Ata mārie. There’s a stormy looking weekend ahead in Tāmaki but don’t worry, Weekly Roundup has plenty to keep you entertained.

Cover image via Twitter.

The week in Greater Auckland

Monday’s post discussed the Government’s just-released consultation about options for a new Waitematā harbour crossing.

On Tuesday, Matt wrote about the Council’s new governing body structure and the makeup of its new committees.

Wednesday’s post was about the Resource Management Act reform.

Yesterday, Matt went through new information about Kiwirail’s planned shutdowns after the release of several years’ worth of reports and briefings.

Transport all over the the motu!

Getting across (again)

The day after our post on the new Waitematā Harbour Crossing consultation, Simon Wilson dove into the topic in his New Zealand Herald column. Wilson also picked up on the terrible estimated cost-benefit ratio of current tunneled proposals, and pointed out that the Minister’s announcement is actually bringing harbour crossing plans forward – but is it really needed?

If the Government and the agency were doing their jobs properly, this option would be at the heart of their consultation.

They would tell us how cheap it is. They would explain how and why it will meet all the key goals we have for a new harbour crossing. They would ask if there is any better way to meet the long-term objectives while being fiscally responsible, and if so, let’s hear it.

What is this miraculous option?

It is a new bridge that would carry light rail, or perhaps rapid buses, and have lanes for cycling and walking too. No cars: they already have a bridge.

Getting around on electricity

Auckland’s e-bus fleet just grew by 35. The new buses are being put to service in the Eastern Bays, with 9 going to the Tāmaki Link and 26 on the 774, 775 and 762 routes.

Elected members looking excited about their new e-bus.
Painting into the future

There are just three days left to check out Chris Dews’ painting exhibition at Silo 6 in Wynyard Quarter. Chris paints other-worldly scenes of an imagined Tāmaki Makaurau, and we blogged about his work last year. The show’s last day is this Sunday, the 20th – head over to check it out if you’re in the city this weekend!

Chris Dews, “Horotiu Stream – Queen Street”, oil on linen 2021.
Aotearoa by bike

A lovely story this week: a group of 30 cyclists from Polynesian Cycling Celebration (a joint effort by Uso Bike Ride and Māngere’s Time To Thrive, aka TripleTeez) rode 765 kms from Māngere to Porirua, stopping in a schools along the way to talk about health, wellbeing and cycling. Postgate School in Porirua was the last school visited on the journey:

Postgate School principal Adam Campbell said he was grateful to have the cyclists visit his students, especially as the school had a large Māori and Pacific population.

“I think to have people that are from the culture that are speaking their language and celebrating their ways is huge,” he said. “In today’s society we don’t look after ourselves as much as we should. For them to come into schools and deliver that message … it’s a massive thing.

Staying in Pōneke, a local charity has given away its 2000th bike. The volunteers at EkeRua ReBicycle fix up donated bikes and re-home them to recently arrived refugees in Wellington, and they suspect the 2000 donated bikes might have set a world record. They also operate an e-cargo bike lending library for families who don’t have a car and can’t afford their own cargo bike just yet.

[Chair Hilleke Townsend] has seen the access to opportunities that bikes can provide in peoples’ lives, especially former refugee families.

“We know that when people first come to New Zealand, they often come with nothing more than a suitcase full of clothes. And it takes them a while to get their driver’s license.

“So, it’s really important for kids to be able to get to school, and it’s also important for adults to get to be able to get to language lessons, to start being part of their community.”

Naeem, recently arrived in Aotearoa from Pakistan, with his new bike. Image via One News.

There’s a deal going in Ōtautahi that’s so unbeatable it’s already sold out: Shutl are partnering with Christchurch City Council to offer 8-week ebike trials over the summer, for just $15 a week. Shutl are an ebike subscription company committed to changing transport habits. They’re based in Christchurch, and they’re apparently getting started in Auckland one day soon, too. Watch this space!

#cargobikedogs have got to be up there as one of life’s most heartwarming joys – but not every dog takes to the cargo bike life straight away. We enjoyed this post on the Cycling in Christchurch blog about one family’s experience training their pet to ride happily along with them. Their highly sensitive greyhound needed time to get used to the cargo bike, but it was worth it in the end.

