Sadly Leonard Nimoy passed away today and this video came up with Leonard and William Shatner talking about cycling to lunch.
And here’s a picture of him on his bike in costume.
Sadly Leonard Nimoy passed away today and this video came up with Leonard and William Shatner talking about cycling to lunch.
And here’s a picture of him on his bike in costume.
We’ve seen it overseas and now it’s coming to Auckland – as a trial. Introducing the city’s first Bike Rave.
If you don’t know what a bike rave is, here’s a video from Vancouver
So if you’re interested deck out your bike in lights (optional) and come along, it should be fun. Let’s see if we can turn this into a regular event.
AT are doing some very very good things at the moment, they are showing leadership and courage to make rational but bold decisions. Like dropping the Reeves Rd fly-over in favour of a BRT solution, creatively investigating ways to bring modern light rail to over-crowded bus routes, and quickly rolling out long overdue bus lanes on arterials. These are all fantastic and are signs of a nimble and lively institution, one that is responding to a changing world with a changed response. One that is resisting the natural tendency of public agencies to just roll on doing the same as before and not risk trouble. I applaud this and the hard working and dedicated individuals who are carrying out.
But at the same time, at least at the time of writing, AT has lost its way on Great North Road. So why have they got it so wrong here?
Looking at that first list we can see what all these issues have in common; they are all discretely transport issues; as you’d expect this is AT’s core competency. BRT versus a traffic flyover in Pakuranga? This is a debate between competing transport projects, each can be costed and outcomes evaluated. Analysing whether more buses will be able to deal with the demand on Isthmus and City routes or whether a higher capacity technology may be needed? Again this is problem of spatial geometry, vehicle size, route speed, likely passenger volumes, boarding times, vehicle dimensions etc. All the kinds of things a transport organisation ought to excel in, and that AT increasingly shows it does.
But in examining the widening of Great North Road as if it only has transport outcomes they are showing the limits of this competency. That ‘place value’ just doesn’t compute is shown by the bewildering array of excuses being rolled out by AT to justify an act they clearly consider trivial: The removal of the six 80 year old Pohutukawa. First was an attempt to blame the need for killing these trees on improved cycling and public transport amenity in order to ‘bring long-term environmental benefits':
This is to draw an extraordinarily long bow. There are no ‘cycle lanes to the motorway overbridge’ in the proposed plan. There is absolutely no more cycling amenity on Great North Rd than there is currently, ie a wide footpath, except the new one will have no shade nor glory from the grand Pohutukawa. There is proposed to be a slightly longer but still intermittent bus lane. And as all this takes place as part of a massive increase in traffic lanes, including a double slip lane, to say that this project is designed to ‘bring long term environmental benefits as more people choose alternative modes of transport, to the car’ is frankly, an untruth.
That statement would be justified if fully separated cycle lanes and proper Rapid Transit was at the core of the project. They are not.
Now we have a new justification, signed by the same high level AT executive, published in Metro Magazine: Cost.
Absolutely right. Cost, and value, is exactly the issue here. We all certainly want our money spent wisely by our public servants. But there are obvious problems with this assertion, first the cost is only relevant in the context of the value; a cheap thing is a waste if it is not very good. And the people of Auckland see losing the trees as too high a cost for what they propose. That AT don’t see they value of the trees how and where they are, or so discount it so, is essentially the heart of the disagreement. We understand that they have a low transport value, but AT cannot ignore values outside of their core discipline, particularly place values, as their actions have huge effects on the quality of life and place that are not captured by driver time savings, traffic flow, or PT ridership numbers. Neither AT nor NZTA can just ignore these issues and simply hide within their speciality. And nor can they claim that a couple of new trees are the same as magnificent ones that have witnessed the last 80 years at this spot.
Additionally, there is no evidence that the preferred option is less expensive in direct financial cost than say Option Six, which the peer review found to have no significantly different traffic outcomes. In fact Option Six must surely be cheaper to construct as it is one lane narrower and doesn’t involve removing the trees:
There are other issues that could be raised with this text like the bold claim the whole purpose of the Super City is to reduce congestion:
Both this idea of the centrality of congestion busting to the whole purpose of the city and the quoting of a $1billion annual congestion cost figure show how blind AT have become to other issues of value. Other costs. Especially perhaps things that are hard to quantify. But then congestion cost itself is a very hard thing to quantify. The most recent attempt in New Zealand, published by NZTA itself [Wallis and Lupton 2013] find that the figure for Auckland is more likely in the realm of $250 million.
