Kia ora. It’s been a wet and gloomy week but Weekly Roundup’s here to brighten things up!
Cover image from Mont Royal, Montreal – read more below.
The week in Greater Auckland
On Monday, a guest post explained why biofuels aren’t the solution we’re led to believe they are.
Tuesday’s post, a guest post by Jack Gibbons, was about emissions and safety effects of the speed limit raising on the Waikato Expressway.
Wednesday’s post was about a recent wave of cancelled buses and trains.
Yesterday, we wrote about the High Court’s decision on the All Aboard Aotearoa (AAA) vs Auckland Transport and Auckland Council judicial review.
2000 PT cancellations a day in Auckland this week
Matt wasn’t wrong about the rise in public transport service cancellations that he wrote about on Wednesday. As reported at Stuff, daily cancellations reached new records this week. Winter sickness, COVID cases, and staff shortages have combined to create a perfect storm.
The number of services cancelled daily is close to 2000, up from 1400 two months ago.
The disruption is occurring mostly on bus services and amounts to one in seven of Auckland’s weekday services not running.
The next piece of the climate action puzzle
Todd Niall writes about the looming Transport Emissions Reduction Plan, which is still behind closed doors at Council, but will be released to the public in August. The TERP will spell out real actions for Auckland to take to reduce emissions from transport. Council will be voting on the plan right before the local body elections in October.
For TERP to have meaning, it will need clear councillor support – not the increasingly popular trend towards abstaining on sensitive votes.
The temptation for councillors to say “TERP is such a significant step, it must be left to the incoming council that first assembles in November” will be great.
Green Party backs trains for climate action
Fronted by Julie-Ann Genter, the Green Party has launched a campaign appealing for more investment in intercity rail networks. Their petition has racked up 3000 signatures in less than 48 hours.
Aotearoa once had an incredible rail service. In the Lower North Island, we’re fortunate enough to still have passenger train services between Wellington and the Manawatū and the Wairarapa. But in the face of the climate crisis, we can’t take this infrastructure for granted. We urge you to act now to save and rebuild the Lower North Island passenger trains.
As reported on Stuff, the money lost when the Government removed the fuel tax would have paid for much needed investment in lower-North Island rail services.
Stumping up the rest of the money would keep the services running and help meet the Government’s goal of reducing transport emissions by 10% by 2030, the letter said.
Genter said the first three months of the fuel tax cut cost $350m, which was enough to cover the Government’s share of the rail upgrade.
Ironically (or not) the $350M needed from central govt crown funding is almost exactly the same amount the Govt just spent on 5 months of making petrol marginally cheaper. https://t.co/WMKjbq07Jf
— Julie Anne Genter (@JulieAnneGenter) July 12, 2022
We can do better than the Northern Explorer
Depressingly, the Northern Explorer between Auckland and Wellington is getting back on track, but not in a way that’s at all useful for people who are looking for a low-carbon way to get across the motu. London-based NZ journalist Josh Martin is disappointed at the narrow focus of the service.
Tracey Goodall, general manager for scenic journeys and commuter rail at KiwiRail summed up the strategy, saying the Northern Explorer, Coastal Pacific and TranzAlpine trains “serve a different market to commuter-style services, and focus on a visitor’s journey.”
The price of a trip on the explorer is definitely not designed to tempt commuters out of the plane, or even a normal family on a train-travel holiday.
Even outside of the high season, a quick quote for an Auckland-to-Wellington return journey for two adults and two children came to a staggering $1488.
A return London-to-Cornwall journey in peak summer season was $170 per adult. To go from Milan in northern Italy all the way down to Tropea on Italy’s foot in 9.5 hours, trundling past Tuscany and Pompeii as I did a couple of years back would be $210 for an adult and $670 return for a family of four.
Appreciating Wellington’s rail network
After the gloomy train news above, it’s refreshing to be reminded that there are bits of our train network that are actually doing their job pretty well.
Germany’s 9Euro train ticket reduces traffic jams
In an effort to encourage more sustainable travel, and reduce fuel consumption since the beginning of the war in Ukraine, Germany introduced a ticket that allowed people to travel as much as they like for a month for just 9 Euro.
Data analysis has found that the ticket led to a measureable reduction in car trips and time spent in congestion.
An analysis by the traffic data specialist Tomtom for the German Press Agency shows a decrease in the level of congestion in 23 of the 26 cities examined compared to the time before the introduction. The data “suggests that this decline is related to the introduction of the nine-euro ticket,” said Tomtom traffic expert Ralf-Peter Schäfer. “Commuters lost less time driving to and from work in June than in May in almost all cities surveyed.”
Who knew?? Investing in alternative modes reduces congestion, making roads better for everyone!
