Weekly roundup 27-Aug-2021 – Greater Auckland


Header image via twitter user @wildbaynz Ata mārie everyone. After […]

Header image via twitter user @wildbaynz

Ata mārie everyone. After a week and a half in lockdown you’re probably sick of the internet, but just in case you’re not, here’s our roundup of transport and urbanism reads for the week.

City Rail Link August footage

This drone footage of the Mt Eden station area was taken just before work ceased because of the level 4 lockdown. We’re kind of into the CRL theme music: keep the video going in the background while you read the rest of our roundup for a particularly soothing Friday morning experience.

Getting un-stuck from Business As Usual

Here to remind us that climate change will not be solved by individual action alone: a powerful essay by Josh Drummond on David Farrier’s Webworm website.

Ethical behaviour has been monetised: if you want a clear conscience, you’ll have to pay for it. Even the term “carbon footprint,” now ubiquitous and synonymous with taking individual action on climate change, is compromised: it was created and propagated by (wait for it) BP, in one of the most cynical (and effective) marketing campaigns of all time.

Read to the end for calls-to-action:

The media also need to stop stirring up fear about how much this stuff costs, because the cost of not doing it is almost too much to comprehend: one estimate puts global GDP losses at $610 trillion in cumulative damages to 2100, the equivalent of at least one Covid-sized economic shock per year.

This stupendous figure doubles once you factor in sea-level rise. Instead of asking “how much will this cost?” we need to ask “how much work will this be?

Transport poverty and car dependency a worldwide issue

We often hear the argument that restricting access for cars disadvantages people who rely on their car to travel for work, in particular those already struggling financially. That argument ignores the fact that those people are already disadvantaged by being made to be car dependent. This paper looks at transport inequity across Europe and North America, and how car dependency contributes to poverty.

Car-dependent vaccine centres

Speaking of car dependency, Elliot Street, where a downtown vaccination centre is located, was full of cars on Wednesday.

Persistent Disadvantage Consultation

The Productivity Commission is scoping the terms of reference for an inquiry: A fair chance for all : Breaking the disadvantage cycle. If you have “expertise or an interest in reducing persistent disadvantage” the consultation period ends today. We would like to encourage the Productivity Commission to include the issue of transport poverty in its terms of reference. There are persistent disadvantages in both urban transport and inter-regional transport that need addressing, and issues include poor health, poor access to opportunities, lack of independence, and people locked in to unsustainable, expensive transport modes.

Bulldoze the mall to create a high street

‘We’ve not bought it to run as a shopping centre. We’ve bought it to knock it down’.


The way we use city centres keeps changing, and so city centres must continue to change. A serious re-think of the role of the High Street has happened in a small British town, Stockton-on-Tees. Stockton’s high street was once a shopping destination, but the Covid-19 pandemic accelerated a shift – already well underway – to online shopping. In response, the city’s council has re-imagined the downtown as a culture and activity destination.

The ‘post-retail landscape’ includes a big park in place of a defunct mid-century shopping centre. The hope is that Stockton’s city centre will become a place where people will want to spend their free time; with a focus on people, community and identity rather than business and economy.

“What you can do is make it a place that people want to visit, that offers amenities and conveys the general sense that it is a place on the up. It’s genuinely entrepreneurial and creative on the part of the council to take this approach. It’s offering an alternative to the orthodoxy, prioritising the flourishing of the community rather than the competitiveness of the office sector.”

Which would you rather: people space or car space?

It’s often said, and worth repeating: it wasn’t that long ago when there were simply fewer cars, and people felt much safer spending time on our urban streets.

Kids speak up

“It was scary but it made me more brave, because it was for the safety of children,” says an inspiring young champion for bike infrastructure. While cycling to Hebrew class, seven year old David Karon was nearly hit by a car. One thing led to another, and nekminnit he was addressing Wellington City Council, on his wish to get around the city:

“…in a safe way, in a way that makes sure the environment stays clean, with lots of bike lanes. I wish that there were more places like this.”

The video is nicely fronted by Liam Dulver, kid reporter, and features a bonus glimpse of the Brooklyn Hill pop-up cycleway – an Innovating Streets project that the council has just voted unanimously to make permanent.

Young advocate David Karon speaks to Kea Kids News (Story: Stuff.co.nz)

Making innovative streets into business as usual

Tasman District Council is building on its own Innovating Streets project to transform business as usual in its 30-year transport plan for the district. Having tested tactical traffic-calming on the ground – speed bumps, planter boxes, traffic filters – those will become “part of the picture” for longer term approaches:

If they succeed in their aims, they could make Richmond the model of a convivial town, where people greet their neighbours as they pass on foot and bike or wait for the bus, and kids are using the streets to get around safely. It may be possible for some people to ditch the car entirely.

The plan itself is very much what would be produced by a planner who set out to reduce Richmond’s greenhouse gas emissions. Given the number of people who express anxiety about climate, including youngsters, it could be cheering to know, as you bike to school or work, that you’re helping to restore the planet.

An example of tactical traffic-calming in Richmond’s Innovating Streets project, near a kindergarten.

