Kia ora and welcome to the end of a stormy week… expect heatwaves in this roundup, there’s been so much weather this week that we couldn’t not talk about it.

The week in Greater Auckland

On Monday, Matt covered both the ownership change for Auckland ferries, and the Government’s extension of the fuel tax reduction and public transport discount.

In Tuesday’s post, Matt wrote about Mayoral candidate Efeso Collins’ transport policy.

Wednesday’s post was about plans for north-Auckland rapid transport improvements, which have just gone out for consultation.

Yesterday, Matt explored the just-opened upgrade on upper Federal Street – which is being billed as Auckland getting a little bit of Paris, as a treat.

Great North Road improvements

Really good storytelling from AT in this comprehensive video about the bike lanes and other improvements planned for Great North Road and across the wider inner west area. We can’t wait to see construction start on this much needed project and those it connects to! It absolutely puts the spotlight on other corridors too (*cough* Ponsonby Road *cough*).

A new walking and cycling path for Henderson

The ‘Wai Horotiu Henderson Connection’ concept plan has been approved by the Henderson-Massey Local Board. The path will be a walking and cycling path connection that closes a big gap in the area.

The design connects the current gap in walking and cycle paths between Tui Glen Reserve (behind Westwave) and Vitasovich Avenue, along Edmonton Road. It will now move into developed design phase taking it to resource consent level.

A drawing of the concept illustrates some very cool looking walkway structures, and suggests some separation between people walking and people on wheels.

A concept image of the Wai Horotiu Henderson Connection

A smart idea for Hobson St

Greater Auckland reader Roeland tweeted this streetmix of Hobson Street, a positively Dutch reorganisation of the (vast) space available.

CRL breakthroughs and drop-ins

We nearly forgot to add this exciting news to the round-up: the boring machine has broken through at Karanga a Hape on its journey from Maungawhau to the city.

The TBM will be pushed forward through the 230-metre tunnel cavern to the site of the other station entrance at Beresford Square [ed: remember, the entrance we nearly didn’t get?before continuing its journey. It’s expected to reach Mayoral Drive around September.

And if you’ve followed the development of the new purple Elizabeth Line in London, you’ll be interested to hear that the CEO of that immense project, Mark Wild, was in Auckland this week and dropped in on the CRL project.

While praising the epic effort it takes to build these things, he notes we shouldn’t underestimate the challenge of turning an engineering project into a working railway line. We rather like the way he invites managers to “stand in the shoes of the women and men who drive trains and operate platforms”:

Te Huia’s patronage continues to rise

Te Huia is quietly sending a powerful message about the appeal of inter-city train travel. As Stuff reports, passenger numbers on the service are ticking steadily upwards.

Waikato Regional Council’s director regional transport connections, Mark Tamura said they saw another 10% month-on-month increase from May to June.

“The average weekday we are now carrying 217 people, and our Saturday average is 318.”

Having over 200 people is also important for the council as that’s the point they break even with the private car in terms of total emissions for the journey.

“So we are now really pleased to say, hand on heart, we’ve got a lower emissions option for people getting between the two centres.

The nationwide 50% discount on public transport prices have clearly had a positive effect: the trip is just $9 each way from Auckland to Hamilton, which makes it a very affordable day out. It sounds like the people who are discovering Te Huia are finding classic benefits of train travel are in reach.

“We are seeing people use it both north and south bound, it’s not just the cost of the fuel. I think people genuinely enjoy the experience, and it is also a way to avoid traffic which can get pretty painful on either side of the weekend.”

Carrots and sticks to get LGWM done

Over at the Dominion post, an editorial swung behind the Let’s Get Wellington Moving programme this week. Following the release of some glossy new illustrations of the proposed Golden Mile transformation, the editorial talks about the opportunity the plans represent, citing a number of examples of cities and places that saw economic uplift follow the removal of private vehicles.

A Copenhagen study found that society loses €0.71 ($1.17) for every kilometre driven but earns €0.64 ($1.06) for every kilometre cycled. A project in Madrid, where the city centre was closed to cars for the 2018 winter holiday season, found that retail earnings increased by 9.5% on the city’s main shopping street.

