Kia ora! hope you’ve had a lovely first week of Mahuru.

The week in Greater Auckland

Monday’s post was a dive into building consent data both from Auckland and across the rest of the motu.

Tuesday’s post responded to a recent op-ed by Simon Bridges which criticised the TERP’s position on travel time savings.

Wednesday’s post covered the launch of Waka Kotahi’s new Streets for People programme, now that 13 councils have been granted funding.

In yesterday’s post, Matt wrote about the important issue of mobility and people’s access to transport infrastructure.

Vote Climate

This local government election is the climate election and Vote Climate is here to help you figure out who to vote for. They say:

Our focus is the upcoming local body elections because local body politicians can make a real impact on the country’s transport emissions. Their decisions about investing in public transport, walking and cycling greatly determine whether we meet our carbon emission reduction targets or not.

Here are the scorecards for candidates. If your local candidate isn’t there, give them a call and ask them why not! Also, if you don’t like their scores… it’s a great idea to talk to them about it; a good chance to clarify what’s important.

What does ‘fixing’ Auckland’s transport really look like?

In his weekly column, Simon Wilson tackles the ongoing question of ‘how to fix’ Auckland, zooming out from inequity of playgrounds across the city, to the big problem of transport emissions – and Simon Bridge’s call for ‘evidence-based solutions.

The evidence is clear that providing more road space for cars encourages more driving. EVs do the same: people like driving them and think they do no harm, so they drive them more. The Bridges’ plan would create far more congestion than we have now.

Mayoral candidates discuss liberating the lane

Twitter user Critical_Mass caught the debate between Efeso Collins and Craig Lord when the harbour bridge came up.

Politicians tour the CRL tunnels

It’s tour season: this week, the Prime Minister and Minister for Transport got guided tours of the City Rail link site.

And so did our Mayoral hopefuls, although only two out of the four invited turned up: Efeso Collins and Craig Lord. Collins and Lord discussed the project’s progress with CEO Dr Sean Sweeney, and its delays due to COVID-19 lockdowns and construction industry-wide uncertainty.

Collins and Lord appeared to have no major qualms at the end of the two-hour briefing and tour.

“I think there’s always going to be questions about how we handle finance, and that’s important for Aucklanders to understand that, but when you look at the commitment and passion from those who work on this site, It’s absolutely amazing,” said Collins.

Finding your way with AT’s new beacons

We like the look of these new wayfinding towers AT has installed on Blockhouse Bay road at the entrance to the Avondale to New Lynn shared path: tall, bright, nice big walking and cycling icons, and a handy map to help you get where you want to go.

Inclusive urban mobility seminar

This open online seminar hosted by the Public Policy Institute caught our eye and we know some of our readers will be interested. Professor Alistair Woodward (population health) and Professor Kim Dirks (engineering) join Simon Wilson at 1pm next Friday, to discuss transitioning to low-carbon, active transport modes. There’s a zoom link on the webpage.

Along for the ride on Upper Harbour Drive

We thought this video by Aucklander Peter N had some great observations about the new concrete separators on Upper Harbour Drive. As Peter points out, while some cyclists were comfortable riding on the road, the separators make this route more accessible for many other people:

One great thing about the separators is that my partner can come on this ride with me now. Before the separators were installed, they didn’t feel safe on the road here.

How to prioritise spending

The Dutch Cycling Embassy explains how investing in bike parking at stations reaps excellent returns. Analysis showed providing a passenger with a bike park was cheaper than providing them with a seat on a feeder bus. It was much cheaper than the social costs imposed if they drove. And the modeshift it encourages can save even more money by reducing congestion and removing or deferring the need for road investment.

Christchurch’s new wheels

A rainbow (trackless) train has arrived in Ōtautahi: the Peace Train has been donated by Yusuf Islam (the artist formerly known as Cat Stevens). The train will trundle around Hagley Park, passing the Al Noor Mosque, every second Sunday

“It’s only a little thing, a little chugger, but it’s a sign of my connection with your beautiful country, your beautiful people, and the hearts that have given so much to the world through this example,” Yusuf Islam said in a video message at the launch of Mahia Te Aroha.