Different needs, different trips
This infographic by Women Mobilize Women is excellent. It outlines 5 principles to help transport planners understand how transport systems should be designed to meet womens’ needs.
Historically, transport systems have been planned around a male, able-bodied norm. They therefore don’t meet the needs of women, children and marginalised groups. How can this discrimination be overcome?
Visualising trip patterns
Alec Tang shared a great diagram this week on the same topic. Do our transport systems truly meet the needs of both trips pictured here?
love a good visual.
our transport issues don’t exist in isolation.
they’re a product of the lives we lead & shaped by the structures we’ve built. structures with inherent & likely outdated assumptions.
we can’t change one without addressing the others.https://t.co/KI1k4U2Mhr pic.twitter.com/8Yf9DK6fUG
— Alec Tang 鄧振揚 (@AlecTang_) July 8, 2022
The week in … wet-bulb heatwaves
Even scarier than the week in flooding, we really hope we don’t have to make the week in wet-bulb events a regular feature of roundup. Wet-bulb heatwaves, the humid type of heatwaves, are a very real climate change effect and they’re becoming more likely.
Slate has a somewhat alarming explainer about wet-bulb temperatures, and about what we can do now to reduce their risk in the future. Unsurprisingly, the way we design cities and transport is a big part of the solution.
The No. 1 intervention, though, is still to reduce climate pollution, and that means cars and SUVs. Reducing car use and replacing land used by cars with land used by housing, trees, and transit will make cities cooler in the short and long terms. Regardless of what we achieve with clean technology, we have to end our 75-year, failed experiment with energy-intensive sprawl and car culture.
Designing the waterfront in the sea-level-rise era
Waterfront redevelopments changed the course of many port cities in the late 20th and early 21st centuries. Transforming former industrial waterfront spaces into thriving, people-friendly civic spaces uplifted cities all over the world – including New Zealand: think of how different Wellington would be without its waterfront spaces around Te Papa and Waitangi Park, or Auckland without Wynyard Quarter and Silo Park.
But now that the reality of sea level rise is lapping at those same cities’ shores, how should waterfront spaces change? This article on UrbanLand looks at what waterfront cities around Europe are doing to defend themselves against sea level rise.
It no longer is enough to swap out barges for yachts and warehouses for sleek glass seafood restaurants. With the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change predicting a sea-level rise of 3.28 feet (1 m) or more by the end of the century and at least 10 times as many violent storms, planners are taking a more defensive approach to waterfront design in the hope that they can deliver the appeal of urban life near the water without putting lives at risk.
Big battery Electric SUVs will not solve our emissions problems
We’ve said it here before, and we’ll say it again: sure, EVs have a role to play in reducing transport emissions, but they’re just one slice of the whole solution. And as EVs get bigger, their potential to make a dent in transport emissions gets smaller. The 9,000 pound – that’s 4,000 kilograms – electric Hummer described in this article about EV efficiency is quite frankly a freak of a machine that shouldn’t be legal.
The environmental impact of EVs isn’t just about the electricity generated to power each mile. The manufacturing process also causes the release of greenhouse gases at several stages, known as the embodied emissions of the vehicle. EVs in particular—with heavy battery packs—use minerals that need to be mined, processed, and turned into batteries. The pursuit of greater driving range and larger vehicles require increasing battery size, also increasing embodied emissions.
How many ebike batteries do you think we could get for the emissions of the battery of one electric Hummer?
A lifelong car enthusiast sidles into the war on cars
Love a redemption story? You’ll probably enjoy this post by a long-time car blogger about realizing that cars are actually making his life worse…
Building social hubs on Brooklyn streets
There’s so much in this deep-dive into the transformation of several main streets in the Brooklyn, New York neighbourhoods of Carroll Gardens and Cobble Hill. The article explains how, spurred by the COVID-19 lockdowns, seven social hubs were created around the neighborhoods that have changed their streets forever.
The ‘hubs’ are all made out of lightweight, simple additions to the streets – seating, planter boxes, makeshift stoops and light shelters. But together they create a network of people-friendly spaces that have become an essential part of this community.
Until recently, we’ve observed a steady nibbling-away at a historic past. Unfortunately, this resulted in a decreasing sense of place. We lost precious stores: two book stores; multiple local pharmacies. Then, we got new buildings that had no sense of contribution to the historic street life. These replaced older ones that had helped our communities to be a place with a unique character, reaching back to the 1830s when these two communities were laid out.
Some of the things that have defined the transformation of these Brooklyn neighborhoods into places characterized by social hubs have been the attention to corners and intersections and the addition of many types of amenities. Together, these trends have created a new future for these neighborhoods.
Incidences of community
We loved this article about the the effect that the physical shape of a neighbourhood can have on one’s quality of life, and sense of the community. The author, an American, compares a neighbourhood full of human interactions in his adopted European home with the places he grew up in.
