Nau mai haere mai to another weekly roundup. Did anyone else forget that it’s Labour Weekend? Well, here we are.
The week in Greater Auckland
Monday’s post, a guest post by George Weeks, reminded us that many European cities have had to solve all of the same problems we’re grappling with.
On Tuesday, Heidi wrote about the problems and risks of heavy trucks on our roads, and why we need to get freight back onto rail.
In Wednesday’s post, we released a bit of steam about the terrible public transport service Tāmaki is experiencing at the moment.
Yesterday, Matt shared our draft submission for the Inter-Regional Passenger Rail Inquiry.
Transport around the motu
Have you got kids who are seriously into trains? CRL and MOTAT want to take 5 lucky tamariki of intermediate age (11-13) on a walk through the full 3.45 km long tunnel. To enter, kids need to submit a video of them answering an important train-related pātai. Entries close next Tuesday the 25 of October, so get in quick!
Unfortunately, we’re all too old to enter 🙁
Have you got kids who like to ride bikes with other kids? Bring them along to Bike Auckland’s Kidical Mass event next weekend.
Kidical Mass is a worldwide movement that gives children a voice, creating a positive vision for the future, connecting the young and old across the cycling community.
The vision of Kidical Mass is that all children and young people can safely and independently use bikes as a mode of travel. So gather your whānau and register for the FREE Kidical Mass event on 29 October from 9.45am -12 pm.
Also coming up next week is a panel discussion hosted by the Uptown Business Association about how their neighbourhood, set for transformation once CRL opens in its heart, can grow sustainably into the future. The event is part of the Auckland Climate Festival.
Our speakers will explore how the neighbourhood can be a blueprint for low-carbon, sustainable, high-quality living in the future – all it takes will be making the right choices today for the homes of our tamariki.
Did you hear about Ockham’s big reveal this week? Apartments from Toi, first building off the blocks at the former Unitec site, have been released into the market. With a focus on larger apartments and not a single car park, Toi could be telling us something important about the future of communities in Tāmaki Makaurau.
Geographically blessed, Toi is nestled in between Pt Chev and Mt Albert, in easy ‘scenting’ range of Daily Bread, and within carousing proximity of Bar Martin. It’s a short stroll to two train stations, while the Northwestern cycleway is on your doorstep, the CBD just a 10-minute e-bike whizz away.
We hope those Carrington Road cycle lane separators get installed before Toi goes up, because there are going to be plenty more bikes on the road by then! Meanwhile, some hardworking tim-tams have been installed on Mt Albert Road, a couple of neighbourhoods to the east. Nice to see this safety programme making a difference in places that have long been identified as risk hotspots.
Cool to see the Frost Rd-Mt Albert Rd intersection signalisation deliver some safety improvements for people on bikes!
— Malcolm McCracken (@urbanistfromwhk) October 17, 2022
Well this is an embarrasing contender for pothole of the year. It’s going to cost $30m to repair road surface failure on 10-year-old section of the Waikato Expressway near Ngāruawāhia. How many tim-tams would that buy?
Perhaps passenger rail would be a better investment for the Waikato. The Waikato Regional Transport Committee certainly thinks so, and has told the inter-regional passenger rail inquiry that they hope it looks closely at the potential to turn Te Huia as a reference case for future high speed passenger rail. One of the biggest commercial interest groups in the region, Tainui Group Holdings, agrees.
[Tainui Group Holdings] Chief executive Chris Joblin said fast commuter rail will be “crucial” for both Hamilton and Auckland in the medium term future and “will definitely come”.For this reason, TGH has an eye to reopening a long-mothballed underground train station as part of its multimillion-dollar redevelopment plans for 13ha it owns in the Hamilton CBD.
Christchurch might be Aotearoa’s best cycling city at the moment, but it has a way to go on walkability, a topic explored this week by Will Harvie. Walkability is about how many useful things people can access within a short walk, and that’s something that is often improved by increasing density – something Christchurch’s council recently voted against.
The city ranked 18th out of 42 urban areas, with only 39% of residents living within a 15-minute walk of important amenities such as a large grocery store, primary school or GP.
