Kia ora! Another short week, but there’s still lots happening in our weekly roundup…
The week in Greater Auckland
Tuesday’s post looked at pros and cons of through-routing buses in the city centre.
In Wednesday’s post, Matt explored Auckland Council’s proposed changes to the Unitary Plan in response to the National Policy Statement on Urban Development.
Yesterday, Jolisa highlighted the successes of Auckland Transport’s safer speeds trial, and asked when we can move past the experiment to committing to safer speeds everywhere.
Feedback closing today: changes to Road User Charges
A quick heads-up: April 22 is Earth Day, and also the day feedback closes on changes to Road User Charges for a more climate-conscious system. Luckily the Cycling Action Network NZ has put together a handy submission guide to make it easy to have your say.
Celebrating the lives saved because of safer speeds
Auckland Councillor and mayoral candidate Efeso Collins shared yesterday’s Greater Auckland post in celebration of the success of the safer speeds programme.
Will our prospective mayors deliver what Auckland needs?
As we inch towards October’s local body elections, we’re starting to find out more about our mayoral candidates. Two pieces on the New Zealand Herald this week explore the possibilities.
The first asked Leo Molloy, Viv Beck, Efeso Collins, Wayne Brown and Craig Lord how they would revive the central city. We thought it was interesting to compare their comments related to transport issues.
Leo Molloy has some questionable thoughts about parking, but he knows that PT is important.
Give free parking seven days a week across the entire city until normal service resumes, and make public transport free using the surplus RFT ($300 million ) for 12 months to encourage weekend activity.
Viv Beck thinks that public transport services could improve, and that Auckland Transport could ‘utilise spare capacity in its car parking buildings’.
While ultimately it’s the quality of the service that will make the biggest different to public transport, the half-price offer that has just kicked in for three months will make it more affordable and help to get patronage back up.
Efeso Collins is a well-known proponent of public transport, is ready to have a conversation about congestion charging, and wants to talk to local communities about the benefits of bus lanes and safe cycle lanes.
My views on transport are well known and I believe transport has to be an enabler of everything from commerce, social connection and sustainability. Fare-free public transport will lead to increased productivity as evidenced in the data and increase social connection we all long for.
Wayne Brown is totally over construction projects in the ‘CBD’ and thinks tech can make public transport better:
We need to finish the projects already under way and put the road cones away. We need make better use of technology so that public transport is a reliable option, that gets you where you want to be with minimal delays.
Craig Lord also calls the city centre a ‘CBD’ and while he doesn’t have anything in particular to say about transport issues, his big question is do we even need a ‘CBD’ any more?
So what should the CBD therefore become?
A tourist haven?
A large central segment of high-density apartment block housing?
Maybe the right thing to do now is to turn it into the ‘civic centre’ of Auckland, and not the business centre.
How about… a city centre? Where did this idea that bits of a city can only have one function – business or housing or tourism – come from?
Meanwhile, Simon Wilson’s column this week asked what Auckland really needs in a Mayor. Wilson argues that the incoming mayor doesn’t need to be an expert, but they do need to be likeable, to be able to make decisions, and to exercise good judgement. Then, there are three key issues the Mayor needs to be across: managing the budget, saving the central city, and solving the transport crisis.
The transport crisis has two parts: Congestion and climate change.
The fools? Every candidate who believes we do not need to try to reduce the number of cars on our roads.
This means making public transport, cycling and walking as appealing as possible. Low fares or none at all, frequent and reliable services, congestion and parking charges, road space converted to lanes for buses and safe cycling: They all have a role to play.
New EcoMatters bike hub at Queens Wharf
EcoMatters has just opened a new bike hub in the central city, down at Queens Wharf. This is their first city centre bike hub – others are at New Lynn, Henderson, and Glen Innes. The bike hubs help people get on bikes in a variety of ways, from showing people how to repair and maintain their bicycles, to teaching safe cycling skills, to fixing up bikes that would have otherwise gone to landfill.
Cyclist killed by a car door in Nelson
It’s been a terrible few months for cyclists on our roads. 86 year old Tom Clendon, a beloved dad and avid cyclist, died of injuries sustained when a car door was opened in his path on April the 8th.
We are devastated for Tom, his family, friends and community.
For those in Nelson:
A rally for Travel Justice is being held on May 1, starting at the Nelson i-Site Information Centre at 1pm, encouraging cyclists and walkers to take a record of their most dangerous walk or cycle route.
Innovating Streets here to stay in Golden Bay
However, a small win for safer streets around the corner in Golden Bay. In another Innovating Streets for People success story, the community at Golden Bay High School will get to see their trial pedestrian crossing and slip-lane removal made permanent. It nearly didn’t happen: the community board initially voted to reinstate the slip lane and replace the crossing with others in different locations further from the school.
The future of Wellington
Our eyes are on Wellington this week, and the big conversations that are happening there about the city it will become.
In the week that work began on the Newtown to Courtenay Place cycleway, the Dominion Post officially threw its editorial weight behind safe cycleways.
Making it easier and safer to cycle will take cars off the roads, leaving more space for those who genuinely need to drive (or to find a park).
There are health and wellbeing benefits for those who jump on bikes or walk regularly. People spend more time exercising, outdoors, engaging with their community.
And, most importantly, moving away from our reliance on cars will reduce the city’s emissions. If Wellington is to live up to its promise of becoming a zero carbon capital by 2050, then this is a non-negotiable.
And over at The Spinoff, Wellington local politician Thomas Nash argues that cars don’t belong in the capital’s future. Nash makes a strong argument for putting emissions reduction at the heart of decisions about Wellington’s transport and urban form, pointing to the direction in the IPCC report to encourage mode shift and compact housing.
