Sunday reading 1 May 2016

Welcome back to Sunday reading. As a reminder, the K Road Open Streets event is happening today from noon through 7pm. It sounds like a great opportunity for some premeditated city fun.

Auckland Harbour Bridge

‘Showing heavy traffic on the Auckland Harbour Bridge two weeks after opening in May 1959’ (Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Libraries, 7-A3703)

Here’s Patrick Sisson’s long read take on the state of transportation investment in American cities. Spoiler: the system inherently favors roadway projects over mass transit. “The United States spends 55 percent of available transportation funding expanding one percent of the system, and 45 percent maintaining the other 99 percent.” – “Fixing the American Commute“, (Curbed)

Nearly every city has tried to build its way out of traffic congestion, but the approach hasn’t yet worked. Even Houston’s new mayor, Sylvester Turner, who calls for more light rail and mass transit spending, called out the Katy extension in a speech where he said these kind of building solutions are “exacerbating our congestion problems.” According to Olivieri, this build-first mentality is built into our system for funding transportation.

“State transportation departments that do much of the highway building across the country see themselves as highway builders,” says Olivieri. “They’re removed from city transit organizations. They believe there are economic benefits to building roads. They’re not bad people. They’re just living in a world that doesn’t exist anymore, and ignore a host of negative externalities such as pollution and congestion. Politics lag behind policy in this case.”

Stephen Moss, “End of the car age: how cities are outgrowing the automobile“, The Guardian. Here’s another good one on transportation and cities focusing on European cities.

What is evident is that the cities of tomorrow are likely, in effect, to revert to the cities of yesterday: denser, more neighbourhood-based, with everything you need for work and leisure in one district. There will be less separation of functions, less commuting, less travel generally.

“To me, this last 50 or 60 years feels like an anomaly,” says Hill. “If you haven’t already guessed, I’m a non-driver. I think we will look back on this time and say, ‘Wasn’t it odd that we drove ourselves around?’ In the 1920s and 30s, you’d have gone to the butcher on your high street, and a grocery boy (it would have been a boy then) would have delivered the goods to your home on a bike – and they’d have been there by the time you got back.”

In Hill’s view, that age and those services will return. Neighbourhoods and self-sufficient communities will make a comeback in a new era that will be dominated not by the car, but by the smartphone and the network. The commuter is dead. Long live the hipster.

Surely one more lane will finally solve our congestion problem, right? (Slightly better GIFF. Feel free to copy) pic.twitter.com/uDJwqVT3WI

Ben Schiller, “How Copenhagen Became A Cycling Paradise By Considering The Full Cost Of Cars“, FastCoExist.

When the city decides on a cycling project, it compares the cost to that of a road for cars, and it includes not only the upfront amount, but also things like the cost of road accidents to society, the impact of car pollution on health, and the cost of carbon emitted to the atmosphere. After including these factors, it comes to a rather startling calculation. One kilometer driven by car costs society about 17 cents (15 euro cents), whereas society gains 18 cents (16 euro cents) for each kilometer cycled, the paper finds. That’s because of factors like the health benefits of cycling and the avoided ill-effects of cars.

This story reminded me of the win/win outcome of the Franklin Road cycleway project redesign. It describes how kerb protected lanes can be less costly to build and maintain than conventional roadway space. Michael Andersen, “Surprise: Protecting Bike Lanes Can Cut The Cost of Brand-New Roads“, People for Bikes.

Curb-protected bike lanes, his firm realized, can reduce the huge cost of managing rainwater that falls on pavement and then flows into streams and rivers. That runoff is a major source of water pollution, which is why the federal Clean Water Act requires local governments to minimize it. But in rainy parts of the country, preventing excess runoff from pavement that cars are driving on has also become a major cost factor in road construction…

But their discovery is similar to the one Portland made on Cully Boulevard. When it rebuilt that street in 2011, the protected bike lane along each side reduced costs, because it didn’t require as much excavation as a wider road bed would have. Unlike with a conventional bike lane, there was no need to layer the pavement deep enough to carry a truck.

Last Sunday Peter linked to this excellent post from Bike Portland which argued that before zoning west coast cities would simply build more to accommodate booming population growth. Here’s a related take from Granola Shotgun in San Francisco,”Jiffy Lube Metropolis“. The photos from these blog posts of dense, mid-rise housing reminded me of this tweet (above) showing the Mayfair apartments in Parnell with a few admirers.

Victorian era builders didn’t construct gas stations. At one time these streets were lined with grand homes and businesses that were incrementally torn down and replaced with new auto-oriented establishments. People often forget that San Francisco went in to serious decline for a few decades after World War II and followed the same general trajectory as many other industrial port cities like Cleveland and Detroit. There was a time in the economic and cultural history of the city when traditional buildings were out of fashion and economic liabilities. It made sense to clear away under performing buildings to make way for more productive and profitable structures.

