Kia ora, Was this a ‘normal’ week? Cautiously optimistic that the weekend will be uneventful too.
The week in Greater Auckland
Tuesday’s post rallied around the inner west safety and cycling projects, which have been paused yet again because of a small and vocal minority opposition.
Yesterday, Matt wrote about AT’s progress on and recent updates to the Regional Public Transport Plan.
Transport news around the motu
We always love a new CRL drone shot. Here’s this week’s, showing progress on Maungawhau Station.
Auckland City Centre Resident’s group has called for council to charge the true cost of parking. Stuff reports on the group’s request to the Expenditure Control and Procurement committee to charge $500 a year for the right to park on city centre streets.
The City Centre Residents Group which represents downtown dwellers, said with 1.7 million registered vehicles, the climate-focussed levy could raise $850 million.
…[CCRG’s president] told the committee it was contradictory to spend a lot of money building roads, only to then restrict the useable space by allow vehicles to park along the kerbs.
Te Matatini, the world’s biggest and highly competitive Kapa Haka festival, is on *as we speak!* and AT is celebrating with limited edition hop cards, kaihaka figures at pedestrian crossing signals, and art on its buses. Ticket holders get free public transport to Eden Park, where the festival is on until late this Rāhoroi (Saturday). Kimihia tō tīkiti anei/buy your tickets here!
Staying on the theme of cool buses, how awesome does Whanganui’s The Tide look? We shared the news about Whanganui’s new frequent bus route a few weeks ago, and The Tide, which runs every 20 minutes throuh downtown, has hit the road.
First ride of the new 20 minute service through the heart of Whanganui pic.twitter.com/qqT5egrme7
— Sam Ferguson (@waitarere_green) February 17, 2023
It’s a good month for sustainable, progressive transport in Te Tai Hauāuru. New Plymouth has just been awarded $16m from Waka Kotahi’s Transport Choices programme, which it will use to build safer walking and cycling connections around schools. A further $8m will go to nearby Stratford, making a total of $24m available for safer streets in the Taranaki region. We can’t wait to see what they deliver!
How do people get around after a disaster destroys critical roading infrastructure? This is one of a few stories we’ve heard of bikes coming to the rescue in flood-hit Hawkes Bay.
"With vehicle access limited, bike was the quickest way around."
Bikes are climate resilience. https://t.co/7nsnK5uG20
— Ben Gracewood (@aotearoa_ben) February 20, 2023
Places for people, all over the world
This week’s installment of ideas-we-love is taking us to three continents. Simon Wilson wrote about the quirky and lovely Brazilian city of Curitiba in his Herald column last weekend. What makes Curitiba so special? Investment in greenery, an efficient and well-used bus rapid transit system, and visionary planning that focused on density and quality.
Like Auckland, Curitiba has tripled in size since 1970. But where the growth here has been a mix of massive sprawl and poorly regulated infill housing, with an absurd failure to manage transport needs, Curitiba chose a different path.
They planted millions of trees and built 16 public parks and 14 forests inside the urban city limits. The Iguacu River, which runs through the middle, has retained its meandering course, with parkland all along its banks. In heavy rains, the parks form a floodplain, keeping the water away from buildings and overfull drains.
Moving north, we like the sound of New York City’s new ‘public realm czar’. The job description of the new position involves making it easier to get stuff done in public space and streets in the city.
Given the tangle of bureaucracy that’s involved in making changes to public space — improvements to the sidewalk, for example, might be under the Department of Sanitation, the Parks Department, the Department of Environmental Protection, or the MTA — it’s remarkable that New York hasn’t yet had a person or department responsible for coordinating this work (aside from the mayor, of course). “New Yorkers need to know there is one person at City Hall whose number one goal is to improve their quality of life by creating incredible, new public spaces and ensuring the ones we have are clean, equitable, and safe,” Adams said in a statement.
Street upgrades in Nairobi have made more space for people by removing parking and protecting existing trees. What we love about this example is how staggeringly simple it is. Add a row of sturdy bollards, and suddenly the footpath’s twice as wide.
What makes a place great for people? A slow and steady, human-friendly pace:
Get a kid’s eye view of the city with the Global Designing Cities Reverse Periscope Companion guide! This looks like an awesome tool. The guide gives you instructions for building a periscope that will give you the perspective of a 1m tall child, and then a range of exercises you can do in streets to see what that child’s experience would be like.
