Fixing the traffic in a successful city

Fixing Auckland's transportThe Council’s consultation on the 10 year budget (Long Term Plan) has been a catalyst for a wide-ranging conversation about our city’s transport priorities and investment.  “Fixing Transport” is highlighted as one of the 4 key issues facing Auckland.

The Mayor has led the way in asking Aucklanders to consider the choices.  Do we accept a basic transport network which costs less, or do we invest more to get the advanced transport programme set out in the 30-year vision for our region known as the Auckland Plan. The Auckland Plan transport network includes the new roads, rail, ferries, busways and cycleways our city desperately needs. (From Council’s consultation material)

I was on the panel for the Auckland Conversation event  Fixing Auckland’s Transport – the 10 year budget  (as a local board member and member of the Urban Cycling Investment panel) to discuss the transport options. 

The MC Fran O’Sullivan asked panelists to consider a few points that we wished to get across. Here are mine in a bit more detail than discussed on the night . I’ve also referenced the quotes that I referred to.

What do we really mean by “Fixing” Auckland’s transport.

  •  Brent Toderian (Vancouver’s former Chief Planner and an Auckland Conversations presenter ) says “you can’t fix traffic in a successful city – you have to change it”.
  •  “fixing” is unlikely to result in “getting the traffic moving” for all trips ie there will always be congestion at peak for single occupancy private vehicles.  
  •  in order to fix transport we need to re-think mobility and provide transport choice  (As Florian Lennert presented at the the Velo city conference last year – the future of transport is “multi-modal sustainable mobility” ). If people are provided safe, effective transport choices it will create more space on the road for the vehicles that need to be there which benefits everyone. 

Efficient & smart investment

  •  The presentation of 2 stark choices has been great for forcing the debate about much needed transport investment (and I applaud the Mayor for leading that debate) but I think we have been provided with a Hobson’s choice on the 2 plans.  All the benefits for active transport/PT are locked up in the Advanced transport programme (that also included low value roading projects)
  • Either alternative funding option is going to take at least 2 years to implement so we have to get the “basic” plan right in the meantime to meet Local Board priorities.  Can’t have a basic plan that doesn’t provide for “basic” community needs. Eg There is no cycling investment in the first 3 years of the basic plan – this is unacceptable ( feedback so far shows strongest support for AT to focus more on cycling)
  • Also if cycling investment not included in the final transport programme Auckland cannot leverage off the Urban Cycling Investment Fund established last year by the Govt- there is $90m available over the next 3 years with up to 50% ear marked for Auckland if a local contribution is available
  • There is huge demand for transport choices to include cycling and there has never been a better time to invest in cycling but the current AT investment proposal in draft RLTP means Auckland is going to miss out on the funds available

The investment model

  • I agree we need funding for transport investment other than from rates but we are letting the Government off the hook. The Government needs to bring forward their contribution on the CRL and fund PT investment in the same way as state highways – this would be a game changer for the transport budget and the level of alternative funding required
  • I accept that there is a transport investment funding gap that can not be met out of rates. I support that gap being met from fuel tax as the most preferred option. From a local board perspective motorway tolling is not desirable because of the administration cost, impact on low income households and the negative impact on local roads.

Efficient & smart investment

  • Even if we agree on alternative funding I think we have been provided with a Hobson’s choice on the 2 plans.  All the benefits for active transport/PT are locked up in the alternative funding plan
  • Either alternative funding option is going to take at least 2 years to implement so we have to get the “basic” plan right in the meantime.  Can’t have a basic plan that doesn’t provide for “basic” community needs. Eg There is no cycling investment in the first 3 years of the basic plan – this is unacceptable ( feedback so far shows strongest support for AT to focus more on cycling)
  • Also if cycling investment not included in the basic plan Auckland cannot leverage off the Urban Cycling Investment Fund established last year by the Govt- there is $90m available this financial year with up to 50% ear marked for Auckland if a local contribution is available
  • Key point – there is huge demand for transport choices to include cycling and there has never been a better time to invest in cycling but the current AT investment proposal in draft RLTP means Auckland is going to miss out on the funds available

