Here’s our roundup for the week.

Constellation Dr Win

A few weeks ago we ran a post about how we need to enforce and extend bus and transit lanes. It included an email a reader had sent Auckland Transport CEO Shane Ellison about how bus unreliability on Constellation Dr in the afternoon peak was making it harder for her to justify using public transport. AT’s response to this was terrible:

We work to maximise the flow of people on the network and monitor vehicle volumes, vehicle occupancy and bus travel times.

We use that data to decide how best to manage the lanes. Afternoon peak passenger numbers are low for this direction, vehicle volumes are high and average bus travel times are considered acceptable.

Overall, there is not a strong case for changing the operating times right now.

The transit lane ends 100m before Parkway Drive, and queues back from the motorway onramps delay buses accessing Parkway Drive.

The change of the transit lane operating times would not be expected to provide much benefit in this situation as it doesn’t remove the primary source of the delay. However, a change to the times is something we are considering for the future.

Well some good news this week with AT announcing they want to make the transit lanes active in the afternoon and are consulting on the change.

St Heliers

Meanwhile they also announced that over in St Heliers they’d go ahead with the the compromised plans they consulted on last year.

Auckland Transport (AT) confirms new safety improvements will go ahead in St Heliers, after asking for feedback on the revised proposal late last year.

This was the second time AT asked for feedback on a safety proposal through the village, as the first proposal out for feedback in 2019 was not well received.

AT has since changed its approach to work collaboratively with the community on a new design before asking people for their views.

The proposal was designed by Auckland Transport – working alongside local community representatives from the St Heliers Business Association, the St Heliers/Glendowie Residents Association, Colin Davis from the Ōrākei Local Board (who has business improvement districts as part of their wider delegated responsibilities) and Councillor Desley Simpson.

The proposal means cyclists are on a shared path and in the door zone of parked cars, all because car parking is being prioritised.

In their press release AT say “73 per cent of people supporting the proposal, with some suggesting further changes“. But their feedback report shows that 47% supported with changes and only 26% supported outright, less than didn’t support it (27%). As for the changes suggested, there’s a bit of a theme.

There’s also some interesting specific responses in the report, such as this about the shared path not meeting ATs own design standards, including their comment in the consultation “The usual white line will be painted down the middle of the shared path for the further protection of walkers and other vulnerable people“.

So it’s now just a 4m wide footpath then that will pedestrians and dogs on long leashes sprawled across it. And all because they refused to remove a few carparks.

There’s probably a few posts worth of similar silly responses but it’s frankly too depressing. It’s notable how whenever there’s a dedicated cycling or PT project, any feedback becomes a vote on the proposal but when all the feedback is calling on them to remove parking, put in dedicated cycleways etc, they are able to ignore it all and plow on ahead anyway.

File under ‘ugh’

Speaking of depressing, the 2 Walk and Cycle conference has been on over the last few days in Dunedin and councillor Pippa Coom has been there. Yesterday she tweeted these two comments among others.

  1. So do we have to sacrifice children if we want safer streets?
  2. It’s such an indictment on AT and the transport planning profession in general than when the council says they want fewer cars in town and it to be more pedestrian friendly that the response is to add more motorway lanes.

Over in Paris …

Mayor Anne Hidalgo, who for years been making revolutionary changes to city, such as removing traffic from the banks of the Seine, added significant amounts of new cycleways etc, has announced that by the end of the year, almost all roads in Paris will have a speed limit of 30km/h.

And in London

London Mayor Sadiq Khan tweeted recently

To put that in perspective, London has just under 15,000km of road network, almost all of which are considered ‘urban’. Auckland has about 7,900km but only 5,100km of the are considered urban. Therefore, the 260km of cycle routes would equate to Auckland rolling out nearly 90km of cycleways. We’re targeting only 4km this year.

The e-vehicle subsidy we need

The government continue to look at ways of subsidising electric cars and trucks. Meanwhile in the US, a bill before congress would look to subsidise e-bikes. This is the kind of thing we should be doing.