But regardless of this supposed quantum it has long been understood that congestion is not solved by building more roads, that in fact while temporarily easing one route, overall this only encourages more driving and auto-dependency for a place, and ultimately worse congestion everywhere. It is, quite literally, the loosening of the belt as a ‘cure’ for obesity. It is also understood that the best outcome for all road users, the best way to combat congestion, is to invest in the alternative Rapid Transit route, particularly where none currently exists:
So again the heavy cost of this work, both financially and in the loss of the trees, a massive reduction in place value, is too high for this outcome.
As some levels of AT seem to admit they place no value on the trees, or indeed anything that isn’t directly transport related, the best outcome would be for the Board to give them direction to find a solution that both keeps the trees and meets reasonable near term traffic demand and in fact meaningfully incentivises the mode shift that AT correctly values:
-Auckland Transport Metro Magazine
This is an issue of cost, and value. The people of Auckland, Auckland Transport’s ultimate customers and employers, find the cost to place-value too high, and the value of the proposed outcome too low, to justify this action. The public may have been slow to realise what was planned here but have now made their views clear. Recently we have come to expect bold and innovative solutions from AT for all sorts of difficult problems. So it would be very unfortunate if the Board were to miss an opportunity to call a halt to this irreversible action and to seek a smarter solution.
And because work has begun the most efficient and cost effective solution is probably to make the small but significant change to Option Six, leaving the trees, adding the additional slip lane, but settling at least for now, for the two east bound lanes away from the motorway overbridge instead of three. It would be good to see the real effects are after the opening of the Waterview connection before rash actions are taken. If a third lane is deemed necessary here [even though only two lead into it] it is clear that could be added in a few years as MOTAT as planning to restructure their whole relationship with this corner. AT can save some cost and some grief now and revisit the issue with more information and without the pressure from a NZTA deadline. It could be that they find that an east facing buslane and separated cycle way is of higher value through here…?
The other week, the NZ Herald printed a good article on seven secret cycleways in Auckland. We covered it in last week’s Sunday reading post, but I thought it was worth adding a few more words on the topic.
In the article, Elisabeth Easther writes about her rides on the following cycleways:
While the rides themselves sounded pretty good, it’s ironic to see that Elisabeth had to drive to the start of many of the cycleways. This illustrates a tricky problem: individual cycle projects are increasingly excellent, but connectivity into the local streets is usually lacking. This makes it hard to use them to get around, as it doesn’t feel safe to get off the cycleway, back onto the surrounding streets, and out to final destinations.
As always, it’s worth taking a look at specific examples. Here’s a map of the Cascades shared path in Pakuranga:
This path offers some advantages for people seeking to travel places on bikes. First of all, it’s entirely off-road and runs through a big green belt, which means that it’s safe from traffic and not choked with fumes. Its northern branch terminates at the shops in Highland Park, and it has tendrils out to surrounding residential communities – meaning that there are both origins and destinations within reach.
However, AT’s broader map of cycle facilities in east Auckland (found here) shows that there are still many gaps in cycle infrastructure in the surrounding areas:
For context, here’s the legend on the map, which shows that most of the streets that are colored in are not in fact very useful for people on bikes. Light blue means that streets theoretically have “space” for cyclists but no dedicated cycle lanes. Yellow means that there’s a bit less traffic on the road. Roads coloured white are probably totally inhospitable if you’re travelling by bike.
What this means in practice is that it’s difficult to get to many key destinations on bikes, even though there’s a cycleway running through the centre of Howick. There’s no connection to the Botany town centre, near the south of the map, or any facilities along the busy Pakuranga highway or connecting to the Panmure rail station.
Another example from the Herald article. Here’s the Onehunga to Mangere Bridge section of the Waikaraka cycleway. (AT also has a map of the extension up SH20 to Mount Roskill.)
