It’s Friday again so here’s our latest roundup of stories that caught our eye this week.

The Week in Greater Auckland

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:

  1. Growing the number of daily cycle journeys to 1.6 million by 2030, a third more than the 1.2 million recorded in 2022.
  2. 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:

Bike infrastructure saves lives:

Concrete tim-tams save houses:

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.

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  1. Looking at the LA route map, I’m struck by the fact that both the light rail and busway routes share the same route nomenclature. This is something that I’ve long thought should apply to Auckland’s (semi-)rapid network. I look forward to the day when Auckland recognises its “MetroExpress” (or whatever name could be adopted) network as a unity, consisting of the following:

    D Line – North Shore-City-Dominion Rd-Airport
    E Line – Ellerslie-Panmure-Busway-Botany-Manukau
    G Line – West Auckland-Grafton-Otahuhu
    H Line – New Lynn-Hillsborough-Airport (24/7 bus lanes, limited stop)
    K Line – Downtown to Kumeu (well, Westgate to start, but surely Kumeu deserves some love given the traffic on SH16)
    N Line – Downtown to Orewa/Whangaparaoa
    S Line – Pukekohe/Manukau to CRL
    U Line – Henderson-Westgate-Upper Harbour-Constellation (24/7 bus lanes, limited stop)
    W line – Onehunga-CRL-Swanson (and to Kumeu one day?)

    All of these routes have been postulated as part of a high-level network, but we still have this unhealthy obsession with mode, rather than passenger convenience. The success of the Northern Busway shows that it’s mainly politicians and transport geeks who obsess over light rail vs heavy rail vs express buses. The public at large mostly just want a service that operates faster than a car in peak traffic at a walk-up frequency.

    I’m bemused by the apparent lack of awareness of AT to the marketing benefits of a “one-strategic-network-irrespective-of-mode” approach. By failing to look on the strategic network as a unity, AT is playing into the hands of the mode-obsessed.

    What this city desperately needs is a real network that includes “rapid” crosstown routes with easy transfers between lines at suburban nodes at New Lynn, Manukau, Ellerslie, Henderson and Constellation. This would address the excuses used by so many potential passengers that the current system “doesn’t go where I need to go”. Much of this could be achieved at minimal cost by forgetting about mode and focusing on what passengers actually need. And doing it right now. After all, we have a climate emergency. Don’t we?

    1. A agree, AT effectively have a marketing issue, they are making their product much harder to consume than it should be. Most Aucklanders wouldn’t have a clue where their local bus route is or where it goes to. Focus on some core routes and make them as good as possible rather than only focusing on trains and leaving buses to be for hardcore users only.

  2. I’m surprised trains can run red lights. Surely the brakes should be applied automatically so it can’t happen? How many people could this have killed?
    Similarly I’m surprised that there weren’t concrete barriers protecting the central column of the Bremner Rd overbridge of the southern motorway, that would have prevented the truck hitting it head on on Wednesday.

    1. The Auckland EMUs can’t run reds, they will always come to a stop before the light. But I think the story is that legacy locos that kiwirail are using for Te Huia / freight can as they dont have the correct equipment.

    2. Bremner Road had metal guardrails around the central pillers, based on Streetview. On on some crash photos I saw in the news it looked like they had been smashed (they do flex, and obviously the heavy truck was too much for them – they got deflected too far, and the poor guy’s cab rammed the pillar, I’d expect).

  3. Cool cul-de-sacs are ok again. Remember when all those urban design twits were trying to stop us building them and were even trying to join them up in Manukau?

    1. big difference between LTN ‘cul de sacs’ that are still thoroughfares as long as you aren’t in a car, and true cul de sacs that are dead ends for everything (I assume this is what the Manukau ones you refer to are). The latter still sucks.

