RLTP: Cycling

Yesterday I highlighted the investment in the rail network that is planned in the draft Regional Land Transport Plan (RLTP). Today I’m looking at the Cycling budgets. They start off by talking about the growing demand for cycling, especially where new facilities are provided. They also explain the proposed Auckland Cycle Network – which I think is largely a piece of junk due to its numerous holes and comprises.

Cycling in Auckland is on the increase (19), not just as an increasingly popular leisure activity, but for a variety of transport-related trips. Surveys indicate a sizeable latent demand for safe cycling facilities. The number of people cycling is growing fastest where new facilities are provided as part of the Regional Cycle Network, proving that the “build it and they will come” approach is working.

To keep up with this trend and to spur further growth in cycling, Auckland Transport plans to accelerate the construction of the Auckland Cycle Network. The Auckland Cycle Network comprises more than 1,000km of connected on and off road cycle facilities that provide a safe environment to accommodate likely latent demand and encourage more growth in cycling. The network is shown in Figure 23 and has three levels:

  • Cycle metros are separate facilities on main routes, for example the North Western Cycleway
  • Cycle connectors may be on-road cycle lanes, or off-road shared paths, designed to provide safe and direct routes for cyclists
  • Cycle feeders link schools, parks and community destinations to each other and to the network.

Auckland Cycling Network

However it’s the next paragraph that explains the situation we’re in.

The target set in the Auckland Plan is to complete 70% of the Auckland Cycle Network (Metros and Connectors) by 2022. This RLTP contains a programme of dedicated cycle projects and of cycling links delivered through road construction and road maintenance projects. The proposed investment package will not complete 70% of the Auckland Cycle network until after 2040.

So the council want 70% of the network completed by 2022 yet that figure won’t even be achieved by 2040 at current investment levels. The map below shows what parts of the network that are meant to be completed within the next decade under the basic transport package which is what we’ll get unless the alternative funding issue is resolved. You may notice that many of these are beside motorways where the NZTA is paying for them.

Auckland Cycling Network completed in 10 years

This position is further highlighted in the financial table which shows that other than the Waterview cycleway there is no money planned to be spent on cycling till after 2018 unless a local board uses their share of ~$10 million Local Board Initiatives budget on it.

RLTP Cycling

Things do look a bit rosier – but not by much – with the NZTA

RLTP Cycling NZTA

At this rate it looks like we’re once again set for some stormy weather over cycling. The only bright spot on the horizon is the Urban Cycleways Funds however even then that will require funding from council

The recently announced Urban Cycleways Funds will inject $100 million of funds nationally to deliver cycleways over the current financial year and the first three years of the RLTP 2015-25. The funding proportion for this fund is one-third local Council share investment, one-third NZTA funding, and one-third Urban Cycleways fund. The proposed budget does not include any new cycling projects in the first three years, which will mean that Auckland Transport does not receive a share of the $100 million national Urban Cycleways fund after 1 July 2015, unless it is for projects funded by local boards from the Local Board Initiatives fund.

Celebrating Auckland’s Transformation

Auckland has come a long way in recent years when it comes to the city and waterfront more interesting and people oriented. This was highlighted beautifully on the weekend as tens of thousands every day flocked to the waterfront to celebrate Auckland’s 175th birthday. From Captain Cook Wharf through to the Wynyard Quarter the place was buzzing with people once again proving that people respond when we make spaces for people.

Queen St Temporary Space - Ludo

Photo from Ludo Campbell-Reid

And it isn’t just Aucklanders noticing the redevelopment of the city. This piece a week ago titled Revamped Auckland waterfront inspires from The Press in Christchurch highlights the transformation that Auckland is making:

The girl sits inside what looks like a ventilation shaft, her very own stainless-steel cocoon, legs dangling over the side. Families with pushchairs, a woman walking her dog, cyclists, tourists, and locals stroll past. All look relaxed and carefree.

As they wander the length of the old pier, there’s plenty to grab their attention: Colourful metal cylinders, sculptures shaped like crabs, fish, whales, octopuses, and seahorses. Children splash through a pool underneath a gigantic metal sculpture that looks like it could be an intergalactic TV aerial. Teenagers shoot basketball hoops. Shoppers browse through treasures in market stalls.