Moving on from cars (and all their harms)
We’re firm believers that the period in our history in cars have dominated mobility will ultimately be a bit of a blip. After all, it’s only in the last few generations that cars have become so ubiquitous, and as younger generations become increasingly urbanised – and increasingly climate aware – they are chosing to opt-out. An excellent deep-dive on The Economist examines emerging trends and finds that young people’s reluctance to get behind the wheel could indicate a cultural sea-change.
The proportion of people with licences has fallen for every age group under 40, and on the latest data, is still falling. And even those who do have them are driving less. Between 1990 and 2017 the distance driven by teenage drivers in America declined by 35%, and those aged 20-34 by 18%. It is entirely older drivers who account for still increasing traffic, as baby-boomers who grew up with cars do not give them up in retirement.
The War on Cars is a podcast that’s been in the thick of that sea-change for years, and this article talks to the three hosts about how they got started, what their aims with the podcast are, what’s changed since they began.
As the name suggests, its war is on cars, not drivers. “Part of what we’re doing,” says Gordon, “is we’re saying that the entire system of driving sucks, and it sucks most for the people who are dependent on it.”
Good to see the issue of sat-navs and rat-running being addressed in Europe. How can we get regulation around this for google maps too?
For the past quarter of a century Sat-Navs have been creating rat runs in residential areas
Now @TomTom reveals that EU regulations will make the industry change its algorithms. It will benefit UK because sat-nav tech not country specific@AAPresident @livingstreets @PACTS pic.twitter.com/mPWb219vZc
— Nicholas Hellen (@NicholasHellen) February 19, 2023
Road safety is improving in Poland, with a couple of policies we’d love to see action on here. Stronger consequences for dangerous driving – yes please! Pedestrian priority on all side streets – double yes please! (It is bizarre that we don’t have that last one, when most other places do.)
Smart approaches to getting public transport on the ground
You can barely hear enthusiastic host Julian O’Shea over the background rumble of happy crowds in this video. In the clip, O’Shea explains why and how one of Sydney’s biggest streets has literally disappeared ‘off the map’ while only getting busier – because it no longer welcomes any cars.
Sydney’s biggest street has been wiped off the map. Here’s why. (Spoiler: cars) pic.twitter.com/Yd9CUIzYxx
— Julian O'Shea (@julianoshea) February 19, 2023
New research out of Australia incorporates a wide range of social factors to demonstrate the advantage of low-cost public transit projects, like adding a new bus route or upping the frequency through low-income neighbourhoods. It’s not the big, expensive mega-construction projects that have the biggest impact: the concept of ‘social transit’ is about getting transport to people who really need it, and all the opportunities they gain.
But governments are failing to fully calculate the flow-on financial benefits of smaller public transport projects in poorer urban fringe suburbs, such as lower crime, increased employment, better health outcomes and improved social inclusion.
France has been introducing light rail to city streets across the country at a steady clip since the 1980s. The consistent and straightforward approach to rolling out sensible and uncomplicated networks has transformed many French cities – and produced 100s of kms of light rail track.
Speaking of smart and efficient project choices, this article on Curbed has something to say about the value of keeping stations small and uncomplicated.
Longer journeys (or, yes everyone still loves trains)
We loved the Shanthi Mathias’ beautiful essay about growing up in India travelling across the continent on its famous intercity trains. She ends with a call to action to reinstate intercity train travel in Aotearoa.
But distances travelled by train are real. On the station signs, the sharp angles of North India’s Devanagri script are joined by the swishy strokes of the Bangla alphabet, or elaborate curves of Tamil. As you travel south, samosas and guavas sold by the snack-walas on the train become vada and coffee. I knew I was properly in south India when I woke up to people selling strings of jasmine to hang in my hair.
Norway, meanwhile, which is a very similar size, spread, and population to Aotearoa (albeit with trickier terrain and much more hostile winters), is about to launch this slick looking sleeper train.
And in case you missed it, this was the week of #railforceone making its way through Ukraine.
Highlights from a big couple of years in the life of Dom Whiting, AKA Drum n Bass on a bike. Who knew a cycling DJ would bring so much joy?
The one in which Bugs Bunny’s house is threatened by freeway construction. An evergreen fight.
Hei te rāhina. See you on Monday and have a lovely weekend!