Kia ora koutou, happy friday in ‘alert level 3, step 2’ here in Tāmaki. Here’s our roundup for the week. Apologies for the late post this morning, we had IT issues.
The week in Greater Auckland
- Monday’s post, by Matt, looked at AT’s parking strategy.
- On Tuesday we had a guest post by Michael Wood, the minister of transport, telling the story of light rail.
- On Wednesday Scott wrote about Auckland Council’s Planning Committee’s perspectives on the new Medium Density Residential Standards.
- Yesterday Matt wrote about Kiwirails plans to upgrade and electrify the line between Papakura and Pukekohe next year.
Speed Limit changes consultation closes Sunday
Auckland Transport’s consultation on their latest round of speed limit changes closes on Sunday. The changes this time include a bunch of streets around schools. You can read our post on the changes here.
CRL progress turns towards Aotea
Dame Whina Cooper has completed the Mt Eden to Karangahape drive, and started on the second leg of her 4-stage Journey.
Dame Whina Cooper, City Rail Link’s (CRL) Tunnel Boring Machine (TBM), has started the second leg of its four-stage journey below Auckland streets for the country’s largest transport infrastructure project.
The TBM’s 785-metre-long drive from Karangahape Station to Aotea Station in the heart of Auckland’s midtown is planned to finish early in the new year.
Helping businesses to use space in cities differently
While it looks like out friends in Pōneke might be getting special licenses for outdoor dining, or ‘streateries’, we’re yet to hear about a similar initiative in Auckland. Wellington’s support package is specifically designed to support businesses that have suffered due to Covid-19 restrictions.
Wellington Mayor Andy Foster says “the package includes free short-term pavement leases, special license fees held to reschedule a cancelled event, and potentially opening outdoor areas such as car parks, wide footpaths, and other parts of the city to facilitate outdoor dining.
And across the ditch in Melbourne, the Victorian Government is putting in place a large package for councils to use to support businesses establish outdoor trading. The $54.5m package is called the ‘Outdoor Economy Package’, and –
It includes a $40 million COVIDSafe Outdoor Activation Fund to help councils transform more outdoor areas and $14.5m of grants worth $2000 each for businesses, community organisations, not-for-profits and trader associations who spend at least that much supporting outdoor entertainment.
The package is supported by research from RMIT and Monash University that shows the disporpotionate amount of street space taken up by private vehicles.
Progress on the new Mangere Bridge
The last bridge beam of the old Mangere Bridge has been removed, and construction of the new landmark bridge is about to begin. This article on Waka Kōtahi’s website has a fascinating history of the crossing.
For nearly 150 years there’s been a bridge over the Manukau Harbour, but legend has it that the very first crossing was actually a set of stepping stones and at low tide, local iwi used these stones to cross on foot between Māngere and Onehunga.
Get over it (by bike)
Here’s a longer weekend watch for you if the forecasted rain arrives. Bike Auckland are featured in this panel discussion about ‘bikes, bridges and simple solutions to climate change’. It includes a discussion of options for getting over the Harbour Bridge by bike.
Streets for life
For a much shorter watch, this cool animation explores the ways dangerous urban environments can be transformed to become safe for all.
A week in low emissions vehicles
A couple of pieces of great news this week on the low emission vehicle front.
Auckland Transport announced a big purchase of electric buses
Australasia’s biggest electric bus order has been announced, in a partnership between Auckland Transport and NZ Bus.
This will see a further 152 battery electric buses (BEVs) on Auckland’s roads and will reduce greenhouse gas emissions from the AT Metro bus fleet by an estimated 11 per cent per year– which is almost 10,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide annually.*
These BEVs will replace around 12 per cent of the diesel bus fleet in Tāmaki Makaurau, in alignment with AT’s Low Emission Bus Roadmap 2020 (LEBR).
The additional BEVs will significantly boost the number of zero emission buses operating on AT bus services across Auckland with NZ Bus providing services in the city centre and across some of the city’s most congested urban areas.
Auckland currently has just over 30 e-buses so this is a bit increase. They’ll start arriving from October next year and the first route to get these new buses will be the TamakiLink. In total it will take four years to get them all.
Cargo Bike Couriers
Urgent Couriers are replacing their city fleet of cars with electric cargo bikes and another great example of the need to build for the city you want, not what you have.
Urgent Couriers has imported five purpose-built Urban Arrow electric cargo bikes from the Netherlands to service clients in Auckland’s City Centre and inner-city suburbs. The aluminium-framed bikes have a 250-watt motor and can carry a maximum load of 125kg in a lockable waterproof cargo box on the front of the bike.
