Hope you’ve had a great week. Here’s our roundup of interesting stories.
The week in Greater Auckland posts
- Monday’s post was a guest post by Chris Lange, about his street’s successful play streets events and subsequent confusing follow-up by AT
- On Tuesday, Matt wrote about the outcomes of Auckland Light Rail’s 6-month investigation phase
- On Wednesday we had a guest post by Paul Callister and Robert McLachlan about the immense amount of road construction in the Kāpiti Coast and Horowhenua, and what that means for the region’s emissions
- Thursday’s post, again from Matt, covered the latest designs for Queen Street
Bus stop names
The names of bus stops are changing to make it easier for many to navigate.
The key difference is that the new names will use the physical surroundings of bus stops such as nearby interchanges or landmarks, making the new bus stop names more recognisable. These new names will make it easier for you to travel around, and will help our blind and low vision community navigate where they need to go.
We’re updating the bus stop names you see in AT Mobile and the AT website (including Journey Planner) to be more consistent with the names shown at actual bus stops. In addition, around 900 stops will get new names to better reflect where they are located.
Over the coming year we’ll also be rolling out new audio announcements on buses, which will give you a much clearer idea of where you are on your journey and where you need to go.
Good practice like this makes wayfinding easier.
Pop-up dining in Auckland: watch this (parking) space
We’re keeping an eye on developments around pop-up dining space regulations. Stuff reported last Friday that work was underway with the hospitality industry to allow outdoor dining spaces to take up restaurant-adjacent car parking space, creating safer and more socially distanced dining environments.
Auckland Councillor Richard Hills said it was important businesses could quickly expand their outdoor seating because many “won’t survive long-term” under new restricted numbers.
He said major cities like New York and London had embraced outdoors dining as a result of Covid-19 by closing off streets and reclaiming space from cars for people to expand into, he said.
Auckland could follow suit by installing temporary barriers along some one-way roads or blocking some sections of a lane along Ponsonby Rd, but how this was to be enacted was to be finalised with Auckland Transport (AT), he said.
Since then, the government has altered the Level 2 rules to allow 100 people at cafes and restaurants (it was previously 50 for indoor venues).
We’re assuming that this initiative will still go ahead, but we hope someone will check the Ministry of Health rules are workable. Here are a few of the Level 2 regulations:
All restaurants, cafes and bars can have a maximum of 100 people, all seated, within a defined indoor or outdoor space.
A defined space is a single indoor or outdoor space separated from other spaces.
An outdoor space is a single space if there are walls that substantially divide that space from other spaces — the walls can be permanent or temporary, or is at least 2 metres between all people in that space and any other people outside that space.
Walls that work as a 2 m divider between people inside and outside the outdoor space is an idea that sounds good in theory, but is there enough space for this in practice? Parking lanes are often not much more than 2 m wide.
All workers must be physically separated from each other and customers by 1 metre.
If you are waiting in line to order, keep 2 metres away from other customers and staff.
Why is 2 m required in the queue and 1 m when dining? Will this make some queues so long they extend onto the (often inadequate) footpath and pose a transmission risk for people walking by?
If rules are too strict, dining will simply stay inside, which would be counterproductive, as the risk of Covid transmission appears much smaller outside.
These kinds of initiatives have been successful and popular overseas, and we know creative and bold solutions work. Best of all we know that the pandemic offers an opportunity to make progress towards the goal of a more liveable city with better open public spaces.
Now that we’re heading into summer, it’s the perfect time to try it out.
The week in cities that are investing in cycling
Last week’s roundup featured articles about cycling investment in both Paris and Te Whanganui-a-Tara/Wellington. This week, we’re thrilled to bring you good-news stories about two more cities that are elevating cycling investment.
Glasgow is planning to build 160 miles of cycle lanes to help the city achieve its goal of becoming carbon neutral. The programme includes making permanent a number of pop-up ‘spaces for people’ cycle lanes that were built in response to the pandemic. That’s pathway-to-permanence in action!
The decision is driven strongly by the city’s desire to respond to the climate crisis.
[Councillor Anna Richardson] told the committee: “every one of our constituents will be affected by air pollution and climate change.”
Councillor Richardson said: “As we hopefully move out of the Covid crisis we must take the necessary steps to address the climate crisis and decarbonising transport must be an absolute priority.”
Lyon, in France, is investing €100 million in 12 express cycle routes which will be built by 2026. These cycle routes are long distance routes, and will increase their network from 100 km to 355 km of protected cycle lanes in the region around the city of Lyon, which was, incidentally, an early adopter of public bike-share.
And while we’re talking about exciting news in cycling, it’s worth noting that Wellington’s councillors voted *almost* unanimously (14/2) to move forward with consultation on the rapid rollout of their new cycleways programme. Great to see the Minister of Transport voicing his support too.
Local government, community, and central government are coming together in Wellington to do transport better. This plan means fewer emissions, safer streets, less congestion, and healthier communities. Well done all for both the vision, & bringing in the budget to make it happen. https://t.co/6oedStHQEu
— Michael Wood (@michaelwoodnz) September 23, 2021
Hamilton, city of roundabouts
Dutch-style, cycling and walking friendly roundabouts, that is! This best-practice roundabout design surfaced this week, and no, that’s not Utrecht – that’s a corner of our very own Kirikiriroa/Hamilton. Per Hamilton City Councillor Sarah Thomson’s facebook post –
The new ACC building on the corner of Tristram/Collingwood will be home to around 700 employees, so with more people walking and cycling in the area we’re upgrading the roundabout to accomodate all users. Compared to the alternative (installing traffic signals) this design is safer for people walking and cycling, causes less delay to people driving, is cheaper to build and lets us keep the trees. Hard to argue with that!
