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.

The EcoMatters Bike Hub in New Lynn. Image – Our Auckland
Opening day at the new Queens Wharf EcoMatters Bike Hub. Image by Matt Crawford for Auckland Transport.
Opening day at the new Queens Wharf EcoMatters Bike Hub. Image by Matt Crawford for Auckland Transport.

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 slip lane near Golden Bay High School was closed and painted over with graphics designed by students from the school. Image – Greater Auckland.
The tactical raised crossing, in use after school. Image: Jolisa Gracewood
Two wheels good; eight wheels, skate! Image: Jolisa Gracewood

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.

Days are numbered for the sharrows on Adelaide Road, where low-cost protected cycle lanes are about to be built. Image – Dominion Post

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?

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.

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.

The high speed cycle route will use Berlin’s wide, straight avenues to create a fast and efficient way for people on bikes to get across town. Image – Future Transport

Making space for people

(Take space from cars, and give it to people going by foot and bike)

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.

Edda Ivarsdottir, image of life during lockdown from The Quarantine Atlas.

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.

Porches and stoops can create community and make streets feel lively in suburban environments too. Image – The Social Life Project

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.

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.

Pedestrian-only Doyers St in Chinatown. Image – Timeout

Happy ANZAC weekend – enjoy the break!

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  1. One thing I definitely noticed when I lived in Auckland with young kids, how much more they enjoyed a train, bus or ferry trip than a car trip. It made it part of the adventure.

    1. Yes I thought a great PT advert would be a scene of kids playing/acting up on back seat of a car, while driver views them in rear mirror with the line ” Fed up with the kids playing up in the car… well why not join them” Followed by a scene of a happy family chatting, giggling together on back seat of a bus.

      1. Love this! Would be a gorgeous part of a wider mode-shift campaign, showing people what they’re missing by always being stuck in a car.

        One could also stage an “amazing race” for Aucklanders – not a speed-based one, like the recent car vs bike ad showing people racing across town (in a 30km/h zone!). More of a “look what you’ll see along the way”.

        1. “One could also stage an “amazing race” for Aucklanders – not a speed-based one’

          YUP. AT has already done that on the train network

      2. AT already ran a similar ad campaign. It showed an affluent looking lone mummy with an affluent looking small blond boy looking out of a train window. It was hardly a happy family scene.

  2. I agree with Simon Wilson about what makes a good mayor.
    He must appoint good managers who are progressive, support PT, the environment and make Auckland more business friendly.
    There is talk of a brain drain. We compete for business against Sydney and Singapore and we need to make Auckland even more desirable.

  3. The Golden Bay decision is interesting,pure politics,I.e,how do l ensure l am re-elected,would have “driven” the decision to abandon trial,good on the school board for taking council on.
    I spent an hour looking through the Auckland Council next meeting business agenda,after being sent a link from local board,Mangaukikie Tamaki,pretty mundane stuff,interestly AT telling local board,they couldn’t have a roundabout,intersection Grey St/Onehunga Mall, which had been calmed by abandoned trial LTN.
    Second part was more about climate change,and Council’s,Local Board’s,AT’s role in implementing changes.The deduction from all this was,we have to change,and fast,and a lot of the narrative was about engaging the public,not about ,not rocking the boat.
    Maybe,just maybe,the super tanker has slowed ,and is gently veering off its “Evergreen ” course towards the sandbanks.

  4. Thanks for the roundup!

    Simon Wilson states that the transport crisis comprises congestion and climate change. Unfortunately, most people are not concerned with the latter.

    Climate change is irrelevant to most people; there will always be things that are more important to them.
    And even if climate change becomes front of mind, how likely are they to give up their car-dependent lifestyle?

    Most politicians, national and local, are cognizant of the ‘average’ voter and the average voter is not concerned with climate change. So, though I agree with Simon that reducing the number of cars on our roads would ease congestion and slow climate change, who wants to take ‘their’ car off the road? (By the way, I live quite happily without a car.)

