Thursday, November 7, 2013

Brent Toderian - Design for Auckland


Design for Auckland
Brent Toderian - Vancouver, Canada
International Development and Urban Design Consultant

"...Brent will explain how best practice design and building projects fit into the bigger picture for developing liveable cities. No matter what the scale, every project undertaken will shape the community as a whole.

In Vancouver, known internationally as a 'city by design', Brent oversaw all development and design, implementing new approaches for neighborhood development, place-making, green design and architectural diversity...."
So read the spiel for Brent's Auckland Conversations talk - attended by 650 I understand - in the NZI room of Aotea Centre 30th October. Brent had been in Auckland for 4 days and had been immersed in Auckland, walking, talking, learning about the Unitary Plan. I found his talk useful because of his practical experience in Vancouver and Calgary, and extremely insightful about Auckland (probably because I agreed with a lot of it).

Because a lot of his insight was expressed in what he said (when he spoke to his slides), and because I think what he said should not be lost (or only available on the webinar clips of his presentation), I have gone through his talk to transcribe the sections that I think Auckland, Auckland planners, and Auckland councillors and politicians need to take to heart.

"....People always want me to be controversial. Tell us the bad things about our city. They get a morbid pleasure. But I’m a big fan of Auckland. I'm impressed with what I’ve seen.

But I have been constructively critical.

Good design is not skin deep, it’s not about aesthetics, it’s about deep foundational value, creation and issues….

Do we do good design or do we create jobs?
That debate is going on around the world. But it's a false choice. It's a poor debate. Good design = business friendly. Don’t lower your design standards. But I have been hearing this in Auckland…

Like: "we could make housing more affordable by building in the green zone...". That's another false choice…
We (Vancouver) are up there on many lists … along with Auckland … what we did is the bedrock for this. It’s not what we trade away.

And don’t say the worst words: “we could not do that in our city”. 

I worked in Calgary before. Conservative place. Still made big changes.
The only reason that a big change can’t be made is because you don’t want it enough. Consequences of not doing the right things have never been more clear.
People are changing.

It’s the smart phone that is freedom. Not the car.

The boomers and the millenials are choosing better urbanism. Families are in the middle. We design our downtowns now for kids and families, and that’s why they come and live there. We use density bonuses and other incentives to provide daycare centres and new schools in our downtowns. And so families come and live there.

By the way I was blown away by the kids playground that I saw down on your waterfront. Cities around the world are struggling with the same issues as you are. We can learn from other cities. But sometimes we say: “we can’t learn from you because you are different…” That’s silly. We can learn from other cities.

It’s great that your Mayor wants Auckland to be the most liveable city. But that’s only one thing. You can aspire to be many things….and be complete...
And it’s important that the neighbourhoods across the city are also part of this. And that includes your suburbs.

And I have to say I’m not really impressed by what you’re doing, or planning to do in your suburbs

I know it’s early days.
Car-oriented vertical sprawl is what happens when you only deliver intensity and density, but not community.

That involves fixing the three issues of scale, mix and place together.
The scale is wrong when you have to take the car to do anything – where uses are separated and far apart.

Mix is wrong when you have single uses.

You come down the elevator and the school is far away. Or all you see when you come down is the freeway and you have to get on it. Nothing’s walkable.
You have some rare successes in your suburbs.

But are they scaleable?

Can you translate or replicate that elsewhere…?
When we went out to talk with the Vancouver community – to have a conversation with the community - about density, we were always talking about why we were having this conversation.

And this is one of the things that was missing (here) in the context of the Unitary Plan work. You don’t just ask people: ‘do you want to densify?’ You have to tell a compelling and true story about why we are even having the conversation about density.

We never have a conversation in Vancouver that just asks the question: ‘well, what do you want to do?’ We spend a lot of time educating the public before the public educates us with their wisdom, but if they don’t understand the challenges that we have, and the issues that we have, and the goals and objectives that we have set for ourselves, then they just say what they want….

