Kia ora koutou. Public holiday on Monday AND daylight savings begins on Sunday.
The week in Greater Auckland
On Monday, Matt wrote about the proposed Reshaping Streets legislation changes, for which submissions closed on Monday night.
In Tuesday’s post, Heidi encouraged all of us to get out and vote, march and motivate: vote in the local body elections, march in today’s Fridays for Future climate protest, and motivate each other to join in.
Wednesday’s post, by Heidi, was about the low standard of Temporary Traffic Management (TTM) practised in Auckland, and how it could be improved. (Updated to add: check out this live report from the cycleway on how the Te Atatū underpass situation has been resolved.)
Yesterday, Matt wrote about in-progress and upcoming changes for Midtown, including the Queen Street Waihorotiu project and Te Hā Noa Victoria St Linear Park.
Vote and march!
To reiterate Heidi’s post from Tuesday:
Enrolled? Got your voting papers? Fill them out and put them in a postbox before Tuesday 4th of October, or drop them off in a vote box by 12 noon Saturday 8th of October.
Not enrolled? You can still vote, by casting a special vote. Pick up a special voting pack at a service centre and then follow the same instructions as above.
March – today!
Today Aotearoa leads the world off on a rolling series of climate strikes, coordinated by Fridays for Future. Join the climate strike in Aotea Square at 1pm, to tell government and council that we want real climate action.
Tell all your friends and whānau 🙂
Transport across the motu
Will Waka Kotahi make us get off our phones?
Waka Kotahi’s trial of new safety cameras in two Auckland locations have caught 96,000 people using their phones while driving, in just three months. The trial will continue until December and is the start of Waka Kotahi’s expansion of the safety camera network to include 100 new cameras.
Waka Kotahi pulled back from a “big bang” expansion for fear of alienating people who think the cameras are basically a revenue-gathering tool, when the agency says they are proven overseas as a highly effective tool to cut speeds and save lives – when there are enough of them, operated properly.
Bikes to the rescue!
When two Wainuiomata nurses got stuck in on their way to work in gridlock caused by a serious car crash, they abandonded their cars and swapped them for ebikes so they could get to their insulin-dependent patients in time.
Driving would have taken up to an hour due to the blocked streets, Lacey said, so the pair jumped on bicycles and went “zooming past all the cars” Lacey said.
They estimated they covered about 20 kilometres between them, reaching three patients before the traffic cleared and they were able to drive to the hospital.
Life on two wheels
In an opinion piece on Stuff, Nadia Minelli traces her love of cycling through changes in Christchurch’s urban form and infrastructure: from the low-car streets of the 70s and 80s when everyone biked, to the increasingly car-dominated streets of the 90s and 2000s, and the welcome return to safe cycling infrastructure via bike lanes built in the last few years. The piece starts with a great little video about the history of cycling in Ōtautahi: in 1936, over 11,000 cyclists were counted passing a single city corner on one day!
Jump forward 15 years and now we have these amazing cycleways through the city.
I can now bike to work safely, away from the traffic, take paths through wetlands and parks, and feel safe knowing there is a barrier between me and the cars.
During the summer months, my son and I either ride our bikes or electric scooters to work and school. 95% of the time, we ride along cycleways.
We love our great rides, and so does instagram: several of Aotearoa’s off-road cycle trails are among the world’s most instagrammed, according to analysis of photos on the platform. The Hauraki Rail Trail, Alps to Ocean Trail and Otago Rail Trail all feature in the top 30 ‘most picturesque’ cycle trails.
Our deadly roads
Finally, and tragically, we are grieving yet another cyclist this week. David Lane, 69, who was struck by a car in Flatbush while out for a ride on Saturday. He died at the scene from his injuries. David was a competitive Ironman athlete who loved riding and fixing bikes. Our hearts go out for yet another life taken too early by our unsafe streets and car-dominated culture.
Reclaiming streets for people
Did you know it was world car free day yesterday? While there wasn’t a lot of large-scale action in Tāmaki, cities around the world celebrated by opening streets to people.
— Nikola Medimorec (@ni_medi) September 22, 2022
Picnics in (car)parks
A few committed cycling campaigners made their mark on world car-free day, claiming a couple of parking spaces in Ponsonby and Kingsland for picnics and kōrero. Alex Dyer, a cycling advocate from Wellington, made his way to Tāmaki this week to help organise the picnics.
