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The week in Greater Auckland

Wellington on bikes

The Spinoff has a fantastic piece about how “Plucky Foodstuffs takes bold stand against children on bikes

It’s a hard life being a small independent food retailer. Climate change, cost of living, and supply chain failures have wreaked havoc on the industry.

And worst of all: sometimes people ride past your shop on bicycles.

Widely beloved local grocers Foodstuffs are facing an existential threat: A new cycleway outside their Thorndon New World store could improve safety and encourage more low-emissions transport options in their neighbourhood.

The consequences would be devastating. The new bike route would mean the 6,000 people who live in Wadestown and Wilton would be able to ride directly to the supermarket’s north and south entrances on a protected and connected route.

To make things worse, the 3,000 students at nearby schools might ride to class without being side-swiped even once. It’s an outcome Foodstuffs simply cannot and will not stand for.

Meanwhile elsewhere in Wellington, yesterday The Post reported:

There has been a 93% increase in cyclists passing the Basin Reserve following the installation of a two-lane cycle route connecting the northern end of Adelaide Rd with Waitangi Park.

There were 10,547 cyclists counted by the council’s Basin Reserve digital cycle counter during August, compared to 5472 during the same period 12 months earlier.

Councillor Ben McNulty said the data highlighted the benefits of providing connected cycleways.

“We’ve been constantly seeing 10%, 20% or 30% increases with counters across the city, but 90% is unprecedented,” he said.

“There have been no declines in other nearby routes, which shows people aren’t just diverting just to take a look.”

These are also fairly simple changes


The model made them do it

So far this month, the Environmental Protection Agency have approved two of the big greenfield developments in Drury that were going through the fast-track consenting process. These are the Oyster Capital (Waihoehoe Precinct) and Fulton Hogan developments.

After the government cut the upgrade of Mill Rd from it’s NZ Upgrade Programme due to the budget ballooning from $1.354 billion to $3.5 billion, the decided to put some of the money towards improving roads in Drury to support housing. Waka Kotahi are using some of that to upgrade Waihoehoe Rd, which separates the Oyster Capital precinct from the proposed Drury station.

Unfortunately it seems they’re still stuck in the past with the design which includes widening the existing two-lane road to as many as six lanes.

The project aims to make it easy for people to reach the planned Drury Railway Station and new housing being built – and includes:

  • additional lanes (from two to four, and up to six lanes on Waihoehoe Road bridge)
  • signalised intersections at Waihoehoe Road/Great South Road and Waihoehoe Road/Kath Henry Lane to improve safety
  • walking and bike paths separated from vehicles
  • bus lanes
  • a new, higher bridge over the North Island Main Trunk Line to enable rail improvements – including the Papakura to Pukekohe rail line electrification, which will provide faster, quieter, cleaner and more reliable connections for communities and businesses. The bridge is also going to be widened for the future 4-tracking of the North Island main trunk line.
  • a new Waihoehoe Road bridge to replace the existing bridge which is too low for KiwiRail’s planned railway improvements and does not have the capacity to support the expected population growth in the area.

This looks like classic modelling led design that’s all about maximising car movements – which will result in more people being encouraged to drive. Also, despite being right beside a future train station and them saying the upgrade will include bus lanes, I don’t see any in the image.

Climate Critical Risk

Stuff reports:

Auckland’s continued road-based transport approach presents a “critical risk” to the city reaching its climate targets, such as halving 2016-level carbon emissions by 2030.

The most recent stocktake of Auckland’s annual emissions shows a net 6% rise in the three years to 2019, with rising transport greenhouse gas emissions, along with energy production, the biggest contributors.


It said there was a need for “rapid and substantial change in the management, priority, resourcing and delivery of Auckland’s transport investments and existing assets”.

With transport making up 45.6% of Auckland’s carbon emissions, it is the area needing one of the biggest reductions, 64%, to meet the halving target by 2030.

The report noted some progress, such as 46% of new light vehicles registered in the year to July, being low emission electric, or hybrid, and with the programme for the city’s public transport bus fleet becoming zero emission by 2035.

However it also found rising costs, and the need to urgently fund repairs from extreme weather events had reduced effective funding for “climate responsive transport interventions”.

And that from another report

The new report found cycle traffic was below pre-Covid-19 levels, and the cycle network “critically underdeveloped and disconnected”, growing in length and use, slower than Christchurch and Wellington.

Continued urban sprawl into greenfield areas conflicted with transport emission aims, and planning restrictions within 5km of the city centre “preclude development of a compact city”.

Buying Property but not route

The Herald reports that Auckland Light Rail (ALR) have purchased the first property for light rail.

In one of the clearest displays of optimism, Auckland Light Rail has contracted to buy the prominent Kiwi Bacon Building for $33 million, even though National has promised to scrap plans if elected next month.

