Kia ora! A short week, but there’s a plethora of cool things to share once again.
The week in Greater Auckland
Tuesday’s post, a guest post by Anna Michels, explained the health benefits of greenery in urban places.
On Wednesday, Jolisa explored the awesome and the not so awesome things about Tāmaki Makaurau’s two new shared paths.
Yesterday, Matt wrote about the upcoming upgrade to the Albert St interchange – and its 5-month closure.
Phil Goff’s final budget steers Auckland towards climate action
The passing of Auckland’s annual budget this week was an important milsestone: it locked in the $57m Climate Action Targeted Rate, which has a big focus on investing in active modes and public transport. As reported by Todd Niall, Goff sent councillors a strong message about climate change and being a good ancestor.
Goff challenged councillors considering voting against CATR to ask themselves whether action was needed, and whether there was public support for action – the answer to both of which, he said, was a “Yes”.
Goff said if he was asked by his grandchildren in 10 years’ time, what he had done against global warming, he wanted to have the right answer.
“I was part of a council that did what was required when the evidence was put in front of it, that action was required,” he said.
National policy to make it easier for council to change streets
This is a bit of a ‘wait and see’ scenario, but it’s looking promising. Newsroom reports that the Ministry for Transport has been working on changes to the legislation that governs how roads can be used, to make it easier for councils to do things like remove parking.
The planned changes are part of enacting the Emissions Reduction Plan and encouraging people to get out of cars and use other modes. Existing legislation relied on is more than 50 years old and can complicate things for councils trying to get moving with road reallocation.
Councils increasingly rely on provisions in the Local Government Act 1974 and the Transport Regulations 1965 to make street changes, with officials telling Wood this approach was less costly and time consuming than creating in-house bylaws – but it was not fit-for-purpose.
“The provisions were written in the 1960s and 1970s, and were created to support closing the road when road maintenance, constructions, short term public events, or natural disasters occur. They were not created to support permanent road space reallocation.”
Proof of EV subsidy success
You’ve probably noticed exponentially more electric vehicles cruising around over the last few months. Well, it looks like the subsidy is working better than expected: new registrations of EVs has grown quickly, while fossil fuel vehicle registrations are dropping.
And yes, those changes come from a very low and very high base respectively – but these shifts mean that in just 2 months, average emissions for new registrations are nearly where Government had hoped they’d be by 2023.
To us, that sounds like an argument for a much more ambitious target.
Since Clean Car feebate came in on 1 April, the nationwide EV & hybrid vehicle fleet has grown by 14,500, while the petrol & diesel-only fleet has *shrunk* 8,000
Average emissions for new registrations down 14% in 2 months, nearly at 2023 target alreadyhttps://t.co/Amn046vAyN
— Clint Smith (@ClintVSmith) June 6, 2022
Covering the Dom Post covering urbanism
The Dominion Post has put out so much excellent content about transport and urban issues this week that we’re not going to be able to cover it all! We’ll bring you our highlights, and encourage heading over to explore the section further.
Chris Bruntlett’s advice for Pōneke
Kate Green interviewed Chris Bruntlett, of the Dutch Cycling Embassy (and Modacity fame) about the challenges and benefits of mode shift. The interview is packed full of excellent, clearly explained talking points – including some that frame the discussion brilliantly:
Mode shift is the tool, not the end game. More people cycling creates a more liveable, social city, with fewer metal boxes pushing pollution into the air, making noise and creating stress. We’re making eye contact at intersections and negotiating our fellow human beings to move around the city.
He also spoke about the importance of political leadership when we’re changing the way we get around.
It’s really important to remember people aren’t idealistic or altruistic in their mobility choices. They will ultimately only choose other modes if it makes getting from A to B quicker. So this can’t come from the ground up – there has to be leadership at the political level to put the network in place.