  4. Re “All of these routes have been postulated as part of a high-level network, but we still have this unhealthy obsession with mode, rather than passenger convenience.” I have to agree with this statement. The reasons for this are unnecessarily complex.
    Recently I used the new shared pathways from Olympic Park traveling towards AK CBD. It was a good experience ALBEIT in fine weather; with some BIG BUTS…
    While these shared use pathways is are good feature its location is a example of doubling up on services while neglecting vital components for users. It is also an issue that the style of public discussion around AT’s and ACC’s approach to resolving the issues is manufacturing contention when none belongs.
    Auckland’s transport infrastructure planners whine on about the woes of climate change, and the need to cut down on combustible engine vehicle use, but also seem oblivious of the fact that modern micro-mobility vehicles, including cycle technology exists. [Sadly] as such these town planners and service providers are having to be dragged kicking and screaming into the 21st Century on the matter.
    As a micro-mobility vehicle user, my biggest challenge when using such infrastructure is the rough neglected pathways I have to take getting out of my own street and locality to these shared pathways, and about the wear and tear my equipment suffers. I live on a short side street. It is understandable that this is not a priority to upgrade, and to be fair, the local street pavement has been upgraded, but in a limited capacity, only to the local shops, where it stops.
    The pathway to get to the nearest usable rail and bus station is horrible! Full of broken pavers, tree roots, and concealed driveways which make it a nightmare to use, especially on weekends and in rush hours. After that the best infrastructure is located on an adjacent trajectory to existing rail services.
    This is fine except that it the becomes a matter of not using the new infrastructure but using the excellent rail service which includes being able to carry my bike into a specially provided train carriage.
    Further to adding the commuter cyclists’ inconvenience is the policy of discontinuing rail services to cycle carrying passengers at key times, like rush hour on public transit routes, or where the desire for ‘recreational use’ will be maximized eg extending service cancellation over the entire Christmas and New Year summer school holiday months. Added to this is finding I am unable to fully use the cycle ways because even if I did use the officially provided parking at the rail station, the opportunities to recharge my bike at my destination point so as not to get stranded with a flat battery on the return journey, are limited. This neatly removes the option to use the new infrastructure and ride my bike for the whole journey.
    It is also a bad idea to insist micro-mobility devices and ebikes and also baby carriages be ‘foldable’ as a condition of boarding buses. For ebikes and micro-mobility devices, overuse of ‘folding’ joints in cycle and mobility device frames negatively affects the life and safety of the device for the user, ‘Folding’ requirements are often of benefit to everyone except the user. I have yet to see a baby carriage able to ‘fold’ with a baby in it or buses provide specialty child-safe seating.
    Bike and baby carriage carrying services for bus passengers were provided up until the early 1990s in Auckland. These devices rarely ‘folded’ at that time but this was not a issue. AT seems to have developed Alzheimers on this issue.
    Mixing service locations for motorists and ebike/micro-mobility users is a bad idea.
    Not to be outdone is the oftentimes inconvenient positioning of the installed cycle parking posts… mostly right next to the curbs where careless motorists can run over them or in some instances easily loiter long enough to break the locks and steal the machines because of the handy place provided alongside, for bike thieves to park a van or trailer and drive off with their bounty. I’m sure the local thieves and vandals will give thanks to the installers of this infrastructure…Not to mention having to choke on exhaust fumes and get soaking wet in bad weather loading your purchases and unhooking your machine before being able to ride off. That is if you haven’t already been hit by a motorist who ‘didn’t see you’, or verbally assaulted by a angry pedestrian for using ‘their’ pavement… Services for motorists are incompatible and sometimes unsafe to use alongside those ebike and micro-mobility riders use. Micro-mobility and cycle users services should be close to or inside entrances to shopping centers. But the bike parking can take pride of place for the photo opportunities on local tourist brochures and posters…..
