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.

Pop-up outdoor dining on the road in New York City. Source – Arch Paper.

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.

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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.

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!

A render of the proposed roundabout. Source: Facebook

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:

This should – and still could – have been followed for the Royal Oak and Blockhouse Bay roundabout “upgrades”, to create a safe environment for walking and cycling.

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.

Crowds visiting the wrapped Arc de Triomphe. Source: Reuters

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:

It even has an espresso machine. Source: Twitter

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.

A screenshot from the panorama.

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.

That’s it from us. Kia marino ōu koutou wīkini.

Ps. daylight saving time does, actually, begin this weekend.

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  1. A residential subdivision in Drury was built with a signalised Dutch Style Cycling Intersection. Check out google maps – Auranga Drive and Bremner Road.

    1. Is it just me or does that look like a massive waste of space? And is it really safer than traffic lights? We have a roundabout near us with pedestrian crossings on the exits and it doesn’t seem very safe, drivers are looking to their right still when they come off the roundabout.
      Obviously its better than a standard roundabout, but I feel traffic lights with a Barnes dance that cyclists can cycle through so they can turn right from the left of the road would be safer, smaller, and cheaper.

      1. Traffic lights are more expensive to operate, the area is currently lights so no more space is needed, and you get more green space. It’s still safer than lights statistically in the Netherlands. However I would imagine there might be some teething problems with safety here if we don’t roll enough out fast enough.

        A good article explaining it.
        And it’s accompanying YouTube video.

        “drivers are looking to their right still when they come off the roundabout“ uhhhh what if there was a car there and they rear ended it. Once you’re on the roundabout there is only the responsibility to make sure you don’t hit anything driving forward, you don’t have to give way to anyone else.

        If it was a lights intersection you would need right and maybe left turn bays for 4 directions and maybe two lanes leaving it. https://twitter.com/urbanistfromwhk/status/1440924179755192326?s=21
        Have a look at the alternative traffic options they came up with. And the roundabout is supposed to have a higher capacity.

    2. Yes, and should be mandatory in greenfields. Trouble is, greenfields – and Drury in particular – will induce traffic throughout the city. So the overall effect on cycling safety will be negative.

      The skill that needs to be learnt and widely applied is that of repurposing existing intersections, which is why this Hamilton one is so encouraging.

      1. I think we should wait until this roundabout actually happens because the current layout has zero consideration for cyclists and pedestrians. I can see massive congestion and a u turn/backdown by councillors. The very modest innovating streets trial in Ward st caused outrage and they’ve just gone up and down the road waterblasting away all the colourful designs so it’s back to drab black.

        1. Apparently their modelling says it’s better for motorists with better average wait times and better safety than the signalised options they’ve come up with.
          And the pedestrian situation there is untenable with the area being redeveloped, so some change has to be made.

    3. My problem with both the Hamilton and AT’s TDM design is that they are not showing the limit line for drivers to stop at when leaving the roundabout if there are cyclists or pedestrians crossing the road. The TCD Rule usually requires the limit line 5m from the crossing but it can be closer if the 5m isn’t practicable. Ultimately it is safer to have a limit line closer than 5m than to have no limit line at all because the limit line helps to focus driver attention on the fact that they are required to stop.

  2. More on the value of bikes in reducing carbon:

    “If you ride about 430 miles you would have otherwise driven, you’ve saved the carbon equivalent of what it took to make your bike.”

    “Making a basic commuter e-bike would…produce about 165kg of CO2e. But compared with the manufacturing impact of a car, the differences between a conventional bike and an electric one are marginal. Making a small hatchback produces about 5.5 tonnes of CO2e. An electric version adds another 2-4 tonnes owing to the battery and electric motor. And manufacturing an SUV produces up to 13 tonnes.”

    “Assuming a lifetime travel of 19,200km, a bicycle’s emissions come out at about 25-35g CO2e/km (depending on food footprint, which can be highly variable). With Trek’s updated figure and assuming an EU average electricity mix, e-bikes come in at 21-25g CO2e/km (yes, e-bikes can be less carbon intensive than conventional bikes, assuming the rider is doing less work).”


    1. Perhaps James Shaw and his mates could cycle to the next conference. His trip to the climate change themed party will produce 63 tonnes of CO2.

      1. They’re not going on holiday champ, they’re going to talk about grown up things. And if they make agreements and statements that will ultimately stop more than the 63 tonnes being emitted, then it will be worth it.

