Last week, Auckland’s new Mayor, Wayne Brown, started a new trend by publishing a letter a day on various priorities of his, with mobile phone blackspots on Sunday, Three Waters on Monday and the Port on Tuesday.
On Wednesday his focus turned to Auckland Transport, from whom he demanded a “complete change in approach“:
“You appear to have been focussed on changing how Aucklanders live, using transport policy and services as a tool,” he wrote.
“Instead, AT must seek to deeply understand how Aucklanders actually live now, how they want to live in the future, and deliver transport services that support those aspirations. Aucklanders do not always have the choice of using an e-bike, a bus or even a train but rely on the roading and carparking networks to make their life functional.”
Mr Brown said AT needs to exercise better judgement and listen to and follow the wishes of all Aucklanders and local communities “not just those who participate in formal consultation processes”.
“AT must understand the families who are struggling to move around the region: pick-up their children, do the groceries, get home safely after-dark, and juggle other commitments. You must understand the local businesses who rely on transport connections and their needs now and in the future. And you must recognise that the transport network materially impacts Aucklanders’ safety – especially at night, for women, for young people, the elderly and for shift workers.”
He said Local Boards must be far more closely involved in decisions about the design and delivery of smaller-scale capital projects in their area and the provision of on-street and off-street parking. Unless there were overwhelming reasons otherwise, AT should reflect the priorities of local communities in its approach to such projects and decisions.
As we wrote in our open letter to the Mayor after his election win, we do think something is fundamentally broken with how this important organisation works and that it needs to change.
However, the suggestion that Auckland Transport have been focussed on “changing how Aucklanders live” is not borne out by the facts – if anything, we’re as locked into our cars as we ever were.
Take cycleway projects, which are widely supported by Aucklanders, with weighted surveys repeatedly telling us that two thirds of Aucklanders support cycling in their community.
Despite what you might conclude from some of the media attention, Auckland Transport actually only delivers very few cycling projects – and very slowly. Their 2021/22 Annual Report shows that they delivered just “5.8kms of minor cycleways and 8.1kms of new cycleway connections” in one financial year. The cycleway network currently sits at around 348km. That’s a tiny fraction of the 8,000 km of roads in our city. Most of it is scattered and consists of paint on the road, which we know is not safe for people of all ages and abilities to use, and we see the awful results.
At AT’s current rate of delivery, it will take something like 160 years to complete a basic cycling network – one that Aucklanders can use to, for example, to “pick up their children, do the groceries, get home safely after dark, and juggle other commitments.” That’s no use “for women, for young people, the elderly and for shift workers” who want the option of cycling. And it’s no use for “local businesses who rely on transport connections” and who are increasingly looking towards cargo bikes as the last-mile solution for urban deliveries.
If there’s one thing everyone agrees on, it’s that traffic sucks, and getting stuck in traffic is stressful, life-limiting, and unproductive. And there’s one surefire way to make sure congestion keeps growing and the time that people have to spend stuck in cars keeps getting longer: by continuing with the same approach used for the last seven decades.
This is why rapidly giving people real choices about the alternatives is so important. It’s the only way to improve the experience for everyone, including those who need to drive.
Having these choices becomes even more critical when we look to Auckland’s future. Within the next decade Auckland’s population is expected to reach 2 million and it could reach 2.5 million before 2050. If those new Aucklanders travel in the same ways existing Aucklanders do, the challenger of getting around Auckland will only get harder.
Options for increasing road capacity to cope with that growth – widening roads and buying houses – are more expensive, more disruptive and will be far more divisive than smartly and efficiently investing in bikes, buses and trains now.
Those alternative modes also have the benefit of providing choice for the “existing and future Aucklanders” the Mayor draws attention to. And what better way to serve future Aucklanders and build a legacy than by intervening to speed up delivery of the more sustainable options that give everyone a chance to decarbonise our transport system.
There are a few other aspects from this letter to highlight:
c) Ensure local boards are far more closely involved in decisions about the design and delivery of smaller-scale capital projects in their area and the provision of on-street and off-street parking. Unless there are overwhelming reasons otherwise, you should reflect the priorities of local communities in your approach to such projects and decisions.
Does improving safety count as an overwhelming reason? Because we can think of a few places where those overwhelming reasons are more important than a local board’s objections.
d) Focus first on getting better performance out of the existing transport network, before committing to major new infrastructure projects, through:
- Much greater use of IT to improve traffic flows.
- Fixing problematic segments of a road, before looking to construct entire new roads. Mill Road is an example of where this approach should be deployed, in collaboration with Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency.
- Prioritising road safety investment where it will deliver the greatest reduction in deaths and serious injury. Only road safety projects with a high Benefit Cost Ratio should proceed.
Most of this has been the focus for many years from successive councils and governments – and this is now the strategy for Mill Rd.
Let’s be clear: the Benefit Cost Ratio aren’t always the best indicator for whether a project should proceed, and should mainly be used to compare options within a project. However, road safety projects typically have some of the best BCRs out there.
For example, the safer speeds programme has probably had some the most negative media coverage – and yet it has a BCR of 12, i.e. for every dollar invested we get an economic benefit of $12 in return.
