Tēnā koutou. It’s MARCH!! Thanks for stopping by, summer, you were… chaotic.
Header image: the bicycle club of the Holy Sepulchre on Khyber Pass Road. Image via Twitter.
The week in Greater Auckland
Tempted to rename this section ‘the week in Auckland Transport’ because our posts had a real AT focus this week – and a lot happened.
On Monday, first Matt wrote about the AT board papers for Tuesday’s board meeting, then we had a special guest post from Heidi, who gave us 8 big questions to ask the AT board.
Tuesday’s post looked at ways of improving buses to reduce the effects of ‘March Madness’ – when everyone goes back to school and university, and transport chaos ensues.
Wednesday’s post was about the strategic challenges facing AT’s new CEO.
Yesterday, Matt wrote about recently-released ‘indicative priorities’ for the next Government Policy Statement on Land Transport.
On the move in Aotearoa
Yes, it is March today, but importantly, the 3rd of March (that’s TODAY) is the global School Strike 4 Climate. Tāmaki Makaurau’s march begins at Britomart at 3pm. On Newsroom, teen climate activist Aurora Garner-Randolph explains why school strikers need everyone’s support.
My generation is growing desperate. With each passing year of unfulfilled political promises and unambitious climate policies, we are watching our future become unliveable. We don’t strike because we fancy a day off school, we strike because it’s the most effective tool we have to make our voices heard.
Meanwhile, one part of town where vehicle traffic has dropped significantly is Queen Street, and landlords are noticing the positive effects on their tenancies. Demand is picking up and increasing pedestrian space is a clear factor.
“With the recent pedestrianisation of Queen Street, workers returning to the office and the restart of tourism, we’ve already seen retail vacancy rates steadily decrease,” JLL NZ’s head of research Gavin Read said, adding office vacancies also fell.
CRL construction is making steady progress – each day’s a step closer to getting trains on those tracks! Grady Connell has some great photographs of progress at Maungawhau Station:
2/3 – The civil works team at Maungawhau have completed the last of the concrete pours for the track base leading from Dominion Road to the new CRL tunnels.
Excavations started in April 2021, with 13,860m3 of material removed – enough to fill 5.5 Olympic-sized swimming pools! pic.twitter.com/cnwcJlmtP6
— Grady Connell (@TheGradyConnell) February 28, 2023
And there’s some equally awesome images of the Karangahape Road Station in this newletter.
The Spinoff’s journalism rising to the moment
The writers at The Spinoff put out so many pieces we wanted to share this week that they get their own section. Tommy da Silva commented on the topic of the moment, the will-they-won’t-they saga of the Inner West cycling projects. Ursula Cochran urges us to look at the geological truths in our landscapes when making decisions about where to build.
Let’s give our rivers more space, keep away from landslide-prone hills and rebuild around the safer edges of existing settlements. Visionary leadership will be required, as will hard work to figure out the financially-viable, legal, community-enhancing and equitable way to do this, but people are worth it.
Nadine Ann Hura shared an incredible conversation with Nyze Manuel of Whangaroa about her mahi as a kaiwhakahaere for Taitokerau Border Control, and how they protected whānau in their area during Cyclone Gabrielle.
It really bothers me because we don’t like being in a crisis response space. If you’re prepared it’s not an emergency. We’d rather be in a space of planning and preparation, building the right types of buildings in the right places, being self-sufficient in terms of energy, growing our own kai in circular economies, so that we are not in a position of being reliant on anybody else in a time of crisis
And finally, Max Rashbrooke weighed in on the (very unhelpful) adaptation or mitigation debate, criticising the argument that ‘it’s too late to mitigate, we need to focus on adapting.’
It is a seductive message for those who wish to leave their lifestyles undisturbed, and an understandable response to the devastation of Cyclone Gabrielle, an event that concentrates attention on how best to protect vulnerable communities. But it is absolutely the wrong lesson to draw from that disaster.
News around the motu
Yikes, we hope the driver of this train is doing OK:
Our ears pricked up at the news that the Ōtaki to north of Levin motorway might go through a tactical re-scope. It’s one of many massive roading projects in the NZ Upgrade programme that have experienced eye-watering price rises over the last few years.