San Francisco’s economy recovered sooner and stronger than most other inner cities. Today real estate in once undervalued neighborhoods is astonishingly expensive. The culture has changed and so has market demand. As a result many aging gas stations, auto repair shops, and parking lots are being converted back to residential buildings – many incorporating retail shops on the ground floor.

And here’s the context for these new buildings. What we’re witnessing isn’t a modern aberration of multi story buildings being imposed on the traditional city. It’s actually a return to the historic pattern after an odd twentieth century hiatus. The car oriented land use pattern was the real anomaly.

Please post additional links in the comments section.

Franklin Rd design improves

For the second time this week I’m able to say that AT have improved the design of a cycleway, this time on Franklin Rd.

Franklin Rd Impression

Franklin Rd is one of the most iconic streets in Auckland with its large established trees.

The plans to upgrade Franklin Rd have been fairly contentious over the last year or so resulting in multiple designs, redesigns and debates. There were cycle lanes, then there weren’t, then there were as AT kept changing how it responded to feedback from locals and others who use the street. The same applied for the painted median and parking between the trees.

During the last consultation AT presented three options

  • On road painted cycle lanes with a median and cars parked between the trees
  • On road painted cycle lanes with no median and cars parked between the trees
  • Raised cycle lanes inside of parked cars and no median

In the end they chose Option 1 saying amongst other reasons why it was preferred that “it provides for confident cyclists”

Franklin Rd - October 2015 -revised option 1

Option 1 from last year

But AT are now back with a new consulting on the plans following their more detailed design work. They’re now proposing to slightly raise the cycle lanes by 50-70mm above the road and on the inside of the kerb line. The kerb itself will be rounded rather than vertical so still easy to mount but will still be much better than what was proposed before of just paint.

As I understand it, one of the key drivers for the change was that the previous design would have required digging storm water catch pits in the tree roots – and AT are trying to avoid damaging the trees. This seems like a much better outcome for both the trees and those on bikes.

In addition to the cycle lanes there are other good changes too such as having raised tables over the side streets and at the intersection of Wellington/England streets where a narrow roundabout will be installed on top of a raised table with pedestrian crossings included and even cycle bypasses.

Franklin Road Roundabout Design

Positively the design also appears to be acceptable to local residents including Waitemata Councillor candidate Bill Ralston.

While I’m aware Bill hadn’t opposed them before, some others had and that AT have been able to come up with a solution that is acceptable to the various interest groups is a great sign.

In addition to the cycle lane changes, AT are also consulting on the street lighting. Traditional street lighting would require regular and ongoing tree maintenance and so they’re also considering using a catenary system – something they say could also be used for the annual Christmas lights further enhancing the street.

They are consulting on these changes with it open till 10 May.

Well done AT

Quay St Cycleway design improves

The Quay St cycleway is now well under construction and there are two good pieces of news that emerged on Friday. One is a new image showing what the western section – which will be level with the existing footpath – will look like. It also shows that for the first time it in Auckland, a cycleway will be buffered from vehicles using planters boxes which is a fantastic addition.

Quay St with plant buffer

I hope AT start using these planters on other cycleways.

The planter boxes will extend all the way along Quay St

Planter Boxes - Queens Wharf

 

The other perhaps even better piece of news relates to how the cycleway will be designed around the Ferry Terminal and Queens Wharf. If you recall that during consultation AT said that in that section – the narrowest of the route – that bikes would have to share with pedestrians due to needing the space to accommodate the Explorer tourist bus and a few other uses. Following the consultation AT left that part of the designs blank saying more work needed to be done.

In good news, on Friday AT said they had come to a solution on this and it was to do the logical thing of moving the Explorer bus stop. That means the cycleway can continue the entire way along Quay St without forcing riders back on to the footpath busy with pedestrians.

Quay St Cycleway - Outside Ferry Terminal

Well done to all the people from AT involved in making this decision.

Western Springs Precinct

This is a Guest Post by David Shearer MP.

NB we welcome guest posts from anyone, all are judged on their individual merits and relevance. It is always good to hear what politicians of all flavours would like to see happen in our cities, especially when they are neither campaigning nor just complaining.

Western Springs through new eyes
MP David Shearer

Recent talk of a stadium on Auckland’s waterfront costing hundreds of millions is all very well, but how about seeing an old treasure through new eyes and planning for the future of Western Springs. With the amount of use the area gets, I can’t think of better bang for the ratepayer buck.

At the moment Western Springs is a collection of disparate elements – but it could be a beautifully-designed whole. It’s crying out for it. Think about what’s currently there:

The Auckland Zoo is in the middle of a $120million overhaul, projected to attract a million visitors per year within the decade – and it’s already pulling in 700,000.

