It’s that time of the week again, and it’s the last weekly roundup for July. We are truly over the hump of winter!
Cover image: an Auckland Sunrise, by Jordan Carter
The week in Greater Auckland
On Monday, Matt wrote about Waka Kotahi’s decision to fund the increased cost of the Ngauranga to Petone seawall-with-a-bike-lane ‘cycleway’ project.
Tuesday’s post covered the latest information about the Airport to Botany (promising) and Easter Busway (worrying) routes.
Wednesday’s post was about the exciting plans for bike lanes and safety improvements on Great North Road.
Yesterday, we shared a fun post inspired by the twitter replies to a post by Lennart Nout that asked, ‘how do we fix cars?’
Will the success of the clean car rebate lead to higher fees on polluting vehicles?
The clean car rebate scheme has been in place for more than a year now: since July 2021, people have been able to get 1000s of dollars off the price of a new EV or hybrid. The idea was that it would be funded by corresponding fees on on high-emitting vehicles.
However, the rebate has done such a good job at convincing NZers to buy electric vehicles that the fee side of it is nowhere near being able to cover the discount. Julie-Ann Genter, who designed the plan, argues that now’s the time to increase fees on high-emitting vehicles.
“If the rebates are greater than the fees, that means it has been even more effective than expected at incentivising a positive change in vehicle purchases,” she said.
Genter said that in other countries, fees had gone up on polluting cars to continue funding rebates on clean cars.
“Of course, at that point, it’s time to consider a shift to slightly higher fees, to be able to keep up the pace and level of rebates, so we continue decreasing the average emissions from the vehicles we bring into New Zealand.
Safe footpaths for everyone
An interesting article on NZ Herald highlights how much more frightening walking down the street can be for members of our disabled community, particularly when streets become construction sites. Aucklander Rhonda Comins, who is blind, was recently forced out into the road to detour around a construction site, with no way of knowing where the detour went.
AT’s spokesperson said the agency was keen to hear from anyone who experienced issues so they could escalate them through their maintenance teams.
“Safety for everyone is always our top priority.
“We will ensure we continue to work with staff and contractors to make sure they are aware of any accessibility concerns.”
What are Auckland’s mayoral candidates up to?
So far we’ve covered the transport policies of Viv Beck and Efeso Collins. We’d write about the policies the other candidates had too, if any of them had something we could take seriously. Simon Wilson’s column this week came to the same conclusion: Collins and Beck are making a lot more sense than their rivals.
Meanwhile both candidates have been promoting their transport thinking on social media this week.
Efeso Collins met with Bike Auckland to hear their thoughts about real transport choice.
Great to catch up with Tony Mitchell and Gabriel Gaeta from @BikeAKL to talk about safer cycling in the city, and how to get balance and real choice in the modes of transport on offer to people in Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland pic.twitter.com/fjvK0WPCb6
— Efeso Collins (@efesocollins) July 24, 2022
While Beck voiced her support of delaying the parking strategy until after the election, which came up in an interview with Cr Chris Darby on RNZ this week: accused of delaying the strategy so it doesn’t become an election issue, Darby countered that the delay had in fact been caused by Auckland Transport.
Delaying the parking strategy till after the council election is important. With public feedback showing strong opposition, Auckland Transport must take a more balanced approach and listen more in every aspect of its work. https://t.co/0aoOmONDmH
— Viv Beck For Mayor (@VivBeckForMayor) July 25, 2022
And on the chance either of our candidates (or their campaign team) read Greater Auckland’s Weekly Roundup, we’ve got a pātai: the C40 Mayor’s summit is happening in Buenos Aires this October. Will you go, and represent Tāmaki Makaurau? You don’t even have to fly to South America to attend!
The C40 World Mayors Summit is our triennial climate action conference organised in partnership with a C40 member city. This year’s Summit, hosted by the City of Buenos Aires from 19–21 October 2022, will be a hybrid in-person and virtual event.
The evolution of Aotea Station
A view you don’t get from the street: here’s an aerial timelapse of the changing shape of CRL’s Aotea Station.
Safer speeds are saving lives
Despite routinely facing community opposition when proposed, the evidence is clear that Waka Kotahi’s programme of speed reductions is saving lives.
On the Appleby Highway near Richmond, no one has died since speed limits were lowered in 2018 – while eight people were killed in the two years before that. A fatal crash on the Napier-Taupō highway this month was the first in 21 months, and the first since that road’s speed limit was lowered five months ago.
These numbers align with international evidence of the effects of lowering speeds, and we even have our own historical example:
The 1973 oil crisis forced the government to cut open road speeds from 55 miles per hour (88km/h) to 50 miles per hour (80km/h) and road deaths fell.
But in 1985, speed limits rose to 100km/h and Cliff said that had the opposite effect.
“Major increase in the number of people killed and seriously injured on New Zealand roads. So New Zealand provided a very graphic example of what can be achieved through speed limit reduction and equally, all the negative consequences by increasing speed limits.”
