Roundup is back! We skipped last week’s Friday post due to a shortage of person-power – did you notice? Lots going on out there…

Our header image this week shows a green street that just happens to be Queen St, by @chamfy from Twitter.

This week (and last) in Greater Auckland

Last Tuesday, Matt asked: Is Auckland Light Rail getting even further off track?

Then on Wednesday, Matt looked at how government is speeding away from the evidence on safety by hauling back on plans to reduce speeds on state highways.

Last Thursday’s post, also by Matt, addressed the rising cost of the CRL as a result of COVID.

This week on Monday Matt covered the “Mission Accomplished” news that Auckland’s motorway system is now complete.

Tuesday’s post by Matt offered a GA guide to submitting on Council’s proposed budget.

Wednesday’s post by Matt looked at solutions to the unforeseen and yet entirely predictable rainy-evening gridlock of the night before.

And on Thursday, a guest post by Tim Adriaansen explored the miraculous joys of e-bikes.

Have your say on the proposed Auckland Council Budget

Feedback closes 11pm on Tuesday 28 March, so if you haven’t already had your say, now’s the time, and here’s the link. 

Currently, feedback is running heavily in favour of male, older, and Pākehā citizens – so do encourage all your friends, whanau, flatmates and the younger generation to add their voices.

Stuck for what to say? See the list of submission guides below. Many make a point also made by  Bernard Hickey: that this is a manufactured crisis, the indiscriminate cuts will damage resilience – and other financial solutions are in our hands. Or as Verity Johnson put it, the Mayor “has played us for mugs”.

Here’s a good backgrounder by Tommy daSilva at the Spinoff on the whole process.

And lastly, a top tip for giving feedback in a way that’s most easily summarised for the report that will guide councillors when they vote:

Keep it short and sweet, one point per sentence, e.g.:

  • I support a higher than proposed general rates increase
  • I support an overall rates increase higher than proposed
  • I don’t support proposed reductions to natural environment or water quality targeted rates

The week in bike news

The cycling budget is the health budget

Budget cuts don’t just remove investment from the system, they slash the wider benefits that come from what you’re investing in. See this news from the UK:

The government’s decision this month to slash the budget for cycling and walking in England by more than 50% could cost more than £2bn in the long term through its impact on public health and the wider economy, a Labour analysis has estimated.


Labour used the Department for Transport’s (DfT) own analysis, which says that active travel investments have a “very high” expected benefit-to-cost ratio of £5.62 per £1 spent.

This is in part because of improvements to areas such as road safety and pollution if more people walk or cycle rather than drive, but also because of the significant health impact of people becoming more physically active. The DfT report notes that active travel is a particularly good way for people to embed activity into their everyday lives.

A Golden Age of cargo bikes

Maybe one day our government will wake up to the benefits?

It feels as if the industry and the government have simultaneously woken up to the enormous potential of cargo e-bikes to replace car trips and improve the environment, and honestly, it’s about time.

The planet-and-community-saving superpower of cargo e-bikes is widely known. They’ve been shown to decrease car dependency, save people money, reduce carbon emissions, and speed up delivery times for businesses. That probably explains why they’re so dang popular, selling at a more rapid clip than traditional bikes and even other electrified models.

Interestingly, the research suggests cargo bikes are ridden more than other bikes.

According to Meruva, bike makers are waking up to several salient points about cargo e-bikes; most notably, they’re ridden a lot more than other types of e-bikes. Used cargo bikes clock an average mileage of 766.5 miles, almost double that of commuter, sport, or, performance e-bikes, Meruva found.

A Cycling Action Plan for Aotearoa

Waka Kotahi quietly launched a Cycling Action Plan this week, describing it as:

…a pathway to significantly increase the safety and attractiveness of cycling and micromobility in towns and cities across Aotearoa New Zealand.

It outlines the strategic priorities for Waka Kotahi, and includes the detailed actions we will take, alongside our partners, to help achieve the substantial shifts required. While it is not a funding plan, it will help inform future transport prioritisation and investment decisions.

Note that this is an interim plan, designed to help councils develop their long-term plans and to guide changes at Waka Kotahi that will support towns and cities to deliver cycling infrastructure:

An expanded National Cycling Plan is also being developed, which is due for release by the end of 2023. This is an action within the government’s 2022 Emissions Reduction Plan.