Over in Germany e-bikes are well outstripping e-car sales

Drury Stations Consultation

The consultation on the Drury Train Stations has been extended to 26 March “to give people a bit more time to have their say, especially with all the COVID-19 disruption

You can read my thoughts about how they seem to be planning for auto-dependency here.

There’s also a new face to face drop in session planned on 23 March at the Drury Hall from 4.30pm to 6.30pm. More details here.

Have a good weekend.

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    1. ” The backpack, called ShopPack, would be available at Countdown Newtown on March 19 and Countdown Grey Lynn on March 26 from 4pm.”

      Surely it will be more widely available than this.

      “Kiri Hannifan, Countdown’s general manager of corporate affairs, safety and sustainability, said it was an innovative and clever way to let customers know car emissions did not have to be part of their lives. ”

      Just about all Countdowns include a large carpark. Token stuff really.

  1. That 2nd comment from Pippa is quite damming. New motorway on/off ramps??? WTF

    Although I’m sure (well I hope) that there is more to the story than just that one slide she’s taken a photo of.

    1. Also – last comment “increase SH capacity between motorway & Tamaki Drive” …. Why? The Strand/SH16 is already supersized for a city centre road.
      If freight to/from the port is a concern = take one of the traffic lanes and make it truck lane

    2. If there’s more to the story I don’t think it’s anything but:

      A4E is effective travel demand management; a way to achieve modeshift, bring emissions down and improve safety, liveability and walkability.

      But a sector focused on hard engineering solutions to accommodate vehicle demand instead of reallocation and reduction of capacity to influence vehicle demand, sets about finding hard engineering “solutions” to problems of their own imagination

      1. I think when they head there for a drink of a Friday evening, they already do walk. I mean, the trucks aren’t allowed to take them directly along Quay St, are they, so wouldn’t you just walk, if you were a container?

        1. I guess the truck could go up Stanley St, join SH1 north, go across the bridge, U-turn at Onewa and come back into town. They didn’t say direct access for everyone. Or maybe they just didn’t think this all through.

        2. Sh1 south would be a better bet. U turn at gillies ave.

          It’s surprising, the city centre motorway box actually provides extremely poor connectivity for trips from one side of the city centre to the other. I thought that was the entire point of a motorway box, to get rid of trips crossing though.

        3. I don’t think it was ever designed so some urban designers, who hate cul-de-sacs, could turn the CBD arterial roads into cul-de-sacs.

        4. Or maybe you could use that big body of water to get it there rather than throw out a whole plan just because a random container might go to Wynyrd once in a blue moon.

      2. Wouldn’t they need to go to the inland port and then onto a distribution centre and then be loaded onto a delivery vehicle (probably a truck and maybe even smaller than the others) and then it walk.

        1. An endless criss cross of trucks and vans. I wonder how we got on before we invented the container. And then there’s all the empty truck and container trips as well. Only we can’t see those with the doors and curtains closed. Too answer my question they had large warehouses set up on the wharves. And smaller ones called railway goods sheds.

        1. How can that be allowed in a Zero Emissions Area? Oh never mind it is in the City Centre Master Plan which means it will never actually happen.

        2. There are electric trucks on the road right now. If this sort of concern trolling is the best that the industry can do then we will continue to rightly be the laughing stock of the public and other engineers.

    3. Simple solution, put in A4E tactically immediately. If those measures are needed (motorway widening, new on-ramps) AT will easily be able to get an urgent business case approved as the system will be munted. In reality if you put A4E in tactically, those business cases would not stack up as traffic would evaporate. We need to tactically reset streets to a baseline where active modes and public transport are provided for and then make AT put forward business cases to upgrade for car priority if they want to. The status quo situation is given too much respect, any changes need to be extensively justified through endless business cases.

  2. Where the hell would they add more onramps?! Insanity. I also hate to think the cost of any new lanes in Grafton Gully

    1. I think it is this sketch which shows the motorways being used as the distributor roads:

      If you take that sketch literally, driving between the parts of the city centre will require making an U-turn at Onewa Road or Gillies Ave. Maybe they’re thinking “oh no, that is a lot of extra movements”. Although if the plan doesn’t totally fail you won’t do these trips by car anyway.

