Here’s our roundup for the week.
Nice little kotare
Too good a photo not to share. (Also: time to bring back the “best kept street” awards? Which would you nominate?)
Nice little kotare this arvo pic.twitter.com/YvTHjCI0XA
— Jon Turner (@JonTurnerNZ) June 16, 2021
It ain’t safe to walk – and not just in the city centre
Why did the RNZ reporter cross the road? And more importantly, how long did it take? In a great video report, Louise Ternouth looks at how frustrating it is to get across town on foot.
Featured are a couple of notorious missing-leg intersections, one where Hobson St crosses Cook St, right outside RNZ HQ – and an equally stressful one on Symonds Street, which again requires three crossings in order to get to the other side.
Auckland University population and environmental health professor Alistair Woodward said it was taking a huge toll on pedestrians.
“It’s very stressful, but you know it’s worse than that: last year there were 30 percent more deaths and serious injuries amongst pedestrians than there had been the year before. The wellbeing of pedestrians in the city is a very serious issue.”
Auckland Transport is looking into fixes for the specific examples raised, but “could not provide any further details or when pedestrians could expect to see any physical changes begin.” This reminds us of the promised safety works for the city centre streets where speed limits were kept at 40kmh (Hobson being one of them). Whatever happened to those?
Carbon pricing – not a primary policy approach for addressing climate change
A piece in the Proceedings in the National Academy of Sciences of the USA questions the reliance on pricing carbon as a key lever for climate action.
Why carbon pricing is not sufficient to mitigate climate change—and how “sustainability transition policy” can help
by Daniel Rosenbloom, Jochen Markard, Frank W. Geels, and Lea Fuenfschilling
Carbon pricing is often presented as the primary policy approach to address climate change. We challenge this position and offer “sustainability transition policy” (STP) as an alternative. Carbon pricing has weaknesses with regard to five central dimensions: 1) problem framing and solution orientation, 2) policy priorities, 3) innovation approach, 4) contextual considerations, and 5) politics.
Sir Brian Roche has announced he’ll step down from his role as Chair of Waka Kotahi in a year’s time. Announcing a whole year before his term ends is a bit odd. Does he have wind of a structural upheaval that he’d prefer not to be part of?
Meanwhile Auckland Transport is looking for a new Independent Director. Applications close on the 20th of June (that’s this Sunday), and the position is to be the Audit & Risk Committee Chair as well. It would be fantastic to see someone at the table who is across the risk of not investing in modeshift, and the potential cost of continuing to facilitate a car-dependent transport network. Who would you like to see on AT’s board? We’ve got a few ideas.
Most Kiwis reckon NZ is not moving fast enough on climate action. NZ Herald reported on a survey by insurer IAG New Zealand, which found that:
… most didn’t think the country was on track.
Just 23 per cent thought the current response was moving fast enough, and only 37 per cent were confident that New Zealand would be able to reduce the impacts of climate change.
The survey showed that people are starting to get genuinely worried about the effects of climate change on them and their communities. It also revealed that most of us have a very good understanding of the potential changes ahead, and how those will impact us.
Nine in 10 thought climate change would increase coastal inundation due to sea-level rise; 85 per cent thought it would lead to more frequent and intense storms and floods; 88 per cent expected more frequent and extreme droughts; and 83 per cent anticipated more frequent and extreme wildfires.
Funnily enough, responses to the recent RLTP consultation agree wholeheartedly. It’s almost as if there’s a massive cultural shift happening, that our public agencies and political leaders will do well to capitalise on.
All this made us think about how much has changed in way we talk about our impact on the environment. There’s a steady stream of media about individuals, families and households who’ve lowered their emissions by reducing their household waste, their meat consumption, and their car trips. This article on Stuff is an excellent example. Hopefully, what what looks like the start of a cultural shift can be recognised by Central and Local government as strengthening their mandate to make real steps towards meeting the country’s emissions-reduction targets.
After a crash, what?
A crash on Great North Road in the wee hours over Queens Birthday weekend left one person dead and another two seriously injured, after a vehicle mounted the kerb of the footpath and took out a traffic signal pole.
A full week later (this photo was taken 12 June 2021) and the pedestrian crossing here was still out of action, creating a 700m detour for pedestrians to the nearest controlled crossing point. Many chose to dash across in a gap in the traffic.
Adding insult to death and injury, this crossing point was only recently upgraded from a previously unsafe and barely accessible design that was a struggle to navigate for anyone using wheels, whether wheelchair, pushchair, scooter, or bike.
It’s a reminder that Great North Road is four lanes of fast traffic severing a growing residential neighbourhood from a park and other amenities. AT’s info page for a raised crossing on Alford St – notes there have been requests for a reduced speed limit and traffic calming in the immediate area, but is unable to deliver them:
“The new area-based focus recognises that traffic-calming changes on one street will lead to increased traffic on surrounding streets. We therefore can’t simply reduce the speed in one area, without treating the area as a whole.”