And the programme of cycleways that AT has been so slow to deliver has a BCR of 6.8, which is very high according to Waka Kotahi’s investment framework. By comparison, programmes like new road-building in greenfield areas scrape in with BCRs of just over 1.
f) Greater certainty and control around the cycling programme:
- As a pre-condition for ongoing cycle lane investment, work with Council, Waka Kotahi and all Aucklanders to clarify and communicate the rules governing the use of footpaths, cycle lanes, bus lanes and roads by pedestrians, cyclists, e-scooters, skateboards etc. For safety reasons, this initiative should begin, if possible, prior to Christmas, the summer holidays and the start of the new school year.
- Invest in cycle lanes only where the per-kilometre construction cost is on par with costs in other jurisdictions, nationally and internationally.
- Once again, understand and address the social and economic disruption of road reorganisation, including the cost of eliminating of kerbside town centre parking and vehicle pickup /delivery points.
The first point is waiting on the government’s decision around the Accessible Streets consultation from 2020.
We agree cycleways need to be delivered cheaper (and faster), and there are well-demonstrated ways to do this, from both overseas and here.
The reason “cycleways” cost more than the bare minimum – especially in Auckland – is because they are often scoped to include improvements to footpaths, lighting, planting, road safety, bus lanes and shelters, as well as rebuilding of underground infrastructure and road resurfacing, while also retaining on-street parking.
Many of these aspects are either needed or in response to demands from local communities. In other words, it’s not the cycleways that are expensive. And when a full carriageway rebuild is required anyway, to address failing infrastructure – as on Franklin Road, the Mayor’s beloved Karangahape Road, and upcoming Meola Road – then it’s a no-brainer to include quality cycleways in that process.
“Dig once” is the watchword for fiscal prudence.
One notable omission in Brown’s letter was anything about fixing the dire state of the public transport network. He also didn’t say anything about reducing emissions in our transport system – however, that was mentioned in a summary of his discussion with the Prime Minister the following day
The Mayor raised five immediate priorities with the Prime Minister:
- Transport Alignment: Ensuring that council and government transport policy is designed to make it easier to move around the city and that future plans are aligned, including taking into account the need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions associated with transport.
It seems the letter-writing approach is catching on. Returning Waitemata Councillor Mike Lee has already tried to use the Mayor’s letter to push for Auckland Transport to attempt to cancel some critical multi-modal projects that are just about to get under way, and that are good examples of how AT can progress its approach and do a better job for all Aucklanders:
This brought an immediate response from Waitematā ward councillor Mike Lee, who wrote to Brown requesting he instruct AT to put a hold on the programme of three cycling projects in Grey Lynn, Westmere and Pt Chevalier.
Last night, an AT spokesman said the leadership team and board have heard the call from the mayor to review its approach. They added it’s important to work closely and constructively with the mayor, councillors, Local Boards, and communities “on projects like these and we look forward to discussing them over the coming weeks”.
“We are committed to giving Aucklanders genuine choices about how they travel across our city, while ensuring our projects deliver value and avoid unnecessary costs and disruption to Aucklanders,” the spokesman said.
Lee told the Weekend Herald that “AT’s plans are horrendously expensive and causing a lot of angst and harm to local businesses, residents and even some cyclists”.
“The whole project is flawed and needs to be put on hold,” he said.
The projects include the much needed improvements to Great North Rd to improve safety and provide smoother runs for both motorists and bus passengers, and Meola Rd, which requires rebuilding as it’s constantly developing potholes from subsidence into former landfill and clogs with traffic and parking to the point that it becomes a one-way system at peak times.
These projects have already been through extensive community consultation, collaboration and design processes, repeatedly, with improvements and mitigations added at each point – including a “dig once” coup of bringing in Vector undergrounding the overhead wiring on Meola Road.
Like Karangahape Rd, Tamaki Drive and many other recent projects, these are better described as “streetscape improvements”, as they are designed to improve safety for everyone, including drivers and pedestrians (including thousands of school children along the routes), to improve public transport, to improve deliveries for local businesses with more and larger loading zones, and to add trees.
Lee’s opposition to the projects is simply not in sync with the public, who have shown clear support. And it’s easy to see why – everyone benefits.
AT is just about to start early works on these projects, and in the case of Meola Road, 34 mature trees have already been cut down in advance of the project. Do we really want to waste more time, money and community support on a redesign and even more consultation – or worse, stopping these projects all together?
Lee’s call to pause the projects has no happy ending. It would either:
- waste more time, money and community goodwill on a redesign, with yet more consultation – the antithesis of Mayor Brown’s wish for leaner and more effective transport planning. or
- stop the projects all together. Not only does this leave local communities with shoddy streets, it risks losing national funding from Auckland altogether.
Lee also clearly has no idea how much money is being milked from the cycling budget to pay for the rebuilding of the road base, upgrade basic infrastructure and to cover the project costs like TTM which will be required whenever these basic upgrade tasks are undertaken. We imagine that Brown won’t have a bar of shooting Auckland Council’s budget in the foot like this.
Where the Mayor could help is by encouraging the speediest possible delivery, reducing any “angst and harm” for everyone involved. The Mayor probably has some ideas about cutting delivery costs without having to send the projects back to redesign – we certainly do.
You also have to ask, what does Lee see as the alternative – to leave these streets as they are? Going by his own words, it seems unlikely the Mayor will be happy to lock Aucklanders into more of this:
Of course, the council has yet to convene as a whole, and letters from individual councillors are just early shots across the bow of a new Mayor who’s getting his feet under the desk and setting priorities.
Fortunately, the Mayor has a ton of resources at his disposal that will let him dig beyond headline-grabs to confirm what Aucklanders want now and in the future and give AT the courage to get on and deliver it smartly.
