I've updated my unofficial combined timetable as a result:
The ferry fare wars continue! Explore has put on it's new D6 Ferry and now has basically hourly services, and Fullers has put on a new 6:00pm from town (6:45pm from Waiheke).
I've updated my unofficial combined timetable as a result:
December is here and so are the summer tourists. Every summer for the last few years the number of people touring around our island on bicycles has grown and grown. And more and more locals and commuters are choosing to use this healthy and sustainable transport method to get around! The emergence of a local E-bike producer on the scene, selling and hiring bikes has had a big impact on the number of bikes around too and we can expect that number to keep growing.
So it was sad to hear yesterday that a cyclist was injured yesterday, whilst riding along one of the islands shared walking/cycle paths, by a car reversing out of a driveway without looking.
Waiheke has a small fragmented assortment of cycle infrastructure, (I wouldn't yet go so far as to call it a network) and sometimes it frustrates motorists to see cyclist such as myself on the road when there is a cycle path right there. A lot of discussion was had on the issue on facebook yesterday, and so I thought I'd share some of the thoughts I have on the existing infrastructure on the island and what could be done to ensure anyone from 8 to 80 years old can feel safe on two wheels.
The first bit to discuss is Causeway road. A few years ago the land of the causeway was repaired and the road widened and a shared cycle walking path was put on. It is on the north side of the road there, with nothing on the south side. Pedestrians and cyclists travelling in both directions are expected to use this path, but many do not.
Many cyclists when riding ferry-bound, right to left in this picture, choose to ride on the road rather than on this path fora number of reasons.
1) It just suddenly stops
then you are forced to cross the road at a blind spot to traffic.
Between a rock and a hard place here. Either move onto the footpath, in the wrong direction, and endanger pedestrians, or try and cross that road there! That's why many cyclists choose to ride on the road on the other side the whole way.
2) The high number of driveways
at the northern end, and the people who drive out of their driveways watching the road but not the path
3) People just parking in it.
I Keep trying to bring this to Auckland Transport's attention, but I've never seen anything done about it, and people appear to just keep treating it as private land to park their cars on.
4) The surface is loose gravel
One the actual causeway section, the surface is loose metal. far inferior to the road surface. For a cyclist travelling at speed, it is better to be on the road than risk losing traction on loose rocks.
And even if you do use the other side of the road, the cycle path just weirdly ends out the front of goldie.
just stops and squeezes you right into the path of traffic. hmm.
There are cycle paths on this road, but they are not physically separated from traffic, so as expected, cars frequently drive into the cycle path.
Does this look like a safe place to cycle to you?
What's needed on the Onetangi road cycle lanes is Physical Separation, like these 'Armadillos' in use in other parts of the world. Painting the lane Green throughout would be a good sign too.
These could be retrofitted onto the Onetangi Straight very easily and cheaply.
Surfdale is a little scary too. There is a partial cycle lane between the high school and the Surfdale shops are, but that too just ends, and then you hit the area where cars are likely to reverse out into traffic.
The following is from a fellow biker, who recalls their time just starting out riding on Waiheke, and their feelings about the Surfdale Shops area:
Cyclists shouldn't be forced to make such life or death decisions just because they have chosen to get around not surrounded by a ton of steel and a small fossil fuel explosions machine.
I've thought about Surfdale and I think this solution would work best there:
The cycle path here is between the parked cars and the pedestrian path, and the only sacrifice would be a little bit of road width on Miami avenue, which is more than wide enough for this layout. And with the sacrifice of the five parking spots on the other side of the road, a fully separated (with armadillos) cycle path could be made through the Surfdale shops area.
In fact, it's my view that the roads and road reserve are wide enough all the way from the Matiatia ferry terminal to Onetangi to enable the construction of a separated Waiheke Cycle Spine.
The Waiheke Cycleway Spine
I believe the road and the road reserve is wide enough that we could aim to progressively roll out separated cycle paths on both sides of the road the whole way along this length.
