Kia ora koutou. Weekly roundup’s coming a day early this week because tomorrow is our very first Matariki public holiday.

Cover image by Mark Russell, via Twitter.

The week in Greater Auckland

On Monday, Matt wrote about the future of the Onehunga line, which will no longer go all the way to Britomart after this weekend.

Tuesday’s post, by Heidi, covered the latest designs for Penlink, following Government’s approval of the project.

Yesterday, Matt broke down recent PT ridership data, which has been all over the place since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Happy Matariki!

There’s a palpable sense of excitement around our very first public holiday that’s based in mātauranga māori. People are working out how to mark the occasion in a way that seems appropriate to its meaning in te ao māori: we’ve heard of plans to have family gatherings, to go tree planting with friends, and to climb the local maunga with the neighbours to do some star-gazing.

Matariki ki Waihorotiu

Matariki te Manawa, an exhibition of work by Māori artists, is lighting up the city centre until the 16th of July.

Highlights will include an impressive lightshow projected onto the Chief Post Office building on lower Queen St that will tell the story of Matariki in Tāmaki Makaurau and sculptures of birds soaring above the street.

Matariki themed artworks are on display among shopfronts at Britomart and Commercial Bay, and Queen Street has been graced with two beautiful Matariki Waharoa.

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Queen street closure between Wakefield St and Wellesley St

From July 3rd, a short stretch of Queen Street from Wakefield St down to Wellesley Street will become an ‘Essential Vehicle Area’. This means no private vehicles, taxis and car-share will be allowed to pass through here. Bikes, scooters, buses, and delivery vehicles are still able to use it.

Light rail as imagined by kids

Auckland Light Rail has published dozens of kids’ drawings illustrating how they imagine light rail. Their drawings show trains rolling past maunga, beneath the sky tower, through cityscapes, and alongside the harbour.

It’s a vision of light rail on the surface, connected to and engaging with the city it is serving.

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Dive into the CRL tunnels

You will definitely love this – a One News reporter gets to explore the CRL tunnels and chat to the people building them.

Does truck-based freight make roads more dangerous?

Prompted by the awful crash in Picton in the weekend, in which seven people were killed when their van collided with a truck, this article asks if we should be shifting back to rail freight systems to reduce death and injury on our roads.

At a conservative estimate, about 2500 people have been killed on our roads due to accidents involving heavy vehicles since deregulation.

The overwhelming majority of these accidents involve the largest category of trucks such as B-trains or articulated truck and trailer units hitting much smaller vehicles on our busiest State Highways.

The real tragedy is that this level of carnage over the past four decades and future accidents could have and can be greatly reduced by increasing our investment in our rail network and also coastal shipping, to allow proper integration of road, rail and shipping services to the benefit of all those modes of transport in terms of efficiency and safety.

What fuel price rise?

People on ebikes continue to feel happily smug about how much money they save every time they commute by bike instead of car. #sorrynotsorry

Still shifting modes in Wellington

We hope the Dominion Post continues its focus on mode shift and urbanist issues even after their ‘mode shift month’ is over. They’ve put some great writing out so far this month.

Jarrett Walker on improving transport in Wellington

First up, an interview with public transport planning guru Jarrett Walker. Walker very clearly explains some core transport strategy ideas, and talks about Wellington’s particular challenges.

The unique thing about Wellington is the extraordinary choke point that the CBD represents. You have to go through it to get from one side of the city to the other.

This means that you have an enormous amount of travel volume going through that little space – down four or five streets – so you’re going to reach an urban scale of congestion much more quickly than a city like Auckland, which has fewer choke points, or Melbourne, which is a giant grid with multiple paths for every trip.

This is why it’s so important to have the bus-only facilities, and to be using relatively large buses to provide access for as many people as possible.

What is Let’s Get Wellington Moving anyway?

