Welcome to the first Friday in July; a bit of a midwinter breather with school holidays and Matariki around the corner. Here’s our latest roundup of some of the stories that caught our eye this week – with a strong focus on good vibes, to help get us through the darkest bit of the year.
Today’s header image shows a rainbow above the Ōrakei Basin boardwalk.
The Week in Greater Auckland
- On Monday, we looked at the latest report on Liberating a Lane for active modes on the Auckland Harbour Bridge, and how it can be done without impacting traffic.
- On Wednesday, Matt wrote about the report from the inquiry on inter-regional rail.
- On Thursday, Matt covered the inexplicable moves (or rather, lack of moves) by the government which effectively encourage illegal parking.
We all know what it is and why it doesn’t work (‘cos one more lane just adds another lane of traffic). But induced demand also applies to the kinds of vehicles you empower, as laid out here by Andy Boenau.
A fair share for walking
Starting from a survey about what people value about where they live, this article asks: isn’t it time cities properly invested in the pedestrian experience?
Speaking of walking:
Pedestrian bridges empower active mobility by connecting neighborhoods & shortening distances to community amenities.
Let's build more of them !!!! pic.twitter.com/R9dwLnuoKG
— CoolStreetsWPG (@CoolStreetsWPG) July 4, 2023
Better cities have fewer cars: an article about how business associations have begun to “bang the gong for bike lanes, vehicle bans and pedestrian-focused facelifts”, to entice people back into downtowns:
“Business leaders want to see people downtown, and creating more pedestrian-friendly areas is a great way to have people downtown,” said Kate Dineen, president and CEO [of Boston’s A Better City]. “Pop-up parks, parklets and pedestrian street closures are just more common in the lexicon now, and I think the pandemic helped people think, ‘Oh, we can use this space in different way.’”
Cycling is great (in other places): another day, another travel story about cities rapidly expanding their bike networks to the benefit of residents and tourists.
Don’t be put off by the dismal experience of cycling in most Australian cities. Many cities overseas have spent millions on improving cycle lanes and encouraging locals and tourists to get on their bikes, making this an increasingly agreeable way to get around.
In 2020 alone, Europe spent €1 billion ($1.6 billion) on cycle-related infrastructure, including the addition of another 1000 kilometres of cycle paths. Even places with so-far modest cycle ways, such as Barcelona, Lisbon, Krakow and Milan, have now set about improving and extending their networks.
Bike parking flies into place: in Wellington, two new double-decker bike parking stations have been craned into position at a public park and a swimming pool. These look sturdier, more attractive, and better placed than Auckland’s two sad and lonely examples that mostly sit empty (one in Te Komititanga, one near Aotea Square). Hope AT is taking notes.
Meanwhile, in Christchurch, a cycling city returns to its roots – some great footage, both vintage and modern, in this video:
Fifteen full-time Awa Rangers have planted 14,000 new native plantings along the Puhinui awa, with a plan to add another 20,000 over winter. The mission is underwritten by a philanthropic grant from the Milford Foundation and coordinated by the Sustainable Business Network, in partnership with community, business and all of Auckland’s iwi.
“Whatever helps us would help the whenua as well,” says Naumai-aaria Naumai-aaria (Ngāti Tūwharetoa and Ngāti Porou), who is an Awa Ranger with Te Pu-a-Nga Maara.
At age 21, she spends her work week clearing weeds and planting native bush along the winding Puhinui, which stretches around 12 kilometres. […]
Long considered one of Auckland’s – and New Zealand’s – most polluted streams, the Puhinui could one day return to being a source of kai (food), wai (water) and mana (strength) for its neighbours.
From the Bruntletts, a lovely example of a pop-up / drop-in parklet that includes trees. (As we understand it, it’s not against the law to do this with any otherwise unregulated curb space here, either – anyone keen to try, let us know.)
This excellent graph fell into our hands this week. You might have seen this set of scenarios for New Zealand’s uptake of e-bikes (and scooters) before – it’s from a few years ago, showing a few potential sales trajectories from low, to medium, to high.
Overlaid on top in red is the actual e-bike sales of the last several years.Turns out the extremely optimistic scenario was right on the money – New Zealanders love e-bikes as much as anywhere else! Better get building those connected networks.
And, in a week where the world broke all previous heat records, and then broke them again the following day, this graph (via Twitter) offers some practical hope:
The main thing New Zealanders need to get their head around – according to the most recent Ipsos poll, covered by Marc Daalder in Newsroom – is what counts as climate action. Top tip, folks: recycling is certainly a good thing in itself, but to have any chance of getting to Net Zero, you’re better off dropping those first two letters:
When quizzed on which actions would have the most impact on cutting greenhouse gas emissions, Kiwis rallied behind recycling as making the biggest difference. Recycling actually has an almost negligible climate impact, although it is good for the broader environment. Ipsos cited a 2020 study which ranked recycling 60th among changing consumption options for mitigating climate change.
