Kua tae mai a Mahuru – September has arrived, Auckland is still in Lockdown, and we’re happy to see some sunny weather arrive in time for our weekend lockdown walks, scoots and bike rides. Meanwhile, here’s our roundup of transport news and good reads this week.
A Bit of Breathing Room on Tāmaki Drive
There’s been a notable silence – at city and central government levels – about reallocating road space or reducing speeds to provide for safely distanced walking and cycling this time round.
This is a concerning omission given the higher likelihood of transmitting Delta in public spaces, combined with the way people instinctively borrow the road space for healthy and safe clearance when out and about.
We’ve seen just a glimmer of public health leadership on this, in a Facebook post from the Ōrakei Local Board:
It is great to see so many people using Tamaki Drive for exercise during lockdown, however there are some safety concerns so we are proposing a temporary cycleway to help meet safe distancing requirements and reduce the chance of collisions at busy times. This would require cordoning off parking spaces on the seaward side of Tamaki Drive from Ngapipi Road to Kohi for the duration of Level 4 and Level 3 creating a dedicated cycle lane, leaving the footpath for pedestrian and wheelchair etc use only.
Would you support this?
Comments posted on the Orakei Local Board Facebook page before Monday 6 September will be considered before the board progresses the idea further.
Note: even if you’re not on Facebook, you can always contact the Local Board by email to support this proposal.
Even in ordinary times, Tāmaki Drive is the city’s (and maybe the country’s) busiest bike route, as well as a priceless waterfront promenade. So it’s perhaps no surprise that feedback is near unanimously enthusiastic so far.
Next question: how many other Local Boards will now be inspired to find ways to support their residents to enjoy safe fresh air this spring??
Meanwhile in level 3…
A pop-up-car-lane popped up to do crowd control on day one of Level 3 (remember, ‘just like Level 4 but with takeaways’) in Wellington.
Hey @WgtnCC how come it takes years of advocacy to get a bike lane for basic safety, but a takeaway place gets traffic management overnight? #priorities @CycleWgtn @BikeNewtown pic.twitter.com/KXFHfew4yU
— Patrick Morgan (@patrickmorgan) September 2, 2021
Glen Innes to Tāmaki Drive submissions close next week
Section 4 of the Glen Innes to Tāmaki Drive shared path is at detailed design phase at the moment, and consultation is on the 6th of September – next week! We posted about the design when it came out a few weeks ago.
Also over at Bike Auckland:
Our future gets decided in places like Mt Roskill
Bike Auckland have been through the issues with the latest designs for two seriously unsafe intersections in Mt Roskill – designs which include almost no safety improvements for cyclists.
AT is currently seeking submissions on these proposals. Head over to Bike Auckland’s website to read their critique and suggestions. Submissions close on September 19th.
And in case you want grunt for your submission, remember: intersections are teeming with danger.
The floods just keep coming
In what is becoming a regular roundup segment, which part of the world is facing biblical floods this week?
While West Auckland saw a sustained dump of rain earlier this week that has left roads blocked by slips and some homes still without power, the tail of Hurricane Ida has caused widespread flooding over the eastern side of the USA, including in New York City. There were dramatic scenes of waterfalls in subway stations, and water pouring into apartments, and the now normalised streets of floating cars.
— Rick (@SubwayCreatures) September 2, 2021
This is Bushwick in Brooklyn pic.twitter.com/2XZia2mp9H
— Dr. Lucky Tran (@luckytran) September 2, 2021
Active hope and collective action
It’s almost a cliche to compare the Covid-19 crisis and the climate crisis. We liked the way this article on Stuff talks about practicing ‘active hope’ in the face of despair and uncertainty when faced with both crises.
Active hope involves acknowledging disturbing realities and finding our part in a constructive response. The term was coined in response to the climate crisis, but can also be applied to the pandemic, explains Dr Chris Johnstone the co-author of Active Hope: How to Face the Mess We’re in Without Going Crazy.
The author talks about the possibility and potential of collective action, and that we are seeing that in response to Covid-19:
The power of collective hope, in action, is evident by the record numbers of people getting the jab.
“You individually following the rules and getting vaccinated is not going to change the entire situation globally,” says Dr Nicholas Van Dam, the inaugural Director for the Contemplative Studies Centre at the University of Melbourne.
“But if you take those actions as a community you know that you’re contributing to restrictions loosening eventually, potentially getting things under control and ultimately contributing towards a greater positive good.”
E-bikes are great on the wallet
The upfront cost of an e-bike can seem prohibitive, but it works out to be a very cost-efficient option over time:
Fixing transport emissions
The always-excellent NZ Geographic has a piece in this issue about the state of transport emissions in NZ, and what we can do about them. It’s always good to see these problems picked up by media that has broader focus than us. It leads with a whole lot of juicy but concerning data:
Consider too, that lax vehicle emission standards have left Aotearoa—one of only three developed countries without regulations—a dumping ground for old, wheezing diesel utes and SUVs, and they’re among the most fuel-inefficient in any OECD country. The average New Zealand light vehicle is 14.5 years old—much older than those in the United States (12.1 years), Australia (10.6) or Canada (9.6). Thanks to a national obsession with size, we still import nearly as many 10-15 year old diesel utes and SUVs as we do plug-in hybrids.
That means vehicles entering our fleet are generally dirtier than elsewhere, with an average emissions output of 171 grams of carbon dioxide per kilometre travelled. In Europe, that figure is just 107.8 grams.
