It’s Friday and we’ve got a long weekend ahead of us so here’s a few things that caught our attention this week to enjoy for some weekend reading.
This week in Greater Auckland
- On Monday Matt looked at the latest versions of Auckland Transport’s Rapid Transit Network maps
- On Wednesday Matt covered the completion of the the summer rail shutdown – though we do have another rail shutdown this weekend.
Can quitting cars be popular?
A great piece from the BBC about the challenge of implementing schemes to reduce car use, most notably things like road pricing.
“The moment before you do something is the most precarious political moment of all, because of all the fearmongering,” says Doug Gordon, a safe-streets advocate and co-host of the provocatively titled podcast War on Cars. “But, in my experience, the fears also don’t usually come to pass and the benefits do.”
There is even a curve that predicts this change in attitudes, according to Leo Murray, director of innovation at climate charity Possible. Named the “Goodwin curve” after the work of Philip Goodwin, emeritus professor of transport policy at University College London, the curve (or dip) charts how public support for road pricing schemes tend to begin well, with recognition of the need for intervention. That support then falls away as more specific details are released ahead of enforcement, only to rise again after implementation.
“We can’t find a single example of a traffic-reduction measure that’s been in place for more than two years that’s then gone on to be removed because of a lack of public support,” Murray notes, pointing to an Edinburgh study which showed initial opposition to speed limits shifting to support. He also cites Spain’s reassuring message to Wales when the latter was considering introducing speed limit change.
“But the process of getting there is painful and always follows these curves,” Murray adds. “So what is required is political courage and sensible scheduling. You don’t want to be running for re-election at the start of the Goodwin curve.”
Avoiding a hot bus ride
It’s been very hot lately and it can get pretty uncomfortable if you’re sitting on a bus with the sun beaming in on you. This site might help – and it works for Auckland too.
Discover the optimal seat to stay in the shade during your journey. Sit In Shade provides real-time sun exposure data and route visualization.
The Herald looked at bikes for the school commute.
With a set of sparkly shoes for 6-year-old Zoe, some shark-patterned sunglasses for 3-year-old Beau and the Barbie soundtrack queued on the Bluetooth speaker, the Russells are ready to head out on their family bike to school.
Lower Hutt dad Richie Russell has been doing this for years now, skipping the school bus run or rush-hour traffic in favour of riding his electric bike to school with his two kids on the back.
“It takes so little time to just get down there, get them off the bike and get them into the classroom,” he said.
Being on a bike means Russell can avoid the mad parking rush outside the school and drop his daughter right at her classroom door before heading to the neighbouring kindergarten and dropping off Beau. He said the morning trip only takes about two minutes and is unaffected by congestion.
Speaking of bikes, we’re going to need bigger cycleways.
The 2 innermost intersections on
Aucklands NW cycleway, Upper Queen & St Lukes, are getting increasingly busy
Both revert to 'shared path' arrangements, growing worse & worse for pedestrians & counterpeak mvmts
We must start designing arterial routes for the future & for volume pic.twitter.com/yGkc268iXN
— Sam Hood (@Samhood8) January 24, 2024
And some neat stories from the top of the South Island.
This couple donated land and spent $60k to make make cycling better for those on Tasman’s Great Taste Cycle Trail.
Lublow and her husband, Richard Lublow, gifted the land beside their property to the cycle trail in the hopes of promoting the pastime in the valley.
However, as a keen cyclist, Richard knew how difficult it could be to find a place to rest off the beaten track, so together, they created Lublow’s Leap.
Complete with wifi, ice cream, drinks, coffee, fresh water, sunscreen and bug spray, the double-bay shed and outdoor area was a chance for cyclists to take a load off and connect with other cyclists arriving for a break.
“It’s extremely hot now during the summer,” Lublow said.
While this article gives a first hand account of a new trail in Marlborough includes a path added to the base of a rail bridge.
The trail will eventually extend from Picton to Kaikōura
The Seddon to Blenheim section of the 210-kilometre Whale Trail officially opens early this year, once signs telling Māori and Pakeha history are installed. Blenheim to Picton is expected to be ridable early next year and the entire trail from Picton to Kaikōura – barring a section between the Clarence River and Mangamaunu – about six months later.
The cost of speed tables
The Herald’s Bernard Orsman is going after Auckland Transport over the cost of speed tables (again).
The cost of a new pedestrian crossing in Wellington is tens of thousands of dollars. The cost in Auckland is several hundred thousand dollars.
These figures come from the 2021-2022 financial year when Auckland Transport chewed through $6 million on 12 signalised crossings at an average cost of $500,000 and Wellington City Council built four cheaper, non-signalised raised crossings for $119,000.
Even non-signalised crossings in Auckland come with a hefty price tag, such as a crossing at Williamson Ave in Grey Lynn that cost $490,000.
Auckland Transport chief executive Dean Kimpton has defended the local cost of crossings, saying they are fundamentally different from those in Wellington.
He said the estimated $40,000 cost of a raised pedestrian crossing in the Wellington suburb of Hataitai was for the raised pedestrian table only, which is made of asphalt that lasts for 10 years, whereas the Grey Lynn crossing is made of concrete that lasts up to 40 years.
The Hataitai village project included drainage, upgrading a second existing crossing, landscaping, plantings, artwork, lighting, and resurfacing the intersection for a total cost of $570,000.