MOTAT has new leadership, great ideas, 250,000 visitors a year and an abundance of prime land. It also has a bold architectural plan, conceived by the late Ian Athfield, awaiting funding and action.

There’s the speedway, the Western Springs soccer club, the Ponsonby Rugby Club, and the Auckland Performing Arts Centre (TAPAC) – each one a drawcard in its own right.

Add to that Pasifika, Auckland City Limits and other concerts, not to mention the thousands of families of all ethnicities who stroll around Western Springs Park on weekends, enjoying the special ecological features and Meola Creek.

Taken together, it’s a huge chunk of urban land, possibly the most-used in Auckland. Eden Park gets much more attention and has far fewer people using it.

As Auckland’s population increases, our open spaces will become increasingly more precious. Preparing for that means seeing and treating Western Springs as a destination.

Part of that is understanding the area as an ecological whole. To the west of Meola reef is a volcanic lava flow that extends right out into the harbour. In the other direction it extends across Meola Rd into Western Springs. Its waterways flow through to Chamberlain Park and beyond. Together, it’s a wide greenbelt, an environmental treasure that could do with the kind of design that will help Aucklanders really use and enjoy it from one end to the other.

I’m a fan of living bridges linking our green spaces. A cycle and pedestrian bridge across Meola Road could link these two parts. Another to cross the multiple road lanes of Great North Road and the North-western Motorway into Chamberlain Park would enable an uninterrupted ‘green ride’ through these landscapes.

Western Springs and environs showing potential locations for new cycle and walking links

Western Springs and environs showing potential locations for new cycle and walking links

At the moment, every big event within Western Springs needs a special transport plan. The place buzzes – yet it can be inconvenient and inefficient to get to resulting in congestion and parking chaos.

Surely it qualifies for smart modern infrastructure and transport. In the short term, at the very least, the Great North Rd bus route should be upgraded, with expanded timetables servicing Western Springs, the zoo and MOTAT.

The area is actually handy to trains, though at the moment you wouldn’t know it. Baldwin Ave Station is close and an improved pedestrian/bike route between Western Springs and the golf course would connect people to it and go a long way to addressing the access problems that now exist.

Meanwhile, the Zoo, MOTAT, TAPAC and other parts are currently atomised, focusing on their own individual development, simply because there’s no big-picture plan for them to work within. Could light rail help? What about a pedestrian/cycleway underpass at St Lukes? Could the vintage tram route be expanded to make the trams truly functional and useful?

Our waterways – like Meola Creekhave been taken for granted over decades, parts of them neglected and built-over, but they’re still there, waiting to be rediscovered and cherished by a new generation of Aucklanders.

The waterways are the living link between all these areas: Chamberlain Park, Western Springs and the Harbour. The water runs down from one of our precious maunga, Mt Owairaka to the sea.

I’d like to see urban designers grappling with these issues: pulling the disparate parts together into a modern, user-friendly precinct.

The natural environment is unique and should be preserved and enhanced: cycle ways, pedestrian paths, water flows and thoughtful, effective public transport.

The local communities, and the many using this space are passionate about it and should have a big say in the form of the design. That enthusiasm was able to save the Pohutukawa grove on Great North Road opposite MOTAT last year. It was a lesson in how well-loved the area is, and how invested locals rightly are in it. They are best insurance against lazy design.

With the City Rail Link on its way and a safe network of cycle lanes slowly taking shape, it feels like Auckland is growing up.

But perhaps – in reaching for more big, expensive projects – we’re at risk of overlooking some of the beauty that’s already here.

I think it’s time for Auckland’s planners to look at Western Springs with fresh eyes and deliver us a precinct that will be another jewel in Auckland’s crown.

BALWIN AVE new routes

Possible cycle and walking connections to Baldwin Ave Station. Existing NW cycleway in blue, Potential links across the golf course and bridge across SH16 and Gt Nth Rd, purple, and Linwood Ave and St Lukes Rd in red.

Postscript: The purple routes above are consistent with the masterplan the Albert Eden Local Board published recently, below, among other things these would improve the walk/ride potential for Western Springs College and Pasadena Intermediate enormously. The red route, which needs upgrading, is the obvious way to connect the train network to both the permanent attractions of MOTAT and events at the Park, although then the problem that AT/NZTA designed the new supersized St Lukes bridge with only half a thought for any user not in a vehicle then does come even more glaring than ever:

Chamberlain Golf Course scenario 4

 

New Lynn to Avondale Path Consultation

Auckland Transport have started consultation on another of their major cycleway projects, the New Lynn to Avondale Shared Path. This 2.9km route will link in the Waterview Shared Path now under construction through to Avondale largely alongside the rail line. The project is expected to cost $17.7 million and was included in the Urban Cycle Funding package announced by the government last year.

