It’s Friday again so here’s our latest roundup of some of the stories that caught our eye this week.
The Week in Greater Auckland
- On Monday, Jolisa outlined AT’s torturously circular process of decision-making on the Great North Road project, ahead of the Board meeting on Tuesday. Guess what: the Board approved the project for delivery! With the expectation that “the executive will do everything they can to find the funding.”
- On Tuesday, Matt did a deep dive into AT’s revised budgets for the coming year.
- On Wednesday, Matt covered the rest of the items from the AT Board papers.
- On Thursday, Matt looked at the end to the discounting of fuel taxes and PT fares.
A couple of quick consultation reminders:
Hobsonville Rd Cycleway Consultation
The Hobsonville Rd Cycleway closes today. While there are a few minor improvements that could be made to the design, overall there’s a lot to like about what’s been proposed. You can read more about our thoughts on it here.
And go here for the consultation itself. The feedback form is a quick and easy one.
Pedestrian Level Crossings
Auckland Transport are looking to remove seven pedestrian crossings across the network. The first two they’re consulting on are out west at O’Neill Rd and at Corban Estate and the consultation closes on Sunday. You can read our post about it here.
On Saturday 1 July, Avondale is having the second of three Open Streets events, closing a section of Great North Road to traffic in order to open it to people. The event promises “a uniquely Whau flow packed with kai, cycling, and fun activities”, including trishaw rides with a boom box, the Stardome cosmologist telling the story of Matariki, music, dancing and more.
If you’re planning on cycling there, there are three free group rides to the event:
- Along New North Road, starting at Galbraith’s at Symonds St at 3pm.
- The West Art Ride, meeting at 2.30pm at Te Piringa bridge (the big bridge over Oakley Creek in Waterview Reserve that connects to Unitec).
- Phonebanking and fun biking with the Greens: from 1.30pm followed by a ride along safe protected bike paths to the festival, cos those guys know how to combine business and fun!
Upper Harbour Dr Cycle Lanes
Last year Auckland Transport started adding protection to Upper Harbour Dr as part of a programme to add protection to 60km of existing painted cycle lanes across the region. But it ran into resistance from locals after the barriers did their job and stopped cars from driving into the cycle lane.
As a response, AT stopped the rollout and replaced the concrete barriers with less protective rubber ones and then consulted on changing the design entirely to a two-way cycleway on one side of the road.
Yesterday they announced they would keep the existing design and finish it’s roll out.
There was overall more support for the retention of the current layout of a single cycle lane in each direction, with rubber separators.
57% of respondents preferred to keep the current layout with rubber separators.
Following the public feedback and support for the retention of the current layout, AT will proceed to complete the installation of the rubber separators of the remainder of the route on Upper Harbour Drive.
Another lower emission ferry
Auckland Transport (AT) has signed contracts with Q-West Boat Builders and HamiltonJet to build a 300 passenger hybrid-electric ferry.
This is the fourth low emission ferry confirmed for Auckland and the second being built by Q-West. AT plans to use this vessel on the Devonport route from 2026.
It is part of a wider programme that will see Auckland become a world leader in this space. By 2030, Auckland is set to have the largest electric ferry fleet in the Southern Hemisphere.
Auckland’s first two fully electric vessels will arrive next year, built by EV Maritime at Auckland boat builders McMullen and Wing, followed by Q-West’s two electric-hybrid vessels in 2025-2026. More will follow in the coming years as the current fleet of diesel ferries reach the end of their working life.
These new vessels will operate hand in hand with owner operated vessels as part of the transition to low emission vessels over the coming years.
This most recently announced vessel will start construction in late 2023 and be on the water early 2026.
It will be identical to the vessel Q-West are currently building, at 32 metres long with space for 300 passengers and around 28 bikes.
A lovely obituary in the NY Times of Don Harold, the “sneaky subway preservationist” who saved vintage subway cars. sometimes by subterfuge, leading the founding of the New York Transit Museum.
The Times called Mr. Harold and his preservation-minded colleagues a “tiny guerrilla army” that “bent the rules, disregarded orders and played hide and seek with subway cars sentenced to execution.”
The group employed various tactics.
“Through his cohorts, he would hear which cars were on the extinction list, and they would change the numbers so they couldn’t be found,” Mr. Jablonski, the deputy chief of strategic capital planning of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, the Transit Authority’s parent, said by phone. “So car number 2390 became number 2590, and it would be tucked away in a yard.”