If you’ve been wondering what ‘LGWM’ is really all about, the Mode Shift series has a thorough explainer online. LGWM is a $6.4b investment programme into transport in Wellington. It includes things like the Golden Mile improvements, plans for mass rapid transit, and a big question mark about some new tunnels (more below)

They’ve currently got four different options that are being assessed and consulted on. But the overall goal of the programme is mode shift: getting people out of cars and making it easier to get around by public transport, bike, scooter, and by walking. Former Project Director David Dunlop has said:

“The world is changing, and we’ve been given a very clear direction from our governors around what the expectations are, and the need to think about the future, and obviously mode shift and carbon are really high in terms of weighting for our objectives.”

An illustration of changes to the Golden Mile. Image via Stuff.
For the price of two tunnels…

Each of the four LGWM options have different combinations of a new tunnel through Mt Victoria and/or an extension of the Arras Tunnel near the Basin Reserve. So how many ebikes can be bought for the cost of a new vehicle tunnel through Mt Victoria?

The projected cost of a new tunnel through Mt Victoria is $1.4b, and extending the Arras tunnel near the Basin Reserve would cost a further $800 million – a total of $2.2b.

This amount could buy each of the 506,814 people in the Wellington region a brand new ebike. With the average cost of an entry-level ebike at $2500, this would total $1.27b (so there would still be $930m left over).

Speed management plan parks up

We won’t try and compete with the puns and clever one-liners in this opinion piece by Dave Armstrong, expressing his frustration at seeing the vote on an apparently sensible and straightforward speed reduction proposal get delayed until August.

Deputy mayor Sarah “Free Parking” Free is hugely supportive of cycling but has also supported free weekend parking and has tooted positively about a second tunnel. Once an official Green, she has decided to stand as an independent this time

Car-free in Pontevedra, where no-one’s been killed on the road since 2009

The city centre of Pontevedra, in Spain, is about the same size as Wellington’s, but it’s much safer and healthier. The city centre has been car free for 20 years.

A total of 30 people died in traffic accidents on the city’s streets between 1996 and 2006. There were three deaths the following three years, but no-one has died in a traffic accident since 2009, The Guardian has reported.

Now, carbon dioxide emissions are down 67% – half a ton per person – and nearly three-quarters of journeys which would have been made by car are now made on foot or by bike.

The beginning of the end for petrol stations in cities

What happens to petrol stations when they become obsolete – and could banning petrol stations be a tool that gets deployed in the mission to get rid of fossil fuels? As reported in The Guardian, some cities around the world are already banning the construction of new petrol stations. You could argue that market forces will phase them out, but putting in place a ban is a forward thinking policy when we take into account the cost of remediating land that’s been contaminated by having a petrol station built over it.

With 80% of gas stations on track to be unprofitable by 2035, allowing new stations to be built is simply a bad investment for any city or county. And that’s before you even consider that the cost of remediating a gas station site ranges from tens of thousands to more than $2m, with an average cost of $243,299 a site. Have fun explaining that to constituents.

Paris’ summer of bicycles

This summer seems to be really serving the evidence of Paris’ transformation into a cycling city (also, it seems like half of the cool urbanists we follow on social media are in Europe, on a bike, this month).

Rue de Rivoli, just a couple of years ago, was all cars. Then, some of its traffic lanes were reallocated to become a protected bike lane. Now it’s entirely devoted to bikes, scooters and pedestrians.

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France is safer than ever, and businesses are doing well too

This article on Bloomberg, about why roads are so much safer for people in France than in the USA, goes into the relationship between safety and creating good places.

The French experience suggests to me that if you enact safety measures in center cities to create beautifully designed spaces, to add vegetation, to provide incentives for shops and restaurants to be opened up to plazas, you will end up with a more dynamic community with a citizenry that is more likely to walk and bike — and one that has fewer people dying on its roads.

Speaking of great places

This is the kind of bike heaven we’d like to end up in.

Right-sized vehicles

Yes, we are practically paid-up members of The War on Cars, but we’re not entirely anti-vehicles. The right vehicle, of the right size, in the right place, at the right time can be a perfectly useful part of city infrastructure. Check out these examples of compact urban service vehicles working in Zadar, Croatia.