The rest of the piece does a dive into the carrot-and-stick measures European countries have used to get people out of their ICE vehicles, and then goes on to look at problems and opportunities for freight. Cycling and public transport improvements do get a mention, and this interesting fact jumped out:
But if they’re going to give up their cars, New Zealanders need access to affordable, convenient public transport instead, and we haven’t exactly been diligent about that, either. In 2020, rail carried 28 million passengers—exactly the same number as it carried in 1920.
Sydney built a new rail line, and you’ll never guess what happened next…
This is a great thread on twitter with before-and after aerial images of the urban areas around stops on Sydney’s airport line. It’s well worth clicking through and admiring the transformations from parking-chocked big box to fine-grained residential density.
Here's a look at how the Airport Line has helped transform Sydney since it opened in 2000.
Images from https://t.co/8LeO2UbHkD
Mascot: 2000 vs 2021 pic.twitter.com/kNP7rF3ywa
— Every Sydney Station (@Sydney_Stations) August 29, 2021
A steep hill to climb for cycling in North Sydney
Speaking of Sydney, while they have a cycle lane over the bridge (and we are jealous) it requires a hike up a serious hill and a staircase with 55 steps before becoming a usable ramp. The hill happens to be in deep NIMBY territory, prompting a sadly familiar cars-vs-bikes culture war that looks like it is being stoked by the Mayor of North Sydney herself:
At a June council meeting, [Jilly] Gibson can be heard saying: “Transport for NSW are trying to ram through cycleways – we’re having a mini war with them.” She also spoke of the “need to recognise how cranky our residents are about this”, adding: “I’d rather do nothing than anything proposed here.”
Bike to the future
The owner of the epic Dr Seuss bike we featured in last week’s round up got back to us. Dan from Bicycle Junction in Wellington has shared the story of the Dr. Seussesque – ‘We can fit the whole family and the dog on it,’ Dan shared in his email. ‘My young 7yo daughter can even pedal it with all of us on there (with a bit of motor assistance).’ They’ve written about the process of building the bike on their blog.
This project was a collaboration between us and our good friend Anthony from Fabricon. Ants is a skilled engineer with a workshop in Gracefield who specialises in commercial and domestic bespoke metalwork to a very high standard. He welcomed our crew into his workshop and totally nailed it using some old discarded stainless steel handrails to create the iconic Dr Seussesque (can that be a word please) shape. In just two nights we had the basic structure tacked together, Ants and one of our dear customers, Bo Pierce, spent another two days completing the welds and refining the structure.
This sounds like a great way to travel:
One or two passengers can lie back and enjoy the couch. The bike has a small bar with liquid refreshments built into the curve of the couch.
Forty years of high speed rail in France
And, September marks the fortieth anniversary of the opening of the high speed link between Paris and Lyon in 1981. The 274 km line runs from Saint-Florentin (about 170 km south of Paris) to the northern outskirts of Lyon. With the deliberate inclusion of only two intermediary stations, the opening of the line shifted the 427 km trip between Paris and Lyon from a four hour journey to one taking just over two hours. You can read more here.
The way we walk now
The Spinoff published this essay by Alice Miller on the experience of memory and walking. Have a read:
This is for all those drivers that claim you couldn't possibly transport goal posts via e-scooters. pic.twitter.com/lhzHHZQiNC
— James Stafford (@Jamesdestafford) August 29, 2021
A (lovely) view of spring from lockdown
It's wild how clear the city air is without all the traffic. I'm shook. pic.twitter.com/rDZW6b1jwI
— Christian Rika ⚡ (@CrikaRika) September 2, 2021
Minimum Parking Requirements
Yesterday, council’s advice on removing minimum parking requirements was discussed at the Planning Committee. The original advice was acknowledged as contradicting the government’s direction, and as providing an (unintentional)
back door way to requiring carparking provision
With important changes, the advice was passed 16 votes to 5. On balance, the outcome was a good one. We are inching closer to a better Unitary Plan. This will allow more development in well-connected areas, which will increase housing supply, lower the cost of housing (though there are many other elements at play there), and give more transport and housing choice to more people.
Unsurprisingly, the problem advice was revealed as having come from Auckland Transport. For example:
most households will be expected to own a vehicle
New Zealand’s internationally embarrassing and unsustainable car ownership statistics are neither normal nor fit for a low carbon future; they are the result of planning and investment decisions based on this self-fulfilling mindset.
Concerningly, some senior council officers seem to be indefinitely consigning areas of Auckland to poor transport options:
In areas that are poorly served by public transport at the moment, and unlikely to get a radical increase in public transport over the next 10, 20, 30 years or beyond…
Auckland has committed to being a liveable, equitable, low-carbon city. These areas need meaningful investment in transport alternatives as well as denser development to support the services. Diverting investment away from sprawl infrastructure to enable equitable, low-carbon transport options is a win-win paradigm shift these senior council planners should be leading.
Amusingly, Council officers got councillors worked up about accessibility by implying that removing minimum parking requirements would result in poor quality pedestrian outcomes. This was the illustration:
A real challenge to accessibility and pedestrian safety is that council are currently approving developments with (often too many) entrances designed entirely around vehicles. The issue is important, but unrelated to parking requirements.
Encouragingly, council’s new Lead Transport Advisor made some pragmatic and progressive comments:
most developers will choose to provide parking because most households want the parking… we want to investigate how we ensure that the new developments provide for electric vehicles so it is not an expensive undertaking to add charging later on, without us forcing any developer to provide parking… there [are] a lot of fast chargers currently being installed and planned, and a lot of destination and workplace chargers so there will be EV owners who are able to charge their vehicles quite conveniently and safely, even when they don’t have an off street carpark…
Have a lovely weekend, see you next week.