Kimpton said the Williamson Ave crossing has five catch-pit upgrades, stormwater improvements, grated channels to allow for better overland and stormwater flow down the road, a central pedestrian island, pedestrian areas on both sides amongst the kerb and channel, footpath and bus stop upgrades, and lighting.
“That is not gold plated. Those are all things that need to be done if you are going to have both safe pedestrian access but also reduce the risk of flooding and safe walking.
This is a bit of an apples and oranges comparison, if Orsman is comparing the total costs of one project with the costs of just one part of another. Putting that aside, it does seem like AT need to look at ways of getting these costs down, because we need a lot more raised crossings. One area that looks to be very much in need of some focus is traffic management costs.
Williamson Ave pedestrian crossing costs
- Design/consultation/consents – $80,000
- Earthworks and clearing site – $19,000
- Kerb and channel/traffic islands/signs/roadmarking/surfacing – $34,000
- Concrete speed table – $33,000
- Footpaths/pram crossing upgrade/lighting – $47,000
- Traffic management – $172,000
- Stormwater upgrades – $87,000
- Site monitoring/quality assurance – $18,000
- Total cost – $490,000
And in a follow-up piece with comments from the Mayor and Transport Minister Simeon Brown:
Auckland Transport (AT) has “lost the plot” over the cost of pedestrian crossings when a lick of paint will do, claims Mayor Wayne Brown.
The city’s mayor said he was ropeable to read in the Herald that AT is spending hundreds of thousands of dollars installing pedestrian crossings when Wellington City Council is spending tens of thousands of dollars.
“The public don’t like that sort of money being wasted. AT spends so much money doing things that everyone else does cheaper.
“As soon as they do something, they seem to do everything and if you are just doing a crossing you just paint it, frankly,” Brown said.
Transport Minister Simeon Brown has also weighed in on the issue, arguing it is unacceptable how much AT is spending on new raised platforms and speed bumps.
“Not only is this a significant cost but the increasing number of these raised platforms that have been installed, particularly on busy roads, simply increases travel times and reduces the productivity of the network,” he said.
It’s not clear which Brown said this next bit, but I’m guessing it was the Mayor:
Brown called the AT board “weak” for not bringing staff into line over the costs, saying he has appointed a new board chairman, Richard Leggat, who is going to instruct them to halt work on more pedestrian crossings.
While costs do need some focus, the suggestion that just paint will do, or that we should be put vehicle speeds above human life, is simply wrong.
Tunnels and Caves
The idea of reopening the Albert Park Tunnels is still around but sadly is not likely to happen soon
An Auckland man who has spent 38 years campaigning for the reopening and development of a network of historic WWII-era tunnels beneath the CBD intends to keep his crusade going despite the latest setback.
Bill Reid, 84, has campaigned for the development of the Albert Park tunnels into a walkway and tourist attraction since 1986, but Auckland mayor Wayne Brown won’t be supporting his cause this council term.
“Auckland currently has many projects underway, and my focus is to ensure those projects are completed before undertaking any further significant projects,” Brown wrote in a letter to Reid in July.
“I acknowledge that you have found private investment, however my concern is that because this is public land and the actual state of the tunnel integrity is not fully known, I do not want to expose Auckland Council to an increased level of risk and liability, particularly given the council’s current financial position,” the emailed letter, seen by Stuff, and shared by Reid in December, said.
“I am quite devastated actually, and I have sent the mayor a letter saying I think he has made a bad decision,” Reid said.
“I fail to see why anybody within council would not like to have a new tourist attraction in Auckland and an integral walkway and cycle path.”
Meanwhile, tunnels of a different kind are being mapped.
They’re among Auckland’s most unusual and intriguing features – and are still being discovered beneath the city at a rate of one a month.
Now, researchers are setting out to map hundreds of underground lava caves, in a major new project to help inform future development in the city.
It’s well-known Auckland is built upon an ancient, sprawling and potentially active volcanic field spanning more than 50 centres – but fewer city residents might be aware of the extent of lava caves lying not far beneath their feet.
They’re found in few other places in New Zealand and are considered relatively rare even by world standards.
Among the largest is a massive system running 250m beneath Kitenui Avenue and surrounding streets in Mt Albert, and accidentally discovered in 2006 by workers repairing gas pipes.
He Gets it
A great op-ed from a business owner in Palmerston North who gets it.
If you were to take an aerial shot of our city you’d see that something like 20% of the land area is taken up by roads and parking.
And unlike New Zealand, in Europe people walk or cycle past shops and cafes because they can’t drive past.
That means they can stop and go in, ideally for the business, to spend some money.
A person driving by in a car can’t do that.
When I look out the front window of my cafe in George St, Palmerston North, and see a car driving past all I see is someone who isn’t spending money in the street.
They are almost certainly just using the road to get elsewhere.
Now those with no business experience will be saying “but those cars will park somewhere nearby and spend money”.
Maybe, but the opportunity cost of discouraging pedestrians and cyclists is almost certainly much higher.
The Audi Effect
This is what can happen when we make more space for people on Queen St. Also, it’s good to see Heart of the City actually celebrating the city rather than moaning about it.
Great to see some new outdoor dining pop up on Queen Street – at Cooke’s @ the Fable– perfect for the sunny days we’ve been having! pic.twitter.com/de8rJAPPf1
— Heart of the City (@hotcity_akl) January 22, 2024
Was there anything else that stood out to you that we’ve missed?
Have a great long weekend.