Whew! Kua tae mai koutou mā, we’ve made it to the end of the year.

The week in Greater Auckland

Monday’s post covered the Government’s announcement of extra funding for the Eastern Busway.

On Tuesday, Matt asked if we really need a new ‘single transport plan for Auckland’ when we already have so many other ‘single plans’?

On Wednesday, we shared the Coalition for More Homes’ open letter to the Mayor about the importance of infrastructure investment to support intensification.

Yesterday, Matt broke down the Mayor’s ‘Letter of Expection’ for Auckland Transport.

Places and journeys in Tāmaki Makaurau

A dawn karakia welcomed Te Awataha back earlier this week, officially opening the lovelt Awataha Greenway in Northcote. The Awataha project came out of Kāinga Ora and Eke Panuku’s substantial redevelopment plans in Northcote. The design daylights the awa, restores natural habitat to its banks, and provides a beautiful pathway connecting up many parts of the neighbourhood. Councillor Richard Hills was at the karakia and shared these photos on twitter.

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Further to the north, our newest shared path is taking shape. The Northern Corridor Improvements project includes about 7km of shared use walking and cycling paths, with frequent connections into the surrounding street network.

This week, the government announced that both half price fares and the fuel tax break would end by March next year. Free fares advocates are worried that will mean people who have started taking public transport because of the fare subsidy might go back to driving, causing a backwards step in emissions reduction. But the Minister for Transport argues that fare prices are only part of the story if we want to increase PT patronage.

Transport Minister Michael Wood said more than a million people would still get half-price fares which were targeted to those on the lowest incomes and people with Total Mobility Cards.

But the key in getting people to use public transport was better services.

“[Fares] play a part but they’re not the main part – the biggest thing is frequent and reliable services.”

Perhaps its time to look at a re-structuring of our fares, and how they compare to other places around  the world?

The Spinoff’s data analyst has crunched the numbers on the effect of next year’s Auckland rail shutdown on commuters’ time. No surprises here: Aucklanders are going to lose a lot of time to disrupted and slower than normal trips.

Over the course of the year, these rail closures will waste over a million hours of Aucklanders’ time. Just under 650,000 hours wasted are due to the closure of the Eastern line, which services almost a third of all passengers and will be closed for most of the year. The Southern line is also significantly affected, with over 200,000 hours wasted. The Onehunga line services fewer passengers, and contributes about 40,000 hours of wasted time.

Survivable speeds are coming to Manurewa East, Clendon Park and Weymouth in South Auckland. In speed changes that are being seen all over the city, streets in the area – particularly around schools – will be slowed to 30km/hr.

[AT spokesperson Natalie Polley] said the proposed reduced speed limits were all around schools in residential areas where there’s typically a lot of walking and cycling activity.

She said the internationally accepted speed to greatly reduce the chances of a pedestrian being killed or seriously injured was 30kph, which was considered the “safe and appropriate speed limit in residential areas around schools”.

Time for another CRL flyover! Here’s new drone footage of the Maungawhau Station site. It’s not clear from this video, but we think that the rebuild of the second track is pretty much complete – even the wires are up. Hopefully that track will be back in use after the Christmas shutdown?

Tracking transformation in Te Whanganui-a-Tara

It’s felt like mostly good, exciting and progressive transport news out of the capital for a while now, and here’s a few more news items to be inspired by.

Cycle Wellington is compiling information from businesses who support cycling in Wellington. On their website, they’ve got a list of businesses who’ve signed up to the kaupapa, and reasons why they did so.

Just some of the reasons Wellington businesses support cycling in the city.

Wellington City Council is also making good on its plan to deliver the first 50kms of Paneke Pōneke by 2024, with councillors approving cycleways for Aro Valey and Ngaio this week.

Both of the cycleways will connect suburbs with the city centre of Wellington and are scheduled to start construction next year.

Deputy mayor and Paekawakawa/Southern ward councillor Laurie Foon said it was a “great day for giving people more transport choices”.

An appropriately lo-fi artists reindition of the proposed Aro Valley cycleway.

Paneke Pōneke is a plan for a 166km network of new protected bike lanes in Wellington using quick, efficient trial techniques. Community feedback for the proposed projects on the table this week was strongly in favour.

The committee made the decision after considering recent community feedback, which showed more than two-thirds of respondents supported or strongly supported the proposed changes on the two routes. 

“We know reallocating street space to provide low carbon transport options now is crucial so we can support our growing neighbourhoods and create healthy, liveable streets for our tamariki,” says Mayor Tory Whanau. 

And in our travels we spotted a cheerful article on the Our Wellington website celebrating the new parklets that are appearing around the city in time for summer. Follow the link for a couple of heartwarming stories from business who’ve embraced parklet life.

Sebastian from Aye Empanada on Oriental Bay is in the final process of setting up his parklet, and is excited by the opportunities it will bring for his business.