A render of Golden Mile improvements at Courtenay Place

But the carrots and the sticks still need to be deployed – it’s about both making driving less appealing, and improving public transport, walking and cycling so those options become the better choice.

But the international experience also points to another overwhelming conclusion for encouraging people to shift modes of transport: It is not enough to make it harder to drive. City planners also need to create positive reasons to take a bus or train or to cycle around.

The surge in demand for public transport since fares were halved is a testament to the power of carrots.

Discount transport learnings from Germany

The price of public transport fares is a big political and practical question at the moment. Last week we linked to a study that found Germany’s 9 Euro train ticket had led to reduced traffic in many cities. This week, Jan Tattenburg has written an explanation of Germany’s experience of the 9 Euro ticket scheme, and what we might be able to learn from it.

Munich public transport passenger numbers are up 10% compared to pre-pandemic levels. The railways report passenger numbers 15% higher than pre-pandemic.

Fare evasion in Berlin is down over 90%, even as passenger numbers increased. This suggests fare evasion is driven by high prices.

Nelson’s active transport strategy

E Tu Whakatū is Nelson’s active transport strategy, and it’s got big goals to reduce carbon emissions from transport and give people more choices in how they get around the city. The communications and positive messaging coming from the council look really good, and they’ve definitely got their head around the disadvantages of shared paths as more people get on bikes.

She said for those people, safety and the perception of safety were important, so the plan included proposals for dedicated cycle-ways separated from both traffic and pedestrians on routes with high speed traffic (50kph or over) and reduced speed limits where that was not possible.

That could mean reducing on-street parking in some areas to free up space for cycle lanes – something which was important not only for the safety of people who chose to cycle, but also for people who wanted to walk and felt unsafe on shared cycle and pedestrian pathways.

A page from Nelson’s active travel strategy document

The strategy is currently open for consultation if you’re from Nelson and would like to have your say.

The week in… everything from flooding to heatwaves

We promised weather up above, and here it is. While it’s been wet and stormy down here in Aotearoa, in Europe a biblical heatwave has seen fires across the continent, and unheard-of temperatures in Great Britain.

Thermometers rose to 40 degrees in southern parts of England this week, and the heat is causing havoc on the country’s rail network, and airports have been forced to close runways temporarily.

National Rail has said that on Tuesday most routes across England and Wales will be affected by the hot weather, with customers told only to travel if “absolutely necessary … There will be delays, cancellations and last-minute changes to train services due to the unprecedented record heat on those days.”

Tragically, the country has seen a sudden rise of drownings as people get into trouble in the water, seeking respite from the heat. It’s events like these that bring home the reality of the climate emergency we’re now living in.

[…] the Met Office predicted temperatures such as these will be seen anywhere between one in every 15 and one in every three years by the end of this century, depending on the “emissions pathways” taken in the coming decades.

Meanwhile in mainland Europe, another logistics headache looms for supply chains: due to the heatwave, the Rhine is centimetres away from being too shallow for most ships that use it.

Millions of tons of commodities are shipped up and down the Rhine, which flows for roughly 800 miles (1,288-kilometers) from Switzerland to the North Sea.

The lack of water is already hampering the shipment of coal and oil products up the river. Historical data show that Kaub’s water level tends to keep on falling from now until early October.

What’s it like to get across Europe by train right now?

New Zealander Nicolas Reid is one of many enjoying a European summer – and encountering chaos on the continent’s rail network due to the heat. Click on the tweet below to read the whole saga.

Get trees in streets to cool cities down

It’s summer floods over in the USA

It’s pretty hot in America too, but in New York City it’s been raining: scenes of waterfalls pouring into subway stations feel familiar now – we’ve definitely shared similar posts here on Weekly Roundup within the last 12 months.

Bracing for climate emergency weather in Aotearoa

While it’s hard to know yet if we’ll get a heatwave as serious as Europe’s this summer, it’s no longer much of a surprise to learn that 2022 is so far New Zealand’s second-warmest year on record.