As part of the project a new bridge will be built over the Whau River next to the rail bridge.

Whau River Bridge Impression

On the Bridge and Whau River, AT say

In the past Maori used the Whau River as a portage route between the Manukau and Waitemata Harbours.

Iwi have chosen imagery for the path and the bridge, promoting the importance to the local area of traditional waka portage and harvesting activities along the Whau River and the migration of the kuaka (godwit).

These images will be portrayed in various ways on the bridge and along the path. There will be patterns within the concrete on the bridge structure. In addition, images will be cut out of a metal panel which will run across the bridge, screening it from the adjacent rail bridge.

The high level route is shown below

New Lynn to Avondale Path route

Here’s what AT say about the route

Features

The shared path will:

  • Start at Rankin Avenue in New Lynn and finish east of the Blockhouse Bay Road/Rosebank Road/Trent Street intersection in Avondale. Gaps in the existing shared path between Rankin Avenue and Portage Road will be filled with new sections of shared path.
  • Be 2.9 kilometres long.
  • Be mostly off-road within the rail corridor, with a section through Chalmers Reserve in Avondale.
  • Create a continuous shared path linking New Lynn Train Station, Avondale Train Station, Waterview Shared Path (currently under construction), the Northwestern cycleway and city centre networks.
  • Connect with the proposed Te Whau Pathway and other local walking and cycling routes.
  • Have access points at road crossings including Portage Road, Arran Street, St Georges Road, Chalmers Street, St Jude Street and Blockhouse Bay Road.
  • Cross the Whau River on a new purpose-built bridge (which will stand alongside the existing rail bridge). The Whau Local Board has provided significant funding for this bridge.
  • Be fenced off from the railway line and neighbouring properties.
  • Be well lit and designed to promote safety for users and neighbours of the path.

Benefits

  • A safer, more appealing route for pedestrians and people on bikes.
  • Easier access to local train stations and town centres.
  • New landscaping and improved visual appearance of public spaces.
  • New wayfinding signage.
  • New cycle parking.

Timeline

Construction of the bridge is proposed to take place in late 2016, with the aim to start construction of the shared path in 2017.

There are more detailed maps here (9MB) showing just where the path will go with one of the challenging aspects seeming to be at the Avondale Train Station where the path will go along the back of it. There are a number of other pinch points along the route too.

New Lynn to Avondale Path route - Avondal Station

The consultation will run till 15 May and AT will also have people to talk to at the New Lynn Night Markets in a few weeks

New Lynn Night Market.
When: Thursday 5 May 2016.
Time: 6pm to 9pm.
Where: New Lynn Community Centre, 45 Totara Avenue, New Lynn.

Auckland Cycleway Metro Map

Metro maps have long been used to help people understand public transport systems and now Auckland Transport are using one to describe the central city’s current and future cycleways, most of which is either in place now or will be within about 2 years.

AT Central City Cycling Metro Map

Here are a few thoughts about it.

  • The map doesn’t include a number of cycle friendly streets that already exist – such as the shared spaces. I understand this is deliberate as AT only wanted to show the routes with dedicated infrastructure on them.
  • Given the CRL works that will be happening over the coming years and disruption that will cause, I wonder if AT will have the courage to do route D – the east-west route through the city – within that time frame. In my view there certainly needs to be a better connection from the current end of the Nelson St cycleway through the city
  • While the time frame for this might only be the next few years, it does seem like a blindingly obvious solution to carry route J – the NW cycleway route – down Queen St to the waterfront. That is something I would like to see happen in conjunction with the construction of Light Rail.
  • The routes through the Domain are obviously dependant on the outcome of the Domain Master Plan.
  • With so many routes in, around and through it, K Rd will be competing with the waterfront for the bike connected place in Auckland.
  • As a comparison, this version of the map is more accurate and shows which parts have been completed so far.

Cycleways and T2 lanes – Wellington’s latest ideas seem to miss the bus lanes

This is a guest post from Wellington contributor Andy C who has previously written about the capital’s laneways.

Last year I wrote a post about Wellington’s so called Bus Rapid Transport system. In the comments a reader wrote how they would like to see more bus lanes in Wellington and gave some suggestions. So this post looks at one of those suggestions in a little more detail.

As some may know, the Wellington City Council has just finished consultation on improving the shared cycle path along the Old Hutt Road – a 3km long stretch of road. They are also asking about introducing peak hour T2 lanes there.

That consultation covers the area in the red circle below and calls for a wider shared cycle and walking path on the right hand side of the road. It also asks about introducing T2 lanes during peak hours.

