Wow, it’s the end of March already. Here are a few of the smaller items that caught our attention over the last week.

We need better trucks

Newsroom reported on a Ministry of Transport report showing just how dirty our current truck fleet is.

A heavy diesel truck costs society $1 in health and productivity losses due to air pollution for every kilometre it drives, Marc Daalder reports

A report quietly released by the Ministry of Transport in July shows tighter regulation of vehicle imports for air pollution could save society billions of dollars over the next three decades.

If New Zealand implemented a requirement that new vehicle imports meet Euro 6/VI air pollution standards, the costs would run to between $22 million and $236m but the benefits would be between $1.1b and $8.3b.

As it stands, less than one in five new vehicles entering the fleet meets the Euro 6/VI standard and they make up just 3 percent of the overall fleet. Baseline projections indicate Euro 6/VI will continue to make up a minority of new imports until 2028 or later.

It’s not the bike lanes fault

It seems it’s not only drivers along Upper Harbour Dr (UHD) that have trouble with barriers. Jalopnik ran this article after incident to UHD in Vancouver.

In the case of cyclists and pedestrians, sure, it’s possible to construct a hypothetical scenario where they might get hit while doing something that makes it entirely their fault. But not bike lane barriers and traffic calming measures. They’re just sitting there. Not moving. Completely stationary. Asking drivers to avoid hitting them is like asking drivers to avoid hitting buildings. It’s nothing more than a basic requirement for being allowed to drive on public roads.

If that’s too much to ask, then maybe it’s time for the state to take your driver’s license away. Oh, you live in a suburban hellscape and can’t get around without a car? Too bad. Stay home and have your groceries delivered until you can prove to society that you can be trusted behind the wheel again. Or take the bus. Sorry if you think you’re too good for public transportation. You’re clearly not good enough at driving to have a license, so suck it up, buttercup. That barrier you hit could have been someone’s child.

Parking Space

Images of the space dedicated to parking.

Here’s Auckland

CRL Footage

Who doesn’t love a bit of CRL footage

And a timelapse from the Maungawhau tunnel portal

We need more women involved in designing our cities

It’s long been established that our cities would be much better if women had a greater say in how they were designed. Here’s the latest on it.

Our new study, published over the weekend, found that women experience gendered barriers to riding a bike compared with men. This includes a lack of supportive infrastructure, such as bike paths or protected lanes, to make them feel safer in traffic.

We found involving women in decisions about implementing new bike infrastructure, as well as expanding the use of e-bikes through financial incentives, are key to getting more women on the road.


Women take different kinds of trips and ride different bikes from men. Women also have different preferences for biking infrastructure that makes them feel safe and comfortable.

And yet, when it comes to creating spaces for people to bikes in cities, women do not have a clear seat at the table.

Kiwis like the Clean Car Discount

Despite the attempted culture war over it a few years ago, it seems most Kiwis support the government’s Clean Car Discount scheme. Newsroom reports:

The Government’s Clean Car policies are broadly popular, a new survey of 1000 adults commissioned by EV industry group Drive Electric suggests.

More people support than oppose the Clean Car Discount (also known as the feebate scheme or derogatively as the “ute tax”), including voters from all Parliamentary parties other than ACT. The Clean Car Standard, which requires vehicle importers to reduce the average emissions of their imports or pay a fine, was supported across the board.

Despite this support, I wonder if it would have survived the recent policy purge by the government if it was still in the implementation phase when rather than being already established.

London’s SuperLoop

London are creating a network of frequent express buses linking up many of the outer suburbs. This does sound a little bit similar to the bus improvements to the Northwest, which while not perfect, is something that should be rolled out to other corridors too, before more dedicated infrastructure can be built.

Is NZ going tunnel crazy?

If you think that another Waitemata Harbour Crossing at an estimated $15-25 billion wasn’t expensive enough, Stuff asked if we should tunnel under the Cook Straight and it seems many people agree, with (at the time of writing this) 68% in support from over 11k votes.

A few final Tweets

E-bikes work

Lastly, enjoy a great little video feature about an e-bike trial run in partnership with a marae in Wainuiomata. The personal stories are a joy, and make a pretty great case for rolling out bike libraries and subsidies anywhere we can.

Have a great weekend.

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  1. The tunnel question didn’t ask whether they – individually – wanted to donate nearly 10,000 dollars each to get NZ a tunnel under the Cook Strait.

    I wonder whether the answer % might just have been weighed a little bit different if that had been in the question.