    Due to locating parking services for cycles and mobility devices in motorists parking areas, and some distance from shops and businesses, cyclists and micro-mobility users often find themselves tying their machines up to drainpipes, park benches fences and other ad-hoc sidewalk flotsam in desperation, to have their vehicle handy to use when it matters to them most. This matter is especially pertinent for the increasing number of people who use their machines to meet a mild to moderate mobility issue.
    Its a matter of great idea BUT STUPIDITY in APPLICATION, combined with ‘hostile’ service delivery. The best example of this is the design of infrastructure at major rail hubs. You can park safely at the rail station AFTER YOU AND YOUR BIKE HAVE BEEN CARRIED ALONG by rail for THE MAJOR PART OF YOUR JOURNEY, only to be obliged to park your machine at the station, and WALK the rest of the way carrying your purchases. Afterwards, you WALK back to your vehicle and ride the rail to return, where you again tackle the poorly maintained rough goat tracks called suburban pavements, knowing that the reason this is happening is because the funding has been swallowed up on mindless ‘consultations’ producing useless to use ‘showcase ready’ infrastructure and politically correct media based ‘skite ready’ [free] services.
    Adding fuel to the public stigma associated with ebike/micro-mobility users is the lack of obligations imposed on escooter/ebike hire services to establish and use safe/designated parking for their vehicles. Why are these not confiscated by traffic if left lying on pavements or blocking walkways, while motor vehicles owners are ticketed for similar offenses? This further discredits ebikes and micro-mobility users as irresponsible.
    There are a few businesses which do provide some services, usually limited to parking.
    A pathway for funding provided for installing bike and micro-mobility infrastructure and services would be to subsidize local businesses to provide customer micro-mobility and Ebike parking, particularly covered and indoor shop-site parking, [often called ‘bike valet’ services] with access to power charging points. Most medium sized and large shopping centers are well adapted to provide this service, but currently lack practical opportunity or lack motivation for both political and cultural reasons, neither will NZ public transport services – with the exception of some [limited] rail services.
    Mainstream bus services are particularly hostile in Auckland and are petulantly refusing to examine ways in which they could provide such services in the rapidly changing urban transport service business environment. Currently at AT their preferred passenger is the business commuter, and student. Passengers needs outside this perimeter are unwanted customers and providing for their needs are ignored, or only grudgingly provided under duress, in their core service provision plans.
    These services need not necessarily be provided free of charge by providers. [link]
    Arguments proposing new services should be provided free is being used as a filibustering technique to stymie more productive public discussions around the service demand content. Currently, service provider implementation of such proposals simply cuts opportunities for recovering service and installation provision costs, and due to human nature, increases the likelihood that the service users will invite disrespect, and exacerbates service failure through a perception of user abuse from providers and the public.
    Individual funding for people unable to afford services is a separate issue and more appropriately managed, as many travel concessions are, by the Ministry of Social Development and social services.
    I view Businesses and Politicians campaigning on providing these with suspicion, who are campaigning from a space of ‘vote grabbing’ and virtue signalling to distract people from calling out the real issues that these people want to avoid attracting attention to…