Public Transport bites

Regional PT

The government’s recent policy purge included dropping a focus on achieving mode shift outside of the big cities. This is disappointing, because while many of our smaller cities and towns may not individually make up a large share of the PT pie, by their forces combined they could make a sizeable impact. And their smaller size means it doesn’t take much to roll out some good, cost-effective networks.

A great piece covered this in The Spinoff earlier this week

In 2017 Queenstown began a new, regular timetable with buses seven days a week, at least every half hour from 6am to midnight. In its first year alone, passenger numbers grew 182%.

New public transport projects in even smaller towns have been a raging success, like Timaru’s MyWay on-demand bus service, now chalking up some 600 boardings a day. Taranaki’s rural Connector bus saw passengers triple between 2021 and 2022, and Otago’s Palmerston-Dunedin bus is, according to some, so popular it’s getting dangerous.


“For Auckland to double or triple patronage now they’ll need expensive long-term interventions like new infrastructure and bus priority. They should absolutely do that, but we’re missing the low-hanging fruit: There’s an Auckland-sized city of people living in urban areas like Dunedin, Napier, New Plymouth and Whanganui. If we can increase their public transport use as much as Queenstown did just by investing in improved routes and timetables, we can make a huge dent in emissions cheaply and quickly.”

The Bike + PT Combo

The Spinoff also ran another great piece about simple improvements Auckland could make to help people combine cycling with public transport:

One little discussed part of this conversation is how people get to the bus, ferry or train. In the Netherlands, a bastion of planet-friendly transport in the western world, half of all train passengers arrive by bike – equating to half a million people daily. Combining more than one form of transport is known as multi-modal transport. If more Aucklanders biked to PT it would help unlock the latent potential of sustainable transport in the city, being a relatively cheap and fast way to get to the PT stop and back home. Could the city of sails follow the Netherlands’ lead?

Currently the answer is no.


If it was easier for more Aucklanders to combine a bike ride with a PT trip, it would be a double whammy that prioritises people’s health and that of the planet alike.

The Parking Space

Melbourne is looking to reform how it manages parking. This sounds somewhat similar to the changes Auckland Transport started makeing about a decade ago. (Of course, AT still needs to keep rolling out this approach to many other locations, and should at the very least keep parking charges in line with public transport fares.)

It also signals a move towards demand-based pricing for carparking as a measure to reduce the number of vehicles circulating congested streets looking for spaces.

City of Melbourne surveys show that for every 100 cars entering the city to park, 5 found on-street parking immediately and 95 circulated the city. Of these, 36 found an off-street car park, but the other 59 either took time to find an on-street space, parked illegally, or travelled further out.

The council’s plan reports that the cost of parking in the city, now a metropolis of 4.6 million people, is subsidised by up to 130%.

The plan also says that only 14 per cent of people shopping in the municipality drive and park a car on-street, while 60 per cent arrive by other modes of transport. There is a perception that retail is dependent on parking, but the evidence shows otherwise.

The continued costs of car-choked cities

Everyone wants less traffic. For good reasons.

We recently heard about how air pollution is killing us early, with data indicating just two pollutants are associated with 3,317 premature deaths and 13,155 hospitalisations every year in Aotearoa.

Now similar research has emerged from New South Wales – though surprisingly, with much lower results, and much of the blame put on non transport sources.

Air pollution in New South Wales is estimated to cause 603 premature deaths and increase health costs by $4.8bn each year, according to a long-term government study.

The largest source of air pollution was found to be wood heaters, which are used in about 10% of homes across the region. The study found they were likely to contribute to 269 premature deaths annually. Users of wood heaters were estimated to have lost 3,279 years of life between them– an average of about 12 years a person.

Other major causes of air pollution affecting health were industrial sites including mines (133 deaths and $1bn in health costs), cars and trucks (110 deaths and $832m) and coal power stations (46 deaths and $346m).


“These astronomical health costs really put radical policy solutions on the table,” he said.

“For example, the cost of reducing all public transport fares to $1 is estimated at $750m. That’s less than the annual health cost caused by petrol and diesel vehicles of $900m.”

Meanwhile, Tuesday evening’s congestion reminds us that too much traffic costs hours of our lives on a daily basis. Even the AA wants to hurry up and reduce the amount of driving we do:

The AA agreed there needed to be a reduction in driving but it had a problem with the government’s plan to achieve this.

“We’d like to see less planning and more time figuring out how we can really turn the dial on emissions,” Glynn said.

Congestion is no laughing matter, and yet, the contagious giggles in this clip speak volumes. We really are stuck in a stupid situation. Can we logic our way out of it?