You know you want to.

All aboard KiwiRail’s new cab

The demonstration model of KiwiRail’s new locomotives has arrived. What do you think? There’s been a bit of debate here at Greater Auckland, mostly about how it looks. But… beauty/beholder/eye of, right??

The week in fires and floods

Slips isolate rural communities

Global weather continues to have a biblical feel. While Aotearoa recovers from August storms, week links in the roading network are being revealed. A piece of State Highway 1 in Te Tai Tokerau could be closed for months, and in Malborough, residents in the sounds are resorting to barges and boats to get their groceries.

Pakistan drowns in monsoon rains

In Pakistan, a catastrophically heavy monsoon left up to a third of the country underwater last week. Over a thousand people were killed in the devastating flooding, and millions have been displaced. Pakistan is the kind of humanitarian tragedy that the climate emergency will create more of: a country which has contributed almost none of the emissions but is on the front lines of their effects.

Pakistan’s Prime Minister, Sherry Rehman, has called on richer countries to take responsibility for their emissions and the suffering it is causing in poorer nations.

While sympathetic to the global economic challenges caused by the Covid pandemic and war in Ukraine, she was adamant that “richer countries must do more”.

“Historic injustices have to be heard and there must be some level of climate equation so that the brunt of the irresponsible carbon consumption is not being laid on nations near the equator which are obviously unable to create resilient infrastructure on their own,” she said.

Fires burn in the Amazon

And, just another day on another USA highway?

What’s the future of cars?

A couple of articles we read this week are asking good questions about electric vehicles, and what they really mean for the future of cars and transport. The EV revolution is well and truly here – check out this article about the Chinese province of Hainan, home to 9 million people, banning fossil fuel car sales by 2030 – but are EVs just a distraction?

In an interview with Vox, Bryan Appleyard is asked how our relationships with cars might change in the future, and what EVS will mean for the industry. We agree with his assertion that fewer people will want to own a car, or even know how to drive, but we definitely don’t think that services like Uber and Lyft are a good transport solution.

Silicon Valley has taken over now. So why are they doing this? They’re doing this to grab another source of information, which is where you’re driving, how you’re driving, what you’re doing while you’re driving. Everybody says at the moment, though, they’re not going to make the self-driving car. But they’ll make it, and the question then becomes: How much do you care about your car? How much do you care about driving? People will care for an awfully long time, but will the next generation?

Meanwhile, Slate examines the colosal EVs being marketed USA, where instead of taking the opportunity to make smaller, more efficient vehicles, new EVs are monster SUVs, and may be even more dangerous than their fossil fuel counterparts.

The heft of electric vehicles is not their only safety risk. Even with heavy batteries, these vehicles’ electric powertrains allow them to accelerate unusually quickly. Chevrolet, for instance, touts its “Wide Open Watts Mode” that allows the Chevy Blazer EV, an SUV, to accelerate from zero to 60 in under four seconds—a speed that is comparable to popular muscle cars like the Dodge Charger and Ford Mustang.

The Ford Lightning electric truck is nearly 3 tonnes.

When car dependency isn’t a factor of life any more, whole new ways of imagining, shaping and designing our towns and cities will open up. This article from Fast Company explores all of the ways automakers have influenced the design of cities in the last century.

You might argue that a car company’s proposal for a smart vision is nothing but a self-centered fantasy. But what lies beneath is constant, “insidious” lobbying, as Toderian puts it. In 2021 alone, for example, General Motors shelled out over $9 million on lobbying, Toyota spent around $6 million, and Hyundai $1.2 million. And though all three automakers (and many more) are now shifting toward electric cars, many have also been lobbying to weaken fuel economy standards. “What car companies do is they’re constantly, successfully lobbying, then they occasionally put out into the public a distracting vision,” says Toderian. “And it usually reflects an expectation of car use and even car dependency.”

And of course, when the day comes that we don’t actually all own cars, what are we going to do with all of the car storage we’ve built our cities around?

Decolonising ourselves from car culture

Once you see it, you can’t unsee it. In an extract from the book Movement, Thalia Verkade and Marco te Brömmelstroet explore the way ‘car culture’ has become embedded in our language and our thinking, pulling out many fascinating examples of the way cars are foregrounded in our lives.

