This a guest post by Tim Kvingedal, a student at the School of Architecture, University of Auckland. Tim is from Norway.
I´ve been living in central Auckland for 11 months now, and you know what? I’m getting sick of waiting for cars. Every time I step out of my flat I feel like I’m wasting my time and this is why I did this research.
First a little backdrop of the situation in Auckland
Tim K 2
This map shows all parking, which is run by the big companies like Wilson etc., in Auckland CBD. The ones marked with letters are all multi storey car parks and the red dots are “smaller” ones on the ground. You can also add all the parking that belongs to private offices, shops etc. There are so many parking spots but still not enough for the ridiculous amount of cars. So we need more car parks, you say? Well, if you want to dig your own grave, the answer is yes. If you’re more interested in making Auckland work as a well functioning city in the future public transport is the answer, and by public transport I first of all mean train.
Lets do a quick assessment of what kind of work cars and train are doing best. Well, one single railway has about twelve times more capacity than a single motorway lane. This means that you can ship a large amount of people in and out of the city centre ten times more efficient than a car would do.
On average there are 1.2 people in each car going in and out of Auckland CBD. This means that there is a lot of space wasted to get 1.2 people from A to B. The car is also running on fossil fuels and will pollute a whole lot more than an eco friendly electric train. What the train cannot do is to take you to rural places like your bach, which are miles away from the rail lines. So the car is good at transporting you out from urban places whereas the train is good at taking you in and out of the cities.
For my research I decided to see how much time I wasted on a single trip from my apartment in Union Street to Countdown grocery store next to Queen Street. This should be a 10 minute walk with 7 intersections. Lets see what happened:
I only need to walk 20 meters before my first red man. I started the stopwatch. 30 seconds, 1 minute, still no sign of the green man. So what do you do? Call a friend? Well, with all that traffic noise there’s no point in calling anyone. Better do nothing. So finally, after 1 minute 45s I’m allowed to cross.
I walk up Hobson Street and I spot this gap between two buildings. This is not the only one I’ve seen, Auckland is filled with these gaps and most of them are used for ‘temporary’ car parks. In this gap it looks like it´s one lucky car that found this secret little spot with great view.
The thing about these gaps is that people don’t see them, except people that are in a cars looking for a car park. The street life desperately needs these gaps to be filled, because they’re puncturing the whole experience of walking down the street and being activated by the programmes in the surrounding buildings.
This particular spot would be great for a café or what about just putting a big cow there to activate people walking down the street and open their eyes for that gap and what kind of potential it has.
I start walking again and I see people running like crazy to cross the street before the green man disappears. They simply don’t want to waste their time waiting for cars to cross.
So after a couple of red men and one lucky green I’m standing next to Auckland’s biggest wound, the gap next to Elliot Street. Not surprisingly this is used for parking cars, and this is just devastating for the area. Again, why not do something to activate the area before they start building there? There is already one carousel so yeah let’s have a temporary mini amusement park. Think of all the joy this will spread out to the area. Kids laughing, music, the smell of popcorn. I mean anything is better for the city than another car park.
Another thing that fascinates me when I’m walking are all the cars popping out of buildings like Jack in the box.
As a pedestrian I almost constantly have to be aware of that there might be a car coming out of this slot. It’s not that it’s really dangerous but you still have to be aware of it all the time. On my way home I clocked how long time I’d spent on passing these car slots.
This picture sums up the feeling as a pedestrian with all this cars popping out. It’s a battle:
It’s not just the cars crossing the pedestrian lane that is annoying, but also that the pedestrian lane itself sometimes disappear! There is no marking and no lights telling you when you can cross. So I guess if I want to follow the traffic rules I better go back and try another way?
So after crossing 14 intersections in total I’m home again and these are the stats from the walk:
So thanks to the auto-dominant nature of Auckland I will have wasted 91 hours of my time this year just to buy groceries.
And I’m not sure it’s working out so well for all the drivers either…
We have been a huge fan of the development of shared spaces and we aren’t the only ones with them being incredibly successful. Back in April I asked what was happening with the development of more of them as they seemed to have disappeared off the radar. In particular I was interested in the outcome of both the O’Connell St and Federal St upgrades which had been through a consultation period. Well now we have an answer thanks to an update in the latest Waitemata Local Board meeting agenda.