        1. Sorry to tell you the bad news, but James Shaw going to Glasgow isn’t going to stop a thing. The people there will most likely achieve nothing. But in the unlikely event they do manage to achieve something it wont be because James Shaw is there. He is going to make himself popular with his voters. All it will do is add 63 more tonnes of CO2. But hey the gravy train has also been a big emitter.

        1. No there is nothing funny about hanging out with hundreds of potentially infected people. Just as well they pulled some strings and got MIQ spots.

        2. If there really is a climate emergency he should be taking immediate action to address the issue.

          Jumping on a plane with a large entourage to fly to Glasgow is only going to increase CO2 levels.

          Such rank hypocrisy from the Greens who don’t practice what they preach.

        1. ‘if they make agreements and statements’

          Agreements and statements don’t stop emmissions as we have seen for decades, neither does kicking the can down the road for another 5 months.

          If I was James Shaw I’d phone in sick on conference day, we are going to look pretty lame on a global stage.

    2. I’m always dubious about calculations that assign a big impact to all the ‘extra’ food you need to consume because you are cycling. If you are training and racing that may be true but I can’t see it otherwise.
      In all my years commuting I’ve not been aware of eating significantly more when I’ve been cycling compared to other means.

      1. Yes, I agree. Most of us eat too much, and if we cycle, the benefits of lower health costs – including energy considerations in the healthy system – would far outweigh any extra food costs…

  3. One hundred million euros buys 12 express cycle routes in Lyon. It probably buys just the design and consultation for one in NZ.

  4. “ 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. Another thing which would help you work out where you are would be untinted windows. Navigating at night is near impossible for me.

    1. Yeah crazy this is not in place already, or even just an electronic sign inside with next stop. London has had this for years, and while it gets a bit repetitive hearing next stop and where the bus route is going does mean you actually know what is coming up.
      Also would be great on some of the Onewa services as i often get on the Highbury bypass bus without realising and miss my stop. Still have no idea why there does not seem to be any signage on those buses.

      1. There is a window tinting standard for busses on AT contracts, helps with internal temperature, A/C cost of running
        For any bus enthusiasts, you may notice the ADL,s as introduced by NZ Bus have darker window tints. There was an edict ,that those windows be replaced at rebranding in 2016, huge additional cost, so not done,economical and environmental, but not sure vision impairment was considered. As in life,there is always a trade off somewhere.

        1. “helps with internal temperature, A/C cost of running”
          sitting in the sun in a few buses without the reflective tinting would change minds about the tinting I think.
          All the air-con in the world cant help you with a few hundred watts per square meter of radiant heat baking down on you.

    2. The audio announcement will be useless for me because I am deaf. I would like to see the removal of the advertisement on the outside windows as I need to be able to see where I am going visually. But it will be good for the visually impaired people to hear where they are going and also the next stop announcement.

  5. Also in the paper this week:
    City Rail Link Ltd chief executive Dr Sean Sweeney said the project is still working towards a 2024 completion date but added “it is inevitable that the pandemic will impact on costs and timing”

    Auckland bus driver is in hospital after a passenger dragged him from his seat and struck him repeatedly in an 11-minute “violent and unprovoked” attack

    A woman who had a dog tethered to her waist with a leash was dragged to death by a train in San Francisco

  6. Building the ACC Building in Hamilton has clearly focused the minds of Hamilton councillors,imagine the headlines on any active mode caught up in an accident. Not convinced the Dutch roundabout would have got the nod otherwise.Dual lane roundabout down to single vehicle lane with cycle lane, haven,t heard any howls of protest yet.
    Re Dutch style ,presuming cyclists give way to right,must make it interesting with a vehicle turning left,with cyclist going straight through, unless vehicle gives way to cyclist?

    1. “haven,t heard any howls of protest yet.”
      That’s because no one knows about these proposed changes, this is the first mention I’ve seen.

        1. They mention it in one of the documents, they’ll have to do some ad campaign. Plus there are other design queues, probably raised, continuous paint, right next to a pedestrian crossing which has the same rules.

          There have been issues with people being confused in other areas that these bike priority roundabouts have been introduced in Australia and in the UK. It seems like the same as any traffic infrastructure design change, a period of change and confusion but in the end its clearly better.

        2. Right so you are saying there will be a giveway sign on the departure to the roundabout but no limit lines or advanced triangle markings are shown. How could that possibly go wrong?

