The council’s Infrastructure Committee meets for the first time this year on Wednesday and one of the agenda items is the Role of Cycling in Auckland (or download the PDF version)
- Auckland’s population is forecast to grow significantly over the next 30 years. This highlights the need to provide greater transport choices to achieve a more resilient, efficient and reliable transport system.
- As the cycle network is still under development the current cycle infrastructure in Auckland does not provide a connected network of cycle ways and ranges in quality from excellent to poor. Recent cycle counts and customer surveys highlight that even with current infrastructure constraints there is a steady increase (10 percent per annum) in cycle numbers and a demand for safer and connected cycleways.
- Attachment A outlines Auckland Transport infrastructural projects that will deliver key sections of the Auckland Cycle Network (ACN) between 2014 and 2019.
- The ACN shown in Attachment B, developed by Auckland Transport, is the long-term blueprint for developing a well-connected, high quality cycle network. The current level of investment in cycleways will fall short of the Auckland Plan target of completing 70 percent of the ACN by 2020.
- Cycling and cycle infrastructure contributes to wider strategic objectives of the Auckland Plan associated with economic, social, environmental, land use, transport and infrastructure goals.
- Cycling contributes to economic development and growth by supporting urban vitality, increasing local spend and offers value for money with relatively low upfront investment.
- In the development of the draft Long-term Plan 2015-2025 and the Regional Land Transport Plan a number of strategic decisions will be required regarding allocation of road space and funding of cycleway programmes.
That the Infrastructure Committee:
- acknowledge the importance of cycling in contributing to the vision of creating the world’s most liveable city.
- support consideration of greater financial commitment to cycling in the draft Long-term Plan and Regional Land Transport Plan.
Ultimately this paper seems aimed at starting the discussion with the council to increase the level of funding for cycling projects in the next iteration of the Long Term Plan that the council is starting to work on. Later this year we will see a new government policy statement for transport which will set the funding bands for transport from 2015 onwards. It’s noted that the council, Auckland Transport and NZTA are all trying to get the government/ministry to increase the cycling band.
The discussion report provides a lot more information. A couple of things that stand out for me from it.
- As noted above the Auckland Plan target is to complete 70% of the regional cycle network by 2020. It has been estimated that 30% is already place (although to a debatable standard) but crucially based on the funding in the current long term plan only 40-50% will have been completed by 2020. That’s way short of the target the council set less than two years ago. We can’t blame AT for all of this though as it is also important for the council to provide their share of the funding needed to do the work.
- Some numbers show just how much opportunity there is for cycling, 2/3rds of all trips are less than 6km while 1/3rd are less than 2km. Those are easy cycling distances and even casual cyclists could do those distances in roughly 20 or 6 minutes respectively.
- As we’ve reported before, AT has split the proposed cycle network up in to three categories
- METRO – provide segregation from traffic along shared paths, off road routes and protected cycle lanes
- CONNECTOR – are not fully segregated routes and are the more traditional cycle lanes marked by painted lines
- FEEDER can be a mixture of segregation, shared paths and on-road routes but are located on quiet neighbourhood streets and where there are low traffic speeds. These routes link residential streets, parks and community facilities including schools. The Feeder network also aligns with Local Board Greenway proposals
- All up the proposed cycle network will be 293km in length which can be broken down to 95 km of cycle metros, 130 km of cycle connectors and 57 km of feeder routes
- In research done for Auckland Transport, 59% said safety was a barrier to them cycling, 79% agreed that more should be done to improve cycle safety and 55% said separated cycle facilities were a key priority.
The paper also provides some statistics that could be improved through getting more people cycling. This includes:
- Transport emissions are up 64% on 1990 levels and the social cost of poor air quality in Auckland was estimated in 2012 at $1.07 billion per year.
- The costs of physical inactivity in Auckland have been estimated at $402 million and cause 73 premature deaths per year.
