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

 

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.

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.

Inner Eastern Line Station Catchment

Along with the important issue of local point to point access of new cycling and walking infrastructure, as discussed in this cross-post with Bike Auckland [remember to submit by Thursday, especially if you are local] there is also the issue of increasing access to important Transit stops, especially RTN Stations, to improve their value. Below is a screen grab from MR Cagney’s excellent ‘Catchies’ work on Auckland’s existing RTN Station catchments. The shaded circles describe a 1km ‘as the crow flies’ diameter from each station, the coloured blobs show the actual 1km reach once street and walkway patterns are added. These then are a sort of visual description the difference between catchment theory and practice on the Auckland RTN.

Both Meadowbank and Orakei Stations exhibit some of the most limited catchments on the whole network [comparable to ferry wharves, which are by nature only half a circle] both are particularly severed from their potential local catchments by natural and artificial phenomena. In Orakei’s case development immediately around the station, much better and more frequent bus services, and increasing local road suitability for cycling and walking, are the answer to increasing its reach. For Meadowbank however, only one of those options is available; it will never have a major bus service because it is in a secluded valley away from the road network, and nor is the surrounding land able to be developed. The only way to improve its performance is to improve its walking and cycling connections, and here with the GI to Tamaki cycleway there is surely the opportunity to do just that.

Catchies Pourewa Valley

Orakei, Meadowbank, and Glen Innes Stations on the Eastern Line

Especially to reach across the valley to Selwyn College in particular.

Section2_map

The Pourewa Valley section of the GI-Tamaki Shared Path. The Selwyn College playing fields are visible above the Path as it kinks away from the rail line.

The new shared path does offer potential connections up the valley and even though they will be beyond the classic Station 800-1000m catchment range, I have little doubt they would be used as the experience of starting and ending the work or school day with a walk or ride through the verdant Pourewa Valley is pretty attractive. Additionally the bus or driving alternative can be subject to congestion especially through the natural pinch points of our folded topography. The utility of network will of course increase dramatically once the CRL is open too; what a great way for people in this neighbourhood to get to Eden Park for example.

The Eastern Line is a tremendously fast and competitive option as shown by the modal comparison chart for Panmure below, but the reach of its stations certainly need work. Panmure itself has now got great bus connection and Glen Innes is currently in a walking and cycling improvement work programme.

Pete Clarke Panmure

Sylvia Park pretty much only serves the mall and desperately needs new connections to the east:

Sylvia Park catchies

With work all these stations could add even greater value to the network, now that the train service, at least at the peaks, is frequent and high quality. The Eastern Line has been a star improver since electrification, but it still has capacity for more of its stations to push up the leader board. This can only be achieved with detailed work to remove the very real barriers to entry all along the network. Even a secluded and arguably poorly placed station like Meadowbank can be improved when an opportunity like this Shared Path comes along.

Station Rankings Change to Dec 15

 

Time to review helmet laws?

Is it time to rethink our mandatory helmet laws? That was a question asked by TV3’s Story last night.

Story Helmets

It’s obviously something we’ve looked at before with there being are a lot of arguments for and against helmet laws and I don’t intend to re-litigate them all now. Lachlan did a good job of covering many of them in his piece. One thing I do noticed is that each side of the debate tends to have a plethora of facts, figures and studies to back up what they’re saying – although in many cases like the Story piece I wonder if sometimes there’s an element of talking past each other.

No-one is really denying that helmets are good for an individual should there be an accident and this fact has been backed up by probably countless studies like this one. But while helmets are good for an individual the crux of the debate comes down to the question of whether requiring helmets in all situations has been better for society.

As pointed out in the piece, since the helmet laws were mandated cycling participation rates have fallen dramatically, especially amongst children. I don’t think that can be completely blamed on helmet laws as there were a lot of other changes made at time such as cheaper vehicle imports which would have had an influence but the laws will definitely have been a factor. Regardless a reduction in people cycling generally means a less active population and that can have serious implications for the overall help of people. For example, a study of 150,000 people in the UK reported on just a few days ago showed that on average men who cycled were 5kg lighter than people driving to work each day while women were 4.4kg lighter. More people cycling means healthier people and that reduces healthcare costs elsewhere.