One of those Mr. Harold helped save, an old BMT car with cane seats and ceiling fans, bore the telltale signs of his group’s trickery.
“When the guys finally sanded it down to restore it for the museum,” he told The Times in 2003, “they said, ‘Hey, what’s going on? We found five different numbers on this thing.’ And I said, ‘That’s five times they tried to scrap it.’”
Safety Second from the Police
Deaths involving drink-driving in Aotearoa have doubled since 2013 – reaching a 10-year peak last year.
In 2022, 163 deaths were recorded, 111 of which were people above the legal limit or who refused a test, according to Waka Kotahi data, released to the Automobile Association (AA) under the Official Information Act.
“It’s more than double the 53 drunk driving deaths recorded in 2013,” said Dylan Thomsen, AA road safety spokesperson.
Thomsen said there were not enough alcohol checkpoints, a critical tool in preventing serious injuries and deaths on the road.
Police had a target of testing 3 million drivers a year for alcohol, but that had not been met since 2014.
Testing numbers this year were tracking to be over 2 million for the first time in years, he said.
But a report into the strategy found there was little accountability of spending by the Transport Agency and police, which have struggled to deliver results.
Within police, attitudes promoting crime over road safety had contributed to a failure to meet road policing targets, the report released last year found.
Road safety advocates say plummeting police breath test numbers could be contributing to Northland’s “appalling” road toll this year and alcohol-related crashes more than 50% higher than any other region.
There have been 21 deaths on Northland’s roads so far, the highest road toll figures for January to June in the last five years.
A horror end to last year also saw 2022’s road toll finish the highest in five years, with 38 deaths.
The cause of these crashes is still under investigation, but the latest report by Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency showed Northland had the highest rate of alcohol-related crashes in December 2020.
While we’re in Northland, this is great.
The dangers of cycling from Russell to the ferry landing at Ōkiato have prompted a community group to start building a shared path for cyclists and walkers.
William Fuller, of the Bay of Islands Walkways Trust, said there was currently no safe way of riding between the Russell township and the ferry departure point.
The road was narrow with no shoulder and a 100km/h speed limit for much of the way.
There was an existing hiking track, also developed by the trust, but it wasn’t suitable for bikes because of its steps, stiles and steepness in places.
Now, to keep riders safe and promote cycling, the trust had started an ambitious project to fundraise and build a shared-used gravel track.
Once complete, it would stretch about 12 kilometres across a mix of council, conservation and private land.
Adventures in Korea
Just arrived in South Korea and this is my public transport card 🙌 pic.twitter.com/QyxLOmbeSi
— Richard Hart (@NzRoo) June 23, 2023
cool things about the Seoul metro: bike pullways to get up flights of stairs (no rollerblades allowed though) and *very* safe safety barriers pic.twitter.com/k4bncCJqE3
— . (@mfyfyr) June 24, 2023
bit of UrBaNiSm for those who like that sort of thing pic.twitter.com/QbSmKEEjMH
— . (@mfyfyr) June 24, 2023
Tweets and threads of the week
The tunnel mystery in the heart of Paris: where did this tunnel and all the cars go? pic.twitter.com/sZ1mF8uU3X
— Stein van Oosteren (@LCyclable) June 23, 2023
One of the most valuable things I learned working as a traffic engineer was that the way professionals analyze traffic, the way roads are built the U.S., the way future roads and sidewalks and bike lanes are planned…
it’s pseudo-science. pic.twitter.com/YKtftPjy3m
— Andy Boenau (@Boenau) June 23, 2023
👀 Here's an outcome
In 2020, SF changed Fell Street from 4 lanes to 3 (one-way) and added a protected bike lane.
bicycle volumes: +42%
vehicle volumes: +9%
— Paul Supawanich 🚎 (@tweetsupa) June 22, 2023
— Charlie Todd (@charlietodd) June 24, 2023
The two faces of Auckland Transport…
How much did Auckland Transport pay for its new slogan? pic.twitter.com/FWjIpYgJ5F
— Strictly Obiter (@StrictlyObiter) June 26, 2023
This looks cool
This would be great
— Save Our Trains NZ / The Future Is Rail (@thefutureisrail) June 28, 2023
And so is this
The bike/pedestrian infrastructure we need everywhere. I cannot wait for this to open! (NYC) pic.twitter.com/TtxDBeqQdc
— Hayden Clarkin (@the_transit_guy) June 28, 2023
That’s one way to travel
Have a good weekend