[Ed: thanks to a reader, here’s the aforementioned list of effective lifestyle changes for climate action]
Previous Ipsos polls have displayed a similar trend, with Kiwis repeatedly identifying recycling as the biggest climate problem.
The number one option, living car-free, was selected by just 12 percent of New Zealanders, compared with 18 percent in other countries. Kiwis were also less likely to identify refurbishing houses for energy efficiency (ranked sixth) or going vegan (seventh) as effective, compared with respondents overseas.
Now that you’re all warmed up for climate action (see what we did there), try this game from 2021, which is more relevant than ever. You’re the Mayor of Smogtown, and it’s your job to bring your city’s emissions down while staying popular enough to hold onto power. Best of luck!
Week in flooding
Major flooding (and heatwaves) in China this week. A major new report shows12% of New Zealand housing (around 400,000 homes) is in flood-prone areas, to the tune of $218bn. And news just in: flash flooding in Zaragoza, Spain, washes cars down highways:
So you think peaceful protestors begging for action on #ClimateEmergency are annoying? Wait till what hit Zaragoza in northern Spain today, arrives on our doorstep
And yesterday, “Code Red” summer storm killed 2 in Amsterdam, shut down airport, trainspic.twitter.com/Eytq0sRXB2
— John Gibbons (@think_or_swim) July 6, 2023
People in urbanism
Shout-out to these students from Ruapehu who presented at last week’s The Future Is Rail conference.
Ruapehu College head girl Grace Burnard spoke at The Future is Rail national conference in Wellington and said passenger rail could promote greater equity.
“It would allow people to have better access to healthcare practices,” she said.
“As a young person, knowing there is an accessible mode of transport that is readily available for me to use would be highly beneficial, especially when thinking about university.”
Ruapehu College head boy Joshua Simons said communities in the Ruapehu region could benefit greatly from more sustainable transport options.
“Rail networks provide alternative transport that reduces the number of cars on the road.”
And how about this cool kid – Isaac Lee Sang has travelled every bus, train, and ferry route in Auckland. It took him about a year to tick them all off:
A public transport lover, Isaac set himself the impressive goal of covering Auckland’s entire public transport network, a colourful 187 routes.
“It’s something I do in every part of my life,” he said.
“I have a tendency to do a lot, as much as I can in as short of amount of time as possible.”
A nice read from The Spinoff about Professor Michelle Thompson-Fawcett (Ngāti Whātua), who’s putting indigenous futurity at the heart of urban planning:
Recent work by Indigenous designers and planners has been delivering places in urban areas “where Indigenous people can see themselves, their narratives, and recognise they belong,” she says. The Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland rail system is one example. The redevelopment of the City’s railway stations incorporates te ao Māori in the design. Using culturally significant, locationally-specific themes connected to movement by waka, navigation via stars, the flow of waterways, local volcanic māunga and more, the new development reflects the journey of those travelling through the city.
Meanwhile, in NYC: the longtime voice of the New York subway (“Stand clear of the closing doors!”) is finding her new voice as a trans woman – and the MTA couldn’t be happier to share the story as part of its Pride Month communications.
Tweets and threads of the week
<taps mic> Is this thing on? What with all the changes to Twitter in recent weeks, we’re shifting to screenshots of the good stuff, in case it all goes down. Except for the video clips, which we hope keep working for you.
In response to this article about how the vehicle fleet is too big and heavy to effectively electrify in time for net zero carbon, check out this great comparison of the amount of battery you need to move one person around:
Here’s an illuminating thread by Ryan Rzepecki about the “smart city” of Songdo outside Seoul, in Korea, a tower-in-the-park style development with huge wide roads. “It is what happens if a traffic engineer is given unlimited budget and creative control. It is the perfect execution of flawed ideas.”
This could so easily be any avenue in Auckland (or, as we so unimaginatively call them here, “arterials:… maybe it’s time to change that vibe?):
Manhattan rush hour has changed a bit in the last decade pic.twitter.com/KmpKYNetMP
— Urban Upgrade (@ForwardBike) July 5, 2023
Given the current combined crises of climate, road safety and now constrained operating budgets, Auckland needs to get smart about rolling out our bike network everywhere we possibly can. A quick, affordable and proven way to do that is via the ongoing maintenance and renewals programme. Here’s Brisbane, showing how it works:
And, speaking of main arteries / avenues moving smoothly, how about this fire engine making its way easily down Queen St. Or as we call it, Access For Everyone:
Fire engine travelling through transit only sections of Queen St. pic.twitter.com/YvR86C2kBl
— Kent Lundberg (@kentslundberg) June 30, 2023
Phwoar, looking good, winter-time city!