In my concluding comments I mentioned that the Waitemata Local Board has committed to being a UNICEF accredited child- friendly area. At the heart of the initiative is controlling speed and creating an environment where kids are invited to sit, play and walk.  I quoted Rodney Tolley who said at a recent Child Friendly Waitemata workshop that “a walking city is a paradise for kids” 

I think we often forget who we are building a city for and our focus should be on making the city a great place for children (so far we have let traffic engineers design it to the detriment of everyone). 

More on the transport discussion

Transport Blog – Is PT, Walking and Cycling Advocacy “Leftist” 

Submit for an essential budget 

Council’s online submission form 

Open letter to a car addicted city – Brent Toderian’s letter to Perth (but equally relevant to Auckland)

Monthly Board Report November 2014

This report covers my Waitematā Local Board activities during October 2014 as Deputy Chair, lead for the Community and Transport portfolios, Chair of the Grants Committee, Deputy Chair of the Central Joint Funding Committee and with positions on the Ponsonby Business Association and Ponsonby Community Centre Committee.


Greenways proposal - Grey Lynn ParkGreenways

At our October meeting the Board approved a budget of $350,000 from the Auckland Transport capex budget, for the Waitematā Greenways Project (Route G1) in-park route. Consultation on the route design will take place alongside the draft Grey Lynn Park Development Plan.

In addition we have asked Auckland Transport to bring forward the budget to progress the on-road sections of  Route G1 to connect Coxs Bay and Grey Lynn Park with the North Western Cycleway  (the designs are with Auckland Transport ready for public consultation).

Franklin Road upgrade

Franklin Road cyclists
Photo Credit: Non- Motorist @ByTheMotorway

The much needed upgrade of Franklin Road has been in the too hard basket for many years due to the challenge and costs of accommodating historic trees, utilities, parking and transport requirement.  Fortunately the Board and Freemans Bay residents’ persistent advocacy has paid off and Auckland Transport is now planning a major upgrade to get underway in early 2016.

Auckland Transport is consulting on 2 possible options for the design of the road. While it is really positive to see the upgrade progress I have raised with Auckland Transport my concern about the lack of Local Board input at an early stage of the option development and the failure to recognise the Board objectives for the Franklin Road which were finalised following community consultation. The two options only go part way to achieving the improvements we would like to see for this iconic Auckland street:

Franklin Road optionsAuckland Transport to undertake the planned upgrade of Franklin Road including road resurfacing, undergrounding of services, footpath upgrade, pedestrian crossings, cycle path and on road parking and to provide for safe and continuous walking and cycling pathways from Ponsonby Road to Victoria Park including continuous pedestrian facilities (i.e. an unbroken footpath on both sides of the road) across all side streets, driveways and intersections (for example by installing raised tables).  Local Board Agreement 2104/2015


One of the Board’s Transport priorities is for Auckland Transport to implement a residential parking zone scheme to manage commuter parking in central Auckland suburbs (Local Board Agreement 2014/15 Transport Advocacy area). The extension of the successful St Mary’s Bay scheme to city areas suffering the biggest impact from on- street parking has been on hold while Auckland Transport consults on the parking discussion document.

The good news is that Auckland Transport has confirmed at our October catch up that parking occupancy surveys are going to start in Ponsonby and Freemans Bay in November with the aim of consulting on a proposed zone in March 2015.

A zonal approach to parking has the potential to benefit local residents and businesses and provide for short term parking for visitors.

