Header image via Twitter user Val Lupiz

We are nearly nearly there… and honestly it feels like Aucklanders are tapping out already, with people starting to log out, and even crossing the newly opened border this week.

The week in Greater Auckland

  • Monday’s post, by Matt, recounted a particularly frustrating public transport experience.
  • On Tuesday, Heidi wrote about recent AT renewal and upgrade projects, and how they represent ongoing low priority for walking and cycling safety within AT work.
  • On Wednesday, right after we got the news that the MDRS bill passed into law, Matt gave us a deep-dive into Auckland’s record-breaking housing consent data, and where those houses are being built.
  • Yesterday’s post was a guest post by Ella Kay, looking at the conversion of a parking building in Berlin.

Can we get to the beach yet?

A couple of weeks ago we published a post about ways of getting to the beach in Auckland – and how easy it is (or isn’t) to get there without a car. One of the beaches we featured in that post is Pt Chevalier beach, at the Coyle Park end. Out-of-control parking at Coyle Park was preventing the 66 bus from completing its usual loop down to the park and back. We weren’t the only ones to pick up on the story: later that week, Newshub reported on the issue too.

Unfortunately, it looks like the saga is ongoing. This tweet popped up from Auckland Transport on Saturday.

And on Sunday, some of our local elected members expressed their frustration online.

Is it going to be every weekend, all summer? We hope not!

Takapuna’s new town square to start construction

Panuku has released images of Takapuna’s Waiwharariki Anzac town square, which has been in design phase for a couple of years. Work is going to start early January 2022, and is expected to take 18 months to build. It looks like a very cool, people-friendly public space.

Shaped by considerable local feedback and expert masterplanning, the Takapuna town square will deliver a place where people can come together to meet and relax, children can play, and celebrations can be held. Through involvement of a mana whenua-appointed artist, an important cultural narrative has been woven through the design.

This new town square will be able to host a wealth of events and activities, including concerts and a market. What’s more, it will be eco-friendly, with filters to treat stormwater runoff at the source, sustainable timber and low-carbon concrete to be used.

Artists’ render of the proposed Waiwharariki Anzac Square. Image – Panuku

The works will take over part of the Anzac St carpark, reducing it to *just* 125 parks, but the article points out that there’s more than enough room in nearby Toka Puia carpark to take up the slack. That’s probably because it’s consistently under-utilised.

Auckland’s first e-Ferry

A few roundups ago we got excited about innovations in electric ferries here in Aotearoa. Here’s an article about the first electric hybrid high-speed ferry that’ll join Auckland’s ferry network published by Stuff this week.

The company said this is its first critical step in decarbonising its Auckland fleet and will reduce carbon emissions by 75,000kg per year on the Devonport route alone.

The vessel – designed by Incat Crowther – is expected to be completed in 2023 and will have a capacity for around 300 passengers. It will serve the Devonport route but can also travel to other destinations.

Meanwhile in Pōneke, enjoy watching some happy tugs welcoming the city’s first electric ferry into dock:

Wellington gets electric airport buses

Still in Wellington and still with green transport: Wellington will finally get a new dedicated airport bus route. If you’re too cheap to spring for an uber like me, you’ve probably experienced the schlep out of the aiport and into a nearby Miramar street to catch the bus into town. The previous service, the Airport Flyer, was paused in March 2020 – and never resumed. The new service is an improvement on the Flyer. It will be completely electric and run from the train station to the airport, and will be fully integrated into the Snapper ticketing system.

Roger Blakeley, chair of the regional council’s transport committee, welcomed the news. “A quarter of all eastern suburbs traffic comes from the airport so having a bus service back in place and fewer private vehicles on the road will help ease congestion and meet our climate change obligations.”

Air quality and pollution in Aotearoa

Last week, the Ministry for the Environment published Our Air, an environmental report on air quality. In relation to transport, it’s a topic that doesn’t seem to get much, well, air. The focus seems to be more on issues like emissions and safety. But it’s just as important for our overall health and wellbeing. A few interesting data points from the document’s summary of key findings include:

PM10 (particulate matter of 10 micrometres diameter or less)

PM10 concentrations at most locations measured (72 percent) have improved since 2011, but sites still have high concentrations at times – 76 percent were higher than the 24-hour 2021 World Health Organization (WHO) air quality guidelines at least once between 2017 and 2020, and almost half were higher than the 2021 WHO air quality guidelines for annual PM10 exposure.

PM2.5 (particulate matter of 2.5 micrometres diameter or less)

PM2.5 concentrations at 50 percent of locations have improved since 2011. However, 95 percent of sites were higher than the 24-hour and annual 2021 WHO air quality guidelines at least once between 2017 and 2020. The sites with the highest PM2.5 concentrations were above the guideline for around a quarter of the year. These high concentrations generally occurred during the colder months.

COVID-19 lockdown (2020) impacts on air quality

Restrictions implemented in 2020 during the COVID-19 pandemic temporarily decreased concentrations of several key pollutants across the country. Nitrogen dioxide, primarily generated by the combustion of fuel by motor vehicles, showed more of a decrease than particulate matter pollution, which comes from a range of sources. Nitrogen dioxide concentrations decreased by approximately half due to reduced vehicle traffic.

