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Sunday reading 7 February 2016

Energy - Denmark

Copenhagen, Photo by Alex MacLean.

Here’s a great collection of aerial European landscapes by Alex MacLean, “Energy Landscapes: An Aerial View Of Europe’s Carbon Footprint“, Yale Environment 360.

The summer calendar is jam packed with city-friendly events that have been helpfully compiled by Bike Auckland. Summer of bike love – Go By Bike Day and other upcoming events. This week includes the following bike-related events:

Go By Bike (bike-to-work day) 10 February.

Bike Love-in @ Silo Markets 12 February.

Bike Rave, 14 February.

And on biking, here is an article from the Bike Lobby™ claiming that 70% of American mayors would like to see better provision for cycling on city streets. Caitlin Giddings, Most Mayors Agree—Add More Bike Lanes Instead of Parking, Bicycling.

In terms of infrastructure priorities, one in five mayors also listed “bicycle friendliness” as a top three area for new infrastructure spending. And when given the opportunity to spend a hypothetical unrestricted small grant on an infrastructure project, bike/pedestrian projects emerged as the top choice—ahead of parks, roads, and city buildings. (For a hypothetical unrestricted large grant, “roads” was the top choice—but, encouragingly, only after “mass transit.”)

While Portland Oregon has been a poster child for progressive, people-first city planning and design the mode share for cycling has been stuck at around 6% for several years now. The city is now taking the sensible step in requiring high quality, separated facilities on streets with more than 3,000 vehicle a day. Michael Andersen, Portland Is First U.S. City to Make Protection Default for All New Bike Lanes, StreetsBlog USA.

The key is to build our system well, to build it to be safe, and to strive for the highest quality bikeways possible.

There is a growing body of research and experience across the U.S., North America and the world demonstrating the effectiveness and desirability of protected bicycle lanes to encourage more bicycle transportation. It is also a key element of our Vision Zero strategy for people when riding bicycles. That is why I am asking our engineers, project managers and planners to make protected bicycle lanes the preferred design on roadways where separation is called for. I am asking for this design standard for retrofits of existing roadways as well as to new construction.

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Via Ian Lockwood

And from the the state that brought us the Katy Freeway here is one Texas politician now talking some sense. New Houston Mayor to Texas DOT: Wider Roads Mean More Traffic City Lab, Eric Jaffe.

Mayor Sylvester Turner told a told the Texas Transportation Commission that it was time for a “paradigm shift” away from the ineffective approach of widening highways:

This example, and many others in Houston and around the state, have clearly demonstrated that the traditional strategy of adding capacity, especially single occupant vehicle capacity on the periphery of our urban areas, exacerbates urban congestion problems. These types of projects are not creating the kind of vibrant, economically strong cities that we all desire.

Susanna Rustin, Car fumes are killing us. So why isn’t anyone telling us not to drive?, The Guardian.

In October it became illegal to smoke in a car with a child, while Dame Tessa Jowell, runner-up in the Labour mayoral selection contest, made a big thing of her plan to ban smoking in parks. Yet when there is a bad pollution episode no one tells people to stop driving, as the mayor of Paris did last year. Instead, people with asthma are warned not to go out. It’s as if, rather than banning smoking in public places in England in 2007, the government had advised people wishing to avoid lung cancer to stay away from pubs.

Good news and bad news from Australia. Australians aged 80+ are now more likely to drive than 18-24 year-olds! Roy Morgan.

Over the past eight years, the proportion of Australians aged 80+ who get behind the wheel has steadily increased—while 18-24 year-olds have become less inclined to drive. For the first time, in 2015 the oldies surpassed the youngsters as the more likely group to drive: 69% of 80+ (up from 59% in 2007) compared with 68% of 18-24 (down from 72%).

Removing centrelines make streets safer and slows vehicles. This is well understood and standard practice in the Netherlands. We covered this story a year ago.  If safety wasn’t motivation enough, think of how much money could be saved on the routine re-painting of centrelines across Auckland.