O’Connell St – Back in April I wrote:
First up we had O’Connell St in September last year however oddly that wasn’t a shared space. The proposal talked about making footpaths wider by removing car parking. Yet car parking was pretty much the only reason that cars would ever need to be in O’Connell St and with that gone, so to would probably most of the cars (not that there are that many in the first place). Those cars that did still use the street would no longer have to worry about someone opening their door or pulling out of a parking spot so are likely to travel down the road faster, not a desirable outcome in an area where we want lots of pedestrians. Overall it seemed like a poorly thought out design and we encouraged readers to make submissions saying so. The thing is despite the consultation closing back in the middle of September, we are yet to even hear what the outcome of that consultation was. I heard informally a while ago that the project went back to the drawing board but it would be nice to have an official update about where the project is at.
Well the great news is that thanks to the strong feedback against the proposal, the street is now to become a shared space. Sure it isn’t quite full pedestrian only street like I, and many others hoped for but I’m ok with that, at least with a shared street that can still happen easily later if need be. Here is the executive summary of the update (page 157 of the link above)
2. The upgrade of O’Connell Street is part of a 10-year programme of city centre streetscape and open space upgrades, which are funded by the CBD Targeted Rate. The O’Connell Street project budget is $4.367m.
3. The objectives of the upgrade are to improve pedestrian amenity, create more space for people and to promote O’Connell Street as part of the city centre ‘laneway’ circuit, as identified in the Auckland Council City Centre Master Plan. The upgrade will also create space for outdoor activities, including outdoor dining.
4. The shared space concept design (Attachment A) delivers on these objectives and has support from key stakeholders including the CBD Advisory Board, O’Connell Street businesses and property owners, as well as disability groups and the Royal New Zealand Institute for the Blind. Auckland Transport also support the shared space design.
5. In addition to the O’Connell Street upgrade, a range of other projects are proposed in the High Street Precinct area, including O’Connell Street, Freyberg Square, High Street and the Pioneer Women’s Building improvements. Officers are working to ensure that the design outcomes and construction schedules for each of these projects are co-ordinated.
6. The next step for the O’Connell Street upgrade is to commence detailed design. The construction is currently scheduled to begin in early 2014 lasting for approximately six months.
Here is what the new proposal composes of:
- A shared space where vehicles must give way to pedestrians.
- The same design principles and materials used in other city centre shared spaces to ensure a consistent standard and legibility for users.
- Fully paved road reserve i.e. a flush, kerb-less surface using the granite stone modules used in all other city centre shared spaces.
- Clutter-free, accessible routes for pedestrians and disabled users down both sides of the street, tactile delineators to enable safe navigation by disabled users, activity zones on both the eastern and western sides of the street which provide space for outdoor dining, street furniture and vegetation, plus a 3m carriage down the middle of the street.
- Cobbled threshold treatments that provide flush pedestrian crossing tables at either end of the street and widened footpath build outs at the Chancery Lane and Shortland Street corners, creating greater pedestrian amenity at the thresholds.
- New street furniture and façade mounted lighting
- Removal of an existing tree (Tulip tree) and inclusion of nikau palms (up to 9) along the western side.
- Removal of all (20) on-street car parks to provide space for pedestrian movement, greater public amenity and better activation of the street edges, which is consistent with parking restrictions in all other city centre shared spaces
- Removal of the existing loading zones with loading instead provided along the length of the street at permitted times (6am-11am daily) which is consistent with loading permissions in all other city centre shared spaces.
- Retention of existing traffic flow (via one northbound lane)
- Possible provision for a public artwork (mid-block)
- Possible provision of informal/perchable seating elements that feature text referencing the rich history of the street.
Unlike O’Connell, Federal St (between Wellesley and Victoria St) was proposed to be a shared space. The report (page 163) says that the proposal had very strong support with 84% of the feedback supporting the idea. The detailed design will now be done and construction is due to start in August. Here is the proposed design.
Its good to see positive progress on these two projects.
The deal between the government and Sky City for a new convention centre has been announced this morning.
Details of the controversial SkyCity convention centre deal with the Government have been announced this morning – and the listed casino operator will pay $402m for the new centre.
The centre is expected to generate $90m of revenue each year. SkyCity will meet the full cost of the centre and be allowed to have 230 extra poker machines. Its exclusive license will be extended to 2048.
It will cost $315 million to build and fit-out, while the land will be worth $87m.
Construction on the centre is expected to begin in 2014 and open in 2017.
Now I’m not going to comment on the moral debate surrounding this agreement, that can be left to other sites. What I am more interested in is looking at are the potential benefits to some of the transport projects that we strongly believe in.
Sky City is surely one of the biggest beneficiaries of the CRL with its properties either right next to the proposed Aotea station which is expected to become the busiest station on the network. In fact it wouldn’t surprise me if they have already been considering ways to tap into it and funnel passengers from the station through to their premises. The proposed convention centre is less than 200m from the station meaning that will be very easy to access for locals visiting or working at the site.