Shipping containers have been turned into information booths; old warehouses have become restaurants and cafes. We join the throng for a leisurely and surprisingly affordable lunch.

Welcome to the Wynyard Quarter, part of Auckland’s burgeoning transformation of its previously neglected waterfront. Starting in 2011, this bold and imaginative, development has proved hugely successful. If you are heading to the City of Sails, go – you’ll love it.

We didn’t find getting around Auckland without a car too hard. We stayed on the North Shore. To reach the Wynyard Quarter, we used the Northern Express, a bus service that has is own motorway lane and bus stations. It couldn’t have been easier. We found Aucklanders more courteous to pedestrians than Christchurch drivers.

Public transportation makes a mockery of the calls for more car-parking in Christchurch. Without car parks, the city will fail, say those with a vested interest in developing their central city private businesses – for which they would love a dollop of public money.

Go to other cities and you won’t find car-parking easy either. If you can, you take the bus or train – or bike – instead.

Future cities will be nothing like the old ones. We need to be more flexible, and if that means tweaking or even radically changing former plans, let’s get on with it.

Hell even the few comments are fairly positive and it’s not like Cantabrians are known for their positive views on Auckland. This one in particular is good.

Wynyard Quarter is an amazing place to visit. It’s one of the reasons I’ve been revising my long held opinion of Auckland as a bleak soulless wasteland. Auckland’s inner city is now full of vibrancy and character again.

Wynyard Busy

North Wharf was certainly busy with people enjoying the space

What’s often forgotten is that some of the city’s most impressive transformations have only really been completed for less than 5 years. This includes Wynyard Quarter, the shared spaces and much of the Britomart Precinct.

And then there was this fantastic piece from Jack Tame in the Herald a few days ago:

Imagine describing Auckland to a foreigner who’d never heard her name. A sub-tropical climate with 1.5 million people; suburbs freckled by volcanic nipples, each so perfectly coned and green you’d swear it was just clever landscaping; a city with two impressive harbours, two impressive and different coasts; a city where rich, poor, suburban or central, most people are only ever a few minutes from the sea.

You’d likely explain to your foreign friend that Auckland is the Pacific capital, a city rich with Maori and Polynesian culture. There may be more Pacific Island people here than in all the islands combined and the blend and diversity of Aucklanders is unlike anywhere else on Earth.

We’re spoilt. Auckland is an almighty playground, geographic and cultural. But as the city flourishes and booms it will take planning not to balls it all up. Our city must intensify. It’s unsustainable to sprawl our way to Hamilton, and naive to think that every Aucklander needs to live on a quarter-acre block.

We’re making progress. Britomart and Wynyard Quarter are perfect examples of good public space and will always be embraced.

But high-quality, high-density living options and public transport are essential in ensuring Auckland remains a great place to live.

I’ve long said that Auckland has one of the best natural settings in the world, one that many cities could only dream about. If we can continue down the path we’re on we have a chance to make our urban environment just as wonderful.

Last Chance to submit on Skypath

If you haven’t already, you’re running out of time to put a submission in for Skypath with submissions closing today.

Skypath Consent - From Westhaven

If you want the full details of the proposal you can find all of the details here.

Submitting is really important as some of the locals (but not all) on either side of the bridge are opposed to the project as highlighted in this piece from One News a few days ago.

Skypath One News

You may recall our friends at Generation Zero created an easy submission form to fill in.  Fantastically yesterday they were able to announce that over 10,000 people had filled it in showing their support for the project. That’s a massive response and more than the council received of the Unitary Plan last year.

If you still want to make a submission this is the quickest and easiest way. They’ve also put  together this info.

5 Reasons Why You Should Submit

 

1. The Skypath will provide much needed transport choices by providing a long overdue walking and cycling link between the North Shore and the City.

Choice.jpg

2. The Skypath will be a great way to encourage cycling. It will connect the two sides of the harbour allowing people to commute or for a Sunday ride.

 Skypath_Encourage_Cycling.jpg

3. It will be easily accessible with great work done by the Skypath Trust to accommodate all stakeholders.

Skypath_Easily_Accessable.jpg

4. The best thing about it though is that it’ll be amazing iconic attraction for Auckland.

Iconic_Attraction.jpg

5. There’s one thing we think that should be changed and that’s it’s opening hours. We think it should be open till midnight rather than closing at 10PM. If you support this make sure to tick the box to add it to your submission.