    1. Fairly well worth organising this as a post (perhaps without SHOUTING). There is a lot to think about and debate there.
      Cycleways alongside rail and motorway have the advantage of being direct. with motorways, there ae some bridges that enable connectivity. But (apart from SH1, which has busway or parallel rail), motorways need designation width for rapid transit.
      rail routes were picked by Waitakere CC for cycle routes, but without understanding how difficult that would be with double-tracking and electrification. Rail routes have significant severance issues (increased by removing at-grade crossings) that make access to cycleways difficult and expensive. I don’t know how much more railside path development would be worthwhile. There are plenty more micromobility access issues to invest in.

      1. Yes, NZ Trains do have accessibility issues mainly I think due to neglect of the infrastructure over the last 2 decades.
        A more comprehensive updated revision of the standard public transport infrastructure space etiquette and education program for the use of shared pathways and roads would help, in particular that which mediates clearer relationships and boundaries and conduct regulation between ‘car and other fast driving speed vehicles’ spaces and ‘mini/micro-mobility user ‘ spaces; alongside updated expectations for pedestrians, if they are all to be expected to interact and share these spaces harmoniously .
        It is a mistake to ignore that much of the angst over shared pathway access is due to the regulations permitting a socially “hierarchical” environment to develop, allowing space for people to take out their cultural angst on others while using these spaces.
        There is also angst around funding. Very few customers, including those in the business community, like being expected to sacrifice their wellbeing to what they may see as gross inconvenience and costs caused by change, regulations and infrastructure they do not understand, or that which makes their business environment hostile and produces infrastructure and regulation which doesn’t work for them.
        The ability to produce good design that works and problem solve; work which involves interpreting research without having to be told in detail, what to do by the public are also expected in town planning and public infrastructure development obligations. The public and communities are willing to pay for results that work for them.
        This makes nonsense of the “Not enough funding” argument. “Running out of funding” can also be interpreted as “mistakes were being made” at public expense.
        “The roadway” is part of ‘community property’ intended for use by all the community, and as such can no longer be regarded as exclusive “territory” for the marketplace destination of larger combustible fuel powered motor vehicles, that allows drivers to travel at speed everywhere, hog the prime parking and service provision opportunities regardless of how this affects the welfare and rights of way for other users of public infrastructure, both for public use and business purposes, no matter how many passengers and goods they try to carry in an effort to demonstrate how “green” their business model is, over other [competing] modes of transport.
        Vehicle technology is moving on. Our transport infrastructure and regulatory systems also need to do this too.
        Bereft of suitable alternatives, business people working from premises without access to private vehicle parking spaces are associating the establishment of shared use pathways which includes removal of curbside car parking, with removal of access to their customer base. They have been offered few options for replacement or alternatives to use. They, and most of their customer base, still use private, faster and larger, often petrol fueled cars to meet all their transport needs. Often only their employees use PT. Employers can let go of unreliable employees regardless of the cause [eg unreliable PT], and hire someone else who doesn’t rely on broken PT transport to get to work, or provide more valued employees with a company car.
        Under these circumstances, expecting this group of people to support PT upgrades such such as ‘light rail’, or expanded PT services, is a futile exercise. From this perspective, supporting the establishment of “alternative” infrastructures will mean that their business will have to put up with confiscated customer access to their business premises, alongside months of kerbside roadworks at their doors.
        Expecting their support to pay for [remote] external infrastructure like upgraded local pathways etc that they do not see any personal benefit from is equally futile. They will view such projects as ‘wasteful’ expenditure and even a threat to their business model. Many may simply vote with their feet, and deprive the new infrastructure of a ‘destination’.
        Currently small vehicle and micro- mobility road users are forced off existing roadways by the prevailing presence and behavior of other larger vehicle users, and have to use a disconnected mixture of ‘new’ infrastructure which often abruptly gives way to broken, narrow and uneven footpaths and unsafe road/rail crossings at key locations. Often if people make meaningful a choice to use this new transport technology they have to accept that riding in an unsafe user environment as part of that choice.
        The consequence of “knee jerk” lazy, [authoritarian] regulator activity is making public and mini/micro vehicle technology transport infrastructure use more hazardous. Due the lack of regard for adequate R&D from regulators, citing ‘health and safety’ reasons, many innovative smaller, slower vehicles have been regulated off NZ public space altogether. Those that have not are constantly under the same threat because users are forced to use spaces still primarily segregated for pedestrian use, causing unnecessary public ire.
        Its time to get some perspective. This has to come from users. Regulators and designers are not paying enough attention to the facts, and need more motivation to listen to all people who use these spaces, be paid to conduct field work which involves experience using the tools and environment, and examine the R&D to find better ways to revise the regulations. Merely enforcing “helmet” regulations on cycle users is not a magic bullet to meet the hazards of riding alongside reckless motorists and pedestrians, and incomplete, broken or poorly designed and regulated infrastructures.
        As an aside, The capital letters are not meant to indicate “Shouting” but used for emphasis in the absence of available word processing tools for posters to use in this format. If the website hosts believe that this information deserves a “post” they are welcome to use the information in their content and pursue their investigation.

  5. Perhaps it would be useful to give guidance for Comments on how to type these simple HTML features.
    Thanks, Jack, for that very helpful hint.

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