However if we believe the claims of Steven Joyce (and I don’t tend to believe them) many of the visitors will come from overseas. Those visitors will need to get from the airport to the city. While a good deal are likely to do so via taxis, another project could change that.
Rail to the Airport
We keep getting told that even with massive investment in new roads, congestion is only going to get worse. Even today getting from the airport to the city can take more than an hour outside of the peak. The rail network can avoid that congestion and deliver reliable journey times. Connecting rail to the airport, combined with the CRL means that visitors could be whisked from the terminal straight to the heart of town in around 35 minutes. Further if they are staying in one of the Sky City hotels then it would be super easy for them to reach straight from the station.
Of course a rail connection to the airport isn’t just about people travelling but actually helps to connect the entire south west of the city.
Hobson and Nelson St
Hobson and Nelson Sts currently seem to just be giant traffic sewers whose sole purpose is to funnel as many vehicles as possible to/from the motorways. This has meant that the area has become a pretty horrid place for anyone not in a car. This blog has long called for this to be addressed with our preferred solution being to once again make these streets two way. We first raised the issue a few years ago and the idea quickly caught on, even making it into the councils City Centre Master Plan however it is something we haven’t heard about for a while. With the announcement of the convention centre perhaps it is time for this idea to float back to the surface.
Not only would it help in making these streets nicer places, I believe it could also assist in improving the flow of traffic as currently Hobson St especially gets clogged up in the afternoons as people end up blocking lanes as they try to get into the get into the lanes for the motorway they want to access.
In saying all of this, SkyCity don’t seem to care about any of this with the herald reporting.
The company said as well as the convention and exhibition space, there will be at least 780 carpark and a new linkway bridge over Hobson St.
This is on top of their almost 2000 carparks. Perhaps they are expecting all of these promised international visitors to drive their cars to New Zealand? Adding so many extra carparks certainly isn’t going to help in the councils aims to reduce the number of vehicles in the CBD or to improve the the quality of our streets for pedestrians. This is further reinforced by the building of an airbridge to keep people away from the area. That doesn’t bode well level of interaction we can expect the building to have with the street meaning we will potentially see more gaping holes dedicated to moving cars into underground parking buildings, like the current casino building does (above).
Last week I looked at the costs of parking in parking buildings in the central city. Today I’m going to look at on street parking, in particular the impacts of the changes Auckland Transport made last year. If you don’t remember the changes then here is a quick recap.
Auckland Transport made some quite fundamental changes to how parking in the city centre is managed. The main changes were:
- Remove time limits for Pay & Display parking
- Introduce a graduated tariff structure in the central CBD – initially set at $4.00/hour for the first two hours, then $8.00/hour thereafter
- Implement a new 10 minute grace period
- Extend hours of paid parking until 10:00pm in central CBD
- Reduce off-street casual parking rates from $5.50/hour to $3.00/hour
- Reduce off-street casual daily maximum parking rate from $29.00 to $17.00
- Amend early bird entry time from 9.30am to 8.30am
Crucially AT managed to get the support of Heart of the City which advocates on behalf of the CBD retailers which was a significant achievement. A map of the changes is below.
At the last AT board meeting, one of sections in the business report covered off how the changes had been performing. The report said this about on street parking.
Notable changes in on-street daytime parking since CCPZ implementation have included:
- A decrease in the number of parking receipts by 8%, but an increase in parking revenue by 10%.
- A pleasing reduction in the number of infringements issued by 21%.
We understand that these changes in behaviour are likely the outcome of the removal of time restrictions. No time limits provide customers with choice to decide how long they want to stay, rather than being forced to obey restrictive time limits. Customers are therefore able to maximise their reason for visitation (e.g. business, shopping, dining out, or leisure).
See the table below which covers the period 1 January to 31 March 2013, compared to the same period in 2012:
So we have less people parking on the streets (a good thing) yet increased parking revenue (a good thing) and there were significantly less infringements being issued (a good thing). In other words so far the changes have been extremely successful when looked at just from on street parking alone. AT also note that there was a signification increase in the number of people using their parking buildings for casual parking and that the average time people stayed in them had also increased. Perhaps the only downside is that parking revenue from off street carparks declined $55,000 due to the price reduction. The reduction showed through quite clearly in the parking maps I made for the post last week with AT buildings being the cheapest places to park in the city for casual parking. Even with that price reduction taken into account, AT still saw a net increase in revenue from both on and off street parking of $129,000. In my view that is a very good result and shows that they are heading in the right direction so well done AT.