Linda Poon, Can Removing Centerlines Make Roads Safer? CityLab.

The agency is currently testing centerline removal on at least three roads with a speed limit of 30 mph, and the results so far show promise, according to the report. TFL found that drivers slowed down, on average, by five to nine miles per hour. Researchers also observed that speeds were particularly lower when drivers were passing oncoming traffic.

The removal of road markings is to be celebrated. We are safer without them. The Guardian.

Behind this demarking lies the concept of “shared space” and “naked streets”, developed in the 1990s by the late Dutch engineer, Hans Monderman. He held that traffic was safest when road users were “self-policing” and streets were cleared of controlling clutter. His innovations, now adopted in some 400 towns across Europe, have led to dramatic falls in accidents. Yet for some reason Monderman’s ideas remain starkly uninfluential in the world of “big” health and safety, especially in Britain.

Please share other links in the comments section.

34 comments to Sunday reading 7 February 2016

  • Early Commuter

    The centreline thing is intriguing. I have no doubt it would slow people down (and thus be safer) but it would be a nightmare if there were accidents and fault had to be determined. Maybe have “invisible” centrelines that could be used for evidential purposes?

    • Sailor Boy

      What’s the point of the invisible centre line? the point is that there is no ‘your side’ of the road for someone else to be on.

    • Peter Nunns

      There are a lot of gravel roads in NZ, none of which have centreline markings. Perhaps it’s worth taking a look at how fault is determined for insurance purposes on these roads.

      • Early Commuter

        From experience: whoever is over half the roadway. However without a line that can be difficult to determine. As a driver I should have the right to the LHS of the road absolutely. If the LHS and RHS overlap, however, that’s an infringement of those rights (and all rights are manmade, so fair enough). But where do we “draw the line” then?

        • Sailor Boy

          We already have this situation on thousands of kms of road in nz. Its no reason to not improve safety!

        • Bryan

          The legal requirement is to keep as far left as practicable. If both drivers were keeping as far left as practicable, then whoever was moving was at fault for not being able to stop in half the length of clear road visible. if both were moving, both are responsible.

    • mfwic

      Imagine the potential we have of expanding this into other areas. We could remove all the Plimsoll lines from ships on the basis that no one would be fool enough to overload a ship. We could remove all safety barriers and hand rails as people would soon learn they dont really need them. And those moveable barriers on the harbour bridge and the fixed ones on the Newmarket viaduct – I mean what are they for? People would have more sense than to cross to the other side.

      • Sailor Boy

        Actually median barriers on high speed high volume roads have safety benefits, just like removing markings on low volume low speed roads.

  • Simon

    Is bike to work day seriously 8 February – the Mondayised Waitangi day?

  • JimboJones

    ” separated facilities on streets with more than 3,000 vehicle a day”
    I think this is what Auckland needs – clearly defined policies from the top of AT.
    Stop the surveys and consultations on every project which makes them expensive, slow, and compromised. When the vocal minority get up in arms, the project manager just needs to say ‘sorry, but it is AT policy’ rather than ‘OK I’ll try and keep your parking in place’

    • pacifica.northwest

      or that matter the disabled don’t need to go anywhere right. We can lock them up and free up parking spaces for people who can already go everywhere they want. In fact ban the disabled from the center city. They already have nowhere they can park and go, why not make it official.

      • Doug

        That’s a rather extreme response. Nobody is suggesting there will be no parking for those who truly need it for mobility reasons. It’s simply time to dismantle the fallacy that storage of private property on roads is sacrosanct.

        • pacifica.northwest

          Are you kidding. Where do you think the disabled can park if parking has been removed. Let’s be clear there is bugger all actual disabled parking in the city per population and if you wanted to attend any events or festivals you might as well spend you time trying to kiss you arse because you would never get access. This city is quickly becoming the most unlivable city by removing parking and street access by car. What happens when the Domain streets get closed off (no access to Domain anymore so cannot go there). how about the bike barriers on Nelson (no way you can exit the vehicle while parked anymore so your only choice is to park on the cycle lane). Really the non disabled can be so blind sometimes. If you do not design from the outset for parking and car access what you are left with is closing off access to the most fragile in the community.