By contrast, Wellington had the highest rank, with 61% of residents living within 15 minutes’ walk of those sorts of amenities. Christchurch was also behind Auckland, and Dunedin.
Simon Wilson busts a few common climate myths in his Herald column this week. The piece starts in the agricultural sector but soon finds its way to transport, which is vulnerable to a particular kind of ‘technology-will-save-us’ argument.
One of the most egregious aspects of the tech salvation argument is that it’s applied so selectively. There is a transport technology that could make a material difference to this country’s emissions, it’s extremely cheap compared to the other options, and it’s already becoming popular overseas.
Denver, Colorado, for example, has a scheme that offers up to US$1700 (NZ$3000) financial assistance to people wanting to make the switch. It’s means tested, so the policy bakes equity into the city’s climate response.
The technology is e-bikes. While Labour and National squabble about the best way to spend billions on public transport projects and how to design a decent feebate scheme for EVs, where’s the support for the much cheaper e-bike option?
The return of the week in flooding
We’re sorry. It was a short week without this segment, wasn’t it? This week, four different Australian states are enduring flooding that’s come on as a result of a ‘highly unusual weather system’. The current floods have already claimed three lives.
The wet weather is being fuelled by a slow-moving low that’s drawn on “vast amount of tropical moisture” after sitting over the country’s centre, Weatherzone said.
The weather service has branding the system “highly unusual”.
“Parts of outback South Australia which are usually extremely dry have received record October rainfall,” it said.
This comes just days after parts of the state of Victoria went underwater, putting the lives of thousands of wild animals at risk. A local wildlife shelter asked people to be extra careful as washed-out animals found themselves on roads. Roads which have taken a hammering from the weather event, which left over 300 roads in the state closed.
“Our wildlife is being pushed out by rising river and creek waters and roos in particular have nowhere to go but onto the roads and into the towns,” it wrote on Facebook.
“They are frightened, wet and exhausted. Please be considerate of their plight.”
Here in Aotearoa, all signs point to a major marine heatwave this summer, and event similar to that which cased our hottest ever summer in 2017/18.
New mid-range forecasts show that, by late summer, sea surface temperature (SSTs) could reach 1.6C above average in Golden Bay, with other anomalies of 1.3C in Marlborough’s Pelorus Sound, close to 0.9C at Ninety Mile Beach and off Coromandel town, and 0.6C in Opotiki.
Compared with what the models had forecast for the region in the past, those values were at the upper-end of projected anomalies, and enough to have widespread implications for land and sea environments.
“The modelling is basically telling us, this is unusual, and we should be paying attention,” Noll said.
Getting smart about low-carbon deliveries
Turns out some solutions for deliveries may have been a bit too smart. Both Fedex and Amazon announced they were shutting down their robotic delivery service programs this week. Scout, Amazon’s delivery robot, was designed to provide last-mile delivery services, but it seems that both Scout and Fedex’s Roxo just couldn’t become independent enough.
However, as Amazon’s failure with Scout suggests, it’s not certain that the economics of this technology make sense. Although the robots are nominally autonomous, they often have to be overseen remotely, especially when they run into unexpected situations. They’re also slow, moving no faster than walking pace, which gives them little advantage over traditional couriers.
But Amazon and Fedex need not worry: there’s an amazing, market tested, perfectly scale-able solution waiting in the wings. It’s pretty autonomous, thinks on its feet (pedals) and if you want some cool tech you can bung a battery on it to power it up. You know what we’re talking about – we’ve even got them here in Tāmaki Makaurau.
Amazon’s actually got a fleet of them operating in London, which has embraced cargo bikes enthusiastically because the tax its Ultra-Low Emission Zone imposes on delivery vans makes bikes much more economical. Cargo bikes are the nimble, efficient, street-friendly delivery vehicle we need.
It’s estimated that cargo bikes could replace around 51 percent of all motorized freight trips in European cities. And this number could be higher if cargo bikes with electric assistance are used. According to a recent study, in Paris it’s technically possible to pick up and deliver as much as 91 percent of freight using ecargo bikes.
And yeah, the robots are kinda cute. But this is better.