I had initially planned to write this post earlier and in the meantime the Herald has also looked at these results. The most interesting part I found was right at the end with the comments from Alex Swney
Heart of the City business organisation chief executive Alex Swney said he was pleased at the apparent success of the strategy for getting more motorists into parking buildings, and those choosing to stay on the streets could not complain about paying more for longer stays.
“If I want to stay for longer, I know I am going to have to pay for it.”
Mr Swney said the system would really come into its own in the next financial year, once Auckland Transport introduced $4.5 million of new technology parking meters to the streets, which would warn drivers with smart phones when they were about to face double fees so they could decide whether to move on or use their phones to pay more by remote control.
Linking in parking meters with smart phones sounds like an interesting idea. I am also aware that the new parking meters will allow people to pay for parking with their HOP card, something I think is superb.
Edit: I forgot to add in the changes have also been noticed by some of the other regions with both Tauranga and Hutt city councils looking at the implementation as they want to make similar changes.
“Movement and place”: A simple concept that underpins many of the debates on this blog.
For those who have not heard of the “movement and place” concept before, let me briefly re-cap. “Movement” describes how cities need to accommodate flows of people and products. “Place”, on the other hand, describes how cities need to provide locations in which socio-economic activity can thrive.
In my mind, “movement and place” describe extreme ends of a mobility/accessibility spectrum, between which there are many nuanced variations. Train stations, for example, are “places” that facilitate “movement”, as is on-street car-parking. There is of course a need to distinguish between the functions of public and private “places”. Notwithstanding all these nuances, I think “movement and place” is a useful concept because it highlights a key trade-off that emerges within almost every urban transport planning project: How can we enable movement while sustaining place?
Finding an optimal balance is rarely easy. The first reason is that movement and place are often competing for the same physical space. Think of bus lanes on Symonds Street. The second issue is that movement itself tends to generate negative effects, such as noise and air pollution, which undermine the quality of a place. Again, think of Symonds Street.
In this post I wanted to try and provide some historical perspective on “movement and place”. I have been pondering for a while now whether the optimal balance between movement and place is shifting over time and, if so, what the implications of such a shift might be. And when I say “over time” I don’t mean in the last few years. I’m actually talking about experiences of the last hundred years, as examined through the life of my grandmother.
Violet Donovan was born in West Ham, London in 1920 (shown below). Post-WWI Europe was not a particularly happy place, so her family soon migrated from to the U.S. They promptly settled in the booming industrial town of Buffalo. As a child Violet went to sleep listening to the echoes of gun shots resonating across Lake Erie, where the U.S. Navy was engaged in an unsuccessful attempt to prevent bootleggers from spiriting moonshine into the U.S.
They were hard times.
Like many “poor” children my grandmother was sent to summer camp. While there Violet befriended another young girl called Alice. Years later my grandmother discovered that Alice’s father had ended up in jail after he was caught stealing bread to feed his family. She also discovered that at the time social welfare assistance was not extended to the immediate families of criminals and that Alice had died of starvation.
As an adult Violet would later pen this poem about Alice, which was titled “Inside”:
You never met Alice, – I wish you had,
She is a very good friend of mine,
One I have known for a long, long time,
Her skin is black, and mine is white
And yet, I think we look alike
Inside, if you know what I mean.
You never met Alice, – I wish you had,
I called her Lily, – it sounded right,
She called me ‘Tiny’, – I wasn’t quite,
Each read the other like a book
Saw ourselves as we thought we’d look
Inside, if you know what I mean.
You’ll never meet Alice, – that’s too bad,
Alice went away, – she had to go
A ‘Lily’ doesn’t last long, you know
Now, it isn’t that she hides,
But rather that she always bides,
Inside, if you know what I mean.
Eventually the lingering Great Depression caused Violet’s father James – my great grandfather – to lose his job. With limited few opportunities in the U.S., Violet’s family promptly decided to migrate again, this time to New Zealand, where James had landed a job at the Devonport Naval Base. Violet celebrated her 16th birthday on the voyage to New Zealand.
Violet’s family arrived in Wellington after sunset and promptly boarded an overnight train bound for Auckland. Then, upon arriving in Auckland, the entire family finally boarded the ferry to Devonport (like the one shown below) – just as the sun was rising over Rangitoto. Apparently the spring sunlight lit the waters of the Waitemata in sparkling hues of blue that Violet would never forget, even as she grew old.
After the industrial drudgery of Buffalo and London Auckland must have seemed like a verdant oasis. Not that life in Auckland was necessarily easy: Violet would later raise three children on her own, at a time when women were paid approximately half a man’s wage for the same job. At one point she was working three jobs, seven days a week, just to get by. She never had sufficient time or money to learn to drive, let alone buy a vehicle; Violet depended on public transport her entire life.