Once again, there are some really good things about this. It provides an alternative, non-motorised route between Mangere and Onehunga, with potential connections elsewhere throughout the southern bits of the isthmus. However, the good news doesn’t yet extend far enough. Here’s AT’s broader cycle facility map for Mangere and the surrounding areas:
Again, this is problematic. While there are some on-street cycle lanes in the area, they don’t go anywhere near the Waikaraka cycleway. They lack physical barriers or safe hit posts to keep traffic out. As a result, it is quite difficult for people on bikes to safely travel to destinations like the Mangere town centre or Otahuhu rail station.
Here’s the bit north of the Manukau Harbour:
This is not great either. There are no cycle facilities for people who want to get directly to the Onehunga town centre or rail station, let alone to head further north on Manukau Road. And there are a number of gaps on the route to Sylvia Park. I know that not everyone wants to cycle to the mall to shop, but I’m sure that there are a lot of teenagers (or adults, for that matter) who would love the option to bike there to hang out with friends or go to the cinema.
What this shows is that there are many, many gaps in our cycle networks. We need to fill them to reap the benefits from a complete cycle network. It’s not like we lack the road space to do this – the light blue lines on AT’s maps show streets with enough space to add cycle lanes. But unless we get serious about joining up the network, we’ll be left with a bunch of well-designed cycleways that aren’t useful for many trips.
What cycle infrastructure is your neighbourhood missing?
Auckland’s not quite at the point of having lots of old tunnels sitting around unused – with the exception of those under Albert Park – but if we did here’s a suggestion from London.
Personally I’m not sure it’s such a great idea and would much rather be riding on the street in a protected bike lane but still an interesting idea none the less.
Wellington is a great city but when it comes to transport I fear it is continuing to make foolish decisions. The latest news comes in relation to cycling in the city. In December we learned that a fantastic looking cycleway to Island Bay had been approved that used parking protected lanes and even continued the cycle lanes behind bus stops.
Unfortunately that and other cycle projects are now in doubt after a group of councillors decided to strip the council’s transport committee of it’s powers and require the cycleways get signed off by the entire council. This could put at risk how much money Wellington is able to get from the government’s Urban Cycleways funding.
Before the vote even Prime Minister John Key thought the idea of trying to delay was a stupid move saying in his post-cabinent press conference on Monday
I guess if Wellington doesn’t want its share of cycle funding that Auckland – or other cities – would love to have it.
This is a sort of ‘Photo of the Day’ post to follow Matt’s one this morning: The day in question being last Friday 30th of Jan. Thankfully I was able to get back to the city from work in the South Island just in time to ride to the Ministerial Cycleways Announcement on the abandoned CMJ off-ramp. See here for how promising is the repurposing of this symbol of urban motorway-era overbuild into something useful.
As I observed in the post linked to above it’s surprisingly pleasant on the ramp, you’re largely above the traffic. Here’s a pic with a photo-op on bikes for Transport Minister Simon Bridges, Mayor Len Brown, and AT Chair Lester Levy going on in the distance.
And the backdrop? Three current and three soon-to-be apartment buildings. Left to right; Urba on Howe street, a new build, two existing blocks, the old Telecom office about to be converted, another 80/90s office building of considerable ordinariness under conversion, and another existing one. Hundreds of new dwellings in easy walk or ride to K Rd, Ponsonby, and of course the city.
I had a good chat with new transport minister Bridges, to be continued, he was very relaxed and out of a suit unlike his poor officials [background]. Those elegant cuffed wrists holding the phone belong to city Urban Design Champion Ludo Campbell-Reid who will be very important in making sure that NZTA’s traffic engineers don’t get away with insisting on some sort of massive cage along the sides of this route out of panic about what humans might do in their motorway corridor.
A balance between ensuring safety and creating a great environment is key here. It is important that the physical detail of this conversion treat riding and walking as normal activities that do not require the kind of defensive constructions that hurtling along in tin boxes at 100 kph do. It is already a fun and secure place to ride and walk. And even though its as close as we are likely to get to an elevated Highline in Auckland I don’t think it needs to be fussily guilded. I like experiencing the tough motorway engineering on foot or bike; there’s something a little transgressive about it. Sightlines need to be clear and the width is great, and practical for reducing conflicts on a shared path. For the route see Matt’s previous post.