    1. You don’t actually have to take the car off the road. You just need the car to be used less. Since I started cycling as much as possible my car use has dropped to less than a quarter but I still have the car.

    2. The average voter is a lot more concerned about climate change than they were 10 years ago, hence why all parties focus on it now, even if their policies are still contradictory.

      Your right, the average voter doesn’t want to give up their car, given they think climate change is inevitable anyway. I think this will only change once we start running into trade sanction issues for not doing our bit.

      1. “trade sanctions for not doing our part” – really? Perhaps other countries like China might be in the front of that list. China still pours CFCs into the environment let alone the new coal power plant every other week.
        Whatever NZ does won’t make a difference. I think if want to improve our environment then the focus should be making Auckland more pleasant and livable. Housing still is our biggest issue and will drive and best and brightest overseas.

        1. “Whatever NZ does won’t make a difference”

          What a comforting position that will be when, eventually, we start getting hit with tarriffs on our goods because we have not made the hard decisions like others have..

          I hear this all the time and its hardly a mature position to take, is it? Kicking the can to someone else because we are small and can’t be bothered. We all should play our part and the idea that China does not is uninformed.

          If nothing, making these changes will improve our own backyard environment which will indeed be “pleasant”. But there are very real economic consequences if we do not. I think everybody forgets that part.

  5. I am still amazed at the pace of some of the European countries / towns who build a new cycleway so quickly.

    I would like know how did they do it?

    Was there any consultation with the public?

    It would be great if someone can add a blog/article about it and hopefully Auckland Transport can learn something from it.

    1. “I am still amazed at the pace of some of the European countries / towns who build a new cycleway so quickly.

      I would like know how did they do it?’

      What these News Releases don’t mention is how many years of planning and consultation has preceded each European project.

      ie; The latest Berlin bikeway has taken 22 years to plan and build, and has been delayed by numerous special interest pressure groups.”

  6. Downloaded and looked at the Wellington Newtown to Courtenay Place cycleway (well it’s bus lanes etc too). Was interested if that loading zone featured in the older article linked to from the article on Stuff had a replacement. They trying to get a trial one in the hospital, just wondering if anyone know this is happening:
    “Capital & Coast and Hutt Valley health boards chief financial officer Mathew Parr said the boards … and had looked at how it could help businesses, such as a trial loading zone in the hospital.”

      1. Trucks barely make the right turn from Adelaide Rd to John Street as it is, looks like they are making it a bit harder. But it is Wellington where there is only a passing connection between what is marked on the road and how things actually work.

      2. first page, I dont understand why this is even considered. The whole straight bike movement has to cross the left turning traffic before the lights. It’s pretty dangerous, mega blindspot risk, cars rushing to make the lights.

        Why is there any reason to do that instead of just having the pedestrian phases do the straight bike movement too with the bike lane pushed up to the lights?

        It takes up the same amount of space, doesn’t add any time to the phase etc. And its way safer.

    1. Well that was informative (and interesting!). Thanks for sharing, miffy.

      I’m a bit more sad for humanity though.

    2. Thanks Miffy.

      So adding lead to fuel has killed millions and enfeebled millions more but made billions.

      You can add millions killed and injured by cars directly but since cars too make billions, this will continue.

        1. Not all of us do. I think we will fail at all the targets and attitudes like NZ’s are an example why, even if our overall impact is negligible.

  7. We did the Lake dunstan trail today. Had no issue with people going the opposite way. They were all friendly locals. The speedsters seemed to be the tourists on ebikes going from Cromwell to clyde, acting like it was a race track o
    Or if they were driving on a NZ road.
    That was just my singular experience on that great trail though.

  8. yay – more photos of happy european kids enjoying their transport freedom.
    Kiwi kids are more stay at home on the internet these days. How did we get here !

  9. An item that has been forgotten is the opening of the 1st new line 10years ago this week in Auckland in 82years to Manukau ;=

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