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Green policy for a green facade

In the Dutch version of the New York Stoop, front doors open right onto the street, and ground-floor residents lay claim over their geveltuin (‘facade space’) – a stretch of pavement for gardening, benches, picnic tables. It’s a policy that explicitly allows for an overlap of private use use into public space, and it makes Dutch streets feel uniquely vibrant and communal.

Book recommendation: this week, zoning

Is it just us, or has there been a rush of great transport and urbanism books this year?

Arbitrary Lines looks excellent. It steps into the current conversation about zoning, how zoning took over the planning system of so many cities, and why it might be time to get rid of it.

It’s time for America to move beyond zoning, argues city planner M. Nolan Gray in Arbitrary Lines: How Zoning Broke the American City and How to Fix It. With lively explanations and stories, Gray shows why zoning abolition is a necessary–if not sufficient–condition for building more affordable, vibrant, equitable, and sustainable cities.

Consider your climate shadow, instead of your carbon footprint

If Matariki gets you in a reflective mood, spend some time pondering your climate shadow this weekend. This article critiques the established convention of the ‘carbon footprint’, which was originally promoted by BP to try and focus the blame for emissions on individuals rather than their industry, and which tends to emphasise consumption choices.

The concept of a climate shadow is a more meaningful way to think about the impact our choices have, and it focuses on where we spend our energy – not just our money.

The problem with the carbon footprint is that […] our footprints don’t paint an accurate picture of our true individual impact on the climate crisis. And by encouraging eco-minded people to use their carbon footprints as a “guide” to fight climate change, we risk them spending all of their energy on low-impact individual actions that are easy to quantify, like recycling or turning off lights, instead of putting that energy toward broader, more meaningful work, like lobbying local politicians or speaking up at work about wasteful practices.

Imagine if Greta Thunberg had decided to devote her attention to using less water or ditching dairy products instead of creating #FridaysforFuture.

Waitītiko from source to sea

This local documentary, funded by the Albert-Eden Local Board, traces the journey of Waitītiko from its source in Mt Albert to where it meets the sea at Meola Creek. A lovely reminder of the many stories that exist quietly in the landscape beneath our feet.

Kia waimarie, kia haumaru tōu wikini roa. Hope your long weekend is peaceful and safe.

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  1. Always thought it was counterproductive when TranzRail closed a pile of private sidings because shunting them was considered a dangerous activity but the end result is obviously more trucks and more potential for carnage on our city streets. Put the accountability on somebody else’s balance sheet i guess.

  2. The figures quoted by the Dom Post in their “Mode Shift” section are, I think, totally wrong. The article says: “The projected cost of a new tunnel through Mt Victoria is $1.4b, and extending the Arras tunnel near the Basin Reserve would cost a further $800 million – a total of $2.2b.”

    Seeing as the Arras tunnel apparently cost $90 million to build at the time, and already has done all the hard lifting (eg – it is the bit that actually has the tunnel), then extending that to the actual Basin Reserve is a very small amount of money left to complete the work. Someone is trying to spin the costs to make it look bad by mentioning a “tunnel” – in fact, all that is needed near the Arras tunnel is a slight trench up the hill and a new (very small) bridge over for Sussex Street. Nowhere near $800 million, unless they plan to spend $750 million on orange road cones while they do the work…

  3. There is also a ‘Police and injured cyclist have grim safety warnings over Auckland Transport cycling project’ in today’s Herald, written by Bernard Orsman. The article, which I’ve read for free on PressReader, argues that motorists are hitting the barriers and they should therefore be removed. Orsman does not interview anyone, apart from AT, who supports the cycleway. Perhaps a complaint could be made about how balanced the article is.

    1. I marked the installation of the kerbs in my diary. I thought it would be interesting after five years to see if crashes decreased or increased as a result of what they have done.

    2. That section has wide vehicle lanes and a 2 metre median strip pretty much all the way along. Difficult to see how drivers managed a head-on near miss.

      The moaning about blocked entries is just that, the separators change the exit and entry angles, slowing vehicles using the driveways as they cross the cycle lane and footpath, without preventing access

      Still, the cycle lane been allowed to go live without the signage, reflectors or hit sticks to mark the concrete separators. It should have been closed until completed.

