2019, 2020 and Beyond!

Everyone seems to be penning their reviews of 2019 and their hopes for 2020 at the moment. Brendon Harre went even further and tried to look ahead to 2030. I thought I’d chuck my 2 cents in as well.

Three big highlights from 2019 were:

  • Government passing the Zero Carbon Bill with cross-party support. I think James Shaw is a genius for managing to achieve this unlikely feat. He tends to take a back-seat to Jacinda Ardern in the media accolades but I think he deserves more recognition. Putting in the hard-yards to make sure it passed with near-unanimous support, including that of the National Party who, a year ago, were saying that they wouldn’t sign this act, is an impressive feat of negotiation and diplomacy. Lots of Generation Zero volunteers deserve credit here too. It’s nice to see a politician take a long-term view for once.
  • Phil Twyford doing all the behind the scenes work to fix some of the systemic failures in our housing and infrastructure framework. Similarly to the Zero-Carbon Bill, a lot of the work he’s doing has been publicly supported by National as well so will endure regardless of what happens in future elections. Phil copped a lot of flak in the media for his failures with Kiwibuild and Auckland Light Rail – I think he deserves credit for the less visible but definitely more important work he is quietly smashing out in the background.
  • Government approving a comprehensive study into the future of public transport in Christchurch. Christchurch has always had a myriad of possible ideas floating around but has struggled to settle on one common vision for where we all want to get to with our city. A lot of our CHAT Club work was an attempt to build some consensus on where we should be heading. This study will build that further.

Things I’m looking forward to in 2020:

  • Seeing the Zero Carbon Bill enacted and begin changing the way we do things.
  • Consensus-building on our collective vision for future of public transport in Christchurch.
  • Hopefully more cycleways in Christchurch.
  • Hopefully more lower speed limits in Christchurch.
  • Hopefully some improvements to our bus services.
  • More vacant sites being developed throughout the city, particularly the central city. Ones on track to open in 2020 include Te Pae conference centre, Two office buildings fronting Cathedral Square, the Hagley Building at Christchurch Hospital, a boutique hotel on Manchester Street and the Public Trust building restoration. (this article has a good list)
Cycleways are great but we also need to make the other 95% of streets in Christchurch safe for our kids to bike to school on. One obvious way is by having sub-fatal speed limits (30km/h).

My vision for 2030 Christchurch:

  • Wholesale structural changes to the way we fund and operate transport and other infrastructure in New Zealand. No more unbalancing subsidies that distort the entire transport and land use markets, subsidising roads and sprawl. For example, I’d like to see congestion charging implemented, car parking paid for by the people using it rather than general rates, roads paid for by the people using them rather than general rates, heavy carbon pricing for the fossil-fuel vehicles still lingering,  people who choose to use low-impact modes (walking, cycling) being rewarded appropriately, removal of the current bans on some of the most sensible financing options for big transport projects and transit-oriented development (e.g. value-capture, bonds, tolling, congestion charging).
  • I think if these structural changes happen, they will naturally lead to:
    • Far more people walking and cycling than before. This in turn will lead to public pressure for streets that are nicer to walk and cycle on – better footpaths, cycleways, lower speed limits and generally more priority.

      The public will be less accepting of people on foot constantly taking a backseat to people driving their cars.
    • More people wanting to use public transport than before. This will lead to public pressure for better bus services – more buses going to more places more of the time, and faster, easier and more comfortably. We will also be well advanced in developing modes of travel capable of carrying higher volumes of people very quickly; mass rapid transit. We will have collective agreement on a long-term plan for a mass rapid transit network and will have implemented some parts of it.
    • With fewer people wanting to drive (because the removal of subsidies will make driving so much more expensive), more people will be interested in living closer to their workplaces, schools, universities, friends, families etc, and within an easy walk of good public transport. This means more people keen for a denser city – I’m hoping we’ll see a lot more density-done-well. Also mixed-use developments, higher density employment, more walkable neighbourhoods, less restrictive zoning, and removing of rules that kill density like minimum parking requirements and compulsory back-yards.
In 2030 there will be more families getting around on e-bikes like this. And our streets will be safe to do this on. That bus will be zero-emissions and full. And the demolition site behind them will have been rebuilt as a successful retail development thriving on the large walk-up population living in the high density housing clustered around it.

This is very optimistic and probably unlikely to all happen in 10 years. But that’s what a vision is meant to be right? This is what I’ll be hoping and pushing for anyway.

Thanks for reading and all the best for your 2020. Feel free to share your thoughts on 2019, 2020 and beyond in the comments below.

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