Anyone else suffering back-to-work-blues? We’re battling, but still upright. Haere tonu!

Today’s cover image is of sunset over Tirohanga Whānui Bridge, sourced from Twitter.

The week in Greater Auckland

On Monday, Jolisa pondered the fate of AT’s ‘Statements of Imagination’.

Tuesday’s post was a guest post by Grady Connell, exploring some solutions to the rail-replacement bus issue.

On Wednesday, Matt wrote about how AT could get better at communicating service disruptions.

Yesterday, we were on summer hours.

Transport and urbanism news across Tāmaki Makaurau

The latest issue of Metro Magazine is apparently full of great stories related to urbanism in Auckland. Some of the stories are available online: Hayden Donnell takes a deep look into the current state of Queen Street, and Rachel Trow and Morgan Godfrey have put together an even deeper story about the complex mana whenua connections to Tāmaki Makaurau and the surrounding area.

CRL teams have been busy underground over the christmas break. Check out the timelapse on the CRL facebook page of the work that was done at Waitematā (Britomart) station.

Four new kilometres of shared path alongside SH18 are now open for people to enjoy on foot, bike, scooter, and other small wheels. Not long now and this will connect up to the shared path being built as part of the Northern Corridor improvements!

Once those paths connect up, people will be able to roll right up to the lovely Tirohanga Whānui Bridge for some epic sunsets like this one shared on twitter recently.

A new housing project in Papakura will have homes purpose-built for multigenerational families, designed for the particular needs of Pasifika families.

“This project has a soul, so it has a higher, greater purpose. You’re not punching out affordable housing just for the sake of affordable housing.

“From its inception, the project was designed with Pasifika people in mind, it was designed not as a pure development where you would want to maximise the number of houses on the site.”

Elsewhere in South Auckland, one new park is leveling up the community BBQ, and provides a community hāngī pit instead. The park, at the base of Te Pane o Mataoho (Māngere Maunga), is part of a whānau ātea space where families can gather, play and hang out.

The Tūpuna Maunga Authority worked with hāngī master Rewi Spraggon to create the pit with design support from environmental planning and design consultancy Boffa Miskell. Spraggon says the hāngī pit is made up of the same materials used for traditional hāngī.

“I’ve always been an advocate for hāngī tuturu and making sure that this art form or this style of living doesn’t get lost. By giving the community opportunity and teaching them how to hāngī properly then that obviously will help the interest,” says Spraggon.

People will be able to book the hāngī pit from March.

The hāngī pits. Image via Boffa Miskell.

Keeping an eye on the rest of the motu

100 new bus drivers are on their way to Wellington to plug gaps in the capital’s beleaguered public transport service. The new drivers were recruited from overseas, which has recently been made easier. Bus drivers are on the Government’s skill shortage list now.

Staying in Pōneke, you’ll probably remember the fuss that was made about a new signalised pedestrian crossing on Cobham Drive, a bit of road in Evan’s Bay on the way to the airport. If you’re anything like us you’ll enjoy this satirical take on the whole saga.

But surely if hardly any pedestrians use the new crossing, then it won’t disrupt traffic? And if it does disrupt traffic, then surely it must be getting used by a lot of pedestrians?

This fascinating philosophical question, now known as the Cobham Paradox, is exciting mathematicians around the world. Many are expected to fly to Wellington to inspect the crossing when it opens – which is likely to cause even more traffic congestion from the airport.

Finally, a slightly envious shout-out to fellow transport advocates down in Christchurch. Envious because Talking Transport Christchurch’s year-ahead post is practically full to the brim with cool new cycling projects. Come show us how it’s done, Ōtautahi!

What were once a bunch of disparate cycleways is starting to look like a genuine citywide joined-up network.

Sigh. But we’re happy for you, Christchurch. We really are.

More low-cost infrastructure like this will be used to quickly roll out bike lanes in Christchurch.

Happy cities, happy people

Perhaps one of your New Year’s resolutions was ‘learn more about good urbanism?’ In that case, we’ve got you sorted (every week, of course ;D): start with this webinar with Chris Bruntlett of Bicycle Dutch, explaining cycling and urban vitality, the Dutch way.