The IPCC report says we have to pull every lever we can now and it also says that the highest emitters per capita need to pull more weight. That’s us in New Zealand. Somewhat encouragingly for us, the report says that transport and urban form are the best value for money areas for emissions reduction, especially compared to energy or agriculture and land use, which also need big changes.
Less of this then?
I drove Transmission Gully yesterday. It's a road. I can confirm.
I realised that the way NZ media reports on a new road is pretty much identical to how the UK reports on a new royal baby.
— Tom Eastman (@tveastman) April 15, 2022
Delivering good infrastructure – why is it so hard?
In an opinion piece on Stuff, Dileepa Fonseka asks if New Zealand gets good value out of its infrastructure investments, and how it could be doing better. For example, we spend a similar proportion of our GDP on infrastructure as France does, but the Infrastructure Commission estimates that France gets 23% more value out of that cost.
One issue might be political: new governments have a habit of cancelling the previous regime’s big infrastructure projects, and starting from scratch with new ideas.
When the Labour-NZ First government came to power, a number of road construction projects were put on hold.
It also cancelled the existing Auckland Council light rail project in favour of its own, and this has now morphed into a tunnelled light metro system.
Now National is rising in the polls and pledging to cancel the tunnelled metro system.
Julie-Anne Genter picked up on the article too, and pointed out the unavoidable fact of the dwindling carbon budget we have for building infrastructure.
This, but we have to acknowledge the elephant in the room: we have a limited carbon (& transport) budget left to deliver infrastructure.
There has to be a political consensus and pipeline of projects that maximise mobility & access with least carbon. https://t.co/tqfLNwdSSb
— Julie Anne Genter (@JulieAnneGenter) April 19, 2022
Everyone’s riding Lake Dunstan
The Lake Dunstan bike trail continues to be a screaming success with New Zealanders – so much so that throughout this handy guide to the trail, there are several warnings of crowd related issues and hazards, from the difficulty of getting a coffee at the ‘swamped’ mid-ride cafe, to narrow pinch-points:
The constant issue in this trail is people coming in the opposite direction. It is narrow, and there are a series of blind corners […] There is a discussion about making the trail one way – I personally feel it would be a good option, especially once tourists start to arrive in numbers.
As with urban cycleways, future-proofing is the key: plan for demand, build for success!
Rebates for ebikes in Denver
We hope this becomes a worldwide trend (Come on Ministry for Transport – let’s be early adopters!): rebates of $400-$1,2000 will be available for people purchasing e-bikes in Denver, Colorado, from next week. Interestingly, the scheme is specifically targeted towards bikes that are to be used for transport, and to qualify for a rebate the bike must have a frame capable of carrying extra people or cargo.
A high-speed cycleway for Berlin
In a deliberate attempt to draw cross-town travellers out of their cars and onto bicycles, Berlin is building a 38 kilometer east-west high speed cycleway. It is designed so that someone on a bike can get to their destination as fast as someone driving a similar route. Reallocation of traffic lanes and carparking will be used to create the cycleway.
Once the route is complete, a potential 6,700 people could switch from car to bicycle, resulting in a forecasted CO2 saving of around 1,000 tons per year.
The project is part of a bigger plan to have 100kms of similar high speed routes crossing the city by 2030.
Making space for people
(Take space from cars, and give it to people going by foot and bike)
This was once a 4-lane highway dumping car-traffic into the city centre. Now anyone can use it. pic.twitter.com/bAr0JR4UYO
— Bernardo Pereira (@BCamposPereira) April 18, 2022
A people-friendly oasis
The Quarantine Atlas
Remember how different our world felt when we were in lockdown, in April 2020 and again for Tāmaki, in August last year? Where we went, what we saw and how it felt suddenly changed. This book, The Quarantine Atlas, collects maps ordinary people made of their homes and lives during lockdown, all over the world.The author describes them as ‘the geographies of life in lockdown’.
One map-maker in Iceland recalled the experience of quiet streets –
All of our neighbors were stuck at home, and you can see all the cars parked in the driveway, which was such a pleasant change that people weren’t moving their cars around. They were discovering all the walking paths and the bicycle routes. Even in Iceland, the electric bikes, they got sold out at the time.
The social life of porches and stoops
We loved this photo essay documenting the way space in between the street and the front door can become essential social infrastructure.
The lengthy piece documents the different versions of these in-between spaces found in Amsterdam, Paris, Freemantle, and various cities in the USA.
Porches allow people to be proud of their homes and businesses: People use and take care of them and in so doing, show who they are and what their values are. Porches are a place through which people express themselves, and reach out to others in an extension of their everyday lives.
Life as a car-free parent
We don’t repost from Vogue much, but this essay at Vogue UK about life as a car-free mum caught our eye. People often think that a car’s necessary once kids are in the picture, but as this mother observes, there are advantages to being a carless parent.
Being in a car seems like a little slice of hell for a small child. At least, that’s how it looks to me. They can’t get up, they can’t go to the loo, they can’t see far out of the window, the driver can’t touch them or pick them up or even turn round to look at them. Compare all that with a train or bus, even a bicycle, and it seems wanting.
No kid on the back of a bike asks “are we there yet?” every 10 seconds.
— Dr. Natalia Barbour (@natalia_barbour) April 12, 2022
New York’s hidden streets
A wistful listicle to end on this week. Greater Auckland readers who’ve been to New York City will know that one of its joys is what you discover when you’re just aimlessly exploring. TimeOut New York features thirteen unexpected and interesting streets, lanes and alleys hidden away amongst the city’s towers and brownstones.
Happy ANZAC weekend – enjoy the break!