Kia ora, here’s our weekly roundup for the week ending 23rd of July.
Puhinui Opening and bus changes
Tomorrow the awesome new Puhinui station is being shown off to the public with an open day from 11am to 3pm. This part of the rail network is closed over the weekend however and so the first passenger services will start using the station from Monday 26 July.
With Puhinui opening the Airport Link bus will shift to using the station and with it comes a couple of other bus changes such as the new frequent 36 route from Onehunga to Manukau via Mangere which starts on Sunday.
From adman to cycling advocate
Locky Docks from Big Street Bikers have been popping up around Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch. One of the people behind it is Cleve Cameron spoke to Kim Hill about it in a fantastic interview where he talked about how went from advertising cars to trying to make our cities more bike friendly.
Cleve Cameron was a high-flying advertising creative until one day he realised he’d had enough. His passion to change behaviour remained, and he’s now channeling it into trying to reduce carbon emissions through transport – specifically, bicycles.
Cameron is a co-founder of Big Street Bikers – a company aiming to get New Zealanders out of their cars and onto two wheels. Big Street Bikers have been busy creating new electric infrastructure to make cycling easier for commuters. That’s where Locky Docks come in.
Launched nationally this week, Locky Docks are public bike locking stations which can be used to recharge e-bikes for free. It’s all part of a wider scheme to lower emissions, reduce congestion and make people feel better.
In over our heads…
Shocking footage continues to pour in from cities around the world inundated by extreme wet weather events. Walls of water, pushing through cities, floating cars along streets, and flooding into transit tunnels – are a sobering corollary to record wildfires elsewhere. A couple of threads from China capture the scale.
This video was shared on Weibo earlier tonight. pic.twitter.com/uPKVQZqWZz
— Manya Koetse (@manyapan) July 20, 2021
Close to home, Westport is recovering from a devastating flood that has left up to a hundred homes uninhabitable. It’s gutting to learn that apparently this could have been largely avoided, or at least mitigated:
A $10 million flood protection scheme proposed for Westport would have prevented most of the devastation caused by the weekend’s massive flood, the West Coast Regional Council operations director says.
Randal Beal said the scheme involved extensive stopbanks and floodwalls – essentially ringfencing the town from the Buller and Orowaiti rivers – and would cost $10.2 million.
“It is designed for a one-in-a-hundred-year flood in the Buller, and whether it would have protected the town this time, the simple answer is yes, unless there was a flood bank failure,” he said.
One striking detail in the article is that the call not to proceed was made on the basis of public feedback:
Only 10.8 percent of respondents supported it; 24.6 percent preferred to do nothing about their town’s flood risk and 30 per cent had no opinion.
“It would have been an expense for ratepayers, certainly, and without a majority supporting it we couldn’t go ahead,” he said.
“This has become urgent… The river is our main worry in terms of what it can do. It’s a sleeping giant. It’s a monster when it gets going.”
Back in 2017, the Regional Council’s Deputy Chair encouraged locals to weigh in: “…sit down with a cuppa and take your time. It’s important we get this right for our future.” The feedback summary from that 2017 consultation doesn’t seem to be online. But if it’s the “Buller River Flood Consultation” mentioned in the minutes of this March 2017 council meeting , there were 203 submissions in total.
- Does it make sense to ask the general public to vote on things like life-saving flood protection?
- 203 voices is a tiny sample upon which to decide the future of a whole town, given over half of the respondents either didn’t have an opinion at all, or preferred to do nothing in the face of expert advice. (Did any children “have their say”?)
- If the same survey were taken today, would it have a different outcome?
- If the project seemed too expensive in 2017, how priceless does it look now?
Note: last year, the council applied for support for the flood protection scheme from the government’s Covid recovery fund for “shovel-ready” projects. Unfortunately, the bid was unsuccessful.
Latest Progress on the Glen Innes to Tamaki Drive Pathway
Here’s the latest video from the GI to Tamaki Drive pathway project, showing some cracking progress over the last three months.