Newtown residents are fans of the Newtown cycleway
It’s so valuable to hear from the voices of the people actually using the infrastructure: the parents, kids, and workers of Newtown who’ve been riding along the Newtown Cycleway since it opened. These are people who want to get around in a lower-carbon way – and in some cases, are bravely already doing so – and the new, humble, interim version of the cycleway makes them feel safe and welcomed.
“When it’s rush hour, it’s the one part of the commute where I feel really safe and I know that my kids are safe,” said Sharlene Maslin, who cycles with her husband Stephen and their two sons, five-year-old Finn and three-year-old Leon, to Newtown school and Capital Kids daycare.
But will the Newtown cycleway be forced off-course?
The group that took Wellington City Council to court over the cycleway has just won an interim injunction, and construction has been paused. The case led to a storm of counter-criticism from advocates, who pointed out that the same bits of road are often illegally blocked by car transporters delivering vehicles to the car sales businesses in the opposing group.
Green MP Julie Anne Genter vented her frustration in a tweet, criticising the dealerships for delaying the cycleway while they “block whole traffic lanes daily” with car trucks.
Patrick Morgan from Cycle Wellington criticised the “bizarre” informal agreement between the council and car yards which allowed transporters to offload vehicles with no traffic management.
And Julie Anne Genter followed up with an opinion piece, reminding the cyceway’s opponents that by stopping it from being built, they’re putting kids’ lives at risk.
Now we have to wait. My baby may be a year old before our commute is safe. A small group of local car yard owners and other businesses has gone to court to force work on the protected cycleway and bus lanes to stop, led by Myles Gazley of Gazley Motors. Six months feels like an unbearably long time. It will be half her life so far. Every day, twice a day, I will wonder if something will go catastrophically wrong on our journey.
But the Newtown Bike Bus prevails!
Can this be called anything other than momentum? Footage taken on World Bicycle Day, for extra impact.
Decided to get morning coffee in #Newtown cos it's already less traumatic to get there on bike from Thorndon at rush hour, thx to #cycleway … and see this #cargobike #schoolrun This you @CycleWgtn ? pic.twitter.com/vSmkL25PRr
— Isabella Cawthorn (@fixiebelle) June 2, 2022
The week in flooding washes through Wellington
Staying in the capital for one more section, it’s very stormy right now in Wellington. Localised tornadoes, heavy winds, and cascades of water down inner-city streets have all been recorded today, and the city is being warned to brace for more dramatic weather tomorrow.
Woodward Street today at lunch time – my office is across the river. pic.twitter.com/v112F0Rk0Q
— Hayley (@korahawhare) June 9, 2022
Taupō’s waterfront goes car-free
It used to be State Highway 1, and now Taupō waterfront is going to become a pedestrian friendly space with much reduced traffic. Local businesses are excited about the opportunity it will bring.
Taupō Town Centre general manager Julie McLeod said cafes and restaurants would benefit once the work was complete.
“In the 10 years that I’ve been in this role, it is definitely the most exciting project that will bring the greatest amount of change and cool opportunities for our businesses,” she said.
“The changes are going to bring big areas of outdoor dining looking out to our beautiful lakefront and the new cultural space that is going to be created, so we are really excited about this world-class precinct.”
Not a train we’d ride
We had a less-than-enthusiastic reaction to news of this scenic train trip to view progress on … the Peka Peka to Ōtaki expressway.
This is so typical of this terrible city: have fun with the train network, which we do our best to make sure is only fit for aesthetics and heritage, while we get on with ignoring climate change by building *big important* roads to induce exurban sprawl. https://t.co/AbDie9rgxH
— Pàra (@cogtwitoergosum) June 7, 2022
Meanwhile, the future of train services for everyday travel on those same tracks remains unclear, with the government failing to provide funding for a fleet of hybrid electric trains in the budget. Will it find funding as part of the Horizon’s Regional Public Transport Plan? Several submitters thought so…
There were also several calls for a better connection between Taranaki and Whanganui, particularly to and from Hāwera.
