Kia ora – hope everyone’s safe and well this week!
Header image courtesy of twitter user @bobbythekiwi.
The week in Greater Auckland
- Monday’s post looked at the proposed Carrington development on the old Unitec land, asking if the plans are fit for purpose, especially when it comes to transport emissions
- On Tuesday, Heidi looked at recent coverage of Waka Kotahi’s cycling plans and investment, and asked whether Aotearoa could do with an Active Travel Commission like the UK has recently set up.
- Wednesday’s post dug into the Auckland Transport board meeting papers
- And yesterday, Matt assessed whether Waka Kotahi’s bike-ferry brainwave holds water (spoiler: nope!)
Remember to submit on Grey Lynn and Westmere cycling improvements!
Feedback closes on Sunday on the planned improvements through Grey Lynn and Westmere, which are set to start construction in the middle of this year. Our friends at Bike Auckland have a great overview post, with suggestions for design tweaks. Do take a moment to speak up in support. The overall design is really good, and as well as protected bike lanes, it includes lots of greenery and safe raised crossings. The whole of Auckland should be so lucky!
By rights, this project should have already been up and running for years, and setting the pace for neighbourhoods all over. You’ll recall it was ready to go waaaay back in the heady pre-pandemic days of 2016, then ground to a halt in the face of obstructive opposition, before getting a redesign and a second round of consultation in 2018.
Thankfully, the small but noisy criticism seems to have melted away (maybe something to do with these record climate-crisis summer temperatures?). Six long years have passed – but let’s hope the current generation of local schoolkids will get to enjoy a fun and safe low-carbon school run before too much longer.
CRL Mt Eden Station before and afters
Check out the transformation of CRL in three years – here are a few photos Matt took in March 2020, March 2021, and this week.
And follow this link to watch a driver’s-seat view of the Mt Eden station area on the CRL facebook page.
Getting a covid test without a car
Several of us at Greater Auckland spotted this article on The Spinoff about the challenges of getting a covid test across the motu if you don’t have a car. Those of us in central Auckland are among the lucky few who can walk or bike to a testing centre. For most of the rest of the city, and the country, access to a car is pretty much a requirement to accessing a test.
It seems the Covid response follows familiar patterns of perpetuating the need for a car in New Zealand. Because so many of us have cars, infrastructure is built to accommodate them – making it more essential to have a car. But this can’t work forever – there are only so many extra lanes you can clip on the Harbour Bridge.
Even when it is possible to walk to a testing centre, the long waits can mean pedestrians are stuck outside in the elements for hours on end.
Last week, carless Aucklander Alice Lee walked 40 minutes to her closest testing centre on Balmoral Road. She had to “zig-zag” through chaotically queued cars and found it difficult to decipher where the walk-in entrance was. People were yelling from cars to security guards positioned around the gates, who also appeared confused. When Lee was finally directed across the carpark to a hot tent, she was advised there was a four-hour wait, and that people had been there since 6am.
Friends of mine in Germany have described how small pop-up testing sites, where they can do supervised RAT tests, have appeared in their hundreds around cities there. Empty shop fronts, roadside kiosks and clothing stores are all the kinds of places that can host a testing booth.
Good news is, it sounds like RAT tests are going to become more accessible pretty soon.
These tests, which are self-administered and give results in 15 minutes, should be available for free from doctors, pharmacies, community testing centres or workplaces for those who need them. They are also expected to be available for a price in retail settings from March.
The cars are the problem at the Wellington protest
Stuff reporter Henry Cooke has picked up on what we pointed out in last week’s roundup. It’s the presence of the hundreds of illegally parked cars that’s caused so much of the disruption at the protest in Wellington the last couple of weeks.
If the protesters had all arrived in Wellington on a train and then walked to Parliament they would either be gone by now or be a tiny presence camped out on the lawn, without all the infrastructure and space that a bank of vehicles can provide. The streets would be clear and their attempts to police a boundary would likely come to naught. It is cars and trucks that have allowed them to establish huge communal kitchens, rows of toilets, and a giant device charging station, so that the dozens of protesters who desperately want to become media personalities can continue in their quest.
Cooke might be ready to join the World Bollard Association – he suggests installing retractable bollards on surrounding streets in case a another vehicle-based protest threatens the area. He’s absolutely right: a simple and unobtrusive intervention like that would make all the difference to a bunch of cars being able to take over public space or not.
You have a right to march on Parliament, no matter your cause. But you do not have a right to free parking.
Simplicity Kiwisaver to build 10,000 long-term rentals
Simplicity Kiwisaver Fund has bought the business and IP of development company NZ Living, Stuff reports. The owners of NZ Living decided to make the deal with the not-for-profit kiwisaver fund because they want to see more affordable, quality housing being built. Their business has developed innovative ways of building housing at density fast.
The project will provide long-term, affordable rentals, similar to models seen in Europe.
Stubbs said Simplicity Living homes would provide long-term, affordable rentals to families, and individuals.
“We want people to enjoy living in them. We don’t want them turning over every one or two years. That’s crazy. You just get a healthy relationship of trust over time. That’s what happens in the UK, Spain, Germany and France,” Stubbs said.
“The model doesn’t exist in New Zealand, but it does overseas. There’s not a single new idea here,” he said.