- That if just 5% of adults travelling less than 7km switched from driving to cycling it would:
- Reduced vehicle travel by 223 million kilometres;
- Saving of 22 million litres of fuel and $37 million in fuel costs; and
- 50,000 tonnes less CO2 would be emitted and reductions in other pollutants.
Those are some pretty decent numbers.
Perhaps one of the most interesting things about this report to the council is that we get probably the clearest map yet of the total cycling network planned under the Metro, Connector and Feeder categories (there have been versions in plans like the ITP but they haven’t been easy to read). Remember the hierarchy is that the red lines are going to be the best and highest quality parts of the network,
A couple of things stand out here. First in the CBD it appears we’ll get a ring of separated cycleways around the CBD – including on Neslon St and the old Nelson St offramp – however we won’t get one through it. I would have thought that the Victoria St Linear Park would have had a separated cycleway along it. Also not sure why AT wouldn’t push for there to eventually be a full separated cycleway down Queen St now appears well over provisioned in road space for cars.
Moving out of the CBD some areas seem to be quite light on particularity feeder routes. This is a worry as many of the areas missing these feeder routes are also around current or future train or busway stations. One example is my local area (below) where no cycle routes are to be found connecting the station and local primary schools (green plus a heap of secondary schools just north of this image too). There are roughly 14,000 residents in this area along with some wide roads that would be easy to put cycle lanes on if on-street parking was removed (on-street parking only really seems to get used around the school start/end times anyway). Also note the Metro route in red isn’t practical for those mainly to the west of Sturges Rd.
Overall the long term cycle network is a damn sight better than what we have now but what we really need is for the council (and government) to support the construction of it. Something that will need to be pushed for in the long term plan discussions.
A great photo from Alex Burgess today showing one of our new electric trains in testing/driver training alongside SH1. The first trains enter service to Onehunga on April 28th.
This morning we received the excellent news from Lester Levy that within the next three months, for the first time in Auckland Transports history it will have created a new bus lane. The purpose of this post is a bit of a reminder as to why investing in bus lanes is so critical for us to do as a city.
This issue has been one we have focused on for some time and when there is such a huge focus on improving public transport, increasing patronage and investing in alternatives to driving everywhere – the complete lack of progress on bus lanes is utterly bizarre. The other part of the reason why we focus so much on bus lanes is that they’re just so fantastic. With the use of just a bit of green paint and a few signs, a fast, reliable, high quality and attractive public transport route can be created. In many situations this can vastly increase the capacity of the roading corridor as people take up a whole lot less room when on a bus than they do one person to a car. There are many different versions of this image around but it is a good way of highlighting the efficiency that buses provide.
Locally we can see just how much of an impact buses have on roads into the CBD from the annual screenline studies that take place. Take a look at how many more people travel along Karangahape Road, Symonds Street and Fanshawe Street by bus than do by car:
Given that all three streets mentioned above are pretty packed out for cars at peak times, if it wasn’t for the buses carrying so many people each street would need to have twice the number of lanes it currently has. This has also been seen on the Harbour Bridge where the number of people crossing at peak times has continued to rise while the number of vehicles hasn’t, in large part due to the improvements in bus infrastructure on the North Shore making buses more attractive. Before the Northern Busway only 18% of those crossing the bridge in the peak did so on a bus, now that number is up over 40%. The image below is a bit old now but highlights the trend that has been occurring and that has continued to occur.
But maximising capacity is not the only reason why we should consider putting in bus lanes. Even where less than 50% of people moving along a corridor are on the bus, there’s still a big benefit of bus lanes providing a fast, reliable congestion free travel option. We haven’t shown all streets that should have bus lanes on the congestion free network maps, but in a way we should – because as long as the bus lanes are continuous (often they aren’t), have sufficient hours of operation (which often they don’t) and are supported by traffic signal phasing tuned to maximise public transport efficiency (something that happens overseas but generally not here), bus lanes can often provide a really good level of service for low-to-medium demand routes.
No congestion in this lane!