Following up on our recent post about the power of artists’ impressions here’s a fun inquiry into the appeal of “solarpunk” art when it comes to thinking about what makes cities great places to be.
Economics journalist Noah Smith starts with a much-shared image by anime artist Imperial Boy, and works his way towards a few conclusions. Content warning: contains great real life examples and delicious eye-candy!
…that’s really the secret of Imperial Boy’s magic. Not some biopunk science fiction that merges foliage and concrete, nor some cyberpunk construction method that creates buildings in improbable shapes. It’s just good urban design — something we could have right now if we wanted. Except that “if we wanted” actually means “if a huge set of institutional and cultural barriers to dense, walkable development and high-quality architecture didn’t exist”, which of course they do.
So how do we, as a society, make ourselves want dense, walkable, well-planned cities and high-quality urban architecture? I think we need to draw more pictures.
…and climate fiction
On the theme of art that asks questions about the future, we loved this short story by New Zealand writer Melanie Harding-Shaw, published earlier this month on US speculative-fiction website Strange Horizons. It’s a quick read, and a twisty and disturbingly convincing version of a future Aotearoa with a transport subplot. No spoilers, just go and read it!
In 1871, a woman from Quebec hired a hearse with the sole intention of riding around town smoking in the coffin-bed while enjoying the view. pic.twitter.com/HBp9E9kqQF
— Marina Amaral (@marinamaral2) July 16, 2021
Accidentally Wes Anderson
The story of Canfranc international railway station, in a village high in the mountains on the French-Spanish border. is one of “vainglorious ambition and abject failure, of incompetence and corruption, of intrigue, smuggling and a century-long run of bad luck.” The spectacular edifice became “an involuntary railway mausoleum of enormous sentimental and patrimonial value” that’s found a new lease on life as a hotel.
Cyclists and walkers really do spend more than drivers
Add this one to the basket of facts to wave around a your local business association meeting: a study from Berlin found that retailers consistently overestimate the number of their customers who arrive by car. The study found that retailers had a bias towards their own mode of travel. Those who drove to their place of work were more likely to believe that more of their customers were drivers as well.
“…The car is less relevant for local business than is often assumed in policy processes. Pedestrians, cyclists, and transit riders are the important customer groups for local business in an urban context.” says IASS researcher Dirk von Schneidemesser.
The emissions gender gap
The Guardian reports on another study that doesn’t surprise us much: Swedish research found that men cause about 16% more emissions than women do. Information was gathered based on what men and women spent their money on, and found that despite spending about the same amount of money across a range of categories, men’s spending resulted in higher emissions.
The biggest difference was men’s spending on petrol and diesel for their cars. The gender differences in emissions have been little studied, the researchers said, and should be recognised in action to beat the climate crisis.
And another interesting point from the article that you could miss on a quick skim read:
Previous research found that in families with one car, men used it more often to go to work with women more likely to use public transport.
Finally, some smaller bits
A great visualisation from AT on the impact of adding a protected bike lane along lower Hobson St as part of Project Wave
Check out cycle trips on Lower Hobson St before and after the introduction of the protected cycle way – Project WAVE! With a separate space for people on bikes, the road environment is a lot safer for everyone. Thanks everyone! #RideTheWAVE pic.twitter.com/F9v3VAZRtL
— Auckland Transport (@AklTransport) July 22, 2021
Auckland Transport have been installing an Innovating Streets project around the primary school near Matt and recently they’ve added the speed bumps as part of it. What’s interesting as you can see from the videos below is that the speed bump has done little to slow speeds down. Contrast that with the day before when the contractors had dug up the road prior to the installation which resulted in a dramatic difference in driver behaviour.
Update: speed bump now installed and having very little impact on vehicle speeds, cutting up the road was far more effective.
Additional note, goal of the project was to slow vehicles around a crossing (just behind shot) to a primary school. https://t.co/SycA4ilVcB pic.twitter.com/81baofS8Q5
— Greater Auckland (@GreaterAKL) July 21, 2021
A word on the SUV debate.