It’s been another busy week and here are some of the key things that have captured my attention.
Access for Everyone approved
Auckland’s innovative vision for its city centre – a more liveable, green and people friendly future – is here with today’s adoption of a refreshed City Centre Masterplan.
Auckland Council’s Planning Committee has agreed the high level 20-year vision for the city centre and waterfront off the back of an overwhelming 76 per cent support through public consultation.
We’ll talk more about this news in a separate post but one thing I did want to call out here was a line in an article from Bernard Orsman which picks up some of the analysis done by Auckland Transport as part of their response to the CCMP.
AT pointed out that despite all the investment and more attractive transport options since 2001, the number of people travelling by cars to and from the city in peak periods has remained fairly constant at about 40,000. The growth in travel has been accommodated by extra trips on public transport, walking and cycling.
It comes from this graph in an AT note to the council.
Firstly, the way the data was captured in 2001 and how it is captured now, with as I understand it has changed and is not entirely consistent. As I understand it, previously it was done by people manually counting on the side of the road on a single day whereas today it is captured automatically and by the minute from embedded intersection counters.
We now have over five years of that automated data and it is released monthly. When converted into a 12-month rolling total it shows a clear trend. It shows that the number arriving by car has dropped from 42k to 35k over that time – and it was about 38k in 2018 which is the data Orsman’s article is based off. That data is also backed up by the trends we’ve seen in motorway access which I wrote about last year.
What I think this shows is just how quickly the city is changing and why it’s important we keep pushing for better outcomes.
The refreshed CCMP has come from the Council’s Auckland Design Office (ADO), the team also responsible for changes such as those on High St, the shared spaces and many other positive changes around the city. Yet just a day before the council decided on the CCMP, it was revealed the team were being disbanded
The council design team tasked with making Auckland’s downtown and suburban centres more people friendly, is to be broken up in a planned cost-cutting move.
Eight staff may lose their jobs and others may be shifted to different departments.
The proposed disbanding of the Auckland Design Office (ADO) has been called “cost-accounting at its worst” by planning committee chairman, councillor Chris Darby.
I think this is an appalling decision from the council. The ADO have proven themselves to be visionary, innovative, efficient, effective and passionate about improving our city, perhaps more so than any other team in the council family – all the things we should want from council staff. In my opinion, axing them is about sending a clear message to the rest of the council not to rock the boat and challenge the status quo or you’ll be out of a job.
The language council are using to justify this, that they’ll be embedding the teams within council, is eerily similar to that used by Auckland Transport a few years ago to disband their dedicated walking and cycling team. That set cycling projects back by years and what little we’re now seeing is of substandard design. It seems that every restructure in the past few years in Auckland Council, AT or NZTA has turned out to be a disaster that undermines delivery of the strategies those very organisations have developed.
Road Deaths in Feb
After a better start to the year in January with many fewer road deaths than recent years, that work was undone in February following the highest number of deaths in the month in over a decade. In total 34 people sadly lost their lives – and the numbers were up even before you count it being a leap year.
AT Safety projects
Auckland Transport announced a number of safety projects this week.
Dairy Flat Highway
AT will be installing median wire rope barriers on part of Dairy Flat Highway
Auckland Transport (AT) is continuing its roll out of safety improvements on Dairy Flat Highway – one of the most dangerous rural roads in Auckland.
The installation of a median wire rope barrier at the current southbound passing lanes between Durey Road and Potter Road begins next month.
The former state highway has had a number of fatalities and serious crashes. Between 2008 and 2017 there were 9 deaths and 55 serious injuries. The southbound passing lanes have been the location of several serious and 1 fatal head on collision over the past 5 years.
The safety project is complemented by a new right-turning bay at the intersection of Potter Road and Dairy Flat Highway.
Works at Potter Road will start after completion of the median barrier.
AT’s group manager of network management Randhir Karma says the entire scheme will cost approximately $622,000 and has been strongly supported by the Rodney Local Board.
Construction will start next week on improving safety around schools in Mt Roskill.
Walking or cycling to school in Mount Roskill will now be safer, thanks to Auckland Transport’s Safer Communities programme.
80 per cent of all road deaths and serious injuries occur on 50km/h local urban roads.
Nearly half of those deaths and serious injuries involve vulnerable road users – children, elderly, people walking and people on bikes or motorcycles.
Mount Roskill is the first community to benefit under the programme, with Mangere Bridge and Papakura to follow.
Safety improvements will see wider footpaths – with clearer boundaries between them and properties. There will also be raised pedestrian crossings and raised speed tables to encourage safer speeds.
Manurewa speed calming
AT have started work on what they say is the largest area-wide speed calming project
Auckland Transport (AT) has begun road safety improvements on residential streets in Manurewa to provide a safer environment for all road users.
The residential speed management project – covering Browns Road, Roscommon Road, Russell Road and Weymouth Road – was partly funded by the Regional Fuel Tax, along with the Manurewa Local Board.
The $4 million dollar project aims to reduce vehicle speeds with a combination of speed-calming measures – including 11 raised zebra crossings, 10 Swedish style tables, 117 speed humps and 23 red-coloured entry treatments.
Gt North and New North Road Ped Crossing traffic lights
AT yesterday started consultation on plans to install two sets of traffic light controlled pedestrian crossings. Both consultations are open till 25 March.
- The first is on Gt North Rd about 150m north of the intersection with Blockhouse Bay Rd
- The second is on New North Rd next to the western pedestrian underpass access to Morningside Station
Wellesley St Closure
Works have now started to build the Aotea Station as part of the City Rail Link and it has involved closing the Albert/Wellesley St intersection, which they’ve time lapsed
I’m looking forward to more time-lapse videos over the coming years.
Of course for people walking, not having to wait to cross the road has been a benefit
When you’re a pedestrian, what’s advertised as disruption is actually convenience 😎🚶🏻♀️🚫🚗 pic.twitter.com/IRiKSQWW5E
— Miriam Moore (@miriammooretoo) March 2, 2020
More Wrapped Trains
The artistically wrapped train which was to promote rail safety was a great initiative Auckland Transport and even though it’s exactly the same inside as every other train is always exciting when it turns up on a service you want to catch.
And now Auckland Transport want to do three more
Are you an Auckland based artist or designer? We want you! We're looking to wrap more of our electric trains. You'll have a 72 metre blank canvas to design something uniquely Auckland, while also incorporating a message of rail safety. Find out more: https://t.co/1VoMgUFhUK pic.twitter.com/5TOnmvb2jp
— Auckland Transport (@AklTransport) March 4, 2020
Hibiscus Coast Bus users
If you catch the bus to the Hibiscus Coast and you’ve had problems with full buses, as described in this article, perhaps one solution for you is to catch the first bus to Albany and switch there. I appreciate it’s perhaps not as convenient as a one seat ride like you may prefer but it might get you home faster and doesn’t cost anything extra if you’ve used your HOP card.
The Climate Debate in Auckland
A good interview with Councillor Richard Hills about how we respond to climate change, including these quotes
“We should be trebling the rate of building cycle lanes – 10 kilometres a year is not good enough, it should be 30.
“If you give people options – which I don’t think we are – people will change.”
“Theoretically we need to increase our public patronage by about 300 per cent in the next ten years, which is not small,” he said.
The roll-out of electric buses, and maybe even electric ferries were just part of that mix, along with boosting cycling and walking, he said.
Freddy the Fork
The new extension to the NW Cycleway from Lincoln Rd to Westgate is largely great with the major exception of getting through the Lincoln and Royal Rd interchanges. Reader Murray spotted this great note at the Lincoln Rd crossing.