— Megan (@_mharvey) September 21, 2022
We couldn’t help but notice how empty New North Road looks at the Kingsland spot, apart from the lovely burst of life at the picnic table. Where are all the cars? In the words of one picnic-er:
Nobody even drives on this trial arterial road. Time to get rid of it and use it for people actually travelling places and spending money at local shops.
Imagining worlds without cars
To celebrate European Mobility Week, a series of solarpunk-worthy renders were released to illustrate what cities could look like without cars.
Brussels is a city that’s actively working towards a low car future, with an ambitious mobility plan (which we’ve probably linked to here already.) The city had its own car-free day last weekend, opening city centre streets to people on Sunday the 18th of September.
The electric future
In yet another story about where the real electric vehicle revolution is at, the market for electric scooters and three-wheelers (tuktuks!) is booming in China, India and Vietnam. Talk about flipping the fleet: while electric cars have a 9% share of the market in the region, a massive 42% of all two-three wheelers sold in the region are now electric.
Allen Abraham, an analyst at BNEF, calls two- and three-wheel vehicles the low-hanging fruit of the EV transition, particularly in emerging markets, because they are easier to electrify in design. “Adoption of electric two-wheelers is less challenging, not from a cost perspective, but from a technology perspective,” Abraham told Rest of World. “So the impact it can have over the next 10 years or the next decade is higher, because it’s easier.”
On the other hand, this infographic made us feel a bit queasy. The size of the autobox economy is staggering to comprehend. But imagine where all that innovation, energy and resource could go if it wasn’t dedicated to building and fuelling cars?
The main export commodity of European countries. pic.twitter.com/2mWWjwHZbH
— Xavi Ruiz (@xruiztru) September 20, 2022
Dreaming of a cycling transformation
Milan has become a surprising champion of bike infrastructure in Europe. As Italy’s most wealthy city, it has also been its most car-dominated – but not for long. A city-wide bike network plan is transforming Milan’s streets. With a budget of 250 million euro, the plan will deliver 680kms of bike lanes by 2035, with the first major routes completed this summer. The aims of the plan are to make Milan’s notoriously polluted air cleaner, reduce congestion, and increase safety for people walking and cycling.
And even in the world’s best cycling countries, the infrastructure is constantly being improved. Bicycle Dutch tells the story of a new cycle highway between two fast-growing towns in the Netherlands. It’s induced demand in action, but for bikes.
To keep its new expansions accessible, the city is seriously investing in cycling. In 2016 Amersfoort wrote in its Cycling plan: “A population growth from 154,000 to 170,000 means 10% more bicycle movements in the city if bicycle use remains the same.“
Investing in cycling, the Norwegian way
For obvious reasons, Norway loves a tunnel. A new, 430m tunnel just for pedestrians and cyclists has opened in a small Fjord town. We’re usually a bit skeptical of unneccesarily expensive infrastructure projects when some simple road reallocation will do, but we’ll admit we’d happily zoom down this, ringing our bells to test the echo.
Move to Arkansas, get a free mountain bike
We’ve seen a few stories out of the USA about bike subsidy schemes. Arkansas, a mountain-biking haven, is trying to entice people to move to the city by offering a free mountainbike at $10,000 to fund the shift. We can think of a few towns in Aotearoa that could capitalise on their great bike trails and do the same.
Streets for people in NYC
Security around the UN General Assembly had the unintended side effect of making the surrounding streets suddenly gloriously free of cars and safe for people on bikes. Do you think Jacinda got out for a cruise on a citibike? What a way to see New York!
MY GOD! #bikenyc 2nd Ave!! CAN WE KEEP THIS?!!
Yeah I know it’s for UN General Assembly but getting rid of car parking and then placing metal barricades has made riding 2nd just like it feels in Paris! @NYC_DOT @OpenPlans @StreetsblogNYC @TransAlt @bikenewyork pic.twitter.com/iQ6nisJ7s4
— Streetfilms (1,041 videos!) (@Streetfilms) September 19, 2022
People on the move
The effects of Germany’s 9-Euro ticket are being closely examined, which is good news for people like us who want to get to the bottom of fare pricing for public transport. According to an article on Bloomberg, the 52 million tickets sold got people out of cars and reduced CO2 emissions.