To provide a safe and separated cycle option for all Waihekeans and visitors, 8 to 80 years old.
I believe it can be paid for and implemented as part of the 'maintenance' of island roads through the current contractors, and I know it is what people want, as every time the community has been asked what it wants in the way of transport, safer facilities for cycling always comes out on top.
Today marks the first workday of the month where we have two ferry companies on Waiheke competing for the regular commuter business. I wish explore well, because I believe good competition will serve us well.
I took the two companies most recent timetables and combined them into a single document. The picture below you can right click on and save, as well as a little one that can fold and fit in your wallet, and a bigger one for the fridge or noticeboard.
The blue shaded ones are Fullers services, the yellow Explores, and remember when coming from Auckland that Fullers depart from pier 2, and Explore from Pier 3.
Version with Sealink included
Sealink now runs a small fast boat between Matiatia and Auckland on Weekends. This version icludes those services, shaded grey to match their zippy little alluminium boat. I believe bookings are pretty important for those boats.
One of the things that has been bugging me lately is the persistence of the view that a List MP is somehow less valid than an electorate MP.
A hangover from the First Past the Post /Plurality past, or perhaps as result of MMP being a hybrid system (The First 'M' stands for 'mixed'), I'd like to clear up this misunderstanding and celebrate the wonder of democracy that List MP's are.
Firstly, in the House of Parliament, List MP's and electorate MP's are equal. They have equal votes on bills and equal access to committees. The only difference between a List MP and an electorate MP is how they are elected, and how they are replaced in the event of resignation.
An electorate MP gains their status by getting more votes than any other candidate in a defined geographic area we call an electorate. If they leave parliament then the people of that area get to vote again for their replacement.
Why are List MP's so Awesome?
List MP's are awesome because they are what makes your vote count. What do I mean by that? It means that a party with popular support all around the nation, but without a heavy concentration in one geographical are a can be represented. My example is of course the Greens.
More than 1 in 10 voters Party Voted Green, but the Greens won zero electorates. It is because of MMP that there are any Green MP's at all, and 10.7% of votes would have been wasted if it weren't for MMP.
The same goes for New Zealand first, and in the past any parties that have attracted enough support to enter parliament through their list.
It is because of the Party vote, and the List MP's that your vote is so valuable, and that our NZ Parliament more closely represents the voting intentions of the public.
compare this: In the Australian state of Victoria in 2010, the Green Party received 11.2% of the vote. But because that was statewide and not concentrated in any one geographical area (electorate), that party received Zero seats in the parliament. More people didn't vote for the party that formed government than did. NZ's MMP protects us from 11.2% of voters choices being ignored, and delivers us a more representative and fair Parliament.
Our List MP's therefore, represent the most democratic aspect of our system, and I think they should be celebrated for that.
A final note: during the recent election campaign I was often asked questions about the electorate vote. I was the campaign manager for the Greens on the island and we campaigned hard for the Party Vote only. When people asked me about what to do with the candidate vote I usually responded that I don't care. It really didn't matter here in Auckland Central. Some people were taken aback by that response, but I stand by it, and this is why:
I quite like Jacinda Ardern MP, and Nikki Kaye has a good support base too, but it didn't matter what people do with their candidate vote because of how MMP works. the total number of MP's a party gets is set hard and fast by the Party Vote results.
The New Zealand Labour Party won 26% of the vote. This got them 26% of the seats, or 32 seats. If Jacinda Ardern had won Auckland Central instead of Nikki Kaye, Labour would have exactly the same. 32 seats. No difference.
So even though Denise Roche Green candidate for Auckland Central won more votes than the difference between Nikki and Jacinda, the number of MPs from each party in the house remains the same, and once you accept that all MPs are the same in the house it doesn't matter than Nikki Kaye is the MP for Auckland Central and Jacinda Ardern is a Labour List MP based in Auckland Central.