The only cost of any consequence is a short bridge at the southern end of the ramp opposite South St connecting through to the bottom of East Street then up to K Rd in one direction, and Canada St, and the Grafton Gully and North Western cycleways in the other. Yay. The architects of the Pt Resolution Bridge [now called Monk MacKenzie] are on the design team so we have high hopes for a beautiful structure here.
Breaking! Just got the ok on Twitter from NZTA to share these:
Stunning. But interestingly only views from the motorway users’ perspective, and no one appearing to be using it… hopefully there are some equally developed views for above. You can see the bridge sweeps past South St to link with Canada St and the bottom of East St. Therefore directly to the Grafton Gully and Northwestern Cycleways more than to K Rd.
Talking of beautiful pedestrian/cycling bridges after the function I rode on to see the new one between the Grafton Gully cycleway and the path between Elam/Whitaker Pl and Symonds St:
And what a lovely sensuous and sinewy thing it is too. Structural engineering practice Novare were the lead designers.
From there I headed down to the city via O’Connell St. Of course it would be much better if there was also a route through the Wellesley St underpass. There is available space at the northern end which is currently only occupied by desultory planting. This would mean that pedestrians and riders wouldn’t have to go up and across Symonds St to get to and the from the city and the cycleway. It is hard to imagine how this connection isn’t a priority for AT/AC?
O’Connell St is insanely improved; fantastic work by AC + AT. A huge success; peopled, busy, new sales being made and life being lived on the street. Previously it was just parking and vehicles circulating looking for parking. Still needs a tweak to reduce the rat-running, a good start would be to review the street pattern to the south [uphill], I propose reversing the one-way to up hill rather than down, as it currently funnels vehicles into O’Connell. Reversing this pattern would retain the same level of vehicle access to the surrounding buildings but direct movement towards the streets with higher vehicle priority. The aim should be for only delivery or emergency vehicles with destinations actually on O’Connell to be there. How it was:
From there I went to check out Waterfront Auckland’s new [not yet officially opened] boardwalk. Fantastic:
Wide, elegant, graceful: great work WA. Another of those projects that makes you wonder what took us so long….?
And obviously, in the words of the Grandfather of Soul James Brown; it’s now time to “Take It To the Bridge”
After all who can disagree with Brown, especially about what’s cool.
In fact all the good things in this post make me feel very optimistic about the progress on the great task of fixing our potentially great city after decades of damage and neglect through the auto-age. So much so that I have to also agree with Brown here on the Ed Sullivan show in 1966 , so about Auckland’s progress:
“I Feel Good!”
The launch of government’s Urban Cycleway programme on Friday occurred on the old Nelson St off-ramp which will form part of the biggest of the initial group of projects, the Nelson St cycleway. The project is perhaps one of the best examples of what can happen when officials put their mind and focus on getting something done.
The idea had been talked about for some time and this image appeared in the council’s City Centre Master Plan however not much progress had been made. That was until things really kicked off about 8 months ago with a post titled Throwing Down a Half-Nelson from Cycle Action Auckland’s Max Robitzsch.
In the post he talked about how a cycleway along the old off-ramp and down Nelson St could be potentially be implemented quickly and cheaply with a temporary ramp to access the off-ramp and some planter boxes to make a protected cycleway on Nelson St. The idea seemed to capture the imagination of staff from both AT and the NZTA who quickly took up the cause seeing it as a potential quick win.
Fast forward a few months and we heard the people working on the project were busy trying to deal with the most difficult issue, how to get cyclists on to the off ramp. Apparently the idea of a temporary scaffold ramp from K Rd wasn’t going to work easily and neither would a bridge from Day St like some artist impressions showed. It turns out the best solution would be a bridge from South St which would have the added benefit of linking in with the NW cycleway. There are a few other changes that have been made too including
The total route of the project is shown below.
