How’s that humidity? Tired of talking about it yet? Well, our brains are a little fried. Thankfully it was another short week.
The week in Greater Auckland
- On Tuesday, I wrote about the potential for street transformation as a response to the looming Omicron outbreak, and the bigger picture of street reallocation.
- In Wednesday’s post, Matt looked at how local bridges could create good walking and cycling connections, and reduce short car trips, and readers responded with some great suggestions of their own.
- Yesterday, we republished a gentle piece of ALR satire that followers of GA on Twitter enjoyed recently…
Greater Auckland in the media
On the topic of light rail… if you’re hungry for discussion and debate (we’re sure we’ll publish more analysis soon, we’ve just been letting the information sink in), check out this episode of the The Detail on RNZ all about light rail in which Matt features, and this interview with Matt on The Spinoff.
Grey Lynn and Westmere cycleways are out for consultation (again)
Auckland Transport is delivering walking, cycling and bus improvements along two routes within Grey Lynn and Westmere. The improvements include 5.6km of protected cycleways, new pedestrian crossings, bus stops and raised speed tables at intersections. These changes make it safer and easier to move around the area however people chose to travel.
We’re really excited to see this project move forward, and it’s a good design. But it looks pretty similar to the design proposed back in 2018. We’re not sure why it needs to be consulted on again. Based on the Social Pinpoint, the changes seem pretty minor (‘where possible, paired walking and cycling crossings have been added at mid-block points along the route’), and are in response to public feedback as well as updated legislation.
The first design was released in 2016. There are kids who started school at Westmere Primary when the project was first announced, who will leave the school before the construction of their safe cycling route is even begun.
Six years is a lifetime for some of us.
How about just getting on with the construction? In a climate emergency, shouldn’t we be moving fast with projects that can reduce car trips, and therefore emissions?
In any case, we’ve got until February 27th to provide feedback; let’s tell AT to get moving!
Pandemic streateries are coming to Auckland!
Yes, they really are. Nearly two years since many other places around the world started supporting pandemic-struck hospitality industries by allowing them to spread al fresco, Our Auckland reports that –
The council has fast-tracked applications for food-only outdoor dining, provided a temporary waiver of outdoor dining fees and worked with city centre business associations to enhance their members’ outdoor dining capacity.
An outdoor dining grant scheme has, to date, supported more than 30 businesses to add new or enhance their outdoor dining spaces with new outdoor equipment – street furniture, shade umbrellas, outdoor heaters and planters.
Life’s getting good for people on bikes in Ōtautahi
Christchurch has been steadily building a cycling network that seems to be taking advantage of the city’s wide streets, gridded network, and mostly flat topography. A few cool items floated through our news feeds this week about life on a bike in Christchurch.
The network is enabling more cycling
This letter to the editor explains how the writer has found their cycle commute getting better and better as the network improves. Sue Bidrose really gets it.
“I will commute by bike more often now – and that is one less car in your commuter rush”
Ōtautahi leads the ‘most improved’ list
Lennart Nout is a dutch cycling infrastructure designer who lived here in Aotearoa for a few years. On a recent trip back, he was able to check out the state of cycling across the country, and rank cities in terms of the progress they’ve made. Christchurch came out on top!
Number 1: Christchurch. Actual decent cycleways. Definitely taking cycling seriously in many places. The bike would be a useful mode of transport in day to day life. Still lots of on-road stuff on 60km/h roads, but also usable bicycle streets and decent traffic calming. 5/6 pic.twitter.com/9KC4SVN8F3
— Lennart Nout (@lennartnout) February 6, 2022
A questionable pun about an awesome bike-friendly feature
Do we have any of these automatic crossings in Auckland? Bikes are clocked as they approach the crossing, and by the time you reach it, the light’s gone green.
The fool’s gold of self-driving cars
If you have any interest in the future of cars, we highly recommend this in-depth analysis at The Washington Post about the current techy buzz around self-driving cars, or autonomous vehicles (AVs). We’re extremely skeptical, and so is the author of this piece. Would AVs solve any real problems, or just exacerbate existing ones while creating new, ethically complicated knots for regulating bodies to untangle?
The article draws parallels with the introduction of the automobile to the world’s streets a century ago.
Like cars, autonomous vehicles were born not from public need but from technological opportunity. Phil Koopman, an engineering professor at Carnegie Mellon University who has worked on autonomous technology for more than 25 years, saw classmates developing prototypes that lumbered through Carnegie Mellon’s campus when he was a doctoral student in the late 1980s. “They weren’t solving a societal problem,” he says. “They were solving the ‘It would be cool if we could get cars to drive themselves’ problem.”