Andy - BusBike Consultation

According to their consultation documents this is one of the most used cycle paths in Wellington (around 400 southbound cyclists hour at peak compared with around 2,000 southbound vehicles with 2,500 people in them an hour at peak). And at peak time it has 40 – 45 buses an hour run along it. To give you an idea of how congested it can get, the northbound bus time for this 3km stretch ranges from a fast 5 minutes, to a very slow 26 minutes.

According to the consultation documents; ‘buses carry a comparable number of people as motor vehicles along the corridor even though the number of buses is a very small fraction of the number of motor vehicles.’

Based on that, I personally submitted on making the proposed T2 lanes full time bus lanes for two hours at peak. Firstly because they are already moving almost as many people as the cars, and secondly because adding bus priority in this way should act as an incentive to get more people out of cars and into the congestion-free options.

Sadly the Council documents say the current level of vehicle traffic is too much for only one lane. I find this odd given that we are about to get a whole new northbound traffic lane on the urban motorway that exactly replicates this stretch of road. But it seems we will keep adding traffic lanes and not bus priority down here as part of the Wellington way…

Anyway, having taken the bus this way quite a bit lately I’ve actually come to the conclusion that the easiest way of improving bus times along the road is not necessarily what they are consulting on, but is the stretch circled in yellow on my map – Thorndon Quay.

The photo below was taken at 5.30pm on a Thursday evening recently, and as you can see, with only one lane for traffic things can get pretty congested. In fact, some evenings I can walk faster than the traffic along here, and when I cycle there is no comparison at all.

Andy - Bus Lane Missing

As you can see, there are a huge number of empty angle parks along the street. I estimate that the street ranges between 20 and 30m wide along its whole stretch. So to put it simply: if people are not using the car parks at peak time then surely we can use this road space for another use that will help all commuters – peak hour bus lanes.

From the railway station to the overbridge from Aotea Quay is 1.8km. Imagine peak hour bus lanes the full length of that road (with the exception of the intersection with Tinakori Rd where buses would probably have to merge with traffic for 30m or so). And then see what it does to patronage and timeliness.

Now I’m not traffic engineer, but when you have huge unused road space as we do here, and buses struck in general traffic, then the solution seems pretty simple. So come on Wellington City Council – take the plunge and run a three month trial and measure the time savings. I bet you’ll be surprised by how much this will improve bus times.

So what do you think? Is this a realistic plan? And where else you think we can easily introduce more bus lanes in Wellington?

Addendum: The morning after I wrote this, the local paper ran a front page piece using some fairly emotive language, claiming that Wellington’s next big cycleway fight is brewing on Hutt Rd, and it’s already drawing comparisons to the Island Bay saga. I found myself struggling to take the article too seriously when one of the people quoted was worried about it [the road] becoming congested once it was reduced to a single lane (fact: the road is remaining the same size with four traffic lanes) and another wanted a path on the along the edge of Wellington Harbour instead (fact: the Council have already explained this option will be six-times more expensive and will not easily connect to the other paths around here). So if that is the nature of the debate on a road where almost no one lives, then maybe my bus lane suggestion won’t be welcomed by many…

 

Editorial note: Since sending this to me a few days ago a review of Wellington’s cycleways has now been announced. Seriously Wellington, sort your priorities out. If Auckland can implement cycleways and bus lanes then you’ve got no excuse.

The Future of Lake Rd

It doesn’t seem to take much to get residents along the Devonport Peninsula to quickly cursing Lake Rd and over the years I’ve seen many comments across all forms of media and politicians calling for the road to be upgraded as a priority – and by upgraded the implication is for it to be widened. One such example is below from a month ago.

But Devonport-Takapuna Local Board member Jan O’Connor said Belmont was not an apartment area.

Building that number of extra homes would have a major impact on the already congested Lake Rd, the only route in and out of the peninsula, O’Connor said.

“Our board has really opposed any redevelopment until the Lake Road issue is addressed,” she said.

“It’s been like this for many years, it’s not something that’s just cropped up.”

Local residents Lesley and Myles Opie said the old navy housing area was a “shambles” and needed upgrading, but over 300 new homes would create unmanageable traffic.

“It’s going to be a massive increase in cars,” Myles Opie said.

As an aside, the 300-350 homes Ngati Whatua plan to build would represent just a ~3.5% increase over what’s on the peninsula now. Compared to the levels of growth in many other parts of the city that’s a tiny change. There is also not a huge amount of growth allowed for within the Proposed Auckland Unitary Plan.

Some other examples from a quick google search include this, this and this.

A lot of the commenters have also blamed the painted cycle lanes for causing congestion problems on Lake Rd even though the addition of lanes in the late 2000’s didn’t remove any vehicle lanes.

Those hoping for their own personal expressway up the peninsula are likely to be disappointed though if Auckland Transport’s plans for the corridor go ahead. They are about to start an Indicative Business Case to look at improvements along Lake Rd and that will build on the work already undertaken for the Corridor Management Plan which was completed in December 2014.

