Prime Minister John Key is dead right when he said:
First home buyers in Auckland might have to consider an apartment in order to get onto the property ladder, Prime Minister John Key says.
After all, the locational efficiencies of well placed apartments can mean great savings in transport expenses, and the smaller size of these dwellings also leads to savings in operational costs such as energy and maintenance. Apartments do offer a great option for getting onto the property ladder in the more central locations that many desire, and in fact in many cases will be the only option.
And he is doubly right when he added:
“If you’re a young person buying your first place in Sydney or Melbourne or Brisbane, in most instances you’ll be going into an apartment.”
Doubly right? Right in the first instance because that’s true, but secondly right because he is implying that Auckland is becoming more similar to these cities in its functioning. Yes, Auckland is increasingly exhibiting the well known economic patterns of cities; high value placed on proximity, increases in productivity with density, the power of spatially efficient transport modes.
He’s kinda right when he then says:
“The real magic here is what’s driving those [price] increases – it’s land.”
Kinda right? Yes because of course it’s land, the cost of land, but he is only telling part of the storey, because he neglects to say that where that land is is the principal determinant of its value: Location, Location, Location. A 300m² site with a problem on it in Ponsonby recently made the news because of the price it sold for and of course it only reached that sum because of its locational value. No one is spending that kind of money on similarly tiny plots with rotting old shacks on them at the fringes of the city. Only by delivering more dwellings on locationally valuable sites can the demand for city proximate living be met and at attainable prices.
But then he was rather curious about the City Rail Link, that project that more than any other, will facilitate Auckland’s urban spatial reset by improving efficient connectivity and extending locational value to more currently underdeveloped parts of the existing city:
“And that’s one of the reasons why we’re not looking to rush to bring forward the rail, in terms of the CBD rail link, because if we do, the other portion of that has to be borne by the rate payers.”
Curious? Yes because he says he doesn’t want to use our taxes to fund half the project because he wants to save us from spending our rates on the other half. Well Mr Key there’s an even better way out of that, and that is to recognise that the CRL’s value to the Auckland economy and therefore the national one too, means that it should be funded entirely from the National Land Transport Fund like other nationally significant land transport projects.
Every project is somewhere, the CRL is no more local than a Highway in Tauranga, nor the coming one that almost no one will use out of Wellington. Aucklanders help fund those roads. The CRL will unlock a network from Swanson to Pukekohe, and points in between, helping shift a great many more people than a State Highway around Te Puke, and freeing up roads for many more freight movements. Therefore it is no less important for the national economy.
But anyway the City’s share of the CRL is already budgeted for in capital works programme so withholding the taxpayers share is not saving the Auckland ratepayer anything.
And this is significant because there are two issues that are vitally important to the success of apartment living that PM understands we now need; the location of the apartments and the quality of their connectivity. It is important that they are well placed in as much walking distance of amenity and employment as possible, but then that they are also well connected to the rest of the city through spatially efficient transport systems. After all the best trip is the one not needed to be taken, or that is shortened or otherwise has less impact on other city users and places [reducing the negatives of traffic congestion, space consumption, and pollution].
Auto-dependent apartments on greenfields sites at the end of the motorway will only achieve the worst of both worlds: dense sprawl. And this kind of distant and disconnected living supplies none of the agglomeration economies that make cities successful. Furthermore they are unlikely to succeed as they satisfy no one: They provide neither the scale nor gardens that detached house lovers want, nor the city proximity that city dwellers value.
So the successful growing city economy isn’t just about Land, or Dwelling Type, but about Location, Dwelling Type, and Connectivity.
Gotta have all three.
*Adendum. In case anyone is thinking that increasing sprawl doesn’t increase transport demand and therefore pressure on all systems here is an up to date chart derived from the 2013 census Journey To Work data that shows a very clear match for distance from centre and length of journey to work. This is not just about the concentration of jobs in the centre, but also about people working in all sorts of places throughout the city and travelling across town to get there:
So with the interesting addition of that area on the south of the Tamaki River, and a developing one on the mid North Shore, the most efficient journeys to work on a distance basis are all in the City Centre and the older heart of the Isthmus. In other words the further out you live the longer your schlep to and for work is likely to be, by whatever mode.