Speak up for density in Tāmaki this Sunday
This Sunday, July 31st, MPs are meeting the public at St Matthews In the City to talk about the NPS-UD. The Coalition for More Homes is urging people to turn out in support of new medium density rules – show up and drown out the NIMBYs!
Checking in on Paneke Pōneke (safe cycling in Wellington)
Another cycleway goes to court
A redesign of Thorndon Quay that provides safe bike lanes is in limbo after a collection of businesses brought a legal challenge against Council. This is an entirely different legal challenge to the one facing the Newtown to City cycleway, but the grounds of the challenge are similar.
Counsel for the collective, Robert Kirkness, argued statutory requirements under the Local Government Act had not been met by the council. The authority’s ability to make an informed decision had been adversely impacted by a council officer’s decision not to present all reasonable alternatives to the Planning and Environment Committee during briefings.
Council, however, argues that they followed correct processes, and the judge will make a decision in several weeks’ time.
A flock of bike corrals to be installed around the city
In a small but important victory for road reallocation, 11 carparks are going to be turned into bike parking corrals. Wellington City Council street transformation manager Paul Barker is in charge of the project.
“What we’ve heard from the community is to stop providing parking on the footpath,” Barker said. “[With bike stands] we can get 12 people using that space, rather than one car.”
They could also remove a couple of the stands and mark out space for escooter parking, he said.
The week in flooding
How long have we been talking about flooding in Weekly Roundup? It started as a bit of a dark joke, but it’s become something we talk about at Greater Auckland all the time. Floods are very much a sign of our changing times – and those images of cars floating away down rivers of floodwater seem deeply symbolic of where we’re at now.
Christchurch had a month of rain in 24 hours, leaving inches of water covering low-lying suburbs and slips on several roads.
Dunedin spent the weekend on edge as heavy rain moved south towards them, and the Leith rose closer to its banks. 35 homes on the Leith’s banks had to be evacuated.
While we’ve had record breaking winter rain in July, records are being broken for summer rain in the Northern Hemisphere too. In St Louis, Missouri, conditions went from drought to flash flood in days, when an all-time record amount of rain dumped more than nine inches on the city in one night.
Making the link between extreme weather and the climate
We’ve noticed that media is much more willing to talk about the links between extreme weather events and the climate emergency. It’s a welcome change, one that climate activists have been calling for for years. In this clip, Dr Rod Carr from the Climate Change commission tells Newshub that it’s time to take urgent action to reduce our emissions.
With extreme weather events becoming commonplace, do we need to reduce our emissions much sooner? Simon Shepherd spoke with Climate Change Commission Rod Carr and asked him if the Government's Emissions Reduction Plan is already out of date #NationNZ pic.twitter.com/Kmml9DQ3O7
— Newshub Nation (@NewshubNationNZ) July 22, 2022
Talking, thinking and acting about climate change
We liked this article on the New York Times about how to talk to the people you love about climate change. It suggests that rather than using fear to bully people into taking climate action, we should instead be setting the politics aside and offering up images of a better future.
“The ultimate outcome of fear is to paralyze us, which leads to the preservation of the status quo,” according to Dr. Hayhoe. “We feel completely disenfranchised, powerless, without any sense of agency or efficacy. That’s what turns worry into anxiety and depression, which we see happening today. It’s because we don’t know what to do.”
Over on the Spinoff, this week’s installment of their new climate-focused newsletter Future Proof offers similar insights about the psychology of sustainability. Ellen Rykers talks to psychologist Nikki Harré about the importance of turning to positive emotions in our efforts to combat climate change.
Harré invites us to experiment with emotion: “Think about whatever scares you most about climate change, and you can actually feel a sort of an inward turn, that closing down, and that sense of desperation that something needs to be done urgently. Whereas with positive emotions, you can feel that sense of possibility, wanting to join with others, a kind of sense that there are multiple ways to deal with this.”
Both organisational change and individual change are important here, Harré argues: call it the ‘yes, and’ approach to climate action.
The headline-grabbing approach to climate action
Groups like Extinction Rebellion get their share of controversial press, but you’ve got to admit that they’re good at getting attention. In the same vein, the tyre extinguishers movement is generating both ire and approval. A journalist at The Guardian spent a night with one of these activist groups letting down the tyres of SUVs on New York City’s Upper East Side.
While many US cities lack decent public transport options, “it does not follow logically that we should flood our streets with dangerous, oversized, glacier-melting SUVs when smaller and more efficient vehicles that could easily satisfy most motorists’ needs exist,” according to Doug Gordon, co-host of the popular The War on Cars podcast and an avid New York cyclist. “If the Tyre Extinguishers spark a conversation about the absurdity of driving a 6,000lb Cadillac Escalade to pick up a 60lb kid from soccer practice, then good for them.”
It’s time to deflate Big Oil’s profits
Our hearts have sunk as the ‘record profits for x oil company’ headlines have appeared in our newsfeed. How is it that global inflation and cost of living crises have created yet more excess profits for the world’s most polluting industry? Sounds like it’s to do with extreme pressure on refining capacity – but the industry’s profits are forecasted to slow later this year.