For some reason AT don’t publish their Corridor Management Plans (CMP) but they should be public in my view. However, the Lake Rd CMP was included in the agenda (27MB) for a meeting of the Devonport-Takapuna Local Board last month (unfortunately due to the way the document is uploaded the images are low quality and can be difficult to read). CMPs incorporate a wide range of factors to create a 30 year strategic management plan including what if any changes might be made.

Lake Rd CMP area

The Lake Rd CMP area

My first thought is well done AT (and consultants), the vision is fantastic and exactly the kind of thinking that is needed across so much of our urban area. So what does the Lake Rd CMP say?

Network Role

The network role of the corridor was determined through a workshop process with technical stakeholders drawn from Auckland Transport, Auckland Council and the NZ Transport Agency.

Cyclists and pedestrians have been identified as the highest priority along the entire length of the corridor given the existing popularity for cycling and walking for recreation and commuting purposes to work and schools, their potential for growth and strategic policies requiring their increased support.

Public Transport has been recognised also as a high priority along the northern half of Lake Road, given its future use as a frequent bus route and the ability for this mode to increase the person carrying capacity of the corridor. South of old Lake Road this priority drops back to low as this section of Lake Road services few buses (and no frequent route).

Traffic has been identified as medium priority along the length of the corridor. This level is not so much a reflection of existing or future demand, but rather a strategic choice to provide greater focus and support for active modes and public transport to maximise the people moving capacity of the corridor.

Freight is generally identified as low priority as there are comparative minor levels of industrial and commercial activity along the peninsula.

I’ll cover the modes a little more shortly but first here are some demand forecasts for the peninsula over 30 years.

Population and employment growth are far lower on than for the rest of Auckland. According to Stats NZ there are about 27,000 on the peninsula and there is expected to be less than 10% growth over 30 years.

Lake Rd CMP Land Use

PT and Active modes are also expected to grow at a much faster rate than general traffic – although they start from lower levels.

Lake Rd CMP Transport Demand

Here are the strategies for each mode.

Pedestrians:

They say “a significant proportion of the land is relatively flat and with a well-connected grid of side streets in comparison to many other parts of Auckland” and that there are a wide range of destinations that are often in a short proximity to each other and so highly walkable. The plan includes increasing the frequency and quality of crossing opportunities, widened footpaths where there are current deficiencies, removal of shared paths where separated cycle-lanes can be installed and improved amenity elements (tree planting etc.)

 

Lake Rd CMP Walking

Cycling:

AT have recognised that the painted cycle lanes are not great for many people who may want to bike such as those less confident on the road and children. They are proposing to substantially improve them including separating them from traffic where possible.

 

Lake Rd CMP Cycling

Public Transport:

Public transport will be improved through high quality, better spaced and located stops and transit lanes where possible. While not part of the Lake Rd CMP, the map includes a potential bus bridge across Upper Shoal Bay connecting Akoranga to Takapuna which comes from a previous study into transport for Takapuna but they say would be relevant for the Lake Rd CMP.

Lake Rd CMP PT

General Traffic, freight and parking:

Due to the focus on active and PT modes there is very little suggested to change conditions for general traffic. They say that a substantial upgrade to traffic capacity such as four laning the section between Jutland Road and Bayswater Ave is unlikely to be appropriate, citing the high cost relative to benefits as well as the impacts on other modes and urban amenity.

Lake Rd already has low levels of on street parking. The CMP says it recommends retaining parking on the street through the Belmont local centre to “provide support to the economic viability and success of this local centre” but also say the design needs to be balanced with the objective of achieving continuous cycle lanes through Belmont shops junction.

Lake Rd CMP General Traffic

Urban Design amenity and place-making:

They say that while some parts of Lake Rd have retained their heritage landscape qualities, the rest of Lake Rd would benefit from regular street tree planting although that needs to avoid compromising the footpath width. They also say it would bring a number of benefits transport-wise such as visually narrowing the street corridor, thereby slowing traffic and providing a buffering for footpaths and potentially cycle lanes from moving traffic. Trees would also enhance residential property values and the local centre functions at Hauraki corner and Belmont Shops.

The CMP divides up Lake Rd into six distinctive segments each with its own strategy. The preferred spatial allocations for each segment are also shown.

Lake Rd CMP Corridor Segments

Segment A – Esmonde Rd to Jutland Rd

Lake Rd CMP Segment A

Segment B – Jutland Rd to Bayswater Ave

Lake Rd CMP Segment B

Segment C – Bayswater Ave to old Lake Rd

Lake Rd CMP Segment C

Segment D – Old Lake Rd to Seabreeze Rd

Lake Rd CMP Segment D

Segment E – Seabreeze Rd to Ariho Tce

Lake Rd CMP Segment E

Segment F – Ariho Tce to Albert Rd

Lake Rd CMP Segment F

Sections B-D are all essentially the same and an potential alternative version for them is below. The CMP says this would have greater benefits for walkers and cyclists plus urban amenity but would also likely have higher costs due to requiring kerbs, drainage and other utilities to be moved.