A group of New Zealand researchers recently published an excellent paper on the costs and benefits of investing in a complete cycle network and safe street design. Their paper, which is available online, found that:
the benefits of all the intervention policies outweighed the harms, between 6 and 24 times. However, there were order-of-magnitude differences in estimated net benefits among policies. A universal approach to bicycle-friendly infrastructure will likely be required to achieve sufficient growth in bicycle commuting to meet strategic goals.
Our findings suggest that the most effective approach would involve physical segregation on arterial roads (with intersection treatments) and low speed, bicycle-friendly local streets.
We estimate that these changes would bring large benefits to public health over the coming decades, in the tens of dollars for every dollar spent on infrastructure. The greatest benefits accrue from reduced all-cause mortality due to population-level physical inactivity.
The researchers employed a system dynamics modelling approach that incorporated feedback loops between infrastructure provision and street design, people’s travel behaviours, and actual and perceived safety.
As a transport economist, I found their methodology incredibly interesting. It illustrates how you often need complex modelling tools to quantify things that are intuitively quite simple. In this case, the fact that if you make every street safe to cycle on, people will choose to get on their bikes.
Feedback loops in cycle networks (Source: MacMillan et al, 2014)
Importantly, the researchers found that a larger, more ambitious programme of cycle upgrades will deliver a higher benefit-cost ratio than a smaller programme. This is what economists sometimes call the “complete network” effect – in effect, the more places you can get to easily and safely on a bicycle, the more likely you will be to cycle. (This is also why Facebook has so many users: You have to have an account because everybody else also has an account!)
Right now, Auckland’s obviously not doing too well when it comes to complete cycle networks. If you look at Auckland Transport’s online cycle maps, you’ll see some streets with strips of green paint down the side, and many more that you could in theory cycle on (if you were especially bold).
However, we’re lucky enough to have a local example of a city that is rolling out an ambitious complete cycle network. Since the 2011 Canterbury Earthquakes, Christchurch has planned a network of 13 major cycleways that will extend throughout the city, a re-jig of its city centre street network, and a new street design manual that will deliver better on-road cycle facilities. (Disclaimer: I have previously worked on the An Accessible City project as a consultant.) And they’re planning on getting it done over the next five years.
Will Christchurch “go Dutch”?
It’s going to be interesting to watch Christchurch over the next few years. I expect they’ll provide a good example for a lot of other New Zealand cities.
There are a number of events coming up that readers may be interested in.
Tomorrow – IPENZ Talk by Steven Burgess on Designing for safety how safe road design doesn’t make safe streets
Next Week – Brent Toderian is back in Auckland and giving another Auckland Conversations talk, this time on Vibrant Waterfronts
4th November – Vancouver Cycle Chic are here to talk about emerging bike culture
On of the few media organisations to take the time to look at the issues surrounding cycling in this country has been Campbell Live and in particular Lachlan Forsyth. On Thursday he had a fantastic segment looking at a number of issues and in particular the need for protected cycleways and safety around trucks.
There were a couple of things that are worth highlighting.
Agreeing that we need protected cycleways we now have:
- Transport experts
- the AA
Considering how much debate about solutions occurs in other areas of the transport debate that’s a remarkable outcome. What we’re waiting on is our politicians to to deliver the funding and for our agencies like Auckland Transport to build them.
The blind spot issues that truck drivers have is something that is important for everyone to be aware of.
It was fantastic to see families using the Beach Rd cycleway showing that if we built cycling facilities suitable for all ages to use that they will use them.
We’ve spent almost 60 years designing our cities and streets based on one overriding principle, the movement of as many vehicles as possible. This is seen not just on our roads but also in how we develop town centres and even our suburbs. It has become so extreme that in many cases it is virtually impossible to get around a place in anything but a car. Of course this isn’t unique to New Zealand with similar situations arising in many countries, but particularly the English speaking new world ones such as Australia, Canada and of course the US.
We have lots of examples of this in Auckland that have come to symbolise this car centric planning and some classic ones are Albany (left) and Botany (right) although there are many other places equally bad on smaller scales. They share a number of similar characteristics such as a huge volume of parking, buildings set back from the street and all surrounded by large roads that are difficult to get across. It’s not uncommon in places like these to people drive 150m to change carpark rather than walk between stores.
Yet both of these two places are listed in the Auckland Plan as being Metropolitan centres which means they are meant to (or eventually meant to) accommodate a large proportion of the city’s future residential, retail and employment growth and be linked to the region through efficient transport networks. To achieve this we will effectively need to retrofit them to become much more dense and walkable urban environments focused on people rather than the movement of cars.
