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
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 smart idea for Hobson St
Greater Auckland reader Roeland tweeted this streetmix of Hobson Street, a positively Dutch reorganisation of the (vast) space available.
Street mix of today:
So much space, once you realise you don’t need 6 lanes for cars. pic.twitter.com/VxOiALaFJ0
— Roeland (@roelandsch) July 20, 2022
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.
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.
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.
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.
Currently traveling by train across Netherlands and Germany in the middle of a heatwave. Cancellations everywhere, overcrowded trains. The cafe hasn’t been stocked due to disruption and I have another six hours to go without any more water.
— Nicolas Reid (@Nicolas_Reid) July 19, 2022
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.
This is NYC today. This is nyc every time it rains hard now. Our basic infrastructure is so not ready for what’s coming
— Read Wobblies and Zapatistas (@JoshuaPotash) July 18, 2022
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:
— Abbey Wakefield (@Beywake) July 21, 2022
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.
Just gonna leave this here:
“We have less time to act than we thought.”
– Professor Tim Naish, NZ Searise report, May 2nd 2022
— Abbey Wakefield (@Beywake) July 21, 2022
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.
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.
London this morning in the #heatwave – 8am and roughly 27 degrees C
Extreme heat is crippling other transport infrastructure. Cycling is a vital, resilient transport mode for the city.
We're seeing the benefit of investment in it today – pic.twitter.com/VOPbPo8tOO
— London Cycles (@London_Cycles) July 19, 2022
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?)
I’ve concluded that a political candidate’s approach to safe bike infrastructure/design investment is a key indicator of governance ability. Fighting against them shows either an inability/unwillingness to understand how cities work, or a populist bent to create anger, or both.
— Brent Toderian (@BrentToderian) July 19, 2022
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.
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.
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?
Saw this on reddit. Wasn't able to see it on the twitter. I don't know who to credit, but this is maybe the very best thing that has ever happened in Calgary. pic.twitter.com/DWWpbA4BCA
— John Smiley (@JohnSmiley) July 20, 2022
Weekend watch: Andre Brett on Aotearoa’s shrinking passenger rail network
Hope you have a wonderful weekend. Ka kite, and see you next week.