So there is a lot of obligation on the community to learn - and then they teach us… It’s not just about density. It’s about density done well. There’s good density and there’s dumb density…. If you do density poorly, why would the public ever support it? We create NIMBY’s for ourselves by allowing density to be done badly…

There are three main elements to completeness and density done well. And the primary one is that land use and movement is aligned. Mobility and land use planning has to be integrated and aligned.

Too many cities separate these discussions.
This is where our freeway would have gone. It would have lobotomised our waterfront, devastated low income neighbourhoods…. Just like it lobotomised so many waterfronts across the United States and internationally…
It was the moms that shut it down.

It wasn’t the professional urbanists.

It was the citizens… that shut it down.

That was the catalyst that took us to where land use and transport planning was done together.
(This slide portrays the "war" that previously went on in Vancouver between the traffic engineers and the land use planners....  recognise Auckland here...?)
The 1997 Plan changed everything for Vancouver. It said that we were not going to build any new road capacity for cars in Vancouver. None.

And actually we are going to be taking capacity away because we are going to be widening sidewalks for walking, creating cycle lanes and buslanes.
And the second thing we did was we were not going to perpetuate the myth then you can balance modes. Because that’s just saying: ‘business as usual’.

We don’t balance modes, we prioritise: walking, then cycling, then transit, then freight, then the private motorcar…

...you can justify just about any car related transport investment you like under the rubric: ‘balancing modes’. That’s why we don’t do it…
The counter-intuitive thing that happens when you do that is that it gets better for every mode for getting around town.

 The worst thing you can do for drivers is build more roads. There’s not a city in the world that has made driving better by building more roads. Every traffic expert in the world should know that yet many of them are still recommending building more roads.

We have the proof in Vancouver of this. These are the stats since 1997. Lower congestion. Lower commuting times. Lower vehicle kilometres travelled. We are the only city in North America that has reduced those things. And we’ve done it by taking away roads.

And this is where the trips have gone in our multi-modal city. It’s not magic.
The best transport plan is a GREAT LAND USE PLAN. If you get your mix of uses right, your densities right, then the transport problem is much easier to solve. Our traffic engineers say that all the time.

However in other parts of North America it’s the transport tail that wags the land use dog. We have transportation models that are used to bring down density and separate uses. It’s crazy. Done well density brings the power of nearness – everything is close
Walking infrastructure is at vertical and horizontal levels. It’s the street wall the city at eye level the buildings at eye level that have more impact on the walking experience for pedestrians.

But here (in Auckland) I discover you design a lot of eye candy for cars, but less eye candy for walkers is my experience walking around your city for the last four days. You have beautiful landscaping for cars, which tells me you care a lot about cars and their drivers. But walking around the city I see very little evidence that you care about walking.
 
Cycling is our second choice, and round here I see very little evidence that you care about urban cycling at this point, but I understand you have aspirations and you are moving in the right direction. That’s good to hear. But right now there’s no evidence that I’ve seen that you are a biking friendly city. (applause).
There’s absolutely no way you’ll increase your cycling mode share without separated bike lanes.

Paint will not do it.

You need to physically protect your cyclists from automobiles. Low traffic volume streets are the ones where you put separated cycle lanes. We are tied with Portland with the highest proportion of trips made by bike at 4.5%. We are on track to double it and triple it because we are being very aggressive with our program of urban cycling infrastructure. Kilometre for kilometre cycle lanes are the cheapest transport infrastructure.

The Mayor of Vienna said, “we are building cycle lanes because we can’t afford Metro…”

If you want a 50/50 gender split using your cycle infrastructure – like they do in Europe – then you have to make it safe. (Men are stupid and will still bike even when it's not safe.)

If you think it’s easy building cycle infrastructure in Vancouver look at this survey:

"best use of tax payers money that year: bike lanes",
"worst use of taxpayers money that year: bike lanes".