      • bjfoe

        I don’t see a need to conflate lack of parking for the disabled with a need to maintain the car-oriented status quo. Unless you’re determined to act as a stalking horse for pro-car interests?

        • pacifica.northwest

          Easy to explain the direct relationship: closing off car access, and removing parking removes access. Making a street only walkable means for those who are disabled there is very limited access. All the street designs posted in the article above and in the link you provided actually limit if not remove access. It would be easier for you to understand if you had your back muscles removed and your legs broken but have to cripple along on them. That is what the disability feels like and if you seek to remove access you are removing it for all people. Disabled included. There is no mid ground where a closed off bollarded street suddenly becomes accessible to cars again. Take the Northwest shared street. There is absolutely not disabled parking so where do the disabled park. Answer they cannot. They cannot go there independently and for those who cannot afford it (i.e. they cannot afford taxis everyday of their lives) they will not be able to go anywhere at all. Imagine not being able to walk fully and yet have the only access your place of work blocked off by a cycle barrier you cannot step over. Limiting the street access limits it for everyone and for those whose only form of access is by vehicle you might as well just kick them out of the city. Take the new Domain design, There is no access provided. Even with the current functionality when events come round the 2 disabled parks there are cordoned off. Soon most of the roads will be closed off too (see the designs on shape Auckland). All for the walking, cycling crowds. Try telling a designer that wanted to drop car access completely that it would be a bad idea. That even if you had tickets to such an event you would never be able to get access to it. That when there is no street access you cannot go to the Domain anymore. Let’s stop BS people. Face facts. You cannot cut back and cut out without cutting someone and the people you cut will always be the ones at the bottom of the heap. Those whose lives are on the last thread of living.

          • Stu Donovan

            From reading the thread it’s not clear to me whether we are talking about:
            – People who are disabled and who can’t drive themselves; or
            – People who are disabled but who drive themselves.

            The first group would seem to be affected more by the availability of things like pick-up/drop-off zones, cost/availability of taxi services, and (for those who qualify) total mobility schemes than they would be affected by the availability of parking. The second group would be impacted by the availability of parking.

            I haven’t seen any specific analysis of whether the proposed changes will reduce the proximity of mobility spaces to these destinations, and without this information the discussions seem a bit pointless.

            People also seem to be at risk of talking past each other: Whereas pacifica.northwest is talking specifically about *disabled* people, others appear to be talking more generally about the impacts on people who are mobility impaired (for whatever reason). The latter group is broader and includes people who are younger, older, disabled, and/or otherwise burdened (e.g. people with prams).

            I think there’s a tension between the needs of the two groups. Those who are truly disabled yet continue to drive themselves could potentially be disadvantaged by a proposal to reduce the proximity of mobility parking. However, the opposite might be true for the broader group of mobility impaired people: They may benefit from changes which reduce vehicle access.

            So there’s a tension between (potentially) reducing access for the (relatively) small number of people who are *disabled* versus (potentially) improving access for the relatively large number of people who are mobility impaired and who don’t drive cars. When confronted with such tensions, it’s normal/common (I would say reasonable but it seems somewhat subjective?) to try and balance the needs of different groups.

            Finally, I also don’t think we’re able to conclude (on the basis of the information here) that favouring the mobility impaired over those who are disabled is necessarily cutting out “those who are on the bottom of the heap”. If those who are disabled have access to a total mobility scheme, or can easily afford a taxi, then the impact of any change to reduce parking on them may well be marginal compared to driving themselves. On the other hand the benefit to those who are mobility impaired and who can’t/won’t drive themselves would well be significantly positive. So I’d want to see some information on income/alternatives before drawing firm conclusions.