The best part of all now is seeing Luna having a great time on the bike. She travels all over town, lazily sniffing the breeze and dozing contentedly in her sofa-on-wheels. Pedestrians and cyclists often stop to talk to us so she’s learned that being on the bike means getting lots of attention and pats. And it’s fun spontaneously going places without needing to go home for the dog.

Surely one of the best arguments for getting a dog.

Bikes are booming everywhere

Weekly Roundup’s got a cycling focus this week, because we just keep coming across encouraging stories about the shift to a pedal-powered future, from all over the world.

In Montreal, which might already be North America’s best cycling city, 200kms of new bike lanes will be built in the next five years. The plan is wide-ranging and comprehensive, with a focus on reaching neglected neighbourhoods and making a connected network.

“We cannot compromise on the safety of children and seniors, who are overrepresented in the deaths recorded on our roads. While cycling trips have increased by 20% in one year in Montreal, the vision we are presenting today will ensure efficient and safe trips, while allowing us to connect outlying neighborhoods that require it,” said Montreal Mayor Valerie Plante.

An article at Wired ponders a topic we think about often: the pandemic bike boom, and where it’s led to genuine transformation on city streets. Although there was an unprecedented boom in bike sales in early 2020 as the pandemic hit, the share of cycling trips has returned to pre-pandemic normal in many places…

,,,except those that used the pandemic to get serious about making streets better for people on bikes.

[Cities] that upped the share of trips taken on bikes often used the pandemic lull in traffic to expand or execute preexisting infrastructure changes. They built protected bike lanes to make people feel safer while pedaling. (Research suggests that more than anything else, concerns about the safety of cycling, and especially fear of getting hit by cars, keep people off bikes.) Most critically, bike-friendly cities restricted private car use.

This pop-up bike lane in Berlin, Germany takes a lane away from cars.

And yeah, this rings true for us…

Imagining better cities

We’re interested to see economist Kate Raworth, of Doughnut Economics fame, hosting a webinar about applying the doughnut concept to cities and urban spaces. The talk will discuss retrofitting and re-making cities to help us live within social and planetary boundaries.

We can think of a few ways cities can get better at living within the doughnut…

Move beyond EVs: in Ireland, the Environment and Transport Minister Eamon Ryan has said that they’re going to reduce their target for electric vehicles and focus on active modes and public transport instead.

“I think what it will be is reallocating road space so that the bus gets through and making it safe to walk and cycle — and that will be challenging, trust me, in terms of the political challenge,” he said. “But the problem is that the current traffic system doesn’t work and we need to change. I think road space reallocation — giving priority to walking, cycling and buses — is the best way to go about it.”

Transform streets for the better: reallocating space means that Ireland might be getting rid of the asphalt and turning it into space for people, bikes and green infrastructure.

Get out the carrots and the sticks: this PhD research studying population-level interventions aiming to reduce car use found that ‘sticks’ were more effective than carrots, but that a combination of carrots and sticks was the most powerful.

Right-sized, smart solutions that already exist: like in Tokyo, which despite being one of the world’s true mega cities, frequently feels village-like, because bikes and micro-vehicles are the tool of choice.

Getting the job done, via Twitter.

Pay the true cost: because that’s what the doughnut is all about.

A few things to chew over

So you want to build something in a city?

In an echo of where this week’s roundup began, we highly recommend this Vice article about the problem with the community feedback process in the USA, and why it could be at the heart of a stalled infrastructure sector.

Fundamentally, fixing this mess requires re-thinking what community feedback is for. In short, the problem with community feedback is not the concept itself, but the way it is executed. We do it too often, for too many things, for too long, and in the wrong manner. We ask the wrong questions of the wrong people and use the answers in the wrong way. Professionals and politicians have so far been afraid to admit there is a problem outside of private conversations, because it can seem anti-democratic and even anti-American to appear opposed to the town hall ethos of local control.

False futuramas

It’s worth getting through the somewhat painful academese in this paper about autonomous vehicles, because it picks apart some of the road safety myths that are used as justification for their development.

Autonomous vehicles are not the radically transformational technology their proponents claim but simply the most recent of a succession of automobility sociotechnical imaginaries. They are not transformational because their promotion ensures the continued reproduction of more of the same: namely, more automobility.