Et bonjour ☀️
📷 The pet sitter, Paris 2021/Jack from Paris pic.twitter.com/bzAjYhkd2G
— monalisait (@monalisait1) October 18, 2022
Boost your mood with a bike commute
Last week we linked to the Transportation Happiness Map, a project out of the University of Minnesota. This week, Forbes picked up on the story, and the project team put out a video about what makes people’s journeys happier and why.
A Statistics Canada survey found that 66% of people who cycle or walk to work are “very satisfied” with their commutes. However, only 32% of car commuters say the same, and for public transit users, it’s even less, at just 25%. Just 6% of Canadian cyclists say they are “dissatisfied” with their commute.
The British version of the AA (Also known as the AA) has swung behind cycling as a way to get around. Cycling, they argue, is good for drivers too.
Encouraging motorists to take fewer journeys by car can cut household fuel costs, and reduce congestion on the roads for other drivers, Edmund King said.
“Even though we’re a motoring organisation, that doesn’t mean you need to use your motor all the time,” Mr King said.
This graph says it all: streets are safer for people on bikes when more people are using bikes to get around. The data compares cycling deaths per trip across a collection of very different cities. Auckland isn’t doing well in this dataset. Check out the twitter thread and the study link for a deeper dive.
— Thijs Niks (@thijsniks) October 17, 2022
Good infrastructure makes for happy bike riders. Not Just Bikes has put together side-by-side comparison of some good and non-so-good infrastructure in Copenhagen and Calgary.
Here’s a tool we’d get excited about if someone created it for Auckland: a bike lane tracker for NYC’s planned bike network. The website tracks planned and constructed bike lanes, and is holding NYC’s mayor to account.
Have you got your bike booked in for a service to set you up well for a summer of happy bike rides? Share your favourite local bike shop/mechanic in the comments. We’ll shout out to the EcoMatters bike hubs, where you can swing by for a quick tyre-inflation, or a longer fix-up project with help from an experienced bike mechanic. The newest bike hub is right downtown, on Queens Wharf.
Happy streets, happy tamariki
If you’re up for an academic piece of reading this weekend, we enjoyed this study about kids, the COVID-19 pandemic, and kerbs. Why kerbs? It’s all about the streets as a space for play.
After a conversation about the spaces marked on Theo’s map, the researcher asked specifically about the street, and Theo then spoke animatedly of a place where he liked to jump off the kerb on his bike, ‘because it’s like all dippy and uneven, so it’s like really fun to jump off like that. And there are like slopes and stuff that you can ride over’.
We’ve definitely mentioned the adorable Japanese show ‘Old Enough’ here on Roundup before. It’s the one where Japanese preschoolers go on elaborate, unsupervised errands in their home towns. The show led the author of a Transportation for America blogpost to reflect on growing up in an arterial world.
For most of my childhood, I lived along a minor arterial road, right next to the outer loop of the Beltway in Washington, D.C.’s suburbs. […]To go to school, get to soccer practice, have a playdate with a friend, or pick up the jacket I frequently forgot at any of the above locations, one of my parents had to stop whatever they were doing to drive me there and back. When they weren’t available to drive me, I was stuck.
Slow streets: happy streets
Brussels introduced a 30km/hr speed limit citywide at the beginning of 2021. Speeds, collisions, fatalities and traffic noise all decreased – but journey times by car weren’t affected.
In a couple of year’s time, more of the streets in Lambeth, London, will be inside the area’s LTNs than outside them.
‘A kind of traffic maze’ is how this old-school LTN from the 1970s is described; ‘and anyway we need the exercise’ is a timeless observation!
“Commuters used to use these little residential streets as a short cut. But the Westminster authorities decided to…stop them driving through.”
A film from 1970 about an LTN in Pimlico, Central London including an interview with a doctor who still needs access by car. pic.twitter.com/I01G2IAYkH
— APPGCW (@allpartycycling) October 16, 2022
Paris Metro goes digital
Who among us hasn’t built up a stack of crumpled metro tickets to bring home as souvenirs?
The Bad News:#Paris has announced it's getting rid of its paper métro tickets.
The Good News:
This métro station, made out of recycled métro tickets.
A tōnā wā. Have a great weekend, and we’ll see you on Tuesday.