Tumultuous weather across the motu led to all flights and many ferries cancelled in Pōneke on Thursday, and the genteel shores of Eastbourne looked like this:

These scenes hearken back to the NZ Searise report, which revealed in May 2022 that sea level rise will move much faster in some parts of the country than we’d previously thought.

We need climate action now, not later

All of the alarming weather news this week points in one direction: the reality of the climate emergency is clearer than ever, as is the urgency with which we need to respond.

Cartoon by Chris Slane, via Twitter

To echo George Monbiot’s piece in the Guardian this week, it’s time to take stock of our theory of change:

The problem was never that system change is too big an ask or takes too long. The problem is that incrementalism is too small an ask. Not just too small to drive transformation; not just too small to stop the tidal wave of revolutionary change rolling in from the opposite direction; but also too small to break the conspiracy of silence. Only a demand for system change, directly confronting the power driving us to planetary destruction, has the potential to match the scale of the problem and to inspire and mobilise the millions of people required to generate effective action.

… Let’s stop lying to ourselves and others by pretending that small measures deliver major change. Let’s abandon the timidity and tokenism. Let’s stop bringing buckets of water when only fire engines will do. Let’s build our campaign for systemic change towards the critical 25% threshold of public acceptance, beyond which, a range of scientific studies suggests, social tipping happens.

Cycling through the heatwave

Bikes prove a resilient form of transport in London, where other transport infrastructure has been hampered by the heat. Bike lanes = climate action.

An entrenched myth: why highway widening never works

This article by David Zipper on Bloomberg is 6 months old but worth revisiting. Just about everyone in the urban planning and economics sectors understands induced demand and the reasons why new lanes just lead to more cars and as much congestion as there was before. So why are road building projects so politically appealing?

Highway planners aren’t crazy. But they are operating within a political and financial system that rewards new construction, despite its consistent failures to reduce congestion. A stroll through transportation history suggests that, unless those underlying incentives change, we’re likely doomed to continue repeating the same predictable, costly mistakes.

The best delivery vehicles are small delivery vehicles

We’re just hanging out for the day that it’s these guys, cargo bikes, and handcarts zipping around towns and cities, instead of vans and trucks.

The EV revolution in Cuba: electric motorbikes

Electric motorbikes are flooding the streets of Havana, Cuba streets. Already popular and promoted by the government, fuel shortages have increased the number of ‘Motorinas’ even more this year. There are now about 300,000 electric motorbikes in Cuba, compared to 500,000 cars. They are particularly popular with young people.

Young riders organise through social networks and spend hours discussing the benefits of a battery or where to buy tyres or find the best workshop.

“Fuel is a lost cause, you have to look for it and queue up, right now having an electric motorcycle here is life itself,” said Alejandro Vasallo, 23.

Bike lanes as a political litmus test

Yup. (Mayoral candidates across the motu, are you paying attention?)

Intelligent re-use

Finding ways to house people that are more efficient and sustainable is going to mean there’s a lot more demand for creative re-use of existing infrastructure. Two examples from Germany caught our eye this week.

A lovely office block conversion

A former Seimens office block in Munich has become a stylish hotel.

A room in the Wunderlocke Hotel, image via Dezeen
Berlin’s Tegel Airport to become a carbon-neutral neighbourhood

The decommissioned airport site is to become a car-free neighbourhood with 5000 homes and walking access to shops and businesses. Bike lanes will be prioritised, apartment buildings will be built from timber sourced locally in Germany, and the planning includes ‘sponge city’ concepts that manage water runoff within the development.

“The planning is based on questions such as: How do we want to live and get around in urban spaces in the future? What qualities are important to us as individuals and as a community? And what functionalities can’t we do without?” explains Constanze Döll, press secretary for the Tegel Projekt, which is developing the area, called the Schumacher Quartier. While the final designs are not yet complete, the project has several guidelines. First: People take priority, not cars.

Image via Fast Company

Weekend challenge: what can you move on an escooter?

