Nearly the end of January but it’s definitely still summer. We hope our readers have slipped in a few cheeky middle-of-the-work-day swims this week.
*** Disclaimer in case an announcement about a certain rapid transit project happens to come out on Friday: this post was written Thursday evening and is therefore unable to comment!
Cover image – a cycle lane in Manila, Philippines. Source: Inquirer.
The week in Greater Auckland
- Monday’s post was a guest post by David Slack, republished with permission from his newsletter, about why cars are not our future.
- On Tuesday, Heidi followed up last week’s post (Turning the Waka Around) with a dive into safety rhetoric and action at Waka Kotahi.
- In Wednesday’s post, Matt outlined what he and Greater Auckland will be looking out for in any forthcoming light rail announcements.
- Yesterday, the office of the Minister for Transport kindly gave us permission to republish an op-ed by the minister about road safety, which was originally published behind a paywall on The Herald.
The lane is liberated again (briefly)
Did any GA readers take part in the Auckland Marathon in the weekend? Incredible timing, by the way. Social media was alive with top-of-the bridge photos and videos on a truly spectacular Tāmaki day.
The Auckland Marathon is good evidence that actually there are ways to open a portion of the bridge for walkers, runners, cyclists, scooters and other non-car wheel-ers.
— Francisco Blaha (@BlahaFrancisco) January 22, 2022
Twitter user Nicholas Lee connected the dots between the announcement of the Omicron community outbreak and the marathon (as well as the ongoing ferry staffing issues).
Given the shift to Red and likely impact on ferries and public transport. I think it is a good case for an emergency allocation of a lane to active modes.
Efeso Collins is running for Mayor of Auckland
The Manukau Ward Councillor used The Spinoff to announce his intention to run for Mayor of Auckland in this year’s local body elections. We’ve highlighted Collins’ focus on transport and urban issues here in the past, and are looking forward to hearing more about his aspirations for the city. He points directly to these questions in the article:
Public transport, urban spaces, housing – all are priorities Collins points to, with climate change arching across all of it. Collins questions whether Auckland Transport bosses fully grasp commuters’ realities. He says he’d like to see a bigger focus on decentralised hubs. And he’d like public transport to be fare-free.
Progress on the Karangahape Road station
Here’s some really incredible footage of the Karangahape Road Station build, from 25+ metres under Mercury Lane. I was kind of blown away by the plastic tube conveyor belt thingy that carries all the excavated material out of the station, (minute 1:28). Hang in there until 2:20 and you’ll see a render of what will be the longest escalator in New Zealand!
Good ideas corner: solving potential truck driver shortages
We’ve all heard the stories of Omicron-induced absenteeism and subsequent breakdown of public services from overseas. Could rail freight be stepped up to make the domestic shipping supply chain more resilient?
If there’s about to be a truck driver shortage let me introduce this govt to something that can replace 30 truck drivers with just 1! pic.twitter.com/WxwW26cvdf
— Ethan Scavo (@ilovetheeconomy) January 25, 2022
‘The Week in Flooding’ is here to stay. How will infrastructure planning respond?
It’s probably been kinda nice to have a break from the semi-regular and rather depressing roundup feature ‘The Week in Flooding’. We’ll make up for that this week by sharing this essay, published on Medium, about how dramatically the incidence of extreme weather events, particularly flooding, is increasing, and what that means for the planning and design of big infrastructure projects.
Underground rail systems — whether light, heavy, urban, high-speed, or conventional — are particularly vulnerable to flooding. I’ve seen them flooded or near-flooded in the US, China, and Europe. This is an area where we need much better mitigation going forward, or the costs and disruptions will be prohibitive, with people being unable to get around in some of the most densely populated and economically most important areas of the planet, as happened when Hurricane Sandy struck New York City in 2012 and corrosive salt water flooded subway stations and tunnels from floor to ceiling, literally halting the city in its tracks and causing damages of billions of dollars.
Sydney’s (pandemic) summer streets
Sydney has a ‘community recovery plan’ all about giving streets back to people. A series of one-day Summer Streets events are being held across the city in which different neighbourhood high streets are closed to cars, to create little local street festivals.
Our aim is to celebrate local neighbourhoods and come together. For local businesses, it’s an opportunity to deliver in-store activations to help drive customers and patrons into their venues, and potentially extend trading onto footpaths and outdoor settings, subject to outdoor space approval by the City of Sydney.
It looks like plenty of people have been out enjoying the opportunity to enjoy summer in their community, locally, and safely outdoors. Here’s a buzzing Darlinghurst Road, in Kings Cross:
England’s first walking and cycling commissioner
Forbes reports that Chris Boardman will be England’s new walking and cycling commissioner, an exciting – and powerful – new role. The position will help to revive a national government agency focused on active travel, that apportions a 2.7b pound cycling budget. Boardman is a former Olympic cycling champion, and his previous position was as Greater Manchester’s first transport commissioner.