As suggested in a reply to the tweet, the transport agencies could start by prominently displaying the bike travel time on signs. After all, they’ve long been in the business of making business cases governed by “travel time savings”. Surely they’re not actively trying to hide their active modes network from their customers?

And the North Shore version.

The week in floods, fires, and other impacts of global warming

This week, the IPCC released their synthesis report of the recent work on climate change. Stuff’s local climate team has some great summaries of what the report means with some really good data viz of the key points.

In a nutshell, as United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres says:

“Humanity is on thin ice — and that ice is melting fast. Our world needs climate action on all fronts — everything, everywhere, all at once.”

Radio NZ’s coverage included Professor Bronwyn Hayward of the University of Canterbury, who helped work on the report:

Cities were key, as the site of about 70 percent of global emissions.

“What we do in our local cities and our local communities really makes a difference to cut emissions. That’s a more manageable thing for people to cope with.”

Climate resilient development was easier in cities, such as increasing green spaces and public transport, and thinking about social support for housing and income replacement after disasters.

See also this related piece by Prof Hayward, which notes: “Decisions made at the level of local councils are going to be significant globally in terms of bringing national and global emissions down and protecting people.”

That’s especially important when the people we need to protect the most are barely old enough to vote, and many aren’t even born yet, as this powerful IPCC graphic shows:

From the IPCC consensus report, a graphic showing the generational impacts of our current pathway of steadily rising emissions, and several potential future pathways to reducing emissions.

Meanwhile, this week an Auckland Council committee voted 6:4 to (temporarily?) define climate action as “discretionary”:

We do live in hellishly interesting times. Is there room for optimism? This piece from a year or so ago notes, if you’re looking for hope, you’ll find it via action – being a good ancestor starts with being a good neighbour, and talking to people about what’s happening:

Climate action isn’t a giant boulder sitting at the bottom of a steep hill with just a few hands on it. It’s already at the top of the hill, it’s already got millions of hands on it, and it’s already slowly rolling in the right direction. It just needs to go faster.

That’s our roundup for the week. Let us know what else has been on your radar. And have a great weekend enjoying the last of the long summer evenings.

PS We can have nice things. The Auckland Arts Festival wraps up this weekend with SPARK, a free event (register online for tickets) at the Domain, featuring… biodegradable fireworks? Sounds neat!

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  1. Waka Kotahi’s Cycling Action Plan March 2023 :-

    “We will also lead by example in the summer of 2022 – 2023 by hosting a series of events inviting people to walk, cycle, scoot, run and roll on the Auckland Harbour Bridge…

    The rest of the document appears to be planning to have a plan.

    I look forward to when these documents don’t need a section “the case for change”

    1. “We will also lead by example in the summer of 2022 – 2023 by hosting a series of events inviting people to walk, cycle, scoot, run and roll on the Auckland Harbour Bridge…”

      The ones that they cancelled because they said they were a distraction from dealing with Gabrielle impacts? Can’t make it up.

  2. OMG the country’s climate plans are in a shambles.

    A cabinet paper has been released approving a review of the ETS.

    The key sentence in the review is “the NZ ETS is not expected to drive material gross emissions reductions in the energy, transport, industrial processes, and waste sectors. This risks delaying meaningful decarbonisation in New Zealand and a successful and just transition to a low-emissions economy”

    Government decided to prioritise gross emissions reductions already in 2021, so it is disappointing that only now is a review of the ETS announced for the second quarter of 2023. We are already one-third of the way through the first carbon budget period and are not on track to meet it – let alone to meet the NDC.

    It seems that the review terms of reference were written before the Government declined to follow the CCC advice on ETS settings, causing the carbon price to fall and a carbon auction to fail for the first time. There are so many urgent issues that it would be fair to say that the ETS, the key part of our climate response, is in a crisis: exotic forestry, indigenous forestry, free allocation, equity, NDC. The goals that the ETS should be “stable, predictable, and effective” have been trashed.

    CCC chair Rod Carr wrote to James Shaw saying that Shaw’s lack of a detailed explanation as to why Government was not following the CCC’s advice on the ETS was illegal, but that he’d let it go just this once. Two more big packages of advice coming soon (ETS settings this week, 2nd carbon budget next month) – what can they say?

    It’s sad that only now is a study to be done of the “economic, environmental, and distributional impacts” of the current ETS, but better late than never. As Dr Kirsty Wild from the University of Auckland has said, the whole emissions reduction plan should be examined from an equity point of view – how it impacts on different groups of people.