“The first summer in our new location was hard as a lot of people didn’t know we were here. The parklet is one of the big things that’s changed that for us. It’s given us a lot of exposure and we’re getting lots of new faces coming in.

The owners of Aye Empanada in their new parklet.

The week in flooding: biting our fingernails for Christmas edition

Honestly, it feels like November-December has been almost biblical here in Tāmaki. But apparently we’ve had nothing more than the normal amount of rain??

Not so in the Coromandel, where the week in flooding’s favourite phrase, widespread flooding, is the best way to describe conditions of the past week.

In the past 12 weeks, the area had had more than 1.7m of rain, saturating the catchments, [emergency management ead Garry Towler] said.

“The rivers just can’t handle it when you get the amount of rain we’ve had in the last three months.”

Holidaymakers planning to go to the Coromandel should delay their trip if they could, he said.

Not suggesting cake could in anyway compensate for the loss of crucial roads to slips in the Coromandel… but how cool are these slip cakes that appeared at a Wellington Council staff morning tea?

Finally – it’s the week in flooding but a sideways take. We always enjoy a cutting cartoon, and had to include this one by French cartoonist Adene, titled The ‘Modern’ Noah’s Ark.

Image originally found via Twitter.

It’s the end of 2022 and trains are still the future!

Could high speed rail be coming to Australia? After passing the High Speed Rail Authority Bill 2022 last month, the Australian Government is going to establish a High Speed Rail authority to develop a plan. Infrastructure and Transport Minister Catherine King is looking forward to getting the work underway.

“The Authority will build on previous work, including the comprehensive study, commissioned under former Infrastructure Minister and now Prime Minister, Anthony Albanese, that found high speed rail was not only viable, but would return over $2 for every $1 of investment.

“A high-speed rail network could allow passengers to travel between major cities and significant regional cities at speeds exceeding 250km/h.

France is in the envious position of having such a good high speed rail network that they’ve neglected their slow trains – but authorities are beginning to recognise how important these provincial connections are to getting people out of planes and cars. Train travel is a crucial part of France’s plans to reduce emissions. As it stands, there’s a noticeably difference in prosperity between cities that are connected by high speed rail and those that aren’t.

Mindful of this divide, the French government recently decided to switch track. As part of President Emmanuel Macron’s push to cut carbon emissions, it wants more people on the railways, and fewer behind the wheel. But it knows that such a strategy cannot be based only on fast trains.

A French TGV. Image via The Man in Seat 61.

Smaller scale and much more grounded in the reality of building a difficult piece of infrastructure in a complex urban setting, you might enjoy this story about a beleagured tram network project in Edinburgh. Even after delays, scope reduction, cost overruns, and a national inquiry, the trams proved immensely popular once they hit the streets. Many more people got on board than had been expected, and now a 3 mile extension is underway. Transport expert Christian Wolmar has thoughts on the project’s success.

“Trams are transformational in a way that other public transport isn’t. They show very strongly, in other words, you can see them on the street and they’re sleek and modern and efficient. The middle classes use them, and they’re often reluctant to use buses. They are a way of imprinting public transport permanently into the urban realm.”

A tram stop in Edinburgh. Image via Holyrood.

Finding spaces after cars

The future of logistics is in London: London is a world leader when it comes to micro-mobility and getting stuff moved around the city. Bike couriers are a common sight, as evidenced by this tweet…

… and they’re innovating the systems and logistics to support a strong carbon-zero loading and servicing industry too. One example is this 100,000+ square foot llogisitics hub being developed by a private business in the heart of London.

The scheme is still at pre-planning but the developer has previously said the scheme could go down underground by as much as three levels with electric vans, scooters and bikes arriving to pick up parcels for delivery around the city.

The future of parking is less parking, in Amsterdam at least, where 10,000 car parks will be removed by 2025. Check out the latest Not Just Bikes to learn why and how.

We hope very much that the cannibalising of pedestrian space to make more lanes for cars is a thing of the past. Check out the injustice that was done to Lexington Avenue in New York City:

Above, modern-day Lexington. Below, early 20th Century. Image via Streestblog NYC.

A long-read for your weekend, and a reflection on the lucky near-misses many cities have had. In the 1960s, London nearly ended up with a massive 50 mile, 8-lane motorway ringing the entire city. The project fell over in the 70s (thanks in part to anti-road campaigners), and few built clues of it remain in the city today.

Baffling as the idea might seem now, it must be viewed in the context of a time when politicians and planners were panicked about imminent gridlock across the UK’s towns and cities as ever more vehicles took to the roads.

The solution they collectively turned to was the inner-city motorway, an innovation that arguably changed postwar cities as fundamentally as modernist architects’ tower blocks. Here was an entirely new type of street, one that did away with shop fronts, pedestrians, chance encounters or indeed anything recognisably human-scale. For the first time in centuries of urban life, a street was not a public realm, just a conduit between private spaces.