Bruce Whillans of Whillans Realty Group said Jeremy Sim of his agency had a conditional deal to sell the building on a half-hectare site at 317 New North Rd.


Whillans said the building is 95 per cent leased to a range of tenants and has a large car park for 108 vehicles. A deposit was paid yesterday and the purchase is due to settle in the next few weeks, he said.

The building returns $2.07m net annually.


ALR chief executive Tommy Parker confirmed the purchase contract.

Parker said today: “As with all major infrastructure projects, property will be required for a number of purposes including the stations and surrounding infrastructure, as well as during construction”.

The Kiwi Bacon site at 317 New North Rd sits on the edge of Dominion Rd junction area and will be very close to the new station. The Kiwi Bacon site was offered for sale by tender. ALR Ltd made a tender offer which was accepted by the vendors.

As part of planning the route and station locations for the City Centre to Māngere corridor, an early property programme has been approved by the light rail board and project sponsors to allow the purchase of strategic properties, if and when they come to market and ahead of a formal property acquisition programme through the Public Works Act.

“Purchasing the property now reduces future claims for loss of business, as a result of construction impacts and disruption,” Parker said today.

National are suggesting this is outrageous to happen so close to the election. The reality is it can always be sold or redeveloped later. What is a bigger issue is that ALR are purchasing property for a project that they haven’t even confirmed a route for yet

Have a great weekend.

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    1. And Robert, Milan has significant areas of pedestrianised zones. If only in NZ we could look at things as they might be and ask, why not?

  1. I was surprised that Kiwi rail opened the Eastern line for a month for the FIFA world cup. It must have set back the completion date for the upgrade, Jan 24, by at least 6 weeks. Kiwi Rail has been stretched recently with all the flooding and 1000s of users in the area have waited patiently for the work to be done. Travel on the trains to and from the games was free and I wonder if was all worth it.
    As a regular PT user I notice the broken glass in bus shelters. Some bus shelters have 3 or 5 lage panes of glass and the cost of repairs must be quite high. Actually one pane of glass on the side where users can see the busses coming would be ok and the other sides could use steel mesh.

    1. Yes I have noticed broken glass and tagging is getting more and more common.
      I’d prefer more CCTV and some AI to police it, and jail time to prevent them repeating. Rather than making everything out of steel…

      1. Or build it out of concrete blocks. There’s a bus stop near where I grew up that I used in the 1990s, but I believe it was built in the 1950s or 1960s. It’s still there today – has been through a few different shades of paint over the decades. The worst vandalism it has suffered is the occasional tagging. It’ll probably still be there when I’m dead.

      2. Yes we had a local stop, only used for school buses since the new network, and saw it smashed several times in a short space of time. Must be costly. Seems to be unbroken lately.

    2. Glass walled bus stops are such a colossal waste of money and have been for decades.
      The shelters need to be built for the purpose of sheltering passengers from the elements, not for whatever look the designers are going for. Practicality and function.

      1. Glass walls are also about being able to see the road (bus approaching) and being able to see in/out – security for women in particular.

    1. Meanwhile work on the third line come to a halt at Middlemore Station about a year ago. The short 4 or 5 km of new line from Puhinui to Middlemore was begun about 3 years ago and I wonder what is the delay.

      1. Last time that I saw they were doing Earthworks at the Southern End of the Platform but there seemed to be nothing happening at the Northern End .
        But the biggest problem seems to be 1 government Department fighting with another over about the piece of land that would create an Island Platform .

  2. “However it also found rising costs, and the need to urgently fund repairs from extreme weather events had reduced effective funding for “climate responsive transport interventions”.”

    AT had been saying for years that it was planning for climate change. It’s not like they didn’t know these events were on the way. There had just been no shift in priorities or systems. How was the response different to how it would’ve been 25 years ago? It seems to me there was no thinking around how to create significant modeshift, reduce tarmac and demonstrate sustainable principles during the response. It was just BAU, and BAU that stripped funding from other critical work.

  3. The Kiwi Bacon building will probably be the only thing on any value when the current light rail debacle is shut down. Then we will have to wait a generation until everyone involved has retired or died before a reasonable light rail project can be proposed again.

  4. There are endless well researched plans for light rail, often based on historical aspects of our tram network. ALR has been heavily criticised for having nothing to physically show for the tens of millions invested in consulting; that they have bought property is fantastic!!!

    If the government does change, every climate friendly solution will be postponed, further, and that is a scary thought for many of us.

    The local part of the supermarket duopoly criticising children on bikes is not good for their image: Not only do we hike our prices, mistreat suppliers, favour cheaper foreign imports, but we also don’t want bikes ruining our fossil fueled car-boot campsites / “carparks”.