Truly, the future is here. Who saw e-scooters coming? Who predicted Canadian students using two e-scooters to shift a couch halfway across Calgary?

Weekend watch: Andre Brett on Aotearoa’s shrinking passenger rail network

Hope you have a wonderful weekend. Ka kite, and see you next week.

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  1. Thought I would try Te Huia this weekend, take the kids down to Hamilton for the day. But looking at the timetable it can’t be done in the weekend. WTF!

    1. There are numerous improvements to be made to the Te Huia service, it all comes down to money and infrastructure. Attempts to use the money saved during lockdowns to fund extra Te Huia trips were blocked by WK.

  2. Does anyone know why, the two arterials parallel the north western shared path are top of the list for bike bike infrastructure? And the if answer is “connection” why do bridges at Newton road and Bond Street lack any bike infrastructure?

    1. Great North Road connects other parts of the inner west. Bond St and St Lukes Rd will make logical connections between GNR and New North Road.

      Not sure why they’re at the top of the list though. The Northwestern isn’t great for accessing local town centres though. Good for longer trips.

      1. Yea GNR connects the low density nimby burbs nothing else, nor is there much use for people outside that catchment. A path along dominion or Manukau road would serve that community and create great connections for others. The GNR path won’t do that much.

        If they are not suggesting anything on Bond, Newton or the stupid pink path, we can assume they will keep to that.

        Everywhere needs a lot of infrastructure, but they are building 2 new bike lanes parallel to an existing one.

        On the other side of isthmus, how do you bike to Onehunga? You use the North western as there is nothing else.

        1. Yes but there are no apartments on the surrounding streets. So that severely limits how much extra density you eventually get.

          In this context I think there is an unwritten rule that apartments can only show up on the “crappy” streets. I suspect this goes both ways, so we will never see apartments on those smaller streets, but also since GNR has apartments it is OK to leave it looking like shit.

          (This is different from eg. Takapuna where you will find apartments on the small streets betweeen Anzac Street and the lake).

        2. Sailor boy by the road it there are a hundful. But look at the zoning the the vast majority of north of the motorway is single house. AC are not Changing this.

          You can see the bottom end of Dominion and Manukau road there is substantial terraced housing zones. Much more than the GNR catchment which could still use the north Western.

        3. Sailor Boy yes those are even worse. But they are also further from the existing shared path.

          Anyway, define ‘top of the list’. If we can only do one arterial we are screwed no matter which one we choose.

          Great north Road is probably the easiest of the bunch because it is a bit wider than the rest.

    2. Density and level of bus service. The whole length of both arterials is zoned for medium density mixed use and a lot of it is popping up already. A lot of bus routes use both arterials, so there are large benefits to sorting out bus priority. Both of them link several town centres, rapid transit (or busway) stations, and the old Unitec site.

    3. The simple answer is the Great North Road project got underway about four years ago, so now it’s finally seeing the light of day. It’s not a cycleway project, it’s a street upgrade that includes cycle lanes. Wouldn’t make sense to rebuild the road and leave cycle lanes out of the equation. BTW lots of people live and work on GNR, it should have bike lanes for it’s own sake even if it doesn’t lead anywhere else.

  3. This week in flooding,while Auckland escaped the worst of the weather,l had the disturbing experience of trying to watch the 6.00 pm news with the next generation,primary school age children. Cue the awkward questions,to which there were no satisfactory answers. A channel change solved the immediate issue,shame there is no channel change for the planet. Some irony in that people’s travel plans were distrupted by the very thing that their travel causes. Pretty bloody depressing, and saying “sorry” doesn’t help

    1. Yea, I’m not sure spooking primary age kids about climate change of all things is going to do wonders for our mental health rates amongst our youth. Being a teen/young adult is hard enough without throwing in hopelessness about climate stuff.

    1. There is a 2 day thing happening at Papakura and Pukekohue with the GVR , AOR and AT with specials around the DMU’S and 4 special trips out to Mission Bush [Glenbrook Steel] , so they don’t want to loose any money .