It is highly polarising but we’re going ahead with it in our city because our politicians know that it’s the right thing to do....
We don’t use the term “Transit Oriented Development” anymore. Because we’re next generation now.

We don’t think of them as transit corridors. We think of them as mixed use or mobility corridors.

Linear urban communities. We look at them from a walk, bike – and then transit – perspective. We’d rather you not have to get on transit.

We’d rather you were able to walk to the grocery store.
Cars take up a lot space.

No matter how green a car is, or what comes out of its tail pipe, fundamentally cars are a space challenge. You can’t solve this by building a greener car. We can design cities where the car is present – but isn’t necessary.

True freedom is not about designing cities for cars (North American mythology for many many years) – it’s designing in mobility choice…..
(Brent spoke at length about the experience of hosting the Olympics, how the city coped with the crowds, and how the city’s streets were used…) All of the streets that we closed during the games - we began to think of them as public realm. As places, not just spaces to move pedestrians and vehicles through, but places just to be in. We were not particularly good at thinking of streets as public places. Our new Viva Vancouver plan is about rethinking the use of streets as real activity places – not just for moving pedestrians and cars.
You guys are good at this and this is what proved it. (See slide of Te Whero on Auckland's waterfront) Brilliant. Paint and BIG TEXT. And you differentiated a parking lot into a public space. So you guys do understand this, at least you do on the waterfront, but based on what I’ve seen I’m not sure you understand it across the rest of the city, but you do on the waterfront…
The second principle in implementing Completeness and Density Done Well. Important that a consistently high standard of design is maintained.

Particularly public places and parks.

And it starts from the waterfront. The principle is that the whole waterfront should be accessible.
Designing for height is about designing what happens at street level.

This is about the podium structure that supports tall buildings. It’s the podium that fronts the street.

It’s the podiums that define the street rather than the tall buildings above which are largely set back from the street.
The third principle in implementing Completeness and Density Done...

Well. I understand that you guys might be undermining your previous successes in terms of providing amenities, I understand that under this Unitary Plan this might be under threat. It is one of the bedrocks of our system of city-making, liveable city-making. Density bonussing systems, value capture – which you folks looked at and rejected – I think you should look at it again....
...because all of this is critical to providing the amenities, the day care facilities, and parks, and civic spaces, and heritage preservation and protection, and rental and social housing for social diversity… 

And all of it through density, and by the way it changes the public’s perception of density because they know they are getting amenities as densities increase. It changes the political discussion.
So how did we do it? In 2006 for two years we put it on the front page. It was about what density is, and what it does. I worry that your Unitary Plan had that opportunity and didn’t go far enough. Because if you haven’t had this discussion at a macro scale about densification, if you’re only having this conversation on a project by project basis, you’re pulling off the band aid really slowly and painfully, you’re not getting to that level of sophistication about what density really means. 


This event was filmed and a copy of Brent’s presentation can be located in the AUCKLAND CONVERSATIONS Media Vault  along with resources from past events.

5 comments:

Millie Liang said...

Thank you for sharing

Paul Simmonds said...

Joel,
Thanks for this detail - it's impressive that 650-plus people attended and I am sorry that I was unaware of the event.
What Brent didn't comment upon, strangely, was the 'contextual setting' in which a city is located - not applicable to all cities but in the case of Vancouver it has been 'shore-to-mountains' and in Auckland, the 'shore-to-volcanic cones' - and the community agreement to protect these 'vision zones' from intrusion by development (width/height) by establishing 'sight lines'. In Auckland, we seem to have done that well but as Brent states, the street setting is something that we aren't doing well in terms of densification/visual relief - and in my own community, Bayswater has rejected density because there's been no discussion (and hence, understanding and approval)on how this 'could' look, how this 'could' work. As a result, we are not actually re-orienting our communities around activity focus; the concept of density trade-off has helped Vancouver to secure developer-funded amenities that stimulate neighbourhood engagement at a local pedestrian/cycle level.
Sadly, the role of a planner - and associated controversy - is not without peril and in Vancouver, Brent joins a succession of battlers: http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/british-columbia/vancouver-planning-chief-toderian-given-the-axe/article554571/

Paul Simmonds said...