I suspect that few people today, myself including, can fully comprehend the degree to which my grandmother relied on public transport. For example, as a keen carpenter Violet would transport lengths of timber home from the hardware store by laying them down the aisle of the bus. And when in the 1980s Auckland’s bus services were cut in response to declining demand, the bus stop closest to Violet’s unit was no longer served. She immediately went out and purchased some roller skates, which she used to skate to the bus stop that was now closest to her hours.
Yes that’s correct – at the grand old age of 60 my grandmother invented “roll and ride” (R&R).
Violet so loved Auckland that – once settled here – she rarely left, except perhaps for the occasional day trip to Waiheke or Waiuku to visit her increasingly spoilt and precocious grandchildren.
I think Violet’s life is remarkable not just for what she endured; indeed hardship was not uncommon to the generation born immediately after WWI. The causes of socio-economic troubles were many and varied, such as the global influenza epidemic, the Great Depression, WWII, and finally the Cold War, among a number of other trials and tribulations. Instead I think Violet’s life is remarkable because of the historical perspective it provides on the relative importance of movement and place. The reasons why people really need to be able to move and what they do when they eventually find somewhere that they life.
International travel was a life-raft that enabled Violet’s family to escape first from the U.K. to the U.S. and then again from the U.S. to N.Z. It was the ability to travel that enabled Violet’s family to access a better life in N.Z. While the waves of international migration that dominated our early European history have gradually receded, we are now in the grip of other, more local, migratory trends – such as rural to urban drift. Here the role of push and pull factors, plus transport’s enabling function, seems to be very much the same as it was in Violet’s day. Transport enables people to access opportunities that don’t exist where they currently live.
We now live, however, in a vastly different global environment. From what I can tell much of the world has got its act together. New Zealand, in general, and Auckland, in particular, no longer has the inherent competitive advantages we once had as an affluent safe-haven in a war-ravaged and uncertain world. Global competition for labour is more intense, while the real costs of long-distance travel have declined – making it easy for people to come here, but also making it easier for people to leave – both locals and immigrants – when they don’t find what they are looking for.
I think this post is already long enough so I’m now going to just say what I think, even if I’m the first to admit that the supporting arguments are not fully formed: I think New Zealand’s urban areas need to place a greater emphasis on place. I can understand New Zealand’s historical emphasis on movement, because there were a lot of people moving around. But the benefits of movement seem to be diminishing by the day, whereas the benefits of place, insofar as it provides us with a competitive advantage in the great global competition for skilled talent, seems to be increasing.
New Zealand truly needs, but doesn’t yet have, cities and towns in which people can live, work, and play – all without the need to travel very far. We need to start making places that provide joy and intrigue to our urban areas.
I want to wrap up by listing a few final questions for you good people to chew over:
- As New Zealand’s cities and towns become more settled, would you not expect the relative importance of “place” to increase?
- If so are similar trends emerging in countries overseas? Is there evidence to suggest countries with similar histories, such as Australia, are experiencing a similar shift, i.e. away from movement and towards place?
- If there has been an increased emphasis on place, what are the different ways in which it surfaces ? For example, are we now more willing to pay for quality public spaces?
- Does an increased emphasis on place need to be reflected in our political institutions and governance arrangements? Should we consider:
- Develop a new place-based agency, e.g. the “New Zealand Place-making Agency” (NZPA) to sit within the MfE as a counter-balance to movement-based agencies, such as the MoT and NZTA? Or
- Delegate the place-making function to local councils, albeit empowered with a new mandate to reinvigorate “life between buildings”?
These are the sorts of (complex) questions that arise when one takes a historical perspective on “movement and place”; I’d appreciate your help in answering them!
*** This post is dedicated to the loving memory of Violet Donovan. May your words, cheekiness, and spirit live on. ***
These days, no transport project gets built or policy signed off without first being run through a model. I’m not talking about a scale model but a mathematical computer model that is designed to estimate just how people might use a project or how much a project and/or policy will affect the transport system. To do this, these models take historical data like traffic volumes and land use and mix them with assumptions about the future to get a result. Things these days have gotten to the point where people won’t make any decisions without running it though a model, after all if the computer gives the answer, it must be right. Right?
The problem though is that while they are all good in theory, these models are designed by humans. Yes they may be very smart humans but that doesn’t mean that they or their models don’t have flaws. Thanks to the OIA request I received back from the Ministry of Transport, as well as information in the recent Auckland Transport board meeting, we perhaps have more info than ever before on how our modelling works and some of the issues with it.