Urgent Couriers managing director Steve Bonnici says the electric cargo bikes have been proven in markets around the world, but he believes they will be the first of their type to operate in New Zealand and he hopes courier companies in other cities around the country will follow suit. The bikes will service an area extending to Herne Bay, Grey Lynn, Kingsland, Morningside, Mt Eden, Newmarket and Parnell.
“This will provide faster deliveries as the bikes will be able to use the cycle lanes and not be constrained by traffic. It will reduce road congestion and it’s also great news for the environment.”
Mr Bonnici said several factors meant the time was right for the introduction of the cargo bikes, including the availability of proven cargo bike technology, changes to roads and parking spaces in inner city Auckland that give bikes an advantage over cars and the changing nature of courier deliveries from documents to bulkier parcels or fragile items like cakes.
Electricity will be powering more city deliveries too with a trial of five 100% electric trucks.
Auckland Transport (AT) welcomes New Zealand’s first trial of 100 per cent electric trucks.
The Auckland Inner City Zero Emissions Area (ZEA) Trial follows the arrival of the first FUSO eCanter 100 per cent electric trucks – five of which are being used by trial participants: Mainfreight, Bidfood, Toll Global Express, Owens Transport and Vector OnGas.
The one-year trial will see the integration of the fully-electric trucks into New Zealand’s commercial fleet to deliver goods in the inner city.
Medium density, maximum potential
A lot of the public discourse about medium density housing is full of fear regarding bad design outcomes, poor building quality and adverse visual effects on urban form. We’d argue with all of that, and wish that more attention was paid to the many good examples of medium density homes, right here in Auckland. This view from Grey Lynn’s CoHaus shows how compact, medium density homes have social and community benefits too.
Medium density housing.
— David J. Hall (@dvdjhnhll) November 9, 2021
Greater Auckland makes the news
We’ve appeared in the news a couple of times this week. Matt was quoted in a Newsroom article about New Zealand’s struggle to reduce emissions from transport.
Matt Lowry, writing in Greater Auckland, notes that “30-40 percent of Auckland’s growth is expected to occur in ‘greenfield’ areas” in coming years. That means hundreds of hectares of Drury-type developments, serviced by relentless highway building funded by Waka Kotahi, and the promise of unacceptable ongoing emissions.
And we heard from Matt again in this piece on Stuff about the looming challenge of getting Aucklanders out of the city at Christmas.
Editor of Auckland transport blog Greater Auckland Matt Lowrie is one of the Kiwis caught up in the dilemma of whether to stay or go.
His parents are in Whangamatā and desperate to see his and his wife’s five-month-old baby, but the couple don’t want to sit in a traffic jam for hours on end.
People travelling within Auckland would add to any congestion woes.
“It’s going to be a nightmare.”
Auckland’s geographic location and poorly-equipped transport system with no toll plaza which could “funnel” cars meant people would have to make tough decisions. It was too late to build any infrastructure to help the situation.
Started your Christmas shopping yet?
Lovers of local history and transport have lots of book-shaped stocking stuffer options. We’ve got our eyes on:
- Shifting Grounds: Deep Histories of Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland, Dr Lucy Mackintosh’s deft evocation of the histories of Tāmaki Makaurau right under our noses (Bridget Williams Books, available for pre-order now)
- Can’t Get There from Here: New Zealand Passenger Rail Since 1920, Dr Andre Brett’s brilliant, bittersweet history of our shrinking train network (Nationwide Books, advance order now for December arrival)
Folks, IT’S HERE. THE BOOK IS REAL pic.twitter.com/5RAlzJkjZp
— André Brett (@DrDreHistorian) November 8, 2021
- The Bikes We Built, a history of local bicycle-building, by Jonathan Kennett. It looks to be a beautifully designed and fascinating look at bikes built in New Zealand over the last century or so.
Take a ride through the history of 61 New Zealand made bicycles from 1869 to the present day. From the velocipede to the penny farthing, to the Raleigh Chopper and the BMX, discover how Kiwis have reinvented the wheel over the last 150 years.
Jonathan Kennett has been promoting cycling in Aotearoa for years. He tells the New Zealand Herald how he accidentally started the Tour Aotearoa:
When I was a project manager for The NZ Cycle Trail, the most common question from overseas cyclists was, “how do we cycle from the top of New Zealand to the bottom?” My answer kept changing as more cycle trails were built, and less and less road riding was needed. Eventually, the ride started looking so good I decided to ride it myself. But I didn’t want to do it on my own. As a teenager, I’d cycled from Wellington to Cape Reinga and I found it quite a lonely experience, so in 2015 I put it on Facebook that I was going to ride 3000km from Cape Reinga to Bluff in 2016 and 260 people said they wanted to join me.
Kia pai tōu wikini, and we hope you enjoy a picinic with 24 of your closest friends this weekend. See you next week!