Saturday, November 21, 2015

Can SkyPath fit 14337 cyclists on Northcote Point? SkyPath says it can!

Bike the Bridge 2015 a few of the 3,000 cyclists leaving Smales Farm

Can SkyPath fit 14,337 cyclists & pedestrians on Northcote Point between noon and 3 pm? SkyPath says it can! Many Northcote residents would like to know how SkyPath plans to do this. It is a big secret but they are sure they can do it.

A glance at the photograph above showing a few of the 3000 cyclists from Bike the Bridge 2015 leaving Smales Farm gives some idea of what the numbers involved might entail. The above crowd is by any standards huge and the official numbers were 3,000.  It looks more as they take up so much room. Northcote Point is to receive 14,337 every summer Saturday and Sunday between noon and 3 pm according to the Official Research by Auckland Council  into the viability of SkyPath and this is to rise to 20,000 + in 5 years time.

The Mayor and majority of councillors, SkyPath itself and the Independent Commissioners, Ms Karyn Sinclair - Chairperson, Ms Jenny Hudson, Ms Melean Absolum, and Mr Mark Farnsworth who granted the Resource Consent feel that the effects of this 14,337 on Northcote Point will be minimal.
The Resource Consent  Advice of Decision:
The adverse amenity effects at the Northern Landing (primarily associated with increased activity, privacy/overlooking, noise, and perceptions relating to safety and security) can be adequately mitigated through design and site management as proposed by the Applicant. 
The problem is no one has informed the residents of Northcote Point just how they are going to cope with this problem. The Mayor and SkyPath are convinced that they can  but refuse to say how. Maybe they do not  know exactly how much space is needed for 14,337 people queuing to get into a 4 meter tunnel with only two entrances and exits which are blocked by turnstiles.

Reasons for the decision: 

The reasons for this decision are included in the decision report above but can be summarised as follows: 1. In terms of section 104D(1)(a) of the RMA, the adverse effects of the activity on the environment at the Northern Landing have been considered as moderate. Turning to section 104(1)(a), mitigation measures have been incorporated into the design of the proposal, and a range of consent conditions have been imposed to ensure that any adverse effects on the environment for the entire proposal can be satisfactorily avoided, remedied or mitigated.

How exactly do the Commissioners propose to ensure that 14,447 can be accommodated with no adverse effects?  Are they experts in crowd management?

For Bike the Bridge 3000 cyclists needed the whole of Smales Farm with acres of car parks and all the Bus Station lanes as a meeting point. 300 official marshalls to slow down the traffic, a bank of porta cabins at each end, and around 100 buses to form a barrier for safety. NO pedestrians or children allowed and the traffic which filled the Bridge Lanes was just one way. Traffic was all one way and moving all the time. No stopping.

One has to be blind or stupid to see that Northcote Point with just 50 meters of available land for Skypath that even the 3000 for Bike the Bridge are not going to fit. There is virtually no space either side and one road entrance of about 8 meters, This is for traffic both ways plus pedestrians with children and push chairs.

Buildmedia simulation under Northcote Point. Over 14,000 people are expected!

The Official Research says this is the correct number and in fact SkyPath needs these numbers if it is not to fail financially. If it is built and it is underwritten by the Council and these numbers do not turn up these losses will be paid for by the Ratepayers of Auckland. To add insult to injury Northcote had it rates put up by 16% this year.  To date the costs to the Ratepayers must be millions.

Bike the Bridge Cyclists arriving at Westhaven 

Until last week there was really no visual evidence to support Northcote Point's predicament  but now there is evidence. Plenty of it. So come on Len Brown, Mayor of Auckland, Bevan Woodward, SkyPath's promoter and Ms Jennifer Valentine - Auckland Council's Lead Senior Planner, front up. Northcote Point is waiting.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Women's marriage opportunites then and now - Janette Miller

The dating gap: why the odds are stacked against female graduates finding a like-minded man

How great to have so many clever, educated young women spilling out every year, but there could be negative consequences, as a new book, Date-onomics, points out: there may not be enough educated men to go around.

So writes Emine Saner in today's UK Guardian.  Not enough educated men to go around!

So different from  my day. I am circa 1900/1970, then 80% of women of whatever class were, what would today be called, uneducated. Our parents just did not think educating their daughters was a priority as they would get married. Amazingly men of whatever education did not worry about this. Those were the days and it is not so very long ago when Oxford colleges did not admit women.

It was very obvious to all intelligent single women that not only did we require a husband as a career of any meaning was unobtainable without the unobtainable degree but we required a pension as well. This narrowed the field of acceptable mates.  Lucky for us too that most men had to put up with silly women. Most of us, me included, had to be educated after marriage. I certainly was - sex, science and Darwin. I had been educated by the nuns who did not seem to realise these subjects existed. Enough said. 