In a statement, Boardman said: “The positive effects of high levels of cycling and walking are clearly visible in pockets around the country where people have been given easy and safe alternatives to driving.”
He added: “The time has come to enable the whole nation to travel easily and safely around their neighbourhoods without feeling compelled to rely on cars.
The Philippines knows how to build cycling infrastructure fast and at scale
We were thrilled to stumble across this cool little story this week. The Philippines has build over 500km of bike lanes in a year, using simple, quick techniques to reallocate existing road space. The proliferation of bike lanes was a direct reponse to the covid-19 pandemic, which forced the shutdown of public transport systems. Commuters turned instead to their bicycles to get around.
[…] scores of commuters who used to rely mostly on public transport turned to cycling as a result of the pandemic. And many stuck to their bike even after mass services resumed. With more and more cyclists converging on main roads, it was necessary for the national government to think about solutions for accommodating the growing number of bikes and ensuring all road users can get around safely.
The cycling network construction was backed by philanthropic funding, and pulled in technical expertise from all over the world to ensure that designs followed best practice safety guidelines.
Within 9 months, the Philippines was able to create almost 500 kilometers of bike lanes along national roads. This multi-sectoral effort went a long way in raising the profile of cycling as a reliable and sustainable form of transport. Importantly, it also empowered and inspired local governments and communities to add on to the new network by building their own bike lanes.
Barcelona’s Bicibus makes it to San Francisco
Everyone’s talking about the Bicibus, a Barcelona concept that’s made its way to San Francisco. A Bicibus, or bike bus, is a bit like a school bus – but everyone’s on bikes. Taking a safe route through town, the bicibus picks up school students along the way, and the group rides to school in a multi-wheeled convoy, together.
in the context of the pandemic, the Bicibus embodies our desire to come together, to feed off one another, to enjoy one another’s company, to revel in the energy of our collective power. Anyone who has participated in a group bike ride or Critical Mass event knows that when people on bicycles get together we become something greater than the sum of our parts.
The Barcelona version started with five families, and grew to hundreds of kids on bikes. The San Francisco bike bus used a road opened to people during the pandemic as its safe route to school.
“There were almost 30 people in the bus, and I think the next one will be double or triple,” said Belden, whose 13-year-old son joined the bus. “It’s so positive and fun for everyone. There were two kids who joined the ride, friends of my son, whose parents had meetings, and they were allowed to ride along. They hadn’t ridden their bike to school before, but because it was a bus, they felt safe doing it.”
Meanwhile, our local version, the Pt Chev Bike Train, will soon be rolling into its fourth year trundling kids to school and training them up in confidence and capability, and we hear Bayswater Primary has a bike train chugging along too. Both burbs – like many others – are still waiting on a single properly bike-friendly street, while parents and kids are out there proving the demand. Wouldn’t it be great if this was the year Auckland started to see ‘kidical mass’ for active travel to school?
Gentle density for Seattle
Many American cities are seeing the same housing supply and affordabilty problems we are here in Tāmaki Makaurau. This article published at the Sightline Institute details architect Matt Hutchins’ design for a simple, adaptable apartment block that could be applied in Seattle’s suburbs to gently densify the city.
Key moves in the design of ‘The Seattle Six’ are the sacrificing side and front yard setback depth to provide an efficient apartment building footprint with generous backyard space. Suddenly, six families have a home where just one or two did before.
Having a small apartment building that can plug in anywhere, starting in areas the city characterizes as having “low displacement risk” (i.e., most residents have the means to stay in their homes or find other housing nearby), would reduce the pressure on housing in other, less expensive areas. In a city like Seattle that’s adding lots of jobs, building lots of homes is essential—and the Six is a template for every neighborhood to do its part.
Street design and why American roads are so lethal
This is a an excellent and concise explainer relevant to the emphasis we’ve had on safety this week. America has one of the worst road-fatality rates in the world, but there are lots of practical design changes that can make dangerous roads safer.
Kids designing streets in Calgary
This project has echoes of some of the Innovating Streets projects here that got kids involved in reimagining the streets outside their schools. Schoolchildren in Calgary, Canada, came up with playful transformations to make their streets safer and more fun.
Displaying some initiative
This is so nifty: a clever Redditor has built a DIY live display of where AT’s trains are at.
Hey all, Just wanted to share my latest project. It’s a map of the AT Auckland train network with LEDs that show the position of all trains on the network in real time. It is driven by raspberrypi zero and neopixel leds. I’ve completed the main “guts” of it and coding. Now just to create a metal frame and mount it to a wall.
Can we have one of these at every station and/or by our front door, please? (Although, as one wag in the comments notes: “Must’ve been easy to make accurate over Christmas/New Year – just unplug it.”)
A good point…
Travelling vertically in San Sebastian
Let’s finish with a break from the bikes, the trains, the unsafe roads, and the density. In some places, maybe it just makes sense to stick escalators everywhere.
Kia pai tōu wikini roa – have a great long weekend (if you’re in Auckland or Northland), and see you next week.