… we’ve become accustomed to thinking about the street in “traffic logic”. For centuries, streets used to be a place with a multiplicity of purposes: talk, trade, play, work and moving around. It’s only in the past century that it has become a space for traffic to drive through as quickly and efficiently as possible. This idea is so pervasive that it has colonised our thinking.

Bring on the car-free city

It really could happen. California has just passed a bill that will give people on low incomes $1000 if they don’t own a car. It’s one piece of a bigger transport emissions puzzle.

“SB 457 will be a dramatic attempt to remedy the challenges of not owning a car in California,” Marc Vukcevich, a state policy advocate at the nonprofit Streets For All, said in a statement. “SB 457 incentives folks to not own a car, rewards them for that good behavior, and provides them money for alternative forms of transportation.”

People really do want car-free cities

‘The cool thing is, we’ve been building cities for people as long as we’ve been building cities’

One thing we learned from this great video is that apparently urban planning is big on TikTok – and savvy GenZ-ers are more interested in good urban design and public transport than owning a car.

How Japan became a traffic safety success story

We’ve noticed a bit of a trend of articles by American writers asking how [x] country has much better road safety statistics than the USA. Japan is the latest to get the treatment: what did it do in the 1970s to prevent traffic-related deaths? David Zipper outlines the key strategies that Japan has deployed, from creating an excellent rail network, so that people can choose not to drive, to tight parking controls, promotion of small vehicles, and a focus on making cities safe for children.

Since launching the world’s first bullet train, the Shinkansen, in 1964, Japan has been renowned for the frequency, reliability and speed of its rail service. Intercity trains are so fast and frequent that driving often doesn’t make sense: As many as 15 trains per hour leave Tokyo for Osaka, many of them making the 332-mile journey in under two and a half hours. In a car, the trip would take at least six hours.

From an arterial road to a street for all modes

It’s always useful to remember that holy-grail transport cities like Amsterdam had to fight some very familiar battles to get where they are today.

Winning the traffic war on Tottenham Court Road

An experimental daytime traffic ban on London’s Tottenham Court Road is seeing benefits all around, with footfall increasing and positive effects on business, cycling trips are up, and traffic in the wider area has reduced.

Adam Harrison, cabinet member for a sustainable Camden, said: “It shows that when you try to change a road, there are multiple benefits you can achieve if you get it right. You might start off trying to tackle bus journey times or road safety but a street is a place where people should meet or congregate, not just hurry along.

Smart transport

Forget smart cars, how about smart transit cars?

Giving kids the streets they deserve

A Glasgow bike bus has a high tech solution to getting kids safely to school. Using a remote control, the lead rider can control the traffic lights to make sure the whole bus can get through intersections safely.

Waiting for the bell in the playground, nine-year-old Beatrix says she likes to take the bike bus because it means she can chat to her friends on the way to school. Laurie, also nine, likes ringing his bell at the people who wave when he cycles past. Eight-year-old Leo says simply: “It’s a bit of freedom in your life.”

Many people have happy memories of riding their bike to school – for a kid, it’s a precious sliver of freedom and independent play. Kids love car free streets. If only the adults would notice!

Soul food: the new normal in Paris

Please enjoy this soothing video of ordinary Parisians getting about by bike.

Kia haumaru tō wikini – have a safe and fun weekend and see you next week.

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  1. In his Upper Harbour Drive video Peter N didn’t film himself riding his bike through the Albany Highway intersection. Perhaps he does the same thing as I have done, which is ride to the Albany Highway, then cross the road and come back so I didn’t have to ride through an extremely dangerous intersection.
    AT have spent money fixing a problem that didn’t exist while ignoring the very real problem that the Upper Harbour Drive/Albany Highway intersection is a nightmare. With money being scarce why did they do that?
    The Herald quoted an orthopedic surgeon this week who said the route is now worse than it was due to broken glass accumulating behind the concrete and moss growing where before rain kept the lane clear.

