was referring to though it is the river levels. The Clutha and Waitaki both have minimum flow requirements, you can’t just cut back generation and save all the water until solar and wind are out of action. Although you are correct that any new daytime demand as the population grows could certainly be met by solar.

            The main finding from the Parliamentary Commissioners report into generation was that the real cost of the network is providing capacity for peak times, namely winter evenings. Jan Wright recommended that home insulation was far more important for reducing demand on the system than solar power.

          19. Yeah. I said the Waikato has little storage *Taupo*… anyway, indeed, that true of any system; all of the wasted cost is in accommodating the peak of the peak. This is especially true of roads. We over-build our roads for most of the day just to serve the peakiest bits. Hopeless.

            The Dutch and the Danes, by contrast, build such great cycling networks that they can save huge fortunes on not over-building their roads. And somewhat counterintuitively have great driving conditions as a result; because all the people not using them…

            The insulation argument is clearly right, but is not much different to the distributed generation one… either way it enables peak smoothing…. taking the peak of peak down, and saving the most expensive generation and distribution infra.

          20. The maximum power output of each dam is limited by the capacity of the installed turbines and generators. At times of high demand such as a cold winter evening they are running at full capacity now. Reducing generation during sunny days and holding back water will not result in any more power generation at times of high demand. It will just result in an overall lower annual hydro energy output (the occasional low rain year excepted). Dams do not store electricity. They store water. The turbine/generator combination converts the head of water to electrical power. Absent additional turbines, generators and their associated civils, plumbing, transformers, switchgear, transmission lines etc, additional water behind the dam results in zero additional power output.

          21. Yes. Extra turbine/generator capacity provides a more useful hydro set-up to combine with the other energy sources.

          22. “Extra turbine/generator capacity provides a more useful hydro set-up to combine with the other energy sources.”

            That boat has sailed though, Heidi. To make penetrations in existing dam walls for additional penstocks etc. is unfeasible. Pumped storage, suitable topography permitting, is much more preferable and represents the lowest cost for bulk electrical storage.

          23. So what you are telling us is that on a clear calm day in the middle of winter when ever generator is throwing everything that they have at the grid to met the nightly peak that having X amount of solar energy available for 7 hours off peak doesn’t save water to be used in that days peak. But it must save some water that can be used at a later date when the sun isn’t shining and it will offset the amount of thermal generation that is required which is probably the more important thing until we can go to 100 percent renewable power.

          24. The Danes and the Dutch Patrick have motorway networks that would have NZTA and the trucking lobby salivating, they’re designed for higher speeds than our roads as well. It looks like you only visited the CBD not the suburbs or anywhere outside of Copenhagen.

      2. Its a pity we never went ahead with buying those battery operated trains for Papakura to Pukekohe. It might have given us confidence in using electric vehicles for other tasks as well. For instance the EF locomotives being refurbished for use on the main trunk could be made compatible with our Auckland 25,000 volt system and with the addition of a battery could be used to move their trains away from the overhead. This is obviously necessary because you can’t have overhead wires in container yards where containers are being lifted on and off the wagons.

        1. ..or we could stop being tight-arses and buy a new fleet of electric locomotives for the Auckland network, with a battery for port operations, rather than re-purposing locomotives that are already more than 30 years old.

          1. PoAL should be partnering with KR to get new locos specifically for their intra AKL movements, and probably battery shunts as well. They aim to grow rail traffic from the port and will need to gain social licence to do so. Switching to e-locos will gain them a great deal of support form the communities they pass through.

          2. Better idea. So “Climate change is meant to be this generations nuclear free moment so Jacinda “Lets do this””
            Actually this govt will call for a report or set up a working group.
            I can understand James Shaw’s softly softly approach to get the farmers aboard but transport needs some action now.

          3. Agree, getting cross party support for our long term approach to climate change is vital, but there are many day-to-day operational decisions that can be made right now to reduce emissions.

      3. Electric ferry’s are significantly more expensive to build than petrol ones, they also at the moment have limited range with long charging times, not very useful for public transport.

        There’s currently very few electric delivery vehicles on the market, where there is again has limited range. Electric planes will never be a thing, not for long haul for sure.

    2. They do. There plenty of diesel buses in Copenhagen. The main shopping street Strøget has always been pedestrian only for at least 50 years. It was two narrow to use as a road.

      Kastrup airport sensibly has a heavy rail connection as well as driverless metro. Not pissing around with silly trams here.

      Copenhagen is also a much better city for cycling than Auckland could ever dream of being on account of it being dead flat.