Maybe it’s time to treat the area as a whole? Or the city as a whole?
Farewell to Parking Minimums
Porirua City Council is following the lead of Wellington and Hutt city councils by removing minimum parking requirements from its Operative District Plan, dodging what it calls a “perverse outcome” to its goal of improving housing stock in the process…
A report issued to councillors indicated some housing developers were “holding off” on moving forward with projects, because the Operative District Plan still had minimum parking requirements specified in it.
“This is a perverse outcome that works against council’s goal of increasing housing supply and helping to alleviate the housing crisis,” a council report read…
Councillors voted unanimously to approve the variation to the Operative District Plan.
Auckland Council could do the same.
Opening the Golden Mile to People
Wellington continues to generate a lot of urbanism, infrastructure and transport news. The capital hit the headlines in a big way on Wednesday with the announcement that Let’s Get Wellington Moving had opted to remove private vehicles from the Golden Mile – the continuous stretch of road from Courtney Place to Lambton Quay.
Let’s Get Wellington Moving partners announced on Wednesday it had selected the most radical option for revamping the key stretch of road between the Beehive and the end of Courtenay Place, after public support for the move late last year.
The revamp will close the road to private vehicles, widen footpaths by up to 75 per cent, and create bus-only lanes – one in each direction – along the entire stretch of road…
Programme chairperson Siobhan Procter noted there had been strong opposition to the plans from some Golden Mile retailers, but an independent survey had found only 22 per cent of people accessed the area using private vehicles.
These contributed 23 per cent of the area’s retail spending, compared with 32 per cent for public transport users and 35 per cent for pedestrians and cyclists, the survey found.
“There is very little risk of any downside to retailers,” Procter said.
Talkback opponents reacted predictably with outrage but also artwork. They sure know how to threaten us with a good time…
Slaps so hard I might print this out and stick it on the fridge pic.twitter.com/slWy89vMRG
— Bennett (@bennettLmorgan) June 17, 2021
If people-friendly streets are a “plague”, they’re a global one. Check out the plans for Oxford St in London.
Greater Auckland in the news
Matt’s sort of currently on paternity leave (congrats!), but still manages to find time to give great sound-bites:
- about the impending opening of the Puhinui interchange
- on Auckland’s ranking as the world’s most liveable city
- correcting misapprehensions about making it harder to drive.
And after the EV rebate scheme was announced, Heidi, along with Paul Callister, argued that we should be subsidising e-bikes, not e-vehicles.
Dr Kirsty Wild lays it out in the Spinoff: the current debate over bikes is not about lycra, it’s about power – and it’s time for the bullying to back off:
Auckland’s Climate Plan, Te Tāruke-ā-Tāwhiri, has committed to increasing cycling seven-fold by 2030 to stay under 1.5 degrees warming. Cycle lanes will be essential. Dehumanising stereotypes won’t help.
Dr Wild is also quoted in a piece in the Guardian about whether Aucklanders are in a ‘love affair’ with cars – or more of a shotgun marriage:
“Car trips can have quite a negative impact on people’s mental health, for the people taking the trip and for the neighbourhood that people take a trip through,” says the lead author of the report, Dr Kirsty Wild from the University of Auckland. She says that after just 15 minutes in a car “transport satisfaction” drops, and after 40 minutes “life satisfaction” drops.
The same piece quotes Bike Auckland’s Barb Cuthbert on the painfully slow delivery of Auckland’s cycle network:
“The reality is we’re not going to get anything on the bridge for another five years,” says Cuthbert. “What Auckland Transport have been doing is popping a bit of a cycle lane in a park and calling that 0.5km of cycleway. That is not a change agent. What really matters is a strategic cycle network.” Cuthbert says until there is real progress there will be more direct action as there has been in Wellington where unauthorised pop-up bike lanes put pressure on the council to fast-track cycleway projects.
Meanwhile, across the ditch, Sydney’s pop-up pandemic bike paths are so popular that many are now overtaking the previously busiest routes. Melbourne is likewise cranking on with its plan for 100km of pop-up bike paths, albeit running into a few head winds.
And, as with everywhere they’re installed, the new protected lanes are freeing people to ride who might never have previously thought about it:
During the induction tour at my new workplace I laughed out loud at the idea of riding a bike to work. But then came a perfect storm of motivating factors…. [what] pushed me over the edge was the completion of a fully separated bike lane on a street near my apartment. That meant I would only need to expose my under-protected, breakable skeleton to cars for six blocks in my whole 6-kilometre commute.
Check out the five coolest things happening in urbanism… in Europe. (Turning brownfields into “ecodistricts” is turning our heads!)
On theme for GA this week.
The circle of life … pic.twitter.com/tJMLqq2uwr
— Rob Szczerba (@RJSzczerba) June 16, 2021