Auckland uses two general types of modelling, these are described below:
Travel demand models cover the region and are concerned with broad travel patterns and flows. These are usually calibrated on observed data (base year) and are then used to forecast responses to land use and transport changes or interventions.
Operational models usually cover a smaller area, are more detailed, and are used to assess detailed traffic operations on a section, approach, lane or turning movement level. AT operates two general types of operational models, one being flow based (traffic as a “stream”) and the other being micro-simulation (each vehicle or unit is simulated travelling through a network).
Demand models are typically used for long range forecasting whereas operational models range from “now” options to medium range forecasts.
As mentioned in the description about the travel demand models, they are calibrated against a base year. That means the data is put into them and they are tweaked so that they deliver the same results as what actually occurred in that base year. Data from subsequent years would then be added to that. At the highest level we have the Auckland Regional Transport Model (ART 3). This looks at travel demand across the entire Auckland region however this is where the first major problem lies. It was last calibrated against 2006 data which means it is almost 7 years out of date. That might not seem like much but the last 7 years have probably seen more changes in transport behaviour than any time during the prior five decades. Note: The ART3 model is actually controlled by the council, not AT. AT do however control a Passenger Transport model (APT) which looks at the impact on PT however this is even worse with AT saying that it was last calibrated against 2001 data.
As part of the work before AT start on a new CRL business case, they have said that both models are going to be updated to a 2013 base year. Although considering that the modelling was also being used to inform the massive roadfest that is the Integrated Transport Programme, you would have thought it would have been a good idea to update it earlier. A few million spent updating it would likely have had massive implications on the outcome of both the CCFAS and the ITP.
Sow how did modelling work for the CCFAS? Well AT used both travel demand models and more detailed operational models. A diagram of how they interacted is below.
The ART3 model was used to produce initial results based on the employment, population and land use assumptions used in the project (remember these were agreed to by representatives of all organisations). That then kicks out data on vehicle and PT demand which is then fed through the APT model. One of the developments that came about from the CCFAS was a new function to address crowding on PT as after all, if people can’t get on a bus, they aren’t going to be able to use it are they? But here is where there start to be some major flaws in my opinion.
The people who were ‘crowded off’ the PT system were then added back into to the ART model as not being able to use PT. But they get added to the number of trips taken by car and the model then recalculates vehicle travel times with this extra traffic included. As the MoT said in its response to the report, there are no feedback loops to take into account the impact of the changed conditions. In reality people crowded off PT (and we know from the CCFAS this was affecting the bus network) would look for another mode of travel, change their travel time or perhaps not travel at all. While undoubtedly some will drive, the impact of them doing so might force someone else to change their mode, perhaps catching a non-crowded rail service instead.
The traffic results from this recalculated ART model are then fed into a Saturn model, which is a more detailed operational model, to get more detailed outcomes on the impact of the various options. Once again there were also no feedback loops from this stage either meaning that once again, the impacts of the congestion caused by the options were not fed back through the system.
So in summary we have a regional transport model that was last calibrated against 2006, feeding into a PT model last calibrated in 2001 that just assumes that anyone who can’t catch a bus because it is full will instead turn to driving on already congested roads. It is these issues that I think led the MoT to conclude that the modelling was likely overestimating the demand for private vehicle trips while underestimating demand for PT trips. This is likely the reason why the model suggested that during the morning peak period, we would have almost 50% more people entering the CBD via private vehicle in 2041 compared to now while over the same period removing space for cars. For reference the annual screenline survey recorded less than 34,000 people entering the CBD by private vehicle in 2012 while the reference case for the CCFAS suggests over 49,000 will do so.
It seems that until AT start really addressing some of these glaring issues, modelling the true impact of the CRL will remain elusive.
I want to make this clear right from the beginning, this post is not about sprawl or intensification, it is about how we develop. This is especially important as the unitary plan proposes that quite a bit of the development that is to occur, will happen in greenfield areas. As the city grows outwards, the residents of these new neighbourhoods are very likely to demand access to public transport. A reasonable enough request yet even today, after years of knowing we have developed suburbs the wrong way, we continue to do the same thing.
By developing suburbs the wrong way I mean the way they are laid out. Our traditional suburbs, like those originally served by trams unsurprisingly tend to be some of the best performers for PT use. This is because they were designed for PT to work in them. Dominion Rd is probably the best example of this, the road is straight, with town centres in various locations along it. The side streets are also straight and easy to navigate making it easy for residents to walk to Dominon Rd where they can catch buses. This was explained by Kent last year with the image below showing just how much coverage of the isthmus is achieved by just a handful of routes.
