Park(ing) Day 2015 Video

You may recall Park(ing) day from September. The council have released a video about it.

Earlier this year we transformed car parks on Lorne and High streets into places for people.

As you can see from the video, the response was pretty positive. We’re now looking at installing a parklet in this area long term.

About PARK(ing) Day

PARK(ing) Day is an annual global event where people turn parking spaces into “PARK(ing)” spaces – temporary public places – for the day.

Auckland ‘Carmageddon’

We’ve written before about the construction disruption coming to central Auckland next year. In particular there are two big half billion dollar full block rebuilds in the Convention Centre and the Downtown development and associated tower, plus the City Rail Link early works, then there are numerous other office and residential towers due to start. Only projects very close to the CRL route are shown below, there’s a lot more to the west both at Wynyard and around Sale St and elsewhere:

CRL Growth Corridor

AT have some details on their CRL page about the details of their work, including a video of the Albert St process, no doubt they will communicate more closer to the time. Work on the pipe-jacking access shafts start early next month on Albert St. But as there is so much other construction starting next year I wonder if AT wouldn’t be wiser to really take an bold line on this as it all winds up? For the people who are used to driving through the city it’s more than likely these habits will be impacted. I feel the best way for AT to manage this frustration is to front-foot it, to ‘own’ this disruption, explain that people should not expect to get by without making changes. Say this is going to be big and difficult, but worth it in the long run. Just hoping to minimise disruption and try not to draw attention to it and that it’s all going to be ok seems to me to invite more of a backlash. In particular to invite accusations of carelessness and incompetence.

I think AT should consider a little Catastrophising; should call down a full ‘CARMAGEDDON’ for the central city next year. This has four potential benefits:

1. They can’t then be accused of downplaying or not taking the disruption to peoples’ commutes and daily business seriously.

2. It is likely to get a number of people to change their plans especially it may get more people to trying other methods for getting into the city, thereby actually helping to reduce the impacts of all this construction activity.

3. For these and other reasons it is likely that it won’t actually be as bad as they paint it, so people will feel more relief than anger.

4. It is a good way to get communication into the media, and with it the opportunity to discuss the value of the projects too.

Here’s an example of what I mean. The I-405 in LA:


A section of I-405 was closed over the weekend of Friday, July 15, 2011 as part of the Sepulveda Pass Improvements Project.[10] Before the closing, local radio DJs and television newscasts referred to it as “Carmageddon” and “Carpocalypse”, parodying the notion of Armageddon and the Apocalypse, since it was anticipated that the closure would severely impact traffic.[11][12]

In reality, traffic was lighter than normal across a wide area. California Department of Transportation reported that fewer vehicles used the roads than usual, and those who did travel by road arrived more quickly than on a normal weekend.[13] The Metrolink commuter train system recorded its highest-ever weekend ridership since it began operating in 1991. Ridership was 50% higher than the same weekend in 2010, and 10% higher than the previous weekend ridership record, which occurred during the U2 360° Tour in June 2011.[14] In response to jetBlue Airlines‘ offer of special flights between Bob Hope Airport in Burbank and Long Beach Airport, a distance of only 29 mi (47 km), for $4,[15][16] a group of cyclists did the same journey in one and a half hours, compared to two and a half hours by plane (including a drive to the airport from West Hollywood 90 minutes in advance of the flight and travel time to the end destination).[17] There was also some debate about whether the Los Angeles area could benefit from car-free weekends on a regular basis.[13]


Granted this was only for one weekend, but still the principle is the same; own the cause of the likely negativity boldly.

What do you think is the best way for Auckland deal with these growing pains?

Sunday reading 15 November 2015

Here’s the latest installment of Sunday Reading starting with a cartoon cameo of parking guru Donald Shoup.

Eric Jaffe. “California’s DOT Admits That More Roads Mean More Traffic“, CityLab.