7 November 2013 headlines:
"Vancouver edges out Los Angeles for worst traffic congestion in North America: index"

Read more: http://www.vancouversun.com/Vancouver+edges+Angeles+worst+traffic+congestion+North+America+index/9132912/story.html#ixzz2k0gVeuJE

Anonymous said...

Dear Joel,
This is a great digest for those of us who could not attend - thanks a lot.
But which bit of all this is NEW?
I agree pretty much with all Toderian's comments, but again - which part is the part we did not know?
It amazes me how in Akl, as soon as an UD consultant flies in from Melb, Vanc or London, walks around the city (that is - the CBD and the waterfront, NOT the actual city - our 50 km-long suburbs) for 'four days' and immediately he knows what's right and what's wrong.
Wow.
There is nothing in BT's talk (well, your account of it) that any of us local mortals have not said before at some occasion.
We should grow up and have more confidence in the possibility of an 'Auckland Urbanism', and stop piously listening to all these traveling gurus.
Thanks anyway;
--Dushko

Joel Cayford said...

Regarding Dushko's comment... He asks the question: "which part did we not know...?".

Well. Dushko may have known it, and I may have known it, but knowing something (feeling it and and intuitively being aware of it) is different from articulating it so that others might understand.

We have a situation in Auckland where - despite the disastrous truth of our car centered planning orientation - we generally persist with it.

Many Auckland people want a bigger change in the direction of our land use and transport planning. Bringing outsiders in to shine lights into dark corners is one instrument of change. But for some it is all a matter of opinion.

We are all aware of how strong the "build more roads and the economy will grow and we all be richer" lobby is. It takes time to demonstrate that this statement is a matter of opinion. Evidence is accumulating.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Brent Toderian - Design for Auckland


Design for Auckland
Brent Toderian - Vancouver, Canada
International Development and Urban Design Consultant

"...Brent will explain how best practice design and building projects fit into the bigger picture for developing liveable cities. No matter what the scale, every project undertaken will shape the community as a whole.

In Vancouver, known internationally as a 'city by design', Brent oversaw all development and design, implementing new approaches for neighborhood development, place-making, green design and architectural diversity...."
So read the spiel for Brent's Auckland Conversations talk - attended by 650 I understand - in the NZI room of Aotea Centre 30th October. Brent had been in Auckland for 4 days and had been immersed in Auckland, walking, talking, learning about the Unitary Plan. I found his talk useful because of his practical experience in Vancouver and Calgary, and extremely insightful about Auckland (probably because I agreed with a lot of it).

Because a lot of his insight was expressed in what he said (when he spoke to his slides), and because I think what he said should not be lost (or only available on the webinar clips of his presentation), I have gone through his talk to transcribe the sections that I think Auckland, Auckland planners, and Auckland councillors and politicians need to take to heart.

"....People always want me to be controversial. Tell us the bad things about our city. They get a morbid pleasure. But I’m a big fan of Auckland. I'm impressed with what I’ve seen.

But I have been constructively critical.

Good design is not skin deep, it’s not about aesthetics, it’s about deep foundational value, creation and issues….

Do we do good design or do we create jobs?
That debate is going on around the world. But it's a false choice. It's a poor debate. Good design = business friendly. Don’t lower your design standards. But I have been hearing this in Auckland…

Like: "we could make housing more affordable by building in the green zone...". That's another false choice…
We (Vancouver) are up there on many lists … along with Auckland … what we did is the bedrock for this. It’s not what we trade away.

And don’t say the worst words: “we could not do that in our city”. 

I worked in Calgary before. Conservative place. Still made big changes.
The only reason that a big change can’t be made is because you don’t want it enough. Consequences of not doing the right things have never been more clear.
People are changing.