Another post from Bicycle Dutch caught our eye this week too: Amsterdam’s new inner ring will be a cycle street. You might already know about Amsterdam’s famous circulation plan, which uses ring-roads to keep communter traffic out of city neighbourhoods. Now, the city is reallocating space on a ring of inner-city streets to prioritise room for bicycles and public transport. It’s a good reminder that in cities that seem to have ‘got it right’, infrastructure is still evolving and redeveloping.

A map showing the proposed new inner ring route. Image via Bicycle Dutch.

One of our all-time favourite things about summer is seeing families out and about on bikes and scooters, in all manner of configurations. As NPR reports, for many families an e-cargo bike is a much cheaper and more accessible way to move the kids around in a sustainable way than buying an electric car. The electric bike subsidies in some American cities have helped people make the transition from car to e-bike. One mum found that getting her kids into an e-cargo bike was by far the most fun way to travel, too.

“Between me and my husband, we’ve put 12 thousand miles on our bikes in the last couple of years. When I think about that number, what it means most to me is how many minutes I spent having fun with my kids outside.”

The NPR reporter getting taken for a joyride in Lelac Amagor’s cargo bike, along with Lelac’s toddler and baby. Image via NPR.

Could you imagine a happier place to learn than this whimsical new school in Madrid, Spain? Designed by architect Andres Jaque after extensive consultation with the school’s 500 students, the building itself is designed to be a teaching tool and a space for adventure.

“A school with no walls,” was one child’s dream. “I want many different routes to get around,” said another. “I want it to feel like a garden,” added a third. “Or a spaceship. And not be too big, so I can get to know it easily.” The teachers, meanwhile, wanted a building that could be used as a teaching tool, and a game, and never feel quite finished. “The architecture should prompt the imagination,” as Jaque puts it, “and inspire the students to ask questions about the world.”

The Colegio Reggio. Image via Andres Jaque/Office for Political Innovation.

Re-thinking how we understand transport

Car-dominance is so all-encompassing that it can be difficult to see all the ways in which it affects how we experience the world. The Guardian reports on a recent British study which looked at how ‘motonormativity’ means that people accept a higher level of danger and risk from vehicles than from other harmful activities in society.

In one example 75% of people agreed with the statement: “People shouldn’t smoke in highly populated areas where other people have to breathe in the cigarette fumes.” But when just two words were changed – “people shouldn’t drive in highly populated areas where other people have to breathe in the car fumes” – only 17% agreed.

Stuck in traffic.

Perhaps its this ‘motonormativity’, or ‘car-blindness’ that leads to such outsized and vicious reactions to projects aimed at encouraging people to drive less. On that theme, StreetsBlog USA published a piece last week comparing the ‘gas stove meltdown’ (if you’ve got no idea what that is, here’s an explainer) to the the responses that flare up in the face of even very gradual reforms.

The real accomplishment of the fossil fuel industries, though, is how they’ve convinced Americans that living this way is their own free and enthusiastic choice, if not an outright luxury or a birthright. What marketers have always understood about human beings if that if you can persuade them that a gas stove makes them an elite chef or a gas guzzler makes them a man, they won’t just tolerate the utter absence of other options.

They’ll build their very identity around your product — and eventually, they’ll pass that identity down to their children, and to their children’s children, to the point where their love of it truly isn’t corporate manipulation any longer, but the very stuff of culture. Attempting to remove any part of that culture — be it their parking space at work or the way they cook their family’s most cherished recipes — will feel violent.

And it’s not just an American issue either. Low traffic neighbourhoods and congestion pricing schemes have been installed in the United Kingdom in the face of at times hyperbolic opposition, and this piece on The Guardian asks why traffic reduction schemes seem to be a lightning rod for conspiracy theories.

Oxford’s traffic plan, they insist, is the first step in a global plot led by – depending on who you listen to – the World Economic Forum (WEF) or the UN, designed to strip people of their fundamental rights and personal possessions in the name of the environment.

