Perhaps it’s because we’re back to Level 1 but there’s a lot to cover this week.
Commercial Bay opens
Commercial Bay finally opened yesterday, over four year after the old Downtown Mall closed and of course with a couple of rail tunnels running underneath it. It’s fantastic to have it open again and once the other downtown works are completed it will have resulted in a complete transformation of the area. The main lane through the site will be the main link between Britomart and the Lower Albert St bus stops for the NX1 and the lane will be open 24/7. Already it feels like it’s going to work well with the public square outside Britomart.
— AKL Construct (@aklconstruct) June 11, 2020
One downside I have seen noted is that there’s no bike parking included which seems quite an oversight given one side of the development is on Quay St which is one of the key cycle routes in the city. I still think it would have been ideal if we could have put an underground bike parking station under the square instead of just filling it in like they did.
I hope this development gives a wakeup call to the retailers in the likes of Queen St and High St who have opposed changes and want even the meagre changes made recently removed
Mangere Bridge safety improvements
After three years of public consultation, work on stage 2 of a $5 million safety upgrade for Māngere Bridge town centre is about to start.
Auckland Transport (AT) has listened to the Māngere Bridge community and is working hard to make the area safer for pedestrians – particularly children walking to and from school.
The work is part of AT’s Safer Communities programme.
After extensive consultation in 2018, just 13 respondents wanted to keep the town centre as it currently is.
The major theme in the feedback was one of general support for the proposed improvements to make walking safer around Māngere Bridge and the village.
It is ridiculous that it’s taken three years to get to this point for what is essentially just minor changes adding a few extra pedestrian crossings. It’s a good example of how AT need to do better in getting projects from inception to delivery. Their consultation processes are particularly troublesome and seem to focus on finding ways to appease a minority of opponents than serving the majority of the public, and the evidence, that support a change.
The issue with Mangere Bridge in particular seems to have been over ATs plans to close one of the entrances to a council own carpark.
Māngere Bridge is currently undergoing roadworks as part of AT’s Safer Communities programme, which seeks to improve road safety and, as part of the works, it wants to install a pedestrian crossing on McIntyre Road.
But the issue is complicated by the fact it would be directly adjacent to one of the entrances of the free council-owned car park at shops along Coronation Road and, as a result, AT wants to close it.
The business association is opposed to the plans, claiming it will increase congestion at the second entrance, and it has been locked in talks with AT over it for the past 18 months.
Medallion Dr project starts
Last week AT announced that the Medallion Drive Link project would start. The project is a $10 million two lane road which will extend Medallion Dr from Oteha Valley Rd through to Fairview Ave in Albany, bypassing a single lane bridge.
One benefit of the project will be that it signalises the intersection with Oteha Valley Rd which will help a little bit in reducing that road from being used like a mini-motorway, something even more important given the school on the south-eastern corner of it.
But it is disappointing they are still building substandard infrastructure. While cars get multiple turning lanes, the new road only includes a 3m shared path on the eastern side with the Western side just a normal footpath. This is despite the Albany Busway station being less than 1km west of this location. Perhaps that’s why even AT’s own images show a cyclist using the footpath here.
Women have fewer transport emissions
Research from Dr Caroline Shaw at the University of Otago has found women have fewer transport emissions than men.
The University of Otago research discovered women use more diverse travel options, as well as walking and using public transport more than men.
When it comes to cycling, more than twice as many men cycled as women – 5 per cent compared to 2 per cent.
However overall, both men and women tended to travel by car, lead researcher Dr Caroline Shaw says.
“Women took more trips, but travelled between 12 and 17 per cent fewer kilometres per day and were more likely to walk and use public transport than men,” Dr Shaw says.
“Thus, women overall had a more diverse and lower greenhouse gas emission travel profile than men.”
Those shorter trips could be replaced with cycling instead, Dr Shaw says.
But it would take improved cycling infrastructure to help encourage people to switch to the bike.
“These would likely require whole street/suburb changes to make them safer and more attractive to walk and cycle for the whole family and be relevant for the places that women travel between, such as shops, schools and libraries, as well as workplaces,” Dr Shaw says.
We should absolutely be looking at how we can roll out “whole street/suburb” changes.
Density ain’t so bad
Hobsonville Point is showing that when done well, or at least better, higher density living can be positive.
Sense of community is strong in what is, so far, New Zealand’s largest housing development, a new study is finding.
And it’s a finding resident Penny Thorne can attest to.
Once among the “most skeptical” about living in West Auckland’s Hobsonville Point, two years on Thorne has been impressed by both the sense of community and access to the outdoors.
“I’ve made quite a lot of friends in quite a short time,” she said.
Residents said density had made their community more ‘walkable’, with two-thirds stating that their children walked or biked to school.
Fifty per cent indicated they were ‘satisfied’ or ‘very satisfied’ with the level of privacy provided; and fifty per cent also indicated being ‘very satisfied’ with being close to open spaces, such as parks.
Now if we could just get better public transport access to Hobsonville Point so that driving isn’t the default. This is needed in the form of more frequent ferries and more frequent, direct and reliable connections to Westgate and Constellation Dr.
Transmission Gully Video
Given everything that’s going on with Transmission Gully, it seems an odd time for the NZTA to publish a flyover of it, but they have and it shows the scale of the works so far but also highlights there’s a lot left to do.
And while on the subject of PPPs, Newsroom have run a few more good articles recently about this one, including that the contractor is having issues on some of it’s Australian projects, and the issues with PPPs in general.
Talk of self-driving vehicles has quietened off over the last year or two but it’s still around. This article covering some research on the topic highlights one of the key issues, they’ll only be safer than humans if they’re designed to be. It may seem a straightforward assumption that they would be but if the trade-off to making them safe was that in some areas they’re slow and cautious, we could see the companies developing them so they’re not so safe.
Planning and deciding errors, such as speeding and illegal maneuvers, were contributing factors in about 40 percent of crashes in the study sample. The fact that deliberate decisions made by drivers can lead to crashes indicates that rider preferences might sometimes conflict with the safety priorities of autonomous vehicles. For self-driving vehicles to live up to their promise of eliminating most crashes, they will have to be designed to focus on safety rather than rider preference when those two are at odds.
Self-driving vehicles will need not only to obey traffic laws but also to adapt to road conditions and implement driving strategies that account for uncertainty about what other road users will do, such as driving more slowly than a human driver would in areas with high pedestrian traffic or in low-visibility conditions.
“Our analysis shows that it will be crucial for designers to prioritize safety over rider preferences if autonomous vehicles are to live up to their promise to be safer than human drivers,” Mueller says.
Personally I’m a big fan of the one kind of self-driving vehicle that exists that we know works properly – trains.
A good illustration how it’s not the roads that are too small but that the cars have gotten bigger
When motorists complain about congestion it's not the roads getting smaller – if every car is 2m wide instead of 1.6m that's a lot of space gone from a street with parking on both sides pic.twitter.com/u90U3RYPl8
— Lambeth Cyclists (@LambethCyclists) June 8, 2020
Have a good weekend.