Congestion relief itself is a dubious claim when it comes to road expansions. Transportation experts have repeatedly found that building new roads inevitably encourages more people to drive, which in turn negates any congestion savings—a phenomenon known as “induced demand.”

So it’s refreshing—and rare—to see the California DOT (aka Caltrans) link to a policy brief outlining key research findings from years of study into induced demand. The brief, titled “Increasing Highway Capacity Unlikely to Relieve Traffic Congestion,” was compiled by UC-Davis scholar Susan Handy. Here are the highlights:

There’s high-quality evidence for induced demand. All the studies reviewed by Handy used time-series data, “sophisticated econometric techniques,” and controlled for outside variables such as population growth and transit service.

More roads means more traffic in both the short- and long-term.Adding 10 percent more road capacity leads to 3-6 percent more vehicle miles in the near term and 6-10 percent more over many years.

Much of the traffic is brand new. Some of the cars on a new highway lane have simply relocated from a slower alternative route. But many are entirely new. They reflect leisure trips that often go unmade in bad traffic, or drivers who once used transit or carpooled, or shifting development patterns, and so on.

Joe Cortright. “A “helicopter drop” for the asphalt socialists“, City Observatory.

While advocates of the road system regularly cloak their arguments in the rhetoric of choice and the free market, our transportation system is actually characterized by heavy government intervention on behalf of private vehicles. Massive, taxpayer-supported subsidies effectively bribe people to drive, and insulate them from the financial consequences their choices impose on others.

Drivers want more roads—as long as they don’t actually have to pay for them. The fact that there’s no stomach for increasing the gas tax—even though gasoline prices have fallen by more than a dollar a gallon in the past year—shows that when put to the test of the marketplace, there’s actually little demand for more transportation.

The irony, of course, is that transportation is clearly one policy area where traditional free market principles would put a serious dent in the problems of traffic congestion, air pollution, and safety. If car users faced anything close to the actual costs of building and operating roads (and mitigating or preventing the injuries and pollution effects), we’d see much less driving, and much less demand for additional capacity.

Carlin Carr. “The War on Cars Is Winnable“, Next City. An interesting long read about how countries are moving away from car-based transportation systems.

To encourage more people to buy cars, Japan went on a road-building frenzy. Bridges and highways materialized overnight. Gun factories were transformed into automobile plants. In 1956, only 2 percent of the country’s roads were paved. The Japan Highway Public Corporation was formed to change all that. In the 1960s and ’70s, road building absorbed an astounding 40 percent of all public works spending. At the same time, manufacturers and banks introduced extended warranties and auto loans, all of which allowed more and more households to buy a car.

But then something unusual happened: The government looked a few decades into the future and realized that encouraging the public’s obsession with cars, while a powerful short-term economic stimulus, was a dangerous and unsustainable plan for a country with no domestic oil and little space to expand. There was also the simple fact that financially strapped post-war Japan just couldn’t afford to sprawl, with suburbs — and all the many layers of infrastructure that accompany them — being too expensive to build and maintain…

Today, the country that makes the world’s bestselling car, the Toyota Corolla, has done an outstanding job of discouraging its own residents from driving it. In Japan, you may be able to afford to buy a car, but using it costs a fortune. First, there’s the compulsory 60-point safety inspection, called a shaken, required every two years. The inspection has been in place since 1951, and can set owners back anywhere from $1,000 to $2,000. The exhaustive test inevitably turns up multiple failures, which then cost even more to fix. The shaken also comes with a compulsory insurance and a weight tax. The endless circle of tests, fixes and fees is a perpetual source of grumbling in Japan.


Sarah Oberklaid. Melbourne: a case study in the revitalization of the city laneways, part 1, part 2, The Urbanist.