    In good news: Te Tī Tūtahi to Waitematā tereina will be operating this weekend; apart from Sunday night.

  5. Good to see Foodstuffs sticking to their company motto of – helping New Zealanders get more out of life.


    Chris Quin, CEO Foodstuffs North Island concurs. “We set out to help New Zealanders get more out of life – whether that’s providing a great career opportunity to more than 30,000 employees, sourcing fantastic products from thousands of Kiwi suppliers or helping organisations like the Starship Foundation, Eat My Lunch and Kiwi Harvest support New Zealanders in need. Our responsibility doesn’t stop there. We’ve done some pretty awesome things to reduce our environmental footprint – including kicking off the discussion to ban single-use plastic bags, removing plastic microbeads and cotton buds, putting 28 electric delivery vehicles on the road nationwide and installing 50 electric vehicle fast-chargers at our stores.”

    1. Are Foodstuffs sticking to their motto, or only when it suits them?
      Why would they seek a judicial review of a cycle way past their Thorndon supermarket? For 5 years I lived just up the road and I struggle to see the downside.
      And their efforts with plastic bags – haha. If they were advocating for a Container Deposit Scheme (as happens in most of Australia) they might have some credibility.

    2. Well they probably have a whole bunch of staff whos job used to be obstructing their competitors developments. Now that they can no longer pull that anti-competition nonsense they need to find something else to obstruct to justify their existence 🙂

      1. Won’t some of those staff be involved in obstructing the Commerce Commission in persuading them that a “New Low Price” that is 10c more than it was last week is really ok, because it is factually correct?

  6. Dare I post a survey that just came out at work? (funny how the timing works sometimes init…)

    We need your help to complete a quick survey for ‘Here for NZ’! We are keen to understand what key environmental & social issues are most important to staff and which areas staff think Foodstuffs can directly influence.

    The survey should only take a few minutes to complete. All responses are anonymous, and you can enter your email address to go in the prize draw to win a $100 grocery voucher. The survey closes on Friday 15th September.

