Tēnā koutou, and welcome to your weekly collection of interesting stories from the transport and urbanism world.
The week in Greater Auckland
- On Monday, Scott slated Council’s “characteristically timid” response to the latest housing bill, when it comes to putting housing where shops and services and attractions already are.
- On Tuesday, in response to another needless death on our roads, we asked: Where do we put our fury and our grief? His name was Levi, and his family are devastated.
- On Wednesday, Matt covered another systemic cost with human implications: the rising price of fuel, fuelled by a bloody war – and asked what’s being done to give people better alternatives.
- On Thursday, Matt wrote about proposed changes to the Rosedale Bus Station, and connected North Shore bus routes.
Ride of respect for Levi James this weekend
Bike Auckland has organised a ride in honour of Levi James, the 19-year-old who was killed last weekend while riding his bike on Manukau Road. If you’d like to join the ride, meet in Cornwall Park near Hadyn Ave at 11am this Saturday.
Bike Auckland invites Auckland’s wider community to join us in a ride of respect for Levi James. pic.twitter.com/7FGmS6CJZy
— Bike Auckland (@BikeAKL) March 9, 2022
Student project investigating barriers to low-carbon travel
20-year old twin sisters Breanna and Alyssa Greaney spent their summer researching barriers to active modes in their hometown, Oamaru. Their research found that safety was the biggest barrier for walking and cycling, and many young people drove, or were driven, to school – distances often 3km or less.
Using Ministry of Education data, Breanna and Alyssa found each year, 24,953kg of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e) — the equivalent of flying from Christchurch to Wellington and back 164 times — was emitted by people who drove their children to school when they lived within 3km of it.
‘‘Another interesting result was that even if parents lived less than 1km away from school, they still drove their children to school. This is because they perceived the car-dominated environment as unsafe,’’ Breanna said.
We know this pattern exists all over the country, in cities, small towns and rural areas. School trips are a big cause of short avoidable car trips – and the solutions are usually straightforward.
Tamariki on bikes in Hawkes Bay
This is super cool: a local cycle safety group is training kaiako at Irongate School in Hawkes Bay to spread bike skills amongst the students. By bike, tamariki and teachers can more easily get around – more kids can get to their local marae if they go by bike, and the school doesn’t have to organise a bus for other nearby trips. Irongate School looks like a perfect candidate for some safe-around-schools cycling infrastructure.
Ihumātao community welcomes the independence a new bus service will bring
Public transport will soon be coming to the whenua at Ihumātao, The Spinoff reports. Although Ihumātao residents are nervous that their road will once again become a shortcut for drivers heading to the airport, they are welcoming the news of a new bus service, noting that it will bring freedom, independence, and a cheaper way to get around for many of their hāpori.
“Are we happy? Of course. Public transport offers independence to our people, relieves pressures from families sharing one vehicle, gives some independence for our elderly and, probably more importantly, opens up access to new educational and career pathways for the next generation.”
Puhoi to Mangawhai coastal trail
Bike Auckland writes about a planned new walking and cycling trail network that will eventually stretch 117 kilometers, connecting Puhoi to Mangawhai. The project is being steered by the Matakana Coast Trail Trust, a group of local volunteers. Founding chair Allison Roe wants to get people out of cars and onto their bikes:
“I’m passionate about the benefits of cycling and how well-planned trails connect communities and have a truly measurable impact on our health, road safety, local economies, and the great Aotearoa New Zealand environment. Getting people out of cars has got to be good for them and the planet,” says Roe.
The project will cost just $50m, and some funding could come from Auckland Council’s Climate Action Targeted Rate. A network of bike-able trails will be a fantastic asset for people in the growing communities of Matakana, Warkworth, Snells Beach, and north to Mangawhai.
Lake Dunstan trail exceeds all expectations
On the subject of epic bike trails: Stuff reports that the new Lake Dunstan Trail had nearly ten times more visitors than was expected in its first year.
The original business case believed around 7000 to 7500 people would use the trail in the first year. However, the actual figure is eclipsing those estimates, with 62,560 people using the track since it opened in May – just under ten months ago.
New Zealanders love a recreational ride. And recreational rides are good for local communities, too.
Jeffery said the trail has had a significant impact on the region, and is helping to support business. “You can see the impact of what’s happening around Cromwell and Clyde…it’s crazy busy some days.”
Re-connecting Aotearoa by train
One News dove into the story of our lapsed passenger rail network, with an appearances by writer of ‘Can’t Get Here from There’, Dr. Andre Brett, and Dr. Paul Callister from Save Our Trains, who we linked to in last week’s roundup. The article looks at how connected New Zealand once was by rail, and why that network has all but disappeared in the last few decades, before arriving at the solutions passenger trains could provide to our transport emissions problem.
Emeritus professor of sustainability at Massey University Ralph Sims, who has been a lead author on transport for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, says rail has a lot to offer.
“It could take hundreds of cars off the road and that’s the key thing because roads are getting more congested, but every car is producing a lot of carbon dioxide, around 50 kilograms for a 300 kilometre journey, just in that time, whereas a train would be a fifth of that,” he said.
Remembering the Rotorua Express
This seems the right place to share an image of the Rotorua Express leaving Auckland in 1909. The two buildings to the left of the train are still there, facing onto Takutai Square.
People-powered parklets coming to Pōneke
People in Wellington can now apply for a free parklet permit! The initiative allows for ‘mini parks or outdoor eating spaces’ to be constructed in carparking spaces as part of the city’s pandemic response plan. The information page lists benefits of parklets, including:
good for businesses because they bring more life to the street
slow traffic and make the street safer
provide more outdoor space for businesses and their customers to safely spend time during the Covid-19 pandemic.