Compare that with the Millwater development going in around Silverdale, the location of which is shown below in the red circle while the new busway station and park n ride is going in where the blue square is.
As you can see it is a quite big area and a feeder bus service from the busway station, perhaps looping though through Orewa and back to the busway station might be an ideal way to serve this area. But let’s have a closer look at the layout thanks to this map from the developers.
I assume the blue routes are the main roads. Even with just a quick glance you can see the stupidity of the road layout that means there is no easy way to run a bus through the development. In order to serve the population a bus would have to make all kinds of circuitous detours that would make it slow, unattractive and therefore unused by anyone but the most desperate with no other options. The thing that annoys me most is that we have known about this kind of issue for a long time now yet our planners at the council, and AT still seem to let this happen.
If we have to allow for urban sprawl, as envisioned in the Unitary Plan, then its issues like this that we are going to have to address unless we want the developments to be completely dependent on cars as the only option for transport.
The other bloggers and I have been looking at simple “piece of cake” solutions that Auckland Transport can implement to improve the quality of life for pedestrians. The idea is that the solutions can be quickly and cheaply implemented. Work is going on behind the scenes to progress the ideas raised and we will be talking more about these soon,however I wanted to share and get feedback on one of these.
The change is simple and only requires a bit of paint. What’s more we’ve already seen some examples of it cropping up in both the central city and in the suburbs so it’s not even revolutionary. The idea is to paint light-controlled pedestrian crossings red, as has been done at the recently installed pedestrian crossing on Victoria St:
The crossings painted red are much more visible than simple white lines on the road, sosurely must be better for safety. As a driver it acts as a great alert to tell you that something has changed, and you should be more cautious. That is exactly the kind of environment we want to be creating, not just in the central city but in many other places around the region. It can also work well for Barnes Dance style crossings, such as in the image below from California (I also like that the diagonal crossing is fully marked out):
The biggest problem is that over time the paint degrades due to vehicles driving over it, as you can see is starting to happen in the first image. However there are many more advantages to this idea. A frequent issue at intersections are drivers who, perhaps out of confusion, use the crossings as the vehicle limit line – stopping right on the edge of where pedestrians are walking. Painting these crossings red might help to address this issue by making it clearer which lines are specifically for the crossing. It might also assist in reducing the number of cases where people enter intersections during congestion and subsequently block them, because it would be easier to judge how much space is available.
What I really like about this change is that it can be implemented at every intersection without there having to be a debate around the priority of different modes at intersections. And lastly, I love that it adds some colour to our urban environment.
What you think? Should we paint all of our crossings red? Are there any downsides? Do you have any other simple suggestions for making existing crossings safer?
The following is a guest post by regular reader and tram and heritage aficionado; the always analogue Geoff Houtman.
Last February, the Western Bays Community Group was asked to come with a “Ponsonby Road Plan”. We have received hundreds of suggestions to the deliberately open questions,- “What would you like more of?”, “Less of?”, and “None of?”. This is the first in a series of posts based on the answers received.
Ponsonby Rd Lane Uses
Three options are presented below, incorporating those ideas relating to the Roadway. Firstly though, let’s look at what we currently have.
Ponsonby Rd is a little over a mile long (1724m) running basically North-South. The Roadway is generally 18-19 metres wide and divided into 6 or 7 lanes; the two outermost being parallel street parking, with two general traffic lanes each North and South bound and a central median designed to facilitate right hand turning at nearly every side street and intersection. There is no cycling priority at any point. And very scant bus privilege at the southern end plus the mostly mid block bus stops. Clearways operates to speed peak traffic on the section between Williamson and Crummer Rds. At its northern Three Lamps end Ponsonby Rd is one-way, just before it meets Jervois and Crummer Rds. Redmond St and the top of Pompallier Tce have also been one-wayed to handle all of Ponsonby road’s north bound traffic movements for this section.
Can we make it better? Here are three possibilities based on community suggestions.
Traffic cut to one lane each way, Cycleway runs beside the footpath with vehicle parking between it and the traffic lane, Light Rail or buses use dedicated centre lanes.
Footpaths are pushed out a lane on each side, bike lane, then parking and one lane general traffic each way, PT lanes removed, painted median/turning lanes retained.
Parking lanes contain spaced trees, one general traffic lane each way, Cycleway brackets PT lanes.
Do any of these choices seem like an improvement? Do you have any better ideas?
UPDATE: Thanks to all the commenters, based on your helpful advice an Option D has been created. The cycles lanes are now buffered from moving traffic by footpaths and combined parking/ tree lanes. A bus has been added in the PT lanes to indicate their continued viability until the next oil price rise and the possible return of light rail/ trams. On a technical note the parking lanes are now only 2m wide instead of the previous 2.5.