On antifragility

We’ve been thinking about this one all week: Nassim Taleb (author of The Black Swan) speaks to Daniel Kahneman (author of Thinking, Fast and Slow) about finding ways to benefit from change and uncertainty, rather than merely being resilient to it.

Kia pai tō wikini, and see you next week!

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    1. Supposed to be all EV

      Although if we get some dinosaur driven regression, then I would much prefer to see some natural gas powered buses over diesel. Buying all the current Euro V diesels was a massive mistake for air quality.

      1. You say like there was any notable improvement over the past 5 years of Labour and friends. Considering that Len Brown is also affiliated with Labour it’s been a lot longer than 5 years for Auckland. I personally expect “dinosaur led regression” to actually have better results.

        1. I meant purely with respect to bus purchasing.

          Shifting back to diesel buses would be a significant regression. The soot spewed out by those barely maintained Euro 5’s is a giant externality.

          And I personally expect the new mayoralty to have no real change. It’s the same as Goff. He’s good at saying things that righties like (rather than Goffs appeal to lefties), but the action is practically the same. The right has been out in the cold for a long time, so are ready to lap it up, but you will be disappointed. Just like Goff disappointed the left.

        2. “so are ready to lap it up, but you will be disappointed. Just like Goff disappointed the left.”

          The key problem is that on transport, Goff said things that (sometimes at least) went against the grain of what the AT establishment / senior leadership wants. Brown says things that perfectly align with AT’s car centric senior management views. That can’t but lead to AT getting worse, because now they feel that what they want has the blessing from on high. Witness how they announced they’d change their policies towards more car-centric nature based on a mere press release, before the Councillors had even met for the first time (Brown is not the Council, he’s the head of it – the Council makes policy, not he).

          So I don’t buy the “he won’t be as bad” stuff. They said the same thing about Trump.

        1. On the other side a few electric plants are a lot easier to monitor and to demand compliance from. With thousands of buses it is really hard to tell in which condition every single of them.

        2. Without emmissions testing there is no incentive to maintain vehicles.
          Without any enforced plan, there is no incentive to build replacement generation. Since the captains call, the NZ gas supply has dwindled and we are importing 2 million tonnes per year of Indonesian brown coal, which is now powering three 250MW generators at Huntly. The sum of new power plants under construction is a small fraction of this, and most of those are not base load or discretionary. Coal will remain the marginal supply for several years from whenever a government forces cleaner construction.

        3. The air quality from Euro V diesel is a lot better than the air quality from burning coal to make electricity

          I dont think thats true. A modern coal plant with appropriate emissions control systems installed can be very clean burning indeed (in terms of immediately toxic by-products). Ash removed with static electricity, sulphur removed by reacting the exhaust gases and producing gypsum. You can end up with flue gas that is basically just co2. Compared to particulates and nitrous oxides from diesel exhaust. Combined with the fact that pumping out all these gases in the core of an urban area, right on the street level, is going to do far more damage to far more people.

          Regardless, marginal increases in electricity use in New Zealand are not resulting in more coal being used in the long term. The bulk of the coal PP’s use in New Zealand comes during dry years. This can be solved with any renewable generation, even if it’s not performing at peak times. The problem is yearly raw energy, it doesn’t matter that during the peak you might not get much, hydro can cater to (most) peaks. Sometimes there’s just not enough water. These buses will also be charged off peak to save a huge amount of cost. A bigger culprit of carbon coming from higher peaks is heat pumps, and electric stoves. Not buses which charge well off peak.

          There is a lot of energy projects being built right now as a result of increased demand. A new geothermal station that will have 1/4 of the yearly output of manapouri. Wind projects all over. Solar. You’re right that this won’t entirely remove coal. But it is decreasing our reliance on rainfall, and providing a lot of energy. The continuous rise in carbon prices makes renewable supply more and more favourable.

          Under discussed is also the changes made to transmission pricing. And transpowers proposed new transmission infrastructure to service clusters of renewable generation. The former has kicked off the Kaiwera Downs project, and another yet unconsented / unannounced wind project in Southland.

    2. Saw the nice new Tamaki Link ones in action, nice to see after the old dungers they seem to have had on this premiere route.
      Also tried out the AIR (airport link) ones the other day, first one had some noisy grinding, jerkiness going on in the rear, but on back from airport was fine. Both there and back to the train line was well patronised

  1. nice summary

    I notice there’s no section for MAMILS

    Perhaps next time there can section on the positive influence Middle aged men in Lycra are having towards climate change and reducing transport woes?