People choosing to candidate vote Denise instead of Jacinda may have cost Jacinda the Auckland Central electorate seat, but they did not cost Labour a seat in Parliament, and they did not contribute to National's majority by doing so.
Party Vote on, wonderful people of New Zealand. #LoveNZ and #LoveMMP
So the time has come to say goodbye to my 50cc Yamaha Jog moped.
Now I am free to upgrade to the e-bike I've wanted for sometime now.
No sooner had I put these adverts up than I needed to take them down, the sale was instant!
The trusty scooter served me well and will be much loved and appreciated in its new home, but I am happy to move now from a $12 per week fuel bill to a $0 one
My plan was to go now and buy a Volto, the same as the one I trialled weeks ago, but after speaking to Chris at the new e-bike shop in Oneroa
I am now more interested I'm exploring other options, and supporting a local business who have worked on creating a product specific to the needs of Waiheke conditions.
the guys from Onya Bikes, Ecycles Oneroa will be at the Eco fest show at Te huruhi hall this sunday, 10 til 4. Go check them out!
Fellow e-bike riders of Waiheke: what do you recommend? How have the different brands and models of e-bike served you for range power and reliability?
Which one should I get?
one thing is for sure though: an e-bike is totally for me.
as soon as I get back from my short break next week I'm going to be investigating getting one for myself.
the benefit it has done for my mood, light exercise, probably my health, and getting g where I'm going faster than the bus, and cheaper than a scooter, I'm sold on it.
I can't wait!
Well, the three weeks is up and sadly I have had to give the e-bike back, so I'm back to the trusty old 50cc moped.
And where to from here?
Polling and opinion pieces show the Green Party of Aotearoa New Zealand is on track to reach its goal of 15% of the Party Vote this September 20, and earlier today I got to thinking about what the broader cultural/societal reasons for the growth in Green party support are.
I've previously said that I personally don't believe that the Greens fit into the traditional left/right divide [link] and I think that we need to look beyond that paradigm to see where the growth has come from, and where future growth could lie.
In their first solo foray into NZ electoral politics in 1999, the Greens got 5.16% of the Party Vote and 7 seats. In 2002, 7% and 9 seats, and then last time in 2011, 11.06% and 14 seats.
The NZ Greens are polling at an increasing rate this year, currently around 13.5%, and trending upwards!
Globally too Green political parties and movements are on the ascendancy. Support for UK Green Parties is growing as people become dissafected by the Liberal Democrats as an alternative to Labour and Conservative, European Greens remain the third largest bloc in the EU after the last election there.
Critics of the Greens state or imply that growing Green support is an indicator of gentrification. They point to Greens' growth urban areas, and try to position themselves as representing “the Real” NZ (or Australia) against these inner city 'latte drinking types'.
Green seats can be won from both the reds and the blues. Here's two examples from Australia: the example of Balmain in NSW was a Green/Blue competition, and the Federal seat of Melbourne was Labor for 100 years before being won by the Greens' Adam Bandt.
Whilst opponents of the Greens will continue to try and paint them as white middle class idealists, it's just simply not true. Green ideas are catching on are being supported by more and more sectors of society.
Unions, Farmers, Maori, Business, Grandparents, all are seeing the sense of Green Politics; that everything is connected and that we need to look after the planet and people to truly prosper.
In fact, it's becoming harder and harder to identify a 'typical' Green Party supporter these days, as the types of people supporting Green values vary so much!
So where to from here?
The Greens don't intend to stay the third biggest party in the Parliament, and to form Government in the future, the vote must continue to grow.
The Greens will attract National voters who are disgusted with the “attack dog” style of Collins & Slater. The Greens will attract voters desperate for the country to address Climate Change & find smarter solutions than the old raw-products-based “pollution economy”.
The Greens will grow support in the rural sector. Many farmers knowing that the direction of further dairy intensification will cause costs that affect us all, and many want the opportunity to add value rather than be forced by the market to join the game of trying to extract more and more volume of raw product from the land.