Today it seems that there are not enough educated men to go around as women have been admitted to the university ranks and rightly wish for a partner of equal intelligence, unlike my day when it was almost impossible for a man to find a partner who was basically educated let alone of equal intelligence.

Maybe the contributor is correct and women will have to lower their sights. Men of my day needed someone to run their lives, like house and children, so they married a woman who was by his standards uneducated  and it worked, sort of. This creature was called a wife. Today many high powered women could do with such a wife to do these useful tasks. 

I found this out when my Oxford educated husband  was  physically attacked in his surgery and had to give up medicine. It was then our roles changed as I become the breadwinner and had to keep husband and daughter in the manner to which they were accustomed. I wished then I had a wife to help me with the living part as neither husband or daughter obliged. It would have helped if I had had a formal education but that is by the by. To my surprise I did manage to keep house and family even though I was not supposed to do this.

Today I should have had a career and an education. If my husband had got to Oxford I think I should have got there too. I should have chosen someone as a husband who could fulfil these roles of housekeeper. lover and father and let me get on with my career.  Today's educated women should think about this.

Friday, November 6, 2015

Slippers the horrible footwear -Janette Miller

Should slippers shuffle off this mortal coil?

Who invented slippers? Those awful check monstrosities one buys at Marks & Sparks.

My mother had a thing about slippers. She hated them. "Nasty sloppy things" she would decry " Make your feet spread".

My ballet school didn't like them either for similar reasons and veroukas. "Never let you bare feet touch the floor" was the order of the day.

So imagine my horror when I got my first solo role in Benjamin Britten's first Noyes Fludde at Aldeburgh when the entire caste of hundreds were kitted out with traditional slippers from Marks & Sparks. They were horrible, infact my whole costume was horrible and green!

I got used to wearing horrible costumes, designers hate women it appears, but I think those horrible slippers were the worst.

I think my mother and school may have been right.

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Auckland's SkyPath take heed, human stampedes are not one offs!

The SkyPath proposed for the Auckland Harbour Bridge it is still on track in spite of the dangers that are known to exist. The promoters are still certain that it will be built sometime next year in 2016. They plan a 4 meter wide, 1.2 kilometer enclosed tunnel for pedestrians and cyclists to share with just two exits which are just 5 meters wide and blocked by turnstiles. At peak times the Auckland City Resource consent  plan says officially that for three hours on a Saturday and Sunday there will be 5000 movements per hour at least and that 2000 people will be on  the SkyPath at any one time. They are quite happy with this.

2000 people, packed in a tunnel with 2.5 square meters each with nowhere to escape in an emergency.

Since the hearing which SkyPath won there have been two horrendous human stampedes/crushes both of which could happen with SkyPath. The first was at this year Hajj where 1600 people were crushed to death in streets that were unsuitable for such huge numbers. The streets at Northcote Point are in this category. There is at present no way that 14,000 rising to 20,000 people can be accommodated on a Saturday Afternoon without serious danger. There is nowhere to escape in an emergency and no way fire engines and ambulances could access the area. It would be hard even with no crowds but with even a small panicking crowd impossible. One has to be able to evacuate large number quickly and safely.

Today was the Romanian Bucharest nightclub fire  where out of 300 people 27 are known to be dead and 128  seriously injured. The death toll like the hajj is sure to rise. The one small exit was not enough for 300 let alone the 2000 that could  occur on SkyPath. In Romania there have already been calls for manslaughter charges to be laid on the people who allowed this and this should be a warning to those 4 independent commissioners and SkyPath that their lack of concern about the danger of their proposal could lead to criminal charges if anything goes wrong.

Yes the photos are uncomfortable to look at. This link is a horrific example of what could happen. These stampedes are totally preventable and the danger should not be ignored but at present when it comes to bicycles and pedestrians all safety concerns are overlooked as the risk seems low but as shared paths become the norm the accidents will rise as they have in Denmark where the only research is available by 47% for cyclists and 27% for pedestrians and these are not in an enclosed cage but on paths where people can run out. In SkyPath one it trapped with nowhere to go.

Fortunately those in power do realise the dangers. Simon Bridges the Minister for Transport arranged for me to meet with the NZTA who were very reassuring.  SkyPath as it is shown, as yet no plans have been lodged, will have to undergo a thorough safety examination and that means solid scientific research of which there is none at present. The Minister and NZTA know that they cannot ignore the danger even if Auckland Transport, The SkyPath Promoters and the Mayor of Auckland can. Hopefully the environment Court will be more sensible. The impact is huge.

Auckland does not need a human crush of any kind. It would be better for all if the cyclists and pedestrians wait a little longer and use some of the lanes on the Bridge that will become redundant when the new harbour crossing tunnels are built. This will cost Auckland nothing, be free and what is the most important safe.