This isn’t going to be an easy task but thankfully it’s a challenge now being tackled in many cities around the world that we can learn from. Below are a handful of underlying principles distill down the key elements that make for successful and walkable urban areas courtesy of Design for Walkability which is from SPUR, a research and advocacy group out of the San Francisco Bay area. They are all points that we’ve covered off before but it’s useful in repeating them and of course they are not just useful for the likes of Albany or Botany but should be applied to any urban areas.
1. Create fine-grained pedestrian circulation
Frequent and densely interconnected pedestrian routes are fundamental to walkability, shortening both actual and perceived distances. This can be accomplished by making city blocks smaller or by providing access through blocks via publicly accessible alleys, pathways or paseos (pedestrian boulevards) coupled with frequent crosswalks. A good rule of thumb is that a comfortable walking environment offers a choice of route about once per minute, which is every 60 to 90 metres at a moderate walking pace — typical of a traditional, pre-war city block. This not only allows pedestrians efficient access but also provides visual interest and a sense of progress as new structures and intersections come into view with reasonable frequency.
This kind of “permeability” sometimes meets with resistance from developers and property owners, who may cite security, property rights or site-planning concerns. But street networks are fundamental to walking. Walking five 60 metre blocks through Portland, Oregon, is easy and comfortable. Walking the same 300 metres on a suburban commercial street, past a single distant building and no intersections, is very uncomfortable.
A major statistical analysis found that intersection density and street connectivity are more strongly correlated with walking than even density and mixed land uses. Only proximity to the city centre has a stronger effect.
2. Orient buildings to street and open spaces
In walkable urban environments, buildings are placed right at the edges of streets and public spaces, rather than being set back behind parking lots or expanses of landscaping. These built edges provide a sense of definition to streets and other spaces, which helps makes the environment more legible and coherent. At all scales, from big-city downtowns to small neighborhood centers, edges help reinforce circulation routes while allowing easy pedestrian access to buildings. Building entrances are on or next to sidewalks. Setbacks from the street are short and exist only to provide public space or a transition from public to private life.
Where buildings are set back behind parking lots or landscaping, pedestrians are isolated from uses and activities, exposed to traffic and forced to walk greater distances. Even if a walking path or sidewalk is provided, pedestrians and transit users receive the message that they are of secondary importance. Loading docks, service entrances, blank walls and driveways should be limited in size and located where they minimize disruption of pedestrian access.
3. Organize uses to support public activity
The way uses are arranged on a site has a major impact on the activity, vitality, security and identity of surrounding streets and spaces.
Active uses (such as retail, lobbies and event spaces) should be placed strategically along pedestrian routes to engage the public and should be designed for transparency and interest.
Secure, private spaces should be placed at site interiors, away from public streets.
Residential entrances should be designed to provide a graceful transition from public to private. Stoops, front porches, balconies and lobbies can all provide privacy while supporting sociability and greater security by increasing the number of “eyes on the street.”
Certain uses, such as garages and cinemas, should be tucked deeply away, but their points of access can be major nodes of activity.
Loading and utility spaces should be hidden from pedestrian frontages.
4. Place parking behind or below buildings
In newer development, good places for people depend heavily on the artful accommodation of cars. Parking is an expensive, space-hungry and unattractive use — and it’s a key driver of site planning and project finances. It should be provided in multilevel structures where possible and placed where it will not disrupt pedestrian spaces. Well-designed garages can serve multiple buildings, draw people onto streets and allow parking to be managed efficiently. Once they have parked, every driver becomes a pedestrian, so pedestrian garage exits should be located to support and enliven public spaces.
5. Address the human scale with building and landscape details
People experience the built environment at the scale of their own bodies in space. Buildings should meet and engage people at that scale, with awnings, façade elements, lighting, signage and other features along sidewalks. Building forms can be broken down or subdivided visually to lighten the sense of mass. Even very large buildings can meet the human scale in a gracious and accommodating manner.
6. Provide clear, continuous pedestrian access
Wide sidewalks that include elements like trees, lighting, street furniture and public art are the city’s connective tissue. In great walking cities like Barcelona and New York, sidewalks 12 metres wide are not uncommon, but a well-designed 3 metre sidewalk can be adequate in some contexts. Sidewalks should form a continuous network connected by frequent, safe street crossings.