Huh, I wonder what the key priorities were that Aucklanders identified in consultation on the 2021 regional land transport plan.
I think AT does deeply understand how Aucklanders want to live, actually. pic.twitter.com/StwMzxgR0T
— Pàra (@cogtwitoergosum) October 19, 2022
Maybe extend a personal invite to Wayne it any ACC / AT employee to come on a round the harbour ride with me
Walk a mile in a cyclists shoes
Might open their eyes a little
This is someone spoofing my name (presumably Phil). Can we get the comment deleted please?
Always surprised Meola Road wasn’t considered for a something like a peak-direction bus lane in the centre of the road, seems the kind of place where it’s only ever needed in one direction
Could you imagine how cross that would make cyclists? Currently at least they can get past the queue.
A painted cycle lane would fit without having to cut down all the street trees and it could be build cheap.
But a painted cycle lane isn’t safe.
I am not sure there is any proof of that Heidi. But leaving it like that and hoping someone will build a separated lane certainly isn’t safe.
You should be sure, given your profession. You are required to keep abreast of developments in your field, which include robust proof that painted cyclelanes are not safe.
Well you tell me. Have you seen any papers showing it is safer to make no provision at all while waiting for fully separated lanes that might or might not happen? And we are allowed to not know the answer, we just have to say we don’t know and not claim we do.
Anyway, if a protected bike lane doesn’t fit, then a painted lane also doesn’t fit. If it does, it is because it is too narrow.
You might find this one useful, miffy:
Would a painted line be better than nothing? I think a painted line with some simple dividers and hit sticks, plus a fixed up shared path over the narrow bridge (requiring a built up extension to the footpath) along with 30 km/hr speed limits and in-line bus stops… all that would’ve gone a long way as an interim fix, yes. People might have thought it looked ugly, or they might not, and they might have asked for the permanent fix to be brought forward.
When Waterview opened, they also should’ve put in a bus gate on Meola Rd, to turn the inner west route into town into a priority bus corridor instead of letting it become the traffic sewer it has become.
Really like that idea of a bus gate. AT should look at other places this other modal filters could be done too.
A painted cycle lane would also not fix the problem that Meola Road is sinking into that landfill.
It was not considered because despite what GA like to say, it is fundamentally a cycling project. Buses were not a priority for the project team.
I submitted a design that showed there is room on Meola Rd for the planned cycle lane, AND a morning peak bus lane, so that parking could be retained on the north side only (off peak), even if only near the dog park where it is still needed. However the engineers contracted to do the design, completely ignored the suggestion, sticking to their guns that their survey was accurate that “only 10 cars maximum are parked on Meola Rd” so there is no need to retain any parking.
They could trial it tomorrow, by removing parking on the North Side. I am for a cycle lane, but the bus lane should also be a priority. It typically takes 5-10 minutes to go the length of Meola in the morning!
On Meola Rd… “because despite what GA like to say” … What GA said in the post was:
“The projects include the much needed improvements to Great North Rd to improve safety and provide smoother runs for both motorists and bus passengers, and Meola Rd, which requires rebuilding as it’s constantly developing potholes from subsidence into former landfill and clogs with traffic and parking to the point that it becomes a one-way system at peak times.”
You’re right that buses were not a priority for the project team – although I imagine the signalisation of the Westmere roundabout might be about ensuring the morning peak hour buses are not held up by the Old Mill Rd / Garnet Rd ratrunners having precedence there.
Now let’s look at your suggestion. “a design that showed there is room on Meola Rd for the planned cycle lane, AND a morning peak bus lane, so that parking could be retained on the north side only (off peak), even if only near the dog park where it is still needed.”
How does your design fit parking and a bus lane in addition to everything else in the design, Stu? Have you narrowed the width of something or widened the corridor?
As I said, GA like to paint the projects as road improvement projects as stated in a number of posts (including this one).
There is room for the cycle lane, footpaths, plus a peak hour bus lane/ offpeak parking lane (not and), two traffic lanes in the existing roadway. OK, only in the part from the start of Meola reef to the bridge. The traffic lanes may need to narrow slightly depending on the bus lane width and final road boundary.
The cost of rebuilding Meola Rd is way exceeding the allocation of funding from the maintenance and renewals budget, Stu. This project is a way of taking cycling money to pay for a road rebuild.
So your design adds one extra lane. Compared to the AT design, can you explain what gets squeezed down to fit that, or is it that you are widening the corridor?
Did you read my comment….. How does reducing lanes from 4 (parking/traffic/traffic/parking) to 3 (bus or parking/traffic/traffic) count as adding a lane?
At first I was surprised you would not support the idea of a peak bus lane. Paint is not that expensive. But then I realsied that you would never support any form of on street parking.
There is no parking in the AT design. What are you removing to squeeze in a bus lane?
I can’t see how Stu’s plan works either. Meola Road is really *not* four lanes wide. Buses, or even a bus and a private vehicle, can’t pass each other when it’s parked up (which is generally isn’t for the morning rush hour but often is on weekends) and even cars have to be careful. Keeping parking on the north side *and* adding a lane sufficient for a bus would seem to defy the laws of physics. Somehow squeezing a painted bike lane in too makes it an even more imaginary solution. You’d also need to go looking somewhere other than the cycling budget for funding.