What’s going on? The short answer is that even in the context of an era in which conspiracy theories are rife, policies connected to cars and traffic seem particularly susceptible for a variety of reasons.

Time for a palate cleanser, and if the spectre of conspiracy-theory-level opposition to entirely benign and good-hearted transport projects is getting you down, check out The Workshop’s toolkit for talking about opening streets for people who walk, cycle or use public transport. The toolkit is an excellent document with a collection of practical, tested messages that are clear and positive – to help keep discussions thoughtful and empathetic.

Until now, our cities have been geared towards one form of transport — cars. With lots more people in our cities now, our streets don’t work well for anyone — even people who drive. People in government can take practical steps to solve our communities’ transport problems by making it easier for people to walk, ride a bike, or get a bus.

Always worth remembering: motonormativity isn’t a given that we simply have to accept. Here’s one well known example of a transformed narrative:

Dreaming of future holidays

Perhaps we need a regular ‘train trips we’d do’ section of roundup? It certainly seems that more and more we’re seeing epic train journeys appear in the travel pages. This week, Stuff rounds up six great train trips in Switzerland. How wonderful does this sound…

Eventually the train gains enough height to eyeball the snow peaks. The icy hatchet of the Matterhorn commands attention, but glaciers and the Monte Rosa massif are magnificent too. Gornergrat (3089 metres) merits a lingering terrace lunch, although hiking trails meander in all directions.

But for now we’ll be happy tootling around Auckland’s sunny summer streets on two wheels, or maybe three, inspired by Arthur Conan Doyle’s very romantic setup here.

Hei te Rāhina – see you Monday!

PS. High tide’s at 6:47pm this (Friday) evening, the weather looks great – it’s perfect conditions for a post-work, end of week swim.

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  1. Train Trips I’d Do:

    Auckland to Opua
    Auckland to Taupo
    Auckland to National Park (but it would literally have to cost a third of what it does now)
    Bonus: Auckland to Hampton Downs

    I’m not sure which of these is more far fetched or ridiculous tbh. How depressing.

    1. The Bay of Island’s Vintage Railways have there trains running 3 times a day until 12th Feb which is also good for those that want to do the Cycle Trail to Opua , as a section of that you have to use their Train to carry your bike .

      And were is can you do this without going overseas ;-

    2. Auckland to National park return for my family was over $1000 by train. 2 Adults 2 kids and 3 bikes.

      so i took the helicopter to save some cash…

  2. Working in Hamilton for a day and noticed GoBus they had big buses like akl but also small 12 seater mini buses too thought what a good idea also thought I saw dial up on demand for these little buses As well.
    Thought akl needs 500 of these and big buses sleep during the day
    Feel really needs looking into
    What with the rail program

    1. That doesn’t usually work. You need two separate fleets (maintain and park somewhere) and things have to switchover at some point (ie does everybody drive back to the depot?)

      Also much of the cost of running buses is in the driver rather than the size of the vehicle, so you don’t save as much as you’d think.

    2. Doing that you significantly increase the total amount of money you have tied up in the bus fleet, because you have to own all those peak hour big buses, plus lots of small ones. To do that you’re tying up capital that either the council / AT borrow and pay interest on, or forgo interest they would have got.

      On top of that you don’t really save that much in operating costs, still have to have a driver, still have the same (or more) engine and operation hours. Have to clean more buses. Save a bit of fuel?

      It only works on routes where you have low peak demand and can run the little ones all day. And AT has brought some smaller buses in the past for routes like this on the north shore. They are still a full on bus, rather than minibuses. Just single axle, and a lot shorter than the bigger ones they run.

      AT are incompetent in all kinds of ways, but the bus fleet management has not been one of them.

      1. And yet plenty of places around the world (with much better bus networks than we’ll ever have) do exactly that. 20 odd seater buses do use less fuel, do cost less to purchase, do have lower running costs. Sure the driver side is the same (but unless you’re replacing a full big bus with 2x small buses) you’re going to save money. Smaller buses can also move through traffic faster and avoid tight spots that slow big buses down so you get better productivity from them.
        I’m not saying you need a lot of them, but out of every depot there are bound to be routes (or should be routes) that don’t need a big bus on them (especially during quiet periods).