  4. Te Huia currently has half price fares. Carrying an average of 217 out of 588 seats per day is still not very busy.

    1. Average occupancy of all those SUVs on the parallel highway is a little over one out of five seats, ~20%, so I’d say Te Huia is caning it.

    2. Given how remote both the Strand and Frankton station are from there respective city centres it might be an idea for Waikato council to survey their passengers as to how they got to and from the station. Perhaps they have already done that. The morning departure from the Strand is late enough to give passengers time to get there even if they walk from the city centre also the afternoon arrival back from Hamilton gives passengers time to get home for dinner. The Strand is not that far from Parnell station if you want to access the Western Line however its a fairly traffic unfriendly walk. Perhaps we could have a blue line marked on the pavement for passengers to follow. Access to the University from the Strand is probably better than Britomart. Generations of students have made the trip from the old station with a bit of a puff up the hill which got the oxygen flowing through their brain enhancing their studies.

        1. All well and good but Ngaruawahia has been completely left off this list and is being left behind. Action is needed there too.

      1. If they are not too gold plated then we could have the three of them. And how many car parks would be needed. Still if Te Huia becomes a fixture and it would only be politics if it doesn’t then we are building for the long term so probably we should do it properly. I suppose if numbers are good enough to meet Waka Kotahi requirements then it would be hard for a Minister to cancel it.

        1. All three stations would be great. Give more people access to the train, build up Te Huia patronage and work out how to bring it all the way into the Britomart bay platforms once CRL is complete.

          Surely Kiwirail will have to spend some money on removing the last few bits of single track between Auckland and Hamilton? Bottlenecks like this reduce the number of train paths available. When trying to run a regular passenger service on a (mostly) freight line, this will be a problem.

        2. George ;- KR were going to use the Spoil from the CRL to fill in the single track bottleneck through the Swamp until the bug and beetle lovers got involved and protested , then that was canned .
          As for Britomart they are are starting to reduce the number of platforms from 5 down to 4 . So any extra services from out of Auckland will be stuffed going in there .

        3. Should bypass the wetlands completely and build a straight twin track route about 500m west with cut and fill through the farmland.

  5. The “theory of change” and “why do we keep building roads” items remind me of the paper “Power: the missing element in sustainable consumption and absolute reductions research and action” by Doris Fuchs and others.

    She lists some common implicit theories of change (change just happens; social diffusion; consumer power; education; good science & policy; crisis response) & argues that “An explicit examination of power can make visible the otherwise invisible workings of power in sustainable and, maybe especially, unsustainable consumption practices. Once these workings are revealed, they can be scrutinized, assessed and judged on ethical or other grounds, and challenged and changed or embraced and expanded. Doing so requires understanding what makes an actor (a single consumer, a company, or a nation state) powerful, what its sources of power are, how power is exercised, and how power relates to political outcomes.” Then follows a case study of the Danish industry that turns Brazilian rainforest into cheap pork.

  6. Wow, a lot of material in this week’s roundup.
    Good to see Te Huia continuing strong.
    The trees cooling affect is really apparent on those hot days.

      1. There are quite a few tourism operators based out of Taumarunui (e.g. kayaking companies). Does this count as tourism demand?

      1. Grant ;-I just push the enter button twice then Paste the link , and if you want to enter more than one only the last will show .

    1. That’s because it’s London. I live in the middle of one of the UK booming garden cities and while rail connected, the town is being torn apart by HS2 with no money spent on allowing us the local inhabitants to use current infrastructure, never mind the white elephant that is HS2.

  7. And for those that have an EV and it dies while on a trip then you will need the following which is still powered by fossil fuels ;-

  8. We sure as heck need more street trees, especially as the Government’s density mandates have such a miserable on-site landscaped area requirement – 20% (which will no doubt be pushed down towards 15% by developers).
    Pathetic from the government – high density and greenery can, and should, co-exist.

  9. If driving ‘loses’ so much why isn’t every city in the developed world uneconomic? Also the NYC data quoted in the Copenhagen ‘study’ compares different locations for the ‘uplift’ in retail spend. Where is the rigour in these ‘analyses’

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