Get excited for cross-Manukau bike rides
The New Mangere Bridge is well above its piles now. It looks like it’s going to be a lovely piece of public space and walking and cycling infrastructure. The bridge will be completed this year.
The New Yorker melts the cars away
Well, predictably, we’re a fan of Janette Sadik-Khan, the former New York City transport commissioner who led iconic projects like the pedestrianisation of Times Square. And we loved this week’s New Yorker cover. We couldn’t not share the tweet!
Traffic evaporation can uncover the streets that have been there all along. As the crocuses and daffodils of spring emerge, may this season also bloom with space for people, starting at the curb. pic.twitter.com/2OjjuudDm0
— Janette Sadik-Khan (@JSadikKhan) February 22, 2022
Cycling makes teens happier and healthier
It’s always worth linking to the excellent Melissa and Chris Bruntlett, who are tireless campaigners for people on bikes. In this episode of the Places for Good podcast, they tell the story of the Netherlands’ transformation into a country that gets around by bike. And they talk about some of the consequences of that for young people:
Dutch teens cycle an astonishing 2,000km per year. They also rank among the healthiest and happiest—with the lowest rates of obesity and antidepressant usage—on Earth. This isn’t coincidence, but an outcome of a system that prioritizes humans over cars.
Study on children’s physical activity and active travel
Greater Auckland readers interested in the effect of urban design and infrastructure on young people might enjoy diving into this study, published in full online. Children in Auckland took part in the study, using paticipatory mapping techniques to describe their level of physical activity and access to active modes around the city.
Unsurprisingly, the study found that:
Density of cycling routes was consistently associated with higher levels of physical activity captured via moderate-to-vigorous physical activity (MVPA), prevalence of active travel, and total activity space exposure.
The metro that only runs 7 days per year
File this under: completely fascinating. I really recommend watching all 5 minutes of this video about the metro that’s sole purpose is to transport the thousands of pilgrims who make the annual Hajj to Mecca, just once a year.
This video perfectly captures that poetic moment you experience looking out from a moving train, as another train rolls past. A small window into strangers’ lives.
Accidentally perfect advertisement for trains pic.twitter.com/qC0kCEAd3k
— 21st Century City (@urbanthoughts11) February 20, 2022
Nice intersection, Ōtautahi
A Christchurch appreciation corner could end up being a regular roundup feature. They’re just getting it done down there: check out the video of this four-way, bike-friendly intersection!
Telling the story of transport transformation in Te Whanganui-a-Tara
This Wellington City Council Transport Projects website looks like a fantastic tool. It has heaps of information about progress on the city’s proposed cycling network. The site is organised in a digestible and accessible way.
I really like the way projects are broken down by area, so people can go and have a good look at how the parts of the city they spend time in are going to change. Projects of all scales are included, from major bike lanes right down to small but important things like kerb buildouts and pedestrian crossings.
On the tiles
The texture of cities never ceases to amaze. In London, archaeologists from the Museum of London Archaeology are currently dusting off a near-perfect Roman tile floor uncovered during a development dig in Southwark. Reckon any of our dining-room floors will still be amazing people two millennia hence?
Meanwhile back home, there’s a whole new reason to venture north to Whāngarei, with the official opening of the Hundertwasser Art Centre. As well as embodying and celebrating the famously textured work of Friedrich Hundertwasser himself, the building is also home to the the first dedicated public Māori art gallery in Aotearoa New Zealand, with exhibitions to be curated by Nigel Borrell (who did the amazing Toi Tū Toi Ora exhibit at the Auckland Art Gallery last year).
Check out this great Twitter thread of photos by a visitor at the opening weekend, including these rad public transport posters shown below. Dare we hope the gift shop will sell prints of these beauties?
Posters by artist Friedrich Hundertwasser celebrating public transport. (Photo: Fred Smithers via Twitter)
Out and about in Tāmaki this weekend
After you’ve submitted on the Grey Lynn and Westmere cycling improvements, here are a few ideas for getting out in the summer sunshine this weekend, a couple of low-transmission ways to enjoy the city. Please pipe up with more suggestions in the comments!
Spotted at Silo Park
There are already some great playgrounds in Silo Park. On a bike ride down there last week I noticed some fun new spaces. The latest addition to the public space, behind the gantry, features cool yellow pipe-like play structures, some of which become playable water features when you turn the right handle. Just behind that, a big area of the tank farm has been asphalted and opened to the public. There are baskteball hoops, football nets, and a big area for zooming about on bikes, scooters, rollerskates and skateboards.
Or how about a stroll in the gardens?
I had no idea that just 40 years ago, the Botanic Gardens were paddocks and farmland. Maybe this is the weekend for wandering around and enjoying the plants?
It is 40 years since Auckland Botanic Gardens opened to the public, on 23 February 1982. What had been a farm in the south of the city had begun its transformation into a rich and beautifully planted botanic gardens.https://t.co/iGXTlchmMm pic.twitter.com/RtJBh40ijh
— AklBotanicGrdns (@AklBotanicGrdns) February 22, 2022
And if you’re a fan of swimming, we have lovely afternoon high tides this weekend: 16:04 on Saturday, and 17:11 on Sunday.
Thanks for reading, and have a lovely weekend!