[extra] funding was necessary after individual projects nearly doubled in cost. Penlink went from $411 million in January 2020 to $830m in June 2021, O2NL went from $817m to $1.5b over the same time, and the Melling interchange went from $258m to $420m.
Ahh, Ōtautahi, cycling to the future. It’s been an epic summer for cycling in Christchurch, according to this post on local blog Talking Transport. We hear they’ve actually had a summer down there this year too. The city’s busiest counter, Antigua St, broke its own record and clocked over 2,500 cyclists in one day. Bike numbers are up throughout the network, new and old sections alike.
Generally they are all recording healthy growth. St Asaph St stands above the rest, almost doubling numbers in just five years – that’s pretty amazing considering all the controversy when it was put in.
Ideas worth stealing
Tāmaki Makaurau-based urban designer Cam Perkins is in Sydney, enjoying the city’s wider lightrail network and, of course, the gorgeous George St car-free section. Squint, and it’s Queen St.
Cycling is seen as so important to the future of transport in Europe that the European Parliament has resolved to develop an EU-wide cycling strategy. The strategy will aim to double the number of kilometres travelled. Yep, that’s right – Europe’s going double cycling in less than 7 years.
The European Parliament’s Resolution, […] sets out a 17-point action plan to develop more cycling infrastructure, lay fertile ground in Europe for bike, component and battery production, and grow two million jobs in a ‘cycling ecosystem’ covering manufacturing, tourism, retail, health and sports that already employs one million people in Europe today.
The UK might no longer fall under the EU’s strategic direction, but London is still making massive progress when it comes to safe cycling infrastructure. In the centre of London, it’s been built and the people have come: on some streets, more people go by bike than any other vehicle.
This is quite astonishing. In London's financial centre (@cityoflondon), latest data shows "people cycling represented the single largest vehicular mode counted during peak times on City streets" https://t.co/9uM7z5EhbO pic.twitter.com/pV5QlQYQuK
— Danny Williams (@citycyclists) February 28, 2023
This article starts out talking about the benefits of apartments arranged around courtyards and then goes in a charming and unexpected direction. In the end, it’s still about how great a shared courtyard can be for community and connection.
Last week we wrote about NYC’s new Public Space Czar. This week we read that the city is unveiling an entire new planning division that’s designed to help communities make positive change in their neighbourhoods.
Director Dan Garodnick said the City Planning and Engagement Division will reach deeper into communities and work with students, young people and grassroots groups to determine what gets built where. The team will also work with other city agencies to overcome a tendency for neighborhood proposals to be removed from the demands of the actual people who live there.
Lots to think about in this analysis of the often complicated relationship between central and local government agencies and the consultants they hire to help get work done. Why does it work well sometimes, and so terribly at other times?
In contrast [to the European model], the American (and British) way is to privatize the state to consultants root and stem. The agency managers are generalists who look down on technical people and treat the consultants as an infinite resource, who they can ask to study everything.
Eric is quoted as saying “They studied everything” of Second Avenue Subway: every conceivable possibility was studied just in case, and there was nobody in charge who knew enough about planning or engineering to prune the search tree and save some money. In effect, what we’re seeing is unusually low office productivity, in tandem with low blue-collar laborer productivity in tunneling.
Pockets of Joy
The city of Montreal in Quebec, Canada, ran some fantastic open streets over the summer. Turns out they don’t let a serious Canadian winter get in the way of some open streets fun either.
Other cities: street festivals are for summertime
Montreal: closes street to cars, sets up ski slope downtown https://t.co/lFDUWv5WVw
— Stephen Miller (@miller_stephen) February 26, 2023
This barbershop is so perfectly Japanese it looks like a live-action Studio Ghibli set. The little barber shop, which is no longer in use, has been swallowed over time and now you’d barely know it was there.
Bikes, the original joy machine since at least when this photo was taken.
— Marty (@Martyfromnz1) February 26, 2023
And we’ll finish with one for all you map nerds out there. Can you date this? Best guesses at the answer can be found on Twitter.
Hope you’ve got a great weekend ahead of you. And ps… high tide’s once again right after work, Safe Swim’s showing a green tick for most beaches around the city, and … the sun is shining!