Here’s our weekly roundup.
Survey on Incidents involving small electric vehicles in Auckland
Transport consultancy Abley are currently running a survey looking at incidents small electric devices such as e-scooters, e-bikes and e-scateboards.
Have you had or witnessed an incident or near miss in Auckland involving an e-micromobility vehicle (e-scooter, e-bike, e-skateboard, hoverboard, or Segway)? You may either have been the rider or another party, and we would like to learn what happened. Note that unpowered vehicles are excluded from this survey (so no push scooters nor traditional human powered bicycles).
Survey responses will inform a study by Transport consultancy Abley into the safety of e-micromobility in Auckland. The aim is to better understand what makes e-micromobility safe or unsafe, including behaviour and infrastructure. The study looks at everyone’s safety (both riders and non-riders). The findings will be submitted to Auckland Transport as an evidence base and with associated recommendations. It will inform future policies and interventions to make e-micromobility safer for everyone in Auckland.
If you know anyone else who also had or saw an incident, please send them the link so they can report it. Thank you in advance for your support!
I have seen some comments online already about this suggesting AT should know what’s needed etc. However, this survey isn’t really about that, it’s looking at the issues specific to electric devices, such as they sometimes catch new users as well as other road users by surprise due to their fast acceleration etc.
Ash St Macrocarpa
A month ago a tree in Avondale became the latest flashpoint in the housing discussion with protesters opposing it’s removal which threatened a 117 unit development by Ockham, even though the developer had planned to plant many more trees on the site as part of the development.
The goods news is the development is now moving ahead. This from one of those that were fighting for the tree.
We made an appeal to the developer to meet with us to discuss options for altering their design to keep ‘Big Mac’ standing. To us, it seemed wrong that this notable tree was not being incorporated into their housing development.
What became clear over ensuing weeks was that a design change was not a minor but a major prospect. Furthermore, over 78 of the 117 apartments were already sold and the main investor was a collective of iwi.
The only way to potentially save this tree was to stop the project in its tracks and find funds to take them and Council to court, thereby locking things up for a year or more to try and force Ockham-Marutūāhu back to the drawing board. That would cost all parties tens of thousands of dollars and hit the iwi investors hard. It would cost the 78 families and individuals who had already purchased an apartment in stress, uncertainty and money. It would absorb our movement’s resources in a pitched battle over a single, magnificent tree.
We decided we were not prepared to do that.
They agreed that if we were to remove our platform and ropes and custom-built kitchen bench, and the tree was to go, that they would work with us and Council to have at least 13 notable, local trees scheduled in the Whau. That they would make a tribute to the mac as part of their development
The urban ngahere is lost one tree at a time, but we can’t save it one tree at a time. One-third of Auckland’s canopy has been destroyed in under a decade since tree protection was revoked by John Key. Our movement is forced to fight on the front line because the Council and Government have failed to protect trees. The solution is certain. We need a return to general tree protection urgently.
It’s good to see this resolved and with a pragmatic outcome meaning the housing can go ahead.
Western Line not back to normal as planned
You may recall that just two weeks ago Auckland Transport announced when trains would return to ‘normal’ speeds. The Southern and Onehunga Lines are now back and the Western Line was meant to be the next with normal speeds resuming on 22 February and the Eastern Line on 1 March.
Unfortunately it appears that date may be wrong and the just published Western Line timetable for that week retains the slow and infrequent service we’ve seen since August.
I’m assuming this isn’t just some error on AT’s part and that Kiwirail have again changed things as they continue to work on de-stressing the tracks as yesterday they announced they’ve finishing the track replacement work on the electrified network.
From this week, current planned rail replacement work between Swanson and Papakura has been finished, meaning trains can return to their 10-minute frequencies during peak across the entire Auckland network. KiwiRail teams are working at night to destress the new rail and to carry out other finishing work to avoid impacting daytime services.
“So far we have replaced more than 112km of damaged rail which is 84 per cent of the required re-railing work overall. At the same time, we’ve replaced close to 20,500 sleepers and destressed 95km of rail track.
“We fully appreciate the disruption this has caused Aucklanders and thank them for their patience as we carried out this urgent work.
The replacement work is now focusing on Papakura to Pukekohe with services not running on weekends.
Trains will not run between Papakura and Pukekohe on weekends from Saturday 13 February to Sunday 28 March, with Auckland Transport running rail replacement buses. Buses will also replace trains on this line from 9pm weeknights.
Te Huia has a date
Meanwhile in other rail news, it’s been announced that the new Te Huia train service between Hamilton and Auckland will begin on April 6. It’s just a shame the timetable is so limited.
From day one there will be two return services on weekdays to get commuters to Papakura in time for the start of the workday.
From Monday to Friday, Te Huia will depart Frankton at 5.46am and 6.28am, stopping at Rotokauri and Huntly. The return service will depart from Papakura at 4.42pm and 6.25pm.
Bee Card fares – also used for Hamilton’s bus services – will be $12.20 from Hamilton and $7.80 from Huntly. Cash fares will be available.
For the first few months, Te Huia will operate on select Saturdays only, starting with April 17 due to limited availability of the rail track as a result of the ongoing Auckland rail project and Metro maintenance work.
Each of the two trains has four carriages with free wifi, air conditioning, heating, a café bar and each will be able to carry 150 passengers. There is a toilet within each carriage and plenty of tables, power and USB points on board to allow for productive working spaces.
I’m concerned that the limited timetable, long travel time and the inability for people to travel from Auckland to Hamilton will have a significant impact on potential usage and as such, risks being a failure that will put the idea of intercity rail travel back by potentially decades. Though many of these, and more are highlighted as potential future improvements.
Lego Bike Lanes
There’s been a push to get Lego to include bike lanes in its city sets and now it’s a possibility, if enough people support it.
A thousand years ago, back in 2019, a regional councilor in the Netherlands named Marcel Steeman undertook a seemingly impossible challenge: convince the makers of one of the most popular toys in the world to do something a little different.
He wanted Lego, the toy production company based in Billund, Denmark, to add bike lanes to their tiny, brick-made cities.
For years, the streets in Lego’s city sets — once called base plates — had space for cars, people, even tiny storm drains, but no designated lanes for zero-emission, human-powered vehicles like bikes. Even worse, it appeared that Lego’s streets had become more hostile toward pedestrians and cyclists over time. As compared to Lego sets from years ago, the cars seem to have grown larger — evolving from four- to six-studs wide — and the roads appeared to be getting wider, while the sidewalks were getting more and more narrow.
“It really stood out that Lego City is such a car centered city,” Steeman told me in an email.
He now needs to get 10,000 supporters of the idea and is already over half way there.
Speaking of bike lanes
Cities are flexible.
People in cities are flexible.
Vienna: +12% in cycling in 2020
Helsinki: + 46%
All cities that built infrastructure years ago & did even more in pandemic.
— Roman Meliška (@happy_roman) February 10, 2021
Have a good weekend.