Bus lanes go red in Canada

How beautiful are these maple-leaf-red bus lanes in Toronto? The consistent treatment from rural to urban environment sends a strong ‘bus-priority’ message.

Klimaticket: Austria deploys public transport in its fight against climate change

In a bid to encourage people to choose public transport rather than private vehicles, Austria has launched ‘klimaticket’ which, for a flat rate, allows holders to board any public transport in a specific area for 12 months. The ticket covers almost all modes and companies within a geographical area, and represents significant discounts over existing fares. The plan is to scale the ticket up to be fully integrated across Austria’s entire public transport network.

Klimaticket Now isn’t just a ticket. It also enables us to collectively achieve the Paris climate targets and safeguard our future because public transport is a climate-friendly alternative to private motor vehicle transport.

Dream it, draw it, light rail

Have you got a young transport nerd at home? The Auckland Light Rail site is running a kids’ art competition.

We’re inviting kids to imagine what their neighbourhood or city will look like in the future with modern, frequent and environmentally friendly light rail to get around, and send us a drawing of it.

The winning artwork will be displayed in a public bus.

Drawing by Annabelle from Mangere Bridge, who will hopefully be able to ride light rail into the city when she’s a teenager!

Genesis Energy’s City Centre move facilitates mode shift

Genesis Energy’s move to Fanshawe Street has allowed them to implement a number of transport policies that have been well supported by their employees. GA reader JFamilton shared an excerpt from Genesis’ annual report in the comments section on yesterday’s post:

Our new offices in Auckland are in a 6 Green Star rated building, one of only nine in the country. It is more than a physical representation of our commitment to being a sustainable business.

The move provided the catalyst to introduce initiatives that would reduce emissions, traffic congestion and enable active and shared travel. As part of the move we no longer provided staff carparks, removed company cars from salary packages and replaced our corporate car fleet with EV carsharing start-up, Zilch. In their place we provided a 25% subsidy for public transport, car-pool hubs in South and West Auckland, a free shuttle service from the eastern suburbs and with topend changing facilities to encourage staff to ride, run or walk to work.

Our people loved it.

Compared to the travel routines in our previous offices which had 205 carparks, we’ve seen a 50% increase in people taking public transport or using EVs, 102% increase in biking, running, walking or e-scootering to work, 81% of staff have signed up to the public transport subsidy and there are 984 less carbon contributing trips each week (petrol, diesel, motorbike), a reduction of 71%. Staff have collectively reduced carbon emissions by 158t per annum, so far.

Proudly, we are also the first company in the southern hemisphere to add the new, fully electric, Fuso eCanter truck to our commercial fleet.

That’s one way to respond to the NIMBYs

Here’s an apartment building in San Francisco that got bigger in response to local opposition, rather than smaller.

De Haro St apartments. Image credit: BAR Architects

Legislation passed in order to reduce the influence of local councils over developers is changing the politics of housing in California: protective, affluent residents can no longer pressure their local representative to put a stop to development, because the local representative doesn’t have a lot of say.

DM Development CEO Mark MacDonald said he submitted the bigger plan after “it was abundantly clear to us the neighbors were not supportive of the lower scale project.” He added that “if we had gotten support for the original plan we would have kept going down that path.”

Whereas Wellington’s NIMBY / YIMBY discussion is underway on the power poles

Image Credit: PYasbek via twitter. 
Image Credit: Jonny via twitter.

Covering the last mile by e-cargo bike

You’ll probably have heard about the big changes happening in Paris to reduce emissions and traffic. Carrefour, a massive French supermarket chain, is getting amongst the changes and using electric-assist bike trailers to transport goods to the store.

A very British bus odyssey

We’re seriously impressed by the dedication of this Londoner, who decided to work out how far it was possible to travel from the centre of London in 24 hours. After working out a precise timetable, Jo Kibble then tested the journey in real time. His trip generated a twitter storm, with people pointing him towards their favourite bus stations, and debating the state of public transport in the UK.

Among messages reminiscing about favourite bus journeys or tips about local hidden gems to visit, Mr Kibble said he was pleased to see “a serious policy discussion” break out.

“People were interested in seeing how the system works and how it’s linked to politics and the geography of the area.

“Bus networks are a very important part of building a fairer country and an economic system that works for more people.

Keep Welly weird

If we did a ‘bike of the day’ competition, this would surely blow the field to pieces for the rest of the year. Whoever you are cruising down Lyall Bay in such style, if you read Greater Auckland, please get in touch; we want to tell your story!

Weekend long reads…

Turns out cranking out daily reckons makes people a bit, well, cranky.

I’ve come to the conclusion that the role of professional pundit should be viewed in similar terms to those workers who had to shovel debris at Chernobyl. No one should do it for very long, and ideally, no one would do it at all.

A deep dive into the benefits of communal living, from the New Yorker:

The dynamics I saw at Treehouse, in its current, small-scale incarnation, were different. The residents weren’t just sharing space; they were woven into one another’s lives. The whole broke into groups, but the groups were overlapping, flexible, and always changing… What emerges from a small community like Treehouse, then, is a theory of togetherness that might inform a larger community.

Who put this useless hunk of metal here?

Thank you for reading, stay home, stay safe, and have a great weekend.

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