Skypath_Sensible_Hours.jpg

Please also share the submission form with friends, the link is http://www.generationzero.org/skypath+

Update: Generation Zero say that around 11,500 used their submission form and the council have said they received over 4000 directly meaning probably close to 16,000 submissions for this fantastic project.

Photo of the day: Bledisloe Lane

This was from just before Christmas showing the newly upgraded Bledisloe Lane. The oppressively low canopy was removed, paving replaced and Bledisloe building facade repaired. The space has a much better feeling to it now and so much more pleasant to walk through.

image

image

Now we need Metro Centre building to open up onto the lane to really help activate it, something I believe the council are keen on too.

The cost of restoring the tram network

In Peter’s weekly wrap up post on Sunday he included a piece from Alan Davies who looked at what it would take financially to build a tram network the size of Melbourne’s.

The US has over 45 operating streetcar and light rail systems but none of them are anywhere near as large as Melbourne’s tram system. Melbourne has the largest extant urban streetcar network in the world with 249 kilometres of double track and 487 trams.

Cost

If Melbourne’s tram network had been removed in the 1950s and 60s like similar systems in Sydney, Brisbane, Adelaide, Perth and many regional centres were, it would be astronomically expensive to build something like it today from scratch. The cost of rolling stock alone would be in the region of $3 Billion (1).

Based on the actual $1.6 Billion it cost to build the newly opened 13 km Gold Coast G:link line, a network the size of Melbourne’s could have an all-up cost in the region of $30 Billion.

Or if we extrapolate from the estimated $2.2 Billion it’s taking to build Sydney’s new 12 km CBD and South Eastern Light Rail system, the all-up cost could be in the region of $45 Billion.

That got me thinking about how much it might cost if we ever decided to completely rebuild Auckland’s old tram network. The old network is shown below which was built primarily in the first few decades of the 20th century – horse drawn trams existed before that – and ripped out in the 1950’s.

Auckland Isthmus tramlines

In total the old network is about 70km in length so quite a bit shorter than Melbourne’s network. Even today the bus routes that largely replicate the tram network are some of the busiest in the city, in large part because the suburbs built on the back of the trams were designed to make it fairly easy to use them.

So what would it cost. The only local example we have of laying tram tracks is in Wynyard Quarter where the horizontal Ferris Wheel Auckland Dockline Tram exists. It consists of 1.3km of single track and cost about $8 million which included a special noise and vibration dampening section along Jellicoe St. By figures seen overseas this price seems remarkably cheap and if we could built out an entire network at that figure it would cost around $900 million although that doesn’t include the cost of trams or places to store and maintain them. I would be incredibly surprised if we could do it for that cheap.

Looking over at North America it seems that costs are generally around US$35 million per mile (NZ$28m per km) and at that rate it would cost $4 billion to build out the old network.

Finally using the Australian figures from the start of the post and converted to NZ dollars we get a cost of over $9 billion based on the Gold Coast example or around $13.5 billion based on the Sydney example.

That’s quite a bit of variety in prices although of course as Davies he mentions in his post the cost is driven in large part by how much segregation the modes have. Further he points out that any large scale roll out would likely have some cost efficiencies which would bring the sums down a bit.

If we ever decided to properly reintroduce trams or light rail back to Auckland it’s not likely the entire old network would be rebuilt as it was however it’s certain that heavily used routes like Dominion Rd would still be prime candidates. The real question is if an increase in patronage, savings in operational costs (due to fewer drivers, cheaper fuel etc.), reduced emissions and reduced bus congestion in the city centre make such an idea viable?

Uncommonly Good: Melbourne Apartments show the way forward

‘The Commons’ is a new small apartment block next to a train line in Brunswick, inner Melbourne by Breathe Architecture. It is noteworthy for  the cost of the apartments [pretty affordable for the area], its strong sustainability credentials and design features [especially the shared areas], its financial success as a development, but most of all because it is a concrete example of a great way forward for urban redevelopment. It ticks every box for accessibility, humanity, and public good. Here is how it was covered in last Thursday’s The Age. Be sure to watch the video.

The Commons sarah-hurst

It is such a success that another block is underway nearby but this time not funded by a traditional developer but sort of crowd sourced, mainly by the architectural community, and it will be marketed in a fresh way too.

