Nau mai haere mai to the last weekly roundup before days start getting longer again. What does the middle of the year bring us? Lots!
The week in Greater Auckland
On Monday, we shared a guest post that asked: is it time to switch sides?
Tuesday’s post was a guest post by Councillor Pippa Coom, about the renewed ‘outrage’ over the West Lynn bike lane improvements.
On Wednesday, Matt rounded up some excellent suggestions for Minister Wood to add to his itinerary when he’s in Europe this week.
Yesterday, we re-published a post from Island Bay Healthy Streets, about the involvement of car-sales businesses in stopping the Newtown Cycleway.
You might have noticed we’ve published a few guest posts this month. We’re always interested in hearing from new voices! if you’d like to send a post to us, check out our guidelines, and get in touch.
The city centre’s had a bit of bad press recently, but what’s it like for the 45,000 or so people who live in the area? This article on the NZ Herald speaks to some city centre residents, and looks at the bigger picture of the amenity that’s needed to support its population.
On the other side of Queen St Valley, Adam Parkinson is also happy with his decision to switch Sandringham bungalow for Emily Place apartment.“I love it here. I’m basically living in a 15 to 20 minute city, I can walk to everything I need. And at times there’s a lot of energy, and there’s a sense of being amongst it.”
Chloe Swarbrick gets behind the pedestrianisation of Queen Street
Earlier this week, the Green party released a petition led by Chloe Swarbrick to pedestrianise Queen Street. Swarbrick cites the City Center Masterplan, pointing out that the vision of a car-free Queen Street was agreed to years ago. It’s time to just get on with it.
“It’s fundamentally about equitable and fair access for everyone in our city centre, whether they be someone with disabilities, parents with prams, local residents or those on their way to work,” Swarbrick said. “The current layout of Queen Street is far from that vision.”
Sydney’s George Street transformation is a great example of what Queen Street could look like. George Street was transformed from a traffic street into a car-free street with light rail running down the middle.
Tāmaki’s sustainability scorecard
How well do we score? New research comparing health and sustainability outcomes of 25 different cities finds that Auckland is falling behind.
“Our research shows that Tāmaki Makaurau does not appear to have urban planning and transport policies incorporating health-focused actions and air pollution management, or housing density and street connectivity standards,” says Hinckson.
NZ Super Fund to back Eke Panuku
This seems like a positive opportunity. Eke Panuku is doing some good strategic work planning for the future of places in Tāmaku Makaurau – and a partnership with the NZ Super Fund will give them more budget to go further.
Paul Majurey, Eke Panuku Chair, says: “Partnering with the NZ Super Fund will give us access to long term Aotearoa-based capital, meaning we can adapt to market changes over time and widen the footprint of our work to transform Auckland’s town centres. Importantly, this new funding will mean we can up-scale and accelerate development plans and improve outcomes for Auckland. Our focus is on well-designed, mixed-use developments that reflect the Māori identity of our city, integrate with transport connections and incorporate sustainability.”
The lost Maunga of Tāmaki Makaurau
Definitely take some time this weekend to head over to The Spinoff and check out Toby Morris’ most recent Side-Eye comic, all about the Maunga of Tāmaki Makaurau: the many that we have lost because they were destroyed in the last 150 years, and how we’re treating those that remain.
Safer speeds in Glen Innes
We really liked this clear and positive messaging about safer speeds in Glen Innes from Auckland Transport. Consultation is open now for safer speeds in Glen Innes as well as Takapuna and Devonport town centres, and you can get more information on AT’s website.
Britomart to the airport in sixty seconds
It’s got to be some kind of record?? Joking aside, it’s nice to see the public transport trip to the airport looking pretty seamless.
Britomart Station to Auckland Airport in a minute pic.twitter.com/x3pB8eypuQ
— Malcolm McCracken (@urbanistfromwhk) June 15, 2022
Checking in on the Dominion Post’s mode shift series
June’s far from over – so we’ve got plenty more great content from Dominion Post’s mode shift month to cover.
What if public transport served Saturday sports?
First up, anyone who’s got school age kids will understand the Saturday sports-day logistics. More than one kid? That often means most of the day spent in the car getting between games. In this article, Yadana Saw wonders if there’s a better way to organise Saturday sports transport.
Reflecting on Saturday sport, it is ludicrous that we haven’t activated existing resources or employed some cross community and governmental teamwork to efficiently transport thousands of people from various sporting codes doing roughly the same thing, at the same location and when the time is known in advance. While a handful of players are organised enough to carpool, and the premier teams are well cared for, the rest of us weekend warriors will be scrambling out of our cars hoping we’ve made it on time.
Asking for more from the Manawatū transport plan
This is slightly beyond Wellington, but the west coast up to Whanganui is becoming a series of coastal satellite communities for Wellingtonians priced out of the capital. Residents of the area have sent Horizons Regional Council a clear message that they want better public transport: more services, more reliabity, and better infrastructure, such as shelters. In short, people want to find it easier to get around without a car.
Getting more rail services was especially popular with submitters, with Patrick Rooney from Save Our Trains saying the region was unique due to the number of many rail lines linking towns and cities.
Actually, driving gives most of us anxiety
It turns out that most of us find driving pretty stressful, according to the results of a study out of Massey University.
Massey University senior clinical psychologist Dr Joanne Taylor says the results of a survey showed 52 per cent of drivers reported mild anxiety, 16 per cent reported moderate to severe anxiety and only 31 per cent reported no anxiety.
But buses are an adventure!
This article features Lower Hutt walking and cycling advocate Karen Yung, who enjoys feeling more connected to her community when she walks or takes the bus.
