Header image via Curbed.
Kia ora. Hope everyone’s doing well! Here’s our roundup of interesting news and findings for the week.
The week in Greater Auckland
- Monday’s post, by Matt, followed several in-depth looks at Light Rail over the last couple of weeks, and looked at the lessons we can find in past rapid transit plans.
- On Tuesday, Matt covered a very low-yielding car park AT is requiring the developer of a site in Ponsonby to provide.
- Wednesday’s post was an excellent guest post by AUT senior lecturer Dr. Timothy Welch, busting commonly-heard myths about auto-centricity
- Yesterday we published a post about AT’s recent installation of T3 camera poles right in the middle of local footpaths.
Te Huia services now to travel into Auckland central
In very welcome news, Te Huia will be connecting all the way to The Strand in Auckland Central on weekdays.
The next stage of improvements will include stops at the new Puhinui Station, enabling access to Auckland Airport, before stopping at The Strand Station.
Transport Minister Michael Wood welcomed the service extension.
“We have always indicated that staged improvements would be made to the Te Huia service once it was operational, and I’m really pleased that we are able to deliver this significant enhancement within the first year.
Auckland rail network summer shutdown
A good thing to take note of – there will be an extended shutdown of Auckland’s rail network over Christmas and into January, reported on here in The Herald. The work is part of a wide programme to upgrade the whole network.
“The Christmas shutdown allows us to get a huge amount of work done over a short period of time. Our projects would take years longer to complete without the ability to make big strides during intermittent shutdowns so we thank Aucklanders for their understanding.
“It will take a few years but, once complete, the network will allow more frequent and more reliable train services for Auckland Transport’s passenger trains and greater capacity for freight trains,” Gordon said.
Auckland city centre ‘optimism’
Here’s an article and short clip on Auckland Council’s ‘Our Auckland’ platform about progress in the city centre and the realisation of the City Centre Masterplan. The opening of exciting new projects like Te Kōmititanga, Commercial Bay, Quay Street, and Te Wānanga (adjoining the Downtown Ferry Terminal) certainly prove that the city centre can be something really special.
We’re keen to see more momentum on transforming Queen Street, which will hopefully be complemented by implementation of Access for Everyone. We can’t wait for the City Rail Link to near completion, it will be interesting to see how this project will catalyse shifts in the city centre as indicated in the clip.
The week in flooding
Welsh village falls victim to sea level rise
In a story that could become a precedent for some of New Zealand’s many coastal-edge communities, Stuff reports on the Welsh village of Fairbourne which has been designated as unviable due to climate change.
Predicting faster sea level rises and more frequent and extreme storms due to global warming, the government said it could only afford to keep defending the village for another 40 years. Officials said that by 2054, it would no longer be safe or sustainable to live in Fairbourne.
Bernard Hickey’s podcast When the Facts Change had an episode ( on the 5th of November) that looked at the effects of climate change on house prices in New Zealand. There are some hard calls coming for local and central governments as insurers begin to retreat from properties and assets most at risk from climate change and its effects.
Severe flooding in the Pacific north-west
As reported in The Guardian, the north-west of Canada and the United States was hit with a month’s worth of rain in two days, resulting in widespread flooding and landslips. With roads washed out or buried, many towns are without road access – including Vancouver, British Columbia’s largest city.
so coquahalla is gone and transcanada is gone so that leaves highway 3 which had a mudslide but is possibly still in tact
on the island the malahat is partially washed out and needs geotech and is gone north of duncan at mt sicker
so bc is currently nearly 100% out of highways pic.twitter.com/pUYwhpra7W
— EcoGothsOnly (@Over9000Jon) November 16, 2021
Designing the perfect New York street
If you like to dream up a #roaddiet when navigating your way across traffic-choked streets, you’ll love this article and beautiful visuals at Curbed about an imagined perfect New York City street. The editors at Curbed commissioned a team of designers to reimagine a section of Third Avenue in Manhattan ‘as a matrix of overlapping, interrelated networks.’