      I am curious to see a more detailed circulation plan.

      1. Agreed, The number of trips that make this motor vehicle city to city journey will be very low. Especially with the improvement to all other modes that would be realised with the a4e plan

      2. Yes the goal is to close off direct linkages and require longer trips with traffic being pushed onto an already struggling motorway. In someone’s mind that will reduce emissions. The real point is to turn CBD arterials into local roads as that is better for the folks who bought there and they think to hell with the regional and national transport network.

        1. I think I can hear you through the windshield, miffy: “require longer trips”… what kind of trips did you mean?

        2. Particularly grumpy today Heidi. The neighbours cut down a bunch of trees yesterday and at 2am a possum, probably homeless, starts wandering around on my roof. So I had to go up and chase it away. It involved lots of swearing.

        3. Oh that’s no good. Sounds like the swearing was well deserved.

          I’m particularly grumpy myself. In a complete fug, to tell the truth.

          Attempting to write a post on the LTP is involving lots of swear words. Including in the writing itself, although I’ve generally gone back and replaced them with something just as nasty which isn’t a swear word. Eventually I replace that with something clever and cutting and finally I replace it with something boring and straightforward. So sort of five times more writing than it should be.

          I’m about to give up, I think.

  3. Seems like quite a shit sandwhich doesn’t it.

    This project is aiming to improve walking/cycling/PT into the city centre = you have to fix general traffic problems.

    This project wants to add extra lanes to an arterial road = no improvements for PT, no improvements for safety, no improvements for walking/cycling.

  4. “We have heard from the community”,i.e 1 letter to Shane Ellison,shared on Greater Auckland,has kicked AT into action,just a shame they can’t come up these solutions on their own.
    On a seperate issue,changes around Grey Sreet ,Onehunga,a tatical urbanism project has fired up the locals,l can see the inevitable outcome of this,we tried ,but no one liked it.This involves more than removing carparks ,it actually redirects traffic,so can see it being consulted into oblivion,changes require courage .

    1. Its a long way from being usable isn’t it! I guess they are hoping it is just a data issue but I doubt it.
      As a software engineer I almost always find the first 80% of a task is easy but that last 20% can be a real killer (normally the last 20% of the work takes 80% of the total time). I think this is where they have got to with self driving cars: it can drive and do most things right, but the edge cases are very common and difficult.

      1. I really don’t think that it would be able to cope with the roads in Wellington, up on the hill suburbs. Barely wide enough for one car in places, yet officially a two-way street with room for parking.

        The danger of self-drive cars is having people who don’t drive, being in the driving seat. They may be OK 90% of the time – but it is the 10% of the time where they need hands on the wheel – and they need to be hugely experienced hands. Probably great on the interstate highways – I think this video shows they really should not be allowed in cities….

  5. So this is ugly stuff:

    “Residents only willing to support tactical urbanism “if a child has died” ”

    However, the road controlling authority is still tasked with providing a safe system. Democracy doesn’t mean and never has meant that children should have to die due to voter ignorance.

    So how are we going to fix the problem of authorities thinking that they are beholden to residents with inhumane values?

  6. “To help reduce car use for those short trips, Gen Less, an initiative supported by EECA, has launched a shopping bag which turns into a backpack – giving people the opportunity to cycle, walk or scooter home with their belongings hands-free.”

    I’m sure they mean well, but a shopping bag/backpack is not going to change the reality of car alternatives frequently being slow, difficult, dangerous and expensive if you use a powered two wheeler.

    We need more cycle lanes, PT priority, fare caps. Also the system where a 150cc motor scooter pays double the registration of a Ford Ranger Raptor could be revised to actually reflect the supposed climate emergency.

  7. Good on Gen Less,for at least having a go at something,however small,hopefully they are now embolded to have a crack at bigger changes,but they will run head on into the establishment.”What did you do for climate change grandad ?” “l stopped these silly young people,who wanted safe places to ride the bikes & scooters”

    1. Yup. That’s what it comes down to. Which side of history do people want to be on.

      Cos it’s being decided right now. Emissions this decade clinch the deal.