      Like all other biggish cities it has plenty of shopping malls surrounding the city just like Auckland.

      They can have a nice city because they can afford it, they pay a hell of a lot more tax than any kiwi would think fair, they also earn more than we do. But any kiwi govt who tried a 60% tax rate would get booted fairly quickly.

      1. They are building surface Light Rail in Copenhagen right now actually. And extending the driverless Light Metro, and electrifying the buses. Well run cities use very available and appropriate technology, and do not obsess about one kind of train over another.

      2. Speak for yourself please, Masterchief: “they pay a hell of a lot more tax than any kiwi would think fair”. Some kiwis obsess about low rates and taxes and then wonder why we are ruining our environment and have such inequity. Others understand perfectly that we’re a society and tax isn’t a dirty word.

        1. the average personal income tax rate in Denmark is 55.8%, you might be the only kiwi willing to pay that because I don’t think anyone else would be. Our top tax rate is only 33%. Any govt that tried taxation on the Danish level would be gone next election.

          1. I am not the only person willing to pay that. Tax is a conversation we need to have, and I blame the left-wing parties for avoiding it over the last few decades.

  3. Yes, on Friday I turned the corner from a main road onto a side road, and almost immediately noticed what a difference the noise levels were. Traffic noise is pollution. And I can only shake my head remembering what responses of denial my family members received decades ago when they questioned what effect car exhaust fumes must be doing to our health.

  4. Sometimes people compare our current appalling road safety statistics with where we were in about 1994. But in fact, it’s worse than that, because back then, people were walking more. Our environment is less safe than it was then; if our walking rates were at 1994 levels, we’d have a healthier population maimed by more traffic crashes. And it’s this unpleasant, unsafe environment to blame for both our inactive lifestyles and the injuries and deaths.

    Changes to the city centre are obvious and urgent. But how do we improve the street environment across the city?

    1. We could sort out a big chunk by having better driver training, increasing the age people can learn to 18 and not allow parents to teach there children, professional driver training only. After that zero tolerance should also become
      law.

  5. Well we had a Central City Masterplan (CCMP) in 2012, it had grand ideas and a somewhat (for the time) bold vision. The Victoria St Linear Park was one such idea.

    6 Years on, not much in it has been achieved, except that the levels of inner city population and job growth it predicted would happen, have in fact happened, and in many cases, even more growth than that has been the norm for some time now.

    And we now have the “CCMP 2.0” – with something now called “A4E” but really its the same damn stuff in a different coat. We’re 6 years on from 2012, but seemingly no closer to getting anything that is in the CCMP from 2012 let alone implementing the 2.0 version.

    Really the elephant in the room on-going here is that the bus [and train] services are operated by private companies, with locked in contracts and guarantees of long lead times before being required to upgrade their fleets or change their modus operandi to become part of the solution not part of the problem.

    So, diesel fume spouting buses are here to stay – unless Central Government takes PTOM by the horns and tosses it out or rejigs it. Or truly demands decent action on a Carbon neutral future by, for instance implementing a huge tax on imports of fossil fuel powered heavy vehicles including buses, and introduces an equally huge subsidy on electric heavy vehicles. Then you’d see the bus companies switching overnight to electric buses of their own accord. Of course even those won’t be enough as you’d still have to get the current polluters off the road too, so that would need comprehensive emission testing regimes to get the worst of the worst out of the fleet and keep weeding them out. Then within 10 years you could “do a Copenhagen” and become mainly or wholly electric.

    But right now, it seems the dumbest thing a National Government ever did to Auckland in the last 25 years [and there are so many to chose from], and it was not holding back the CRL, (although thats pretty close), but rather requiring all public bus services run by local councils to be privatised.

    That decision, [like the bike helmet law of the same vintage] was passed into law some 25 years ago now. It lead to some pretty crap outcomes and a total fire sale of bus services to overseas operators and consequent poor services. We are still suffering the consequences and unintended side effect of these decisions. Even now. And no one has sought to seriously correct for this past stupidity – yet.

    And for the buses, well we still face another 10 years before the buses might start to become electric under the timid plans of Goff and co as it stands. And those huge cruise ships at the bottom end of town?

    Neither local or Central Government, PoAL, or the cruise industry have any plans to tackle that issue. Its simply not on their radar as an issue.

    Auckland a Copenhagen of the south?
    Not in many peoples [fore-shortened] lifetimes it seems.

    1. +1. Difficult to be a glass half full type when one realises it’s all hot air talk.
      Your last sentence sums it up nicely. Despite global CO2 increases and all the consequences most likely no action will be taken until it’s too late.
      You are not by any chance a grumpy old fart?