Exxon Mobil Corp., Chevron Corp., Shell Plc, TotalEnergies SE and BP Plc — collectively known as the supermajors — are set to make even more money than they did in 2008, when international oil prices jumped as high as $147 a barrel.
Is this the best transit system in the USA?
Well, it’s obviously not Manhattan, but Disney World’s bus system is probably one of the standouts in a notoriously car-dependent country.
What does it say about the state of Central Florida's transit that Disney World's bus system has 20,000 more riders than the entire Orlando metro has? Additionally, Disney World's buses are the 25th largest bus system in the country, larger than San Jose, Milwaukee or Clevelands. pic.twitter.com/ifC6GgqxMg
— Hayden Clarkin (@the_transit_guy) July 25, 2022
More people on public transport means more lives saved
In places where public transport ridership is high, traffic fatalities are low.
— Daniel Moser (@_dmoser) July 23, 2022
Diving into the high cost of rail construction in America
Hosted on Noah Smith’s blog, Eric Goldwyn asks why America seems to find it so hard to build cheap, efficient passenger rail – when so many other developed nations are able to do so at a fraction of the cost. Relevant to certain rail projects here in Aotearoa, too.
The magic of wetlands
Link this back to the images of sodden streets in the ‘week in flooding’ section above: what could wetlands and green water infrastructure offer our cities?
Clip from 'Sinking Cities London' 2018, featuring @FirsFarm #SuDS, built by @EnfieldSuDS & @Thames21, that provides #flood defence, #wetland #wildlife habitats that filter #water, a haven for visitors, an outdoor classroom for kids & unites the #Enfield community. @EnfieldCouncil pic.twitter.com/6nLBSI4BjN
— Wetlands Steve (@Walthamsteve) July 24, 2022
And on Stuff, this science writer waxes lyrical about a new book on wetlands, bogs and swamps, Life in the Shallows,
As authors Karen Denyer and Monica Peters explain, our wetlands sequester much more carbon than forests, and we have, rather unfortunately, destroyed 90 per cent of them. While healthy bogs are net carbon sinks, drained peatlands are a carbon source. As the earth heats up, drying peatlands release lots of carbon.
Homeground’s rooftop garden
Homeground, the Auckland City Mission’s new base, is a wonderful addition to the city centre – and we like the look of its rooftop garden too. More like this!
Roof Top Gardens Even Better (than roof top bars) Why not both!
Check out what's up top at Homeground. This should be required on all apartment bldgs.
Fun, Climate, sustainability, fresh food, community. pic.twitter.com/Y9rEdZHRcP
— AK CC ResidentsGroup (@CityAklccrg) July 25, 2022
The essential sign of a successful low traffic neighbourhood
We talk about ‘indicator species’ here: families, small children, and older people are all signs that a place, footpath or bike lane has been designed well enough for everyone to feel safe. And when the streets work for them, everything changes.
Low traffic neighbourhood living. It’s hard to really capture but now every time you leave the house, you see adults cycling with kids. To school. To clubs. Back home. Game changer @clairekholland pic.twitter.com/6Hymtmd4R0
— citymobility (@citycyclists) July 23, 2022
Book recommendation: Tokyo urbanism
Ordering this right now. A new book explores the unique charm of Tokyo’s disordered, bottom-up kind of urbanism. Emergent Tokyo: Designing the Spontaneous City describes the paradoxes that have created Tokyo’s urban form, a mix of massive central planning effort and countless small-scale decisions that echo complex systems seen in the natural world.
The general definition [of emergence] is the creation of order and functionality from the bottom up. So certain orders or functionalities can happen without the need for a central brain that organizes everything. It’s based on the idea that systems and phenomena, through local interactions of their parts, can create orders. The classic example would be the flocking behavior of birds, in which you can see clearly the formations but there is no bird leading it.
The week in happy cyclists on new bike lanes
Some clips from the usual suspects: two cities that have gone all in on bike infrastructure in the last couple of years.
I'm afraid enthusiasm got the better of me on the newly opened family cycle lane in west London. It's just so … safe. Sorry about the singing. @FifteenMph @borrobbor @loled1967 @KCairns1 @katefrayling @HounslowCycling @_Dermatologist @xandvt @willnorman @LBofHounslow @mzdt pic.twitter.com/zwxslPV0Bs
— Jeremy Vine (@theJeremyVine) July 27, 2022
…and of course, Paris.
Even in the not-pretty parts of Paris, the bike lanes are covet-able.
En prenant la piste allant du Pont du Garigliano vers Issy-les-Moulineaux, on passe en quelques secondes d’une pente amenant à 40 à un terre-plein où il faut s’arrêter avant la file de ceux qui attendent au feu rouge. Quand il y aura beaucoup de monde, attention les freins ! pic.twitter.com/FvQOagP0wC
— Emmanuel (@EmmanuelSPV) July 25, 2022
Ka kite! Have a great weekend!