It’s the smart phone that is freedom. Not the car.

The boomers and the millenials are choosing better urbanism. Families are in the middle. We design our downtowns now for kids and families, and that’s why they come and live there. We use density bonuses and other incentives to provide daycare centres and new schools in our downtowns. And so families come and live there.

By the way I was blown away by the kids playground that I saw down on your waterfront. Cities around the world are struggling with the same issues as you are. We can learn from other cities. But sometimes we say: “we can’t learn from you because you are different…” That’s silly. We can learn from other cities.

It’s great that your Mayor wants Auckland to be the most liveable city. But that’s only one thing. You can aspire to be many things….and be complete...
And it’s important that the neighbourhoods across the city are also part of this. And that includes your suburbs.

And I have to say I’m not really impressed by what you’re doing, or planning to do in your suburbs

I know it’s early days.
Car-oriented vertical sprawl is what happens when you only deliver intensity and density, but not community.

That involves fixing the three issues of scale, mix and place together.
The scale is wrong when you have to take the car to do anything – where uses are separated and far apart.

Mix is wrong when you have single uses.

You come down the elevator and the school is far away. Or all you see when you come down is the freeway and you have to get on it. Nothing’s walkable.
You have some rare successes in your suburbs.

But are they scaleable?

Can you translate or replicate that elsewhere…?
When we went out to talk with the Vancouver community – to have a conversation with the community - about density, we were always talking about why we were having this conversation.

And this is one of the things that was missing (here) in the context of the Unitary Plan work. You don’t just ask people: ‘do you want to densify?’ You have to tell a compelling and true story about why we are even having the conversation about density.

We never have a conversation in Vancouver that just asks the question: ‘well, what do you want to do?’ We spend a lot of time educating the public before the public educates us with their wisdom, but if they don’t understand the challenges that we have, and the issues that we have, and the goals and objectives that we have set for ourselves, then they just say what they want….

So there is a lot of obligation on the community to learn - and then they teach us… It’s not just about density. It’s about density done well. There’s good density and there’s dumb density…. If you do density poorly, why would the public ever support it? We create NIMBY’s for ourselves by allowing density to be done badly…

There are three main elements to completeness and density done well. And the primary one is that land use and movement is aligned. Mobility and land use planning has to be integrated and aligned.

Too many cities separate these discussions.
This is where our freeway would have gone. It would have lobotomised our waterfront, devastated low income neighbourhoods…. Just like it lobotomised so many waterfronts across the United States and internationally…
It was the moms that shut it down.

It wasn’t the professional urbanists.

It was the citizens… that shut it down.

That was the catalyst that took us to where land use and transport planning was done together.
(This slide portrays the "war" that previously went on in Vancouver between the traffic engineers and the land use planners....  recognise Auckland here...?)
The 1997 Plan changed everything for Vancouver. It said that we were not going to build any new road capacity for cars in Vancouver. None.

And actually we are going to be taking capacity away because we are going to be widening sidewalks for walking, creating cycle lanes and buslanes.
And the second thing we did was we were not going to perpetuate the myth then you can balance modes. Because that’s just saying: ‘business as usual’.

We don’t balance modes, we prioritise: walking, then cycling, then transit, then freight, then the private motorcar…

...you can justify just about any car related transport investment you like under the rubric: ‘balancing modes’. That’s why we don’t do it…
The counter-intuitive thing that happens when you do that is that it gets better for every mode for getting around town.

 The worst thing you can do for drivers is build more roads. There’s not a city in the world that has made driving better by building more roads. Every traffic expert in the world should know that yet many of them are still recommending building more roads.

We have the proof in Vancouver of this. These are the stats since 1997. Lower congestion. Lower commuting times. Lower vehicle kilometres travelled. We are the only city in North America that has reduced those things. And we’ve done it by taking away roads.