        1. I agree there are some scenarios where it makes sense. And like I said AT runs them there already

    3. I hate to see large buses circulating around near empty however I agree with Jack reasoning my take is all buses need to be electric. Not just for the sake of the climate or peoples lungs but for national and international security and the balance of payments. The sooner we can get rid of diesel and replace it with renewable home grown electricity the better. Yesterday I travelled on a well filled electric Tamaki link bus it was just delightful and cool. Have a look at the map of the middle east and think about Iran and its drones and its connection with Russia across the Capsian Sea. Reflect on how safe our oil supply is.
      On another note the bus stops around Britomart seem to be complete. Maybe there is still work to do on Queen Street but it felt to me that we can look forward to a long period of stability with public transport users learning how to use the inter connecttion between bus train and ferries. There was a buzzy atmosphere with everyone enjoying the sunny weather.

  3. Last weekend I went for a pedal to explore that “..shared path being built as part of the Northern Corridor improvements”

    Still can’t seem to get anywhere safely as the entrance to the shared path from Spencer road end was fenced off.

    I think you can cycle from Omega place to Constellation via the new path; but just trying to find it without any wayfinding signs is really difficult. Lots of bits that you come out of a nice protected cycleway then have to cross a road where cars are moving fast

    Intention for me is to start cycling to work more, but cycleways are still not connected up. And another year, still nothing done with Albany highway/Upper Harbour Drive slip road intersection. I guess nothing will happen until somebody dies or gets seriously hurt

    1. Cuthill Corner, where Upper Harbour Drive joins the Albany Highway, is absolutely horrific. It’s the perfect example of a once-rural highway that is now surrounded by suburbia, but has received very few alterations to its geometry. It’s the worst intersection on the Shore and, if Vision Zero had been implemented as promised, should have been recofigured many years ago.

      1. Turning right toward Glenfield is nasty from Upper harbour drive

        I have talked about it on here before.

        This is the response I got from AT on March 2021:

        Thanks for contacting us regarding pedestrian and cyclist safety on Albany Highway

        I can understand how the current layout makes it difficult for cyclists and pedestrians to navigate through this intersection.

        We’re currently investigating this intersection and also the lack of pedestrian amenities from Korari Way to Unsworth Drive.

        While we don’t have any plans at present, we’ve taken the concerns you’ve raised on board and will forward the suggestion to consultants that have been engaged to come up with a scheme design for the project.

        We don’t have any timeline for works but we anticipate we’ll have some concepts by the end of the year.

        We’ll now be closing your case. As we’ve completed our investigation of your case, it will now be closed. If you do have further concerns however, feel free to contact us again as we can open a new case if necessary.
        So yeah, that was 2021, we are now 2023.

        I would love to know who the consultant is. Have they been charging for years without doing anything while people are put at risk.

        Doesn’t anybody have any care or sense of responsibility?

        1. “…concepts by the end of the year.” this was 2021.

          Come on AT, it’s an importnat intersection. Who was appointed? What were the plans? How much will it cost? When/how will it happen? Time to OIA this???

      2. Vision zero is just another way for NZTA and Auckland Transport to slow everyone down. It does not get to the core of why accidents happen, it just another propaganda program design to create division between cars and cyclers. I believe it just wrong that car owners who at rego and contribute towards the land transport fund has to pay for cycle lanes and these pet projects called vision zero. Then again government especially the current one just came up with these programs to slow everyone down rather then fixing the issue which is using the land transport fund to fix roads and make them safer rather then tinkering the road with new lane markings.
        When cyclers start paying some form of rego then they can have cycle lanes but currently they are not entitled to anything and should be grateful for what they have.

        1. “Vision zero is just another way for NZTA and Auckland Transport to save lives ~slow everyone down~.

          “It does not get to the core of why accidents happen”
          Correct. But accidents happen, so minimizing the impact of accidents – or crashes, is a good thing, right?

