Kia ora! You’ll be reading this on day 101 of lockdown. Hope you’re all holding up OK. It’s a stacked roundup this week, we’ve got lots of reading for your weekend.
The week in Greater Auckland
- Monday’s post by Matt dove into plans for the Eastern Busway.
- Tuesday’s post, by Marita, looked at how services and deliveries can shift modes to make our streets more people-friendly.
- On Wednesday, a guest post from journalist Hayden Donnell took on the criticisms of the new Medium Density Residential Standards.
- Yesterday, Matt wrote about AT’s plans to make 60kms of existing painted cyclelanes safer, and progress on a handful of other cycling projects.
Auckland Council’s CCOs welcome next generation interns
Exciting to see next year’s intern directors welcomed onto the boards of Auckland Council’s Council Controlled Organisations. The internship programme is designed to mentor people embarking on a governance career, and increase diversity of the CCOs’ boards.
Congratulations to the four intern directors for 2022-2023: Izzy Horrocks (AT), Jenny Solomon (Auckland Unlimited), Pulotu Selio Solomon (Eke Panuku) and Wi Pere Mita (Watercare Services).
Manukau to Wiri bridge upgrade
The completed Manukau to Wiri bridge looks great, with a bi-directional protected cycleway and some really nicely designed lighting.
A bridge connecting central Manukau and Wiri has had a massive upgrade, with some of the improvements tucked away underground.
Find out what this means for Tāmaki Makaurau, south side, here: https://t.co/fmMESSBNg9 pic.twitter.com/d8bWtOIOoJ
— Eke Panuku AKL (@PanukuAKL) November 25, 2021
Allies in streateries
Still holding out hope for special licensing to emerge that will allow Auckland restaurants, bars and cafes to expand onto the street to create safe dining spaces for our Covid-summer. We haven’t heard of any progress, yet – but look, we’re not the only ones asking.* Comedian Chris Parker’s instagram plea was taken up by Auckland MP Chloe Swarbrick.
Let’s do as Chloe says: but if you want to see it happen, please help us along and start asking for it!
*this guy just wants to dine al fresco, too.
(Two) green bus stops
Presented without comment.
Other than: street trees are another excellent way to respond to the changing climate.
Two of Auckland’s bus shelters have come to life with more than 1000 plants adorning their walls and roofs! The living bus shelters are being trialed in Panmure and Manukau. They are part of our wider effort to respond to the changing climate.
— Auckland Transport (@AklTransport) November 23, 2021
The future is here, and the ferries are electric
The world is going electric, and it’s incredibly exciting. This article on Stuff tells the story of the New Zealand boat-building companies innovating in the electric ferry space.
An all electric 135-seat catamaran built by East by West Ferries is weeks away from joining the company’s cross-harbour fleet. The ferry, named Ika Rere (flying fish), is outperforming the designers’ expectations.
“With the boat going faster than we thought, our resistance is down, therefore energy use is below what we expected – we can go further and faster,” said Foote.
In Auckland, EV Maritime are close to releasing their electric ferry in the Waitematā.
Its hopes are linked to Auckland Transport’s protracted work to devise a new strategy and funding for up to 20 public transport ferries, but it also has eyes overseas.
“Auckland, Sydney, Hong Kong, all have significant ferry fleets doing long distances, that have to go fast –there are substantial fleets of diesel ferries serving those cities,” said Michael Eaglen, CEO and co-founder.
He said fast electric commuter ferries were a logical part of the market to start in: “They are such busy boats, commuter ferries work hard, so lower operating costs give a real payback for investment.”
A company called Seachange are designing the foiling version:
And a company called Zerojet are developing a battery-powered jet propulsion engine for runabouts.
Zerojet hopes to have the first boats in the water before Christmas, aiming for 100 local sales before selling into the world market, where production boat builders have already shown strong interest.
“There’s huge demand from overseas – we’ve got more demand than we know what to do with, and people are very excited about the product,” said Bex Rempel, the co-founder and chief executive.
Pōneke to trial free public transport
Greater Wellington Regional Council has voted in favour of a month-long trial of free or discounted public transport.
It’s reported the month-long trial will be used to sample new fare structures and these would apply to all bus and train services across Wellington.
News of this trail follows hot on the tails of another GRWC & Metlink trail on the use of the Snapper card on Wellington’s Johnsonville line as well as removing cash from some express services.
It looks like the trial will also feed into the development of Project NEXT, Waka Kōtahi’s programme to develop a nationwide ticketing system.
Micro-mobility comes to Palmy
Always interesting to read about transport issues in Aotearoa’s smaller towns and regions. This opinion piece by Steve Sannard on Stuff celebrates the introduction of e-scooter rental to Palmerston North.
My crystal ball tells me that micro-mobility is the future of personal transport in cities, and I’d like to think the introduction of scooters is a forward-thinking approach taken by our city council.
However, it’s not all micro-mobility dreams for Palmy: the other transport news in the piece is the planned completion of an 80-year old ring-road plan. Sannard points out how backward this planning is:
So, we are about to construct a roading initiative that was conceived in the 1960s. This was the time of low performing cars like Hillmans and Humbers, and a highway speed limit of 90kph; back when there was a whiff of petrol when starting the engine with the choke fully pulled, and wee breaks at the top of big hills to stop it from overheating.