Sidewalks, while fundamental, are only one part of the broader public realm. They should be seamlessly integrated with walkways, paseos, building entrances, transit facilities, plazas and parks. In order for people to feel comfortable walking, the continuity of pedestrian access among major uses and amenities, including transit facilities, is essential.
7. Build complete streets
Streets can accommodate a variety of travel modes while also serving as public amenities, sites of commerce and green spaces. Vehicular roadways should be no bigger than necessary for their function, and they should apportion space safely among private vehicles, transit, bicycles and parking. If they are well designed, streets can move significant volumes of auto traffic and still support other activities. Small streets are equally important and can limit vehicular speeds and capacity in the service of other functions, from deliveries to social activity.
From The City of San Jose’s Envision 2040 General Plan:
“A complete street provides safe, comfortable, attractive and convenient access and travel for pedestrians, bicyclists, motorists and transit users of all ages, abilities and preferences. The design of a complete street considers both the public right-of-way and the land uses and design of adjoining properties, including appropriate building heights and the planning of adjoining land uses that actively engage the public street realm.”
Obviously implementing all these recommendations straight away is a bit tricky but they are definitely something we should be working on too across the region.
40: Building on the Laneway Circuit
What if we could breathe new life into the blocks between Queen and Albert Streets?
One of the more interesting aspects of the City Centre Masterplan that has really started to take on a life of its own is the idea of a laneway circuit. As the Masterplan explains, the laneway circuit recognises and seeks to unlock the potential of the network of narrow back streets, lanes and squares that run in a general north – south fashion down the Queen Street Valley between Aotea Square and the Quay Street waterfront.
The network to the east of Queen Street is very well established and recognised and has many of the most loved and celebrated streets and squares in Auckland. Places such as High and Lorne Streets, Freyberg Square and Vulcan and Durham Lanes. The Fort Street shared spaces and newly activated streets of Britomart have joined these old favourites to make a fairly continuous laneway experience between Aotea Square and the waterfront.
To the west of Queen Street, there is now a clear goal of establishing an identifiable route via Federal Street. This has some fairly major challenges to overcome at both ends (linking across Mayoral Drive from Aotea Square in the south, and pushing across Fanshawe and Sturdee Streets through to the waterfront in the north). But in the middle blocks, the highly successful St Patrick’s Square and newly completed Federal Street shared space are already opening up new routes and bringing new public life to the west.
By contrast, the blocks between Queen and Albert are, on the whole, very unloved. With the exception of Elliott and Darby Streets, there is a very poor and coarse block structure between Queen and Albert, which has been further compromised by development over time. It is one of the least legible and least lively parts of the city centre.
What if there were ways to unlock the potential of these blocks, by adding a third north-south laneway route over time? Three key moves, opening up links at Customs Street, Wyndham Street and through buildings perhaps, between Durham Street West and Victoria Street West, could work towards a continuous midblock laneway connection between Aotea Square (via Bledisloe Lane) and Customs Street.
Something for the longer term perhaps, and certainly an idea that would require a number of landowners and private sector interests to see the value and benefit, but one that could solve a fundamental urban form issue in this part of the city centre that will always hold it back relative to other flourishing areas.
Stuart Houghton 2014
Yesterday I had a look some of the changes Auckland has seen over the last decade and as mentioned, here are some predictions for the next decade. To start off I’m going to address the projections made in the Herald by Victoria University Associate Professor Ian Yeoman.
We might not be flying around on jetpacks but we will definitely be using driverless cars, Yeoman says. “By 2024, we won’t need a test because all the cars will be self-drive.”
That will benefit those new to the country and the ageing, more frail population, he says. “Driverless cars will become more important and more mainsteam.”
He expects the electronic car will be more common than the combustion engine. “Electric cars and battery technology have come so far – electric cars are even sexy now… Porsche is doing an electric vehicle.”
Yeoman says the country’s cycleways will be populated by people on electric bikes rather than operating under pedal power. And although jetpacks will probably still be just a fun innovation and not something you’d consider relying on for your daily commute, Yeoman sees potential in the Terraflugia, a car that is licensed for road and flight.
Yeoman tells people: “Everything you saw on Star Trek has come true, except for teletransportation.”
