Kia ora! Hope everyone survived the deluge that we started the week with. That, and lots more to think about in our roundup this week.
The week in Greater Auckland
- Monday’s post was a guest post from the Mayor’s office explaining how the Climate Action Targeted Rate will be used to improve buses, walking and cycling.
- On Tuesday, Matt looked at changes to road user and regulatory fees, and whether trucks are paying their fair share.
- In Wednesday’s post, Matt walked us through the International Energy Agency’s 10-point plan for reducing oil use.
- Yesterday, Jolisa asked for the change agent we deserve to take on the AT CEO role, and covered the recent Metro article which explains so many of the reasons AT needs transformational leadership.
Safety watch: 20
It’s been 20 days since Levi James was killed in Royal Oak, and Auckland Transport are yet to remove any carparks.
Submit on the Climate Action Targeted Rate by Monday!
You have until this Monday the 28th of March to submit on the CATR, as part of the Council’s consultation on the whole budget. Head over to Auckland Council’s have your say website to submit. The first question is the one relating to the CATR; you don’t have to answer any of the others.
Here’s the post we wrote about the CATR and Phil Goff’s climate package when it was first announced. Here’s a handy submission guide put together by 350.org and Generation Zero, and another by the NZ Climate and Health Council, Ora Taiao, which is worth reading because they’ve laid out the health benefits of the package, complete with useful references.
Chlöe Swarbrick on public transport and equity
Head over to the New Zealand Herald to read Auckland Central MP Chlöe Swarbrick’s column on our inequitable transport system and how we got here. Its good – so good, it was hard to choose which bit to quote. Chlöe understands the history, the political decisions that led to our car dependence, and the fact that real freedom doesn’t need to involve a car.
Freedom to get around easily would’ve been a right to all with a transit card – not requiring a 16th birthday, multiple tests, a licence, ongoing fees and purchase of or access to an 1800kg hunk of metal.
She points out that here in Aotearoa, we have older cars, and more cars, than just about anywhere else in the world:
UK Car Insurance service Confused.com recently crunched figures and found that of all countries across the world, Aotearoa New Zealand has the highest proportion of cars per capita: 0.7 cars for each person in the country. Our cars are also the fourth oldest (and therefore least efficient), just behind the Czech Republic, Romania and Argentina.
Freedom to get around with a disability
Building on the theme of access, we’ve just come across this excellent series on Stuff in which journalist Josephine Franks talks to disabled Aucklanders about their experiences on the public transport network.
Abigail Knight, who has Down Syndrome and vision problems, loves the freedom public transport gives her – despite its challenges.
On occasion, Abigail Knight would discover halfway through her journey that a bus stop had moved. She’s not confident using the Auckland Transport app, so she would have to rely on asking people for directions. “That was quite challenging,” her mother says.
The brothers were keen bike riders, and with “maps inside their brains”.
“They can work out how to get anywhere.
“Joel will bike all the way to New Brighton for an icecream. It’s quite amazing, how far he will go.” He hoped to soon bike the Otago Rail Trail.
Auckland’s week in flooding
You were there, you saw it, heard it, and possibly even waded through it. Auckland had its second wettest hour on record on Monday, and there were dramatic scenes all over the city of floodwater streaming through streets, parks and homes.
When it’s supposed to flood
As a palate cleanser from the dramatic flood footage, we really enjoyed this piece by Julie Fairey, Chair of the Puketāpapa Local Board (as well as being wife of the Minister for Transport, and noted public transport enthusiast), on the Spinoff, about stormwater infrastructure doing its job at Te Auaunga/Oakley Creek.
I call it “secret” stormwater infrastructure because it doesn’t come with a sign on the side saying “Hey I’m stormwater infrastructure, I do my stuff when it rains!” Most of the time it just looks like something else – a park, a sports field, a garden, a culvert, a kerb and channel on the side of a road.
If you’re interested in water-sensitive urban design, check out this twitter thread by Ed Clayton on integrating ‘blue space’ into our cities.
This reminded us of the ‘climate resilient neighbourhood’ of Osterbro in Copenhagen, Denmark. The low-lying area of Copenhagen suffered catastrophic flooding in 2011 from a similar cloudburst to the one that hit Auckland. After the event, the streets in the centre of the area were re-designed with green infrastructure to manage flooding in a more sustainable way.
And in case you missed it – it was 40 degrees warmer than normal in Antarctica last week. Wild floods like the one we saw this week will only become more common.
What do people really do when petrol prices go up?
Here’s a really interesting and informative interview by Jack Tame on Q+A, with economist Rosie Collins, about the way the price of petrol affects choices made by drivers. Collins points out that cutting fuel taxes isn’t a very targeted solution to the cost of living, and different groups respond in different ways:
Low income groups tend to treat transport like a luxury good, and will cut down on travel when costs go up. But wealthier groups don’t tend to respond to the price. They just wear the cost, so their behaviour is harder to change with a price lever. For low income groups, when prices go high, you need to look at equity so they can still get around when prices are increasing.
She also notes that to reduce our transport emissions, we need a number of different incentives and disincentives – as well as increasing public transport, cycling and walking networks, driving needs to be made more difficult through things like parking pricing and management.
— Q+A (@NZQandA) March 20, 2022
Ebikes go mainstream
It wasn’t that long ago that ebikes seemed like a weird gimmick, or something for retirees to trundle around on while ‘real’ cyclists burned their thighs off powering up Tāmaki’s killer slopes. Who’d say that now? E-bikes have well and truly gone mainstream.
Over at The Spinoff, Felix Walton talks to ebike owners about what to look for, and why now’s a good time to consider getting one.
