It’s Friday again so here’s our latest roundup of stories that caught our eye this week.
The Week in Greater Auckland
- On Monday, Matt covered AT’s plan to close level-crossings on the rail network, starting with the walking/ biking ones that are handy to schools.
- On Wednesday, Matt looked at the opening of Auckland’s newest – and maybe last? – motorway, from Puhoi to Wellsford.
- On Thursday, Matt covered a rush of stories about the Auckland Light Rail project, including the mayor’s preference for surface-running, the resignation of the minister, and the most recent consultation outcome.
The Mayor on parking costs
Last week we wrote about the need to update parking fines, which haven’t changed in over 20 years. That same day, Mayor Wayne Brown went on Radio NZ’s Checkpoint about the same issue and said that the government should give the power to set fine levels to Auckland Council, that parking fines should increase, probably to starting at around $100.
Auckland’s mayor wants to lift the city’s parking fines to around $100, saying the current fines are far too low.
Wayne Brown also suggested people who use mobility parks without a permit deserved a punishment that could not be measured in dollars.
The current fines were set in the Land Transport (Offences and Penalties) Regulations 1999, and can be as little as $12.
“They want us all to reduce car use, but it’s only a $12 parking fine in Auckland if you’re not paying,” Brown told Checkpoint on Friday.
Yesterday, Business Desk ran another article following their interview with him. It seems the council are looking to develop a bill to submit to parliament hoping to get this changed.
Auckland council intends to develop a local bill to address issues like its inability to set higher parking fines, mayor Wayne Brown says. As it stands, roading control authorities like Auckland Transport can’t set fines higher than those prescribed in the Land Transport (Offences and Penalties) Regulations 1999.
“The mayor believes that the law should give Auckland council the power to locally address car parking issues – including the power to set parking fines and enforce parking bans on berms” Speaking generally, the intent of the draft bill or bills was to put Auckland back in control of the local transport system, the spokesman said.
Redesigning streets for kids…
A really promising story from the Waikato, where the Waipa District Council is working on a shared pathway in the town of Kihikihi, connecting local streets, schools, parks and shops. The Te Ara Rimu project is funded as a Transport Choice project, from the Climate Emergency Relief Fund.
So far it’s receiving great buy-in: the council says that in a March consultation, “Over half of you told us the new pathway would encourage you or your tamariki to walk or cycle more in Kihikihi and almost 90 percent of you supported installing safer low speeds zones around schools, in particular Kihikihi School.”
The next phase involves asking about a plan to transform six side streets into cul-de-sacs to ensure safer travels, especially for local tamariki.
“From a safety perspective, cul-de-sacs are critical because they will reduce the number of intersections on Rolleston and Whitmore Streets that path users have to cross. That’s really important, particularly for kids going to and from school.”
“Some people may resent the inconvenience of having to drive just that little bit further, even though we are talking very small distances. But from what we’ve seen elsewhere in the district, some people will be keen as mustard to live in a cul-de-sac street because they are quieter and tend to be safer places for kids and families.”
…and co-designing streets with kids
A nice story from Christchurch about a “design jam” with school children, for a Streets for People project that aims to make streets safer around a major school campus and cluster of nearby schools.
Chisnallwood Intermediate students say they talked as a team and decided what would make the community safer. “We came up with ideas to help our safety and other people’s safety on the roads.
“We noticed that footpaths aren’t wide enough, meaning you need to walk on the road if there’s too many people in a group. Some parents are worried to let their kids walk to school.”
St James School students say parents can be impatient and drivers don’t stick to the speed limit. “It’s not a racetrack so stop treating it like one.”
New York things
With City Council elections coming up in NYC, the Gotham Gazette looks at the two main issues facing their (and indeed, any) city:
“…the truth is, there are only really two things that matter to this whole city. If we get them right, everything else gets easier. If we ignore them, we are left struggling, trying to put band-aids on our problems. This is the simple recipe: First, more people should be able to live where they want to live. Second, more people should be able to get around without a private car.”
And some great eye-candy in this new “vision plan” for Union Square-14th Street, aimed at making it “the most welcoming and accessible place in New York”. Be sure to scroll down for some excellent before/ after sliders. (Wellington City Council uses this visual tool, too – how about some for Auckland, to help people see how good change can be?)
