Tēnā koutou. With the arrival of Hakihea/December it’s truly the downhill run now. Counting down the sleeps til Kirihimete?
Cover image: Faraday St, Melbourne, re-imagined. Image from RMIT.
The week in Greater Auckland
In Monday’s post, Matt examined AT’s planned mitigation of the Southern Line rail shutdowns, and suggested a few improvements.
Tuesday’s post looked at the items on this week’s AT board meeting – the last board meeting until late February next year.
On Wednesday, we shared a post from Bike Auckland emphasising the strong community support that exists for the inner-west cycling projects: Pt Chev to Westmere, Great North Road, and Grey Lynn.
Yesterday, Matt shared some findings from a Waka Kotahi study into the impact of half-price fares on public transport use.
Transport news around the motu
Judgement in Levi James case deems road ‘particularly dangerous’
The young driver whose opened door caused Levi James to swerve into traffic was discharged without conviction this week. The road where Levi was killed has long been highlighted by advocates as dangerous for cyclists, and the Judge drew attention to that. Will we see change now?
The Judge also noted the stretch of road seemed to be particularly dangerous and the strongest theme from a previous public consultation was requests to improve cyclist safety.
Fresh news: incoming AT CEO withdraws
Stuff reports that AT’s preferred candidate to fill the vacant CEO position has withdrawn. The process to fill the role has been drawn-out, with prior CEO Shane Ellison resigning a year ago and leaving in June.
Stuff understands the new chief executive had been seeking assurances that the role would not be undermined by the election of Brown, who has called for a “complete change of approach” from AT.
Re-writing the history in our street names
In Kirikiriroa, two colonial-era names have been replaced with names that acknowledge the area’s Māori history.
Many non-Māori and Māori alike say it is a heartening “first” for the city. Von Tempsky St and neighbouring Dawson Park disappear – replaced by Puutikitiki St and Te Wehenga Park.
“This puts right, in a small way, the wrongs of the past,” says Lady Tureiti Moxon, who is managing director of Te Kōhao Health.
Christchurch business community opposed to city centre improvements?
What’s going on in Ōtautahi? A whole lot of folded arms for a start. A collection of Christchurch business leaders are opposing a project to revamp some city centre streets to make them more people-friendly.
Work would include switching some streets to one-way, removing car parks, widening footpaths to make way for outdoor dining, planting trees, lowering speed limits, and installing $11m of new underground services for the stadium.
The business owners are worried that the changes will make it harder for people (read: cars) to get around. Perhaps they haven’t heard that fewer cars means more people, which is, in fact, good for business.
A beacon returns to downtown Tāmaki Makaurau
Have you spotted it? The oldest known WW1 memorial has returned to Quay St, after being restored using modern-day 3D printing technology.
On 17 December 1915, while troops were being evacuated from Gallipoli, the WW1 Memorial Beacon in Quay Street was first lit. The monument symbolised a beacon of hope and a safe return home.
It also served as a functioning light guiding ferries to the city wharves. Sometimes they were navigating through thick fog and dark skies, with lighting more disparate on shore 107 years ago.
Train travel should be for everyone: not just wealthy tourists
The always-excellent Suraya Sidhu Singh has been writing about inter-regional rail travel for The Spinoff. Her latest essay argues that in a country with such a high road toll, it’s morally wrong to deny equitable access to an alternative mode of travel.
If providing more affordable, available passenger rail could cost roughly the same, why does KiwiRail go for the “high price, nearly invisible timetable” model? The answer is simply that if your balance sheet doesn’t cover moral issues like saving lives or reducing emissions, the exclusive, high-end service model looks much more attractive.
An Aotearoa lens on the 15-minute city
Talk Wellington hosted a webinar this week about the 15-minute city concept – a place where people can access most of what they need within an easy, 15-minute journey made without a car – and research into applying it to a New Zealand context. Watch the recording on youtube here.
The week in flooding goes virtual
NIWA has produced a virtual game called My Coastal Futures in which payers dice with the effects of climate change on their homes and communities. Stuff sent a journalist onto the website to explore it.
The game works by the sea moving in “zones” on each turn. The decisions you make give you varying levels of protection against Mother Nature. I try every trick in the book – putting in a sea wall, raising the house’s floor – but the money I throw at the problem won’t fix it.
So I sell up, abandoning the home my virtual children love so much to the waves.
Ensuring safe trips for all
In the face of a nationally rising road toll, New York City and a handful of other American towns are successfully implementing vision zero and making their streets safer. The answer lies in a an approach that multiplies small-scale solutions in problem areas, and careful data management to track effects of changes.
Hoboken, a small, densely populated city of 60,000 just outside NYC’s borders, has achieved dramatic improvements in pedestrian safety thanks to a potentially widely replicable formula that has relied a lot on inexpensive intersection designs, particularly a practice called “daylighting” that improves visibility. Hoboken hasn’t had a traffic death in four years.
What’s it like getting around in Amsterdam using a wheelchair? Pretty difficult, according to this eye-opening experience. Click through to twitter to read the full thread from Transport for All manager Katie Pennick.
Overall, my assessment is this. Amsterdam’s transit system is world-beating…IF you are a young, fit, healthy, non-disabled person who can cycle.