Only a few decades ago, the intricate network of laneways in Melbourne, Australia, carved into the street grid by property owners for access, sewerage, and waste disposal during the Victorian era, were overlooked and devoid of life. As a result of incremental initiatives, Melbourne’s laneways are now world-renowned — transformed into inviting passages, lined with an enviable mix of alfresco eateries, unique bars, boutiques, street art and residences. Given growing interest and efforts to enliven alleyways in Seattle, the revitalization of Melbourne’s laneways provides an example of re-envisaging these spaces as public assets.

Opinion. “A slower speed limit would make Wellington even more delightful“, Stuff.

As transport expert Stewart McKenzie said in his personal submission: “The 30 kmh speed limit proposed for Northland Village and other suburban centres is a no-brainer.”

The case is not just about road safety, although that is the most urgent issue. It is also about having a liveable city. A suburb where the traffic roars through is not a pleasant place to live.

Wellington falls naturally into a network of villages, each with its own geography and its own particular charm. A 30 kmh speed limit can add to that village atmosphere and make the capital an even more delightful city than it is now.

Daniel Simons, “A Simple Solution for Distracted Driving“, The Wall Street Journal. I’ve never understood why mobile phones aren’t disabled automatically or even voluntarily while people are driving. Here’s a story about how a robust “driving mode” on smart phones would save lives.

For a solution to work, it must respect the limitations of human cognition and the flaws in human intuition. A robust Driving Mode feature on phones would do just that. It would eliminate the most common sources of distraction: phone calls, text messages, games and social media. It should disable all communication between the phone and the outside world, with the exceptions of GPS, navigation apps and emergency notifications.

Strong support for removal of Freyberg Place

Last week the council announced the outcome of consultation into the design of Freyberg Square and the Ellen Melville Hall. The proposal was for the hall to be upgraded including removing the ground floor retail and turning that into a community space. The square would be upgraded and importantly Freyberg Place would be would be pedestrianised and incorporated into the square. In to total they received 337 pieces of feedback.


Freyberg Square Proposed Design

The report on the consultation (1.5MB) shows there was strong support for both the upgrade of the square and the hall with only four percent saying they don’t like the design of the hall and 7 percent saying they don’t like the design of the square.

Freyberg Square-Ellen Melville Hall consultation feedback - general

As you can also see there was strong support for the removal of Freyberg Place and on it’s own it had one of the most lopsided responses. Out of the 306 responses to the idea a massive 84% supported the idea.

Freyberg Square-Ellen Melville Hall consultation feedback - road removal

The council say that those that opposed the changes were mostly local businesses, some of who have long been vocal supporters of retaining the status quo for the entire area. The quoted comments in the report mostly talk about concerns of flow of traffic and congestion from removing the street however in the report they also talk about it being very lowly used in which case removing it won’t really have an impact. Anyway if it did happen to cause congestion it might mean a few more drivers look out their window and actually see the shops and want to visit them, at least there would be a better chance of that than if they are racing through.

Unsurprisingly a similarly strong number also supported changes proposed to Courthouse Lane which included changing the direction and adding a raised table between the square and the Chancery.

Freyberg Square-Ellen Melville Hall consultation feedback - Courthouse Lane

Again most of the support seems to have come from the general public while it is retailers who are the most concerned about the changes and also again they seem overly worried about traffic flow. They also note that quite a few who disagreed with the raised table idea highlighted that they weren’t sure what a raised table was with some questioning if it meant some kind of pedestrian overbridge.

The council also asked what could be done better for the two aspects of the proposal. For the hall the biggest responses were primarily about issues such as seating and how the space was used. For the square the concern was also about seating, security and other aspects such as the security and planting choices

Freyberg Square-Ellen Melville Hall consultation feedback - areas to address

Lastly the survey also briefly asked about how to improve the wider area. The two largest responses were for a shared space or no cars at all.