As also pointed out in the piece the one thing everyone did agree on was the need for better infrastructure to make cycling safer and therefore encourage more people to use a bike as a form of transport. The good thing is that with the government’s Urban Cycleway Fund we’re finally starting to see safe bike infrastructure being built in and around the city – although there is a long way to go and many people will be frustrated with the progress outside of the city centre. To me the long term implications of the infrastructure we’re now building and will build in the future means that this debate isn’t about to go away. By building safe routes that separate people on bikes from cars I suspect it will only further heighten calls for a change to be made.

Auckland urbancycleways map 2015-18

A part of the Story piece they also ran a poll which when I checked late last night showed that over half of people want to see the law reviewed.

Story Helmets Poll 2

The Associate Transport Minister no changes are planned but I wonder if his boss think we should change them?

John Key on Bike 1

and

231013 News. Photo : Chris Skelton / Fairfax Media The Rimutaka Cycle Trail is officially opened on the Esplanade in Petone where the trail starts. Pictured Prime Minister John Key

Personally I don’t think we should be mandating helmets for adults, especially not when there are a growing network of protected routes. My helmet usage depends on what I’m doing, for example I’m riding to work (possibly as you’re reading this) which is some distance and done mostly without separated cycleways. For that trip I would always wear a helmet but if I’m making a small local trip, perhaps to the shops then I won’t wear one, a horses for courses approach.

What do you think, is it time to review the law?

Inner West cycle consultation

Auckland Transport have started consultation on cycling networks for the inner west of the isthmus which is being funded as part of the governments urban cycleway funding.

A bit like they did with the Glen Innes consultation, AT are asking about what people want to see for the whole network rather than just one route. It doesn’t mean the whole network will be built in one go but is useful to ensure they get all aspects considered. The proposed network they show is what they expect to build over the next 10 years.

Inner West Proposed Network Consultation

I’m not an expert in the area but from what I do know the routes look pretty good and I know Patrick in particular will be happy to see Ponsonby Rd on there as he has written about that a lot. Of course the key will be the quality of the facilities proposed and how long it will be till they’re implemented over the next 10 years.

 

Here are the other pages in the consultation which give more information on why it is being done.

Inner West Proposed Network Consultation - page 2

Inner West Proposed Network Consultation - page 3

As well as the brochure to residents and online consultation, AT list two events where people can talk about the plan

Bubs on Bikes – Grey Lynn Park (next to the playground and paddling pool) – Sunday 13 and 20 March 2016 from 10am – 1pm.

Pasifika Festival – Western Springs Reserve – Saturday 12 and Sunday 13 March. AT will be providing valet bike parking so why not cycle to the Pasifika Festival and enjoy a premium parking experience?

January-2016 PT Patronage and Bike Counts

Today’s bus strike is expected to have a significant impact on the city. It will also likely have a significant impact on patronage with some estimates suggesting that more than 130,000 trips will be impacted. To put that in context last February there were just under 6.7 million PT trips in February so this could impact patronage in the month by as much as 2%.

While we’ll likely have to wait till next month to find out just how much impact the strike caused, the reports to AT’s first board meeting of the year along with the data they now publish give us information on the results from January. It’s fair to say there are certainly a mixed bag of results.

Perhaps the biggest surprise in the patronage results is that overall compared to January last year patronage was down by 0.7%. It’s still up 6.6% on a 12m rolling basis but this is the first time we’ve seen a drop in a monthly result since August 2013. The drop was driven by reduced patronage on both buses and ferries. Train patronage is still growing strongly at over 19% compared to last January but given the growth in recent months and that we saw the least disruptive summer shut down in probably over a decade I had expected it to be much higher.

2016-01 - Total Patronage

AT believe the primary reason for the fall in patronage was due to the timing of the Christmas/New Year break this year which likely saw more people push holidays into early January than in the past – I know I certainly did. They note that this also ties in with stronger patronage at the end of December. They also highlight that some routes have been much more affected than others. I’ll come back to those later in the post.

December increases occurred primarily towards the end of the month. The January 2016 decrease in bus and ferry occurred primarily in the first half of the month as illustrated in the patronage chart below compared to January 2015 and corresponds with the lower rate of growth for rail. Underlying trends are likely to be a result of holiday alignment between Christmas 2014 (main two week of holidays falling between 19 December to 5 January) and Christmas 2015 (December 24 to January 11); however, there are specific areas of decrease in January year-on-year for bus and ferry above the underlying trend on Great North Road (-50,000), Manukau Road (-12,000) and Waiheke Bus (-12,000). A major decrease has been seen on the CityLINK (-73,000 or -33%), which is considered to be a result of removal of free travel from March 2015.

