Header image credit – Alec Tang
Here’s our wrap-up for the week.
Higher emissions on the Waikato Expressway
Waka Kotahi plan to increase the speed limit on the Waikato expressway between Hampton Downs and Tamahere to 110km/h once the Hamilton bypass is completed in mid-2022. But in a regional transport committee meeting they’ve confirmed they haven’t even bothered to look at what the impacts of that decision are.
O’Leary questioned whether there were any environmental impacts – such as an increase in emissions –on a higher speed road.
Speirs said he would look into the issue.
“I expect it will be far more efficient because cars will just drive straight through without stopping and starting.”
I’m not sure what’s more concerning, that supposedly experienced engineers don’t understand that driving faster results in more emissions or that if they did, they didn’t even bother to take that into account in their decision making. So much for being concerned about a climate emergency.
Where’s the outrage over funding this blowout?
Moving south to another expressway, it seems government ministers ignored officials advice and agreed to fund nearly $700 million extra to build the Otaki to North of Levin expressway.
Project cost estimations for Ō2NL – the Ōtaki to North of Levin expressway – have already ballooned from $817 million to $1.5 billion, a cost increase which the Government has granted, according to letters by Transport Minister Michael Wood, which were among a list of documents released under the Official Information Act at the request of Horowhenua district councillor Sam Jennings.
“From this information it is clear Ō2NL was most certainly on the chopping block and it appears it was only senior ministerial decisions that saved it at the 11th hour. The bureaucrats in Wellington wanted to kill or stall the project,” Jennings said.
“The documents confirm that around 15 April NZTA was recommending that the project only continue to a ‘route protection’ and 50 per cent property purchase state (with a budget of $180m).”
Increases in cost over numerous projects had prompted the Ministry of Transport to recommend a resounding “do not deliver” recommendation for the Horowhenua Expressway.
It’s been interesting to contrast the difference in coverage this project has received compared to the Northern Pathway despite the expressway performing worse in all assessments.
Given the government are apparently looking again at the Northern Pathway, perhaps they should do that for this project too.
Wellington’s moving – underground?
Moving even further south, a newly-surfaced proposal from Let’s Get Wellington Moving the motorway planners always have another or a bigger road project to push.
A “long tunnel” between the Terrace Tunnel and Kilbirnie would be the best way to reduce Wellington’s traffic congestion and open up land for development, according to a report commissioned by Let’s Get Wellington Moving (LGWM).
The long tunnel is part of four transport network optionsbeing considered by LGWM, the $6.4 billion transport and urban development programme focused on the area between Wellington Airport and the Ngauranga Gorge.
The Property Group, a consultancy firm, proposed a “long tunnel” – through Newtown, Mt Cook, and Te Aro – saying it would open up the most new space for housing and urban development. It would give the potential for more than 39,000 new dwellings and almost 1.3 million square-metres of commercial floor space.
It did not give a cost estimate for the proposal.
Record ferry cancellations in July
Auckland’s ferry services continue to be plagued by issues, experiencing a record number of cancellations in July. The problems seem to come from several corners, including the ageing fleet, supply chain issues for spare parts, and in particular, a shortage of skilled workers.
Fullers has apologised for the inconvenience, and said a key challenge it is facing is “the closed borders and the ability to recruit highly skilled workers for the marine industry here in New Zealand”.
Building Consents continue to surge
Last week the building consent numbers for June were released and it was a massive month with 1,910 consents issued, the second highest month ever and biggest this cycle. That brought our total number of consents issued over the last 12-months to over 19,000.
As a comparison, here’s what other parts of New Zealand look like on this metric.
Pedestrian safety in Auckland
Sadly, yesterday saw yet two more crashes in which pedestrians were seriously injured by vehicles in Auckland. Stuff reports that a woman was critically injured after being hit by a car on Abbots Way in Remura. The article quotes a local resident, saying:
the section of Abbotts Way where the incident happened is close to Lunn Ave, where cars often merge at high speed.