Furthermore, bus lanes should help improve operational efficiency of the bus network. The longer a bus takes to get from A to B, the more buses that are needed on that route to keep frequencies at the same level. During peak hours not only are more buses often required because of increased demand, but as buses get stuck in congestion and take much longer to complete their routes, even more buses are needed on the network to limit the gaps between services. And a whole pile of buses used only at peak times means a very expensive system to run. By taking the buses out of the congestion, not only will the service attract many more people (and their fares), fewer buses will be required to maintain the desired frequencies because the buses will be travelling so much faster.
So why aren’t we seeing more bus lanes? Of course the real beauty of bus lanes is also their greatest challenge: because they don’t need to require building more road space, they do involve taking that space away from other uses. Usually either peak hour private vehicle capacity (if there’s a clearway or other parking restriction) or on-street parking. Both of these uses are notoriously difficult to reallocate to bus lanes – even when there’s an utterly compelling argument. Over the past few years – while we haven’t been building any bus lanes – there certainly have been numerous arguments over the ones we have. This has led to things like a farcical number of signs around Grafton Bridge and the winding back of the Remuera Road bus lanes to T3 lanes.
In summary, we know that often there are compelling arguments for bus lanes based on logic – whether that’s maximising the capacity of the road corridor, significantly improving the quality of public transport along a route or improving operational efficiency. Or all three. However, we also know that implementing bus lanes can be tough due to petty politics and intense local debates over things like on-street parking. This situation reminds me of quite a bit of discussion in the past couple of weeks around the Council’s upcoming review of the Council-Controlled Organisations – of which Auckland Transport is the largest. Quite a lot of the arguments in favour of CCOs is that they’re able to operate a ‘step away’ from day-to-day politicking that can hold back progress. That they’re able to make the right decisions based on the greater good, rather than be held back by the vocal few. This is something that Lester touched on in his letter this morning.
One of the most salient messages that I took from Jarrett’s work is that bold initiatives, require courage and commitment (and perseverance) to ensure the benefits are in fact delivered. I was very interested in Jarrett’s point of view that what is in the greater public interest is not going to be in everyone’s interest. I happen to agree with Jarett and it is very important for Auckland Transport now and into the future not to jump and react to every issue raised, but rather to clearly define its direction and priorities, hold true to them and then focus on excellent and rapid implementation.
Progressing bus lanes is a great way for Auckland Transport to prove its worth.
Lester Levy has asked me to publish this note from him in full.
I want to take this opportunity to thank the Transport Blog, Generation Zero and Cycle Action Auckland for taking up my invitation to present the Congestion Free Network concept to our recent Auckland Transport Board meeting. The Congestion Free Network is a thoughtful and constructive concept and I thought it important that the Auckland Transport Board and Senior Executives had the opportunity to engage with your group directly, on this concept. The presentation was very clear and perfectly articulated by Patrick Reynolds.
It will be interesting for Auckland Transport to now examine the Congestion Free Network in more detail with you, but without a doubt this is a concept that helps create an environment of both more contestable ideas and generative thinking.
I believe that Auckland Transport needs to be more open to examining ideas from outside the organisation, a good example is the suggestion from Luke Christensen regarding bus lanes on Fanshawe Street, westbound from Albert Street to Nelson Street and on to Halsey Street. As many of your readers may know, there is currently a more comprehensive piece of work being undertaken to develop a potential busway from Beaumont Street, along Fanshawe Street to the downtown area, with a bus station on Fanshawe Street – but this solution is certainly some time away from delivery, so any interim and pragmatic relief is very sensible.
I asked Auckland Transport management to examine Luke’s suggestion (which was supported by the advocacy of Cameron Pitches from The Campaign for Better Transport) and management have concluded that it is possible to provide bus lanes over this section suggested, and that these could remain in place until an ultimate solution is provided. The City Centre Integration Group will coordinate this work with Auckland Transport and look to put it in place as soon as practicable. As always, there is a process around designating bus lanes, but I understand this can happen reasonably quickly.