The Greens strong social policies will attract traditional Labour supporters. Greens reject the neo-liberal dogma of competition in all things, & have an unwavering support for fair living wages & proper balanced industrial relations.
Many young people are switched off from politics. They see nastiness, pettiness & a dialogue that doesn’t address their needs & concerns. Greens speak to them on education, equity and vision for the future of the economy and the environment.
Older voters understand the need for Green solutions too, and want the best for the future. Candidates tell me that when they visit retirement homes, the questions they are asked are all about policies to help children.
Green Parties gloablly face a challenge. They are regularly typified as being out of touch idealists.
What the Greens really are is the political arm of a movement that is addressing the issues that matter, climate change, inequality and environmental destruction, and doing so with fairness and democracy.
This is a global and a local message that speaks to the challenges of the 21st century. And that's why Green support is growing, and will continue to grow into the future.
Today I attended the 2014 Auckland Region Environment Hui hosted by Auckland Council’s Environmental Services Unit, in my capacity as a Committee Member of the Hauraki Islands Forest and Bird Branch.
The purpose of the event was to update the various environment groups on progress made since the inaugural hui in 2013, to provide an opportunity for community and iwi groups to get to know the Environmental Services Unit (and vice versa) and to provide an opportunity for us all to share information and network.
Mauri: 1. (noun) life principle, vital essence, special nature, a material symbol of a life principle, source of emotions - the essential quality and vitality of a being or entity. Also used for a physical object, individual, ecosystem or social group in which this essence is located.
There were over 58 groups represented from all over the Auckland region.
Mayor Len Brown opened the morning, talking about coming waste minimisation programs, cleaning up the streams and rivers in the region, Kauri dieback, and even the reintroduction of Kiwi!
Auckland is at a crossroads. All our biodiversity measures are in decline. And we are set for an increase in population. People are moving here from other parts of the country for the opportunities of the city, and people are having families. We need to get things right to make sure one of the things which makes our region livable, the environment, is looked after! Without the environment, we can't live at all!
Various speakers from the ESU spoke about their roles, their projects, and how they work with community. We were told about council initiatives to 'daylight' streams. It would be nice to see our Waiheke streams clear again.
We also heard from guest speakers Sam Judd from co founder and CEO of Sustainable Coastlines. They are the group that runs the 'Love your coast' events, as well as education campaigns and have now recently set up a network in Papua New Guinea
There was a great "love your coast" event on Waiheke in march this year, I wrote about it here:
Tumanako Fau'ui spoke on the Mauri model of Economic, Cultural, Social and Environmental Sustainability.
Maryanne Rapata from the Makaurau Marae near Mangere told us the story of the time that a worker in the nearby industrial area hosed 900 litres of dye down the drain and killed 100% of life in their river. She told us of how that felt and what has happened since, and the troubles they have had with dealing with all the different faces of Auckland Council.
After the break we had breakout sessions with different people from different departments hosting conversations at tables. I chatted with Jane from Biosecurity about Kauri Dieback and initiatives to educate visitors to Waiheke about how to protect the island.
It is the environment that brings people to Waiheke, and we need to consider and care for the Mauri of the island and any development on it, to make sure we generate outcomes that are good
I'm proud to be a voice for nature, and proud to serve as a Committee Member for the Forest and Brid Protection Society, Hauraki Islands Branch.
I want to take the plunge.
I want to sell my scooter and operate from an electric bike only.
I almost did, till it was suggested to me that I try out using just an electric bike for a couple of weeks and see how it integrates into my life.
I am lucky enough to have a very good and trusting friend who has gone away on an overseas holiday for 3 weeks lend me his bike so I could try it out for an extended period.
The scooter is locked in the garage for the duration.
A scooter is a lot cheaper than a car to run and service. An electric bicycle is even cheaper, requires no petrol, and can be taken on the ferry!
Cycling numbers are growing in the Auckland region.