This is a handy anthology for anyone keeping tabs on worldwide efforts to move away from car dependence. Melissa and Chris Bruntlett have rounded up 16 places they’ve visited this year which are making real changes.

On the list are: Ghent, Luxembourg, Dublin, Lyon, Frankfurt, Ljubljana, Montreal, Kitchener, Waterloo, Guelph, San Francisco, Eugene, Oslo, Brussels, Austin, and Paris. Head to twitter to read the thread, it’s well worth exploring them all.

That’s it for weekly roundup in 2022. Thank you so much for reading.

(There will be a few more posts and some year-end wrap-ups next week)

We hope you’ve enjoyed our Friday miscellanies of mostly positive news, transformative-yet-simple ideas, smart critiques of dumb ideas, climate focused and people-centred stories, and epic bike raves. Weekly Roundup is truly a team effort drawn from the never-resting Greater Auckland hive mind, which is tapped into wonderful local and international networks of people who care about making change for good.

Keep the extra recs and fact checks coming in the comments, and see you next year.

Meri kirihimete, me ngā mihi o te tau hau!

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  1. I have a feeling that Auckland will eventually be “shamed into improving its “cycling network. Major uban area’s ,Christchurch and now Wellington are leading the way. The smaller urban centre’s are also getting on board,picking up central govt money to make changes. With the train disruptions,on the horizon, Auckland is very fertile ground for bus,bike lanes,not to late to join the party,there are no barriers to it,just requires bold leadership .

    1. In the spirit of year-end thanks: as well as thanking Marita for her beautiful work pulling together the weekly roundup posts – can I say that I always look forward to your comments, Bryan. You have a real knack for capturing the heart of the issue, whatever it is. Much appreciated!

    2. hopefully it’s actually built as a cycle network too rather than this shared path nonsense (like the Northern corridor in this post).
      Shared paths are a bad outcome for everyone.
      Cyclists in particular hate them because they have pedestrians walking all over the place to avoid.
      This shared path is going to be 3m plus 2x 1m shoulders.
      Should just make it 4m (2.5m cycle, 1.5m footpath).
      Safer for everyone, and better for cyclists with no downside for pedestrians.

      1. As a counterpoint, I quite like big ‘motorway’ style bike paths. There should be big paths besides all our motorways. BUT there has to be the protected cycle links to get to where you actually want to go.

        1. The paths along the motorways are a good idea, but shared paths really are old hat. It’s much better to separate walking and cycling.

          This 3’45” film explains (using objective engineering principles) why it’s sensible to provide dedicated, separated space for foot and cycle traffic.


          The short section of the Nortwestern Cycleway between Takau Street and Fourth Avenue is a case in point.

      2. WK generally build long distance paths along State Highways and motorways, so they are really cycle paths. They still insist on calling them Shared Paths, although they don’t protect pedestrians from people on bikes who travel fast. It’s very hard to get them to change focus when they connect to local roads, were pedestrians are more plentiful and separated cycle paths are needed. Unfortunately, it keeps the idea that shared paths are OK for local arterials going. Sometimes it’s hardest to get consultants to make the mind shift when they go from WK projects to local projects. If they just called the motorway paths ‘cycle paths’ and left it at that, the ambiguity might decrease.

  2. Merry Christmas Matt and the Greater Auckland team.
    Thank you for all your hard work.
    I often use your articles to guide submissions or as a reference when arguing with social media trolls.
    Your inspiring work provides a glimmer of hope when I get frustrated at the inaction of the powers that be.

  3. The article about French trains that aren’t TGVs is spot-on. If you want to see for yourself, have a play with the fab Chronotrains website – it gives you isochrones for train travel in Europe. Paris is superbly well connected, but from central France (Auvergne, Massif-Central, etc) it takes a long time to get anywhere. https://www.chronotrains.com/

    When I was in Europe in July, I was amazed that, with the decline of the provincial French rail network, it’s now impossible to travel directly by rail from Lyon to Bordeaux across central France. The options are:

    1) TGV up to Paris, then TGV down to Bordeaux.
    2) TGV towards Avignon, Montpelier and then along the edge of the Pyrenees via Toulouse.

    Both are huge deviations on the route between two of France’s largest cities. From a UK perspective, it’s a bit like having to travel from Leeds to Manchester via London.

    In the end I took a coach which uses the new, scenic and expensive-looking Transeuropéenne Autoroute, which soars across the landscape on a series of spectacular viaducts. There *are* railway lines that run more or less parallel to this route, but they are old and have very few passenger trains.

    I really hope that SNCF can do more to join up the rest of the country by rail. TGVs are cool, but they’re not the only game in town.

    See also: https://www.railway-technology.com/analysis/french-rural-railways/

  4. “[Fares] play a part but they’re not the main part – the biggest thing is frequent and reliable services.”

    So he decided to do neither part. Well, thank you Minister.

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