2016-01 - Daily Patronage comparison to prev year

The biggest impact was on the buses which carry the bulk of patronage and were down 4.7% on January last year. As noted above it’s interesting that the Gt North Rd buses are down so much. While the information suggest other factors were at play I also wonder if the bus changes in the City Centre to accommodate the CRL works have had an impact. I know it’s certainly made it more difficult for people like me to transfer between bus and train to get to the North Shore.

Ferries use was also down with them 4.3% lower than Jan last year bucking a trend of strong growth. AT reference the downturn on other modes and also note that the reduced use of ferries to Waiheke aligned with reduced Waiheke bus use.

Despite being less than I had expected train growth remained very strong up 19.1% on January last year. That saw patronage for the month surpass 1 million trips meaning that for the first time every month in the previous 12 has been over the 1 million mark. The first ever time we surpassed 1 million trips within a calendar month was in March 2011 and back then there were just over 460k trips in January. Overall rail patronage is now over 15.5 million over the last 12 months which is another solid increase representing a 21.6% growth compared to the same time last year.

2016-01 - Rail Patronage

One last interesting bit on PT patronage, within the business report AT have commented on the impact of the changes they made to Titirangi/Green Bay services in late 2014. Those changes effectively saw the new network implemented in this area with 24 infrequent routes replaced by 9 simpler services with a “more consistent service pattern operating at higher frequencies”. One full year on AT say that patronage from this area is up 35% which is very impressive. Perhaps they need to try and push harder to get the entire new network rolled out sooner.

It wasn’t only PT that saw usage down on last year. Bike numbers across many of the counters also showed a decline in January although a few counters showed some good growth. Perhaps the most interesting is that there was a large spike in usage of Grafton Gully (+29.9%) and Beach Rd (+23.5%). Looking at some daily data it’s not from any one day so it appears to be a general increase that’s occurred. Monthly data suggests that while numbers had been improving, growth rates really picked up from December and that coincides with the opening of Lightpath. Perhaps we need more data to confirm but it suggests that more connected routes are helping drive usage (who would have thought). Also telling is that the only other route to grow is also connected – the NW Cycleway at Kingsland.

  Jan count Jan ADT % change from previous year
Beach Rd 9741 314 23.5%
Carlton Gore Rd 5402 174 NA
Curran St 9041 292 NA
East Coast Rd 4384 141 -5.7%
Grafton Bridge 14078 454 -1.8%
Grafton Gully 10680 345 29.9%
Grafton Rd 1969 64 NA
G Sth Road 2725 88 -10.1%
Highbrook 1348 43 -10.3%
Hopetoun St 4046 131 NA
K Rd 14328 462 -7.1%
Lagoon Dr 4970 160 -13.5%
Lake Road 8497 274 -5.8%
Mangere Bridge 15750 508 -3.6%
Nelson St cycleway 10711 346 NA
Nelson St Lightpath 24693 797 NA
NW Cycleway (Kingsland) 18112 584 8.8%
NW Cycleway (Te Atatu) 12501 403 -8.7%
Orewa 13302 429 -7.4%
Quay St 34501 1113 NA
SH20 Dom Rd 3639 117 -4.0%
Symonds St 10295 332 -5.6%
Tamaki Dr 41598 1342 -4.5%
Te Wero Bridge 18382 593 NA
Twin Streams 4967 160 -19.2%
Upper Harbour 5674 183 -11.4%
Upper Queen St 3952 127 NA
Victoria St West 3097 100 NA

One other potential factor is that January was considerably wetter than last year and the historical average. This may have affected PT use too.

image001

What is very helpful is that a few days ago AT publicly released the cycleway data for each automated counter allowing us to see back to November 2010 for some of them. This is far more useful that reporting on just nine counters across the region – Thanks AT. I’ll look at the results from the counters more in a future post but for the meantime here is the 12 month rolling number of bikes recorded as going past the NW cycleway counter at Kingsland.

2016-01 - Bikes - Kingsland

Auckland 2025- the Last Decade in Review- Part 1

It’s the last day of 2025 so it is a good time to run through the events of the last ten years in Auckland. A decade of profound transformation for New Zealand’s largest city. A coming of age.

This is Part 1 of a 2 Part scenario.