Freyberg Square-Ellen Melville Hall consultation feedback - Wider area

There are of course some who oppose the idea of a shared space on High St and they are almost certainly going to be the same people who have opposed the closing of Freyberg Place. The example of O’Connell St is used with them claiming it has been a failure

Because of the feedback from the businesses the council have said that they and Heart of the City are going to work with the businesses to try and find potential solutions. Given the line in the sand approach these some of the retailers have taken in the past over issues it’s hard to see them getting a different outcome. If that comes to pass it raises the question of at what point the council push ahead with improvements knowing that the vast majority of people want a better outcome. Unfortunately there are also no time frames around when these discussions will take place or be finished by.

New ideas for Franklin Rd

The discussion over the future design of Franklin Rd has be going on for some time now and has taken a number of twists and turns along the way. The most recent of these was a few months ago when Auckland Transport suddenly dropped the two of the four options they were considering – the two with any kind of cycle infrastructure included. Since then a lot of work has been going on to push for a better outcome and to cut a long story short, AT now say:

Since options A – D were presented in June 2015, AT has been continuing with technical investigations to address the safety issues raised by residents and in safety audits. As a result of this further work, options have been revisited and further revised to address safety issues and meet the project objective.

In addition to a “do minimum” option (which is maintaining the current design), the 3 options outlined below are currently being considered.

The great news is that other than the no change option, all three now include cycle infrastructure of some kind. They are shown below

Option 1 – Parking is between the trees and 1.5m wide on street cycle lanes that are buffered from the general traffic lanes by 0.6m of paint. This option retains the central median for those turning.

Franklin Rd - October 2015 -revised option 1

The cycle lane and painted buffer is similar to the setup they’ve put on Upper Harbour Dr as shown below. They are certainly better than a normal painted cycle lane but I’m not sure it’s necessarily going to encourage a lot of less confident people to get on their bike and use them.

Upper Harbour Cycle Lane with BYL

Note: incase anyone was concerned, the courier wasn’t parked there and moved before I reached the driveway

Option 2 – This is very similar to Option 1, the key difference is there is no flush median and the space it used has gone into making the cycleway wider to keep it further away from the door zone of parked cars. I wonder if this is one of the first times we’re talking about removing a painted median in Auckland, good to finally seeing it suggested.

Franklin Rd - October 2015 -revised option 2

This option is better than the first one but can three be better again?

Option 3 – Option 3 takes a very different approach by moving the cycle lane to the inside of cars and raises the pavement, something much more akin to a Copenhagen lane. The lane itself is only 1m wide however there is also a 0.5m buffer to the trees and a 0.7m buffer to for car doors meaning all up the lane is about 2.2m wide. Further it widens between the trees. In my view this is a considerably better option than the first two and the only one that really enables people of all ages and abilities to ride comfortably.

Franklin Rd - October 2015 -revised option 3

When the whole process started one of the first things AT tried to do was stop parking between the trees to help protect their roots. This option would also achieve that much better than the other two options.

We’ve even a real world example of what it would look like, from the Netherlands of course. This is Molenlaan, in Rotterdam

Rather than repeat things too much I’d highly recommend you read this post by Cycle Action Auckland on the options. They have a much more detailed look at the proposals including many more features and downsides for each option, a more detailed look at the safety issues and a better look at the Molenlaan example.

In my view only option 3 would make one of Auckland’s truly iconic streets even more so – and a goal to aim for with other streets across the region.

Photo is copyright to Sydney.



Mt Albert Town Centre Upgrade

With the projects that Auckland Transport has planned the Mt Albert town centre will be one the best connected in all of Auckland for public transport. With the CRL the train station will only be 10-15 minutes from the centre of town. The proposed new bus network also sees the four frequent bus routes pass through the town centre including:

  • New North Rd from Avondale to town
  • Crosstown to city via the western suburbs before heading out to Onehunga
  • Crosstown service from Pt Chevalier to Glen Innes via Orakei
  • Crosstown service from Pt Chevalier Beach to Sylvia Park

While public transport from there will be fantastic in coming years the town centre itself can feel a little neglected and overly dominated by vehicles. The Albert-Eden Local Board want to change that and are consulting on a plan to do just that.