11% increase in cycling in June 2014 over June 2013 according to the latest figures
And there's great new infrastructure being built all the time:
New cycleways are coming for The Wynyard Quarter.
Including protected ones! That means physical separation from cars and trucks.
The Grafton Gully Cycleway is on track to be completed on time.
This will link the very popular north western cycleway into town, and connecting with the new Beach rd cycleway in town, which will massively increase the safety of urban cycling and hopefully lead to a reduction in tragic cyclist deaths and see more people confident to try an active transport alternative!
It's all very exciting stuff. Safer infrastructure means more people will cycle, and more people cycling is the ultimate safety measure.
If the Greens get into government after the September 20 General election, they will radically change the priorities of transport spending in this country, best summed up by this graph:
Which includes a 300% increase in spending on walking and cycling infrastructure! Imagine what that will look like!
Think about the benefits of reduced traffic congestion as more people choose to ride to and from work knowing they can safely. Think of the benefits to the air quality of Auckland as there are fewer cars on the road, think of the general health benefits of a population more active in their daily life!
On Waiheke, having an e-bike means I can get the benefit of exercise and a non fossil fuel transport system, and have a little bit of help on the hills. I still have to pedal, and I still get some exercise, but it takes the edge off those big hills.
There are challenges, I have to carry around wet weather gear in case it rains, not a problem in a car, and I would have some difficulty carrying large items, but I am looking at building a trailer to help me with this.
I know this choice isn't for everyone, I know there are cars and utes available for me to borrow when I really do need them, but I think encouraging and making it easier for people to make the choice to be car free helps us all.
I'm certainly not the first to consider doing this, so if you have taken the plunge,
And if you're thinking about it, what's holding you back?
I knew from the feeling I got when I first rode an electric bike that I wanted one. Seeing the costs come down and the improvements to cycleways around the place has made me want it even more.
I'm really hoping that this 3 week experiment works out and it is something that I can change in my life.
Earlier in the year Denise Roche hosted a public meeting in Auckland about making Auckland plastic bag free.
"Let's Make Auckland Plastic Bag Free" meeting in Grey Lynn, 6th May 2014.
Marine biologist Steph Borelle (centre, between Denise and me) started a petition calling on the Mayor Len Brown to ban plastic bags in Auckland.
Mayor Len Brown: Ban Plastic Bags in Auckland
That petition has now reached 3339 signatures. Steph will be delivering the petition to The Mayor at council chambers in Henderson tomorrow, 9:30, 6 Henderson Valley rd.
Waiheke has been leading on this issue.
BYO Bags Waiheke has been active for many years on the island making bags and liaising with shop keepers who become 'local heroes' for offering alternatives.
Due to the huge public response from all around Auckland, and Waiheke's history on the issue, a meeting on Waiheke was organised.
Held at MORRA Hall, local film maker and performance artist Larissa Wallin gave a heartfelt expression of her journey of discovery of the harm caused by plastic bags.
Next Jennifer Fountain from BYO bags spoke on the history of the campaign on the island and the work BYO bags continues to do,
John Stansfield presented a video about a fascinating technology for turning waste into robust products.
Then Denise outlined the current political and industry situation on the issue of single use plastic bags, including the National Government in Wellington's refusal to declare plastic bags a 'priority product' under the waste act, and the need for regulatory change to further industry away from single use plastic bags.
From the vigorous discussion various working groups were formed, and one of the things that came out of the discussion was submitting to the local board plan.
If you submit to the local board plan, let them know that you:
would like the Local Board to take action, including regulation, to reduce waste on Waiheke, particularly single-use disposable plastics like plastic shopping bags.
To make it even easier, one of the working groups from the meeting produced creative postcards, which when delivered to Auckland Council form official feedback for the plan.
They can be collected from the Waiheke Greens stall, and other stalls at the Ostend Market on Saturday.
In whatever form, get your submissions in!
The Time to Make Waiheke Single Use Plastic Bag Free is NOW!