The week in flooding, local edition

Ōtautahi saw a heck of a lot of rain yesterday – you might know this iconic statue, shown nearly completely submerged.

Los Angeles considers banning freeway expansion in disadvantaged communities

This is the type of progressive, community minded, social-impact driven transport decision making we like to see. Citing the USA’s long history of freeways displacing people in poor and marginalised communities, a California Assemblywoman has put forward a bill that would prevent the state from building highway projects in such communities, particularly if they have already suffered the health effects of living near large highways.

She said state leaders should consider the significant evidence of racial and health disparities caused by highway construction as well as research showing that freeway widenings frequently fail to resolve traffic congestion because they induce more car trips.

“If we have the data and we have the research and we’re ignoring it, that’s when it starts to become criminal when you’re in a position of power,” Garcia said.

Garcia said the impetus for the legislation, which she plans to introduce early next year, was a recent Times investigation that documented the effects of freeway construction over the last three decades.

Life inside the London Low Traffic Neighbourhood movement

Here’s a wonderful and interesting long read for your weekend (or slow Friday morning, if you’re winding down already). We’ve watched with envy as Low Traffic Neighbourhoods, now almost always acronomised into ‘LTNs’, have popped up all over London. Sure, they haven’t all lasted, and it’s been a fraught experience for many, but the trend is upward. This essay (from the writer’s personal blog) talks about the experience of being a long-time active street campaigner watching LTNs go from an idea treated with ‘polite indifference’, to a movement inspiring city-wide street transformation, angry protests, and bizarre conspiracy theory-adjacent mindmaps of the ‘proponents’ of the changes. The writer’s own neighbourhood is now an LTN, and they’re getting to experience the benefits.

Why the strength of feeling on both sides? Why the protests and the vandalism and the death threats against councillors? Because these changes to our streets are a threat to the status quo. Pop-up cycle lanes and low traffic neighbourhoods challenge the decades-old belief that Roads Are For Cars. It’s as hard for society to accept as Votes For Women was 100 years ago.

Meanwhile, walking and cycling rates have sky-rocketed in my neighbourhood, children are travelling independently and you can hear bird song on a road that used to carry 6,000 cars a day. Remove the traffic from an Edwardian tree-lined street in north London, and suddenly you can appreciate its beauty, because (although you find yourself strolling in the middle of the road) you’re no longer focused on keeping yourself or your children alive.

There have been times cycling up Fox Lane this summer when I could have cried with joy seeing the trees bathed in sunshine, the planters stuffed with bee-friendly flowers, people of all ages out and about. I even saw one 10-year-old boy giving his friend a backie (remember those?) over Fox Lane bridge. The friend was holding a football – they must have been off to the park. That bridge was a traffic-sewer-death-trap until the LTN, and I almost never saw anyone cycle on it – still less unaccompanied children. As I tweeted that day: I can now die happy. I am hugely grateful to Enfield councillors for bravely seeing this trial through.

Will we see the same progress in Auckland in the near future? GA has already put a bit of thought into it. Here’s Heidi’s March 2020 post about designing a LTN plan for Auckland.

Merry Christmas from streetcars of the world

It’s that time of year: time to deck your public transport up for Christmas. Here’s a festive cable car from San Francisco:

Image via Twitter user Val Lupiz

And Madrid’s metro trains got a full Santa-themed wrap, fairy lights and all:


The Greater Auckland Christmas gift guide strikes again

We would probably all be pretty stoked with this urbanist lego set. Gonna have to double the width of that cargo bike lane though. And are there enough bollards?

Staycation idea: Keith park inclusive playground

If you’re sticking around Auckland this summer, and you have a whānau member who needs wheels or a little extra help to get around, Keith Park in Weymouth is a fully inclusive playground, with an easily traversed rubber wetpour surface and lots of playground items designed for all abilities to use and have fun on.

Keith Park. Image via the Grab Your Wheels website

Images of streets past: Kingsland


And, we’re out for another week, the penultimate week of the working year. See you next week for our last few blog posts of 2021!

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    1. Yep – both topics are important and deserving of more discussion than a brief roundup mention. We’ll definitely have some comment on both once we’ve got a bit more information to work with. Meanwhile, do get thinking about what you’d write in an ideal ‘New AT CEO job advertisement’…

    2. With the impending departure of the At CEO, this would be a good time for the Council to demand a top to bottom restructure of AT.

      STEP 1. Less selfies by the squadrons of PR and “engagement” people, and more action on important projects.

    3. Also forgot to mention the permanent demise of passenger trains on the Auckland-Christchurch route, announced during the week.

      Labour stood by in 2001 as Wellington-Napier, Auckland-Tauranga, Auckland-Rotorua and Christchurch-Dunedin-Invercargill all lost their trains. Will Labour stand by and let Auckland-Wellington and Picton-Christchurch go as well, or will they take a stand for the climate crisis?

