After her visit to New Zealand at the end of last year, Modacity’s Melissa Bruntlett posted a thoughtful reflection on gender and urban activism:
Here’s a pretty common scenario – we are invited to an urbanist meet up or a group ride and I look around to find I’m one of just a handful of women in a sea of men. Each time I think to myself, where are all the ladies? I can’t be the only one who has an interest and passion for urban design and mobility, can I? And of course I’m not. If Facebook and Twitter have proved anything, there are tons of us sharing stories and opinions on social media, supporting each other from all over the globe. So then why do so few come out to events and activities that directly link to their passions?
It’s a dilemma I’ve been pondering since we were visited New Zealand last autumn. While travelling throughout the country, we had the opportunity to meet some pretty spectacular women, all passionate about multi-mobility, be it improved cycling, walking or public transit infrastructure. From the Frocks on Bikes, a national female-oriented advocacy group focused on promoting normalized cycling with a “show not tell” approach, to politicians like Celia Wade-Brown, Mayor of Wellington, and Julie Anne Genter, a member of the New Zealand House of Representatives with the role of transport spokeswoman for the Green Party. Both are working to move their cities and country away from car-dominated transportation. They were all inspiring women to meet, and I returned home emboldened by this passionate group of women and how they are impacting change in New Zealand.
Melissa’s observations definitely ring true for me. Although most of the people working in the transport profession are men, many of our most effective advocates for transport choice and quality urban environments are women. Melissa mentioned Julie Anne Genter and Celia Wade-Brown, but there are many others who could be on the list: Penny Hulse, Barb Cuthbert, Pippa Coom, Christine Fletcher (who, remember, pushed Britomart through), and so on and so forth.
This is a good thing. As Melissa observes, men and women can have quite different perspectives on what needs to happen to improve transport options:
Maybe it’s because I know that the only way to ensure that, regardless of gender, everyone’s needs are being met is to collaborate. Women offer unique and different ways of looking at problems facing urban designers, because we think about them differently. Even between Chris and I, two people that have been together for nearly two decades and discussing all sorts of issues and challenges, it is very common that I offer a new way of looking at things because of my experiences as a woman and a mother. What works for him, a thirty-something male, doesn’t always work for me, a thirty-something female who travels by foot and bike with our two children more regularly.
Transportblog also grapples with this issue. All of our regular authors are (to be blunt) white, educated professional males, mostly in the late 20s to mid 30s. We care about issues that affect Aucklanders of all shapes, sizes, and origins, but we certainly aren’t demographically representative. (Or geographically representative – we’ve got authors in the inner suburbs and the west but not in south, east, or north Auckland.)
My concern – shared by other authors – is that there are important issues that we don’t write about of because we seldom experience them. For example, I think that we don’t write enough about transport issues facing south Auckland, even though it’s a big area of the city, with relatively low incomes, whose inhabitants could really benefit from better walking, cycling, and public transport choices. There are a lot of tricky issues that deserve close attention in the south – but I don’t spend enough time there to know what they are.
Fortunately, the available data suggests that Transportblog’s readership is a bit more diverse than our authors (or the people who post comments). Here’s a chart that Matt from Google Analytics, which shows the gender balance of readers. It really bears out Melissa’s point that women (Green) are interested and engaged in urban issues:
Google Analytics breakdown of transportblog readership
So, my question is: Can Transportblog facilitate a broader conversation about urban issues that allows more voices to be heard? I think – and hope – that the answer is yes. I’d like to propose a couple of things that we could do:
- First, we should encourage people to submit guest posts, especially if they offer a different view on transport or urban issues than we normally offer. In particular, we’d welcome posts from people who see a different side of the city than we do or who use it in different ways.
- Second, we should recognise that writing in public can be a bit nerve-wracking. We’re all used to it by now, but the public-facing aspect of blogging can pose a barrier for entry. We should try to lower this barrier for submitters – for example, by allowing the first guest post to go out under a pseudonym or by moderating comments on guest posts. (Not that our commenters aren’t generally constructive, but the conversations can be fairly intense.)
- Third, when writing about an area of the city that we don’t know well, we should solicit comments from readers. A quick email from one of you could give us valuable context – or a good quote – for a future post. For example, I think we should ask for reader feedback when discussing New Network consultations or proposals to build bus/train interchanges. Local perspectives can be valuable, and if people email them to us, we should use them in posts.