      We need to coordinate with this, and go beyond everything we’ve ever done.

  8. There are a lot of very disappointing points in here. The discussion around Access for Everyone is bad. A4E clearly shows Mayoral Drive, Hobson nelson, Quay Street, Symonds Street and a couple of other routes being used for internal city centre trips. Half of the point of A4E is that it makes driving less good to discourage it.

    Worse is this “however the minimum width of a shared path can be achieved by removing the separating line, which will comply with the design guide”. AT went to a lot of effort to write a pretty good design guide and are now either completely ignoring it or deliberately misrepresenting it. Shared paths aren’t even considered in the guide because they are such poor practing. Further, the Waka Kotahi Cycling Network Guidance specifically recommends against using them in town centre environments.

  9. Here is a damning statistic.
    Greenfield developments have built more cycle lanes than Auckland Transport.

    1. If I was a greenfield developer I’d use the response that AT just gave to explain why installing a shared path in St Heliers is OK to never have to provide another cycle lane in a greenfield site. Hypocrites.

  10. Seeing as the New Stations at Dury are to be clean slate I am thinking put them on their own loops off the main line then we have two overtaking lanes without Having to have a third or fourth main. It wili make the stations big but there could just be less car parking. Also if it is ever necessary to build a third or fourth main then we won’t have to rebuild the station. I can’t see us ever needing three or four platforms at these stations.

  11. The Constellation Drive proposal from AT is only a “partial win” if it is successful. There is no need for any parking at any time on either side of Constellation Drive between the motorway and East Coast Road. All the businesses along this stretch have driveways leading to parking in front of their buildings. No-one needs to park on the road. All parking should be removed completely. Have a look at East Coast Road which leads north from the end of Constellation Drive . It is two lanes each way 24/7 with a painted bike lane along each side. No parking allowed the whole way to Rosedale Road. This stretch is mainly houses on each side and so the house-owning ratepayers have no on-street parking. It should be the same for Constellation Drive all the way to the bus station from East Coast Road. I will be submitting that AT have not gone far enough with Constellation Drive and the T2 lanes on both sides should be no parking 24/7 like the four lanes on East Coast Road. And for good measure the bike lanes on East Coast Road be extended along Constellation as well.

    1. Patrick, I completely agree with you. A couple of days ago I had a business meeting in Apollo Drive and being one of those “ok boomers” that Chloe has such respect for, I took the bus to Constellation Station and walked via Constellation Drive. I couldn’t believe that a lane has been turned into parking. How can the city afford to provide free, or cheap parking everywhere? Of course the answer is that it can’t and as a result active modes are compromised.

      I note the tragic loss of life again on Lake Road where this time a cyclist was killed. I am not a cyclist, but surely the city needs safe bike lanes, particularly on high commuter traffic roads such as this?

      I shouldn’t tell the following story, but I will. It demonstrates that for pedestrians many areas are like a war zone. As I was returning from my meeting I crossed a pedestrian crossing in McDonalds. I had to delay entering the crossing to avoid a guy backing out of his car park. As I entered the crossing he came forward towards me, saw me, realised he had almost run me down and so said “sorry.” And kept coming. I had my yearly diary in my hand and in a reflex action of self defence I smashed the spine of the book into the pillar behind the driver. The driver said, “sorry I was just backing, as he continued to move forward (I suspect his only remorse was the ferocity with which I had struck his car). Unfortunately by this stage I was angry and aimed a couple more blows of the diaries spine at whatever I could hit, as he continued to come forward.

      It is little wonder that there is death and injury to pedestrians when motorists drive in such a contemptible fashion as this. As a regular pedestrian I would like to say this was an isolated incident – sadly it was not.

  12. Stop Press: The RLTP has been released.

    Funny thing is I had a reply from Council today to my question from over three weeks ago about this and they said to just submit now on the information available and submit about the RLTP later. (As if the success of one wasn’t contingent on the other!)