Mt Albert Town Centre Upgrade

The Albert-Eden Local Board is upgrading the Mt Albert town centre and wants to hear your thoughts on the design. The town centre upgrade is a key project for the board and the aim is to create high-quality, attractive and safe streetscape, that provides a significant increase in pedestrian amenity for the community to enjoy and more opportunity for local businesses, including street-based trading. The proposed improvements include enhanced pedestrian connections to the recently upgraded train station, via an overbridge, to encourage the use of public transport.

Key design features:

  • Wide footpaths.
  • Improved safety on Carrington Rd.
  • 106 public car parks retained.
  • More cycling infrastructure.
  • Ten new trees, to replace five trees being removed.
  • New paving and street furniture.
  • Improved bus travel times.

This is the first stage of the Mt Albert town centre upgrade, which is an important project for the area and we want to make sure the town centre is not only enhanced, but future-proofed to make sure it retains its character and vibrancy. Regular users of Mt Albert Town Centre are being asked for feedback and this will help finalise the design. Feedback will be gathered online and at the open day. Once the design has been finalised and approved we will begin looking for a contractor to carry out the work and plan to have construction completed by August 2016.

Not everything on the plan will be built straight away. The immediate works proposed include widening the footpaths through the town centre by removing the odd slip lane/ parking lane on the Northwestern side. Other aspects of the proposal don’t have firm dates.

Mt Albert Town Centre Upgrade - stages

Here are some cross sections of what’s planned for the streets.

Mt Albert Town Centre Upgrade - NN Rd South 2

Mt Albert Town Centre Upgrade - Carrington Rd

Mt Albert Town Centre Upgrade - NN Rd North Plaza 2

I like that the current slip lane is proposed to make way for a plaza area

One of the projects for the future is to build a new bridge across to the train station – which was designed with this in mind. They will also eventually turn the carpark into public open space.

Mt Albert Town Centre Upgrade - future plaza

There are a couple of things that I think need to be improved. The key one of these is the lack of bus lanes which will be critical given the number of buses that will pass through here, this especially on Carrington Rd. I love the wide 6m+ footpaths in the town centre but also wonder if there’s a possibility for cycle lanes on New North Rd

What do you think, what do you like or dislike – and if this affects you don’t forget to make a submission.

Christchurch striving to be a more accessible city

Some videos from Christchurch’s Central City Development Unit on the transport changes taking place.

And a timelapse of  the construction of their new bus interchange


Gabe Klein: Talks Start-Up City

A good interview from Streetfilms with Gabe Klein who is a former transport commissioner from Washington DC and Chicago about his new book “Start Up City”. The content will be familiar to those that heard Gabe talk at an Auckland Conversations event earlier this year alongside Jeff Tumlin.

Streets can be tough to change. Between institutional inertia, tight budgets, bureaucratic red tape, and the political risks of upsetting the status quo, even relatively simple improvements for walking, biking, or transit can take years to pull off — if they ever get implemented at all.

But a new generation of transportation officials have shown that it doesn’t have to be that way. Cities can actually “get shit done,” as former DC and Chicago transportation commissioner Gabe Klein puts it in his new book from Island Press,Start-Up City.

Streetfilms and our producer, Mark Gorton, recently got to sit down (and walk around) with Gabe to talk about the ideas in the book, which ties together his career as a transportation commissioner and his experience in start-ups like Zipcar. Start-Up City is filled with advice about how to get projects done quickly while choosing the best option for the public (and, of course, having fun). You can get a flavor for the book in this extensive interview with Gabe.

One of the things that strikes me from the video and that we’ve been hearing from numerous speakers over numerous years is the need for transport agencies to try things and not be afraid to fail. This includes things such as trialling new street designs using temporary materials and trying out technology to see what works best. It is something that we are yet to see AT do much of and I wonder what it will take to get them thinking this way.