Lake Rd CMP Segment B-D Altnerate

At the Belmont shops the CMP gives two potential plans for how to improve either bikes or buses. Both would see the slip lanes removed and the angle parking on the eastern side of the road replaced by parallel parking. The differences between the two are both south of Bayswater Ave, one having a transit lane with a shared path and one having a single lane with a protected cycle lane.

Lake Rd CMP Belmont Shops

Overall the CMP looks great and would really help in turning Lake Rd into a complete St that catered for everyone.

As mentioned AT are about to start an indicative business case which will build on the CMP. This week the local board will decide on its feedback on the scope for it, the main components of which are listed as:

  • assessment of potential transit lanes to improve people-carrying capacity of Lake Road;
  • assessment of better pedestrian and cycle facilities within the peninsula to encourage more short trips by foot or bike;
  • analysis of intersection improvements to optimise traffic flows within the peninsula; and
  • analysis on travel behaviour change opportunities, to reduce and better manage bulk movements within the peninsula.

Given there’s so much else that needs to be done around the region, much of it in areas with far higher growth I’m not sure of the priority of upgrading Lake Rd but at least the thinking on what would be done is heading in the right direction, perhaps just not quite the direction some locals might expect.

Sunday reading 17 April 2016

Good morning and welcome back to Sunday Reading. Here are a bunch of links I found interesting over the last week. Please share your own links and thoughts in the comments below.

Edward Humes, “The Absurd Primacy of the Automobile in American Life“, CityLab. This was a widely shared, fact-filled polemic about the use of the car for transportation.

Then there is the matter of climate. Transportation is a principal cause of the global climate crisis, exacerbated by a stubborn attachment to archaic, wasteful, and inefficient transportation modes and machines. But are cars the true culprit? Airplanes, for instance, are often singled out as the most carbon-intensive form of travel in terms of emissions per passenger-mile (or per ton of cargo), but that’s not the whole story: Total passenger miles by air are miniscule compared to cars. In any given year, 60 percent of American adults never set foot on an airplane, and the vast majority who do fly take only one round trip a year. Unfortunately, air travel is not the primary problem, contributing only 8 percent of U.S. transportation-related greenhouse gases. Cars and trucks, by contrast, pump out a combined 83 percent of transportation carbon.

square

credt: FastCoExist.

Adele Peters, “Paris Is Redesigning Its Major Intersections For Pedestrians, Not Cars“, Fast Co Exist. Paris, like many European big cities continues to wind back the dominance of cars on city streets with car-free days and a now a major reallocation of street space (image above).

Each of the new designs give pedestrians at least 50% of the space in the square, taking away lanes of traffic even though each of the streets is a major route in the city. At the Place de la Bastille, the square will reconnect with a curb on one side, creating a new green space for people to sit. At the Place de la Madeleine, trees will mark off more pedestrian space and a new weekly market will be added.

Zach Shaner, “Driving for Urbanists – 15 Do’s and Don’ts“, Seattle Transit Blog. As someone who rarely drives and occasionally gets in the wrong side of the car and switches the wiper blades on when indicating, this advice is spot on. I particularly like the “don’t honk your horn” rule.

14: Don’t look at your phone, period. Turn off the ringer and stash it in the glove box until you turn off the car. It can wait. Drive simple cars with the least amount of distracting tech. If you need to stay connected during your travel time, there’s this great thing called transit that allows you to browse and tap and text to your heart’s content.

via @USDOTFHWA

via @USDOTFHWA

From the “Free Range Kids” advocate Lenore Skenazy and traffic guru Sam Schwartz here’s an explanation for why the kids aren’t driving like they used to- “Forget the car: Young adults are opting to use their feet“, New York Post.

Call it the Back-Seat Rebellion. Helicoptered kids who spent their childhoods ferried from school to playdate to soccer are now young men and women voting with their feet . . . by using them. They are so sick of cars, they can’t abandon them fast enough.

But one other reason young people aren’t driving as much is that they’ve already been driven enough for a lifetime. What holds allure is not driving — experiencing the fun and freedom they missed out on as micromanaged kids who never got to walk to school or ride their bikes till the streetlights came on.

Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Libraries, 1-W1356

Queen Street at Greys Avenue (Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Libraries, 1-W1356)

Joe Cortright provides a nice recap of recent research on the influence of neighbourhoods on providing an environment for adult economic success. “Why mixed-income neighbourhoods matter: Lifting kids out of poverty“, Strong Towns.