In this recent post Matt collated some stunning photos of Auckland. More than most cities, Auckland is blessed with a wonderful natural environment. But some of the comments on Matt’s post gave me cause to pause, because they noted that all the stunning photos of Auckland were taken from approximately 300m up in the air and/or at night.
“bbc” put it this way:
All cities look picturesque from above at night, the issue is at street level which is where you actually interact with a city. At the fine-grained level Auckland is a particularly ugly city, and has a long way to go.
To which “Steve West” responded:
So true. São Paulo for example looks awesome at night yet it is a bit of a hole too. New Zealand does not have attractive cities – it is only the natural backdrop which offset the harshness of the 1980s era concrete and glass box prefab which continues to this day. Thanks Rogernomics. Recent article in a UK paper to that point – natural scenery nice but Auckland a bit crap.
Having read Steve’s comment I went off scurrying for the article he was referring to. Instead of finding that one however, I uncovered another two recent articles in U.K. that discussed Auckland. The first one was published in The Sun and made particularly positive claims about Auckland being “hobbit forming”. Nice, we’re obviously doing something right.
I then stumbled across this article in the Guardian, which was rather bluntly titled “How cities fail their cyclists in different ways.” It started off discussing Hong Kong, which was interesting, but scrolling down the page a little more you find a sub-section titled “Cities where cycling should be more popular than it is. Example: Auckland“. The content that follows is, I think, worth repeating in full:
Yes, it’s hilly in places and, once you reach the suburbs, very spread out, but Auckland really should be awash with cyclists. It has suitably temperate weather and that same spread out-ness leaves plenty of potential space for bike lanes.
But wander, with the eye of a regular cyclist, around the city centre, and you’re almost immediately struck by the lack of bikes on the road. Outside peak times they’re almost non-existent, barring the occasional cycle courier. Those you do see generally sport the Lycra garb and haunted expression of the cycling enthusiast in a bike-unfriendly environment.
The city is trying to boost numbers and, according to the most recent annual cycling survey, with some success, with 30% more riders on the roads than five years ago. But the numbers remain fairly small – just under 13,500 “cycling movements” observed on one day at 82 monitoring sites. It’s not helped by a compulsory helmet law, in place since the mid-1990s.
I was aghast to learn that the city’s harbour bridge, the main link between the centre and suburbs to the north, has no way at all for cyclists to cross. They must either plonk their bike on a ferry or take a fairly long detour. As an emblem for a city dominated by cars and roads it’s hard to beat.
Like with Hong Kong, it’s not as if Auckland couldn’t do with more cyclists. New Zealand might more or less define itself through sport but it’s simultaneously one of the more obese nations on earth.
The more I thought about it the more I found myself agreeing with the basic premise of the above article: Auckland is quite suited to cycling. One of the benefits of our geography is that there are pleasant views (like the ones shown in Matt’s photos) waiting at the top of most hills and around most corners. And it’s not like we have a winter that’s quite as cold as Amsterdam, where I used to live (and cycle!).
I know we talk about public transport a lot on this blog and it is true that Auckland can do much better in this regard. However I’m increasingly wondering if we’re not over-looking opportunities for Auckland to become more of a cycling city.
A recent presentation on the Integrated Transport Programme, for example, apparently made no mention of walking or cycling, instead referring only to major (read “expensive”) road and public transport projects. I know it’s only a presentation and that we should hold fire until the ITP itself is released, but what message does it send when the summary to a 30-year strategic document developed by almost all the government agencies involved in transport planning does not identify one signature walking/cycling project? It’s amazing to me that walking in particularly can be so over-looked given that it still contributes almost 10% of journeys to work.
And the failure to mention walking/cycling projects from the ITP presentation came hot on the heels of this month’s AT business report, which also left out cycling statistics altogether. It seems like Auckland Transport is suddenly afraid of using the “c” word?
As a cyclist myself I’m obviously “biased” – but on the other hand let’s not ignore than a person on the other side of the world felt sufficiently motivated to use Auckland as an example of a city where “cycling should be more popular than it is.” This point is worth ramming home: A journalist in the U.K. - who could have chosen any city in the world – choose Auckland. That’s not something to be proud of my friends, and it’s not something that will help us to become the world’s most livable city. While Auckland has and continues to make progress on many transport fronts, in my view our investment in cycling still lags.
In my opinion Auckland needs to become vastly more welcoming to cyclists before it can lay claim to being the world’s most livable city. And only then might you start to see beautiful photos being taken at ground level.