Now, I’m not an editor at Transportblog, so these are just suggestions rather than new editorial policies. We’d welcome your views – by comment, social media, or email – about them.
Regular readers will have noticed that we have setup a GiveALittle donation widget on the left sidebar.
No one at TransportBlog (or the Campaign for Better Transport) gets paid for any work we do, and we rely entirely on donations for operational costs.
Thanks to our successful film night last year, we still have about five months worth of hosting costs covered. However, as TransportBlog becomes more popular and readership increases, so too do the hosting costs and a server upgrade is likely to be needed in the near future.
Help us get there by giving a little (or a lot!) to the cause. The target is $1,800 which will provide at least six months worth of dedicated hosting. All donations go to a ring-fenced fund with the Campaign for Better Transport, a registered incorporated society.
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Last night I received a wonderful letter from a reader that I thought I would share. Warren I can tell you that myself and my fellow bloggers really appreciated it, especially the bit about Patrick, so thank you very much
An Appreciation and more……
From the time I discovered the Auckland Transport Blog, a little before Josh Arbury discovered his dream job of Transport Strategist at Auckland Council and relinquished his editorship of the Blog, it has become a mandatory daily viewing for me.
I am particularly impressed by the quality of the analytical work of the blogging team and their amazingly sustained commitment to the noble and economically justifiable cause of a better transport system for Auckland. I have also been impressed with the very rapid comment responses to issues which have arisen and the quick posting of pertinent radio interviews and answers to questions in Parliament (TV) which I would otherwise have
missed. My wife and I appreciated the film evening initiative at the Capitol Theatre in Dominion Road.
Above all, I have appreciated the tenor of the Blog – it is always well mannered.
It seems to me that with the possible exception of Patrick Reynolds the blogging team is very young which makes widely scoping analytical work even more creditable. And I enjoy Patrick’s pithy comments. He has the ability to get straight to the nub of an issue and on occasions get the discussion back on track.
Personally I am in the older age group and thought you may appreciate some comment from a senior citizen.
I well remember the trams all passing through Queen Street before dispersing to their respective suburbs. We frequently took the Meadowbank tram through Newmarket and Parnell to Queen Street. It then went up Queen Street, turned right into Karangahape Road and finished up at Avondale. The City Rail Link will allow the same efficient utilisation of Britomart with an up to date Metro system.
Over the years we have de-humanised parts of Auckland’s CBD. For a long time I have felt dismayed at one way raceways, such as Hobson and Nelson Streets, extra wide motorways with more than two lanes in each direction, continual motorway extensions into the countryside which only encourage distant living and make close–in motorway entry points more difficult and so on.
Even though I am a natural conservative I am disappointed at the present Government’s wasteful Roads of National Significance programme and appalled at their failure to revise it, in view of changing circumstances and trends, and the now increasingly evident business case deficiencies. This intransigence is not smart government. And being fairly widely travelled also confirms the belief that the CRL is vital for all the reasons set out in the Auckland Transport Blog.
At the time of the last general election the local Campbells Bay Community Association arranged for all North Shore Electorate candidates to address a meeting and answer questions. When I asked Maggie Barry what she would do if elected to persuade her party colleagues to abandon the “holiday highway” in favour of the CRL she made this out to be a stupid question and blathered on about supposed benefits to the Northland economy.
I have been greatly impressed with the quality of Julie Anne Genter’s questions in Parliament to Steven Joyce and more recently Gerry Brownlie and singularly unimpressed with quality of their answers. In order to extend awareness and to de-mystify the benefits of the CRL to my Rotary colleagues I invited Julie Anne to address our Rotary Club last October which she did, performing with credit.
A better Auckland ?
I am not an architect but architecture has been my hobby all my life and I have travelled the world to follow this passion. I have built two houses using the services of an architect for both. The architect for the first house was the Czech, Vlad Cacala, at the time not recognised by the New Zealand Institute of Architects, but now considered an icon of New Zealand Modernism and the subject of an exhibition in the Auckland Art Gallery a few years ago. We lived in this house for 28 years and brought up our family of four in it. But by 1990 I had worked my way through Modernism. Much of it had become bland, boring and repetitive. Many early examples had not worn well. Furthermore, other unsuitable designs (aping Mediterranean dreams) for our wet and windy climate led me to choose an updated arts and crafts design from Dunedin architects, Mason & Wales for
our new home. It elicits favourable comment from strangers, is comfortable and a joy to live in.
