What a busy couple of weeks it’s been. We skipped roundup last week, so please enjoy a fortnight’s worth of fun links.
Last week in Greater Auckland
On Monday, Scott wrote about protecting Auckland’s urban character, rather than just a particular type of house.
Tuesday’s post looked at the evolution of the design of the CRL stations, and their beautiful new names.
On Wednesday, Matt asked if the Emissions Reduction Plan (ERP) would include a green light for [de]congestion pricing. (Spoiler: kinda?)
On Thursday, Heidi wondered if AT would rethink the Eastern Busway, in the light of, y’know, climate and everything.
And on Friday, Matt leapt on the news about a dangleway, sorry, gondola across the Waitemata harbour.
And this week!
We started with a Monday morning post on what we hoped to see in the ERP for transport…
…followed by Tuesday’s guest post by Tim, laying out what was actually in the ERP for transport.
On Wednesday, Matt looked at the latest sprawl-friendly planning on the northwest fringes and in Warkworth.
And Thursday’s guest post from Roeland discussed why walking to a city centre greenspace should be – but isn’t – a walk in the park.
Greater Auckland (Matt) in the news
What with all the transport and housing news, there’s been hot demand for informed commentary on transport and housing, which Matt’s been working overtime to supply. This is just a sample:
- on Q&A talking about cycleway investment
- on RNZ talking about congestion pricing not just once, but twice.
- on Newsroom talking about rail shutdowns
- at OneNews talking about “underwhelming” aspects of the ERP and on Stuff calling for more action for active transport
- back at Newsroom talking about character housing
Not for the first time, we find ourselves wondering where the discourse would be without the hours we advocates put in to advancing the conversation – with our readers always a crucial part of airing ideas that matter.
EVs continue to eat away at global demand for oil
A new report notes that thanks to electric vehicles of all kinds, every day 1.5 million barrels of oil are no longer needed. Of course, that’s still just a fraction of global oil demand – about 1.5% – but by 2030 it could be up to ten times that, which suggests we’ve hit peak oil. This article (see more graphs here) goes into the details.
So, which EVs are doing the lion’s share of liberating the world from fossil fuels? Check out the graph below – those yellow bars especially!
In this case, “2/3 wheelers” doesn’t include bicycles; this is mainly mopeds and scooters. But it does suggest that smaller, more nimble electric vehicles have great appeal. After all, two-wheelers already make up the largest portion of the EV fleet in New Zealand, with six or seven e-bikes sold for every electric car – and fast catching up with sales of all new cars.
One of the most glaring gaps in the ERP was a lack of policy around e-bikes, including making them affordable to more New Zealanders via means-tested subsidies, say. You’ve really got to wonder why our government isn’t pedalling like billy-o towards this obvious silver bullet for climate action, transport equity, and healthier streets.
A need for lighter cars
Meanwhile here in NZ a surprising ally emerged this week with the Vehicle Importers Association suggesting we should be trying to encourage lighter cars to improve safety
All around the world, cars are getting heavier, on average edging up above a tonne and a half or more.
Nowhere around the world is vehicle mass with all its pros and cons – such as bigger cars doing more damage – factored in to safety ratings directly and fully, though they do give a nod to it.
Now Vehicle Importers’ Association (VIA) chief executive David Vinsen has begun asking, what if it was?
“What we’re suggesting is that maybe mass needs to be taken into account as well, when we look at the overall safety of the fleet, not just the individual vehicle,” Vinsen said.
“If every vehicle was lighter, the overall safety of the network and the fleet would increase.
Whither affordable public transport?
A recent piece by Tom James of the Helen Clark Foundation looked at how affordable and reliable public transport, as well as being climate action, helps people with the cost of living. And only a week or so ago, we were all wondering if half-price PT fares were here to stay, especially as they seemed to be driving more uptake.
Yesterday’s budget delivers a bit of a yeah-nah: an extension for two more months, and permanently for people with Community Services Cards – but not so much for everyone else. Of course, service improvements are a huge part of attracting more people to hop on a bus and leave the car at home. But unpredictable and unfair fares don’t help.
This is a disappointing commitment to public transport in the Budget
Half price fares only to continue for two months, then for CSC holders only
Which means in Dunedin, children will soon pay more than some adults to use the bus pic.twitter.com/vTMQnPMx0v
— Aaron Hawkins (@A_G_Hawkins) May 19, 2022
The week in good news about Te Huia
Todd Niall writes about the steady shift in perception and usage of the Auckland-Hamilton train, from a weekday train for workaday Hamiltonians, to that plus a regular delight for day-trippers and weekenders from both ends of the route:
Designed to take Hamiltonians to Auckland, it started with two trips north in the morning, with the trains parked up for the day until taking its passengers back to Hamilton.
A step forward has been the decision to run a return service south in the morning and back in the afternoon, opening the day-excursion market to 1.7 million Aucklanders.
It’s also doing its bit for climate. Imagine, what if there was more of this?
Te Huia offset it’s emissions last month! pic.twitter.com/tqReUmg1wP
— Ethan Scavo (@ilovetheeconomy) May 9, 2022
Nice comms from Auckland Transport
The Airport Link is all about connections, is the subtext of this cute new video…
We also liked this, telling the ‘why’ of the parking strategy…
A main road with 1 traffic lane & 1 parking lane in each direction can move around 2000 people p/hr.
A main road with 1 traffic lane & 1 bus lane in each direction can move around 18,000 people p/hr.
