Header image: Queen St, 1940s. Source – Alexander Turnbull via Auckland History Initiative
Kia ora on the eve of what looks like a few days of solid sunshine in Auckland, perfect for picnic season. Here’s our roundup of interesting thoughts, newsy items and good reads for the week.
In case you missed it – the week in Greater Auckland
- On Monday, Matt wrote about the latest tranche of speed limit changes under consultation.
- Tuesday’s post was a guest post by Alex Bonham, about the ‘playful city’ and what that means
- Wednesday’s post by Matt covered the Emissions Reduction Plan, hot off the press. Hope our 10am publishing time didn’t confuse anyone – sorry, we couldn’t publish any sooner!
- Yesterday we published a guest post by Sam Duncan, an Urban Development student, about his group’s C40 Reinventing Cities-winning masterplan for Northcote Town Centre
Everyone’s noticing that transport is the standout of the ERP
RNZ reports on the absence of detail in Agriculture compared to that provided for Transport, and Greater Auckland’s Matt, quoted in the story, spoke about the big reductions in VKT we’ll need to see in urban areas to meet the targets.
Transport seems to have had more detailed work done on it than the other sectors. This is good; transport affects everyone, every sector, every business, every endeavour. With the transport section being more developed, this hopefully means we can get going quickly on it.
The government’s key message needs to be that a low carbon transport system is something to look forward to. The earlier we can implement the changes, the sooner we’ll start reaping the benefits of quiet and clean streets which are safe for people to travel actively, and more efficient for deliveries.
Enough talk, let’s do this.
The early engagement by transport (@michaelwoodnz) with Hīkina te Kohupara shows how little work the other parts of government have done to date – transport has 40% of the material (28 out of 71 pages) out the seven sectors. https://t.co/Mkum08tguV
— Nicholas Lee (@stateless) October 12, 2021
And we’ve been brainstorming ERP talking points. Find yourself stuck in a debate with someone who can’t see past cars? Try this:
Think about how much easier life will be with x% fewer cars on the road.
Better journeys by bus – than you ever imagined!
Better journeys by bike – than you ever imagined!
Better for everyone – and you won’t have to be stuck in your car anymore.
If the full ERP discussion document itself is a bit much for your lockdown-fried brain, here’s a handy twitter summary:
Auckland’s parks: our secret weapon against Covid-19
It’s been a hard couple of weeks for us all as we contemplate the sustained presence of Delta in the community. Dr Kirsty Wild, writing on Newsroom, finds a silver lining in Auckland’s beautiful beaches, parks, maunga and open spaces.
Spending more time outdoors doesn’t just make lockdowns more sustainable, it can also make them less likely. Throughout history, cities have had to adapt to cope with infectious disease outbreaks. Covid will be no different. Moving more of our lives outside, creating an outdoor ‘ecosystem’ of open-air activities: from recreation, dining, transport, play, schooling, and social opportunities, will all be part of the new ‘urban hygiene’ to help us prevent as well as manage outbreaks. Many cities overseas have already moved to rearrange their public spaces to prioritise outdoor activities in response to the pandemic.
South Auckland train stations moving ahead
A short piece over at RNZ reports on progress with Drury Central and Paerata moving ahead under the Covid-19 Recovery fast-tracking law.
Subject to approval by a fast-track consenting panel, construction on the first two stations is expected to begin in 2023.
“With an additional 100,000 people expected to move into the area over the next 30 years, encouraging people to switch from using their cars will help ease congestion on an already busy road network and reduce carbon emissions in Auckland,” [Kiwirail’s COO for capital projects] David Gordon said.
“We’re working closely with Auckland Transport and Waka Kotahi to plan and construct the transport infrastructure required to support the expected growth in South Auckland,” he said.
Central City parking woes worsen in Level 3
We’ve noticed lots of chat on Twitter this week about cars parked all over the central city’s nice paved shared spaces, even more so than they are in normal times. Hopefully MP Chloe Swarbrick turning her attention to AT will make the difference and get some enforcement happening? We’re with you, Chloe!
Followed up with @AklTransport and Council (shout out to @CityAklccrg for coming through so strongly to support) and can confirm that regular enforcement (itself something that needs attention, mind..) is resuming this week. Will continue to actively monitor. https://t.co/KU6l0QffGW
— Chlöe Swarbrick (@_chloeswarbrick) October 13, 2021
Generation-defining local body elections in Wellington
With housing density, underground infrastructure, getting Wellington moving, and an ambitious cycling plan all making headlines for Wellington in the last few months, the city is heading into high-stakes local body elections next year. Stuff’s Joel MacManus writes about the issues on the table for the upcoming elections. Watch this space…
The debate around the Wellington Spatial Plan was most divisive of this triennium, as the city argued about how to balance character protections for existing homes with the need for higher-density apartment buildings.
On balance, the pro-density crowd probably won the day. Character protections were slashed and building height limits were raised across the city
The changes were strongly opposed by most residents’ associations – groups that hold enormous sway in the world of local politics.
