Tēnā koutou. We’ve made it to the last Weekly Roundup of September!
Cover image by Mitchell Houlbrook, via Twitter.
The week in Greater Auckland
On Tuesday, Matt reflected on what’s been achieved for transport in 5 years of the Labour-led government.
Wednesday’s post looked at the latest public transport ridership data for Auckland, which is finally starting to pick up again.
Yesterday, Heidi wrote about what should be next for Upper Harbour Drive, and how the project could be a test case for the strategic direction provided by the TERP.
Get your vote in this week!
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.
The end of the Goff era
This week marked the last meeting of Auckland’s fourth council – and the last council meeting for mayor Phil Goff, deputy Bill Cashmore, and councillor Cathy Casey. Final speeches celebrated council’s resilience through a tough few financial years, as well as the passing of important long-term policies like the Climate Action Targeted Rate. We want to acknowledge the hard work of Goff, Cashmore and Casey – and the council as a whole.
So, what will the new era bring?
Chloe Swarbrick’s column in the NZ Herald this week paints a vision of fewer cars and more space to roam; more “cool streets”, more free-ranging kids, less pollution and more trees.
A city is by definition a built-up environment. It’s where more and more people work, live, play and want to be. If the problem is getting people around, you won’t find the solution praying at the car altar.
Tāmaki Makaurau revealed!
The scaffolding is down on Britomart Station, the edifice formerly known as the Chief Post Office, revealing not only the building’s beautiful facade, but also the full expanse of Te Kōmititanga in front of it. We love it!
Yay! Tāmaki Hauptbahnhof unveiled pic.twitter.com/oCvtAqCERE
— Patrick Reynolds (@pv_reynolds) September 27, 2022
Not so much unwrapped as unearthed, check out this story about the project to renew the Awataha Stream in Northcote. Part of the big Kāinga Ora housing regeneration project in Northcote, the 1.5km long Awataha Greenway is the result of a 10-year planning process. Daylighting the stream was first suggested by Mana Whenua, and students from local schools were a big part of the design process.
[Design lead Sara Zwart] described the project as “one part building work, one part fostering communities”.
The regenerative process was also hoped to boost the mauri (life essence) of the stream, improve water quality, and enhance the habitat for birds, insects and tuna (eels).
“We want locals to be guardians and owners of the land. We don’t want another stream that ends up with shopping trollies in it,” she said.
And after you’ve read about the Awataha, ponder the still-trapped Waihorotiu, in a story by Karanama Ruru.
an ancient awa (river) rests beneath the asphalt that has carried everything from horse and carriage to the public bus and Tesla car.
It’s called Waihorotiu Stream, and is one of the many streams around Auckland that have been covered in. It runs from a marsh now called Aotea Square out to the Waitematā Harbour.
What’s happening in the bike lane?
For the second week in a row, we’re acknowledging the death of someone on a bike. Sean William Russell Innes was struck and critically injured by a car while riding his bike in Christchurch two weeks ago, and he died this week in Christchurch Hospital. Our thoughts are with Sean’s family, friends and community.
2022, as Tim Welch pointed out this week, is already deadlier for cyclists than each of the last four years.
It’s those kinds of statistics, plus scary experiences like the one captured here on Victoria St (why hasn’t that right-turn been closed yet?), which start to turn even the most confident cyclists off.
Absolute disgrace of an intersection for peds and cyclists. AT are just waiting for someone to die before they fix it … maybe https://t.co/7JUQuIC2tv
— Su Yin Khoo (@ksuyin) September 22, 2022
Coping with the bikelash
‘Bikelash’ is something most people who use a bike regularly have experienced. We’ve all got stories of the aggressive horn, or drivers who pass us deliberately – and dangerously – close, and there are some true horror stories in this piece on Stuff. But it’s encouraging to read that international research suggests bikelash comes from a small minority of people with strong anti-cycleway views.
“There’s about 1% of people who would cycle on anything, and there’s about 3 to 5% who will cycle given a little bit of encouragement – if there’s a painted white line, they’ll cycle.