  6. I was in Copehagen last month and was prepared to see a “lot” of bicycles. But the amount of bikes I saw was mind-boggling. We stayed close to the Central satation and I swear there were 5,000+ bikes stacked 4 high just in one “car” park.
    Then there wre the bikes with carts on the front with children sitting in them playing video games while their parents biked them to school and home again.
    There were bike lanes absolutely everywhere: a real eye-opener.

    1. You would have also noticed the city is dead flat, there isn’t a single hill, not even a wee mound in the entire city. Auckland doesn’t have the geography really suited to cycling.

      Also you wouldn’t see a Dane in Lycra and the bikes they ride are completely different to what we ride.

      If you took the ferry to Oslo you’d see something more like Auckland, lots of hills and significantly less people riding than in Copenhagen.

    1. Miffy Back in the 80’s they closed off a section of Queen st between Victoria and Wellsely streets and turned into a mall and the only buses allowed were the trolley buses as they could not go up and around the block as at tat stage there were only 2 services running , Krd – railway station and the farmers free bus . And people still moaned and the biggest moaners were the shop owners

  7. A comparison of climate data for Auckland and Copenhagen is interesting.

    Auckland: daily mean average temp for the year: 15.2 C, average rainfall for the year: 1210.7 mm.

    Copenhagen: 9.3 C, 522.6 mm.

    Copenhagen’s average high goes into the low single figures (3.3 C) in its coldest month (January), while Auckland does not even get near 10 at 14.7 C (July).

    Copenhagen is considerably cooler than Auckland and has less than half its rainfall. Both of these factors make riding a bike more attractive in Copenhagen. Its cooler temperatures mean that any form of travel requiring exertion is more tolerable there.

    Not wanting to be negative here, I don’t own a car and use nothing but PT, but you can’t ignore climate factors that would certainly influence the comparison.

    1. Yeah Naah. The real deal is that it is smaller and flatter. Both of which are factors that can get negated by e-bikes.

      I think the real issue here is that the Danes are much better dressers than Kiwis (our ‘relaxed’ sartorial attitude also reads as ‘sloppy’ in other countries) and that they don’t have to wear helmets. Have a look at that video again. About 30 bikes, 3 people wearing helmets, and only one moving car. Plus one van down the other end of the street.

    2. Copenhagen winters would be horrible to cycle in, icy paths, snow storms not to mention Northern Europe Winters where its dark by 3pm! I grew up in the UK, I know how miserable it is in Winter.

      We need to be prepping for the E-Revolution of Cycles and Scooters which are better suited to Auckland’s terrain, we are years and years behind in planning for this!

      Nobody is saying copy Copenhagen, but we are saying lets get moving forward NOW! Instead we have people literally camping out protesting at the creation of (not very good) cycle lanes.

      1. Snow storms in Copenhagen are you having a laugh? They don’t get much snow in Copenhagen and when they do the city grinds to a halt, so does the airport. Denmark is about as well prepare for snow as the UK. It doesn’t do snow like Norway and Sweden.

    3. The average minimum is about freezing point, and the morning commute usually happens around or just after the daily minimum.

      Go to Queenstown in July (average minimum of around -1°), rent a bicycle and go for a ride at 8am. Then tell if you think the climate over there is milder than in Auckland.

    4. Interestingly those Copenhagen figures show how perfect Christchurch is for cycling and yet the same battles are being had putting in infrastructure in Chch as a being had in Auckland.

      1. Yes, car dependency alters the mind. For snow cycling, you need snow tyres. For wet climates, the best thing is protected cycleways and cycle paths away from the road. The thought of cycling a long distance in the rain – away from traffic – doesn’t put me off. It’s only slipping in the rain near cars and drivers who seem to have really poor visibility in the rain that puts me off.

    5. “Both of these factors make riding a bike more attractive in Copenhagen.”

      Not sure how a city with higher precipitation hours, in which about 10-15% of those hours are sleet and snow is better than Auckland.

      I cycled in sleet for the first time in about ten years last week and it’s awful my hands were sodden and frozen instantly. Given most journeys are <3km, 28 degrees and humid beats 1 degrees and sleeting.

    6. And the simple fact that Copenhagen is dead flat, there are absolutely no hill in the city, and cars cost a hell of a lot more than in NZ Male riding attractive. Jump on the ferry to Oslo and see a rather hilly city like Auckland and bike patronage is a bit more than us but significantly less than Copenhagens.

      You have to compare apples with apples, not with oranges.

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