    1. I’m up for a Cook Strait tunnel. It would be a large productivity boost. Users would pay a toll so it wouldn’t all be taxpayers and fuel excise tax.
      All sorts of issues through – fault lines for a rock tunnel, strong tides & faults for a floating tunnel.

      1. Productivity? The future of work is not shipping people and goods. Digital, creative and social infrastructure will be more crucial to our success.

        Let’s build infrastructure for the future it will inhabit, not the past of our memories and assumptions.

        1. We will still need to carry goods around. Lots of good. We will still travel ourselves.

          But the solution for a small, low-density country like ours is to buy a few more bad-weather capable ferries. Not spend money like we are the European Union or Japan which has a massively larger tax base to get the money, and a massively larger economy to use the benefits of such large-scale infra works.

          Japan has a population 25 times of ours, in a country of similar size. They can (sort of) afford a few mega tunnels. And even they only did much of their works programmes as a (pretty explicit) subsidy to their construction industry.

        2. Norway does not have any volcanoes or earthquakes and has lots of money from exporting oil and gas. Their GDP per person is 89 000 USD (4th ranked in the world), New Zealand’s is 48 300 USD per person. Surprisingly (to me) though, the Norway’s population density is less than New Zealand’s.

        3. Doesn’t work that way or only if you also agree to pay city workers, teachers etc. half the pay they receive in Norway.

    2. If we could get a tunnel built like japan for 10b, that would be amazing. But in all honesty it would be much more. However, if they make a fully integrated rail project nz wide, and do a tunnel as part of rail only. That would be amazing.

      You can still carry cars by rail comfortably. Imagine an overnight train for Auckland to Dunedin!

    3. It is only someone completely stupid that would even ask the question “should we have a tunnel under the Cook Strait”, let alone take it seriously enough to answer it. The question pops up each year, usually from the dumbest junior reporter, who hasn’t got a single shred of intelligence. You may as well ask, should we have a tunnel to Sydney.

      Issues, obviously, with depth of Cook Strait being more than twice the depth of the Channel and much more rocky; the rock being heavily fractured greywacke under some of the roughest seas in the world, compared with the cheesey chalk and shallow waters of the Channel, so easy to dig through; the multiple faults and fracture planes of the Strait on the edge of two massive continental plates that we know are moving and are well overdue for a significant vertical and horizontal violent adjustment, vs a placid and quake free location that you could walk over at the last ice age; and the cost, which almost drove two of the largest economies in Europe to the edge of disaster, vs a pip-squeak economy that only makes money from selling milk, cheese and logs of wood, or tourists taking photos of hobbits. If a tunnel under Auckland Harbour could cost $25 billion, a tunnel under Cook Strait would not only be physically impossible, but financially it might soak up a couple of hundred billion before they gave up trying. Just don’t even go there.

      The next time someone brings this up in conversation, leave immediately, because they are an idiot.

      1. While I understand your skepticism, everyone has different levels of knowledge about various topics. Someone who brings up the idea isnt aware of the numerous challenges of such a project. Perhaps instead of dismissing them as unintelligent, we can use these opportunities to educate.

        1. Thanks Clare – while I would view that as a reasonable excuse for the public to have such a view (the Stuff opinion poll is currently running at about 7,830 people saying Yes to a tunnel vs 3,685 people who say No), I still have expectations from Journalists who write for newspapers (no name on this piece) who should know that they need to do RESEARCH into things before they commit to print. Or is that just me being hopelessly naive to expect that?

  2. Best thing to happen this week was The Beths doing the Tiny Desk Concert on NPR. A bit off topic but I am an expert in a dying field so it should be allowed. Put your headphones on for 20 minutes.

    1. Miffy – did you catch the Beths doing a live set at Slow Boat in Wellington a couple of years ago? Very similar format – sitting round in a tiny space with lots of records and that lovely voice (no room for drums from what I can remember) – nicest surprise ever on my lunchtime stroll, as it was before they had really made their name.

  3. completely aside from the emisisons question, we should be asking serious questions about the safety of our urban truck fleet. Side under-run protection (to stop people ending up under the wheels of a truck) is *still* not required for heavy trucks. We should also look into implementing London’s Direct Vision Standards for trucks accessing areas where significant number of pedestrians and cyclists are expected:

    and that’s not even getting into the fact that the WorkSafe should be holding trucking companies to the same standards as other businesses: “to eliminate risks to health and safety, so far as is reasonably practicable” – that means no driving on the footpath, no unloading trucks in live traffic lanes and no scheduling that leaves drivers tired and overworked.