Liveability learnings in Sydney
There are some fascinating findings in this article on the Sydney Morning Herald, reporting on a broad study of the liveability of the cities suburbs. Different qualities were valued by women than by men:
The survey found men and women had different approaches to improving safety: “Men tended to request more surveillance while the solutions proposed by women had a stronger focus on making the space feel safer, especially with adequate lighting along footpaths that link housing and local centres.”
The Covid-19 pandemic exarcerbated preferences for nature and neighbourhood amenities over ease of driving and parking:
Marian Peters grew up in Colyton in western Sydney, but she struggles to name its best features.
“We don’t have trees in the street,” she said. “It’s stale – just cars and tar. There’s nothing refreshing.”
Ms Peters said the suburb near Mount Druitt has few trees or walking paths and cycleways. During the COVID-19 lockdown, her family was stuck indoors because there was “nothing to do outside”.
Single-house zoning could be removed in Toronto
It’s not just Auckland that’s confronting the effects of density-restricting zoning. Toronto, facing a growing affordability crisis, is considering a progressive planning policy that will allow ‘multiplexes’ to be built in its ‘leafy suburbs’ (note that description – sound familiar?).
These are not the questions that city planning in Toronto – or in general – has been asking over the past half-century. Planning has been obsessed with protecting “neighbourhood character.” Toronto’s Neighbourhoods (they get a capital N in city policy documents) are reserved mostly for houses.
This is known as “exclusionary zoning,” and in 2021 it locks down much of the city for multimillionaires. And it is exactly the kind of policy that New Zealand, Vancouver and the states of California and Oregon are aiming to change. Toronto is also considering reform through a planning effort called Expanding Housing Options in Neighbourhoods.
Testing polluter-pays road pricing
Streetsblog reports on the largest-ever study of a ‘polluter pays’ pricing scheme. The Swiss scheme has a sophisticated app that bundles all of the tangible and intangible ‘costs’ of a given trip into one, and then reports back to the user their culmulative transport costs. The study gave users a ‘budget’ and tested incentives, such as giving the balance of the budget back in cash if a user ‘underspent’.
The result? “Introducing a transport pricing scheme based on external costs that raises transport costs, on average, by 10 percent would lead to a reduction in the external costs of transport by 3.1 percent,” the researchers wrote — meaning that when drivers are forced to pay something even a little bit closer to the real costs of their preferred mode, they find ways to drive less.
Austin, Texas: the next great biking city
It’s so exciting to hear about mode-shift progress in North American cities, where efforts to build good cycling networks come up against the same kinds of barriers we face here. Austin, Texas has achieved real momentum in the construction of its ‘All Ages and Abilities Cycling Network’ (love that name.) It hasn’t been totally smooth: despite buy-in on the plan since 2014, the first few years of construction were too slow, so in 2018, city leaders intervened.
A significant acceleration of its AAA bicycle network was determined to be the best course of action. MoveATX — a coalition of community leaders, advocates, activists and local organizations — was founded in order to support the city’s efforts, creating a potent partnership with ATD that has achieved far more together than either would have been able to accomplish alone.
And in November 2020, residents of Austin voted for a further expansion of the network that exceeds even Paris’ impressive commitments.
The construction of car-dependency
This is super cool (if a bit horrifying): a visual representation of a freeway being built through neighbourhoods and homes in Oakland, California. It’s a great reminder of the radical change that cars wrought on towns and cities – and that we’re capable of radically changing again.
Every time someone says that 'making it harder to drive will need radical changes' show them this.
Creating current car dependency was only possible with a massive, decade-long and destructive effort to erase the city as we knew it.
— Cycling Professor (@fietsprofessor) November 22, 2021
White Castle traffic jam
I don’t know what a White Castle is, but I’m pretty sure it’s not worth the wait.
Hochstetter’s map in 3D
This beautiful 3D rendering of Hochstetter’s map of the Auckland Volcanic Field was created by South Arrow Maps.
Transporty podcasts for your weekend
If you’re a podcast person, you might enjoy listening to:
The excellent Dr. Kirsty Wild from the University of Auckland talking about streetscape reallocation on the This Climate Business podcast.
And on The Daily (spotify link below), an examination of the effects of an expressway on the predominantly black New Orleans community it was built through, and how President Biden can set it right.
Rebecca Solnit on COP and what next
Finally, a couple of weeks after the conclusion of COP in Glasgow, here’s an essay we found galvanising, by Rebecca Solnit. As usual, Solnit manages to strike both the enormity of the change the climate crisis demands of us, and a real sense of hope and possibility.
The world as we knew it is coming to an end, and it’s up to us how it ends and what comes after. It’s the end of the age of fossil fuel, but if the fossil-fuel corporations have their way the ending will be delayed as long as possible, with as much carbon burned as possible. If the rest of us prevail, we will radically reduce our use of those fuels by 2030, and almost entirely by 2050. We will meet climate change with real change, and defeat the fossil-fuel industry in the next nine years.
Do head over to The Guardian and read it. Solnit reminds us, among other things, that despite failures at COP, a lot of progress is already happening, that the future is not yet written, and that imagination is our superpower.
That’s all from us – have a wonderful weekend, stay safe and see you on Monday 🙂