    1. That may explain our PM’s comments the other day – just prior to the failed quarterly carbon auction.

      “Mode shift in terms of Transport means more things like EVs. EVs still have to drive on the road. So we still got to make sure that we’ve got a roading Network that can cope with that…”

      The CERF didnt get its carbon auction funds – so “Transport Choices” programs may go the way of the clunker cash.

  3. Submit on the Rates proposal or submit to wrecking public-sector action on health, social, economic and environmental failings of our city.
    4.5% rates increase when inflation is pushing past 7% is nonsense and is the cause of a budget crisis, not a cure.

  4. The rollout of buslanes and improved bus services is one of the reasons why I have been considering moving to the region. If they start pulling funding from smaller cities to put it into the hands of Wayne Brown it would be a travesty. The Government can and should do both.

    Happy the pulled the cash for clunkers policy though, by the time it pikced up any momentum the market will have dictated that anyone looking to buy a new car would economically buy an EV anyway. Much prefer to see them subsidise e-bikes.

    In other weekly news it looks like Mt Albert local board including City Vision members are pushing back on Ockham plans at the old unitec site. One of the reasons was the same reason Beach Haven NIMBYs gave…’not enough large family homes’

  5. As much as Wayne Brown is the face of another impotent council, we all know that it is Matthew Hooten who is getting his glee from this debacle. Why on earth a person from our generation would be so keen to hasten the end of the world I cannot understand, we were all victims of circumstance but we must convert our pain into positivity, not kindergarten tantrums and tactics. An attack on the arts, public transport, bikes is basically fascism, capitalism has successfully blinded us to reality and now it wants to burn the evidence of its deceit. Wayne Brown is just a dodgy “businessman”, ala Donald Trump. Old, boring, as is most of the council. Generational change is long overdue but aside from Efeso Collins and Chloe Swarbrick, there is little energy for the political grind in the generation that really cares. We must defend our great city as we did in the 1940s, but with more rainbows and less camo-grey!

    1. Wayne got more votes.
      Its pretty simple really
      Mathew Hooten got the sale of Auckland Airport Company.
      So much winning. (/s)

  6. why did the NSW study of air pollution find fewer deaths than the recent NZ assessment? Mainly because the Australian research looked only at fine particles. It did not include nitrogen dioxide, which comes almost entirely from petrol and diesel vehicles. In New Zealand it has been estimated NO2 causes about 2000 premature deaths a year, almost twice the number linked to particulate pollution (which comes largely from home heating, as is the case in NSW).

  7. And there is also another piece of major infrastructure happening in the South of Auckland and worth $1.5billon but no talk of it about if it’s on budget and on time , And this is the replacement of rail and ballast and the Electrification of the Line between Papakura and Pukekohe ..

    And after filming over a month and 3 trips on the Te Hiua I create this showing some of the works that have been done and what they are in the process of doing to both the track bed , the pylons that have been installed and Station works at both Pukekohe and Peraata .

  8. The video of the laughing cyclist shows the biggest impediment to increasing cycle use. It’s the cyclists themselves and their arrogant attitude. Cyclists have this bizarre mentality that everyone is in the same situation as them. They are so blind to their own privilege. In this instance the hyena probably read the term car brain on some Green Party aligned propoganda blog and decided to repeat it without engaging his brain.

    Is the hyena so blind he does not realise that people who live elsewhere don’t have the same access to infrastructure? Does hyena not realise people live further away from their workplace than he? Does hyena not realise that a lot of people don’t work in the central city? Does the hyena realise a lot of people aren’t physically capable or riding an hour a day? Does the hyena not realise that some workplaces don’t have shower facilities? There are a multitude of reasons why people choose to drive.

    The second point I’ll raise is with regards to rates. I guess the cost of living crisis hasn’t hit the rich, white, middle age, green party loving sector of our society who frequent this blog. Let me summarise the situation for you – It’s not good. People in this city are having to make tough decisions as their budget is increasingly taken up with essentials.

    Demanding high rates increases to fund things like arts (the domain of the rich) is tone deaf to Auckland’s problems. Frankly it’s disgusting and shows just how disconnected this community is from the people of Auckland. Mayor Brown was elected in overwhelming fashion for a reason. Auckland desperately needs a change of direction and a council that prioritises core services and saves money.