Auckland Transport management had themselves been progressing a number of opportunities in respect of pragmatic interim solutions, but Luke’s suggestion was not on that early programme. I am very pleased with management’s response in that they quickly reviewed their programme and concluded that there would be value in doing the Fanshawe Street westbound bus lane improvements as soon as practicable. Once the planning regulatory processes have been resolved it is possible that we could have a solution in place within three months.
I have also noted that there is a subsequent transport blog item proposing more bus lanes on the Symonds Street corridor. Interestingly our team have been considering this already and there are some fairly significant infrastructure issues to overcome before we implement the solution there, but we are programming work to achieve this.
Increasingly we need to have pragmatic, interim solutions in place whilst we work towards the more time consuming, ideal and more complete solutions – this response is an exemplar of this type of approach. Thanks to Luke and Cameron and Auckland Transport’s management – an excellent virtual team.
You may recall that late last year I invited Jarett Walker (“Human Transit – How Clearer Thinking About Public Transit Can Enrich our Communities And our Lives”) to make a presentation to the Auckland Transport Board. Like the proponents of the Congestion Free Network, Jarett is a clear thinker and an articulate advocate for public transport. I was pleased with his positive view of what we are doing, in particular with the roll-out of the new, high frequency bus network (starting in South Auckland).
One of the most salient messages that I took from Jarrett’s work is that bold initiatives, require courage and commitment (and perseverance) to ensure the benefits are in fact delivered. I was very interested in Jarrett’s point of view that what is in the greater public interest is not going to be in everyones interest. I happen to agree with Jarett and it is very important for Auckland Transport now and into the future not to jump and react to every issue raised, but rather to clearly define its direction and priorities, hold true to them and then focus on excellent and rapid implementation.
Finally, I take this opportunity to thank and acknowledge the Transport Blog and all its contributors for adding – mostly constructively – to the vitality of discussion around how we are taking transport in Auckland forward.
Dr Lester Levy
Some new additions to our development tracker.
City: Nicolas St Apartments – 60 Apartments
Another addition to the Hobson/Nelson cluster of apartments. This one seems to be on a site that has entrances from both Hobson St and Nicolas St. The development has two towers in it.
While it’s called Nicolas St, this image is of the development from Hobson St.
City: Summit on Symonds – 45 apartments
What appears to be a conversion and extension of the existing building on the corner of K Rd and Symonds St. Like The Xanadu, this one appears to be targeting baby boomers. In the image below it also suggests that a separate building (the green one) will be built) as part of this.
Mt Eden: Mt Eden Fiore – 120 apartments
This appears to be proposed for the large empty site currently used as a carpark on the Northern side of Enfield St next to the Horse & Trap
Parnell: 28 York St – 12 Apartments
12 very expensive but also very large apartments in Parnell.
The ACT party – or at least its biggest funder – was in the news last weekend for expressing some of his views for the party at their annual conference. Of note was this line
“I’d privatise all the schools, all the hospitals and all the roads,” he told the conference.
Now obviously we’re not in the habit of talking about schools or hospitals (unless it’s about how to get to them) but roads are something on our list. Now in reality I can’t see it happening here – at least any time soon – but it raises the interesting question of what would happen if we were to privatise roads? This post is really just a thought exercise as to some of the impacts of doing so.
I suspect that if we were ever privatise the roads the impact would how we get around and our views on transport would change dramatically. There would be some overall impacts across the entire network but also more local impacts due to there likely needing to be different forms of privatisation.
The key impact would be across the entire network and the true cost of operating, maintaining and building roads would become much clearer regardless of how that’s passed on to the public. A better understanding of just how much roads cost, especially if charged for through forms of road pricing would lead to changes in how people travel. People would likely reduce the amount of driving they do in favour of more walking, cycling and PT use.
Private road owners would also likely seek to reduce their maintenance costs while users of lighter vehicles would likely demand that costs are more fairly distributed to those that do the most damage. That in itself could have large impacts. It would likely see the vehicle fleet get smaller and lighter over time i.e. less people would be driving around in large SUVs unless they absolutely need too (or want too). Truckies would be even harder hit. Due to their weight, trucks cause substantially more damage to road surfaces and so would likely be charged substantially more than other vehicles which in itself would have far reaching impacts by pushing up delivery costs. Those increased costs would of course be passed on to businesses and ultimately consumers.
