Eyelight Lane by Swedish artist David Svensson, commissioned by Auckland Council.
Photographs by Patrick Reynolds.
Below is a plan developed by the Waitemata Local Board working closely with the Karangahape Rd Business Association to improve the area:
This is their accompanying text:
This is an good summary of the challenges for the urban form of the area and the ideas on the map above are really good.
~The main entrance to the K’Rd station is planned for the top of upper Beresford St, this will involve the permanent closure of this road to through traffic [already restricted to one way onto Pitt St] and the creation of a public square around the station building which will be great, so the lower part of Beresford St will provide the road access to the buildings of Beresford and Day Sts. I find it strange the Business Association seems to be ignoring this. Only mentioning a Mercury Lane entrance.
~The connection of the abandoned motorway lane to Day St behind the old Rising Sun pub as well as to the new Grafton Gully cycleway and cyclelanes on Nelson St is a great plan. Also I think that the connection of Day St to K’Rd for traffic should be removed and this lane two-wayed back to Beresford. This should also link west across to Howe St under the existing bridge for a more direct and alternative route for pedestrians and cyclists.
~The narrowing of the top of Howe St would only be possible if the 020 bus is no longer fighting its way up that street.
~I don’t shared the Association’s enthusiasm for removing footpaths for on-street parking.
~Always yes to more street trees. But please not only palms, although I think the Nikau already on K’Rd are great.
~This area will see a rise in both residents and retail activity and the streetscape needs to improve with these changes. The CRL station will completely change the area; this will be Ponsonby’s station too [and especially Auckland Girls Grammar's], so the pedestrian amenity over the motorway should be better than just the narrow paths on the Hopetoun viaduct and the quality and liveliness of the Ponsonby/K’rd block will become more important. There is already a new major apartment building under construction in upper Howe St with surely more to come so perhaps something can be done to the terrible design failure of the block between Howe and Hereford Sts.
~Keeping the Link and other buses moving through here needs to kept in mind too. People from Ponsonby and other inner western areas will use these to connect with the much more useful and import rail system at K’Rd post CRL as well as to head into the City and Grafton and Newmarket as they do now.
~More and better pedestrian crossings are required. The really big elephant in the room with regards to traffic volumes, hinted at in the copy, is the motorway onramp at the K’Rd and Symonds St intersection. Without this ‘attractor’ traffic volume would surely be much more manageable through these city streets. I’m sure highway purists at NZTA would be happy to close this as the city onramps all affect the effectiveness of the system and its all important flow. These are signs of the strange hybrid network that is our urban motorway. Weirdly I guess the best chance for this being closed would be if the disaster of additional lanes across the harbour were built then pressures further into the system like this onramp would probably have to be cut simply to keep the CMJ from total infarction. What a horrible price that would be to pay however.
~ I like the ambition of caping the CMJ at the two high and narrow points, however I suspect the cost and difficulty of constructing the necessary serious engineering while keeping the m’way system below functioning makes these plans unlikely to be fulfilled. I do think however that cantilevering lightweight structures from the existing structures of the Upper Queen St, Symonds St, and K’Rd bridges on either side would almost certainly be both structurally and financially viable as well as architecturally exciting and offer interesting and useful commercial space; shops, cafes, and bars etc [great views- especially form the K'Rd bridge]. Like a 21st century version of the shops on Ponte Vechio in Florence or the old London Bridge! Or more prosaically like 21stC versions of the clip-ons on the Harbour Bridge. These would provide both weather and noise protection as well as interest for pedestrians and therefore go a long way to helping to repair the severance caused by the huge place-destruction of the motorway system.
~Great ideas on new parklets and re-forged pedestrian connections are to found on the map above too; these are necessary and affordable improvements that should be explored and made quickly.
~And AT really needs to come to the cycling party by giving over the outermost lane of the over-wide and over-fast Ian McKinnon Drive to connect Upper Queen St to the northern end of the new Grafton Gully route under Newton Rd. Here. Planters, maybe some barriers, a bit of paint, and a chat with their colleagues at NZTA to form the short connection under the Newton rd bridge with a two lane: Proper joined up off road network all the way from the sea to the heart of the west!
Let us know what you think.
If you’re interested in finding out about more about Skypath (particularly if you’re a local) then you might want to make your way to one of their open day sessions this Saturday. They also say they’ll have information packs available and want more feedback before a resource consent application is lodged which is likely to be in May. Further they are expecting the application will be fully notified so that people will have a chance to submit on the project as part of the consenting process, something I’m sure many of the locals will do.
As well as the Metro and an excellent bus system -Bilbobus- Bilbao also has a small tram system. Running CAF built Urbos 1 Light Rail vehicles, the route covers different sections of the city to the faster and longer reaching Metro, offering a highly visible distributor from a couple of Metro stations it connects with to important destinations like the Guggenheim Museum. It runs both on the city streets and on dedicated and grassed corridors by the river. The Quay side has a wide promenade and cycleways on both banks. The revitalisation of Bilbao is built on the back of investment in high quality public realm with thorough attention to Transit and Walking and Cycling networks. The Guggenheim Museum is really the icing on the cake of this rebirth, not the starting point.