A bike ride with Bowie
Great long read from the Guardian about David Bowie’s “Life on Mars”, which turns 50 this week – written by a fellow who rather whimsically. rode the route from Ibiza to the Norfolk Broads, “pedalling 2,700 miles in search of a deeper understanding”:
My journey actually began not in Ibiza but the place the song did: the borough of Bromley. After huffing and puffing 13 miles across London, I wheeled through Croydon Road Recreation Ground to a rusting Edwardian bandstand. It had seen better days but it had also seen greatness, because this is where Bowie sat and wrote Life on Mars in 1971.
More biking around the place
Another day, another article by an e-bike convert sharing revelations of how it’s kinda the answer to many of our transport woes. This time, from Dan Kois in Slate:
Since I bought this fairly inexpensive transportation device in 2021, I’ve ridden hundreds upon hundreds of miles, each of them replacing a mile I would once have driven in a car. I’ve taken uncountable trips to the grocery store, and scores of rides to the office or the Metro or to meet friends for a night out. Freed from traffic and parking worries, faced with a ride in the fresh air rather than yet another trip in a car, I go out more. My suburb has come to feel like a place newly worth exploring.
My e-bike has changed my life. I’m happier, healthier, and more active. My relationship to my community has been completely transformed. I guess I’ve become an e-bike guy. You can, too.
Meanwhile in London: Rowena Mason writes in the Guardian about test-riding an electric cargo bike for the school run. Her conclusion, which would apply here, too:
The pull factors are the ease, fun and speed of travel, and the fact the children love it. The downsides are the price, parking and hassle if things go wrong. It feels like this type of cargo cycling is the future in cities – I think this really could replace a car, and be more enjoyable as a vehicle, for most local travel. But on a mass basis, this is only really going to happen as the cost comes down further.
So it’s also good to see people continuing to raise the idea of an e-bike subsidy here. This article from Tauranga features construction worker Kahn Day, who works for a company helping to build Tauranga’s cycleways. He tried riding an e-bike every day for a month, to understand the customer’s needs, and was won over:
“To experience it first-hand is a powerful tool in our planning, and now I choose to ride the bike over the car regularly.”
He found he could often reach destinations within the city faster than he would in the car, and found himself less stressed by avoiding congestion. He also liked that it produced zero emissions and contributed to cleaner air.
Much like buying a first car, Day advocated for others to consider e-bikes as a symbol of independence.
“In and around town, what’s the need for cars? Most cars only have one person driving in them from A to B. I’m not against cars but I think we need to make the most of this investment [cycleways] with our growing population. The roads should be left for the people that need them — tradies with their tools, ambulances and emergency vehicles, taxis, and Uber.”
New Cycling Action Plan just dropped…
Back in March, Waka Kotahi revealed their Cycling Action Plan – aimed at ungumming the works in order to fund deliver more, faster, better, in more places around the motu.
Now, London’s announced its follow-up Cycling Action Plan 2: Building on Success, aimed at, yes, building on the success of its original and transformative 2018 plan. The new plan wants London to become the best place in the world to cycle as well as a “greener, fairer city for everyone.” It has two key targets:
- Growing the number of daily cycle journeys to 1.6 million by 2030, a third more than the 1.2 million recorded in 2022.
- Ensuring that 40 percent of Londoners live within 400 meters of the Cycleway network by 2030, compared to the current level of 22 percent in 2022.
More coverage of the new plan here. Meanwhile, London’s cycle advocacy group is saying that given the growing climate emergency, it could afford to be even more ambitious.
The Los Angeles CRL
Last week Los Angeles opened their version of the City Rail Link, a tunnel that links up different lines on their light rail network through the middle of the city centre.
This has fundamentally changed their network as previously the A and E lines terminated at 7th St/Metro Center while the L Line was effectively a large C-shaped route. Now this has changed with the A & E lines through-routing to APU/Citrus College and Atlantic respectively.
And here’s advocates first impressions
While mentioning the CRL, here’s the latest drone video of the site at Maungawhau.
Tweets and threads of the week
This is great:
Incredible visualisation about why the government should fund e-bikes for everyone. https://t.co/718A20Kkli
— Ben G (@aotearoa_ben) June 19, 2023
Bike infrastructure saves lives:
— elyob (@elyob) June 17, 2023
Concrete tim-tams save houses:
It's a good thing the Local Board asked not to have protected cycleways installed. pic.twitter.com/MG9M1KDZDq
— Critical_Ass (@CriticalMassAKL) June 18, 2023
On Saturday, Onehunga line trains were mysteriously suspended. It seems the Te Huia ran a red light in front of an Onehunga Line service and damaged the tracks.
— John Gibbons (@think_or_swim) June 21, 2023