Gladstone Road/Avon Street intersection

Auckland Transport has consulted on safety improvements at the intersection of Avon Street and Gladstone Road in Parnell that involve the removal of angle parking outside the local shops. Following a site visit, consideration of the feedback on the proposal and a public forum presentation from the local building owner and Parnell Community Committee the Board passed the following resolution:

The Waitemata Local Board requests Auckland Transport take a holistic approach to improving cyclist and pedestrian amenity on Gladstone Road and consider traffic calming and mitigation measures that do not require the removal of angled parking at the Gladstone Road/Avon Street Intersection.

Legible Auckland

Waima Street wayfinding signWayfinding signage continues to be installed by Auckland Transport where a request is logged. It is surprising how few directional signs exist to guide pedestrians and cyclists around our city.

Although it was great to see this sign (photo right) appear on the corner of Waima Street/Great North Road I have followed up with Auckland Transport regarding the curious content on the sign with the following queries:

The original request was for a directional sign to the NW cycleway however the information on the sign covers everything except that. What is the reason? Has this design come out of AT’s wayfinding project? Is this now the template or just temporary? NZTA have used distance for their cycleway signage. Why has AT used travel time? Is the time intended for the walker or rider?  Is this now a standard approach?

Cycling Advisory Group Meeting

At the Advisory Group meeting in October discussions continued on the prioritisation of cycling projects. Richard Leggart, Chair of the NZ Cycle Safety Panel discussed the recommendations in the panel’s Safer Journeys for People who Cycle report which was open for feedback until 24 October.

We also heard from Auckland Transport about improvements to the existing network and the development of a customer charter.

I emphasised at the meeting the need for early Local Board input into Auckland Transport’s work programme to best leverage the maintenance budget to address deficiencies on the network.

pohutukawa treesFight to save 6 mature pohutukawa trees on Great North Road

Preparations have been underway during October for the hearing taking place on 5 and 6 November regarding the Board’s objection to Auckland Transport’s Notice of Requirement to remove 6 mature Pohutukawa trees on Great North Road. The removal is sought by AT for road widening to provide for two lanes turning from Great North Road on to a new St Lukes bridge.

The Board’s objection is based on our view that there are alternatives available to Auckland Transport that could retain the trees but achieve the same transport outcomes. All the experts agree that removing the trees will result in a significant adverse effect to the environment. As one submitter put it “the trees provide a buffer of civility amid 19 lanes of tarmac”.

Monthly transport update

A monthly update with Auckland Transport took place on 29 October.  Current issues are reported back monthly by Auckland Transport on our public agenda including the details of the consultation undertaken with the Transport portfolio on behalf of the Board.


Parnell Festival of Roses Accessibility

For a second year the Waitemata Local Board is aiming to make the Parnell Festival of Roses accessible for all. With the support of the community portfolio, member Christopher Dempsey has been working with Paul Brown, Strategic Advisor Disability to confirm the initiatives to be funded from an accessibility budget of $2000.

At the Festival on 15 and 16 November there will be an audio described walk and rose-potting workshop for blind and vision impaired visitors taking place from 11:45 -1.15pm and Rudd (the Bugman) Kleinpaste’s talk 1:30-2.00pm will be audio described.  Rudd’s talks on both the Saturday and Sunday are being signed in New Zealand Sign Language. Accessibility Information has also been circulated.

Family, Whanau and Sexual Violence

We received an update from Kelly Maung on the work she is doing to progress a multi- sector strategic action plan to deal with Family, Whanau and Sexual Violence.  Commitment to this initiative by Council has developed out of the Auckland Plan goal to be the world’s most liveable city and involves partnering with central government.

Kelly has challenged the Board to proactively contribute to White Ribbon day next year. Member Deborah Yates is progressing this with our male colleagues.

Western ParkPark site visits

I joined the Parks team and iwi representatives on site visits to Western Park and Grey Lynn Park.

The visits identified exciting opportunities to promote cultural values and the unique historic features of the parks.  There is particularly strong support for day-lighting Tunamau – the stream that is currently piped through Western Park.