We’re still see some images of what the bridge from South St will look like have high hopes for it. Likewise I haven’t seen any images of just what will be done on the off ramp so I’ve got no idea if there are any plans for it to be anything like the CCMP image earlier or if it’s just destined to be an un-landscaped cycleway.
Moving on to Nelson St, one of the widest streets in Auckland which despite its width carries surprisingly little traffic. As mentioned the cycleway will go down the western side of the road and we saw this image a few months ago as part of the City centre Priority routes.
Below are the concept designs for the Nelson St section between Union St and Victoria St which AT say will have the following changes.
Click here for a larger version.
It’s not clear from the image above but it does seem one negative is that to access the Nelson St cycleway you’ll have to cross the SH1 off-ramp first although presumably that should be easy to do during all of the other traffic phases.
While this is development is great, one major issue is that it only stops at Victoria St which will limit it’s usefulness. That is until stage two links it with the waterfront as shown in the map above. At this stage AT say they haven’t decided on whether which route to pick however I think they need to do both if they want to build a proper network. It’s also worth noting that Victoria St is meant to get a cycleway as part of the proposed linear park.
At this stage it appears that no option has been chosen and to help with that AT are currently consulting on it and say there will be an open day about the project on February 10 in Takutai Square.
All up the project is expected to cost around $11 million made up of $1.1 million from Auckland Transport, $8.15 million from the NZTA and $1.75 million from the new Urban Cycleway fund. I suspect a decent chunk funding is to go towards the bridge from South St to the off ramp. The first phase is due for completion by the end of the year with the second phase by mid-2016. I’m looking forward to seeing this finished and work getting underway on the rest of the city centre priority routes (plus others around the region).
Well done to the people from AT and the NZTA who have picked up and ran with this project.
Yesterday the Minister of Transport announced the first of projects to receive funding as part of the government’s $100 million Urban Cycleway promise from the election last year.
Before I go into the routes announced I just want to cover off a few points about the announcement.
Firstly it’s great that the government have started to put extra money into cycling, it’s long overdue. In saying that it is something that could have much more easily been done through the existing funding mechanisms had they not been pouring billions into the Roads of National Significance. Further it’s also still way less than what is needed or even what the Ministy of Transport recommended.
Still at least it’s a start and hopefully the government soon realise the benefit of investing in cycling and decide to do more. That might be possible if Simon Bridges lives up to the slogan on his t-shirt yesterday.
Secondly the urban cycleway panel was announced and it’s great to see both Glen Koorey on there as well as Pippa Coom. That gives me some confidence that we’ll get some good results out of this funding.
On to the projects, as mentioned in the announcement, there are 13 initial projects on the list – although two of the Auckland ones are part of the same overall project. The projects are:
There is more detail about all of the projects here. Auckland is clearly doing well out of the initial batch of funding with a total of $5.2 million in funding out of the $9.9 million total.
The three main centres are expected to get the bulk of the funding from the urban cycleway programme as shown in the table below.
In a separate post I’ll cover off the Nelson St cycleway which is where the announcement took place and for which work will start soon.
Yesterday I highlighted the investment in the rail network that is planned in the draft Regional Land Transport Plan (RLTP). Today I’m looking at the Cycling budgets. They start off by talking about the growing demand for cycling, especially where new facilities are provided. They also explain the proposed Auckland Cycle Network – which I think is largely a piece of junk due to its numerous holes and comprises.
However it’s the next paragraph that explains the situation we’re in.
So the council want 70% of the network completed by 2022 yet that figure won’t even be achieved by 2040 at current investment levels. The map below shows what parts of the network that are meant to be completed within the next decade under the basic transport package which is what we’ll get unless the alternative funding issue is resolved. You may notice that many of these are beside motorways where the NZTA is paying for them.
This position is further highlighted in the financial table which shows that other than the Waterview cycleway there is no money planned to be spent on cycling till after 2018 unless a local board uses their share of ~$10 million Local Board Initiatives budget on it.
Things do look a bit rosier – but not by much – with the NZTA
At this rate it looks like we’re once again set for some stormy weather over cycling. The only bright spot on the horizon is the Urban Cycleways Funds however even then that will require funding from council