Welcome to the end of another short week. Hope your Easter break was restful and that those of you with school holidays in the mix are having a good time.

Our header image this week is Tiffany Robinson and her e-trike on the Quay St cycleway, from this story in Momentum magazine.

The Week in Greater Auckland

Just two posts this week, cos it was a short one:

More bus crisis reporting

Last week we covered the start of a great series of articles by RNZ data Journalist Farah Hancock on the bus crisis. Since that post there have been a number of other interesting articles, including:

Somewhat related

This story from New South Wales, which provokes us to wonder what the situation is in Auckland. Bus companies are meant to be charged penalties for not achieving their contracts – but the impression we get is that AT are not even enforcing contracts, perhaps out of fear there’ll be no bus companies left to operate services if they were charged for all the cancelled and late services. That’s… sub-optimal.

A Lesson from Ohio?

Many people have long dreamed of the idea of capping the Central Motorway Junction, i.e. putting a lid on it so you could build things over the top and return all that land to usefulness.

That would obviously be a massive challenge, but perhaps as an interim step we could do something like this, from Columbus, Ohio.

A prime candidate for this kind of development would surely be at Karangahape Rd, reconnecting the two sides of the community like it was before the motorway was bulldozed through here.

Are there other good examples of this type of outcome? And where else would be good to apply this kind of development?

A lesson in Temporary Traffic Management

The sight of cones on our road network is a fact of life. For a driver it can be frustrating but far too common it can be dangerous for pedestrians and cyclists due to temporary traffic signage blocking footpaths and/or cycle lanes .

Traffic signs blocking the footpath taking on my way to Pt Chev

Here’s an idea from Melbourne for doing it a bit better:

What a transformation

We can’t get enough of before-and-afters of streets. Perhaps because they remind us of the masses of low-hanging fruit across Auckland when it comes to making everyday life better for people.

And from above:

Marsden Point Rail Spur

In 2021 the government included a rail link to Marsden Point in their NZ Upgrade Programme plans. It seems a business case has finally been completed.

A new rail link to Northland’s Marsden Point is now one step closer, with a detailed business case being progressed by KiwiRail.

It is now up to Government ministers to give the final green light to the project, even though the total costs are not publicly known.

The 19km rail link will connect Whangārei’s port, Northport, with the existing North Auckland Line at Oakleigh, unlocking the port to deliver more of the country’s goods.

Given what we’ve seen happen to costs on other projects in recent years, the worry is this will be very very expensive.

Also, while we’re not fans of the current light rail thinking, it’s odd to see Auckland’s mayor advocating for the government to take money off Auckland for a project in a different part of the country:

Brown recently said the Government needed a “big prod” to finish the last 20km of rail to Northport, shifting its focus from light rail to enable the project to happen.

Bikes are brilliant

And so are trikes! Here’s a great read from Momentum magazine about the rise of the adult three-wheeler, for those who demand a little more steadiness in their ride – featuring a local voice:

“I looked at getting a two-wheeler but realised I’m really not comfortable balancing on a two-wheeler, particularly when taking off at a traffic light in an on-road situation,” said Tiffany Robinson, from Auckland, New Zealand. “So rather than waiting until I was comfortable, I went for the e-trike. Zero barrier to entry for me when it came to riding on-road.”

Also, brilliant to see Councillor Angela Dalton discovering the joys of e-bikes.

And scooters continue to rock, even after Paris decided to ban them: check out this fellow and his epic scoot-quaxing!

The sound of silence

Cities are noisy (and mostly because cars are loud), to the point of being harmful to those who live there. Meanwhile, in Tokyo, do you hear that?

And speaking of the sound of silence: while some EV manufacturers add engine noise to their vehicles for safety reasons, here’s a different approach:

Tweets and Twitter thread of the week

Excellent to see Councillors out and about, consciously experiencing all the different ways Aucklanders want to get around. Question: is this good news for the much-delayed Great North Road improvements?

(If/ when that project finally gets underway, it’ll be the first of AT’s long-promised integrated corridors programme to stride off the page and into real life, after half a decade of work at considerable cost. Finally some bang for buck!)

Love this energy:

Phwoar, just phwoar:

A great read on the opportunities for decarbonising transport, and the balance between everyday short trips, and the once-in-a-while long trips.

The short version: short trips are in many ways easier for people to swap to low-carbon options… as long as cities make the investments to make them possible. While long-distance trips make up more of an individual’s transport carbon budget, and require bigger nationwide investment to decarbonise.