Global megatrends mean local megachange, and Auckland is fortunate to have been well placed and nimble enough to largely come out on the positive side of these forces. We have seen the global trends of the first decade and a half of the 21C accelerate over the last decade, particularly:

  • Migration: Internationally another great age of people movement is clearly underway
  • Urbanisation: Both the developing world and the OECD nations have continued to urbanise and cities have become the economic force of our age
  • De-Carbonisation: The urgent need to reduce carbon emissions everywhere and in every way has been an increasing issue

RANGITOTO

Demographics

The strong population growth in Auckland seen just before this period has continued consistently. Auckland grew at around 2.5% per year from 1.5 million in 2015 to approach 2m this year [cf 2015 pop growth was 2.9%]. This has of course not been without difficulty, requiring the government and the council to work much better together with the private sector to deliver the required new dwellings; hence the huge building ramp-up we are seeing, especially of apartments and terrace houses, but also the demand side controls finally enacted by government to reduce the more egregious forms of speculation. The adoption of the first Unitary Plan which reduced density restrictions in some areas helped enormously; and especially led to the new vibrancy around Rapid Transit stations such as Albany, Papatoetoe, and Glen Innes. Who’d have thought Glen Eden, among other places, would become as cool as it has with all those car yards and panel beaters shops around the station now sprouting apartments?

And although we are along way from the various crisis points we are still at the end of the global movement of peoples we’ve seen over the last decade as another one of history’s great ages of migration picks up strength, New Zealand remains an attractive place to live and Auckland in particular an increasingly attractive place to work. Not to mention all those returning New Zealanders and [smarter] Australians fleeing those seemingly endless destructive weather events across the Tasman. It has been much more difficult in other places, especially Europe, although there too these changes have helped offset natural declines and ageing populations, and are proving quite stimulatory as well as disruptive.

World Urban growth

The ageing population is a huge issue here too; every year from 2011 another year of that demographic bubble from the post-war baby boom turned 65, the nominal age of retirement. The changes of this politically active and property rich cohort have had a big impact on the city and nation. Two main trends have been observable over the decade; one group have taken advantage of the secular price shift in Auckland property over their lifetime and sold up and headed for smaller centres around the country [providing population offsets there, but also en-greying these communities], the second group have downsized within Auckland; stimulating significant demand for rest homes but also smaller well placed dwellings, particularly apartments, in great locations near amenities. Thus we have seen the apartment boom driven by two very different ends of the market; older cashed up people and younger first home buyers and renters starting out. More on our new urban form below.

Next year of course, 2026, this group will enter a new phase as the first of them turns 80, we can expect further shifts in the retirement sector as well of increased hospital and care costs for the nation as a whole. The aged care sector is booming and the apartment market is diversifying as a result. And thankfully in Auckland the service and tourism sectors are growing strongly to contribute to these nationwide costs. We will need the regulatory changes that saw in the start of this period, the Unitary Plan, to continue to evolve in response.

The ‘Super Diversity’ trend has continued and strengthened, making Auckland a much more dynamic and vibrant place [eg Pakuranga Town Centre now in an intense rivalry with Balmoral for the bragging rights as the leading centre of Asian street style eating]. And a much more internationally connected and economically competitive one too; migrants always bring better and deeper connections back to their home nations for expanded trade and social interaction. Also the creative sector has witness a great outburst of productivity as people bridging more than one culture so often are stimulated to respond to the tensions of that situation creatively.

AKL CITY_6256

 

Urbanisation- and the rise of the Suburban Centres

Called the Metropolitan Revolution and the Great Inversion even before our period began, the stunning re-emgengence of cities as the economic, cultural, and environmental force of our age has continued strongly. The strength with which Auckland has risen to take its clear place as the Primary City of the South Pacific region has caused rumblings in the rest of the country, but happily successive governments have come understand the value of the city’s rise for the whole nation [and new urban policies have benefited our other urban centres too; for they too are having their own Metropolitan Revolutions]. Auckland is competing strongly with the equally resurgent cities of the Australian seaboard; Australian cities helping to soften the blow of the structural decline in the hard commodity extractive industries there, despite the climate impacts all through that continent.