“Then you get about 30% of people who will never ever cycle, and then in the middle is this big group of about 60%… they kind of like the idea, but they don’t feel it’s safe enough.”
Want to quax back from Costco with minimal risk of bikelash? Here’s a little reminder that you can get most of the way there and back from the city centre without needing to share the road with angry drivers.
Opening day for NZ’s first Costco.
Just a PSA that you can ride almost entirely on separated or protected bike lanes from the CBD to Costco.
You might want to bring a cargo bike or trailer. pic.twitter.com/IlC6ep6s75
— Tim Welch (@TimFWelch) September 27, 2022
Mayor John goes to the Netherlands
Have we fan-blogged about the mayor of Emeryville, California? Mayor John Bauters is young, progressive, and gets around by bike. Here he is on a tour of cycling infrastructure in the Netherlands with Chris Bruntlett from the Dutch Cycling Embassy. Who should we be sending on a similar mission to open their eyes to how we can bring life to our streets?
The week in flooding, officially upgraded to the week in mega-storms
Two huge storms shredded the east coast of North and Central America in the last week. Hurricane Fiona tore through Puerto Rico and the Caribbean last week, then smashed into north-east Canada in the weekend, pulling entire houses out to sea.
Several homes and an apartment building were dragged out to sea, Rene Roy, editor-in-chief of Wreckhouse Weekly in Port aux Basques, told the Canadian Broadcasting Corp.
“This is hands down the most terrifying thing I’ve ever seen in my life,” Roy said, describing many homes as “just a pile of rubble in the ocean right now”.
More destruction in PAB, NL
— Gertrude (@DirtyGertie_) September 24, 2022
Meanwhile, Hurricane Ian, having struck Cuba and the Cayman Islands earlier this week, is now making its way north through Florida. Hurricane Ian’s severity was increased by how quickly its wind speeds ramped up: they went from from 75mph to 155mph in 48 hours, a ‘rapid intensification’ that meteorologists say is going to become more likely in the years to come.
And if that makes you feel nervous, don’t read this article about the fear scientists have that several key climate tipping points, particularly in the Arctic, have already been passed.
United Nations’ chief António Guterres on Wednesday called the devastating floods covering a third of Pakistan a “window into the future”.
“What is happening in Pakistan demonstrates the sheer inadequacy of the global response to the climate crisis, and the betrayal and injustice at the heart of it,” he told the U.N. General Assembly in New York.
“If one-third of G20 countries were under water today, as (they) could be tomorrow, perhaps they would find it easier to agree on drastic cuts to emissions,” he added.
Which begs the question: what if we named hurricanes after SUV models?
Once again, everyone wants trains
Dunedin City Council’s submission to the inquiry into inter-regional passenger rail will be asking for trains between Dunedin, Christchurch and Invercargill. Councillors were working on a draft submission this week.
It has been signalled in the draft submission that a New Zealand rail plan and rail network investment programme is of limited ambition and focused on the North Island.
The draft submission queries whether Otago and Southland are expected to put up with the existing low level of service.
“If New Zealand wants to achieve its carbon zero goals, rail needs to play a much bigger role in our transport system, and greater ambition is needed to drive improvements to rail in the South Island,” the draft says.
On the other side of the world, high speed rail is coming to Portugal, with a planned connection between Lisbon and Porto that will take just 1 hour and 15 minutes.
The new line will mean the construction of a separate railway track rather than relying on older infrastructure, which is already deemed to be operating at top capacity as it is.
And here’s a train-themed podcast for your weekend: Monocle reports from Innotrans 2022, a ginormous trade fair for transport technology held this year in Berlin. The monocle journalist explores the trade fair, asking where transport is heading in the future.
Free transport for Tube cleaners
This seems like something entirely sensible, and an idea a new mayor could adopt straight away, right? Sadik Khan, mayor of London, has asked Transport for London to give free travel on public transport to the organisation’s lowest-paid workers, benefiting about 5000 cleaners, contract workers, security staff and caterers.