        3. “but no limit lines or advanced triangle markings are shown”

          It’s a concept sketch miffy. Have a cup of tea and a bath. Seems like you’ve had a rough week.

        4. Riiiiiight. A concept sketch where they show those features on one side of the street but not on the other. Glad to know you can read the designer’s mind though. That will keep us all safe.

        5. “recommended ‘Dutch Style’ roundabout ”

          You don’t need to read the designer’s mind if you just read the things they write. Ask a younger colleague if you don’t know what a Dutch roundabout is.

        6. Have another look at it you twit. They are not proposing a limit line or giveway control for the cyclists on the exit side, they have put the cycleway within the zebra poles and are trying to say it is part of the pedestrian crossing. Drivers have to stop for pedestrians and wheeled recreational devices at a pedestrian crossing but I don’t think that includes bikes.

        7. Yes I can either ask a younger colleague their opinion of what Hamilton might possibly do or I could look at their proposal as contained in a Council agenda.

  7. I’m really pleased that the bus stop renaming project is turning into definite action. I think that this is great response by AT to the request for more help from the blind and low vision users of public transport.
    But I also agree with the comment above that having a changing sign inside the bus for the deaf would be a good idea.
    And no I don’t think the windows should all be made clear so people can see where they are going – I’d much rather AT got all the advertising revenue they could from the surface area of the buses – it’s adding more funding to PT operations and so i think that is worth a distorted view out the window.

    1. 1/ My vision is limited and failing quite rapidly. The advertising has a big effect on my being able to see details out the window.

      2/ People I know get bus sick only in buses with the advertising on the windows because the advertising stops them from being able to focus properly outside the window.

      3/ In the evening, the advertising and tinting together prevent people being able to watch what’s going on outside the window, and this has been recorded by Women in Urbanism as a factor putting some women off public transport – when a creepy man sits next to them, the window treatments prevent them from having a valid reason for concentrating outside the bus and avoiding his attentions.

      Decisions to keep the advertising on the bus windows have been made by bean counters who think they know “what’s best for Auckland” but appear to have arrogantly applied a narrow vision to what the issues of equity and diversity of need involved are.

      Why aren’t private vehicles taxed enough to require their windows to have advertising plastered all over them just to cover the travel expenses? Why is it just public transport vehicles that get this shoddy treatment?

      Drivers are subsidised through taxes and rates, and place externalities on future generations by wrecking the climate, and on current society through health costs and traffic trauma… and don’t have to scrape and scrounge for enough money to travel by having advertising plastered all over the windows for all passengers in their cars.

      Public transport passengers shouldn’t have to put up with this inequitable, people-unfriendly decision-making.

      1. “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.”

        Ah, a temporary measure for covid – almost manageable by AT. But forget following places like New York, and Vienna that have done it permanently, maybe we could follow the example of progressive leaders like Whakatane.
        It’s amazing what can be achieved if you want to.

      2. Good grief Heidi. If you didn’t trot out so much ridiculous horseshit all the time you might get some traction for your ideas. As it stands all you’re doing is alienating people.

        1. Nothing ridiculous in what Heidi wrote. Are men sitting next to you on a bus wanting attention something you’re unfamiliar with, Rupert?

    1. Would probably read better as,
      “the activity of driving is subsidised through taxes and rates” or
      “driving is subsidised through taxes and rates”

      Although the original statement is still true, the government can tax you, and give you the exact same mount of money (or good / service) back in some other form and that is still being “subsidised through taxes and rates.”

    2. Yes drivers do pay taxes and rates, but they don’t pay their full share of transport costs.
      Let’s start with taxes. There is an extra $28 billion going to be spent on transport projects from general taxation. Most of this is roads. The impact of this is that the increasing number of young people who don’t drive are subsidising those who do.
      Rates are a similar story. You pay rates, about 30% of which goes for roads, regardless of whether you drive or not.
      AT has assets with appalling rates of return. Parking, excluding parking buildings, returns 0.7% on assets.
      I get Heidi’s frustration. If a disproportion amount of money is spent on roads we get a run down health system, a broken housing system, and other failing infrastructure such as the three waters.

    1. Comes back to democracy, doesn’t it?

      There’s actually nothing democratic about giving decisions to people who haven’t taken the time to learn about the subject. The public can do better than this, if given the opportunity to learn all about it.

    2. ” people use roundabouts as slingshots if they’re in a car quite often. It’s dangerous.”

      Yeah, that’s the exact problem this design is intended to rectify, ffs.

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