I’m old enough to recall Mike Lee being an advocate for progressive transport policies. For example the 2010 Regional Land Transport Strategy was approved under his watch.
What on earth happened?
Good question. Didn’t Mike Lee stand up against AT’s plan to chop down the big old pohutukawas at Motat to widen a road for cars? And now he wants to leave Meola a treeless mess, in order to what, spike local bike paths for kids?
When you look at the last picture, you can clearly see the problem. A bike! Imagine how the freely flowing traffic could be without that bike. So just make biking illegal, as Aucklanders do want to drive everywhere anyway. (Source: They drive everywhere)
I recall in the first two months of AT’s existence in 2010 the project that Mike Lee forced through was the Wynyard Tram. It was pretty frustrating at the start of everything that there was a massive diversion of effort just to get Mike Lee a toy train set for Christmas.
A lot of good it has done us as the claimed exemplar to show that Auckland can bring back trams.
Don’t forget the debacle was that was the location of the Parnell train station. Totally in the wrong place because Lee fell in love with an old shed there and insisted it be part of the station.
And yet the old shed was demolished so that a retirement village can be built!
Of all the things to whinge and moan about concerning the state of PT in Auckland, the location of the Parnell Station is so far down the list as to be almost invisible. Yet it is constantly harped on about here. Just accept it, it’s fine where it is, it’s being used, it’s a pleasent location suitable for a historic station.
It was in the context of disastrous interactions by Cr Lee.
I agree its way down the list of screw-ups overall, but it’s pretty high up on Mike’s, which was what the original comment was talking about.
Mike Lee and the Regional Council wanted the tram and light rail to go from Wynyard over to the Ferry Building and further. The only reason it became a nothing loop was because John Banks and Auckland City Council vetoed paying more money on the Wynyard bridge to allow it to have the trams crossing over and onwards to the Ferry Building, hence it is only a walking and cycling bridge.
I view it as a lost opportunity. If the trams had been able to get to the Ferry Building who knows where we would be today with light rail. So I don’t blame Mike Lee for the tram debacle. That’s all on John Bank’s and the ACC of the time’s heads.
On BCRs, here’s a summarised view from the UK:
“Over ten years ago I wrote a paper (Goodwin, P. (2010). Opportunities for improving transport and getting better value for money by changing the allocation of public expenditure to transport) compiling the knowledge available at the time on all the cost benefit studies across the board.
This showed that by far the best average benefit-cost ratio was for local safety schemes, with benefits over 30 times the cost. Next came smarter choice measures to reduce car use, at about 11. Then cycling, averaging about 10. Systems of automatic control of vehicle speed not to exceed the speed limit averaged 8. And then a large group of bus, rail and road schemes with an average of between 3 and 5.”
Yes that might be fine as an objective review. It shows that some cheaper improvements were overlooked in the past. But it fails as a normative outlook. Just because there were plenty of those projects overlooked in the past doesn’t mean it will still be like that now or in the future. To know you actually have to assess benefits and costs.
Quality transport planning starts with quality planning. That’s what we’ve not got. Costs and benefit analysis is useful for understanding differences between slightly different options. Continuing to use it to decide big decisions about direction is a choice to ignore its failings in order to continue with status quo planning.
Right so you prefer starting with ideology, writing it into rules called policy and inflicting that on people whether they support it or not? An objective measurement system isn’t perfect but it is easier to convince people you are on the right track.
The BCRs used for most safety improvements look a lot lower when you correct the method and carry out area wide treatments. That avoids the problem of random variation and gives more equitable outcomes. But the BCRs then look a lot more like other transprt projects.
The choice isn’t between conventional BCR’s and an ‘ideological infliction on other people’. It’s about using the right tool for the job.
NZ’s performance at meeting our decades old climate goals are out of step with peer countries precisely because we’ve used the wrong tool to decide how to invest. BCR’s are not quality planning tools for big decisions.
As for your claims about area wide safety treatments… this is irrelevant, given all the wider social and environmental economic benefits and costs that are still excluded, and which you seem to be happy to ignore.
Whenever anyone accuses someone else of being ‘ideological’ all that means is having a different ideology from them. There is no ideology free position, ideology simply means the study of ideas, which in practice means a belief system, or set of values. All economic evaluation systems freight a value structure, it is impossible to do otherwise; to evaluate is to ascribe value.
To prefer a transport system that kills fewer people is a value, an ideology, if you must. Similarly to prefer one that prioritises higher speed users despite the increasing the number of dead is similarly a different ideology.
By all means argue which is better, but neither is free of assumptions, of values, of having an ideological basis: a basis in ideas.
The dominant set of ideas in a sector’s processes acquire the appearance of objectivity to those it suits. It is boringly standard for this group to claim they are ideology free and only those proposing different systems freighting different values have an ideology.
In fact, the more a person claims to have no ideology, the more they are likely to be in thrall to them, as nothing tends to make people more stubbornly attached to their ideologies than their ignorance of them, as they remain unexamined.
Chris nailed it. Even the belief that we should maximise economic return is, in fact, and ideology.
You would think the train chaos starting right now, would be perfect opportunity for a mayor of Browns brand to “have a go” at AT. But nope, bitching about bike lane costs it is.
Also he and Hooton don’t care in slightest about climate change.