And this is where the trips have gone in our multi-modal city. It’s not magic.
The best transport plan is a GREAT LAND USE PLAN. If you get your mix of uses right, your densities right, then the transport problem is much easier to solve. Our traffic engineers say that all the time.

However in other parts of North America it’s the transport tail that wags the land use dog. We have transportation models that are used to bring down density and separate uses. It’s crazy. Done well density brings the power of nearness – everything is close
Walking infrastructure is at vertical and horizontal levels. It’s the street wall the city at eye level the buildings at eye level that have more impact on the walking experience for pedestrians.

But here (in Auckland) I discover you design a lot of eye candy for cars, but less eye candy for walkers is my experience walking around your city for the last four days. You have beautiful landscaping for cars, which tells me you care a lot about cars and their drivers. But walking around the city I see very little evidence that you care about walking.
 
Cycling is our second choice, and round here I see very little evidence that you care about urban cycling at this point, but I understand you have aspirations and you are moving in the right direction. That’s good to hear. But right now there’s no evidence that I’ve seen that you are a biking friendly city. (applause).
There’s absolutely no way you’ll increase your cycling mode share without separated bike lanes.

Paint will not do it.

You need to physically protect your cyclists from automobiles. Low traffic volume streets are the ones where you put separated cycle lanes. We are tied with Portland with the highest proportion of trips made by bike at 4.5%. We are on track to double it and triple it because we are being very aggressive with our program of urban cycling infrastructure. Kilometre for kilometre cycle lanes are the cheapest transport infrastructure.

The Mayor of Vienna said, “we are building cycle lanes because we can’t afford Metro…”

If you want a 50/50 gender split using your cycle infrastructure – like they do in Europe – then you have to make it safe. (Men are stupid and will still bike even when it's not safe.)

If you think it’s easy building cycle infrastructure in Vancouver look at this survey:

"best use of tax payers money that year: bike lanes",
"worst use of taxpayers money that year: bike lanes".

It is highly polarising but we’re going ahead with it in our city because our politicians know that it’s the right thing to do....
We don’t use the term “Transit Oriented Development” anymore. Because we’re next generation now.

We don’t think of them as transit corridors. We think of them as mixed use or mobility corridors.

Linear urban communities. We look at them from a walk, bike – and then transit – perspective. We’d rather you not have to get on transit.

We’d rather you were able to walk to the grocery store.
Cars take up a lot space.

No matter how green a car is, or what comes out of its tail pipe, fundamentally cars are a space challenge. You can’t solve this by building a greener car. We can design cities where the car is present – but isn’t necessary.

True freedom is not about designing cities for cars (North American mythology for many many years) – it’s designing in mobility choice…..
(Brent spoke at length about the experience of hosting the Olympics, how the city coped with the crowds, and how the city’s streets were used…) All of the streets that we closed during the games - we began to think of them as public realm. As places, not just spaces to move pedestrians and vehicles through, but places just to be in. We were not particularly good at thinking of streets as public places. Our new Viva Vancouver plan is about rethinking the use of streets as real activity places – not just for moving pedestrians and cars.
You guys are good at this and this is what proved it. (See slide of Te Whero on Auckland's waterfront) Brilliant. Paint and BIG TEXT. And you differentiated a parking lot into a public space. So you guys do understand this, at least you do on the waterfront, but based on what I’ve seen I’m not sure you understand it across the rest of the city, but you do on the waterfront…
The second principle in implementing Completeness and Density Done Well. Important that a consistently high standard of design is maintained.

Particularly public places and parks.

And it starts from the waterfront. The principle is that the whole waterfront should be accessible.
Designing for height is about designing what happens at street level.

This is about the podium structure that supports tall buildings. It’s the podium that fronts the street.

It’s the podiums that define the street rather than the tall buildings above which are largely set back from the street.
The third principle in implementing Completeness and Density Done...