Intensification for the growing Auckland is inevitable and I support it but generally favourtownhouses/apartments of no more 4 to 7 storeys in most instances, as with the possible
exception of New York such cities are the most satisfying to visit – for me at least. They could possibly be higher in the CBD – maybe.
Once upon a time city buildings were built for their intended occupiers and reflected that ownership and status. Now developers develop buildings for letting and the most personality an incoming tenant can aspire to is usually limited to naming rights. It would be nice to think that in the CBD we could attract one or two say Louis Sullivan or even Quinlan Terry type buildings. Overseas I detect a return to some classically designed buildings but regretfully I don’t think New Zealand owners or clients have the inclination or ability to produce other than more bland mediocre modernist structures.
My Transport Conversion
Being self- employed (and nearly retired) I am not a commuter. When I need to visit the city I drive over the hill and catch a northern busway bus from Sunnynook. It is fast enough and enjoyable. If I want to go to a location beyond the city I go by car over the bridge.
When I first received my Super Gold Card I didn’t use it because I was of the view that senior citizens should pay their own way, as they were often more able to do so than other citizens. More recently I have realised that there is an element of promotion of public transport with the Gold Card – anything that gets people out of their cars to be publicly transported or walk must have some merit.
In recent months I have travelled on Wellington’s Matangi trains to the Hutt admittedly in off peak times. For the user they are quick, clean and efficient. I hope that we do not wait too long for the CRL to be completed and that it together with the new EMUs revolutionise travel in Auckland. We deserve it.
So thank you for the fantastic Auckland Transport Blog
After a month away travelling around and experiencing some of the sights and sounds if Europe I’m back in the country. There was so much that I saw and experienced that it can’t fit it in one post so I will try to present some of it in the coming weeks. During the course of my trip I think I used pretty much every type of modern transport. I rode on buses and bikes, caught planes and trains, hopped on trams and in cars, sailed on boats and above them (parasailing :-)) and of course walked and walked and walked and walked.
For a brief description of my trip, we started with a days stop over in Singapore before heading on to Paris. The metro system there might not be the cleanest but boy is it everywhere as there aren’t many places in the city that aren’t more than a few hundred metres from a station. This made it just so easy to get around almost anywhere pretty quickly. From Paris it was a trip up to one of Stu’s favourite places, Amsterdam where I experienced some of the things Stu wrote about in this post. Interestingly I had just finished visiting the city a few days before Stu posted it and had in my head ideas some similar ideas to write about.
Some long distance trains were better than others (this was one of the better ones).
It was then down to Koblenz on the Rhine Gorge to look at some of the old castles that line the river. Our trip then took us to Munich and Vienna, both cities which I think we could learn a lot from. They are also both cities that compete strongly in the the various surveys that rank the worlds most liveable cities and it was easy to see why. It is also important as being at the top something that Len Brown wants Auckland to achieve. We then headed further south to Venice for a bit of watery action before a mid holiday holiday in a little town called Bellagio on the shores of Lake Como. After that it was off to Nice in the South of France along with Monoco (which is just up the road/track) where we had a very Auckland type of rail experience with trains cancelled and frequently running late etc.
Lots of transport modes in this picture, I was surprised by just how many trains used both these lines and the two on the other side of the river.
The next two legs of our trip were the only ones where we didn’t get between cities using trains which meant short hop on a plane over to Barcelona. It actually ended up being our favourite city on the trip as there was quite an interesting blend of old and new buildings, especially along the waterfront. In may ways it reminded me a bit of home and why it is so important that we develop this great asset of ours correctly. We then flew back to Italy for a trip down to Siena, a small town in Tuscany where we stayed at the top of a 13th century castle outside of town which was pretty neat.
The last place we visited in Europe was Rome, luckily the worst of the heat wave they were having had passed so temperatures were only in the low to mid 30°s instead of being up over 40° like it had been a few days before we got there. We then flew back to Singapore for another night before heading back to Auckland.
I would also like to say thanks and congratulations to all of the other bloggers who helped out while I was gone. I know just how hard it can be hard to put lots of posts together on such a regular basis. Their efforts paid off and in August we set all kinds of new page view records including our highest ever day, week and month (with a little bit more yet to go tonight). Of course also thanks to all of our readers for coming and reading the site along with contributing through comments and guest posts. There are of course some topics that get much more attention than others *cough* integrated ticketing *cough* and August certainly had its fair share of them.