Photographs by Patrick Reynolds.
The Khartoum place upgrade is well under way and shaping up to be an even greater set of urban spaces for our rapidly developing city.
First up, down on the Lorne St side we can see the new owner of the old new gallery building has changed its format in response to the opening of the new old gallery (ahem). They’ve just finished a fit out that has reconfigured the ground level into a series of retail outlets. The best bit is the new cafe opening out onto the square, complete with tables already in use. It is part of the Gloria Jeans chain, arguably the McDonalds of coffee shops, but to their credit they have put a lot of effort into a slick fit out that is more artsy hipster than suburban strip mall. This really livens things up compared to the old inactive frontage. There are also new shop fronts right along the Lorne St and Wellesley St frontages which is already activating the block with commerce and activity.
I can only assume that the councils investment in the upper Lorne St streetscapes, the art gallery and now Khartoum place is what spurred the property owner into investing in their building stock. Good job council, investment in quality urban spaces is clearly paying economic dividends already.
Now on to Upper Khartoum place itself. We can see the new stairs linking the upper and lower levels of the square are built and already in use. I think this is a great design, it opens up the square somewhat and provides a critical sightline to new gallery extension. But thankfully it doesn’t detract from the sense of enclosure one feels in the shady “outdoor room” of the lower square.
Earlier plans nuked the whole suffragettes memorial and fountain stairs, to be replaced with a single broad and long staircase melding the two halves of the square. Personally I’m glad that plan got shelved in favour of the less drastic change and keeping the square in two distinct halves.
While the new staircase is in there is a lot more to do reconfiguring and repaving the upper part of the square. Council indicates the works should be completed by August, and will look like this when done.
A recently discussed on the blog, Auckland Council is making great strides in some of the more high profile City Centre Masterplan projects, with work recently starting on the O’Connell St and Upper Khartoum Place upgrades. However what I believe has been missing are much smaller scale interventions that can make things better for pedestrians. The Masterplan includes 9 outcomes, one of which is ‘A walkable and pedestrian-friendly city centre – well connected to its urban villages.’ This comes with 7 targets:
In this post I will focus on Target 3, reducing pedestrian wait times. While there are countless small interventions that are required, one obvious one I’ve noticed recently is the number of traffic lights that are missing pedestrian lights on one leg of the intersection. Coming across these while walking can be extremely frustrating, and if you are really unlucky have to wait for 4 or even 5 pedestrian lights, rather than making 1 simple crossing. One of the worst examples is the intersection of Halsey and Gaunt Street, where there is no crossing on the western leg.
I recently timed how long it would take to cross what is only 30 metres direct. However one has to wait for 4 separate legs, not helped by the offset crossing on the eastern side where you cross Fanshawe Street. It took me over 4 minutes to cross here, which is just plain crazy. It is not like there are no potential pedestrians here, to the south east is Victoria Park and the Greenkeeper Cafe. Directly opposite is a major new office development under construction which will house the Fonterra headquarters in the first building, with more buildings planned. Clearly no one is going to bother heading to Victoria Park for their lunch break when 1/3 of the time is spent painfully crossing the road. Ideally people should be able to cross the road for their 10 minute morning coffee break if they want, not use it all up waiting!
However this example is far from unique, and I have mapped all the pedestrian crossings with missing legs below. Amazing there are 23 in the CBD alone! The three with green markers have had Barnes Dances added which has fixed the issue. So this could be a quick fix for some if the intersections with high pedestrian volumes. However Barnes Dances not desirable for all intersections, and they work best when they are double phased like on Queen St. So Auckland Transport really just need to bite the bullet and add pedestrian crossings to these missing legs. Of course these missing legs are even m0re prevalent outside the CBD, so these need to be worked on in other major pedestrian centers as well, could be a good job for local boards to get into as they have the ability to request Auckland Transport investigate matters like these.
If Auckland Council and Auckland Transport really want to get more people walking around our city and commuting to work, having walking stations set up around the city is not going to cut it. They need to get on with fixing these missing crossings, and make it easier for pedestrians to get around our city centre.
Prime Minister John Key with Peter Smit, Councillor for Transport, City Councillor of Leidschenveen-Iepenburg, The Hague.
Comments to be funny, not rude.
The patronage results for February are out and overall they’re looking pretty good. It was helped in part by some of the major events that occurred like the Eminem concert and the NRL 9′s however even accounting for those the results were positive.
The increase in rail is spectacular and continues a trend we’ve seen in recent months of strong rail growth – although some of it may be attributed to fare evasion being counted in. Even so my personal experiences combined with comments I’ve seen from others is that the trains do feel busier than they did in the past. The bus results are also pleasing as the annual figure appears to have turned a corner. It had been declining each month compared to the same point the previous year since Feb 2013. The big disappointment is of course the ferries which had been performing so strongly for quite some time. Let’s hope they can improve for the rest of 2014.