Perhaps one of the areas most impacted would be in road construction. In short it would kill it dead. Most transport projects simply don’t make sense financially and the toll road troubles in Australia are proof of this. Traffic volumes often don’t stack up and most projects are only able to be justified based on the benefits to the wider economy from improved travel times. Faced with paying for a journey in time through congestion or paying a monetary cost to avoid congestion, many choose the former. What all of this means is that road construction would dry up almost immediately and the costs would shift to making the best use of the infrastructure that exists. That could have some negative consequences as there might be little attention paid to improving roads through projects like this. The flip side of this is that the private road owners would likely become liable for road safety and therefore be a push to improve crash black spots.
Regardless of whether privatising roads is a good or a bad thing, one thing that isn’t so clear is just how it could be done. The real benefit from roads comes from the fact they are an extensive network. Very few trips begin and end on the same road and a trip might commonly involve travelling on quieter residential streets, arterial roads and motorways. Each of those would present vastly different opportunities for privatisation.
Motorways would probably be the easiest roads to privatise due to the fact they have limited access and all journeys that use a motorway begin and end somewhere else. Motorways also carry large amounts of traffic each day. This is also why groups like the NZCID who have been pushing for the council/govt to find additional ways to fund ever more and larger transport projects have suggested charging for access to the motorways. If we were to privatise roads there would likely be a big temptation to do the easiest ones first and so motorways would be at the top of the agenda. The problem with that though is that it would likely have a huge impact on but still publicly owned roads.
The next easiest set of roads to privatise would actually be quiet suburban streets, particularly those post 1950′s suburbs full of cul-de-sacs. There we would probably do something similar to what is likely to happen later this year in the small sprawly village of Long Grove (north of Chicago). They are looking to privatise many of their currently public suburban roads because it simply can’t afford to maintain them due to their pyramid scheme like system of how roads were funded where the money to pay for them was only raised through development contributions which dried up as a result of the GFC. They are simply going to turn over the ownership of the roads to the owners of the houses on the street and leave it up to them to maintain.
Some typical post 1950′s street patterns
That could put big strains on neighbourly relations in many places as people work out who will pay for what i.e. does everyone on a street pay equally or do those at the end of the street pay more? In some parts of Auckland there could be interesting changes in the stance taking on intensification. More people living on a street means more people to share the cost of a road with and so some of the suburbs that were most opposed to intensification in the Unitary Plan discussions might quickly change their mind. Going further some residential neighbourhoods might start imposing restrictions on vehicle use in their streets – particularly truck movements – in a bid to lessen the damage vehicles do to the roads. Gated communities might also become more common to stop others from passing through.
On the positive side these communities are likely to become much more pedestrian and cycle friendly as those two modes cause much less wear and tear on roads which equates to less maintenance.
Privatising arterial roads are likely to be the hardest to do because not only do they serve a movement function but they serve a place one too, people live, work and play along arterials. To be honest I don’t even know how you could privatise them as due to their function they can’t just be turned over to locals to maintain but their connected nature means they would be prohibitively expensive to charge for. Who would really want the cost and hassle of owning them?
Overall I don’t think the idea of privatising roads is necessarily a bad one from an ideological perspective and doing so would certainly change how we use roads, including what modes we use but overall it simply isn’t practical. Roads are such a key part of our everyday life that changing our relationship with them – however flawed it currently is – would have radical and far reaching consequences for society, probably far more so than the privatising of many other government functions. As such I would suggest the likelihood of it happening is very very low. Far more likely and practical would be the introduction of proper road pricing.
A brief video put together by Waterfront Auckland featuring the images of Craig and Sydney (aka oh.yes.melbourne) showing the changes that have occurred in the Wynyard Quarter in helping to transform it from a run down industrial area to a stunning people space.