Later in the day, two people were injured when they were hit by a bus on Fanshawe St in the Central City. Fanshawe St is currently two bus lanes and six lanes of traffic funneling off the motorway: an immense eight-lane moat separating the rapidly growing Wynyard Quarter from Victoria Park and the nearest supermarket, New World at College Hill. Perhaps the 820 workers moving into the area with the relocation of the 2Degrees headquarters means that it’s time for a re-think of this very unfriendly stretch of road?
Finally, this article at Bloomberg seemed relevant, proposing that car advertisements that glorify dangerous driving are doing exactly that and creating dangerous drivers in our towns and cities.
As more Americans die in crashes, the government should regulate automobile marketing and end the glorification of speeding and reckless driving as part of a broader federal commitment to reach zero traffic deaths. Americans live on 30 mph streets, not on the set of Fast and Furious.
Dangerous and intimidating driving (skidding, jumping, driving fast at the camera) a big part of SUV/Ute ads here, too. And these are vehicles that have poorer handling, and are especially prone to flipping or ‘rollover crashes’ – which are more likely to be fatal https://t.co/UOqxHC01O9
— Dr Kirsty Wild (@KirstyWildNZ) August 5, 2021
‘Freedom to Roam’
Perhaps we could borrow from the Dutch to improve those two dangerous Auckland streets (and many others).
How Dutch Cities Restored the “Freedom to Roam”
"Dutch police actually do very little traffic enforcement. If too many drivers speed on a street, it is deemed a design failure and sent back to the drawing board."
— Matthew Hardy (@drmatthewhardy) August 5, 2021
Thoughts on the city of the future
Newsroom published a piece this week by Dr Timothy Welch from the University of Auckland (School of Architecture and Planning) that examines the relationship between transport types and the shape of our cities and towns. The piece explains how the proliferation of the private car not only encouraged residential sprawl but created a decline in public transportation as well.
In places around the world, as more and more residents left the city for surrounding suburbs, the use of public transportation systems began to wane. Many public transportation systems, often privately operated, ceased operations. Those that survived suffered dramatic service cutbacks and were increasingly propped up by massive government subsidies.
Welch finishes with a brief summary of different sustainable city movements and concepts from the last Century or so. The concept is not new, and continues to evolve. However, he finishes with this –
one thing remains constant, to be sustainable, cities cannot rely on the personal car.
An interesting campaign
This is an interesting campaign from Pak n Save. I’m not sure what the T&Cs are and why it’s limited to just the OuterLink but it’s positive to see and I hope we see more businesses offering public transport incentives – it would certainly be better than giving fuel discounts.
Are segways the original e-micro-mobility?
This is interesting: a piece on Slate about the rise and fall of the Segway. The Segway came out in 2001, and was going to be transport’s next big thing, a sci-fi transformation of the way people moved around cities. When we look at the proliferation of e-scooters now, what happened to Segways?
The Segway did not change the world. It was not bigger than the PC. It ended up a joke, the province of mall cops and G.O.B. Bluth on Arrested Development. The Segway flopped so badly that one of its first boosters still keeps his in the garage, “to remind me,” he said, “of my own fallibility.”
How much space do 60 cars really take up?
You’ve almost certainly seen the famous images and diagrams this clever video is based on: it takes the classic ’70 people in cars vs. bus vs. bike’ comparison and animates it, asking what happens when those vehicles are moving, and parking.
The E-bike dispatch
Thought we’d finish up with a roundup of e-bike news.
Are you, or do you know one of, the many people who’ve bought an e-bike since the Covid lockdown last year? E-bike thefts, and insurance claimes, have jumped dramatically. This article on The Herald includes some useful security tips.
We can’t wait to see more ebike delivery systems in operation:
"Electric cargo bikes deliver about 60% faster than vans in city centres, according to a study. It found that bikes had a higher average speed and dropped off 10 parcels an hour, compared with six for vans."https://t.co/XMORSTqZxO
Link to study: https://t.co/LEXLYPpaLl
— Jakob Schiøtt Stenbæk Madsen (@jakobssm) August 5, 2021
Alec Tang’s retrofitted e-bike consistently makes Auckland look great:
Have a great weekend, and take a bike on a public transport adventure!