It’s a useful reminder that even the most active-mode-positive cities can be difficult for some people to navigate. How can we make sure that public transport and the urban realm is accessible for everyone? Hearing stories like Katie’s certainly helps.
On a journey to places for people
More research out of London’s Low Traffic Neighbourhoods finds that both pollution and congestion is significantly reduced in and around LTN areas.
“In the three areas we looked at, they reduced both traffic volumes and, significantly, air pollution both inside and on the edges of the zone.”
“Alongside the other benefits of LTNs that have been shown in previous research – such as improvements in safety and an increase in walking and cycling – this makes a very strong argument in their favour.”
Here are some great examples of streetscape retrofits in the USA that create space for people, improve the urban environment, and support local businesses and communities.
Akron’s once-distressed Kenmore Boulevard today plays host to an array of community-wide events, festivals and concerts. Residents and visitors alike enjoy the various, diverse local businesses, live music, swing dancing and street festivals — the result of collaborative partnerships with residents, non profits, city government, advocates and local entrepreneurs.
In Poland, a 6-lane road becomes a fairground and outdoor market.
RMIT mapping and analysis has identified 10,000 on-street carparks in Melbourne that could become green space to improve public space quality, equality, and water management in the city.
Converting the on-street car parking into greenery would deliver a third of the City of Melbourne’s ambitious target of 40 per cent tree canopy in the CBD by 2040, creating healthier ecosystems for native birds and bees.
Citizen scientists mapping the urban realm find that heat inequity is a real problem in cities.
By now, the findings are clear: Heat is not evenly distributed across urban areas. Poor communities, many of which were subject to decades of housing discrimination through federal redlining policies, tend to be hotter than wealthier, tree-lined neighborhoods.
The ultimate public place for people is the ‘third place’: a place nearby that isn’t the place you live (first place), or the place you work (second place), where you can spend time for free or without spending much money. The latest Not Just Bikes video is all about these kinds of places, and why they’re disappearing from (you guessed it) car-dependent cities.
Mitigating the harms of cars
Reducing roads and road capacity leads to traffic evaporation: less space for cars means that people make different transport decisions, and fewer people drive.
Imagine if we closed some roads to cars and traffic congestion actually reduced as a result. This sounds counter-intuitive; yet, it is exactly the effect that was revealed by research in the 1990s in a number of cities around the world. This result was described as ‘traffic evaporation’ in the seminal 1998 UK study of 100 locations.
A website called Cars Ruin Cities crossed our path this week. It’s a smart collection of key facts about the effects of cars on cities, the typical ‘what about…?’ questions that come along with car-blindness, and a call to shift away from car-dependent design.
Over-reliance on cars takes a toll on humanity. We have normalized their pervasive presence so much that we now find ourselves living and working in places that do more to serve the needs of cars than of people. Cars demand more of people than the benefits they provide.
And one of the most unjust aspects or car-dependency is that its costs are borne by the whole community (and the environment), externalised far beyond car users themselves.
Norway led the world in the EV transition, but now they’ve got a problem: too many electric vehicles, so the time has come for Norway to re-impose taxes and tolls on EVs.
In France, a $4000 grant is being made available for people to switch from cars to electric bikes.
Check out this astonishing aerial view of Shibuya Crossing in Tokyo for a real-life example of the classic illustration of the space taken up by cars vs. people.
Do ride-hailing companies like Uber make congestion worse? The Wall St Journal argues that ride-hail has not lived up to its early promises to transform transport in cities.
Ride-hailing has dramatically changed transportation in dense cities. With a few taps on their phones, users can reliably and quickly summon a lift that is generally cheaper than a taxi. Uber and Lyft, which account for the vast majority of ride-hailing in the country, did hundreds of millions of rides in the U.S. last year.
But in hindsight, some of the pitfalls—such as cars cruising empty between passengers—seem obvious.
Across the ditch (and beyond)
Like us, Australians are finding domestic travel pricier than usual at the moment. Unlike us, they’ve got something resembling an inter-regional rail network and people are turning to trains to get around the country.
A Transport for NSW spokesperson said patronage on the routes had been strong, with the latest figures during the month of October “more than double” that of February – when sales roughly returned to pre-pandemic levels. The agency did not provide exact patronage figures.
File this under dream holidays: a five-day ebike tour through rural France, exploring canals, vineyards, ancient villages, and sunflower fields.
The thrill of cycling through fields of sunflowers doesn’t get old. Today we are travelling with our panniers packed with our haul from a local grocer: French cheeses, ripe tomatoes, and a baguette, which comically pokes out of one of our bike bags.
We’ve been loving the New York Times’ urbanism- and transport-focused stories this year, and this one is no exception: an essay about the old tradition of ‘living above the store’ why it fell out of fashion, and the New Yorkers who are reviving it.
“For centuries, in rural and urban settings it was the common thing around the world for people to live and work in the same place,” said Howard Davis, a professor of architecture at the University of Oregon and the author of the book “Living Over the Store: Architecture and Local Urban Life.”
Finally, this weekly roundup was brought to you by the street tunes of Dom Whiting, drum’n’bassing his way through Barcelona, on his biggest rave yet. Three hours of bikes and bass. Enjoy.
Ka kite, and have a great weekend.