Thanks Greg. I was actually quite disappointed with the messaging in that email. Particularly the request to 'let AT know that you DO NOT support this proposal on the basis that it provides less carparks, is too narrow for buses and is NOT a safe solution for our community.' In my view they could have encouraged members to SUPPORT the proposed changes, subject to addressing the off-road parking issue. It seems to me that the proposed changes are 99% awesome (without doubt some of AT's best work - I think I'm as 'stupidly excited' as you are), so it's a bit of a shame for WSAFC to be seemingly throwing the baby out with the bath water. Given that it's a huge club, I'm concerned that this will prompt lots of people to simply oppose the proposal, rather than supporting the overall approach - but making sure that important issues (e.g. parking) are addressed. I'd hate to see what promises to be a game-changing transport project watered down on the basis of public opposition - particularly when the source of that opposition could be relatively easily fixed without compromising on the fundamental aspects of the design.
So sorry to hear about your accident, James. (Actually not an accident - it's exactly the sort of outcome that intersection is designed to produce.)
Your experience just highlights how hostile that area is to anyone who's not in a motor vehicle. And, unfortunately, the planned 'improvements' do nothing to make things less hostile. Which is why it's incredibly disingenuous of Auckland Transport to claim that the trees need to go in order to make way for cycle lanes and public transport infrastructure. If they had designed that intersection with active and public transport in mind, the plans would look very different.
Anyway, James, wishing you a speedy recovery and hoping that your experience helps to encourage a rethink/redesign - so that we can all get through there safely, irrespective of how we're travelling.
Thanks for your comments, Ian. That was part of my motivation for writing this piece - trying to understand what it was that had got people (myself included) so invested in the fate of six trees. They are magnificent, but it's not like their removal poses an existential threat.
Having said that, at one level the campaign to save the 'Pōhutukawa 6' could be seen as a tiny battle in the much larger war against political ideologies that create problems like climate change. So perhaps there is a bit of 'think global, act local' going on. Problems like climate change are big and complex and scary. Saving these trees, on the other hand, is much easier to get your head around and - as George says - seems like a winnable fight.
I guess the question this raises is how that level of passion and citizenship can be translated into action on those 'big issues'.
Yes, I'm certainly not trying to downplay the traffic problems that exist at that intersection, even now, but simply building more traffic lanes is unlikely to solve those problems. Widening roads usually just encourages more people to use them, so you end up with similar levels of congestion - but even more cars on the road. Discouraging private motor vehicle use (e.g. through congestion charging) and/or offering alternatives to driving (e.g. by improving active and public transport infrastructure) will almost certainly be better solutions.
Patrick, thanks for your response. I generally agree, although I firmly believe that insane values extend well beyond our transport institutions and affect every area of public policy. The directions we're heading in as a country - increasing social inequality, privatisation of assets, promotion of fossil fuel exploration, etc - are symptomatic of this corruption of values. Those 'privileged elites' have been very successful at influencing public debate to serve their own interests.