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.
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.
Best moment of tonight's debate: Efeso and Craig go head to head over cycling on the harbour bridge. pic.twitter.com/4xroFXqwX7
— Critical_Mass (@CriticalMassAKL) September 8, 2022
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.
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??
KiwiRails new DM class locomotives from Stadler. This is the demonstrator cab pic.twitter.com/onouObw28c
— Lewis Holden (@LewisHoldenNZ) September 2, 2022
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
The number of fires in Brazil's Amazon rainforest hit a five-year high last month—surpassing the blazes of August 2019 that drew global attention—thanks to a surge in illegal deforestation pic.twitter.com/2gYOC7jlyI
— Bloomberg Quicktake (@Quicktake) September 1, 2022
And, just another day on another USA highway?
— Corey Welch (@CoreyWelch) September 5, 2022
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.
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.
In the 1970s, Amsterdam's Ferdinand Bolstraat was considered a major arterial, but residents fought a fierce battle to get rid of the cars.
— Dutch Cycling Embassy (@Cycling_Embassy) September 8, 2022
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.
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!
— The War on Cars (@TheWarOnCars) September 5, 2022
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.