The electric future is micro
It must be expo and conference season: we enjoyed this twitter thread by Lavanya Sunder, after attending the two-day Micro-Mobility America conference. One key theme she noticed, which resonates with us, is this:
5 – A lot of awesome form factor innovation coming from the belief now that there is not a “one vehicle fits all” answer. Different cos going after their niche – suburban scooter riders, e-cargo bikes for style conscious parents, hyper urban delivery workers, etc
For many right here in Tāmaki, the e-bike is the best form of micro-mobility going, and Outside Magazine agrees. The article gathers stories from a diverse group of people talking about why they love their e-bikes: from a keen cyclist who was permanently injured by a car, but still able to ride an e-bike; to a family who have way more fun biking places than driving, to someone who’s worked out they save a lot of money on gas.
Three months in, I’m driving two or three days a week instead of six of seven. And while my e-bike was purchased to solve a functional problem—that it’s too much work to get home at the end of the day—it’s opened my eyes to the pleasures of emissions-free human scale micro-mobility.
Solving the car dependency problem
About that electric future? Norway’s done such a good job of convincing people to swap the ICE for an EV, that now they’re overrun with the things, and are trying to work out how to get people out of their (electric) cars. Some of the country’s famous EV incentives may well be rolled back sooner than planned. It’s a problem that more countries are going to have to confront because the transition to electric vehicles is well and truly underway, to the point where a survey across 19 countries found that a third of respondents supported combustion engine bans within a decade.
Perhaps Norway could look to Paris, where traffic is evaporating from city streets. The Low Emission Zone, pedestrianisation of major streets, and many kilometres of new cycleways have all combined to reduce traffic in Paris pretty dramatically.
As a result, the proportion of journeys by car in Paris has dropped about 45 percent since 1990, according to a paper published by the journal Les Cahiers Scientifiques du Transport. At the same time, the use of public transit has risen by 30 percent and the share of cyclists has increased tenfold.
Congestion charging isn’t just for European cities, either. NYC is on the cusp of confirming a toll on traffic, and Bangkok, one of the world’s most congested cities, might start using congestion charging similar to Paris and London’s low emissions zones.
Creating the urban ambience we want
Car dependency is going to become a bigger and uglier issue in the near future. The Bolt Scooter blog has some impressive numbers that describe the disproportionate space cars claim on city streets.
In Paris, only a fraction of people use cars but each vehicle is granted over 100m2 – up to 80% of the urban area – so everyone has less space. In Lagos, the prevalence of cars means that people can waste over six hours commuting to and from work every day, while in Berlin €4.2 billion is spent on automotive infrastructure every year. That equates to €270 per month per car, so every Berliner has less money in their pocket.
So, what kind of ’vibe’ does a car-dependent city have? An essay on The Conversation considers different kinds of ambience we encounter in urban places, and all the factors that go into creating ambient experiences.
When we speak of ambience, we think of the city in a very different way. We think of the city from the position of our own sensing body. The light that enters our eyes; the sounds that enter our ears; the wind and radiation that touches our skin; the tastes and smells in the air; even the vibrations that pass through us (think of passing trams, and even Earthquakes!).
Pigeons, rigs and toboggans
We think you’ll find this fascinating: a first-person account of demolishing ‘Pigeon Palace’, a decrepit multi-storey concrete building on Albert St that famously housed Food Alley. Includes stomach-turning descriptions of decades worth of guano, and finding structural columns with no rebar in them.
Art for climate’s sake
One day soon, artists are going to be busy repurposing the fossils of the… fossil fuel-powered world. Getting in ahead of the rush, creative studio Newsubstance has constructed ‘See Monster’ an enormous sculpture made out of a disused oil rig. The platform now contains a collection of artworks, a viewing platform, wild plantings, and a multi-level slide.
A related project from Wales is playing out across social media channels this week. GALWAD (which means ‘calling’) plays with the idea: what if we could hear messages from 30 years in the future? Tune into bulletins from 2052 here. The show is inspired by the Well-being of Future Generations Act passed by the Welsh Parliament in 2015, which sounds like an idea we could get behind.
Commute of the week: take the wicker chair one stop…
A tērā wiki – have a great weekend, and remember to vote.