The total absence of any onsite car parking and mechanical aircon along with clever use of communal services that enable the generous size of the living areas and the high build quality for the price point. This shows how the removal of anti-urban planning regulations that most western cities have inherited from last century can stimulate innovation by architects and developers.

It also shows that to really offer choice and increased affordability into urban housing markets cities need to make two coordinated moves: remove the straitjacket of Minimum Parking Regulations and other dispersal enforcing regs and upgrade its Transit and Active systems to as high quality, frequency, and permanency as possible. Together these moves enable the market to provide real TODs, Transport Oriented Developments, of all sorts of scales for all sorts of markets, on currently undervalued brownfields sites.

Once these conditions exist then change can occur on scales more attractive to a variety of players driving experimentation and innovation. After all, whatever government, Council, and the market is doing now in Auckland for dwelling supply isn’t working as well as we need. Significant improvement is coming to our transport systems, now lets get the dwelling regulatory environment fixed too. Then good things will follow. As one fix is nowhere as powerful without the other.

Below, the parking [from here:http://www.redshiftaa.com.au/portfolio/apartment-design-as-it-should-be/]:

Redshift_The_Commons_Bicycles

Submit for Skypath

Guest Post from Ryan Mearns, Communications Director of Generation Zero

After a decade of massive work by the SkyPath team, we’re at the stage where our input really counts! The resource consent is in and submissions closes in just over a week! Not everyone is panting for it as we are – Residents’ Associations on both sides of the bridge are worried they’ll be deluged by parked cars. Help us show we want to walk and cycle the bridge, so this is all about reducing car use!  

5 Reasons Why You Should Submit

 

1. The Skypath will provide much needed transport choices by providing a long overdue walking and cycling link between the North Shore and the City.

Choice.jpg

2. The Skypath will be a great way to encourage cycling. It will connect the two sides of the harbour allowing people to commute or for a Sunday ride.

 Skypath_Encourage_Cycling.jpg

3. It will be easily accessible with great work done by the Skypath Trust to accommodate all stakeholders.

Skypath_Easily_Accessable.jpg

4. The best thing about it though is that it’ll be amazing iconic attraction for Auckland.

Iconic_Attraction.jpg

5. There’s one thing we think that should be changed and that’s it’s opening hours. We think it should be open till midnight rather than closing at 10PM. If you support this make sure to tick the box to add it to your submission.

Skypath_Sensible_Hours.jpg

Submissions close in less than 2 weeks but we’ve made it super easy to submit in support. Also we have a couple of minor recommendations that we suggest the Council should take up, like having it open till midnight.

Fill out our quick submission form to contribute a positive voice to the discussion, and add what you find important as well.

It’ll literally take 20 seconds but it will really make a difference to show the huge demand for better cycling infrastructure in Auckland.  Submissions close on the 23rd of January so do it now and get it out of the way.

Please also share the submission form with friends, the link is http://www.generationzero.org/skypath

Herald praises Shared Spaces

There’s a good editorial in the Herald today about how the shared spaces have been a success.

Big bold ideas that turn out badly receive plenty of critical attention, those that turn out well tend not to receive the attention they deserve.

A big bold idea for the movement of people and traffic in Auckland’s central business district is working so well that we already take it for granted.

Walking or driving slowly in some of the side streets we hardly notice that pedestrians and vehicles are mingling without a problem.

Yet five years ago when the former Auckland City Council’s urban design group manager, Ludo Campbell-Reid, suggested turning the narrow streets into “shared space”, the idea was daringly radical.

It stepped outside the endless debate between those who wanted to close the streets to traffic and the business owners who feared a loss of access for suppliers and customers. We could have both, said Mr Campbell-Reid.

By doing away with footpaths, kerbs and parking spaces and paving the whole corridor in a way that was inviting for pedestrians but not smooth for cars, the city could favour foot traffic without barring vehicles completely.

It was “pro-pedestrian but not anti-car”, he said. To those who feared it would cause confusion or worse when cars and walkers were on the same path, he said relax, people would work it out.

So they have. Drivers who need or want to use those streets go slowly when pedestrians are there and the pedestrians move out of their way with hardly a thought.