  7. NZ urban terrain, for example Auckland terrain, like Wellington, is so varied. While there are urban centers like Christchurch, which are flat and people can utilize the option o active transport modes easily, residents in other centers need more help with facilitation.
    While I think as many PT modes as possible need to be made available -eg light rail, many of these services are conceived without considering the wider choices in services provision users need to be enabled to make. Many outer suburban routes are still ‘death traps’ for anyone expecting to safely engage in active transport modes.
    Most PT services are designed to facilitate a worker commuting, and anyone else wishing to travel has to fit in with this user profile. This means that they struggle to use the services when [for example] simply managing a weekly shopping trip to the supermarket, or for someone who is living with a disability will have difficulty – especially with the inadequate regulations eg as described in the recent Spinoff article -It’s against the law, so why are Kiwis with service dogs turned away? By Gill Higgins, Fair Go Reporter Tue, Sep 5 https://www.1news.co.nz/2023/09/05/its-against-the-law-so-why-are-kiwis-with-service-dogs-turned-away/
    I have been told about this by other passengers, and experienced this on many occasions, when dealing with bad tempered drivers working under stress. So have many other passengers – even for such ‘crimes’ as attempting to board a bus with “too much shopping” etc; let alone being allowed on board with a dog! The disrespect towards people who dare to stray outside of the ‘preferred passenger profile’ ie; able-bodied, unburdened by luggage and happy to walk long distances, wait long times and catch multiple busses to get to their destinations. Sometimes the hostility from the [ possibly ‘traumatized and stressed’] driver, who cannot help but lash out at any passenger who deviates from the preferred customer ideal, is palpable. I get that sometimes this behavior could be seen as ‘industrial action’.
    This is not totally the drivers fault. This lies with management and design teams, who have a woeful lack of insight into what is expected of them, and absolutely no incentive to provide employees or service users with anything better.
    It is clear that the vehicles, service protocols and regulations that are being used are designed to ‘change’ customer behavior and provide service only to ‘preferred customer social groups’, eg groups like sports fans on match day, business commuters, and people using public transport during business hours for leisure.
    What they are not designed for is the service users who need these services the most, or employees expected to manage services provision along narrow politically prescriptive administrative service provision models.
    If services were being conceived as a genuine attempt to meet daily transport needs they would look very different. In the past, buses carried all manner of things. Luggage could be stowed in luggage compartments provided, large carriage prams and also bicycles were carried on special hooks placed at the rear of the bus, or in the luggage bays and drivers welcomed passengers with less mobility by assisting them off and on the bus. Drivers also [willingly] helped as the bus service sometimes provided more than one staff member on board.
    This was of course at a time when car ownership was out of reach for many more NZers. However times change. Labor costs and welfare, which are in a similar position to a household’s food budget during times of economic hardship, while maybe not the most expensive commodity, is the most expendable. So service staff are cut to the minimum alongside that of capacity for compromising individual service user provision.
    There are still things that could be changed to expand the service so more people would be happy to use the services as opposed to using the service as a last resort to meet hardship – eg their regular personal motor vehicle being unavailable for use, or being unable to afford to use or park a personal motor vehicle. Policies that include withdrawal of parking space without providing realistic alternatives are oppressive and help no-one except those who get paid for creating controversy.
    We, the PT users, need to take a good hard look at what we need to be included in our PT services and remain vocal about this. Eg If we use a cycle or any other small personal mobility device demand that PT vehicles provide space to accommodate boarding with this transport- eg space for bicycle and mobility device docking, maybe to enable people to roll their vehicles onto selected PT vehicles, into parking spaces at the rear of some [yet to be designed] light rail vehicles and buses, used on outer suburban routes. Many of these vehicles are underutilized from their destinations and could easily provide mobility/cycle vehicle carrying spaces which could be located in the [often empty] seating spaces behind the rear entry.
    Seats need not be entirely removed for this purpose. Currently fold up seating is provided for this purpose at the front of the bus. The reason it cannot be used by more people is that its location means that all passengers have to walk through the area to get to their seating. [DUH!]
    The seating, while labeled as exclusive use for people who need this, is often allowed to be occupied by able bodied passengers who will not, nor are they asked to vacate when someone who is entitled to use the space boards the bus; unless of course the driver is forced to intervene due to a passenger who has a profound and obvious level of disability needs to board the bus. This is a rare as most of these people still find using PT more hassles and have taken up access to alternative specialist transport services.
    More often, in the instance of service provision for passengers living with less profound or less obvious disability issues, due to obtuse enforcement of ‘health and safety’ regulations, a person carrying portable mobility equipment, including service animals, is more likely to be subject to ablest discrimination and denied service instead.
    The result is that the passengers who need these special priority seating areas are deprived of access to it by PT services. If funding was accepted to provide these spaces then PT services are guilty of fraud. However the PT provider default action towards complaints mitigation on this and similar matters seems to be to alter service agreement regulations in ways which make using the service unattractive or withdraw services altogether for this sector.):V(
    What is the public paying for in this instance? Its certainly not for services provision solutions.
    Service providers are always moaning about minimal use regarding outer suburban routes and struggle to engage with potential users in these areas and only see cutting services or mishandling them until service users cease to use them as a solution.
    People who would like to see PT services delivery to their area need to force services providers to change in this narrative. While there is less need for services which are able to carry personal mobility equipment in central locations, outer suburbs are more needy of these service provisions, because of the limited coverage of rail services.
    PT services users should not be expected to readily accept PT service providers pleas of ‘its too hard and it can’t be done,too expensive’. When and why and by whom was the matter that these facilities have to be provided free of charge raised? Services provider objections seem to revolve around using the ‘too expensive’ as an excuse for continuing with surly, greedy and lazy services provision protocols, and the majority of service users are letting them get away with this all the time.
    PS if anyone is wondering why I’m not escalating my civic duty, and attending many of the public meetings, or visiting my local government rep or MP, to talk about these issues the answer is simple- I can’t *C8ing get there because I have no access to safe or convenient transport ! Go figure.

    1. I’d suggest you make this a post all its own.

      Interesting topic, but just too hard to read in a comments section on a device.

  8. “Auckland’s continued road-based transport approach presents a “critical risk” to the city reaching its climate targets, such as halving 2016-level carbon emissions by 2030.”

    Some organisations just don’t get the problem. One is AT. Currently, and for the foreseeable future it seems, weekend parking in the Toka Puia car park is free. How is that possibly going to help reduce emissions?
    The situation is made worse in that the local business association is promoting that it is free. Worryingly this organisation is led by a local Board member. Everyone conspiring to increase emissions.
    Why do most politicians think that politics is a popularity contest? Climate clowns!

      1. The IPCC’s charts show how much climate change is locked in (some) and how much we still have control over (heaps). There’s nothing technical preventing us; the problem is visionless groupthink in the transport organisations, people in positions of power not having the leadership skills to get past their own fears, and big auto/ big oil/ big finance/ big agro’s trolls and organised undermining of informed discussion and decision-making.

        With overt gutless climate denial dripping from some councillors and MPs, in defiance of both the science and the population’s wish for leadership on the topic, it looks like NZ’s only chance to take responsible steps might be to be shocked and forced into action by other countries. Bring it on.

  9. Wellington cycleways look somehow nice than Aucklands. far wider too. so it turns out it can be done. who would’ve thought (not AT)

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