I’ve come to understand my little European neighborhood as a community. It’s an old neighborhood. Say the name, and everyone understands. It’s been a haven for artists and intellectuals and musicians for…centuries now. It’s that kind of place. But there are a lot of neighborhoods like that, and they don’t have to be like that, either. To have this special thing called community.Life in America is the polar opposite. Nobody stops to have such chats. To interact. I go to the cafe. The one I go to multiple times a day every time I’m back. They pretend not to know me. Nope, never seen you before, vampire looking guy in the leather jacket and boots with the incongruously ridiculous tiny white dog. I go to the other cafe I’ve been going to for years. Same deal.
Places that provide us with these small moments of connection are humanising places: they help us form real relationships with the people around us, to see each other as members of the same community. They help us have a stake in each others’ lives.
Transformative potential in city streets
The de-car-ing of city streets continues to deliver inspiring transformations for communities all over the world.
First, a simple carpark reallocation…
The evolution of public space. pic.twitter.com/JCvJKfHUgt
— Adam Tranter (@adamtranter) July 10, 2022
Next, Berlin’s Fiedrichstraße is now carless…
Mont Royal, a central street in Montreal’s Mile End district…
… has become a glorious 2.5km long public living room.
And a central street in New York’s Little Italy neighbourhood…
…has swapped car parks for people space.
Meanwhile, in Paris… super-neighbours in a super-neighbourhood!
As reported in the Guardian, there’s a revolution in the streets of Paris. But not that kind. A street dinner in 2017 led to a transformation of a whole district, and the lives of the 15,000 people within it:
The revolutionaries pledged their allegiance that September day in 2017 to the self-styled République des Hyper Voisins, or Republic of Super Neighbours, a stretch of the 14th arrondissement on the Left Bank, encompassing roughly 50 streets and 15,000 residents. In the five years since, the republic – a “laboratory for social experimentation” – has attempted to address the shortcomings of modern city living, which can be transactional, fast-paced, and lonely.
Almost five years on, the social transformation continues, with locals working towards shared goals of environment, healthcare, public spaces and mobility – and generally just getting together, looking after each other, and being awesome:
Nearly 2,000 people now attend weekly brunches and apéritifs in local restaurants, cultural outings, memory exchanges, children’s activities and more. During the pandemic, residents mobilised to make masks, deliver shopping to vulnerable neighbours and bake cakes to support a local charity.
They’ve also reclaimed public space so people can gather, under the delightful name Place des Droits de l’Enfant, “The Square for Children’s Rights.” What do you reckon: is Aotearoa ready for some super-neighbourhoods with children at the heart?
The new public square was inaugurated on a sun-kissed day of homemade food, live music, ecological board games for children and compost sharing. “Here, people have time to talk,” says Patrick Touzeau, 46, who moved to the area with his three children in 2018. “It’s a beautiful thing. It’s a collective effort. The benefits don’t happen straight away, it takes time. But I think that this concept should be everywhere.”
English mayors practicing people-first politics
In a wide-ranging interview on The Guardian, six mayors of English cities, including London’s Sadiq Kahn, make a convincing case for city-level politics being where real innovation and progress can be found. Bristol’s Mayor Marvin Rees argues for mayors to have a bigger role in shaping policy –
If I was a government minister, whenever I wanted to do something new, the first thing I’d do is ask the 11 core cities to meet me. In many ways, the world has outgrown the current model of governance, which is an over-reliance on national government, but I don’t think national government has caught up with that fact. The new model that we need to move into is one that has mayors as equal partners in shaping policy.
It’s a summer of bikes in London, too
Move over Paris! London’s bike boom has happened in little more than 2 years. There must be well over fifty people on bikes moving through a single intersection in this 30 second clip.
Auckland’s secret underground tunnel
Wonder how many GA readers will know about Auckland’s 20 year old underground tunnel that travels from Hobson St to Penrose – it’s even got its own train. This tunnel is not, of course, the CRL or even ALR. It’s a Vector tunnel, carrying a third of Auckland’s power in huge cables.
Tunnel construction started in 1997, and included driving two massive tunnel-boring machines inward, towards each other from opposite ends.
To give an idea of the sheer size of the operation – the boring machines were roughly the length of two rugby fields each.
“Hole-through” – where the two machines finally met within millimetres of exact alignment – occurred 100m below Khyber Pass in January, 2000.
We don’t endorse KFC, but we do endorse this map.
here’s a map you didn’t know you needed pic.twitter.com/W1lVYa7rk9
— Jono Cooper (@consindo) July 13, 2022
Kia haumaru tō rā whakatā – have a safe and restful weekend – and see you next week.