Germany’s three-month experiment with super-cheap public transport reduced carbon dioxide emissions equivalent to powering about 350,000 homes for a year.
Good connections get people on trains
It’s all about networking: a big part of the success of any rapid transit system is how easy it is for people to get to it. That doesn’t mean park’n’rides, it means good local bus connections, safe cycling routes, and accessible footpaths.
Train ridership in the Netherlands has doubled over the past two decades.
This was largely achieved not by improved station coverage, but by improved station access/egress through targeted investments in bike infrastructure, (300,000+) parking spaces, and (23,000+) shared bikes. pic.twitter.com/RbOtJUwySp
— Melissa & Chris Bruntlett (@modacitylife) September 19, 2022
Still interested in the guided bus vs. light rail debate? The city of Padua (Padova) in Italy has a ‘guided bus’ system and twitter user Gareth Denis has a great thread explaining its pros and cons.
The mass of the vehicles is conveyed on the wheels. And the guideway means that the wheels are in pretty much precisely the same place on the road for every vehicle passage. That limits the number of services to no more than about ten an hour for a fairly short vehicle.
Where do we put all the cars?
Parking really is one of the key levers to pull if we want to release our cities and towns from vehicle domination. An article published by the Institute for Transportation and Development Policy talks about the need to re-think parking to tackle climate change. It looks at how parking became such an all-consuming use of urban space, and what cities around the world are doing to change their parking policy.
[…] cities have historically struggled to accommodate the growth in vehicle ownership they have experienced, and urban planners have continued to dedicate more street space to vehicle throughput and storage. The primary goal of transport planners has historically been to facilitate fast, convenient travel for passenger vehicles with the short-sighted view that ‘parking problems’ stemmed from a shortage of space.
As a result, cities have continued to dedicate valuable curb space to free and underpriced on-street parking, perpetuating a cycle of encouraging drivers to take more trips by car rather than choosing alternative transport modes.
Palmerston North City Council Transport Planner Vanuka Nanayakkara shared a cool visualisation of parking behaviour in Palmy on LinkedIn this week. WSP produced the graphic after studying the way people use parking in the town.
The findings are consistent with international evidence on parking use: businesses overestimated how important parking was to their customers, and people who visited the city centre by bike, bus or on foot stay longer and spend more.
Congestion pricing discourages driving
In an example of policy working exactly as it should, there are concerns among owners of parking garages in NYC that the planned congestion charge could put them out of business.
Several motorists told THE CITY that congestion pricing could drive them onto mass transit — which is exactly what advocates and MTA officials are hoping for.
“I think what I will do is take public transportation,” said Wilson Peguero, 42, of Bushwick, who pays $50 three times a week to park his Nissan Maxima at a West 58th Street garage while he attends John Jay College of Criminal Justice.
Plot potential parklets in your neighbourhood
Parklet Plotter is a tool to help people identify locations for micro parks and pockets of green space in their community. It maps existing green space and helps you pin-point areas which need more. It’s only got data for the UK at the moment, but we think it’s got potential to be a useful participatory tool for communities and councils.
We’ve created this map to help people learn more about the areas they live in – from which communities have the least access to green space to which areas experience high levels of social deprivation.
Water underground: time to daylight our awa?
An illuminating article from Jonathan Killick at Stuff (the first of a promised three-part series) looks at daylighting the awa of Tāmaki Makaurau, with a focus on Tunamau – the stream that once ran through Western Park in Ponsonby, whose presence can be felt every time it rains.
As climate change continues, the waterways of our city will continue to daylight themselves anyhow, every time it rains, so this is a pragmatic discussion to have. The article mentions Oakley Creek/ Te Auaunga, regenerated as part of the Waterview tunnel project – not just for beauty and environmental mitigation, but also to prevent the flooding of nearby housing. Is there an undergrounded stream near you that deserves to breathe again?
Head into your weekend with SJD
A new music video by Aotearoa artist SJD is made up of iPhone footage shot in 2018 in Beijing, featuring people on bikes, micro vehicles, high speed rail, and life on one humble street corner…
Enjoy the long weekend and longer evenings. A tērā wiki.