    So there we are. I know everyone’s wowed by the Long Term Plan and itching to get their submissions done but have been unable to because the Regional Land Transport Plan hadn’t been released.

    If I got my act together I might do a Saturday post on the LTP.

    Or I might have a life. Not sure yet which…

  13. And here is the guts of Auckland Transport’s misconceptions:

    “Signficantly reducing transport GHGs will require investment in projects, programmes and services that encourage Aucklanders to switch to sustainable travel modes and reduce the increase in private vehicle travel associated with population growth.”

    All good so far, but this is the problem bit:

    “However, at best, an investment-only approach could only hope to hold private vehicle travel to today’s levels – leaving the problem of existing travel and emissions.”

    This is simply untrue. There is HEAPS that investment in the right places, and not in the wrong places, can do:

    “Consequently, to achieve significant reductions in Auckland’s transport GHG emissions we must also implement measures that move the private vehicle fleet towards low or zero emissions options as it is renewed.”

    Ta dah! Auckland Transport think they can keep their beloved car dependence if everyone would just change vehicles…

    The LTP and RLTP and ATAP are the important plans to turn our system around in time to reduce our emissions. But they fail at their core task. Our children will face a miserable fate if we can’t turn this around now.

    1. There is still this mental block of not understanding that people who aren’t driving cars may be getting around for legitimate reasons, and that these people aren’t just an unimportant underclass.

      It would be amusing to watch for people living overseas.

    2. “However, at best, an investment-only approach could only hope to hold private vehicle travel to today’s levels – leaving the problem of existing travel and emissions.”
      AT really have no idea. You just need to go on the net and read the success that other cities have had in changing mode share. I know that I am repeating what I have said previously, but “Vienna in Figures” charts the consistent success that this city has had over many years. The current target is 20% mode share by 2027. It appears Auckland’s target is 82%.
      Vienna has had the advantage of a socialist local government who has been prepared to consistently invest in cheap public transport. Now that the leadership has moved to the right the same encouraging approach is continuing. Unsurprising the city has found that public transport solutions can be delivered at a far lower cost to the individual than car ownership.

  14. What a crock of shit response from AT on the shared path in St Heliers meeting their own standards, that’s absolute bollocks. There are two many peds and people on bikes for that facility to qualify as a shared path. On this basis let’s immediately remove a couple of lanes on the harbour bridge and use them for people wanting to cross on bike or foot until WK pull their finger out with skypath. No need to do any analysis on traffic volumes or traffic impacts, the remaing lanes meet the standards for motorway lane width.

    1. We will continue to have the sorts of results that happen in St Heliers as long as the current model of consultation continues. These consultations have nothing to do with progress, but everything to do with preserving self interest. Local shopkeepers in St Heliers are not going to forgo parking fearing that customers will migrate to Kohimarama or Mission Bay, or somewhere else.

      The current model suits AT. It must provide truckloads of employment for staff and it is largely non confrontational, because it seldom challenges the status quo. Sadly it is completely inappropriate for 2021 because it doesn’t deliver solutions for Auckland’s two major transport problems: congestion and emissions. To be fair, they never appear on the agenda. Arguably they also don’t deliver on safety.

      Oh for a SUMP consultation.


    Finally some common sense debate about free park and rides. Sadly it’s in Wellington and not here.

    Here are some of the comments from the proponents of change:
    “The draft plan indicated that charges could be introduced to “ensure customers who have a genuine need to use PAR [park and ride] and have a willingness to pay for it, get priority access”, particularly at busy stations.”
    We can’t continue to just extend the number of areas that we have for park and rides.
    “We can’t just keep putting in more and more car parks without there being an impost on the ratepayer,” Ponter said ahead of the closure of public submissions on Friday.

    All valid points. And great that the usefulness of free park and rides is being challenged. At the most fundamental level do they actually reduce the length of trips, or do they (in the case of Auckland particularly) encourage sprawl and therefore trips of any description?

    There seems to be the need in Auckland for a fundamental transport reset where the starting points are the new reality, one of those being we need to cut emissions.

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