People who would not usually talk to each other will discuss all manner of things at a bus stop, including the vexed subject of why buses are sometimes late, she says. “I do like the community interactions you have at a bus stop and getting to know the people in your neighbourhood is quite unique.”
Tauranga’s commissioners continue to hold their nerve in the Links Avenue trial
A couple of weeks ago we round-upped the news that Tauranga City’s commissioners were keeping the Links Ave bus lane trial in place, despite some loud community protests about the 1000s of fines incurred. This week’s update is that council will not refund any of the fines, deciding that the signage and information about the trial was sufficient to warn residents.
[Director of Transport Brendan Bisley] said the council could not stop the trial because Links Ave had been identified as a safety concern, and was “likely to result in some serious or fatal accident” without behaviour change.
One resident, a paraplegic man living on the street, didn’t agree with the fines, but noted that the change meant ‘a “far superior urban environment” for him to live in as he was a paraplegic and spent a lot of time at home.’
A sleek mode shift solution over the Wairoa River
Just up the road from Tauranga, we’re big fans of this new, good-looking addition on the Wairoa River Bridge. The bi-directional walking and cycling link connects up trails on the Wairoa River, and has just won at the Steel Construction New Zealand (SCNZ) Excellence in Steel Awards.
Neither the bridge’s deck nor the pier columns offered adequate spare capacity to retrofit a cycleway extension at deck level.
The company instead used lightweight, modular steel construction to add a cycleway to the existing bridge in a safe and innovative manner.
The eye-catching “clip-on” is now in use along the side of the existing bridge for walkers and cyclists.
All of the barriers to congestion pricing in NYC
Congestion pricing is raising its head above the parapet here (the Helen Clark foundation hosted a webinar on it this week), so it’s interesting to see how it’s being implemented – or not – in other places. At the New York Times, writer Ezra Klein has a bit of an urbanist and transport focus, and this piece dives into why it’s been so hard to implement congestion pricing in NYC. The barries to a relatively simple proposal appear to be frustratingly endless.
In 2021, the Biden administration struck a deal with New York. Rather than a full environmental impact statement — which now takes federal agencies, on average, 4.5 years to complete — New York could conduct an “environmental assessment,” which is a bit more forgiving. Still, the process called for 16 months of public meetings and traffic analyses. The Metropolitan Transportation Authority submitted a draft review in February. The Federal Highway Administration replied with more than 400 technical questions and comments.
Being an American bike messenger
In 2018 I won the Cargo race at the North American Cycle Courier Championship (NACCC) in Philadelphia on my Omnium Cargo bike. NACCC is a yearly bike race hosted by a different city each year. I have attended three, the one in Chicago, in NYC and the one in Philly. It is a race where Cycle Couriers come from all over the States and the main race is designed to mimic a typical day in the life of a courier.
The secret to small-scale mixed use
… is small scale landlords. We found this really interesting: cities where there are more and smaller landlords there tend to be more small, independent businesses. Click on the tweet below to read the whole thread.
One trick I learned from Tokyo that helps for understanding any city: when you come across a charming small biz in a sea of generic chains, ask them about their relationship with their landlord. For example, this is the fantastic Alabaster Bookshop, near Union Square in NYC… pic.twitter.com/ujPl4o4EqK
— Joe McReynolds (@McReynoldsJoe) June 14, 2022
This point in particular is worth sharing, an ultimate mixed-use solution:
The #1 source of these unconventional landlord relationships in Tokyo is banned in most of our cities: under Japan’s zoning, homeowners can put nearly any small biz in the bottom floor of their rowhouse, by-right! Any retiree who owns their house is a potential small biz landlord.
Why aren’t people driving less, even though fuel is so much more expensive?
Have you been thinking about this, this month, especially as petrol hovers above $3/litre? It turns out humans are ~surprise~ not the most rational of beings, driven by habit and preconceived ideas about what works for us more than anything else. A couple of smart Twitter threads explored the topic this week.
The first thread explains the psychology of habits, and how hard it can be to change them.
All this points to three lessons for policymakers:
1. Stop expecting new information, or incremental price changes, to alter ingrained behaviours. Just stop it. Seriously.
2. Look for times when people’s lives are disrupted and GO IN HARD to encourage change at this point. (Policymakers: you already know when all these points are! Moving house, having a child, getting a new job, retiring… We literally tell government when we do these things!)
3. Support new behaviour long enough that old habits can fade away entirely. This will take weeks, or months. “Bike to work day” isn’t going to cut it, because the underlying urge to drive remains intact despite the day off. Same for “Healthy eating week” or whatever.
While the next picked up on the thread, and provided a perfect, transport themed illustration of the principle in action.
Because we all need something soothing on a Friday morning. Just press play on this video, make it full screen, and leave it there on repeat for a little while.
Bruce Mau: start with fact-based optimism
An fascinating read on Arch Daily reports on the premiere of a documentary about Bruce Mau, a visionary designer who wants to use design as ‘a means of communication that can transform society at large.’ He criticises the idea of design as being about systems, because –
“we invented this idea that if we can’t resolve it in our system, we’re going to put it outside of the system, and we’re going to call it an externality.” His example was the exhaust from your car; it’s an externality because someone else deals with its consequences. This no longer works, Mau said. “We very intentionally designed it that way, and it allows us to do absolutely horrendous things in the world. You can’t say, ‘It’s not my problem, it’s your problem.’ It’s our problem.” For Mau, what’s needed isn’t change, but action.
The Bruce Mau documentary was in the Architecture and Design Film festival in May, and will be available to stream online in July.
Parking – the hot topic since 1958
Finishing back where we started – the city centre, where, apparently, even back in 1958 they were having to remind people that Roads are NOT houses for cars!. This image was shared by the Auckland City Centre Residents Group.
Have a wonderful weekend!