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.
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!
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.”
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.
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.
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.
Once you see how cars have radically changed our landscape, you cannot unsee it (but you can undo it). pic.twitter.com/QYJx6NF2BD
— Queen Anne Greenways (@QAGreenways) November 12, 2022
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.
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.
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.
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!