Auckland City Centre population doubled from 20k in 2005 to 41k in 2015, and doubled again to over 80k now. These new apartment buildings substantially changing the skyline, and their new occupants substantially changing the street life below. Wynyard Quarter, the whole of the western side down from the Hobson St ridge, and elsewhere are now covered in new residential buildings and streets buzzing with new retail, hospo, offices, and above all that great resource; people. Architecturally the full range is on show, we all have our favourites [and otherwise]. I particularly like the new 50 story block with the grand atrium linking Fort St through to the new shared space on lower Shortland St, and of course the development of the parking stump [at last!] out the back of high street with new apartments above in the daring light-weight structure. Just a couple of examples.

But of course this growth of the centre is nowhere near the whole story, the strong boom in long dormant subcenters has been as a big if not bigger story this decade. New Lynn has its sixth apartment tower now, and looks unstoppable after the huge boost it received with the opening of the CRL [more on that in Part 2] and the conversion of industrial land to housing. Manukau City, is at last gaining a true identity on the back of its intensification, and even Pakuranga Town Centre is thriving, after that big fight over the now canned flyover; the Busway there is booming inevitably leading to talk of converting it to Light Rail in the future. Albany is now an actual place with residents in quantity giving even that maddeningly planed environment life and character, it has been extraordinary watching it really take off with the Busway extension and those new mixed-use apartments.

NEW LYNN_8503-2

Every Metro Centre has benefited from the removal of Parking Minimums and the rise of ride-share [more on that tomorrow too], the range of small and affordable living spaces all across the city made possible by unbundling them from parking and the improvements in Transit quality has been great for everyone, especially students and the many singles and couples not wishing to share. It has also led to many new entrants in the development business as the cost barriers to entry are lower. Smaller building firms are now building multi-unit dwellings instead of only detached houses, creating a much more varied market.

Local quality and identity is the new groove; made possible by new high volumes of dwellings clustered around Transit Stations. All sorts of places are transforming on this model from Papatoetoe, Onehunga, and Albany and of course all along the Western line, where the transformed access to employment, education, and entertainment made possible by the CRL has led to explosions of activity.

ALTERA + ILICO_3758

The rapid re-greening of the whole city secured through the somewhat controversial Urban Canopy rules in the Heat Island Regulation of the second Super City Mayoralty is now accepted as universally successful. This by-law requires every public parking space to covered by a solid canopy of tree cover or face a sharp penalty was of course resisted by carpark owners, but is well loved by the public and has generated measurable heat island effect reductions and rapidly improved the city’s tree cover with all the additional ongoing positive outcomes urban trees bring. While also making many previously dreary places instantly glorious. Not to mention creating a whole industry for arborists and landscapers, that newly sexy profession. The many passionate debates about tree varieties often pitting the urban food growing movement up against the botanically correct: It is interesting to see how by choosing a consistent kind of tree a community can almost brand their neighbourhood.

But it is the Centre City that has seen the most transformation; Albert St now is giddily vertiginous with so many new tall buildings, the rebuilt leafy and peopled streetscape, and of course the sleek movement of trains below. Everywhere within the broader Queen St valley from the University ridge to the east across to the western slope down to Victoria Park is thrumming with people and largely absent of cars and fumes. And the whole roiling scene now tips effortlessly down to the newly opened waterfront which offers such an irresistable pull: This is so obviously an extraordinarily positive and productive revolution that it beggars the mind what took us so long to achieve it. Perhaps it really did need the right Zeitgeist, or simply enough people of vision in positions of power?

Part 2 up next: Transport.

NB: This ‘History of the Next Ten Years’ is a scenario, not a prediction, a possible future, perhaps even a probable one, but that depends on decisions made now and in the near future…discuss…

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Waterview Shared Path begins

Auckland Transport have today kicked off another large cycling project today – the Waterview Shared Path. This is a project that came about as a result of the advocacy of locals and groups like Bike Auckland during the consenting for the Waterview Connection project and the Board of Inquiry make its construction one of the requirements of the project – although not paid for as part of the motorway project.

Waterview Shared Path - Alford Bridge surface

The Alford St Bridge – Looking East

Construction is beginning on one of Auckland‘s biggest cycling and walking project’s which will improve connections for people travelling through the Auckland suburbs of Mount Albert and Waterview.

The first sod was turned today by the Hon. Paula Bennett representing the NZ Government on the 2.5km Waterview Shared Path in the grounds of Metro Football Club in Phyllis St Reserve.

It was attended by representatives from the organisations collaborating to fund and deliver the path as well as members of the local community.

The Waterview Shared Path is part of the Waterview Connection tunnel and interchange project and will join with other shared paths that are part of the Government’s Urban Cycleway Programme.