      1. I think the view of the police officer in the article is probably more accurate, in the absence of photographs covering the whole road width

        1. The Police Officer’s statements are the worst kind of non-evidence based reckons, completely out of step with Safe System design, and in need of a comprehensive apology and clarification from the Police Commissioner. They make me wonder if the Police have any VZ training happening at all, and whether they have a quality check process for statements to the press.

      2. It has a flush median (and previously had shoulders) on the 2/3 that Takapuna City and North Shore City widened to reduce a serious crash problem. There are two significant parts that have no flush median.

      1. Fonterra are only too pleased to reply. They are proud to say that NZ farmers have the most sustainable farming practices anywhere in the world – their cows shit much less into waterways and destroy less of the atmosphere it seems. It’s all so encouraging, unless you pause to think.

  4. What is the point of Queen st EVA and in that weird mid town location? Why isn’t it pedestrian only down to Customs?

    Delivery vehicles still allowed – wow that will really improve things seeing how delivery drivers just park and drive all over the footpath and wherever they like in the city.

  5. Off topic, but I was walking through Keith Hay Park this morning and it struck me how crazy it is to have such a big golf club (Akarana) in a location that is a very short walk to:
    1) Proposed light rail (probably 10-15 mins to city)
    2) Frequent bus routes 25, 68 (and a bit further: 66, 27)
    3) Keith Hay park, swimming pool, gym, sports fields
    4) Mount Roskill primary, intermediate and secondary schools
    5) New World, the Warehouse etc at the Roskill Centre
    6) Roskill South and Mount Roskill shopping centres
    7) South western cycleway, Oakley Creek cycleway
    8) Puketapapa mountain

    And it is also very close to:
    9) South western motorway
    10) Maungakiekie Golf Club!!

    This would be such a good spot for some really high density development. Its even quite flat.

    1. Takapuna Golf Club the same.
      It has the advantage that it is not on a proposed light rail route, but actually on the bus way.

    2. Three Kings shops, plus the Carr Road shops also nearby.

      There must be very few cities that have two golf courses so close together on prime land.

  6. Re cycleways,the “authorities” seem absolutely determined to do all they can to prevent cycleways succeeding.Any improvements are done in a “half arsed” way,that invokes the wrath of the motoring public.
    There are articles about NZ,s lack of mobility,leading to poor health outcomes.
    Obesity = Bike
    Mental health = Bike
    Over worked health system= Bike
    Climate change =Bike
    Traffic congestion=Bike
    Note to current and future government’s, this does not require a task force,inquiry,etc,these are proven methods,for all our sakes,”Just do it”

    1. Bryan, yes, yes, yes and yes.

      The problem is we have so many politicians that can find reasons to do something later (perhaps with the hope that it will be never?). My current favorite is that Auckland cannot do congestion charging until CRL provides better options for travel to the city. I am struggling to see how things will improve post CRL when I travel from the Shore, or then go west or south?

  7. All this talk about LGWM, I wonder how the wellington region’s central govt transport spending compared to others?

    They have got a number of large, sub 1.0 BCR highways lately. The latest ones look to be paid out of general taxes too.

    I see some of the argument that taxation from cities should somewhat support infra in rural areas. But a couple decades of city to city cross subsidisation as a part of business as usual operations would really get on the nose, particularly for Aucklanders when AC is paying 50-50 for CRL and wellington is absolutely not pulling its weight when it comes to population growth and looks to be running core council assets into the ground. What will be the cost sharing agreement be for LGWM?

  8. I like the Italian autostrada model. Roads are tolled to pay for more roads. What’s been the consequence? Between some cities 50% of travel is by rail. Of course it requires a good (great) rail system which you can afford if you aren’t spending vast amounts of money on roads with a poor rate of return.

  9. I think you should be able to build a new petrol station should you wish, but you should provide a bond for the remediation costs as part of the development proposal. This would need to be applied to all existing heavy polluting businesses.

    This will cause some financial hardship to some business, but we should be funding the delayed externalities up front.

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