          “it just another propaganda program design to create division between cars and cyclers”
          No, it isn’t.

          “I believe it just wrong that car owners who at rego and contribute towards the land transport fund has to pay for cycle lanes and these pet projects called vision zero”

          WTF makes a pet project vs an internationally best evidence based assessment of data? Can you show the evidence of how it is wrong?.

          “When cyclers start paying some form of rego then they can have cycle lanes but currently they are not entitled to anything and should be grateful for what they have”

          To put it politely, fuck up with that bullshit.

          Most roads you and I drive/ride on are local roads paid by rates. You pay rates? I do. And I cycle, so given that given I am using a low emission method of transport, I would very much like a small percentage of vast amounts of road funding to provide some alternative options to *mor roads* – which has been proven to *not* work.

          So lets say you drive a big black Ford Ranger. Do you really think you are paying via rego or fuel taxes for the damage your emissions are generating when you drive? . Yeah, nah.

          Trying reading this blog for a bit and learn before spouting bullshit

        2. Well biggest problem with bike lanes is that most often they are drawn by Auckland Transport to meet quotas. If we look at bike lanes in Devonport more specifically Stanley Bay bike lanes will have a tree in a middle of it.
          If we look in Silverdale and Orewa new development with bike lanes and no on street parking people are parking on the bike lanes or the bike lanes lead to no shops just a dead end road.
          Upper Harbor drive is just another screw up by AT because their was bike lanes on the street and nobody really complain or large enough group complaining, but soon as the barriers gone up on the bike lane they did a complete disservice to the bike lanes in Auckland as it lead to the whole community to area to now not only hate bike lanes but AT itself.

          In terms of Ford Rangers causing environment damage comment from GrantB, the Ford Ranger became popular 2017 onwards and with those models they had to meet strict Euro Standards. So those Rangers on road are not earth killers because the Rangers 2017 onwards are Euro 5 or 6 compliant with Ad blue to reduce emissions, much cleaner then those old japanese suzuki swift imports which receive a govt subsidy.

        3. Alex, Euro 5, which is the legal minimum for new vehicles here, was introduced in Europe a 11 years ago. Europe moved on to Euro 6 very quickly. And many further iterations up to today’s Euro 6d as the dieselgate scandal surfaced.

          Under the base Euro 5 and 6 standards, all manufacturers were on average emitting 4 to 5 times more poisones gasses in real road use than what was the legal maximum in the test stands. They were gaming the system, VW was the worst, actually breaking the law, but they were all gaming it hugely, mostly using loopholes that were grey areas in the Euro 5 and 6 standards. “Well we met the test stand requirements”, but outside of exact lab conditions then the engines all performed completely differently.

          We have had no updates to emissions regs since 2013. We use decade old standards that the manufacturers all learned to game, and we just let them keep gaming it. There was no dieselgate scandal here because we just let them keep selling the same cars, no worries mate.

          Toyota doesn’t even bother to offer a higher tier emissions standard in New Zealand than Euro 5 at all. They sell Euro 6d models in Europe today, that will be emitting a fraction of what they do here.

          They can brand themselves as meeting “strict euro standards” all they like. But (unsurprisingly) they make no mention that they are outdated, deeply flawed standards that they run rings around. The crappiest second hand Euro 4 petrol import is many many times less polluting than a brand new Euro 5 diesel ranger / Hilux.

          Have a read of this:

        4. Also, emissions of the vehicle are only one part. Road wear and tear (goes with axle weight to the fourth power), noise pollution, micro plastics from tire wear, dangers to everyone not in a similar huge truck (some of them are way past only endangering pedestrians), space in streets and parking lots, …

        5. To JohnBGoodie
          You say Utes are dangerous because of how big they are but new Utes now have new tech to keep drivers and others safe. They have sensors in the front and rear and also cameras which have a 360 view of the car itself to avoid hitting things.
          Not to also mention radar systems like Tesla which have automatic braking feature.
          Also euro Ncap has rated the Ranger 5 out of a possible 5 for safety and they also test if a person gets hit by the car will they be seriously hurt and the current euro Ncap testing shows they would survive hence why it receives the 5 star safety rating.
          You also say Utes create negative externalities like noise pollution and micro plastics from tyres.
          Most consumers today buying a ute do not want it to be loud that why manufacturers have spent million developing Utes that are silent as possible and also every car with tyres create micro plastics it not just Utes, plus electric cars go through more tyres then Utes due to their instant torque.