Matt seems to have taken a charitable, positive view of Brown’s comments, but it seemed pretty clear to me (including seeing the reaction on Reddit) that it was aimed at the same people who listen to Hosking
I read it as ‘not everybody can cycle, so more roads are the answer’
And the ‘listen to public’ seems like we should be listening to the hot takes I see/hear on a regular basis that ‘nobody uses cycle lanes’ or ‘they just need to synchronise the lights to make traffic better’ etc
Professional engineers armed with data, skills and a mandate to reduce emissions and provide more options to Aucklanders, should be educating the public and engaging with them, but ultimately completing projects faster has to be the goal.
Yesterday, I rode my bike from Mangere Bridge, to the Museum, then to the waterfront, along Tamaki Drive, and back to the ferry, then around the Coast to Cheltenham Beach, then the green route to Takapuna, then Lake Road, back to the ferry, then home to Mangere Bridge. It was 8 hours, mostly off road on bike infrastructure. It was scary, so many cars, so much bad breathing, the green routes are amazing but they are always interrupted by cars. Efeso Collins seemed to understand that 70 years of culture needed to be addressed, and indeed evolved, or revolved, to trains, bikes, and better living for the people. Everybody. It is going to be a tough haul with Wayne Brown, but we shall overcome a person trapped in the 20th Century, and bring this city into the future without flooding all the carparks!
348km of cycleways are 348km too many for Wayne Brown. This takes away space for cars to drive on or to park on, and that is what Aucklanders want. Well, the Aucklanders who voted for Wayne Brown and those are the only ones which matter, even though these are only about 20% or so of all Aucklanders.
And for this
“including taking into account the need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions associated with transport.”
This is a dog whistle and what he is saying here is that you need to widen roads to “solve congestion” and hence reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Well, we’ll see I suppose. I think some of his advisors might think along those lines. But Brown himself? He prides himself on his engineering background and ability to understand technical things. That’s simply not compatible with swallowing the mythology about “solving congestion” through widening roads. Also, widening roads is too expensive for a cost-cutting mayor.
And on the topic of who voted for him, and what they want. I think something important to remember is that the people who voted for him were frustrated – but they are not a homogeneous group. Lots of the well-propertied, older people are using e-bikes or have friends and family who cycle. Many realise they won’t be comfortable (or able) to keep driving into their old age, and want some other options. And many are concerned about their grandkids’ safety.
Transport is political and always has been. Mark Ford didn’t understand that because he ran Watercare when water wasn’t political. So he set up the AT structure to free managers from politicians, which was a mistake but the sort of mistake a manager like Mark Ford would make. The best solution is to get rid of AT and have the Council directly run transport.
That wasn’t just Mark Ford. The whole point of putting AT into a CCO that was hard wired into the legislation so that Council couldn’t get rid of it was to ensure that transport could get out from under the direct control of politicians who care more about the next election than they do for long term transport improvements.
Brown’s whole approach is the old fashioned do it the way politicians want it to catch the most votes mentality. Hopefully he will learn that he’s just one vote on a council.
Mayor of Auckland has more powers than other mayors but he’s a lot more like the mayor of any other NZ city than he is like the US president with vast executive powers.
And hopefully AT will remember that they are meant to be working for our long-term transport improvements and not just to make it easier for people to use cars no matter what the mayor says.
As I remember it Mark Ford and Robin Dunlop (Transit NZ) gave the advice to the select committee or commission or whatever it was that independent agencies were the way to go and that got agencies hard-wired into the Act (passed under urgency by National). Both men ran independent agencies and liked things done that way. Apologies to Dr Dunlop if I am wrong as I am not sure.
BTW all this crap was predictable. https://www.greaterauckland.org.nz/2010/03/08/will-auckland-transport-survive/
Like this from that older Greater Auckland Post:
As critics argue, the big issue is lack of accountability.
The British colonists in America in the mid-18th century coined the catchcry “no taxation without representation” to protest at their lack of representation in the British Parliament that levied taxes over them, and this is one of the major objections to the new governance structure.
Jane Bishop, RIP, died cycling home from work, on Tamaki Drive.
The following week, the Super City came into being, along with AT.
Two weeks after that, AT installed a cycle lane and removed parking at the spot where Ms Bishop died.
The spot where she died had been highlighted as a particular danger spot by the then Cycle Action Auckland, who had written at letter to Auckland Council about the issue.
The Transport Committee refused to do anything about it, because, wait for it…. parking. The Chair at the time was no fan of cyclists; parking and keeping space clear for motor vehicles was the only thing that mattered.
So yes transport is political. But I supported the removal of transport from political oversight, and will continue to do so (despite the sadly all too political ways in which AT has developed), because I think Transport should never be subjected to a committee of pale stale men.
I think AT needs firm re-setting; it does what is required in the RLTP + TERP, politely tells protesters to complain to their local Councillor / MP, and does the work that we all know it can do so well technically.
I agree with your points raised and from a fellow Christopher too! Could have been made without the “pale stale men” reference as one doesn’t choose their demographic
You’re right, no-one choses their demographic.
But everyone choses how to behave, and it’s remarkable that a group of ‘pale, stale men’ have consistently chosen a set of values, beliefs and actions that have resulted in a world where their values, beliefs and actions are paramount.
It sure wasn’t women that created where we find ourselves today, nor Maori, or Pasfika. Or the Gays, or the Lesbians. Or the disabled.
The trick here is to speak out against your fellow brethren – to tell them hush, be quiet, leave the room, make space for others.
Such an interesting line of the Mayor’s, about “how Aucklanders actually live now, [and] how they want to live in the future.” Council has reams of research on how Aucklanders actually live and want to live, and it basically comes down to: we don’t want to waste any more of our precious lives in traffic.