A jolt of inspiration from one of our favourite mayors out there:

Lastly, a little glimpse of progress along the lines…

That’s it for us this week, keeping it short and sweet – there’s always lots of other things to report, but for now we’re keeping our eye on the good news. Feel free to drop other links in the comments. Have a good weekend.

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  1. The Mayor pushes for the rail spur to Marsden so that all the used cars parked on the wharves at Port of Auckland can be removed, and perhaps some of the other freight diverted too, and it increases resilience in case of problems at our port like during covid. i.e. its in Auckland’s interests.
    Kiwirail will have to pay for it, so no burden for Auckland Council. I thought it had already been funded out of Shane’s billion dollar provincial fund years ago. I struggle to understand why it should take so long to build a simple rail spur across farmland.

    1. Was going to make the same point. And Wayne needs to know how to go for small wins with big impact.

      Just moving the car storage from the Port and getting that wharf back would be a big result. Moving the whole thing will be challenging.

      1. That makes sense. Trying to argue it’s a reason for why we should not do LRT is not. That’s just using it as an excuse.

  2. The problem with rebuilding shopfronts along the K Road overbridge is that it would ruin the beautiful views out to sea.

    Which reminds me of the failed “Karangahape Plaza” project of the 80s…

    1. Not like we don’t have enough sea views though, we are literally surrounded by water.

      That said with the capping of the motorway I’d rather see some green space and pocket parks and walkways likning up to Newton/Basque Park and Freemans Bay..

      1. Just have a proper ramp down onto the Lightpath shared path, with a triangular opening viewshaft to the AHB. Auckland is the master of creating and maintaining unnecessary viewshafts, if we agree that one is actually desirable, we can always do it via building forms, rather than trying to fix the future by silly laws passed now.

    2. Require a mid bridge through route to a public balcony and viewing platform. It would also make a good location for some hospitality venues. There should also be a lift up to K Road from the Lightpath.

    3. Do it like Rialto in Venice, you can walk along the bridge on both sides of the shops for great views. Have hospo venues using the outer zone so diners get an actual pleasant outdoor experience rather than sitting in traffic. The only blocked view is for car drivers.

  3. Traffic noise pollution throughout Auckland will be having an enormous negative effect on everyone’s health.

    I’m in a “quiet street”, but the reduction in traffic noise over Easter saw me sleeping in until 9:30 and 11:30 – really rare for me. The difference is huge between cars going past at 20 km/hr and those going past at 40 or 50. The speed limits in the area have just changed to 30 km/hr, which is having some effect – but many drivers seem to think if they’re leaving to go to work early and there aren’t many people around that the limit doesn’t apply.

    I’d like to see AT providing resources for residents, like leaflets they could put in their street’s letterboxes, reminding people that the speed limit is 24/7 and that there are benefits to the lower speeds, like reduced noise, that they may not have thought about.

    1. I live on a main street which also happens to have a lot of houses and apartments. Loud exhausts and sound systems are nothing new, but there seems to be an epidemic of particularly extreme ones happening now. There is actually a legal noise limit – how do these cars get their WOF’s and manage to escape any police attention? I’m talking straight pipes with mufflers and catalytic converters removed backfiring down the road. And woofers shaking the crockery 6 units back from the street.

      Add to that the speed limit is still 50 in a shopping street with lots of pedestrians and plans for more high density accommodation, something has to give. Suburb in question was the one with the LTN disaster and light rail plan that seems to have morphed into a heavy freight rail corridor. I’m trying to get my head around how what is one of the most vibrant Auckland centers with the potential to be a real walkable urban community seems to fight really hard to keep it’s worst aspects.

      1. As a resident of the same suburb, I feel like you’ve really hit the nail on the head with that last sentence. 30km/h down the main drag, add raised table 4-way crossing roundabouts and it’d make such a big improvement (let alone doing more significant pedestrianisation works)

  4. I was looking at the map of the Marsden Point rail spur and I was reminded that the Whangarei District Council was recently looking for sites to move the local airport. The flat area near Marsden Point was one of the options. Seeing the proposed rail spur it struck me that Whangarei could have rail to their (new) airport quite easily and cheaply; and get it before rail gets to either of Auckland or Wellington airports.
    Unfortunately they have picked a site on the opposite side of the city for the new airport.

  5. Saw this on you tube from RM Transit , he brings up the LR Tunnel under the Harbour at around the 11min mark ;-

    1. Wish he was in charge of the project. Rather than spending billions on a tunnel under the Harbour and then putting the smallest slowest vehicle we can in it.
      Light rail on a bridge is OK. As it seems more reasonable in terms of cost but not light rail in a tunnel.