    1. Well I wouldn’t have put it like that but I have doubts about the whole cycling thing as well. I went on the Takanini to Papakura cycleway in a sleight headwind and got overtaken by a runner it’s not for everyone that’s for sure. I consider myself pretty fit for my age and walk between 5000 and 10000 steps most days but I really struggle on a bike. I notice most cyclist in my neighbourhood like to cycle on the smooth concrete on the footpath rather the chip on the on road cycle lanes. I don’t mind them when I walk although I occasionally get a fright if one comes up from behind. I sometimes wonder if it wouldn’t be better to concentrate on public transport, cycling is spreading the budget too thinly to do both jobs at the same time. Also in many cases engineers are trying to fit cars, bikes, bus lanes and footpaths into the same space something has to give and I choose cycle lanes. I have thought about an e bike or scooter but I am happy with using walking and public transport to get about and I do not like the idea of leaving an expensive item lying about even if it is Chained up. So it’s not for me or 95 percent of the population I expect. Still I don’t even like leaving my car parked on the street either and feel happy knowing its safely parked up at home when I am out and about. I keep it the occasional big supermarket shop and the occasional visit to family who live remote from public transport.

    2. Auckland’s rates are about half that of lower hutt.

      On top of that, if the city switched to land value rating, over the long run people pay exactly zero extra over if the land rates were zero. The value of the rates is deducted from the value of the land, which people would then borrow less to buy. The net long term outcome is simply less interest paid to lenders.

      Obviously lower rates on improvements is good and sorely needed. But rates in general are vastly overhyped, mostly by people that own their own home outright, and are so out of touch with the reality of renting or paying a mortgage that rates is the largest housing cost they have. Rent and the interest costs from having to borrow 7+ times household income because homebuilding has been suppressed, largely because of rates suppression, is vastly, vastly higher than the rates themselves.

      The class war is almost exactly the opposite of what you are saying, the poorest renters have (or could have with a better rating system) exactly zero connection to rates costs even if those rates were 2 or 3 times. The loudest complainers are the wealthy but cash poor, and that is simply a mishandling of their money. Get a reverse mortgage, move, sell and rent, etc etc

    3. This response is so weird. The cost of car ownership is way more than city rates for most. Not to mention that lots of rates go to maintaining the roads that are necessary because we have too many cars. The proof is right there in the video that it’s faster and cheaper to get around on a bike. Of course not everyone has the same circumstances, but even if like 10% of those people in those cars were on bikes maybe that whole traffic situation wouldn’t have happened. How many times does it need to be pointed out that the more people use other modes and remove themselves from the traffic, the better it will be for those who have no choice other than drive?

      His laugh isn’t arrogant, it’s a laugh of despair at the state of our system that we can’t get the access of the infrastructure to everyone. It’s the laugh anyone on a bike has when they realise they have broken free of the ridiculous car system, how much time and money they wasted burning fuel idling in traffic, thinking they had to drive, when in fact they probably could have been biking for years and the difficulties were almost all in their imagination. When they realised that the showers thing isn’t that much of an issue after all, they don’t need to worry about parking that much any more, that they are suddenly feeling great from the exercise, that the car fuel tank goes from needing filling once a week to once a month. And the overwhelming sense of freedom getting out of the traffic!

      Honestly even if you never see yourself biking, if you really want to drive your car around freely without traffic and congestion, you should demand the city invests in other modes to get as many people off the road and out of your way.

      The discussion about rates and costs is odd as well. Property is disproportionately owned by the very people you are saying aren’t suffering hard times, rates increases should be expected to follow inflation. If you’ve ever had to see the cost of building a private road, installing power or installing a wastewater system, you might think twice about how good of a value and cheap our rates actually are. Brown has already proven his financial ability by losing $1mil of benifits to save $400k from pulling out of LGNZ. The proposed savings in rates are going to cost us way more in a pretty short time.

  9. “They are so blind to their own privilege”

    I wouldn’t use cycling/cyclists and privelege in the same sentence. Not in Auckland, anyway. But hey – you have to push your ideology I guess. But everyone who diagrees votes Green?

  10. On the bike + PT combo.
    This morning I rode the train from Sunnyvale to Britomart and noted that there are bike racks at both places. That has to count for a little progress combining bikes and trains.
    Also good to see the Western line is back to the standard 20 minute frequency during the day.
    But I don’t know why they are running 6 car trains on the weekend when a 3 car train should be enough for the number of pax I saw. They could be saving a lot of wear and tear by splitting trains for the weekend.

  11. ‘Currently, feedback is running heavily in favour of male, older, and Pākehā citizens ‘ how dare they voicing their opinions?!

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