In its summary of submissions Horizons said there was broad support for more rail trips to be made available throughout the region – specifically for passenger travel.
“A number of suggestions were received regarding use of the rail network to provide passenger rail to communities such as Taihape, Taumarunui, Whanganui and Dannevirke and interregionally to Napier and Taranaki,” the summary said.
Trains we would absolutely ride
If we could, that is! Seen on twitter, Nicola Welten came across a wonderful set of luggage-label drawers that recall a time when trains were how most people moved around Aotearoa.
People are most definitely riding Te Huia
And the fare’s still just $9 from Frankton to The Strand! (With a Bee Card.)
Bikes are the solution for car-choked megacities
Did you know that in the 90s, China was a bicycle kingdom and 670 million people owned bikes? But now, mega-highways dominate China’s mega-cities.
That’s where this Financial Times article starts, about the effects of cars on the world’s 30+ megacities, and how it’s not too late for those same cities to be reclaimed by bicycles. The argument is particularly strong for poorer megacities, which might not have the funds for sophisticated public transport systems.
Cities aren’t loud – cars are loud
A simple fact too easily forgotten about. It’s experiences like these – temporary street closures, trial bike lanes – that demonstrate to communities how welcoming and humane their cities can be when space isn’t prioritised for cars.
Sunday evening on the Fifth Avenue open street. What always strikes me is the quiet. A regular reminder that cities aren’t loud, cars are loud. pic.twitter.com/YXxDahnVuw
— Doug Gordon (@BrooklynSpoke) June 6, 2022
Free ebikes for food delivery workers
The food delivery business is growing, but with rising fuel prices, drivers of fossil fuel cars are taking a financial hit. Instead of giving out rebates, San Francisco’s Department of the Environment is piloting giving delivery drivers ebikes to use instead of cars or motorbikes. The scheme is starting with 35 delivery drivers.
The drivers – riders! – will be provided with a full cycling kit including locks, panniers, rain jackets and other accessories. Their vehicle data will be collected and compared to a control group still using cars.
Already, some delivery drivers are being converted. The global e-bike company Zoomo opened a San Francisco outpost in 2019, renting e-bikes to delivery workers for $25 to $61 per week, before insurance and extras. Zoomo also sells used e-bikes starting at about $1,000 and new ones starting at $2,700 — close to industry standards.
Transit with a story
A lovely idea that *hey, CRL…* we can imagine working very well here: ticket dispensers in train stations that spit out not tickets, but stories in a receipt-like form. Something to read on the train that’s not our phones! Originating in France (of course?) the Bay Area Rapid Transit has them too, and is running a competition for local writers to provide short stories on the theme of ‘transit’.
Wouldn’t that be a fantastic way to tell tales of Tāmaki Makaurau/Auckland, and the stories behind new CRL station names?
Cargo by sail
File this under yes please, for now and into the future, and can I stow away? A 110 year old wooden schooner has been refurbished and is providing zero-emissions cargo delivery in the northern hemisphere. Run by SailCargo, the Vega has other advantages over fossil-fuel cargo ships too: it’s nimbler, smaller, and easier to unload.
Because it doesn’t use shipping containers—goods are loaded on pallets—it also has some logistical advantages. “Some of these fast vessels have to wait at port often up to two weeks, because they’re dependent on the port infrastructure,” says Doggett. “They need the big crane to unload the container. We do not—we can unload ourselves.”
We’re excited to get our hands on a copy of Movement, just out this month, which is subtitled how to take back our streets and transform our lives.
Join journalist Thalia Verkade and urban mobility expert Marco te Brömmelstroet as they confront their own underlying beliefs and challenge us to rethink our way of life to put people at the centre of urban design. But be warned: you will never look at the street outside your front door in the same way again.
It’s true, we just want boring things
Ka kite! Hope your weekend is full of boring stuff like uneventful bike rides, chill walks, and reliable PT.
Header image: Nicola Welten, via Twitter.