— Auckland Transport (@AklTransport) May 8, 2022
Although, a nerd note: 2000 vehicles per hour is about the most a free flowing motorway lane can move, but urban streets with traffic lights, intersections, etc is about half that, so really one traffic lane carries about 1,000 cars per day. The point stands – anything that moves, especially buses and bikes, is a more efficient and effective use of precious street space than something that’s just parked there.
Excuse me, while I claim my street space pic.twitter.com/51wyzoyE1D
— 21st Century City (@urbanthoughts11) May 14, 2022
A brickbat on Tamaki Drive
All the good comms (and public confidence) get undermined in a flash by this sort of thing: dangerous placement of roadworks signs, creating a pinch point for people on bikes, in this case on our city’s busiest bike route. AT responds it will look into the specific instance. And then we all wait for the next awful example. How does this keep happening??!
Update on the Judicial Review of the RLTP
The judgement won’t be in for a while. But astute readers will find much to chew over in the case files on All Aboard’s website.
if anyone's wondering how the court action over AT's climate vandalism is going, its lawyers are currently arguing that AT doesn't have to comply with the council's climate plan or its climate emergency declaration because they're not real legally binding plans. Seems fine! pic.twitter.com/LpfjzHBeoI
— Hayden Donnell (@HaydenDonnell) May 9, 2022
Look and learn
While our ERP mentioned safer school streets as something definitely worth looking into, other places are cracking on at pace. London, for example, has rolled out a casual 350 School Streets in just one year. Check it out.
Liberate those lanes!
Paris is also ploughing ahead with turning motorways into greenspace – or greener space, at least. In time for the 2024 Olympics, the ring road around the capital will feature a lane dedicated to buses, taxis and car-pooling. The following phase will see 50,000 new trees and a reduction in traffic lanes. C’est bon, non?
Les Jeux Olympiques et Paralympiques de @Paris2024 accéléreront ces transformations. En 2024 et au-delà, une voie sera réservée au covoiturage, bus et taxis. D'ici cette date, nous remettrons aussi de la nature partout où cela est possible, en y plantant jusqu'à 50 000 arbres. pic.twitter.com/7UsSnLMDsT
— Anne Hidalgo (@Anne_Hidalgo) May 18, 2022
Of course, you can do the same sort of right-sizing and greening on any old street. Try it, Auckland – you might like it.
4 lanes vs 4 lanes pic.twitter.com/VlJLbLZdJc
— Infrastructure CGIs (@InfraCGI) May 9, 2022
Mexico City’s cycling boom
Paris isn’t the only city getting ready for its close-up. Click through for a great thread about what’s happening in Mexico City.
For all the love that Paris is rightly getting for the pandemic transition away from cars, I am shocked that we are seeing so little about what is happening in Mexico City
So here is a thread about the best transition in North America pic.twitter.com/LohJzliOkx
— Robert Foster (@soc4austin) May 5, 2022
Pop-up parks and portable street trees
Tactical urbanism fans can take inspiration from some more tools for the toolbox. Who wouldn’t want to see a bikeable swarm of parklets roll up into your neighbourhood…
The @PARKCYCLE SWARM is a modular system that empower persons to build an instant public park whenever and wherever they want to. It consists of a number of human powered mobile gardens that can be combined to form public parks.
— MonkeyWrenchGang (@M_WrenchGang) May 10, 2022
… or a fleet of twelve hundred street trees, making a stately wheeled progression around the city to show how streets feel when fully forested? Interestingly, the “walking trees” project in Leeuwarden includes a mock trial on behalf of the trees, “inspired, in part, by countries such as New Zealand, Ecuador and Canada where humans can represent nature during a court case.”
The good (shared) life
A nice read about the co-housing development CoHaus, featuring Barbara Grace, who says “I’d always been interested in some other way of living – not one family, one home. And, with climate change issues, the whole idea of shared resources appealed. It makes so much sense to share stuff.”
CoHaus dwellers in the twenty apartments share four hybrid cars and two EVs between them. They also share the laundry, guest suite, garden house, bike shed – and at the heart of the development, what was once “a pile of mud and builders’ rubble” is now a shared courtyard garden, created collectively by the residents.
New London Tube Map
After first starting construction in 2009, the Elizabeth Line, or Crossrail as it was previously known, is finally due to open on Tuesday and that means the Tube map has been officially updated.
Leisurely long reads
A few literary urbanism links for your weekend reading pleasure…
- Musician Anthonie Tonnon and the Durie Hill elevator.
- Writer and dad Branavan Gnanalingam on discovering another side of Wellington.
- A fascinating set of interviews by Britomart’s Jeremy Hansen on city futures.
- A fab review by Emmy Rākete of Lucy Mackintosh’s Shifting Grounds: Deep Histories of Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland
- A lovely interview about the late Christopher Alexander, and his insight into the details of design: niches, nooks and crannies, light and shade, pattern and surprise, which make a place feel right and welcoming to human beings of all ages.
When you open Alexander’s book A Pattern Language and start flicking through, one of the first things that surprises you, is that this is a guide to the elements that are needed to make great places but it has this bizarre and surprising mixture of things. You see things about how to design walkable cities and good roofs, but then there are suggestions like “Old People Everywhere.” It says a good city should have a mix of ages, lots of old people about.
One of the recommendations is “A Carnival.” Or “Dancing In The Street.” My favorite is “Child Caves.” Any good space should have smaller spaces that are only accessible to children, because children love to have a little cave they can go in. All of these things are not elements of design as traditionally conceived. They are taking aspects of human life that make being alive joyful and interesting and then treating those as being important design elements.
Our gorgeous header image this week comes from this tweet by Ian Ray. Catch you on the sunny side!
— Ian Ray (@ianray68) May 9, 2022