A visual history to jaywalking

A visual history to the term jaywalking. Thankfully it was never made illegal in New Zealand

The Future Design of Albert Street

Albert Street is going to be a mess for a few years while the City Rail Link is constructed and a report to the councils Auckland City Centre Advisory Board highlights that we can expect it to be reinstated looking better than it does now. The section involved is only that affected by the enabling works which is everything north of Wyndham St. They say there has been over 12 months of design and consultation to come up with the current plans which will create “a high-quality urban street which functions as a key bus corridor while providing improved pedestrian access and amenity“.

The history so far:

  • July 2014 – brief completed
  • August 2015 – consultant team engaged – ACADO
  • March 2015 – concept/reference design completed
  • April 2015 – brief updated to support findings from reference design work
  • May 2015 – consultant team engaged – Boffa/BECA
  • July 2015 – draft developed design completed for review and further feedback
  • August 2015-September 2015 – final amendments made, final option prepared for sign off
  • September 2015-October 2015 – Albert Street detail design/tender drawings

The developed design is below, if differs slightly from the reference design we saw in April with the biggest change seeming to be the lane layout of the downtown development – although there may be other changes that can’t be seen due to the low res image.

Lower Queen St and Albert St public realm Sep 15

Below are the key design outcomes that AT have come up with.

Albert St Key Design Outcomes

Most of this is good although a couple of potential concerns stand out. One being the last point that the section of Albert St between Customs and Quay Street will be bus only except for local traffic. That combined with some of the images below suggests that there will be access to underground parking in the middle of the bus interchange.

The other main concern is that there will be no segregated cycle provision. The street on these sections is very wide and my personal observations is that a lot of cyclists use Albert St to get up from Quay St up to the middle of town. It seems that having a cycle facility at least on the uphill section would be useful. It seems based on the latest image from AT on their planned city centre cycle map that they instead want cyclists to use Federal St which long term will be a shared space.

Below are some images of what’s proposed.

On the Wyndham to Swanson section the biggest difference is the wider footpaths. Currently there is space southbound for the bus stops and a separate bus lane however now it seems that will be combined in one lane. Similarly there is currently a separate right turn lane Northbound into Swanson St which will in future be combined with the general traffic lane.

Albert St Design - Wyndham to Swanson

On the Swanson to Customs Section there are a couple of notable differences to what exists now. The wider footpaths take over the parking/loading zone space outside Quay West building and the northbound bus stops are concentrated opposite this rather than split between that location and just south of Wolfe St


Albert St Design - Swanson to Customs

And here is an image of what it would look like – although it seems the traffic are on the wrong sides of the road.

Albert St Design - Swanson to Customs - graphic

And a prettier version from April.

Albert St post CRL

The section between Customs and Quay St where the bus interchange will be. As mentioned earlier you can see there appears to be an entrance to an underground carpark on the eastern side – where one exists now – although it appears not one further north to the HSBC building carpark. Perhaps this suggests the HSBC carpark with views overlooking the harbour will be redeveloped as part of the mall redevelopment.


Albert St Design - Customs to Quay

Albert St Design - Customs to Quay - 1


Albert St Design - Customs to Quay - 2They say the next steps are:

  • Tidy up plans, create supporting illustrations for communications. – September, October 2015
  • Get formal agreements for funding from relevant and various sources – October, November 2015
  • Complete and agree canopies to lower Albert (Downtown development surrounds) working with Precinct, AT, AC, ACPL combined. September, October 2015
  • Present design to relevant PCG’s, Committees, Boards for information. September, October 2015
  • Complete detail drawing as part of tender document for C2 contract. September, October 2015

It’s good to see some progress and the report notes that the advisory board have previously endorsed in principle the allocation of about $7 million from the City Centre Targeted Rate to go towards the street improvements.

Lastly it might be a while before they start focusing on it but I’m really interested to see how they’ll deal with the two sections south of Wyndham St which have service lanes narrowing the road space available.