The public mood is very much for real alternatives to driving. This includes giving children more freedom to bike, scoot and walk, and extending safe cycling for all ages – so more of us can ride safely throughout our lives.
On that note, I loved this tweet: https://twitter.com/BarbSturmfels/status/1583916803725889536 For those not on Twitter, it reads:
“Info for Wayne Brown:
How I live my life now: I get around by ebike, nervously.
How I want to live my life now: getting around by ebike, safely and confidently.
How I want to live my life in future: getting around safely and confidently by ebike then etrike then mobility scooter.”
“we don’t want to waste any more of our precious lives in traffic.” I am not sure that is true Jolisa. People might claim that but revealed preference shows there is a hell of a lot of people who do prefer traffic congestion to the alternative.
The community’s “revealed preference” was visible during lockdown.
Exactly – it was a real-life revelation of not just preference for fresh air modes, but widespread enthusiasm for cycling at the local level. Also visible proof of the well-evidenced point that the main thing stopping most people from using a bike in this city is the lack of safety.
Likewise, when heavier traffic nudges people away from freewheeling modes and back into shitty traffic jams, that’s not a ‘revealed preference’ for driving – it’s simply *more* evidence that we need safe space for cycling.
That was the revealed preference if everyone was forced to retire tomorrow. When people had nowhere they needed to be and no particular time to get there. Most people don’t want to go back to that. If you want revealed click on the spreadsheet. https://at.govt.nz/about-us/reports-publications/traffic-counts/
You’ve had pointed out to you dozens of times before, miffy – but are showing a bit of cranky refusal to listen – that when it’s not safe to cycle or walk to the bus stop, and the journey time for taking the bus is too much longer than driving, people aren’t able to choose cycling or taking the bus. Auckland’s modeshare is not a “revealed preference” but a “revealed forcing”.
You know, I had some fond thoughts about you last night when I read this article about Steve Alker: https://www.stuff.co.nz/sport/opinion/300579486/my-game-came-around-at-the-right-time-steven-alkers-incredible-run-a-long-time-coming?rm=a
He came into his own just when he turned 50 and was able to enter the seniors’ championship level. I thought, what’ll happen to miffy when he meets that golden age of 60? It’s a bit like 50 in golf, I suppose. I reckon you’ll reinvent yourself. You’ll be one of the glorious progressive traffic engineers of your age group. As long as you keep reading GA, I suppose, and keep trying to grasp modern transport planning ideas…
‘Revealed preference’ = forced preference.
Who can choose a transit service that isn’t there or good enough, or choose to ride when there is nowhere safe enough to do so?
When these do exist at sufficient quality they are selected.
Heidi I am going to get a bow tie and travel the world taking full credit for the wonderful walking and cycling city Auckland has become. Just like all those wankers Auckland City used to bring in.
People don’t get to choose, they just have to use what is available.
For example, if you have an 11m roadway, you have about 2 metres of spare width on either side. You can use that either to park cars or to ride bicycles. What determines how people use it? Council policy, not any preferences from those people. The council chooses to make it a bike lane, or to allow on-street parking. People have to put up with whatever choice the council makes.
That is always true. Consumers don’t get to decide what goods are supplied. They only get to choose from what is offered. But the people supplying have an incentive to make changes to respond. similarly politicians have an incentive to change how roads set out if demand dictates it. But they have no incentive at all when they are no longer responsible for transport and that function has been carved out an given to an independent body accountable to no one.
Yes, and that choice is often ideological, as you point out. But that is not a new thing. The past choice to widen and rebuild roads for more cars, often to the point of making alternatives impractical was also ideological. Notably the tram lines were removed despite high patronage on those trams at the time.
The root cause of a lot of our problems is that roads for cars have a very low capacity compared to alternatives. A 3m wide bike lane can carry more traffic (in terms of people moved) than 3 similarly sized lanes for cars. Often by a wide margin. Obviously those 3 lanes for cars are much more expensive. You have to build 4 instead of 1, and you have to engineer it for 1,500 kg cars instead of 100 kg bicycles. You also have to somehow acquire the land for them. So rationally you would expect a road controlling authority to provide those alternatives instead. But we largely don’t, why is that?
The lived experience of most people is that without cars they are almost completely helpless, and dependent on other people driving them around with their cars. What if some scheme rolls around that reduces capacity for driving? This will mean for some people it is no longer practical to do certain trips by car. What if that is you? I think many people imagine that they will be rendered similarly helpless as that time their car was at the garage and they did not have a courtesy car, but forever. That is a phenomenal threat to people. This explains your “revealed preference”.
The smart producers/suppliers figure out what people would want if they new it existed and saw it in action. The others like Kodak thought, everyone likes film for their cameras at the moment so that’s what we’ll keep doing.
Council is no different, I’d rather a council that looked at successful multimodal cities and thought that’s what is the best way to get a large number of people moving, rather than basic stats that show lots of people drive at the moment.
In the late 1930s and 1940s, the Auckland Transport Board was highly influenced with what was happening overseas, they saw modernisation such as in the US where streetcar (tram) systems were being replaced by buses and so therefore that was the modern thing to do. In the US petrol companies owned bus companies and were buying up streetcar operators to make this happen. NZ just followed suit. Also in Auckland post WW2, the rails and tramcars needed renewing suffering from deferred maintenance. It was cheaper in the short term replace the trams with buses and push the track maintenance into road maintenance by the council.