The 3.5 metre wide shared cycling and walking path follows Te Auaunga (Oakley Creek) between the Alan Wood Reserve in Mt Albert and Great North Rd in Waterview and will be a convenient way to access local parks, sports grounds, and the Unitec campus. Walkers and cyclists of all ages and abilities will easily be able to access the shared path as it includes low hill gradients to assist prams and elderly people to use it.

The scenic route travels through an area of Mahoe forest and includes three bridges. The bridge crossing Oakley Creek, connecting Great North Road and Unitec, will be 90 metres long, a similar length to Grafton Bridge in the city centre.

The Government through the NZ Transport Agency, together with Auckland Transport (AT) and Albert Eden Local Board have contributed funding for the project which will be built by the Well Connected Alliance (WCA), which is delivering the $1.4bn Waterview Connection project.

Waterview Shared Path - Alford Bridge creek

The Alford St Bridge – Looking South

Starting from the south, the path will begin at New North Rd where it connects with the shared path being build as part of the Waterview Connection project it will cross over to Soljak Pl via a new set of traffic lights that will be installed. It will then pass over the rail line on a new bridge before travelling through Harbutt and Phyllis reserves which will be connected via a 70m long boardwalk. It passes through part of the Unitec site including right through the middle of one of the carparks before getting to the 16m high and 90m long Alford St Bridge where it will connect with the shared path on Gt North Rd.

Waterview Shared Path - Route

And here’s what the bridge over the rail line will look like, it has screens to prevent things being thrown on to the rail line and wires.

Waterview Shared Path - Rail Bridge

Investment in Cycling Infrastructure: What is it Good For?

While the answers to this question are largely sell-evident, it’s great that NZTA have recently released a summary of their view: Benefits of Investing in Cycling in New Zealand.

Follow the link for the full PDF, below is a summary of the seven ways NZTA have identified as beneficial. Followed up by a few images that do the same thing.

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1. Investing in cycling is giving people what they want

People want cycling infrastructure. Many people say they’d like to cycle more, especially if separated cycling infrastructure was provided.

2. Cycling makes towns and cities really liveable

Cycling improves quality of life in towns and cities. ‘Quality of life’ rankings consistently show bike-friendly cities at the top.

3. Cycling makes travelling around urban areas better for everyone

More people cycling potentially improves traffic flow so travel times are shorter, more predictable and reliable, and the transport network performs better. Bicycles are considered to impose 95 percent less impact on travel flow than an average car.

Getting just a few people onto bikes can15 make a di erence to tra c ows. On the congested 5km Petone to Ngauranga section of State Highway 2, for example, research suggests that only 10-30 vehicles out of the 250-280 vehicles occupying the space at congested times are causing the congestion.16 Evaluation of Hastings’ iWay cycling network indicates there was a 3.6 percent reduction in tra c volumes soon after it was built.17

4. Cycling is great for the local economy

Cycling saves people money to spend in their local communities. With no fuel, registration, warrant of fitness and parking costs, and much lower purchasing, maintenance and insurance costs compared to operating a car, people who cycle have more money to spend on other things.

Cycling potentially also boosts retail spend. Various studies have shown that cycling infrastructure can lead to an increase in retail sales.25 People who cycle have been found to be more likely to stop and visit shops more often, and to spend more money at those shops over time, than people who drive.26 Cycleways that run past shop doors can be a very good thing for retailers.

5. More cycling means reduced costs for the council

An increase in cycling saves councils money. This is especially clear where populations are expected to grow. In Christchurch, for example, where 50,000 additional car trips per day are predicted in the city by 2041 unless there is a mode shift to walking, cycling and public transport31, more cycling would mean reduced costs for additional road capacity, maintenance and operations.

6. Cycling is great for the environment overall

A small reduction in short vehicle trips potentially generates signi cant reduction in carbon emissions. Shifting 5 percent of car trips to bicycle could reduce emission impacts by up to 8 percent.33 Similarly, reducing trips by car can reduce the amount of other air pollutants.

7. Cycling makes people healthier and more productive

Cycling reduces the incidence of a range of serious illnesses.

In New Zealand, physical inactivity contributes to around 8 percent of all deaths37, and one in three adults and one in ve children are overweight38. The Ministry of Health reports that only 50.5 percent of New Zealand adults are regarded as sufficiently active for health benefits and physical inactivity is the second leading risk factor of disability adjusted life years.

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