We think this is awesome. Anyone can make an application; they just have to provide a simple set of design drawings to council for approval. Parklet spaces will be free until March 2023. Can’t wait to see some cool parklets pop up in Pōneke!
(Welly is also home to roving lunchtime pop-ups by the tactical cargo-bike crew Picnics in Parks, in a new parking spot every Friday from 11-12.30. This week, they’ll be setting up in Kate Sheppard Place, and will no doubt be celebrating the green light for Paneke Pōneke, Wellington’s ambitious bike plan!)
But can they get across the road??
Meanwhile, there is a ridiculous stoush brewing in Wellington over the construction of a single pedestrian crossing at Evans Bay, across four lanes of traffic that head to/from the airport. It could be heading in the direction of Wellington Airport taking its 1/3 shareholder, Wellington Council, to court. Georgina Campbell writes about the saga in The Herald.
The week in flooding makes it to Sydney
After last week’s storms battered Queensland, the rain rolled south, creating dramatic scenes of waterfalls off bridges and flooded streets in the wider Sydney area. These images of cars floating in floodwater on a bridge are terrifying.
Roseville Bridge earlier. pic.twitter.com/bE4Cj7bxQV
— Tanya Selak (@GongGasGirl) March 8, 2022
And this footage is like a metaphor for climate change: slowly, and then suddenly, all at once.
US Safety ratings updated to consider people outside of the vehicle
After several years in which the death toll of pedestrians and cyclists has increased on United States roads, America’s New Car Assessment Program is being updated to take into account the safety of people outside of the car, too. This follows in the footsteps of the European system:
The European Union’s version of the NCAP is different and obviously better. Vehicles receive a five-star review only if they can demonstrate an ability to come to a complete halt — or at least slow down — before colliding with a pedestrian or cyclist.
Maybe the new rules will help slow the growth of SUVs, which are much more dangerous to pedestrians and cyclists than smaller cars.
The correlation between vehicle design and pedestrian deaths is pretty clear. The most popular types of vehicles, SUVs and pickup trucks, are typically the most dangerous. While people driving SUVs are slightly safer, the number of pedestrians killed by those drivers has skyrocketed by 81 percent in the last decade, according to a report released a few years ago by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.
The cost of sprawl vs. the value of intensification
A great new video by Not Just Bikes dropped this week. It tells the story of how suburbia (or what we might call “sprawl”) is subsidised by the more productive parts of the city.
It features some very sexy 3-D visualisations showing the cost of a given spot (infrastructure, mainly) versus the revenue it produces. Long story short: classic walkable-bikeable traditional mixed-use neighbourhoods are the most valuable. They not only pay for themselves many times over, they support sprawl.
Best of all: Auckland gets a walk-on, at around eight minutes in. Are we ready for our close-up?
How to get around when the cost of petrol goes north
How about this ‘transit’ stuff??
Me when gas prices are low vs Me when gas prices are high pic.twitter.com/bFwCft4e89
— Darrell Owens (@IDoTheThinking) March 7, 2022
Certainly not the only happy cyclist!
Yes, we do know how to win the ultimate boss battle
When Elon Musk tweeted that ‘even the most powerful humans in the world cannot defeat traffic’, well, the two-wheelers of twitter were ready and waiting…
— Lava Sunder (@LavanyaSunder) March 6, 2022
“Defeating traffic is the ultimate boss battle. Even the most powerful humans in the world cannot defeat traffic.”
— Queen Anne Greenways (@QAGreenways) March 8, 2022
Imagining better futures
Some of you may enjoy reading this essay from Noēma Magazine in the weekend. A criticism of aspects of the IPCC report’s imagined futures, it’s an expansive essay about how to describe the possible worlds ahead of us, and what gets lost when the scenarios presented are ‘merely different flavors of extractive capitalism’. What follows is a fascinating history of the technique of ‘scenario planning’, and an argument for wilder, more creative predictions.
The cinematic grotesque of black comedies was at the very heart of the scenario-planning technique. Play, fun and comedy were essential elements in imagining different worlds. Kahn “masked his stories in the bloodless dialect of probabilistic risk assessment, but they were stories nonetheless,” as the historian Sharon Ghamari-Tabrizi writes in a biography of him.
The week in bollards
As the streets of the capital returned to normal (what a clean-up!), the question of how to keep streets free of vehicular intrusion was top of mind. This article in Stuff delves into the issue of “smart” bollards – retractable electronic sentries, to activate as needed – with Isabella Cawthorn, convenor of TalkWelly, neatly summing up the potential:
“The bollard is our friend. They can enhance the streetscape for people, while also ensuring no-one can weaponise a vehicle.”
Remember the Safer Speeds (Tranche 3) consultation is live until 3 April – you can drop pins on the map to support survivable speeds on streets around the city, and/or suggest other streets that need them.
And our friends at Generation Zero along with 350.org have put together a quick guide to submitting on Auckland Council’s Climate Action Targeted Rate, which you can check out here. That consultation closes on 28 March.
Kia pai, kia haumaru tō wikini. Hope you have a happy and safe weekend.
In 1973 the Netherlands was hit by an OPEC oil boycott. To save gas, the country introduced car-free Sundays. People took to their #bicycles and they never looked back.
Today, more #cycling means we don’t need to buy Russian oil and gas. #StandWithUkraine️ pic.twitter.com/OaAGSNjdqL
— Henk Swarttouw (@copenhenken) March 4, 2022