          If you think Utes are loud have you heard a helicopter before, they fly over Waiheke island all the time creating noise pollution and more air pollution then Utes. Where is the huge political outcry calling for helicopters to be ban flying over our great islands.

        6. Yes, helicopters are worse. I am in favour of restrictions regarding helipads and limiting recreational flights. Some people are catching on: (No, I am not in this article)

          Today’s utes are ridiculously oversized for 99.5% of intended use. While I have to admit that the high crash test rating surprises me, I don’t think it captures all. For example, have you tried crossing the street behind a ute and a sedan? Where can you see more? Where can you be seen better?

          The other arguments basically boil down to ‘other cars are almost as bad (some are even worse)!’. Guess why this blog is in favour of more public transport and active modes and less car trips all around?

  4. Train trips I’d like to do
    Wellington- Wairarapa and back over this Wellington Anniversary weekend (bus replacement- only 2 each day)
    or Wellington- Hawkes Bay for anniversary weekend.
    Wellington- Waitangi for Waitangi weekend (the tracks go at least as far as Kawa Kawa- we saw them in front of the Hunderwasser toilets.

      1. Buttwizard – Here is the view from the Rear of the BOIVR’s excursion train showing the track and the Twin Coast Cycleway through to Taumarere where they have to board to cross the Southern Hemispheres Longest Wooden Trestle Bridge and those with their Bikes the cost is just a Gold Coin Donation .

  5. New Zealand is a very car depended country and I do not blame people for wanting to own cars especially because of our way of recreation like needing to tow a boat for the weekend or a long road trip. In terms of people using cars to get to work yes their need to be changes but I believe most of our leaders are just making patch work changes rather than structural changes. An example is Park N Ride, I believe they really need to start charging for it because it quite hard for people to get a park after 7am and plus most people who drive to Park N Ride most of them live near a bus stop outside their houses so could take a connecting bus home rather then drive.
    Another is congestion charging, problem with it for New Zealand is how much is being charged. In the report The Congestion Question they proposed charging up to a maximum of 3 dollars which is very low and will do nothing about solving congestion. I believe it needs to be much higher like London charges 40 NZD which I believe will definitely get people off their cars rather then a tax grab of 3 dollars.

  6. I’ve been riding a grass tracked LRT the past couple of days. The biggest thing I notice is the reduction in noise compared with sections crossing pavement.
    It’s also catenary free, at least the sections I rode. It has a pantograph but uses a seperate actuated pickup that raises to contact a charge bar above each station.
    It is very slow compared with metro rail / subway, slightly slower than surrounding free flowing traffic most of the time – would be different at rush hour

  7. As an Aucklander who usually walks to the city from the Wellington airport I’m happy to hear that there will be a crossing on Cobham Drive. It’s usually quite scary to cross and I’d be happy to see more of them around there.

    1. Not sure that I believe you. You Walk from the airport to the City? How long does that take you? Do you have any baggage with you?

      1. I believe him!

        It took me about one hour 40 minutes so it was about 10 kilometres but I chose the scenic route. The direct route is only eight kilometres but walking through the tunnel is not very pleasant.

        I carried a small backpack weighing about 5 kilograms but, as an ‘older’ person, I’m probably not as fit as you!

    2. You’re very good walking from the airport to the city!

      I’ve done it just once, on a sunny Sunday morning in August. I crossed Cobham Drive at Calabar Road, which probably isn’t the safest place, before reaching Harbourside Market via Evans Bay and Oriental parades.

    3. Have to admit that I read that as you usually walk to Auckland from Wellington Airport which seems like a long trip.

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