Header image: Christmas Lights on Britomart. By Brett Phibbs via NZ Herald.
Tēnā koutou, and welcome to day one of the traffic-light system in Aotearoa.
The week in Greater Auckland
- Monday’s post was a guest post by Hamish Mackie, summarising research that followed the various Innovating Streets for People projects around the motu
- On Tuesday, Jolisa and Marita looked around at the car-clogged carparks of Auckland’s lovely urban beaches and wondered how getting to the beach could work better for everyone.
- Wednesday’s post, by Matt, looked at the disadvantages of tunnelled light rail over surface light rail, or tunnelled light metro.
- Yesterday, we published a guest post by Francis McRae challenging some of the critcisms that have been levelled at the Medium Density Residential Standards.
Auckland’s progress on climate change
A progress report on Council and Auckland Transport’s Transport Emissions Reductions Plan was presented to the Environment and Climate Change Committee yesterday and it looks good. Modeshift – and especially active modes – have been highlighted as the most important lever. Todd Niall has written briefly about it here.
The mayor is proposing an annual budget that includes a targeted climate rate to create a ringfenced $1 billion climate action package, which should get some much-needed projects up and happening, although his assumption that nearly half will be provided by central government means things could end up messy if this turns out to be overly optimistic.
Jade Kake’s recipe for improving the MDRS
This is a really excellent article by architectural designer and housing advocate Jade Kake on how the Medium Density Resitential Standards can be improved to ensure they achieve both good design and density. Drawing on submissions from groups like The Coalition for More Homes, The New Zealand Green Building Council, and A City for People, she steps through a number of clear improvements to the proposed bill.
Kake covers everything from removing setbacks and height in relation to boundary rules, which many designers and advocates have raised, to introducing mixed-use zoning, to incentivising energy-efficient housing and universal design.
There’s been a lot of debate about the MDRS on Greater Auckland in the last couple of weeks; we think Kake’s article does a great job of stepping through practical suggestions that will make the Standards better.
No known Covid transmission on public transport during Delta outbreak
We were just wondering if anything was known about potential transmission of Covid-19 on public transport, when we came across this article on Stuff from earlier in the week. But it looks like public transport is pretty safe –
AT spokesman Blake Crayton-Brown said none of its employees or passengers had caught Covid-19 while using public transport during the Delta outbreak. That’s despite more than 170 trips being identified as locations of interest.
“Mask-wearing seems to be playing a particularly strong role in helping to prevent the spread of Covid-19 on public transport.”
A South Korean study simulated the movement of public transport passengers at peak hours and found mandatory mask-wearing reduced infection rates by 93.5 per cent.
City Rail link hits deepest point of K’Rd Station
City Rail Link construction made it to 27.5m below Mercury Lane this week. Read more on the CRL facebook page.
Innovating Streets helps make Whanganui a City of Design
We can’t wait to check out Whanganui once it’s safe to do so. Here’s a great listen on RNZ talking about the many wonderful features that have led it to being nominated NZ’s only UNESCO City of Design. The successful and popular Innovating Streets project in Whanganui’s Town Centre has certainly had an impact.
The $1b Australians could have saved on fuel
Australia is famously dragging its feet on climate action – even more than other developed nations – and it turns out that’s costing Australians at the petrol pump, now. Research reported on by The Conversation found that by not adopting internationally recognised clean-car standards 3 years ago, Australia has had years of importing inefficient, high-consumption vehicles that are costing them more to run than the more efficient models sold in other countries.
Available evidence suggests Australian motorists are paying on average almost 30% more for fuel than they should because of the lack of fuel efficiency standards.
The Australian vehicle fleet uses about 32 billion litres of fuel per year.
Using an Australian fleet model described in the TER report, we can make a conservative estimate that the passenger vehicle fleet uses about half of this fuel: 16 billion litres per year. New cars entering the fleet each year would represent about 5% of this: 800 million litres per year.
Low-traffic neighbourhoods prove their worth (over time)
Before the low traffic neighbourhood went in, 87% were opposed to reducing through traffic on residential streets. After it went in, 91% supported reducing through traffic. That is a monumental swing https://t.co/QjiqEi5rQo
— citymobility (@citycyclists) November 29, 2021
The potential of London’s bicycle economy
Momentun Mag reports on research into the effects of transforming cycle-able car trips in London to bike trips. The research found that turning just 14% of the city’s 4.7million sub-3km car trips into bike trips could create 25,000 green jobs in a ‘bicycle economy’.
The report highlights the progress that is already underway. In 2020, increasing levels of cycling in London helped avoid around 270 premature deaths, nearly 1,900 serious illnesses, around 216 million vehicle kilometers, and thousands of tonnes of greenhouse gas and air pollutant emissions.
The week in cities that are investing in cycling
Fresh news off the big-cycling-announcements block: Milan, a city described as ‘smog filled’, and as having one of the highest rates of car ownership in the EU, is putting serious money into becoming a city full of people on bikes.
A few months ago, The Independent reported on the way the Covid-19 pandemic opened the door for cycling in Milan.
When Covid struck Italy hard back in early 2020, the national lockdown had an unintended side effect in Milan. Traffic was slashed by almost 75 per cent – and Milan’s infamous smog temporarily disappeared too.