    All that lycra and leg shaving has to count for something right?

    Also I think there is scope in the future for MAMIL challenge. One MAMIL vrs any other mode of transport in a race at peak hour across Auckland.

    Can all those rolls of lycra and smooth legs win against a BUS or the might Auckland CAR?

    I am sure his challenge would making for a riveting ( carbon fiber rivets) story



        1. I can see the point in buying this Lycra whats wrong in just wearing a tee shirt and a pair of shorts as they don’t show all the bodies bumps and unwanted bulges , but then again it could be a craze like those that many years ago I saw watching the marathon around Tamaki Drive there were families decked out in Matching and brand new track suits just to watch it , and I wondered if they ever wore them again .

        2. I can’t see the point in myself buying a dress, so why should I have an opinion on whether or not another person wants to buy a dress? It’s their money and their clothing, not mine. Lets ignore the stereotypes, especially when they are used to divide us.

    1. The Wynyard ones are about the same vintage as the anti-change St Heliers residents.

      Maybe that’s one thing they would embrace?

      1. I meant trolley buses. With wires, but without rails. Trolley busses still turn to be cheaper at the bottom line (unless, they only going to have 2% of the fleet as battery powered buses solely to demonstrate fake commitment).

    2. Trolley busses with batteries are amazing and work in europe. As they can extend their range of operation, just like trains with batteries that were proposed.

      The issue is we no longer have a trolley bus network, I’m not sure if the cost of building a trolleybus network is worthwhile, as it’s a very large capital investment, vs reducing cost of batteries. I would say on something like the NEX it would absolutely be, but putting it on streets and city centres may be “unsightly”.

      1. Adding a new system inoperable with the old will always be a major risk. And that’s before the technical and consenting issues of adding overhead lines. I have this little suspicion that certain parts of our population would hate their local main street getting overhead lines with as much a passion and as many lawyers as they hate AT removing parking or adding cycle lanes.

        So it would only make sense as a city-wide initiative. And we already have too many zombie projects around this city (stuff that is proposed and not officially dead, but never does more than the occasional lurch, getting nowhere).

        1. Vector wants to charge me hundreds of thousands of dollars to remove the power lines outside my house. (If I want to build some medium-density housing I have to remove the power lines.)

          Good luck getting more overhead lines installed anywhere in this city.

        2. Heidi there are rules on the minimum distance (both horizontal and vertical) between power lines and buildings. If you wish you build closer to your boundary or build taller you may run up against these rules.

          Vector is a monopoly which can charge whatever it wants for putting its power lines underground. Even though most of my street already has power lines underground, my section does not, therefore the first person who tries to build anything more dense than a single house in this area will be paying through the nose to underground the lot.

  2. We have all this hand wringing and frustration over roadworks,congestion, etc,but no one ,apart from a few Green MPs,put forward the bike as the solution,l ponder why this is. Is the bike too simplistic (how can such a humble machine,be transformational?). In proposing cycling as a solution, leaders leave themselves open to ridicule,but are seemingly praised for adding another lane, where the evidence shows this is counterproductive. Is it an ego thing?, in keeping with women showing NZ Rugby,the way forward, more gender balanced decision makers would IMO be a good start.

  3. And for those that have been down to the Platforms at Britomart lately and seen the screen walls this is a bit that is happening on Platform 5 and up the tunnels with the track-works heading up to Wyndham Street ;-

  4. Yet again we roll out the nice stuff in the Eastern Suburbs where they have demonstrated an aversion to mode change. These low pollution buses would have a more positive impact in South Auckland where we need to do everything possible to improve health outcomes for all ages. Walking young people are better served by being passed by an E-bus than a Euro-5 Diesel bus and I bet there are more people walking the streets in South Auckland than the Eastern Suburbs.

    1. How does that relate to the electric airport bus service that has already been in service that runs every 10 mins through southern suburbs? These buses will be in every suburb as old buses are replaced.

  5. “Surely one of the best arguments for getting a dog”

    Except the carbon footprint of a dog ! Worse than a SUV but nobody talks about that.

  6. “We know that when people first come to New Zealand, they often come with nothing more than a suitcase full of clothes. And it takes them a while to get their driver’s license.”

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