Personal reflections on urbanism, urban life and sustainable urban design in Wellington, New Zealand.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

One-way traffic

I spent a large portion of the weekend working on my entry for the Road Works competition, and though the winners will not be announced until tomorrow night (6pm at the School of Architecture, if you're interested), the judges have already made their decisions, so I'm free to post my entry here. I actually started work on two entries (a serious one and one that if not exactly frivolous, is more rhetorical than buildable), but in the end I only had time to finish the latter. If I get the chance, I may write up my serious suggestion for Buckle St and post it here soon, but for the moment here's my actual entry, reformatted for the web and with a few embarrassing typos cleaned up.

One-way traffic: a memorial to the end of the car age

'Nodding Donkey' plan for Memorial ParkThis is a proposal for an ultimate solution to traffic congestion in Wellington. As burying SH1 completely has been rejected as too expensive, this includes only the entrance, and no exit. Instead, cars enter a subterranean recycling and crushing centre, where the driver receives a ticket for a year's free public transport in exchange (a Light Rail hub is nearby, to make the continuation of the journey as easy as possible).

The recycling is marked by an enormous "Nodding Donkey" oil pump, but instead of extracting oil from the ground, it acts to crush any non-recyclable components and drive them back into the earth from where they came. As the brief calls for allied countries to be able to install their own memorials, there is space for redundant cars symbolic of these countries (a Holden, a Chrysler, maybe a Reliant Robin) to be embedded into the ground as headstones to mark the sacrifices that human beings, cities and the planet have made in order to feed the now-vanishing age of the automobile.

'Nodding Donkey' plan for Memorial Park


At 12:36 pm, August 01, 2007, Blogger Nikolai H said...

That's hilarious! Perhaps the steel automotive bodies might be recycled and forged on-site into the light rail tracks themselves?

At 1:54 pm, August 01, 2007, Blogger llew said...

Why does this post make me think that remaking Mad Max the Road Warrior is an idea whose time has come?

At 3:55 pm, August 01, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I wonder if the good denizens of Mt Cook will complain about the noise of the car crusher.

At 6:42 pm, August 02, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Maybe we can skip the car crusher and just implement a one way road system for cars - all roads one way outbound from the city.

All traffic congestion in the city would be gone in a matter of hours as all cars drive out never to return. :P

At 10:47 pm, September 22, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You should get into the real world: cars are here to stay and Wellington doesn't have anywhere near enough population for light rail. Do you think that people are really going to catch public transport when they go away on holiday? Why don't you put your (obvious) creative energy into designing something useful?

At 9:30 am, September 24, 2007, Blogger Tom said...

First of all, jimmys, I think it should be obvious that this is a rhetorical and hyperbolic entry rather than a practical suggestion. I certainly put plenty of my energy into useful and practical suggestions (some more are on their way soon), but felt like letting off some steam.

"Cars are here to stay" - are you sure? It seems increasingly clear that cheap oil is not here to stay, and while cars in some form will still be around, they won't be the default mode of transport for ever.

"Wellington doesn't have anywhere near enough population for light rail" - what are you basing that on? There are plenty of medium-sized cities around the world with light rail. Also, there are many light rail cities that are much bigger than Wellington, but that have extensive networks for their size. Melbourne, for instance, has 250km of tram lines: on a per capita basis, that would equate to about 30km of tram line for Wellington. If those lines were concentrated along population and activity corridors, there's no reason why Wellington couldn't justify it too.

"Do you think that people are really going to catch public transport when they go away on holiday?" - do you think that people going on holiday are the cause of traffic congestion on Buckle St?

At 4:47 pm, September 30, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The great thing about living in a democracy is that people are entitled to hold different viewpoints - whilst I accept your views, I just don't happen to agree with them. C'est la vie.

Firstly, to reassure you, I do realise that your entry was not a practical entry and was just "letting off some steam" - good on you, although I do hope that in doing so this didn't contribute further to global warming! :-)

In my view, cars are definitely here to stay for at least the next 100 years - all that will happen is that the fuel might change. For NZ, the solution is simple - a mix of traditionally powered (petrol & diesel) cars, electric cars (although highly inefficient from an energy perspective due to the loss of energy in transmission of electricity from the power stations), and there is also the option of reviving CNG (Compressed Natural Gas), which is actually a very cheap and efficient form of energy, and natural gas is in abundance in NZ. Plus LPG, although it's not so efficient. Peak oil will be completely irrelevant, except that the price of petrol, CNG, LPG will all go up.

re light rail - why build a light rail network, when we already have a trolley bus network? There is an enormous cost of laying track, purchasing rolling stock etc. etc. and the topography of Wellington (City) is not that conducive to rail full stop. It would be absolute economic madness to create such a network for a city of only 175,000 people. If you want to spend money on something, then extending the trolley bus network might make rational economic sense, although even that is questionable.

Finally, re holiday traffic, actually yes, a proportion of traffic on Buckle Street is from holiday traffic going to / from the airport and elsewhere. And on a Friday afternoon there is a lot of holiday / weekend traffic from people heading out of town up the Kapiti Coast and beyond. Hence why it is particularly congested on a Friday. In any event, you have missed the point that people simply won't use public transport to lug the kids, pushchairs, dog, fishing rods, tennis rackets, surfboards etc. etc. to their beach house or motel. I know that the price of petrol could double tomorrow and it wouldn't stop me.

In my view, it was a short-sighted decision that the trenched and tunneled motorway wasn't extended all the way to the airport and a second Terrace tunnel built as was meant to happen under the original plans. Then Wellington would have a roading infrastructure that we could all be proud of instead of the mickey-mouse bypass solution we are now left with.

But I doubt you will agree with me on that one! :-)


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