With cleaner air, clarity of thinking followed. During that initial lockdown and the months immediately after, city planners embarked on an ambitious period of change: they redesigned major parts of the city’s street plan in favour of bicycles, not cars.
Earlier on in the Pandemic, temporary cycleways, calmed streets, and quiet routes got Milanese out on bikes en masse, and with the roll-out of the planned cycling network, the city’s new cycle culture looks to be here to stay.
Today the Metropolitan City of Milan announced their new Bicycle Strategy "Cambio". 250 million € will be invested in fast cycle routes and better integration with public transit. The social economic impact is expected to be over €1.1 Billions @DecisiOnderzoek pic.twitter.com/wvcnyoLKRO
— Paolo Ruffino (@RuffinoPaolo) November 30, 2021
Link between urban density and physical activity
Common-sense information, but it’s always good to see in a graph: this research shows that in denser urban environments, people move more and are healthier.
Really interesting research at #SOAC2021 from Dr Manoj Chandabrose on the health increases from densification. How each % increase in densification increases the minutes walked per week. pic.twitter.com/lSvxyxdEXq
— Iain White (@iain_white) December 1, 2021
The subheading on this article about Toronto is: Parking reform is reaching new frontiers. Toronto, like many other cities around the world, is looking at the role carparking plays in the city’s emissions and car-dependency.
A Toronto City Council committee heard a staff report on earlier this month that included a number of recommendations that could help remake transportation planning in the fourth most populous city on the continent, ranging from expanding bicycle parking and electric vehicle infrastructure to the aforementioned parking requirement reforms.
But where will we park the EVs?
Meanwhile, car ownership continues to grow at a rate that oustrips population growth in many parts of the world. The BBC points out the situation we could be in in a decade or so’s time as more people buy electric cars.
But while exhaust emissions might fall, the so-called “embedded emissions” needed to build, charge and maintain this army of cars – will increase with growing car ownership.
Congestion and traffic jams come down to one simple fact – cars are space-inefficient. They take up seven times the space of a bike but usually carry only up to five people. Often this number is much lower – and that’s only when they’re moving.
In June, the RAC Foundation published a report that revealed cars are empty and parked 23 hours out of every 24. They’re only used for an hour a day. And there aren’t enough car parking spaces to go round.
Thirteenth-Century tax dodging
The oldest house in France. It's found In Aveyron, it's 700 years old,it was built in the 13th century and belonged to a Jeanne.The ground floor is a little smaller than the upstairs because in those times you only paid taxes on occupied land, so everyone built like this,cheating pic.twitter.com/jbGvouNYLn
— Museum Archive (@ArtifactsHub) November 28, 2021
Images of streets past: when kids ruled the streets
Guidelines for streets future: kids rule anew!
Last week, Waka Kotahi (in conjunction with Sport NZ) launched new Play Street Guidelines, aimed at making it easier for councils to support temporarily closing streets to traffic, to open up space for social connection. What could be more timely?
The guidelines, which emerge from tactical test runs in Tāmaki Makaurau, Hutt City and Napier, focus on “small, resident-led, local events, held on quiet neighbourhood streets during daylight hours.” Bring on the cul-de-sac hacky sack and meet-your-neighbour BBQs!
As the lovely launch video shows, play streets are wonderful ways of bringing communities together and making room for kids to be kids. Hopefully these guidelines will quickly help councils all over the motu remove any hurdles to heaps of happy hyperlocal happenings.
Greater Auckland’s official Christmas gift guide
OK, we haven’t discussed if this will be an actual thing, but the odd very niche suggestion might slip into the next few weekly roundups. If you know someone who’s a fan of music, New Zealand poetry, and ah … bridges, this album featuring poetry about bridges by Bill Manhire is precisely the gift for them!
Bifröst is an album of songs featuring the poetry of Bill Manhire, with music by Norman Meehan, Hannah Griffin, Andrew Laking, Blair Latham, Lance Philip, Neil Aldridge, and Michael Sutherland. Drawing from Old Norse tales and poems including the medieval Norwegian ‘Draumkvæde’ (‘Dreamsong’) and supplementing these with his own texts, New Zealand poet Bill Manhire composed a suite of poems that together form an episodic narrative that traces a variety of “crossings-over”, journeys – from place to place, from forgetfulness to remembering – that comprise the heart of Bifröst.
Meri Kirihimete in Te Kōmititanga
This sounds cool: Heart of the City are putting on a Christmas lightshow downtown, centred on Britomart and Te Kōmititanga.
Aucklanders will embark on a Christmas adventure starting in the heart of the city, before traveling by magic stardust to the North Pole and into Santa’s Workshop. Along the way, they can dance with mischievous elves, watch as toys and presents are made and wrapped, and spot Santa’s sleigh as he wings his way to the Southern Hemisphere, spreading some much-needed Christmas joy in his wake.
The Britomart light show runs between 8:45 and 11pm daily until Christmas Eve, and is accompanied by other light installations.
Kia pai, kia haumaru tōu wikini! Hope you get to enjoy a safe meal or beverage in a location that’s not your home or the side or the road for the first time in months.