The problem with the Auckland Light Rail project in its current underground guise, is it tries to solve too many problems at once and becomes a huge compromise. An underground tram or train doesn’t expose the passengers to businesses they would pass on the surface, the underground stations are incredibly expensive and in order to get the traveling time down, the number of LR stops or underground stations are significantly reduced.
Here is how you get this back on track again:
Utilise the investment in the CRL and get trains to the Airport:
Airport Stage 1: Go back to a 3’6″ heavy rail extension from Onehunga to the Airport
Airport Stage 2: Extend from the Airport to Puhinui, creating a loop line.
Western Train Line: Enlarge or dig our Waitakere tunnel and expand Western Train Line services with DMU, BMU or EMU to Kumeu/Huapai.
LR Stage 1: Overground Auckland CBD via Queen Street, along NW Motorway reservation to Westgate.
LR Stage 2: Extend from Westgate Kumeu/Huapai and terminate at a new Huapai Station / LR / Bus interchange.
The NW is some of the fastest growing areas in Auckland, poorly served by public transport. Having an interchange at Huapai allows passengers to transfer to the quickest mode to their destination. Inner Harbour West to via NW suburbs and the City or Inner west to Henderson, New Lynn or Newmarket.
LR Stage 3: Auckland CDB via Queen Street along Dominion Road and Sandringham Roads connecting to Onehunga, with an interchange at Onehunga.
LR Stage 4: Upgrade the Northern Busway to Light rail as designed with a new harbour crossing.
Separating the airport heavy rail means that the airport to CDB connection is fast, while the Light Rail system has more stops, benefiting more people and local businesses.
Having connectivity between buses, trains and light rail creates an easy flow for people trying to move around the city.
You don’t need to build an entire route all at once. Build in stages extending out from the city and prefabricate as much as possible offsite, speeding the installation and minimising disruption, becoming increasingly efficient at doing so.
Don’t over-engineer and don’t let health and safety to get out of hand. You don’t need huge stations on a light rail system. Low height light rail vehicles and minimal stops/platforms suffice. See Melbourne and many other places oversea. You only need larger stops at major interchanges.
As an aside, the only reason is the Wynyard Quarter Tramway hasn’t met its full potential, it was only have built. It was orginally designed to go across an award winning Te Wero bridge that was never built along Quay Street to Britomart Place. It would have passed the eateries and entertainments of the lighter basin side of The Viaduct, Maritime Museum, Princes Wharf and Queens Wharf cruise ship terminals, Ferry Building, Commercial Bay and Britomart Station. With that catchment of potential passengers going to and from Wynyard Quarter along the waterfront, all weathers, it would have been a screaming success, especially if fitted with AT Hops readers. Over 100 cruise ship berths are booked on the Ports of Auckland website for the next year.
If this is (as per social media tradition) a silent acknowledgment of the tragic loss of another soul on Auckland’s roads this morning, thank you and tautoko.
One more grieving community, one more “overwhelming reason” to lean on AT to progress its planned road safety improvements across the city.
Careful what you wish for Wayne ,previous consultations have shown that Aucklanders want alternatives to driving.All power to you and Mike,when you discover this is what Aucklanders want. It also fits neatly into your philosophy of being least disruptive to implement,(less road cones),and low cost. I look forward to you “driving” the change that Aucklanders want.
Maybe Aucklanders do, but those who vote don’t. I guess you get what you vote for.
This is one of the many issues with the super city, or even the old 4 councils. I’m pretty sure my former borough would vote for cycling, our local board is very progressive, yet we get the Mayor and council voted for by the likes of St Helier’s but they also get all the funds. They are getting a revamped car friendly town centre when the old car friendly car centre is perfectly fine, our town centre is an absolute shambles and I doubt anyone would oppose anything. And we are getting a ton of new people to share our crumbling infrastructure, they are being protected from that. Driving through Mt Eden etc yesterday it is crazy how much better maintained and new everything is compared to our suburb.
Perhaps the costs associated with these placemaking/upgrades need to be clearly separated out from the costs of the cycle ways so that next $50m cycle way is actually $10m with $40m of road etc improvements.
yes it’s almost like the cost of some of the icing is not the cost of the whole cake?
Around the Favona, Penrose, Otahuhu, Wiri, Highbrook areas there are at least 30 large new industrial buildings with more coming. There are also hundreds of new housing developments. The 10 blocks in the old Panama Rd quarry area now has a population off several thousand. There are many 3 and 5 storey apartments.
There is a good chance that a good number of people living there will have a short commute to work and some might even walk.
One of Labour’s best unrecognised achievements has been intensification despite strong opposition from AT, Waka Kotahi and the car lobby.
In parts of Auckland car ownership and driving is not increasing.
A bummer kiwirail have decided to make trains a “nice to have” for the next several years.
Except that Auckland to a large extent is one big job market, which is a good thing since it gives us lots of scale. But it does mean that most people are not going to be living close to where they work.
“Mr Brown said AT needs to exercise better judgement and listen to and follow the wishes of all Aucklanders and local communities ‘not just those who participate in formal consultation processes’.”
True – research tells us we absolutely need to hear more from children, young people, Māori and Pasifika, and those who are generally less well-resourced and less well-represented in the process: https://shorthand.radionz.co.nz/white-noise/index.html
Participatory democracy, with representative panels of citizens, is a well-evidenced way to remedy this and ensure progress that serves all Aucklanders, present and future.
