Waka Kotahi Transport Agency are pumping out heaps of good research at the moment. Here’s a quick rundown of four of the recently released ones I’ve seen.
Safety Interventions and their Contribution to Mode Shift (https://www.nzta.govt.nz/resources/research/reports/701/)
This one looked at a number of case studies for streets that were made safer for people walking, cycling and using public transport, looking specifically at how many people started travelling differently once they were given the option. Summary below.
The Christchurch cyclways featured heavily, with big growth in numbers of people biking after they were built. The Rapanui-Shag Rock cycleway (below) was the pick of the bunch with a whopping 489% increase in cyclists after the cycleway was built (albeit from a low base).
Other case studies included 30km/h speed limits (26-37% increase in walking, 6-12% increase in cycling), school streets (inconclusive results), and a contra-flow cycleway in Auckland (82% increase in cycling, 100% increase in pedestrians).
Alcohol Related Crash Trends (https://www.nzta.govt.nz/resources/research/reports/694/)
This report was a bit weird. It included the graphs below, which appear to show that the number of people being killed and injured by drunk or drugged drivers had been tracking downwards through the ’90s, but then flattening off and even starting going up again. Needless to say this upward shift was a concern. After digging thoroughly into the data, they concluded it was actually just caused by mistakes in the reporting post 2016 and it’s not actually going up at all. Some deaths had been mistakenly recorded as drunk drivers when they weren’t, and the true number of people being killed by drunk drivers every year is probably closer to 100 than the 150 that the chart shows. Which is better, although still seems like about a hundred too many to me…
Incorporating Distributional Impacts (Equity) in the Cost Benefit Appraisal Framework (https://www.nzta.govt.nz/resources/research/reports/700/)
Transport projects in New Zealand always have cost-benefit analysis done for them. This means the total costs of the project over its lifetime are estimated and the total benefits to society over its lifetime are estimated. The idea is that if the total benefits outweigh the total costs then it’s probably a good idea, if not then probably not.
One gap with this type of analysis is that it doesn’t consider *who* the costs and benefits accrue to. For example one project might provide a whole lot of benefits but they all accrue to one single landowner, whereas another project might have the same total benefit but it’s spread across lots of different people. Or one project might benefit mostly rich people whereas another project benefits mostly poor people. This is called “distributional impacts” or “equity” and is obviously something that should be considered when deciding what projects to do. The report itself is pretty dry but it outlines different ways to do this, which I think is a good thing.
Integrated Land Use and Transport Planning (https://www.nzta.govt.nz/resources/research/reports/702/)
Last but not least. This one did a literature review, policy stocktake and a whole pile of interviews with industry, to figure out the state of play with integrating land use and travel planning. My paraphrase of the findings is that, at a high level, things are a bit of a mess at the moment. It includes some classic kiwi understatements:
There is a risk that government agencies are working in an uncoordinated way that undermines land use and transport planning.
The direction under the LGA, the LTMA, and the RMA is sometimes not aligned.
Political and consultation processes can hinder projects that would support the integration of land use planning and transport planning
There is strong status quo bias, both built into legislation and planning processes, and in the approaches taken by the people actioning them. This has a tendency to override strategic direction and best practice.
…limited level of understanding of land use and transport issues and interventions among elected members.
Not the greatest report card in the world.
But on a positive note most interviewees thought we are at least heading in the right direction with recent changes and are slowly getting better at integrating land use and transport planning.