      1. Kiwirail are a never-ending suck-hole of public capital in everything they do, and with the rapid demise of coal they will close further lines in the south.

        As for passenger trains, one of the last to exist is in Dunedin, and even Dunedin ones are mothballed and otherwise holding on by a thread.

        Even the Hamilton-Auckland service was consistently opposed by the Waikato local governments for years – and remains poorly used despite massive subsidy per ticket.

        So there’s no point complaining on simple ideological grounds.

  1. From what I’ve seen, LEGO are doing quite a good job of being more progressive these days. The two most recent sets with cars that my kids built were both EVs. And from what I’ve seen on YouTube, next year’s product line includes more bike lanes, wheelchairs and even a baby 🙂

  2. While I am looking forward to the Takapuna town centre development, I really wish they weren’t keeping all those car parks. I mean, they built Toka Puia car park for a reason. Keeping those car parks in the town centre is just a waste of space and an eyesore. I am a strong believer in that Takapuna has so much potential to become an amazing metropolitan centre, as I see that through the apartment buildings and the Hurstmere redevelopment and the fact that the bus stations are right in the centre which is perfect IMO but the car parking situation in Takapuna irks me constantly. I work in Takapuna and I live close by so I ride my bike – I used to drive into work but I stopped because its so close that its stupid to drive. But I do get irked by carparking, eg the community feedback on the temporary street improvements down Northcroft and Huron, as the feedback was that removing car parks will kill the businesses… no it wont! And just like the car parks they’re keeping in the town square redevelopment – removing them is not going to kill business in Takapuna.

    1. Yes consolidating a lot of parking in that one spot opens up many possibilities. Now you don’t need parking spots anymore in front of every last home. Make some genuinely car free neighbourhoods.

      I thought there is a lot of apartments being built in Takapuna. If you can have car free areas you can also have apartments that don’t suck.

    2. I was just in takapuna on thursday after probably about a year since ive been there. The new street layout on hurstmere was fantastic. So many of the resturants were full i would love to see takapuna become a stronger metropolitan centre and getting rid of the ugly carpark between the bus station and hurstmere road is a great step forward. Hoping for a light rail connection in the future and removal of more carparks on the beachfront.

      1. The reallocation of those near beach car parks is a fantastic opportunity too. Could create all kinds of new spaces that let Takapuna turn to face the sea.

      2. LJ, Hurstmere Road has indeed been revitalised and having walked there many times recently it is amazing the number of people using the street furniture and just walking.
        I don’t think light rail to the town centre would add anything because Takapuna would be better served in terms of frequency by buses connecting with light rail at Akoranga and Smales.

    3. Sodapop, I completely endorse your sentiments, while going a little further. What an absurd comment, “The works will take over part of the Anzac St carpark, reducing it to *just* 125 parks.” There is about 210 currently so to loose 40% of them is hardly earth shattering stuff.

      Meanwhile the $30m Toka Puia car park appeared to have a maximum of 10 cars at any one time last Sunday -I walked past it four times. That car park costs 50 cents per hour while everywhere else is free – a triumph of stupidity over planning?

      Takapuna could be a truly great beach side suburb, particularly on the weekends, by making it a safer place by removing many vehicles. There are many beach suburbs. although I can’t think of any in NZ, where the predominant weekend access is by PT and the result is a safer environment mainly for the benefit of families.

    1. They said they’re going to announce the decision early in 2022. This is good news because if they’d cancelled it they’d be making the announcement next week and hope everyone forgets over the Xmas/NY break.

    1. That streetview shows a slip lane with no pedestrian crossing, a car approaching, and school kids waiting to cross. Peak Auckland right there.

    2. It was taken out to fit a bus lane in. Damn those buses, destroying our city like that! If you loom at the 1996 aerial the left turn island looked like that.

      1. I imagine there was property loss. There were also two lanes on the other side of the island. So, from three lanes to five.

        And as miffy meant to point out, those two extra lanes, including a separate right turn lane, didn’t need to be added, because the only important one, the short little wedge of a buslane, could have been provided through road reallocation instead. This would have been a constraint on vkt increase, and repeated all over Auckland, we’d be in far better shape – for safety, climate, and access.

        1. Except the island the Twit was Tweeting about was a left turn island that was put in after the other lanes were formed and then taken out to accommodate a bus lane. Yet his ideology prevented him from finding that out.

  3. Anyone know how efficient these new diesel ferries are?

    ¨will reduce carbon emissions by 75,000kg per year on the Devonport route alone¨

    What will the annual emissions of this new ferry be? Is 75 tonne a 1% saving or a 50% saving?

    1. Yes, Brian Roche is the same guy who said that Wellingtonians richly deserved Transmission Gully. This 19th century thinking that we are going to be able to speed everywhere in cars, as the emissions destroy our planet and the huge cost impacts on our wellbeing, is unhelpful.

  4. Not to get too crylaugh-emoji with it, but I do appreciate that LEGO set including yellow maintenance barricades blocking the bike lane. Also, it’s billed officially as a “multi-model” set, so close…

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