Many many companies are now putting a lot of work into driverless cars yet they still appear to be years away from the market and even if they were available within 5 years, it’s unlikely they will be available or affordable for the mainstream market for considerably longer. What’s more even if they are available within a decade New Zealanders are keeping their cars for longer with the average age of vehicles increasing to 13.5 years old last year. In Auckland the average age is slightly less but also showing the same upward trend. It’s also for this reason that electric cars are likely to remain only a small proportion of the fleet in a decade
If driverless cars do start to be seen the first and probably biggest impact they will have will be on the taxi industry. Public Transport is the other area that could really benefit from driverless technology, it’s obviously used on some rail networks already although we probably need a more secure network before it’s possible here. Like taxi’s buses represent a huge opportunity as the labour costs are a huge portion of the operational costs.
Johnny Cab from Total Recall
As for the Terraflugia, that’s still really pie in the sky territory.
The one area I do agree with Yeoman on electric bikes which offer the potential to effectively flatten out Auckland’s hills and see a lot more people out on bikes – that is if Auckland Transport pick up their game and build a lot more cycling infrastructure. Getting additional funding for more cycling infrastructure is something I think we will see happening, particularly towards the end of the decade as the number of people on bikes and public and political support for more cycling infrastructure continues to increase.
After being dragged through the environment court Skypath will be built and will be incredibly popular not just for commuters but for tourists too. By the end of the decade most people will be wondering why it wasn’t built sooner and why it wasn’t funded by the government.
Public transport is where I think we’ll see the biggest change over the next decade. As mentioned we’re already seeing PT usage increasing faster than Auckland’s population is increasing thanks to the investment that’s already been made however it’s not till the next few years we’ll really see the fruition of many years work become a reality. By 2017 we will have electric trains rolled out across the network and running at good all day frequencies. On top of that will be the dramatically better new bus network along with additional bus priority further improving choice and mobility for many people. Add in ferries and linking everything up with be integrated fares allowing people with HOP substantially easier (and possibly cheaper) trips around the region.
These improvements are of course not new with many cities having made them before however not many would have done them all at the same time. The effects of each project will combine to revolutionise PT in Auckland and I think will see patronage soar ahead of predictions and by 2024 be sitting somewhere between 120 and 140 million trips. On a per capita basis that would likely put Auckland at a similar level that Wellington is at now but which is still below many peer cities.
During the next decade I do think the CRL will be built and completed. The section from Britomart to Wyndham St will start sometime next year as part of the Downtown Shopping Centre redevelopment. My guess is the government will give the green light for funding the rest of the project in 2016 and actual construction will start in 2017 finishing around 2021/22.
As with cycling, I think the growing usage of PT along with the ever increasing public and political appetite for more PT infrastructure will see other major projects be substantially advanced. This includes
- The Northwest Busway
- The AMETI Busway
- Electrification to Pukekohe
- Designation and perhaps even an extension of the Onehunga line to Mangere as part of a longer term goal of getting the line to the airport.
In short I think the next decade is going to be a fantastic one for public transport.
There’s a huge amount of construction activity going on at the moment or is just about to start as part of the governments roading binge. All things going to plan in 2017 the Waterview Connection will be completed as well as the widening of SH16 and associated interchange upgrades. Associated with this is the governments $800 million for widening and upgrading other motorways around Auckland. This is likely to have the effect of sucking many more trips on to the motorway, some from alternative routes and some from induced demand. While it will see more people being able to drive around Auckland I suspect the queues on the roads will be just the same as they are now.
I suspect a big challenge for Simon Bridges over the next 3-4 years will be thinking through what the government will do next with transport in Auckland. The reality is almost all state highway projects in Auckland will have been done or nearing completion within half a decade. Further as these projects are completed it is likely to free up substantial sums of money (some of which will likely be used by the NZTA in other parts of the country. I do think we’ll see another couple of major motorway projects in Auckland in the form of widening SH16 between Lincoln Rd and Westgate (something that seems to have dropped off the radar) and from extending the SH16 motorway to Kumeu (the section from Brigham Creek Rd to Kumeu is one of the busier single lane roads in the region with well over 20,000 vehicles per day.
On the metrics I think we’ll continue to see per capita vehicle Kilometres Travelled (VKT) remain flat although the total number of km travelled will increase slightly.