It’s also worth noting that negative views on e.g. bike infrastructure tend to be a small minority of formal feedback, even when they come from voices most able to navigate the system/ most accustomed to being heard, and even when there have been campaigns to gather opposition. That’s also telling us something.
By far the best way to get people to understand a problem, the range of solutions possible, and discuss the best choice to solve the problem. Selecting a small bunch of people by a popularity contest and then giving them complete authority for 3 years to make decisions for future generations seems a poor substitute for democracy.
Another way to consider the views of those who will be paying for investment through taxes and rates for a long time to come, might be to weight their views according to how long they will be paying for the choice – say, 1 vote x (95 – age in years).
Or, to save money on public consultation, ask Mike Lee’s opinion and do the opposite.
I appreciate all these suggestions. Nice work! 🙂
Mayor Wayne Brown, please get AT to fix the Fragmented Auckland Cycleway Network with affordable & safe cycleways. Also please introduced new bus lanes on Roads, such as Meola Road to prioritize buses.
The 2021/22 Map of the Auckland Cycleway Network & Meola Road morning rush hour as seen by bus tells a 1000 words & reasons for you to lead AT in fixing Auckland transport services.
I don’t really understand this “what Aucklanders want” …
Every high level consultation AT has done (RLTP etc) cycling and safety improvements have high submissions.
Every local project AT engages on … Safety and cycle improvements have high submissions …
“oh but Bike Auckland etc just get mass submissions by all their members” “the results are bias etc”
New politicians … “This doesn’t align with my views, re-engage.”
Maybe Wayne means more power to the local boards. If so I say that would be great. At the moment AT seems to be spending all the money in the types of places where people oppose anything.
“AT seems to be spending all the money in the types of places where people oppose anything.”
We all know where those places are: Devonport, Mission Bay, Grey Lynn etc. This is where the self-important people live, who oppose anything that will enable them to park their car directly outside the local wine shop or florist.
I’m guessing those trees cut down in Meola Road were Colonial ones ?
Trees aren’t colonial. These ones were Australian species, in case that helps.
I was one of the people being a complete pita to AT about keeping them. Let me explain what I understand:
– one reason they needed to go was that any moving of kerblines was impossible near them. You can go and inspect how the massive roots have grown right up to the kerb. The trees wouldn’t survive having those cut.
– another reason they needed to go was that running the buses next to them was going to require the removal of a fair few large branches. Given the pruned shape of these trees – around the powerlines – this would’ve left the trees very unbalanced, likely to topple in winds, and with some major wounds, due to the size of the branches that needed cutting.
I looked at weaving the traffic and cyclelanes left and right down the length of Meola Rd in order to remove fewer trees – it was going to end up removing nearly as many trees once you realise how much extra length of the road is really required to accommodate twists and turns.
The only solution to retain the trees and provide protected cycle lanes without narrowing the footpaths to a crazy width involved reducing sections of Meola Rd down to one traffic lane. (One in both directions, not one in each direction). Although a possible traffic circulation plan could be devised to do this, AT is a long way from accepting that kind of change.
The projects are not perfect. But we will only learn what could be done better if we plug ahead and complete them, so that the public can discuss things they can actually see. No one benefits from going back to the start again.
I grew up with those trees, and it was wounding to see them go, but I can see the necessity and the carbon impact is probably immaterial in the context of what needs to be done to fix Auckland’s transport system.
I reserve a lot more anger for the wholesale destruction of mature trees on the former northern end of the Unitec campus, near the Whau Asylum building. It should have been possible to create a stunning residential neighbourhood in the middle of a park-like setting, had they been retained, but clearly it’s going to be a standard-issue pack-em-in development. I appreciate that homes are needed. I resent that we have made political choices that make the degradation of unique local environments necessary because some homes must remain untouched for the sake of (not really all that widely shared) suburban nostalgia.
High density *IS* possible while retaining trees and, when done well, the results can be spectacular.
The best example I know is Accordia (2008) in the UK; skilful landscape architecture blends high densities with mature trees. It is an absolute delight…so much so that it won the Stirling Prize and has already been designated as a conservation area.
We should do the same in NZ. More details here: https://grant-associates.uk.com/projects/accordia
It would be a real shame if the Meola Rd etc project is cancelled. How this new mayor handles cycleways will be very interesting. I’m getting mixed messages at the moment. What he really should do is just fix the accounting that allocates some of these major urban area fix ups all to a cycleway project when really it is much more than that. ie allocate money to the relevant categories. eg water services, public transport stops, road maintenance, climate mitigation, street lighting & safety improvements.
“These projects have already been through extensive community consultation, collaboration and design processes, repeatedly, with improvements and mitigations added at each point – including a “dig once” coup of bringing in Vector undergrounding the overhead wiring on Meola Road.”
This shows how little our new Mayor and Mike Lee, understand what is already going on in the areas of consultation and understanding what Aucklanders want. The AT web site is full of the various consultations and public feedback results.
Oh they understand. That is not the problem.
They understand the process they just don’t like the result. With guys like these unless the result is what they wanted they try to undermine it with using the tactics we are starting to see.
Where have masses of carparks been removed?
“The cycleway network currently sits at around 348km. That’s a tiny fraction of the 8,000 km of roads in our city.”
Just imagine if there was only 348km of roading to service 8,000km of property access.