            Take-away message? I think the comments from pacifica.northwest leap to somewhat unsubstantiated conclusions about the potential impacts of schemes designed to improve outcomes for pedestrians.

          • bjfoe

            @PNW There should be a lot more disabled parks. Someone picking up or dropping off a disabled person should be allowed to stop at any non-endangering kerbside for a several minutes – including peak hour clearways. Bollards and barriers should be controllable by remote for access to pedestrian only areas.

            I would strongly support these measures – particularly the ones that make driving less attractive for the able bodied (who need some flippin exercise anyhow)

      • Sailor Boy

        Funny that someone astroturfing for roadbuilding would bring up disabled people. Possiblt the group who would do best out of better conditions for non-drivers as so many cannot drive themselves.

      • Peter Nunns

        I regularly get up and down Dominion Road by foot. There is plenty of parking on the main road, on side streets, etc, etc. However, the condition of the footpaths and crosswalks is appalling. I simply cannot see how someone in a wheelchair or walking frame could use the street. There are simply too many cracks, irregularly-filled holes, signs occupying the path, random poles, etc.

        Moreover, there are a *lot* of these types of places in Auckland. My point is that people with mobility challenges are often failed by existing transport policies, so perhaps it would be more useful to argue for improvement to things that are *currently* going wrong rather than getting up in arms against a *non-existent* policy.

    • Mr Plod

      Yes, I think this is a brilliant idea. I know the councils count cars do they have enough to do a road usage map or do Google have more complete data? Is there a TB fan you could build a cycle way map at various vehicle per day set points? As suggested getting agreement on the target number would be preferable to fighting for every proposal from scratch.

      • David B

        Maybe ..maybe not. I can see the benefit of a blanket rule (at say 3000 vehicles per day) but there are other rules that could be even better. For example, if a road is that busy then it gets defined as an arterial route, and no parking is permitted. Or, if it is that busy then of course it is dangerous, so safe pedestrian crossings should be placed every 100m or less. I’d put these before separated cycle lanes and bus/T2 lanes but then those are desirable too.

        Many policy defaults can be driven by vehicle density – I like the approach that rules come into play at that point, rather than roads just becoming faster and more and more dangerous.

      • Early Commuter

        General rules are stupid. No different to “x police officers per 1000 people” or “x doctors per 1000 people”. They have absolutely no relation to the actual effect achieved.

    • mfwic

      Yes Jimbo because as everyone who has ever dealt with AT knows those project manager Vogons spend too much time listening (extreme sarcasm for anyone who doesn’t know my comments)

      • JimboJones

        Well they are definitely spending their time doing something other than painting cycle lanes.
        I was amazed how many painted cycle lanes there are in Hastings when I was there recently. You would think the big city would be more progressive.

        • mfwic

          I think they just go through the motions of consultation so they can tick a box. My experience is they have a plan and no intention of changing it even if someone shows them a better way. Show AT five wrong things and one right one and they will smash the right one.

  • The blue lanes on the first picture are an interesting visualisation of the relative road maintenance costs imparted by cars vs. bikes.

  • Richard

    “http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/feb/04/car-fumes-air-pollution-ban-motorists”

    Ironically it is not the pedestrian or cyclist who cops the worst dose of vehicle exhausts so motorists are gassing themselves if only they realised it!
    The reason for this is the air intakes in a car are almost in line with the car immediately in front of you and all you can do is to close the vents but I doubt many do at each congestion point in their travels. The gasses are then trapped in the vehicle cabin and accumulate….cough, cough.

    Years ago I used to commute on some days by bike from Glenfield via Greenhithe bridge through Henderson to the central city. At about Henderson I started picking up the rush hour traffic and being concerned about the fumes I asked my GP about the risks. He advised the exposure would be minimal on a bike and i would be more at risk going for a walk down Queen Street at lunch time because the fumes hang in the valley. ( There are various pockets of fumes like this around the city some in places you wouldn’t expect)

    So, yes why are drivers not warned not to drive?

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