Pioneer Womens Hall activation

Work to activate Pioneer Womens Hall as a community hub prior to major refurbishment taking place next year continues.  We recently confirmed a modest budget to support the Jedi Knights Chess Club initiative led by a previously homeless man who has become a regular contributor to the Pioneer Womens Hall working group.

The community portfolio holds a monthly meeting with relevant officers to discuss the on-going work programme.  I also attended a range of meetings during October relevant to the community portfolio – these are detailed below.

Auckland Conversation Brent Toderian: Liveable cities – vibrant waterfronts

Brent Toderian Waterfront AucklandThe former chief planner for Vancouver returned to Auckland at the invitation of Waterfront Auckland to continue his city-shaping advice with a talk on how rethinking our waterfront can transform our city.

Brent was introduced by John Dalzell, CEO Waterfront Auckland as an “Urban Design Warrior”.

Key points I took away from the presentation at Shed 10:

  • Urban planning & city building best way to influence public health and confront the convergence of global issues such as climate change and aging population.
  • Millennials are pre-disposed to urban living as they interact with technology like previous generations interacted with the car (baby boomers “broken hipsters” are also turning to urban living)
  • We need to aim for “density done well on the waterfront” Land use and movement need to be aligned. We need to recognise “induced demand”. It is just politically popular to build roads.
  • Vancouver shows that if you design for multi-modality it is better for drivers. It is about prioritising not being anti-car. Allows for shorter commute times  (20% fewer cars; 40-60% increase in PT; 10-20% increase in cycling)
  • Brent is a fan of the expression “making streets sticky” for people – it is not just about moving through but how to make people stay
  • “Walk score” is a powerful measurement tool used in North America that shows the positive impact on property values of walkable neighbourhoods. In Auckland the evidence is that we don’t care about walkers just drivers.
  • He noted that the conversation about cycling is picking up but believes we will only make progress with separation (ie protected cycleways). This will be the key to a higher bike share. He also noted that there are enough women riders yet
  • Brent calls buses the heroes of PT as nimble & cheap but we need to change the conversation around buses and to provide a better service
  • Mobility is a space problem that benefits from car sharing. One car in  a car share can replace 20 cars
  • We need to aim for consistently high density design. We have the challenge of a working Port but we should use this to our advantage. Height is just a design challenge
  • We also need to ensure that amenities and facilities are built into any development (in Vancouver achieved through density bonusing)
  • Lots of simple but can be hard to do simple

Brent Toderian Auckland ConversationFinal slide (pictured right)

  • Plan like you love cities
  • Listen like you love opinions
  • Design like you love people – and always challenge the word “cant”

Workshops and meetings

In the period 1 October – 31 October I attended:

  • Meeting with Allan Young from ACPL on 1 October to discuss and the implications for Parnell Station, access to the Domain and the regeneration of Waipapa Stream of Kiwi Rail’s proposals to sell the development site where Mainline Steam is currently located
  • Engagement adviser catch up on 1 October
  • Communications catch up on 1 October
  • Local Board Member briefing in Takapuna on spatial priorities and the draft infrastructure strategy that is being developed through the LTP process.
  • Community-led Placemaking Champions Group workshop
  • Local Board Workshop on 7 October
  • AT/Franklin Road Resident’s Meeting on 7 October – Franklin Road Upgrade
  • Meeting to discuss the Child Friendly City project
  • Meetings with the Local Board’s lawyers regarding Notice of Requirement hearing to remove 6 Pohutukawa trees on Great North Road
  • CCO review – Governing Body / Local Board discussion ­– workshop on 8 October provided an opportunity for local board members, councillors and IMSB members on the CCO Governance and Monitoring Committee to receive an update about the CCO review.
  • Review of the Ponsonby Road Plan by Stuart Houghton. A presentation to Board members on 8 October  (on 28 October I arranged for Stuart to present his review to Council and Auckland Transport officers involved in the development of the plan)
  • Meeting with GM of the Ponsonby Business Association
  • Site Visit to Avon Street/ Gladstone Road intersection to meet a representative from Parnell Community Committee and the building owner to discuss AT’s proposal to remove angle parking
  • Meeting with GM of Parnell Community Centre
  • Communications catch up on 13 October
  • Ponsonby Business Association Board meeting on 14 October
  • Cycle Advisory Group Meeting
  • Waitematā Local Board business meeting on 14 October
  • Auckland Transport Taxi operations Plan presentation and discussion with stakeholders
  • Attended the Events portfolio meeting to discuss the Myers Park centenary celebrations and opportunities for community development
  • Waitematā Local Board workshop on 16 October
  • Long Term plan presentation to budget committee
    Photo Credit: Cathy Casey