Well. I understand that you guys might be undermining your previous successes in terms of providing amenities, I understand that under this Unitary Plan this might be under threat. It is one of the bedrocks of our system of city-making, liveable city-making. Density bonussing systems, value capture – which you folks looked at and rejected – I think you should look at it again....
...because all of this is critical to providing the amenities, the day care facilities, and parks, and civic spaces, and heritage preservation and protection, and rental and social housing for social diversity… 

And all of it through density, and by the way it changes the public’s perception of density because they know they are getting amenities as densities increase. It changes the political discussion.
So how did we do it? In 2006 for two years we put it on the front page. It was about what density is, and what it does. I worry that your Unitary Plan had that opportunity and didn’t go far enough. Because if you haven’t had this discussion at a macro scale about densification, if you’re only having this conversation on a project by project basis, you’re pulling off the band aid really slowly and painfully, you’re not getting to that level of sophistication about what density really means. 


This event was filmed and a copy of Brent’s presentation can be located in the AUCKLAND CONVERSATIONS Media Vault  along with resources from past events.

5 comments:

Millie Liang said...

Thank you for sharing

Paul Simmonds said...

Joel,
Thanks for this detail - it's impressive that 650-plus people attended and I am sorry that I was unaware of the event.
What Brent didn't comment upon, strangely, was the 'contextual setting' in which a city is located - not applicable to all cities but in the case of Vancouver it has been 'shore-to-mountains' and in Auckland, the 'shore-to-volcanic cones' - and the community agreement to protect these 'vision zones' from intrusion by development (width/height) by establishing 'sight lines'. In Auckland, we seem to have done that well but as Brent states, the street setting is something that we aren't doing well in terms of densification/visual relief - and in my own community, Bayswater has rejected density because there's been no discussion (and hence, understanding and approval)on how this 'could' look, how this 'could' work. As a result, we are not actually re-orienting our communities around activity focus; the concept of density trade-off has helped Vancouver to secure developer-funded amenities that stimulate neighbourhood engagement at a local pedestrian/cycle level.
Sadly, the role of a planner - and associated controversy - is not without peril and in Vancouver, Brent joins a succession of battlers: http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/british-columbia/vancouver-planning-chief-toderian-given-the-axe/article554571/

Paul Simmonds said...

7 November 2013 headlines:
"Vancouver edges out Los Angeles for worst traffic congestion in North America: index"

Read more: http://www.vancouversun.com/Vancouver+edges+Angeles+worst+traffic+congestion+North+America+index/9132912/story.html#ixzz2k0gVeuJE

Anonymous said...

Dear Joel,
This is a great digest for those of us who could not attend - thanks a lot.
But which bit of all this is NEW?
I agree pretty much with all Toderian's comments, but again - which part is the part we did not know?
It amazes me how in Akl, as soon as an UD consultant flies in from Melb, Vanc or London, walks around the city (that is - the CBD and the waterfront, NOT the actual city - our 50 km-long suburbs) for 'four days' and immediately he knows what's right and what's wrong.
Wow.
There is nothing in BT's talk (well, your account of it) that any of us local mortals have not said before at some occasion.
We should grow up and have more confidence in the possibility of an 'Auckland Urbanism', and stop piously listening to all these traveling gurus.
Thanks anyway;
--Dushko

Joel Cayford said...

Regarding Dushko's comment... He asks the question: "which part did we not know...?".

Well. Dushko may have known it, and I may have known it, but knowing something (feeling it and and intuitively being aware of it) is different from articulating it so that others might understand.

We have a situation in Auckland where - despite the disastrous truth of our car centered planning orientation - we generally persist with it.

Many Auckland people want a bigger change in the direction of our land use and transport planning. Bringing outsiders in to shine lights into dark corners is one instrument of change. But for some it is all a matter of opinion.

We are all aware of how strong the "build more roads and the economy will grow and we all be richer" lobby is. It takes time to demonstrate that this statement is a matter of opinion. Evidence is accumulating.