There are still around 20 tickets available for this event, with more than 100 sold so far. So get in quick! We’re still looking for suggestions for a place to meet up before the film. August 15 is the week after next!
With kind sponsorship from Isthmus Group, MRCagney, Auckland Transport, Odyssey Wines, CityHop and Tim Gummer Design we have a really fantastic evening with a really fantastic film in store. We thought it was a good time to offer the opportunity for a little actual mingling with the growing number of readers and commenters on the blog. For those who wish to, of course. Here’s the poster:The Urbanized documentary looks really fascinating too – you can see a trailer for it here and book your tickets here.
As a bit of fine print, money made from the event including the sponsorship will be donated to the Campaign for Better Transport as a ring-fenced donation to be used to support the hosting of this blog. We have shifted to a New Zealand based server and that means the cost of hosting skyrockets – but page loading should be much much faster. The booking is done through the volunteer efforts of Kent Lundberg at Isthmus.
I really love being involved in putting this blog together and am pleased that more and more people are not only visiting but also enjoying it. One of the main reasons I do it is that I love Auckland and want to see it become an even better place than it it already is, I also know that my fellow bloggers feel the same way. Thanks to all of you, the readership of the blog has increased steadily this year – since March we have continued to set new records, and this month we are on track to break 100,000 views for the first time.
There is a problem though – this time next week both Peter and I will be out of the country as we are away on holidays (not together of course). Peter is off to visit Vancouver for a few weeks, while my wife and I head to Europe for the month of August (trying to escape our milestone birthdays…) Because of this it is going to be very hard for us to keep up our normal volume of posts, so we are looking for your help. We know that some of you work within the industry and many are just as passionate about transport as we are, so we would love if you could help us out with guest posts. If this sounds like you then we would really appreciate your help – any ideas are welcome and we can keep names anonymous if desired. Click here for details about how to get in touch with us.
If you are interested, here is a map of the route I am travelling via train through Europe, starting in Paris and ending in Rome. There is one small flight to Barcelona and back as the timetable just didn’t work out.
I will try to do a few posts on my trip while I am away but will definitely be relaying my experiences in more detail once I get back. I’m sure Auckland Transport will be happy that I won’t be around to harass them for a little while 😉
Lastly, due to some changes at work I will also be looking for a new job once I get back from holiday. I would love to work as an analyst in the transport industry, so if you know of any opportunities out there then please flick them my way. On the positive side, this means that I will have more time to devote to the blog (once I’ve completed the list of chores from my wife of course…)
Well, according to Open Parachute, of blogs which have a Sitemeter stats monitor across all of New Zealand – we are the sixth most widely read blog in the country. Here are the top 14:
It’s quite amazing to see how interested people are in transport matters. Our readership has also gone pretty crazy in the last few months, with the graph below showing how weekly number have increased:
From us all, we just want to say thanks for visiting, thanks for commenting, and don’t forget about our Film Fundraiser next month.
If you can see this post it means you are looking at the Auckland Transport Blog running on its own dedicated vitural server here in Auckland. Report any errors or issues here so we can take a look.
We still have a few tickets left to our fundraising event that is making this possible, be in quick!
We are currently migrating the Auckland Transport blog to our own dedicated Auckland based server. Comments are disabled for a short time while we do that.
We are all really pleased to announce a fundraising film night for the Auckland Transport Blog in August. With kind sponsorship from Isthmus Group, MRCagney, Auckland Transport, Odyssey Wines, CityHop and Tim Gummer Design we have a really fantastic evening with a really fantastic film in store. We thought it was a good time to offer the opportunity for a little actual mingling with the growing number of readers and commenters on the blog. For those who wish to, of course. Here’s the poster:The Urbanized documentary looks really fascinating too – you can see a trailer for it here and book your tickets here.
Discussion about transport can last for ages, so we’re looking at finding a place to eat/drink/chat transport in Balmoral before the movie. Suggestions will be most welcome.
As a bit of fine print, money made from the event including the sponsorship will be donated to the Campaign for Better Transport as a ring-fenced donation to be used to support the hosting of this blog. We are shifting to a New Zealand based server in the next week or two (hopefully it works this time) and that means the cost of hosting skyrockets – but page loading should be much much faster. The booking is done through the volunteer efforts of Kent Lundberg at Isthmus.