    Attended the Waitemata Local Board presentation to the Budget Committee led by the Chair as part of the local boards discussions with the governing body held over 2 days  to inform final decision-making on the LTP for consultation. Each local board was given 20 minutes to present and discuss key priorities and advocacy areas (photo right – looking far too happy!)

  • LTP financial policy discussion on 20 October with Local Board representatives
  • Waitematā Local Board workshop on 21 October
  • Community Development portfolio monthly catch up on 22 October
  • Queens Wharf site visit: Briefing in partnership with Waterfront and Auckland Council
  • Western Park site visit and workshop on 24 October with iwi representatives
  • Attended the Waterfront Auckland Board meeting public forum in support of Ponsonby Cruising Club on 29 October
  • Monthly Transport portfolio catch up on  29 October
  • LTP Local Board Cluster Workshop – Central.  Auckland Transport’s engagement with Local Boards about transport priorities for the next decade and how AT has arrived at a prioritised programme, following the Mayor’s budget proposal for the Long Term Plan.
  • Meetings with Auckland Council planners and the Local Board’s lawyers in preparation for the Notice of Requirement hearing to remove 6 Pohutukawa trees on Great North Road
  • Meeting with the CE, Newmarket Business Association
  • Grey Lynn Park Development Plan – site visit to discuss draft update with iwi on 31 October

Events and functions

Smokefree dining with Shale Chambers and Greg MoyleIn the period 1 October – 31 October 2014 I attended:

  • Newmarket Young Fashion Designer Award on 1 October at the invitation of the Newmarket Business Association
  • Cycle Action’s Associates breakfast
  • Pop up smokefree outdoor dining event organised by Auckland Cancer Society in Aotea Square (photo right)
  • Grey Lynn Business Association AGM on 8 October
  • Launch of Art week at Silo 6
  • Opening of Victoria Park Market Art week event
  • Look at K’rd Art Week event
  • Opening ceremony of Auckland Diwali Festival 2014 on 11 October
  • NZ Fashion Museum’s pop-up exhibition, Elle and the Youthquake: The changing face of fashion, at The Nathan Gallery in Britomart.
  • Heritage Festival events on Sunday 12 October: Civic Trust a toast to heritage and the Grey Lynn RSC’s Gaylene Preston WWI presentation
  • Auckland Girls’ Grammar Old Girls’ Association Annual Dinner
  • Great Mugging on Ponsonby Road for Art Week
  • POP 10 : Hauora Garden of Health and Happiness community planting day on 18 October at Studio One Tu Toi 
  • Auckland Conversation with Brent Toderian at Shed 10. Liveable Cities – Vibrant Waterfronts
  • Ponsonby Business Association AGM on 21 October
  • Auckland Arts Festival Launch at the Town Hall on 23 October
  • The New Zealand Dance Company’s Studio Showing at the Wellesley Studio on 28 October at the invitation of the NZ Dance Company
  • Rod Oram in conversation with Sir Stephen Tindall at the Auckland Museum on 30 October hosted by  Anglican Diocese of Auckland’s Diocesan Climate Change Action Group (at the invitation of Rod Oram)