There’s a hopeful new sign that how we build our cities, and specifically, how good a job we do of building mixed income neighborhoods that are open to everyone can play a key role in reducing poverty and promoting equity. New research shows that neighborhood effects—the impact of peers, the local environment, neighbors—contribute significantly to success later in life. Poor kids who grow up in more mixed income neighborhoods have better lifetime economic results. This signals that an important strategy for addressing poverty is building cities where mixed income neighborhoods are the norm, rather than the exception.

Barbara Eldredge, “This German Affordable Homebuilding Plan Be a Model for the U.S.?”, Curbed. Baugruppe is a development model where a group of people come together to build collectively. This model removes the developer and other costs. This model is used in Germany where it can save up to 25% on the overall costs. I hear there are similar groups already working in Auckland.

Imagine getting your friends together, pooling your money, and building a rad apartment building tailored precisely to your needs. Units would come in different sizes and configurations, depending on what each family wants, and shared community spaces, such as a library or indoor garden, could also be added to the floorplan, depending on the group’s interests.

“Here in Seattle, we want a bike-only, car-free, net-zero Baugruppe with a bike shop in the building,” Eliason told Curbed. “You’re not going to find a developer anywhere in the U.S. who will built that.”

Sarah Mikhitarian, “Less You and Me, More We: How Land-Use Regulation Impacts Inventory, Rents and Roommates“, Zillow. Zillow the on-line real estate and analytics company sifts through its data and compares it to an index of land use restrictiveness (Wharton). The relationship of land use regulation on rents, housing stock, and household composition is interesting, if not surprising.

More tightly regulated land use in these cities is associated with more rapidly rising rents, more acute shortages of homes for sale and more adults living with roommates in the face of rising housing costs and fewer housing options.

While a number of factors impact growth in rents and the number of homes for sale in a given market, local housing and land-use regulation are inextricably linked to a city’s ability to ensure it has enough housing to meet demand.

The YIMBY movement is growing stronger around the world. There is a conference in Bolder, Colorado in June. Here is a great profile of Sonja Trauss the head of SF Bay Area’s Renter’s Federation (BARF). Conor Dougherty, “In Cramped and Costly Bay Area, Cries to Build, Baby, Build“. The New York Times.

Across the country, a reversal in urban flight has ignited debates over gentrification, wealth, generational change and the definition of the modern city. It’s a familiar battle in suburbs, where not-in-my-backyard homeowners are an American archetype.

In San Francisco, though, things get weird. Here the tech boom is clashing with tough development laws and resentment from established residents who want to choke off growth to prevent further change.

Ms. Trauss is the result: a new generation of activist whose pro-market bent is the opposite of the San Francisco stereotypes — the lefties, the aging hippies and tolerance all around.

Ms. Trauss’s cause, more or less, is to make life easier for real estate developers by rolling back zoning regulations and environmental rules. Her opponents are a generally older group of progressives who worry that an influx of corporate techies is turning a city that nurtured the Beat Generation into a gilded resort for the rich.

Cycling network effect in action

Lightpath and the Nelson St cycleway have already been fantastic additions to Auckland with the former already racking up more than 100,000 trips over its pink surface since opening in early December. When it opened one of the questions that may have been lingering over it was whether it would attracting new people on bikes or just divert people off other routes, especially other recently introduced routes such as Grafton Gully. Four months in and it looks like we can give a fairly good answer to that question.

Auckland Transport now regularly release the figures from their growing collection of automated cycleway counters providing data as granularly as daily.

There are a mix of results from the various counters but the two that really stand out are those most closely associated with Lightpath, Grafton Gully and the NW cycleway at Kingsland.

Bike volumes on the Grafton Gully cycleway in March were up an impressive 34% on March last year

Mar-16 - Cycling Monthly - Grafton Gully

You can also clearly see the impact the project has had on the Northwestern Cycleway at Kingsland which has had a counter for many years. Volumes in March jumping around 14% on the same month last year. I’m not a regular user of the NW cycleway but I’ve heard from people who are that it has been noticeably busier this year and “mudguard to mudguard” at times.

Mar-16 - Cycling Monthly - Kingsland

Given the other results from around the region these are significant improvements and suggest there is a network effect starting to kick in and I suspect that will only increase as more and more of the cycle network is completed.

Interestingly it seems there has also been a significant increase in sales of electric bikes which is likely helping drive some of this change.

Retailer Electric Bikes New Zealand has seen a 35 per cent increase in sales in the past year, and general manager Chris Speedy says the expanding network of cycle paths around the nation’s cities is part of the reason.

The firm has been going since 2007, and “it took me a year to sell 10 bikes”, he said.

“Now we’ve sometimes sold seven in a day.”

I’m looking forward to seeing the next stage completed of Quay St which is currently well into construction.