With a total patronage for the last 12 months of 70.8 million trips, it is just over 1 million trips short of the peak reached after the Rugby World Cup and almost 2 million more than the low in June last year of 69.1 million. Similarly on the rail network patronage is is only 100k short of the peak set post RWC in April 2012 of 10.98 million. I made a comment in January to a senior AT manager that I thought we would reach 11 million rail trips by the end of the financial year (30 June) and his response was that while he hoped that would happen, he wasn’t confident. It’s now looking more and more likely and I think it might possibly even happen in April.
Of course as mentioned the NRL 9′s played a big part in the boost to rail figures however it’s noted that even without that and other events, patronage growth was strong at over 15%. This can also be seen in the average weekday passengers figure which shows a growth of around 5,000 trips a day over Feb 2013.
The event figures also show that over 50% of all people attending the NRL 9′s did so via PT which is a fantastic result.
All up there are some fantastic results were some fantastic PT results in February and I have a feeling that March will be good too.
Lastly on to cycling and again February saw a slight decrease in cycling numbers compared to Feb 2013 although the AM peak numbers has continued to increase strongly. Not sure if there is any particular reason for this. Perhaps the attention on cycling safety following the horrific accident in January has had an impact on casual cyclists.
There’s been quite a bit of cycling news in the last few days (including during today) so this post is really a bit of a combination of a few of these.
The Role of Cycling in Auckland
You will recall on Tuesday my post on The Role of Cycling in Auckland. Yesterday the report was discussed by the Infrastructure Committee who also heard from Cycle Action Auckland and Generation Zero who also spoke on our behalf. My understanding is that most of the councillors on the committee were quite supportive and the herald published this part from Chris Darby
The initial recommendations were also strengthened and ended being
At the end of the day we it’s really up to the council to provide the funding needed for AT to implement more cycle facilities so this is a good outcome.
Hidden in today’s Finance and Performance Committee agenda was a discussion on providing additional $175,000 in funding to help complete investigations for Skypath.
I understand there was some fairly robust discussion and I’ve had it reported that George Wood was mischievously trying to mislead the committee. He seems to have a real problem with Skypath and perhaps he’s talking the same line the Northcote Residents Association use that cycling can only be provided over the harbour if an additional road crossing is built. The extra funding was approved 15-4 with George Wood, Dick Quax, Cameron Brewer and Sharon Stewart opposing it.
On the issue of the Northcote Residents Association, it appears they’re continuing to run misleading information themselves in their latest newsletter. There are a couple of major ones
The Draft Issues register – despite it appearing that the issues are all outstanding, I have heard that they have all been addressed as part of the process currently going on, many of which were done last year.
Questioning Patronage Numbers – this continues to be a line that the residents use despite the numbers having been produced and checked by independent consultants. I believe another round of work is going to be done do this again.
Parking – For some reason the residents seem to think that they own the public roads and have the sole right to them. This is simply not the case however I also understand that the one of the most likely options is a residents parking scheme similar to what exists in St Marys Bay and that would address the problems.
Additional Harbour Crossing – the residents like to claim that when an additional harbour crossing happens that it would free up a lane for pedestrians and cyclists on the bridge. However if it ever happens an additional road based crossing could be decades away and even then the NZTA have said Skypath will still be needed and will become a walking connection with any extra lanes freed up being for cycling (like in Sydney)
Greens Policy announcement
I posted this morning about the greens walking and cycling to school policy. Julie Anne Genter questioned Gerry Brownlee on it today in parliament. To be honest I can’t see many kids cycling alongside a RoNS to get to school. I’m also unaware of any cycling facilities being provided in many of the RoNS projects and in the case of Waterview, most of the cycling provision is only being done because the Board of Inquiry forced the NZTA to do so. Also have to
AA on cycling
What a brilliant ad from the UK version of the AA. Also good to see the NZ AA supporting it too (although with a hi-vis mention)
I happened to be part way through writing a post about transport policy for the upcoming elections when the first policy announcement of this cycle appeared in my inbox. I aim to cover election policy from all major parties over the course of the year.
It’s not their full policy but the Greens say they will put invest $200 million to make it easier for kids to be able to walk and cycle to school.
The full policy paper is here.
I think that regardless of political allegiance, getting more kids walking and cycling to school is a good thing. Currently information from the Ministry of Transports Household Travel Survey shows that for kids 5-12 only 2% ride a bike to school while that goes to only 4% for those 13-17. By contrast in the 5-12 category 58% are driven to school while in the 13-17 category around 41% arrive by car (some drive by then).
There would of course be quite a few challenges with a policy like this, just because the money is available it doesn’t mean that council (or AT in Auckland’s case) may actually use the money as far to often we hear stories of improvements to make it safer for kids around schools being declined due to it having the potential to disrupt the flow of traffic.
As mentioned at the start, we’ll be covering transport policy announcements of all parties.
Edit: I just noticed on twitter this from George Wood, this is a seriously concerning attitude
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