      1. “not light rail in a tunnel.”

        Sigh. Tunnel or not tunnel, but please stop trying to propagandise that LRT is the “smallest, slowest” vehicle possible. Not buying it. LRT the world over CAN be fast, and capacious. Just because some Councils decide to put it on slow tracks shared with cars, or choose the smallest possible vehicles doesn’t mean LRT can’t move absolutely massive amounts of people at the whoosh kind of speeds that car manufacturers only claim in their driving ads.

    2. The video mentions Auckland at 9m 23s (not 11 min). The thing finishes at the 11 min mark! Some very pertinent points for Auckland though.

  6. I recall a proposal many years ago to create a large pedestrian plaza over the lower end of Grafton Gully/Stanley St. This was linked with an idea for turning Carlaw Park into a stadium for the Rucgby World Cup.

  7. Two years for a business case for a 19 km rail spur that everyone agrees should be built? TWO YEARS?

    In two years Kiwirail could have built and opened the line, with trains trundling up and down the country.

    And now there needs to be ANOTHER business case? When the money has already been allocated??

    By this point they might have just finished all the requisite business cases by the year 2143. Then there can be another business case….

  8. https://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/auckland-mayor-wayne-brown-takes-potshots-at-the-citys-business-elite-and-fires-up-over-road-cones-in-the-central-city/NRIHSWTN25AT5L5W3F2DQWIILA/
    Some interesting observations from our mayor at the Northern Club. Have to agree with him on CLR and Harbour Crossing, they are “not real” and just imaginings. He even managed to ridicule Tommy Parker over CRL, and let’s face it,the Harbour Crossing announcement was to shift the political narrative away from Stuart Nash.

    Not quite so sure about his theory,that traffic management, outside building sites, can be scaled up and down,to suit the activity on the site,have to imagine it would be very complex to manage,would suit the consultants and contractor’s though.

    1. I only wished he’d asked Tommy Parker if he still thought no buslanes as part of the NW Motorway upgrade was the right idea.

    2. I think him speaking at the Northern Club but failing to turn up to anything else sort of says it all really. What is he on about with the road cones anyway, now that is a distraction

    3. He gets so close to what the problem is with TTM… the whole thing would be clarified if he was taken in hand by someone skilled in showing him how to see the world through the eyes of people who are currently disadvantaged, and that TTM as currently practised takes a substandard network and makes it outright lethal. Then the real issues he’s already identified could be solved in a holistic, people-focused way.

  9. That scooter-guy with the dangling shopping bags. . . It’s a whole lot easier just to stuff it all into a big backpack and bike home with it. This is how I do most of my shopping. And if need be, a 10Kg sack of potatoes can be slung from the handlebars, though I wouldn’t be riding on the road in this condition.

    1. Carrying groceries in a backpack rather than in plastic bags on a human coat stand would be easier and safer as well as better for the environment. I felt tired just watching him arrange hooks and hang bags before he scooted off.

  10. I have been thinking for some time that road work signage needs considerable revision. There should be few reasons to take footpath space to announce work on the vehicle space. Pedestrians shouldn’t loose space in a potentially unsafe and arbitrary way that happens currently. I have even observed a works sign on the footpath at Newmarket rotated sideways edge on to pedestrians when works are not underway – a perfect way to slice open a passing walker. Also the idiotic “Footpath closed. Please use other side” sign plonked down on a busy road with zero provision to actually cross. Clearly needs sorting however it seems Worksafe don’t have the will to do anything about it.

    1. Yes, as long as it ticks all the boxes in the Code of Practice for Temporary Traffic Management, then it’s ok. Even if it obviously isn’t.

      1. Arguable, the COPTTM says that those “use the other side” signs should lead to a suitable crossing.

        But then, when I first got trained on COPTTM some 10+ years ago, it also said that where a cycle lane is removed by a works site, a suitable alternative cycle facility should be provided.

        In practice, works like on Carlton Gore Road for a new office building can take a way a cycle lane for 3+ years running now, with no replacement, just shunting people on bikes into the road for literally years, so the office building gets a truck loading zone on the road.

        As long as there aren’t clear minimum standards and/or Council approvers that REQUIRE appropriate safety, having some positive statements in the guidelines doesn’t change anything.

  11. The video mentions Auckland at 9m 23s (not 11 min). The thing finishes at the 11 min mark! Some very pertinent points for Auckland though.

  12. Really like the idea of commercial bridges for Newton rebirth.

    The newton rd bridge is a really awkward place today (and most motorway overpasses are)

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