Governance and Funding
I’m not going to make any predictions about what will happen with governance but I do suspect Len Brown will stand again in 2016. Once again transport is likely to be the hot topic issue. I don’t think we’ll see any mayoral candidates oppose the CRL although some candidates for councillor will do. What happens further out than that is way too hard to predict.
Over the next half decade or so the issues around transport funding are likely to become more obvious and while they have been reluctant too so far, I think the government will start looking at how they can raise additional money to pay for transport projects and supplement fuel taxes which won’t be growing as people continue shifting to more fuel efficient vehicles and people don’t drive as much as predicted.
Urban Spaces and development
Auckland has seen some impressive change over the last few years and I expect that will continue in the coming decade. We’ll see huge changes in the CBD in particular as projects included in the Downtown Framework (and the other frameworks start to be delivered. These projects will continue to transform Auckland into a more people friendly place and I suspect it will have an effect not just on the liveability of the city but in attracting visitors to check out Auckland.
I think we’ll also see some of the strongest opposition to intensification and change reduce as people start to see better and better examples of good design. This isn’t to say there’ll be no opposition to development but just not quite the level of fear that currently exists.
Overall I think Auckland in 10 years time is going to be a very interesting place, one that has started to make huge inroads to fixing its scars from the second half of the 20th century. There’s a lot to be positive about.
Responses from two of the country’s biggest transport lobby groups yesterday highlight what could probably be described as the business as usual approach to transport in NZ.
First we have the NZ Council for Infrastructure Development, the lobby group for those that build and finance infrastructure and who have never seen a project they didn’t like or one they didn’t think should be bigger and more expensive. Not content with having managed to get the East-West link moved to near the top of the queue are already calling for a second East-West link in the form of the destructive motorway from the Airport to East Tamaki.
“Transport agency proposals to address East-West traffic flows released for public consultation yesterday will help address urgent freight needs in the Penrose-Onehunga area in Auckland. But the long term solution must be one which connects Auckland’s commercial and industrial heartland in Penrose, Mt Wellington and East Tamaki and also caters for planned residential intensification and growth from the eastern suburbs to the airport,” says Stephen Selwood CEO of the New Zealand Council for Infrastructure Development.
“In order for Aucklanders to provide worthwhile feedback on the proposals it is essential that they understand the full benefits and costs of each option and the long term strategic implications.
“The options proposed are concentrated on the Onehunga-Penrose catchment zone which, while still the largest in terms of employment, represents just one fifth of the $11 billion per annum generated across the industrial zones bordering the Manukau Harbour and Tamaki Estuary. Little information has been provided, to date, on the benefits, costs and strategic implications of the alternatives proposed.
“Connectivity to East Tamaki as well as further south to Mangere and on to the airport is not planned for improvement in these proposals, except through improved bus movement.
“How these areas will be connected into the future has great bearing on what the appropriate solution is for this first phase of investment.
“One option considered in earlier analysis included a motorway south of the Manukau Harbour. It provided long term connectivity not only between the industrial areas, but for all communities in the east of Auckland accessing employment and the airport.
“It was almost immediately terminated following public reaction, leaving a northern Manukau Harbour solution as the most politically acceptable. However, given that the proposals released yesterday provide no new east west connectivity for Glen Innes, Panmure, Howick, Pakuranga, Botany and the industrial areas of East Tamaki and Mt Wellington it is not clear how existing and projected growth demand in these areas will be addressed.
“Too often major projects in New Zealand are developed in a piecemeal fashion and modified and reduced to satisfy environmental and local interests without adequate consideration of strategic implications or the relative cost of lost accessibility and reduced economic efficiency.
“The East-West connection is a critical corridor linking not just the two busiest stretches of motorway in the country and three of the largest employment zones, it is a strategic link on the national highway network providing long term resilience and capacity for all road users crossing the city from east to west.
“It is critical that this project is seen as a strategic east west link for Auckland. That means providing adequate capacity to and through Auckland’s industrial heartland and supporting network connectivity region-wide,” Selwood says.
There are some really pull your hair out type comments in this statement.
Firstly it’s clear the NZCID are now trying to paint the East-West link as some kind of temporary fix up despite some of the options (like Option E) basically amounting a $1 billion+ motorway along the foreshore of the Mangere Inlet. There’s nothing temporary or short term about it.
It also ignores that the East-West Link has long been seen about improving access on the northern side of the harbour because as the NZCID point out, that’s where the largest portion of businesses and therefore freight movements are. Also let’s not forget the project has long been sold as being needed to improve freight movements.