To achieve this design, it looks like the outside traffic lanes on each arm of the intersection will be reallocated to become cycle lanes, so no road widening is required. Here’s some of the advice that’s going to the Committee along with the design (bolding ours):
Although modelling suggests there will be more congestion with the recommended ‘Dutch Style’ roundabout than the existing intersection, it will be over a short period of time in the peak periods and will probably result in traffic moving to other routes so staff anticipate the network will quickly balance out. There are other sites throughout the city that also experience this type of congestion in the morning and evening peaks. We are a growing city and in accordance with existing strategies we will have more congestion which we will not be able to continue build our way out of by just adding capacity for motor vehicles – and we need to provide safe alternatives for active modes.
You can read more in the documentation here.
The design is very similar to the one given in Auckland Transport’s Transport Design Manual:
So all we can say is WOW, well done Hamilton, you’re leading the way, and let’s hope Auckland catches up one day.
Because, the thing about cycling is ….
…that active modes are the real disruptive technology. Bikes are an absolutely essential tool to have in the box if we want to have any chance at reducing our transport emissions. Research out of the University of Oxford finds that focusing too much on electric cars is slowing progress to zero emissions. EVs are a good thing, but they’re only one sliver of the answer, and it will simply take too long to flip the fleet – time we don’t have.
Even if all new cars were fully electric, it would still take 15-20 years to replace the world’s fossil fuel car fleet.
The research found that replacing even a small number of car trips with an active mode trip can have a significant effect on carbon emissions.
Our research has shown that urban residents who switched from driving to cycling for just one trip per day reduced their carbon footprint by about half a tonne of CO₂ over the course of a year, and save the equivalent emissions of a one-way flight from London to New York.
And Aotearoa really needs to get moving.
Every time we postpone change we make it harder to transition to the low-carbon economy we need to help prevent global heating
That’s how young climate justice campaigner Adam Currie begins an article about the five-month delay to the emissions reduction plan that the Government announced last week.
If the government wants to show a commitment to what prime minister Jacinda Ardern has called her generation’s “nuclear-free moment”, this is the time to do it. Until the “climate” budget and ERP are released together in May next year, we need businesses, councils and government agencies to do all they can on climate now, during the response to Covid-19. We cannot keep waiting for the ERP – the announcement in May that we need will have to be so bold and transformational that decision makers should have picked all of the proverbial low-hanging fruit beforehand; like making public and active transport options more desirable and stopping the expansion of coalmines, motorways, and dairy farms.
From cycling carrots to parking sticks
Reported in The Guardian, a the city of Tübingen in Germany is looking at much higher annual parking fees, with a top fee of 180 Euros. Mayor Boris Palmer hopes that increasing parking fees by 600% will discourage cars from the city. The fees will be applied relative to cars’ size and emissions profiles, and revenue gathered will go back into public transport. Tübingen is working towards becoming climate neutral by 2030.
The mayor wasn’t shy about explaining why be believed the scheme should go ahead:
Addressing ‘dear car drivers’, he said: “You didn’t pay for the roads. Neither do you pay enough taxes. Your favourite form of transport is massively subsidised as it is, by all other taxpayers and the next generation. If the prices were to reflect the real amount you should be paying, a parking space would have to cost not 30 Euros a year, but 3000.”
Slides in subways
We need to design our cities so you feel like you’re missing out on all the fun when driving a car…
People on bikes know that they’ve figured out how to make the commute fun, and these slides into subway stations is taking the fun whole new level. Have the designs for CRL’s Karangahape Station got little bit of room for one of these?
Paris car-free day and the wrapped Arc de Triomphe
This year, Paris’ annual car-free day coincided with the installation of a ‘Wrapped’ Arc de Triomphe by renowned artists Christo and Jeanne-Claude. Parisians thronged the Champs-Elysees to see the artwork.
“It’s our chance to walk on the ‘Champs’, to look at the Arc de Triomphe face-to-face and not just from the sidewalk,” said Annie Matuszewski, a 68-year-old Parisian.
The most Italian train you ever saw
Wouldn’t you want to travel from Bologna to Rome on this beauty?
On theme when, as of Wednesday, Aucklanders have been reunited with the joys of barista-made coffee:
The transport-historical archives: High Street
We stumbled across a gloriously retro interactive panorama taken from the Shortland St-High-St intersection in 1974. Follow the link to the Donovan Images website to have a look. Check out that ‘NO THRU TRAFFIC’ sign on the corner. There must have been a modal filter up there somewhere.
Looking back to Britomart’s Past
Tennis on the train station!
You weren’t imagining that birdsong in Level 4
Fewer cars really do mean more wildlife – and it’s incredible to think how swiftly birds started occupying the city differently when we went into Level 4. Humans, too, come to think of it.
Increased bird song in your hood.? US Data confirms birds flocked to urban areas as Covid kept cars off roads, reduced air and noise pollution and bird strike. Perhaps the most explicit reason to severely limit the use of the private car – go avians ! https://t.co/9ZbF1SCAZ3
— Duncan Ecob (@urbanecob) September 22, 2021
That’s it from us. Kia marino ōu koutou wīkini.