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!
Nearly 4km of shared path in the Unsworth Heights and Rosedale industrial area on Auckland’s North Shore are now open, making it safer to get around on foot, scooter, or by bike. We caught up with people enjoying the path to hear what they had to say. pic.twitter.com/3lLT7nJP6W
— Waka Kotahi NZTA Auckland & Northland (@WakaKotahiAkNth) January 18, 2023
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.”
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.
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.
— Rob Cowan (@cowanrob) January 11, 2023
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:
Below is a list of the least car-dependent mid-sized cities in the world ranked by the modal share of commuting trips.
— FuckCars (@FuckCarsReddit) January 19, 2023
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.
“When the spirits are low, when the day appears dark, when work becomes monotonous, when hope hardly seems worth having, just mount a bicycle and go out for a spin down the road, without thought on anything but the ride you are taking.” – A. Conan Doyle https://t.co/z9Fesm0Sr6
— Strategic Cities (@StrategicCities) January 14, 2023
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.