We aspired to pack all the measures we already knew we should be taking into one vivid frame. An aerial photograph became a platform on which to overlay a possible future city. The result is a real-life I Spy book, filled with details that accumulate into a livable, equitable, safer, and more pleasant place to live. This is no futuristic fantasy of self-sweeping sidewalks or robot-controlled Tesla taxis gliding up at the touch of an app. Instead, we imagined a makeover that could happen now, given urgency and determination.
The week in bollard news
Is there such a thing as too many bollards though?
— Dr Vanessa (@HPS_Vanessa) November 14, 2021
First fully automatic train in Germany
Less width, tighter turns…
Are just some of the advantages of this fully electric fire truck. Fire and emergency vehicles are often some of the most concerned voices when roads are narrowed or adapted to make them safer. This looks like a great solution.
Key words: less width, tighter turns.
This means fewer constraints on street design: narrower streets and smaller corner radii, which in turn allow for shorter crosswalks, encourage slower driving, and ultimately provide higher comfort and safety for vulnerable users. https://t.co/QhcRClDnbp
— Bartek Komorowski (@CyclistBartek) November 18, 2021
Good ideas corner
A #crafternoon task for bored kids in lockdown?
— Herbie Green (@HerbieGreen) November 14, 2021
Paris by bike
We can’t get enough of the transformation of Paris under bike-friendly mayor Anne Hidalgo. This explainer on Substack blog Citybits does an excellent job of setting out the context of Paris’s transformation, how the Covid-19 pandemic was a catalyst, and why the momentum for change has held. This is so important to understand:
In an interview with the New York Times, one French commuter noted that he bought a bike immediately after lockdowns ended, and though a little wary, he felt that “Having so many bike lanes motivates me more (to cycle).”
Take a look at this dreamy snapshot:
Enjoy the silence pic.twitter.com/xIL30BacjH
— Commute de Paris (@CommuteDeParis) October 28, 2021
Within the last month the Plan Velo 2021 – 26 was announced, with the bold aspiration to build off cycling transformation catalysed by Covid-19 and make Paris ‘a 100% cycling city’ by 2026. We can’t wait to see how these plans progress and wonder if we will see the narrative of the 100% cycling city replicated in the same way that Paris popularised the 15-minute city concept.
We need to imagine how good things can be
Finally, some long reads for your weekend.
The Dominion Post has been publishing a fantastic series of essays called ‘Reimagining Wellington.’ There are lots of good ones in there. A recent highlight features kiwi urban designer in NYC, Skye Duncan, on overcoming change paralysis and how to make Wellington a more liveable city.
“Liveable cities are where people can learn, work, meander and play in a way that they have safe and reliable and affordable choices of how they get around and what they do on a regular basis,” she says.
That means access to key destinations and critical services: housing, school, daycare, work restaurants, supermarkets, and health services. As well as arts and cultural opportunities.
People should also have exposure to nature, social connections, and access to daily inspiration, joy, and love. “All the things we don’t typically associate with cities and built environments.”
In order to achieve these things, Wellington needs to first face some of the challenges it’s struggling with.
That means getting the housing density mix right, while preserving the right historic buildings; harnessing the power of public-private partnerships; removing private cars from roads; and treating mass transit as a public good.
On that theme, this essay by novelist Ben Okri beautifully addresses the need for art to create a new ‘existential realism’ to help us face the climate crisis-induced challenges ahead:
So a new existentialism is called for. Not the existentialism of Camus and Jean-Paul Sartre, negative and stoical in spirit, but a brave and visionary existentialism, where as artists we dedicate our lives to nothing short of re-dreaming society. We have to be strong dreamers. We have to ask unthinkable questions. We have to go right to the roots of what makes us such a devouring species, overly competitive, conquest-driven, hierarchical.
Have a safe and wonderful weekend. Wear a mask, scan in, wash your hands 🙂