    1. “AT have spent money fixing a problem that didn’t exist while ignoring the very real problem that the Upper Harbour Drive/Albany Highway intersection is a nightmare”

      The road is the same size it always was, these cars hitting the barriers is evidence for why the barriers are desperately needed. Hopefully the police start revoking licenses of people hitting these barriers.

      Yes most of the rest of the city needs more bike infrastructure, AT was infuriatingly narrow on what they chose to fund with this money and made some bizarre choices.

        1. They do hit kerbs, traffic islands, parked cars etc in other locations.
          Incompetent/careless driving occurs throughout the network, and likely occurred on Upper Harbour Drive before the recent changes.

          The difference in this case is that there are a bunch of people with an agenda of trying to blame the crashes on the cycling infrastructure, running around taking photos and making a fuss about it where most other places its just accepted as something that happens and largely ignored.

      1. And yet you totally ignored the point made by Miffy.
        Stats show there was not a problem before the barriers on upper Harbour road and now there is.
        Common sense shows that the intersection with Albany highway is the real problem and it remains unaddressed.

        1. Stats show there was a problem. People didn’t feel comfortable riding. We don’t have to wait for a death to fix dangerous roads.

    2. The good news is that we don’t need to listen to orthopedic surgeons on road safety or road safety engineers on orthopedic surgery. We know that roads with protected cycle lanes are safer for all road users.

      With money being scarce, AT have done the right thing and spent a few hunderd thousand dollars to make 99% of the route as safe as possible and left the 1% that would cost a few million dollars on its own. When AT did Tamaki Ngapipi before they did the causeway you complained about that too. You can’t have it both ways.

        1. So there was no broken glass and moss before the improvements to make the cycleway more protected?

          Or the same?

          It’s a mystery how putting the tim tams in made everything worse.

          And yes, I do know about the street cleaning trucks. They didn’t seem to work down that road anyway if all the pine tree needles piled up on the path are anything to go by, but if they can’t clean cycleways; then this is somewhat of a bigger WTF if we are intending to build safer cycle ways.

          As for cars/vans hitting these things; I would be embarrassed to be the person who’s driving ability was that bad, that I would have potentially killed somebody if I had drifted that far left on a slowish wide road.

        2. If there is a problem with debris in the cycle lane then this is just a problem to be solved. Not a reason to throw the whole thing out. I am sure there is a method of cleaning cycleways or else we would have a city wide problem. The method just needs to be applied here.

        3. Rain used to be the main way of cleaning the cyclelanes. It would come down periodically and run across the pavement cleaning it. Now the concrete islands block the runoff and any debris beside the concrete remains in place. Of course between the blocks there is more water so those parts are very clean.

    3. Why is an orthopedic surgeon being referred to as an expert on keeping a street swept?
      Honestly, all your examples are simple things that yes, AT should be doing but don’t mean anything at all about the cycle lane that’s there.

    4. I won’t repeat my usual rant; I have raised it multiple times on here

      But I go through that intersection a lot, have raised it with AT and cycle groups (though it’s not just cyclists) over the last couple of years

      I am at a loss as what to do next. Wait until somebody dies and somebody at AT thinks about some massive project to keep the traffic flow and maybe make it a little safer even if less convenient to cyclists/pedestrians?

      It’s so frustrating that there are nameless/faceless people inside of organizations like AT, who are paid money to manage transport around Auckland, but who have looked at this intersection, and can’t be motivated to change anything.

      1. Just think of how many more people would use their cycle lanes if that intersection were made safe for cyclists. But instead AT ‘fixed’ a cycle lane that was working well and in all likelihood made the cycle lanes worse.

        But safety wasn’t their goal, their goal was to be able to claim they have installed more kilometres of ‘protected’ cycleways. This is about an organisation claiming they are performing.

        1. Yeah, just think, instead of the 30km of protected cycleways that budget could have been used to fix one intersection.

    5. Sorry, road safety engineers do interfere with orthopaedic surgeons’ area of expertise. We try to deprive them of customers.

  2. Want to hear a Joke?

    Labour MP goes to PM.

    Says he’s unhappy because he’s promised his electorate Light Rail in the last two elections and nothing is happening. Worried because he might not get re-elected and Labour might lose office.

