Holiday Reading 23.12.17
It’s Christmas! So we’re going with a festive theme this weekend. Happy holidays to you all!
As Wellington hums through our final week of work and all the last-minute shopping, the public transport system has been keeping pace with us. An experimental tool called TransitFlow, developed by Will Geary, uses real data to help visualise these public transport flows over time in world cities.
The Guardian got all gushy, describing the maps as “the hypnotic beauty of public transport”, but we also found there to be something entrancing about watching these 80s-themed anthills of human movement across our cities.
We’d love to see one of these for Wellington, with its long tendrils snaking along the coasts, harbour and hills to snuggle around the central city. If you get bored over the break, give it a shot! Pointers at the bottom of the article.
Here on TalkWellington we’ve talked about our view that there needs to be a better mix of housing available in Wellington. The release of TradeMe’s property index has highlighted a problem for renters, finding that our city has the tightest renting conditions across New Zealand and that median rent has risen to $470 per week.
TradeMe attributed this in part to insufficient supply of rental properties to meet demand, with available rentals down 8.7% on this time last year.
What do you think underpins this trend, and are we comfortable with the trajectory? If not, what can and should we do about it?
“Legendary conservationist Don Merton once described our flora and fauna as ‘our national monuments… our Tower of London, our Arc de Triomphe, our pyramids. We don’t have ancient architecture… but what we do have is something far, far older’”.
This week’s Listener looks at New Zealanders’ (and particularly Aucklanders’) complex relationship with the leafy side of our surroundings, and encourages us to return the contribution our trees make to our happiness. “Even if it’s a Pinus artificialis decorated with lights and tinsel glowing in your lounge, it is the most wonderful time of the year to love a tree.”
CityLab’s Jarrett Walker discusses Elon Musk’s recent negative comments about mass public transport systems. As Wired summarised it, “Musk criticized the basic tenets of public transit, the compromises fundamental to a system that serves a community, like set routes, schedules, and the presence of other human beings”.
Walker’s basic premise is that these systems are indeed designed for and used by the majority, not the minority – and while there can undoubtedly be problems with mass transit systems, we shouldn’t lose sight of the benefits just because it’s Elon Musk making the comments.
In recent years Wellington’s waterfront has seen relatively unenticing space turned into public seating and socialising meccas (think the space beside the Nga Kina sculpture). Other parts of the city could do with similar attention – Is there one in your area that’s crying out for some love?
This piece from the Project for Public Spaces underlines the importance of including decent places to sit in making public areas friendly, safe, and used by those who they serve. A space can be improved by the simple, pleasing assurance that ledges actually fit the behinds of those who need to sit, and that water, food, and maybe some trees are nearby to shelter and entertain. In the season of picnics and socialising, how could we possibly argue with welcoming the busy chaos of public spaces, and more life in them!
It’s a time of year when all generations tend to gather together, and many of us see a bit more closely how our elderly relatives and friends navigate our homes, neighbourhoods, and cities. Strong Towns takes a look at how places that are laid out in a car-centric way can be isolating and challenging for elderly people as their independent mobility reduces.
While we enjoy being together with all generations this summer, perhaps we should ask older people what they need and would like to see in their neighbourhoods.