The argument for AVs is often that they’ll make streets safer – but this is based on flawed understanding of the role of human error in car crashes. Human error has a role, but so does things like infrastructure design and maintenance, vehicle condition, and cars’ blind spots.
If road safety is the goal, there are already plenty of available technologies that automakers could invest in, rather than leapfrogging to fully autonomous vehicles.
Furthermore, there’s clear evidence that AVs won’t solve congestion, or any of the other problems that cars cause in towns and cities.
To understand why, consider an experiment in Northern California a few years ago, in which 13 people were given a chauffeur to take them anywhere they wanted for a week, effectively replicating the experience of having their own autonomous vehicle. Freed from the hassles of driving, test subjects traveled a whopping 83 percent more miles than when they had to drive themselves.
Let’s not get sucked in by this one.
Minneapolis swaps parking lots for bus passes
File this under good ideas corner: in Minneapolis, a new apartment building provided all its residents with an annual all-you-can-eat transit pass instead of a carpark.
Randi Myhre participated the Residential Pass program during a six-month trial in 2019, and said she is thrilled it will be coming back this fall.
“It’s a wonderful perk,” said Myhre, who lives in Oaks Station Place, an apartment building adjacent to the Blue Line’s 46th Street station in south Minneapolis. “It’s a top amenity,” she said, ranking it higher on her list of priorities than having access to the building’s fitness center, party lounge and theater room.
Because the city of Minneapolis has removed parking mandates entirely, the developers of the apartment building saved about $27,000 per apartment by not building carparks, and used that to provide the transit passes.
Vancouver’s big rapid transit investment
Vancouver’s just released an ambitious new plan to quadruple the size of its rapid transit network, adding 300kms of new lines by 2050. The rapid transit improvements are complemented by a suite of other projects that will help reduce transport emissions in Vancouver.
The strategy – which has been approved by the Mayors’ Council on Regional Transportation and TransLink’s board of directors – outlines over 100 actions to make transit more affordable, reliable and environmentally sustainable.
In addition to the 300 kilometres of rapid transit lines which will consist of bus, light rail, subway, or SkyTrain routes, the authority will build an 850-kilometre segregated bikeway network and promote the use of electric and shared vehicles.
Also, how cool is this retro-futuristic style artists’ impression? More of these, please!
And here’s a fun video of the vision for Vancouver’s future network. This is how you tell a story that builds public buy-in, how you get everyone paddling in the same waka.
Access to the city is a gender equality issue
An article on The Conversation summarises the results of a global study that looked at the relationship between gender and how we get around the city. The results are interesting and highlight the importance of considering access and transport through many different lenses – and challenging our biases towards thinking of the active, able-bodied commuter.
In many cities men tend to have greater access to private cars than women. They also commute further in the city.
By contrast, constraints such as childcare and household tasks, fall disproportionately on women. In some cities this means they are confined at home. In others, and despite perceptions of relative vulnerability and safety, women tend to rely on public transport more than men.
Cycling was the mode that varied the most in all of the sample cities. In some, many fewer women used bikes to get around than men did. However, in cities with good, safe cycling infrastructure, they found that there are actually more women than men riding bikes.
A different kind of park
Another example of looking at the places we inhabit with a new lens: this Swedish park was designed in collaboration with local girls, who were asked what they’d like to do and use in their park. The result is something really interesting and different, with spaces for spontaneous and unstructured play.
The focus group, in contrast, emphasized the importance of creating a safe and vibrant space for everyone, where friends, siblings, parents and relatives could spend time together.
The cure for traffic jam blues?
Life with a cargo bike
I love the joy of this great twitter thread, about life with a cargo bike for one dad-of-two-from-suburbia. Click through for a plethora of practical insights. This was one of my favourites:
Oh. Can confirm that the bike is more than capable of transporting a 92 year old grandparent pic.twitter.com/Zb4buiWJeo
— Edward Lamb (@edwardlamb) February 3, 2022
Tāmaki transport pasts
Finally, we’ll leave you with a few curiosities marking milestones from Auckland’s transport past. A good reminder than transformation can happen.
The Automobile Association map of the Auckland isthmus, with tramlines in red, before central motorway and development of Mt Roskill. pic.twitter.com/3h7yipqng8
— Meredith (@meredith_mix) February 5, 2022
Enjoy your weekend! Looks like it’s gonna be… hot and humid.