    PM says go see Michael Wood, great Minister of Transport, loves Public Transport, will make it happen.

    MP bursts into tears.

    Whats wrong? says the PM

    Prime Minister, I *am* Michael Wood

  3. Noting the candidate information isn’t listing any of the main contenders for Auckland Mayor. The highest polling are Efeso Collins and Wayne Brown. Viv Beck and Craig Lord are well behind, and Leo Molloy has pulled out.

    Efeso Collins
    -His only explicit policy so far, fares-free public transport from July 2024
    -Integrate ferries into PT system
    -12-month trial of a separate cycle lane over the Harbour Bridge
    -proper cycleways that are separated from the road
    -rates will be kept within a measure of 5 per cent of household income (implies 50% increase)

    Wayne Brown
    -finishing the overdue and over-budget CRL and Watercare works
    -managing the Council’s $900m fiscal hole.
    -dedicated North Shore-CBD bike ferry
    -finishing current busway projects
    -accelerating cycling projects cheaply
    -starting the Avondale to Southdown rail line.
    -ban container trucks from Auckland’s roads, including the Harbour Bridge – freight from the Port rail-only
    -port pays $400M ground rent.
    -rates increase by less than the 5.6 per cent this year, TBC how much less after CRL costs announced

      1. I agree it sounded promising, but then I looked up what Brown had to say about the TERP
        “Wayne Brown, the second ranked contender in the latest Curia poll, was wary of the pathway, and said he would read it and “take note of it”. Auckland Transport think their role is to change the way we live to meet their rules, when they’re actually there to service the way we live,” said Brown.”

        1. “Auckland Transport think their role is to change the way we live to meet their rules, when they’re actually there to service the way we live”
          And when the way we live is screwing the planet? We need a Mayor who thinks more than just in Twitter sized bites.

      2. “-ban container trucks from Auckland’s roads, including the Harbour Bridge – freight from the Port rail-only”

        Cripes, does he not realise that most of the containers coming into Auckland’s port go to Auckland?! How exactly are the containers supposed to get between the rail lines and the places the go to or from, only a small handful of major industrial plants have their own rail sidings.

        1. I wonder if he thinking the containers go on rail to an inland port where they are filled or emptied with the contents then travelling on trucks to and from there destination. I suppose it would save on empty container movements. However all that packing and unpacking would have to take place at a small number of inland ports. I imagine it would be rather intense. Also exporters like to be in control of how and what goes into a container and the paperwork. Quality control. 30 years ago most Road transport companies thought containers were a bit stupid and back loading made trucking to a container packing warehousing next to the port a better solution but that has changed now.

    1. -dedicated North Shore-CBD bike ferry
      sounds expensive. Just allocate 1 lane of the harbour bridge.
      The bridge footpath keeps working, even when the ferry’s are parked up. Besides, no active transport advocate wants to wait for a ferry that may or may not turn up, and charge your family a fortune to travel on it.

    2. Efeso :- -12-month trial of a separate cycle lane over the Harbour Bridge

      Waka Kotahi are the controlling authority. Mayor/AK vs Waka Kotahi showdown. Is AC going to Annex the bridge? Yes please. Motorways shouldnt go through the center of any city.

  4. And for those that may have heard of it happening but never have seen it .
    The Te Huia on it’s return trip from Hamilton was delayed by about 10mins north of Huntly and when it arrived at Papakura instead of using Platform 1 , it went into platform 2 . And after departing Train Control in Wellington put it onto the Southbound line and sent the Te Huia North on it until Wiri when it finally went on to the Northbound line just before Puhinui .
    Looking at what Train Control did I think they were trying to make up time lost ;-

    1. I can add some insight on this from trying to get an EV from Japan myself. They don’t compete with MG, BYD, Kia etc in their own markets. So their used EVs like the Leaf are now increasing in price. Used EVs like the Leaf are no longer cost-competitive to bring to NZ because the Japanese used price of something like an E+ is now almost more than what you can buy a brand new MG/BYD here for.

  5. This week on Wednesday or Thursday the PM and the Minister of Transport with a number of Mayoral candidates did a walk through and inspection of the CRL tunnels , with 1news ;-

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