Perhaps because the current proposals better deal with freight movements they are also trying to shift the argument back to having the motorway option by talking about the residents of the eastern suburbs. In doing so they basically suggest that the ability of Eastern suburbs residents to drive to the airport should come ahead of the liveability and communities of residents who live in Mangere.
The horrific Option 4 the NZCID want back on the options table
If they were really concerned about how Eastern suburbs residents and about providing them better connectivity then a quicker, cheaper an much less destructive option would be something like we’ve outlined in the Congestion Free Network. Two busways running at high all day frequencies connecting East Auckland with the rest of the region enhances connectivity not just for trips to the airport but for a wide range of other activities too. Some may say that Eastern suburbs residents won’t catch a bus but it’s worth remembering that people have said the same thing about North Shore residents yet the busway has been spectacularly successful.
Of course the NZCID won’t like the idea because it only costs a fraction of what a motorway does.
The other lobby group making news is the Road Transport Forum (RTF) in response to the suggestions from the NZTA’s Cycling Safety Panel that it be mandated for vehicles to give cyclists at least 1.5m of space when passing. Ken Shirley the CEO of the RTF has been rubbishing the suggestion and in doing so said:
“There’s a dual responsibility, the cyclist also has to be more aware of the impact of the impact they might have on vehicles, whether it’s a car or a truck because that can be very severe”
Yep because cyclists can really do some damage to a 40 tonne truck or having to slow down for 10 seconds is just such a horrific concept.
“One of the problems is blind spots on trucks and cyclists unaware of those blind spots and there’s a lot of technology that’s new to the market with infra-red and radar up the side of the truck giving an audio and visual warning to the the driver that in fact there might be a cyclist sitting in the blind spot”
Of course as soon as anyone suggests making technology like this a requirement Shirley is the first to jump up and down complaining about it.
“Too many cyclists don’t appreciate how vulnerable they really are,”
Cyclists are vulnerable primarily because of how other road users act and even the most safety conscious cyclist has sometimes been involved in tragic crashes.
“I think they’re a bit light on actual cycle education – we see some outrageous behaviour from cyclists – and a lack of appreciation of the blind spot, particularly with heavy vehicles.”
Nothing like the good old tar all people on bikes with the same brush.
I recently had the privilege of spending a day on a cliff top above Hobson Bay. As a student I lived for a year over the Parnell end of the bay so this was both a reminder of that for me and the experience of a different angle onto the view. And how lovely it is, no wonder properties on these cliffs command such high prices. And, at least for me, the view is considerably enhanced by the constant activity across the bay both on land and water. The crossings that cut off the seaward end of the bay are far enough away to be interesting activity rather than invasive neighbour [cf St Mary's Bay]. A six lane freeway on the landward side of the rail line, however, would be a hideous intrusion. And will never happen. The planned walking and cycling boardwalk will be a fantastic addition and well used.
A few observations:
Of the four kinds of trains running on the line at the moment the loudest and by far the least mellifluous are the loco hauled passenger services, then the DMUs, I was surprised with how little noise the freighters made, perhaps this is because they seemed to be going fairly slowly. The EMUs are a flashing delight. The movement of the tide adds visual interest and changes the reflection of the sound considerably. A jetskier in the bay below at high tide was the worst intrusion on the day.
Spot the yellow and blue caterpillar:
Two EMUs crossing:
lovely at low tide too:
old v new, not for much longer:
36: On the Beat
What if we had more cops on the beat?
Isn’t it time the New Zealand Police started to recognise the changes happening in urban New Zealand? In our central cities and busiest town centres and main streets in particular, wouldn’t it be good to see less racing sirens and more friendly-faced officers on the street, on foot and two wheels?
This aspect of New Zealand life is a noticeable contrast with policing in cities elsewhere in the world. In central Auckland and Wellington in particular, there are now such high numbers of people out and about on foot every day and every evening right through the week that having a friendly police presence on the pavement wouldn’t go amiss, particularly at night.
The positive difference was noticeable during the Rugby World Cup where the police by and large had a very positive presence in the city. Ok, so that was a special one-off event with particular policing needs, but it did signal how too often we see officers out of their cars and on the pavement. As New Zealanders increasingly work out ways of to our urban city and town centres it might be time the police consider doing the same.
Stuart Houghton 2014