the huge subsidy to driving

The EU has calculated its subsidy to driving is €500 billion per year.

Also, even at the current low rates of walking and cycling due to unpleasant traffic environments:

“Due to positive health effects, cycling is an external benefit worth €24 billion per year and walking €66 billion per year.”

In NZ, the subsidy to driving per capita will be significantly higher than it is in Europe due to our sprawl and high car dependency.

This information could be useful when you are face-to-face with regressive car dependent people complaining about spending money on cycleways or arguing against the changes to our systems that would boost cycling numbers, such as 30 km/hr speeds. Cycleways give us a return on investment. Roads are what cost too much.

Sewage Contamination in the Sea

Recently Sandi and Heidi had a meeting with a member of the Central City Residents’ Group in order to discuss the Stop Auckland’s Sewage Overflows Coalition (SASOC). As Transition Town Pt Chevalier has members keen to try to stop sewage going into the sea, we thought it was good to learn more about this campaign. There was also some other common ground, which could lead to possibly supporting each other.

  1. SASOC. It’d be good to be able to put Transition Town Pt Chev’s name to support this cause, but I want to understand fully the cost and technical differences between separating sewage and stormwater, vs building the new interceptor. To this end, I’ve been given a contact name at Watercare and will communicate with them. Hopefully I’ll be able to satisfy myself that the central interceptor is at least as sound a concept as separating the stormwater from the sewerage, in which case I will recommend to TTPC that we support the SASOC campaign. One of the major issues is that the quality of stormwater entering our harbours in the separated systems is highly toxic, due to road runoff, and providing distributed treatment systems is expensive.
  2. Other ways to prevent stormwater entering the combined system should be implemented. Rainwater tanks that feed laundry, toilet (and perhaps even hot water) are used in Australia. Widespread installation of these tanks throughout the regions that feed the sewerage system would ease the peak stormwater loads, as the drawdown of water in the tanks for these uses means there is capacity for new stormwater, even in the middle of winter. Rainwater tanks that just feed the garden – though good for the garden and lowering the water demand – do not provide this stormwater peak relief for the network.
  3. Emergency composting toilets. The skillset around establishing and using composting toilets is an important one to develop for resiliency during civil emergencies. As a way of introducing the public to the concept, perhaps Civil Defense could install public composting toilets around the city.
  4. Parking levies are necessary in Auckland. One of the big costs that the driving mode imposes on society is through the impact of parking spaces. Carparks in the suburbs spread amenities apart, turning a walkable environment into one with long distances that are easier to drive. They contribute to road runoff issues. They are a poor use of space in the central city where 57,000 people live, and which is the densest residential area in the country – all the ground level carparks there should be plazas or parks for residents and visitors to use. And worst of all, they induce driving. If Auckland introduced parking levies at the level that Sydney has them, there would be $137.5 million of revenue per year – although this would drop as landowners shift the carparks to better uses.
  5. Intensification is a tool for assisting a more compact, people-friendly urban form.