It works naturally, unremarkably. Like all good solutions it seems so obvious that it goes without saying.

I love the shared spaces and can’t wait for more to be developed but they aren’t perfect. I personally would like to see the spaces be less linear using trees and/or others solid objects to force drivers to be even more cautious.

Most drivers who do use them drive appropriately but still some don’t understand, this seems particularly the case with many courier drivers who show no regard to pedestrians and will fly past them at speed – some even telling people to “get off the road”. AT could probably do more work in this area to help educate drivers.

OC5

Yet despite these few incidents and as mentioned most interactions are positive and as far as I’m aware there hasn’t been anyone injured on a shared space yet – although as the editorial points out, when it does happen the naysayers will be out in force.

Even now, those who had the courage to introduce shared streets probably break out in a sweat at times when they consider that sooner or later an accident is likely to happen. They know that if ever someone is injured by an inattentive or angry driver in one of these streets, there will be those who decry them.

But they have been operating without a serious mishap for nearly four years.

They close out the piece perfectly, highlighting that Federal St is poor thanks to the copious car park access points and giving a big serve to High St which has a few retailers actively fighting to keep carparking (that’s likely primarily used by them not their customers)

Not everything has been a runaway success.

Federal St shows that shared space alone is not always enough to make a place pleasant. Despite popular dining spots, entrances to SkyCity’s hotels and car parks make the street uninviting.

It is not beyond question, however, that it could yet develop into something much more attractive.

Either way, shared space is an improvement on parked cars and “rat-run” traffic in narrow alleys. Elliott, Fort and O’Connell streets are particularly good.

When will High St wake up?

It’s great to see the Herald highlighting this although it would have also been great if they could have also highlighted that most of these shared spaces have been great for business too.

Bike Parking Tokyo Style

A neat little video from Toyko of some bike parking.

Not Shopping by Car

In my predictions for 2015 I didn’t include that a elected official would make a fool of themselves but I should have – although in hindsight I guess it was inevitable. What can’t be predicted was that it would happen barely a few days into the new year. The honour for this idiocy goes none other than Auckland Councillor Dick Quax who in replying to a tweet from Luke about making Sylvia Park more sustainable said this gem.

Franktly it’s such an absurd comment it deserves ridicule. What’s more it wasn’t a one off as after a number of people replied telling him how wrong he was he made this comment.

and this one after Bryce mentions he gets groceries by bike.

For those not on Twitter, the number of replies and comments in relation to Dick’s comments has been huge. As many pointed out, in cities such as London, Paris and New York millions rely on PT, walking and cycling in their daily lives for not just getting to work but for socialising and shopping.

Unfortunately Dick seems to fall into the view that “you can only shop with a car”, a view that’s especially strong amongst retailers who almost universally call for more (free) parking. Yet interestingly research shows retailers generally overestimate how their customers get to their shops and that considerable numbers of people get to shopping areas without a car. Studies done in Graz, Austria in 1991 and repeated in Bristol, UK show this mismatch.

Shopping travel by mode Graz 1

Shopping travel by mode Bristol 1

 

 

But what about local information? This research conducted for the NZTA on the reallocation of road space looks at the issue. It found that retailers in NZ were a little better at estimating shoppers transport modes but then that could be due to there being fewer viable options. Despite that it says

The data shows that sustainable transport users account for 40% of the total spend in the shopping areas and account for 37% of all shoppers who completed the survey. The data indicates the pedestrians and cyclists contribute a higher economic spend proportionately to the modal share and are important to the economic viability of local shopping areas.

The study also identified that retailers generally overestimate the importance of on-street parking outside shops. Shoppers value high-quality pedestrian and urban design features in shopping areas more than they value parking and those who drive are willing to walk to the shopping precinct from other locally available parking areas.

Considering how vehicle dominated most of our cities are and how high car mode share is on most other measures are – e.g.the census which only measures journeys to work – 37% shopping by non car means seems remarkably high.

Of course if you really want to, for much of your shopping you don’t even need to leave your house with online shopping getting more and more popular. At the end of the day there are two important things it would be worth Quax remembering.

  • Cars don’t buy stuff, people do
  • People are logical and most will use what is the easiest and most convenient method for them to get around.

Making PT, walking and cycling easier will mean more and more people will choose to use those modes for more trips, including to the shops.