The most convincing motivator for trying an e-bike is cost. By saving on petrol, parking, and servicing, riding an e-bike can do wonders for your bank statement.
“I tracked my car expenses prior to buying my e-bike, yes I’m one of those people,” says Kyle MacDonald, a psychotherapist who switched from driving two years ago. “Within a year my bike had paid for itself.”
While NZ Herald’s fashion and lifestyle supplement, Viva magazine, put an ebike on its cover page – and in its main fashion shoot – this week.
Electrifying e-bikes, gorgeous coats, great wine, art, philanthropic ideas, sage advice from Simran Kaur and Sonya Gupthan from hit podcast Girls That Invest, and @FrancesCook + more great ideas to spend or save your hard earned cash – tomorrow in Viva 📈💰 pic.twitter.com/LrTQoCyDuB
— V I V A (@NZHViva) March 22, 2022
An innovating streets cycleway could go permanent in Palmerstson North
There are quietly successful innovating streets projects turning into permanent street improvements all over the motu. One example is the planter-box-protected cycleway on on Pioneer Highway/Main St West in Palmerston North.
The trial, between Pitt St and Botanical Rd, has drawn both “love it” and “hate it” responses since installation in March 2021.
A year on, city council staff are saying the trial has been a success, and are recommending design work should go ahead for a more durable separation system than planter boxes.
The story is an argument for all the reasons why these tactical projects are a good way to test potentially challenging changes to the street network.
The route had earlier been identified for a separated cycleway, but despite attempts at workshops and through public engagement, council officers said the development did not “become real” until installation began.
“While the cycleway was initially highly contentious with motorists, negative feedback received reduced with time.”
The portability of the planter boxes meant the layout was easily adjusted in response to concerns, especially around the Pioneer shops at West St.
Earn by dobbing in idling trucks in New York City
Idling vehicles, and the emissions they create, is a bit of an under-appreciated topic here (perhaps we have bigger and more fundamental fish to fry before we can address the issue of idling vehicles). But in NYC, people can earn hundreds, or even thousands of dollars a day by reporting on trucks idling illegally in streets.
The program and the increased interest in filing complaints have brought a new game of cat and mouse to the city’s streets, as citizen reporters prowl in search of idling trucks and drivers, perhaps stung by past fines, are increasingly wary of people with cameras.
The city has effectively outsourced its management of law-breaking idling to its citizens, by offering them a bounty of a quarter of the fine retrieved.
On 8/30/2019 I spent the day riding my bike around NYC and recording videos of idling trucks. I recorded 16 videos. 2 were rejected. 14 summonses were issued. 1 was dismissed (BS). COVID-delayed hearings were in late 2020 and early 2021. I collected $1,187.50 for that 1 day.
— streeter🚲 (@_streeter) September 18, 2021
SUVs linked to rising pedestrian fatalities
In yet more predictable news about SUVs, Stuff reports on research from the USA that found that ever-enlarging SUVs are more dangerous to pedestrians than smaller vehicles are. The increasing size of SUVs and pickup trucks may be linked to a rising rate of pedestrian deaths in the States.
Drivers of bigger vehicles such as pickup trucks and SUVs are more likely to hit pedestrians while making turns than drivers of cars, according to a new study out of the USA.
“The link between these vehicle types and certain common pedestrian crashes points to another way that the increase in SUVs on the roads might be changing the crash picture,” said Jessica Cicchino, a study author and vice president of research for the institute.
Birmingham’s transformative transport plan
This week, in his ‘design for living’ column, Simon Wilson travelled (virtually, of course), to Birmingham, which has more similarities to Auckland than you would think, and which is implementing a new transport plan designed to acheive carbon neutrality by 2031.
They knew if they built more roads it would make all those problems worse. So they looked around and thought, “Aha, Ghent.” The Belgian city is much smaller, but in 2017 it had invented a new transport system. And it was working. The Birmingham City Council decided to copy it.In October last year they agreed to divide the city centre into seven zones: when it’s set up, you’ll be able to drive in and out of any one of them, but not go across town. If you’re driving, you’ll have to go around.
To support the traffic circulation plan, Birmhingham’s transport plan includes public transport improvements, road space reallocated to buses and bikes, parking management, and a re-think of traffic around schools. As Wilson points out, Birmingham’s plan sounds a lot like Auckland’s Access for Everyone plan. So why’s Birmingham getting it done?
[deputy mayor Filip] Watteeuw’s advice? “Don’t stagger the changes.” It delays the benefits, confuses everyone and encourages complaints. In Ghent, they put it all in place one Sunday night. “It was technically and politically the easiest way.”
Before the changes, Watteeuw received death threats. A year later, he was re-elected with an increased majority.
UnGapTheMap is a campaign by Bike Hub in Vancouver, Canada. The organisation has identified 400 priority gaps that need safe cycling infrastructure to connect what already exists. Vancouver residents who want to cycle can ‘adopt a gap’ and become the campaign champion to link their gap into the cycling network. Where would you UnGap our map?
Drum n bass on a bike rolls past the living room
I know he’s controversial with some Greater Auckland readers, but we remain fans of cycling DJ Dom Whiting, AKA Drum n Bass on a bike. So’s this guy, who caught one of Dom’s daylight bike raves heading past his window.
Not sure what's going on outside my window, but I do love to see it 🚲💚 pic.twitter.com/AWE5QcYIfg
— Patrick McAllister🌱 (@PatDBMcAllister) March 20, 2022
Comment of the week
Whether or not this will become a regular feature, we’re not yet sure – but we loved this comment from reader Rigg on Monday’s post. They really get to the heart of the imbalance in our car-focused transport system.
Stay dry this weekend! Ka kite, and see you next week.