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.

Toi, and its future neighbour on the left. Image via Ockham.

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.

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.

Image credit: Urgent Couriers

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.


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.

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.

Blue installed, pink planned. Map via twitter

‘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!


Paris Metro goes digital

Who among us hasn’t built up a stack of crumpled metro tickets to bring home as souvenirs?


A tōnā wā. Have a great weekend, and we’ll see you on Tuesday.

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46 comments

  1. Not meaning to belittle the catastrophic forces of nature especially as influenced by humanity but that footage of the Spanish flooding is from 2019.

    At least that appears to be the case from the comments

  2. excellent article thanks

    Be interesting to see where Wayne Brown goes in the near future

    there seems to be a look of slight despair creeping in on his face

    We love his talk but can he walk the walk?

    time will tell

    1. Who loves his talk? Most people I speak to seem to regard him as a blow-hard who will end up isolated in Council. But then again most people I speak to are under the age of a thousand years old.

      1. I like his talk because we wants to get rid of the people in organisations (AT etc.) which are standing in the way of getting things done.

        How many km of new cycle lanes have been rolled out this year? WHOEVER replaces the status quo can’t possibly do worse, and might do better.

        1. I’m not so sure that the status quo cannot be worsened.
          At least the stated ideas are sensible even though the implementation has been abysmal.

        2. Of course they can do worse and the sort of people Mayor Brown is likely to appoint will definitely do worse by your standards. Expect cycle lanes to be removed/downgraded.

        3. Wayne Brown thinks AT needs more traffic engineers. Most people who have an opinion on AT think it is anti-car and would probably agree with the mayor.

        4. I’m confused. People at GA have been talking about how lax AT has been at rolling out things like footpath and cycleway upgrades, which has lead me to believe that AT is vehemently pro-car. Certainly seems to be. But now Mr Brown is saying that AT are anti-car? How can this be? Are we living on different planets?

        5. Thats how modern political tribalism works. You are either with us or against us. So anyone trying to compromise or find the middle ground just gets branded the enemy by both sides.

        6. There are zero cycleways in the central isthmus anyway, he can’t rip out what’s not there.

          I don’t think any other mayoral candidate would have delivered cycleways in our neighbourhood. If one had made that commitment, I would have voted for him.

        7. “He has made it clear his priority is roads, not cycleways”

          Is it?

          “We need to harness technology to get people moving around faster and more reliably. We need to finish current busway projects and create a smarter public transport system including building simple cycleways, rather than blowing tonnes of cash on unproven projects.
          We can make it easier to move around our strong and flourishing communities with good connections and a choice of transport options.”

          Thats from his campaign website. He is on record saying parking does not belong on arterials and that the Avondale-Southdown heavy rail line should be built. The proof is in the pudding of course, but he is not a guy who as acted like its cars first and everything else gets the leftovers. Thats one thing I will give him.

        8. He’s arguing AT should not be doing behaviour change – either actively, or through transport policy. That screams “status quo” and “cars are what we used, cars are what we will use” to me.

          “We will build simple cycleways” is a talk-only sop to those on the fence. He’s on record on opposing Upper Harbour Drive, which is about as simple and cheap as a bikeway can get.

          He will be a disaster, and cycling improvement will have another couple of lost years.

  3. In yesterday’s comments someone posted along the lines of; “The answer to almost every transport problem is – THE BICYCLE”. Well done for providing more evidence of that today.

  4. ‘The weather service has branding the system “highly unusual”.’

    I like this quote. It hides climate change as a cause. And it is technically correct. The weather of today is unusual in the sense that humans haven’t experienced it in the past, which wasn’t as bad, and won’t experience it in the future, because it will be much much worse. So enjoy the weather, it will never get any better.

    1. Weather zone is a forecasting company a bit like Metservice.

      Climate forecasting is done by agencies such as NIWA

    2. Ralf, well said. The only imponderables are how quickly the climate will change and by how much.
      And still there are those who just don’t think they need to change. They want to keep producing as much millk and meat as they can because they do it more efficiently than anyone else.
      If we can also find the most efficient producer of fossil fuels and they can produce as much as they want does that mean that the problem is fixed?

      The people that I feel really sorry for though are those who worry about their grand kids and what world they will inherit. They are living in a state of self-delusion. I suggest that unless you are into your 90s everyone has good reason to worry.

  5. Kidical Mass sounds like a nice activity to do. But you have to get into the city, with bikes. Are the trains going to be running? (I see the AT logo in the poster, so hopefully they would allow for this…?)

  6. Hugh M, on what planet is AT anti-car. They literally prioritise the car in almost every decision they do or do not make.

    1. Ask J. Bloggs on the street and that seems to be the general opinion. Any inch of space used not in favour of driving is an affront!

  7. Local and central government should be ashamed of that climate fatality graph.

    The naysayers were right, Auckland IS different. You are more likely to die on a bike here.

    1. Wait, wasn’t Bee meant to be tge national ticketing system? Are all of those councils really going to have to change again?

      1. No, HOP was supposed to be the national ticketing system. However because of local government parochialism, Snapper ticket clipping and the dead hand of the Wellington bureaucracy we’ve ended up with 4.

    2. It was announced today – announced is the key word. Let’s celebrate when it’s delivered. Also it’s going to cost $1.3b? I would like to see how that is justified. Seems a lot of people clipping the ticket.

      1. I think the biggest cost is replacing all those readers that are at the Stations , ferry terminals and all the buses . I remember when the buses around Auckland had two readers one covered one uncovered when Hop was rolled out .
        And over time al the buses only had one , so now there will be more E-waste in the system . Shame they can’t repurpose them for the new system .

        1. On Friday at Newmarket station more than half of the HOP card readers/fare gates were not working. Maybe it is time they get replaced.

        2. sometimes PT user – I have also notice the same at Britomart with those orange cones blocking off different gates .

  8. And 1news’s article had this comment from Matt L ;-

    Greater Auckland director Matt Lowrie told 1News it wasn’t the first time we’ve tried a national system.

    “HOP, that we have here (in Auckland) was meant to be the original National Ticketing System, and then there’s been issues that have come along the way, partly because some parts of the country didn’t like that it was in Auckland first,” he said.

    “So having a National Ticketing System has always been a goal and it will be good to actually have it rolled out.

    https://www.1news.co.nz/2022/10/21/new-system-to-let-kiwis-pay-for-train-bus-via-phone-credit-card/

    1. It’s great to see NZ has nearly made in to 2010 in terms of paying for trips in public transport. This decision should have been made years ago. Using kiwi companies without the know-how to develop a ticketless system has caused this ongoing ticketing mess.

  9. Nice little detail in that Ockham build – car parking isn’t included in the price. You can rent one if you want – but if you don’t have a car and don’t want a car park, you don’t pay a premium for what you don’t need.

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