    1. But how will they make a profit if they can’t be left alone to exploit people and the environment ? (See also: fruit picking, seafood, dairy, forestry etc etc etc)

      1. One thing to keep in mind – not an excuse, but need to keep in mind – is that the VAST MAJORITY of our trucking fleet – including the “big brands” you see on the road, is actually small contractors with 1-2 trucks.

        This was raised at the last Engineering NZ transport conference in Auckland as a big barrier to decarbonising our truck fleet.

        These are people who mortgage their house etc to buy a new truck. They may have the big name company signs on their trucks, but are technically independent (the logistic sector’s version of Uber – except the public knows even less about it).

        So that is part of the reason why there’s a lot of resistance to upgrading the truck fleet. These *individuals* are worried that they might have to do costly works upgrading their trucks or find their truck they just are managing to pay off suddenly is not legal anymore.

        Capitalism always finds a way to push things down the chain. Even for costs that in theory they could just charge on – even if our society decided that, say 1-2% higher freight costs would be okay for a safer truck fleet, and that this cost is in theory spread across everyone at a fair rate as it would apply to any (road) logistics company… in practice, you will find a lot of angst, which then flows back up in terms of protests and lobbying against improvement. It’s pretty dire.

        1. Trucks don’t last forever. At least bring in rules for new trucks. We shouldn’t be a poor cousin to standards adopted in other parts of the 1st world.
          And bring in emissions testing as part of WOF. Vehicles should at least be maintained to the standards applicable for when they were built. Many diesels on the road are obviously in a poor state of repair, the drivers likely oblivious to it. Emissions testing happens in all other 1st world countries, and many others like china.

        2. Yes – we have a number of big named company trucks that are parked up overnight on our local streets – outside the driver’s homes obviously. The franchising of these roles alongside those in construction industry push so much of the costs down onto others

  4. If you think trucks are bad, wait until Newsroom finds out about the pollution rating of Kiwirail’s diesel locos. Most are so bad they don’t meet any standard at all, even the more up to date DL’s are only Euro 3 rated.

    1. It’s pretty insane aye. At least the new south island locos are going to be Euro 5. Which is something I guess.
      I was at the Warehouse Riccarton the other day and a breeze was blowing from the south. They had 4 or so locos idling there and the air quality was very poor. Would not want to work there.

  5. The 20 trees planned for Te Hā Noa, Victoria St will be natives.
    Our unique NZ native trees are highly threatened and must be used more.

    1. Yeah used more where they are going to thrive aka forrests, bush, coasts, gardens…not where they wither and die aka polluted City Centre.

      1. Totally agree Joe – our wonderful trees are forest trees, and need / want / require the support of their various sized relatives around them in a thick dense bush, not designed to stand on their own in the grimy urban environment. Planting native trees in Victoria Street may work, or it may not, but it will have no effect on saving them from being “threatened”. There are other trees, mainly from the Northern hemisphere, which are deciduous, and are much better suited to life in the urban realm.

  6. I attended the Bike Auckland Event at Gribblehirst Hub last night, by far the most convince speaker was Cr Julie Fairey. This proves the importance of Mana Wahine, that more women must be involved in planning because they create safer places for all, being amongst the vulnerable sectors of society. There is too much save the cars in those discussions, rather than save our communities that are too often dissected by polluted rivers of rockets sometimes referred to as cars or SUVs or utes. Women, public transport, kids, disabled, Trans Liberation Alliance should all have a greater say in Transport Design. There are too many cis Pakeha retirement age people speaking about their past conquests, rather than true future visionaries like Efeso Collins. Our conversations need to be about educating humans away from their utter and total reliance, devotion and religious dedication to the machines that anti socialise us, while murdering those outside of them, albeit slowly. The City Centre is a truly positive light but it is still strange the amount of design just to allow cars, and largely drivers that do not contribute positively to Queen St, to keep Queen St a frustratingly slow rat run. As all international planning indicates, we are all pedestrians first, and if we can redesign our cities with community connections in mind, the private motor vehicle may finally become a debatable subject for retirement. If not now, then when?

  7. Greater Auckland readers might enjoy this weeks episode (4) of Jet lag the board game (4 people race round NZ as a real live board game). They reached Auckland. Spoiler alert- one team tried using bikes

  8. I rode the upper harbour route a few days ago. If car drivers can’t manage to not hit the cycle lane barriers, then they shouldn’t be allowed to drive on the motorway, as the lanes are about the same width.

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