In Christchurch, CERA have released plans for the new central city bus interchange and it looks like it will be a nightmare. They say
From the second quarter of 2015, Christchurch bus users will enjoy a state-of-the-art Bus Interchange in the heart of the city.
Bounded by Tuam, Colombo and Lichfield streets and SOL Square, it has been designed to meet the needs of customers – both now and in the future – and to integrate with its urban location and the existing public transport network.
On opening, the Bus Interchange will handle up to 115 bus movements per hour and by 2041 it will be used by about 7,500 people per hour.
It will cost $53 million and they also say it will include other development opportunities, provide easy access to the ‘slow core’ of the CBD that is being prioritised for pedestrians, includes cycle storage but also carparking (which is odd as they say the bus interchange is about trying to encourage PT use to get to the city.
The interchange is being designed by Warren and Mahoney along with Aurecon but I can’t help be feeling that the design is focused too much on how the interchange looks and not how it will actually operate.
And here’s the top down view.
The design seems incredibly impractical for a bus interchange, it looks more like an intercity terminus. Here are some of the issues with it.
- Due to the internal roundabout it uses an incredible amount of space for what is only 16 platforms. Some island platforms could probably cut down the land requirement substantially which would have left more land available for development.
- Due to how deep the sawtooth platforms are, buses will need to be reversing quite far to be able to get on to roundabout. That presents two major problems.
- There’s a pedestrian crossing to the island (not sure what’s on it) but it’s squeezed between the sawtooth platforms – which will probably be busy with passengers. Even worse is it will require buses to reverse over the crossing. Let’s just say that’s far from ideal and quite a safety hazard.
- On the South-western side it will mean reversing buses will block the entrance to the interchange, again another potential safety hazard.
This design gets even stupider seeing as ECANs proposed bus network in their 2012 Regional Public Transport Plan has buses through routed through the CBD, not terminating in it.
I much prefer this concept shown a while ago
It’s also worth highlighting this video from then the plans were launched a few days ago. Skip to 11:50 to here Gerry Brownlee saying such things as
“The concept of discrete shops, laneways and open space is very much a winner with the Canterbury public” (Gerry it’s not just those in Canterbury who like that).
“Public transport is very very important, people will know that in the CBD we’re looking at some slower speed restrictions, but part of that is to encourage public transport as much as possible”
Life under the Victoria Park Viaduct
Photo is credited to oh.yes.melbourne
Warning, this is seriously addictive.
Dinosaur Polo Club - a couple of Wellington based of developers – have created an amazingly simple and yet highly addictive game based on transit maps called Mini Metro.
Mini Metro is an upcoming minimalistic subway layout game. Your small city starts with only three unconnected stations. Your task is to draw routes between the stations to connect them with subway lines. Everything but the line layout is handled automatically; trains run along the lines as quickly as they can, and the commuters decide which trains to board and where to make transfers.
However the city is constantly growing, along with the transport needs of its population. How long can you keep the subway system running before it grinds to a halt?
The game is still in alpha but is already highly playable and fun. The different station symbols represent different destinations while the smaller version of symbols stacked up next to them represent the desired destination of the passengers waiting at the station. My best score was 470 a second or so after this screenshot was taken.
I don’t know whether it was conscious or not but there are a few really important PT network planning principle that play out in this game.
- The trains (the coloured squares on the line) move at a set speed. That means the longer the line the longer it takes to complete each run and therefore the lower the frequency. It’s tempting to run really long routes for coverage but doing so sees frequency drop and can be a quick way to lose the game.
- A connected grid of intersecting routes is the only real way to make a long lasting network as anything else results in excessively long routes and therefore low frequency.
- There’s always the situation where you wish you had just one more route and/or tunnel available.
- With the stations popping up at random and often annoying to serve locations you’re always wondering who the hell decided to do land use planning independently of transport planning
All up a very cool game and the developers are working on a full game that will also work on tablets. It will also feature maps from other cities (the river in the map above appears to suggest this is London) and the developers may even get an Auckland map in there.
What score can you get?