Will there be a backlash of older, home-owning conservative voters who want these policies stripped back, or will we see a wave of frustrated renters and would-be buyers who push the council to make even more aggressive moves?
Trains dominate planes in Italy
CNN reports that Italy’s national airline has hemorrhaged passengers to the country’s high speed trains over the last decade. Now, more than two-thirds of travellers between Rome and Milan, Italy’s busiest business route, travel by train.
Traveling those near-400 miles between Milan and Rome takes as little as 2 hours and 59 minutes. And, of course, the train stations are in the city center, and there’s no need to turn up long before your train — the doors close two minutes before departure.Contrast that to a minimum half-hour drive to Rome’s Fiumicino, checking in 90 minutes before departure, an hour in the air and then landing outside Milan — Linate airport, the closest, is about 20 minutes’ drive into town — and it’s obvious why people are opting for the train.Which leads you to wonder, as Italy’s national airline prepares to shut down on October 15 — did the high-speed railways kill Alitalia?
The effect of freeways on European and American cities
Let’s stay in Italy (if only!) with this twitter thread comparing the way freeways were built in American and European cities. Italy embarked on a comprehensive road building programme in the middle of last century, just like the USA, but the effects on its cities were very different. From further down the thread:
The single main difference is maybe less in the quantity and rapidity of the development, but how it was developed: the Italian one, was essentially intended as an intercity network that barely brushed past cities quite far from the core.
Electrification of mass transit
A fascinating long read at the New York Times about the ‘quiet revolution’ of mass transit in places as diverse as Berlin, Bogota, and the Norwegian Fjords.
Berlin is reviving electric tram lines that were ripped out when the Berlin Wall went up. Bogotá is building cable cars that cut through the clouds to connect working-class communities perched on faraway hills. Bergen, a city by the fjords in western Norway, is moving its public ferries away from diesel and onto batteries — a remarkable shift in a petrostate that has for decades enriched itself from the sale of oil and gas and that now wants to be a leader in marine vessels for the electric age.
For these cites, electrification of mass transport is one way they’re tackling their climate emissions. Transport accounts for about a third of emissions in urban areas. These cities are still on the forefront of the change.
At the moment, only 16 percent of city buses worldwide are electric. The electric switch will need to accelerate, and cities will have to make mass transit more attractive, so fewer people rely on automobiles.
“It has become a reasonable position to advocate for less space for cars,” said Felix Creutzig, a transportation specialist at the Mercator Research Center in Berlin. “Ten years ago, it was not even allowed to be said. But now you can say it.”
Other forms of transport are going electric too, such as the TransMiCable gondolas in Bogota.
… for Fredy Cuesta Valencia, a Bogotá schoolteacher, what really matters is that the TransMiCable has given him back his time.
He used to spend two hours, on two slow buses, crawling through the hills to reach the school where he teaches. Once, he said, traffic was so backed up none of the teachers could arrive on time. Students waited outside for hours.
Now, it takes him 40 minutes to get to work, an hour at worst. There’s Wi-Fi. Clouds. Rooftops below.
“It’s a lot less stress,” said Mr. Cuesta, 60, a folk dance teacher. “I check my phone, I look at the city, I relax.”
The best things in life are freeing: open streets in New York City
We’ve mentioned NYC’s covid-response open streets programme on here before, and have covered the New York cycling boom and things like the Brooklyn Bridge bike lane. It looks like momentum is still behind the programme. Here’s a video from venerable streets-for-people advocates at Transportation Alternatives:
And school kids thronging an open street in Queens:
I was on way to help set up Drag Queen Story Hour at about 2:30pm & the amount of kids I passed on the streets between Junction Blvd & 69 St on @34_ave was astounding. I am thrilled the #OpenStreets are keeping them safe. Let’s do this around entire city. pic.twitter.com/KzokNOewfS
— JimRockaway (@JimRockaway) October 12, 2021
The sections of open streets are mapped on Google Maps. The section in the tweet above is huge, stretching more than 20 blocks:
A public living room for the city: Oslo’s new library
Oslo’s new public library sits on the city’s waterfront, just behind the architecturally famous Opera house. It’s been designed as a big, multi-functional public space and it looks incredible.
Kyoto Station and all of its escalators
We’re just including this because we know some (most??) of you will enjoy looking at it as much as we did:
The Central Area Plan
A fascinating article on The Auckland History Initiative by Nancy Mitchelson about the 1970s Central Area Plan for Auckland’s downtown. The issues then are familiar to us now: pedestrianisation of Queen Street, the demands of motor cars, provision for residents in the city centre, comprehensive public transport.
The pedestrianisation of part of Queen Street was considered as an option in Central Area Proposals (1971). However, it was left out of the Central Area Plan due to proposed underground rail works. The planned rail works, seemingly like many other council projects at the time, came to a swift end, completely disregarding the need for a multi modal public transport network as recommended by the 1954 De Leuw Cather Report.
Kua mutu mātau. That’s all from us – have a lovely weekend, and enjoy those parks and beaches in the spring sunshine.