Let’s Get Wellington MOVING! Today’s the day
Transport planning is a big deal. Large scale transport infrastructure affects everything around it, for decades. In case you haven’t noticed, Let’s Get Wellington Moving will profoundly shape our city, and the window is almost closed to give your steer on the approach they’re taking. You can read more but regardless, get your feedback in by Friday 15 December TODAY at 5pm. It will make a difference!
LGWM is being touted as the most comprehensive transport planning and prioritisation exercise Wellington city has ever seen, and this is probably true. For all its limited geographic scope, NZTA, GWRC and WCC are talking about spending well over $2 billion to Sort Out Transport in the Capital.
We’ve had some criticisms that Talk Wellington’s coverage is just yelling at public officials who’ve worked incredibly hard within constraints that aren’t their fault. Many of us at Talk Wellington are from or currently in the public service, some in the very trades that are hard at work on LGWM.
So let’s take a moment to appreciate what the officials have to do…
It’s transport planning, and maybe landuse
How good the experts are at what they do… that’s really important.
Transport planning is complex and complicated, and requires a lot of expertise and information – even without accounting for the relationships with landuse. It also requires an eye on the bigger picture, acknowledging where some parts of the system are weak, and putting things in place so the end result isn’t full of blind spots.
This is notoriously hard to do once you’re deep in the proverbial woods, but classic weaknesses in these kinds of processes can include strong data on vehicle movements but weak data on people movements; lack of information on what creates “place”; systemic biases built into modelling; and management and governance leaders’ own biases. You need to keep an eye on yourselves as well as being donkey-deep in the content.
It’s engagement and communication
Ultimately, public feedback is needed, and there’s different art and science required. This complex, fraught stuff needs to be communicated clearly and well, so that ordinary laypeople can give good feedback and give the decision-makers a good steer.
Project engagement and comms have had to find the right balance between many, sometimes competing forces, like:
- over-complicated and over-simplified communication
- experts’ insight and laypeople’s desires (including elected representatives’)
- “what I Ratepayer want for me, now” and “The Greater Good” or “A Generation Yet To Come”
- elected power-brokers’ opinions, and public and communities’ opinions
- familiar and doable status quo, and scary Doing Things Differently
The LGWM team needs to find the sweet spot between all those forces above, and also create an environment that encourages constructive feedback by us the citizens. One that brings out everyone’s “best selves” when they’re giving input, rather than the selves we often bring to the prospect of someone expensively moving our cheese with public money (see comments under any Stuff or Herald article about anything in local government).
So homai te pakipaki for the team, but no excuses
Firstly, a round of applause for the LGWM team behind the scenes. Goodness knows we don’t envy them. This is a mammoth task: modelling, options assessment, investment logic, design, communication and engagement … doing this for something as little as bike infrastructure is difficult, let alone a whole package of transport changes.
It’s a tough job, and they’re in the public service to do it – they have the expertise in these arts and sciences, and the power. They must wield it well.
LGWM’s scenarios are the product of all this work, and you have until 5pm 15 December to give feedback.
Public feedback matters.
The feedback on these scenarios will be held up as evidence for Wellingtonians’ appetite – or lack thereof – for either traditionalist or progressive solutions to our transport and liveability problems.
It will either give decision-makers the mandate to be progressive and lead, or an excuse to be “same same” and try to solve the problems with the same approaches that created them.
Talk Wellington has closely watched LGWM and has had people covering all public events.
How do we feel about it all?
Our 2016-17 emotional journey in three stages:
- When LGWM was announced… rather hopeful. Minus points for the geographic scope, plus points for the project director, the wide and open initial engagement, the excellent Principles, and some minus points for the long radio silence until the scenarios were revealed. Hopeful…
- On 15 November: scenarios revealed, “underwhelming” the Transport Minister and downright depressing us and many others.
- No better since. Plus points for widely-publicised calls for feedback and the website is very nice, but LGWM folks’ answers to questions, and indications of the establishment’s attitude, have not been encouraging.
One can’t do much about Chambers of Commerce and so forth – they’re going to have their opinions and decide for themselves how much those should be based on fact.
But LGWM’s own products and proposals must be of a good standard. And for such an important initiative, for a city that prides itself on being innovative, these scenarios miss a lot of basic, important opportunities and leave out a lot of basic, important things.
We don’t think what they’ve proposed is “roughly right”.
- Despite LGWM’s startlingly short time horizon it still fails to prioritise non-car transport. This is defying good practice in transport planning, and means its scenarios barely meet many of its own excellent principles.
- It’s scoped so out-of-scope people’s behaviour and geography undermine it
- they left out any incentives or demand management (because it’s too complex for us apparently
And if even a bunch of non-experts can clearly see these issues, and the various authorities can’t give a good answer when asked, it’s definitely time for a healthy boost in the right direction.
Wellington needs you!
That boost has to come from us: the population, the residents, the citizens, the ratepayers, the users. The parents, grandparents, friends and fellow citizens of the people who’ll inherit a city and region profoundly shaped by the results of LGWM.
Feedback closes on Friday 15th.
Please, right now, take the few minutes to put in your feedback. It won’t be hard, it’s a lovely-looking website.
What to say? Do read the scenarios and make up your own mind – but make sure your feedback hits the spot:
- It’s not a consultation on design options, it’s an indication of appetite and general approach. They’re wanting Wellingtonians’ appetite, our vibe for the near transport future, our broad-brush steer on what to do. Do you want most of the money and effort prioritised for the same stuff that caused the problem – more road capacity for private cars? Or put into progressive solutions that will be better for movement and destination in Wellington?
- These are “scenarios”, deliberately illustrative only. They’re not carefully constructed packages of design options – that’ll come later. You can pick-and-mix, and put other things in. So calling out what’s missing is absolutely fine – indeed, LGWM’s project director and other staff explicitly encouraged it in the Nov. 15 public meeting.
- Public input is only one of many information inputs to the decision. Officials behind the scenes, funding mechanisms under the Local Government and Land Transport Acts, decisionmakers on the governance group… these parts of the Establishment will listen but they will make their decision.
- The Establishment has a strong systemic bias towards building more road capacity first. It’s not their fault, it’s just the car-centric way NZ’s grown for the last 60-odd years. But it’s there and all the research and experience shows that continuing this way will be bad for Wellington. It’s in the scenarios: B, C & D build more road capacity to completion well before any meaningful provision for mass transit. And it’s touted by worthy organisations we’d assume would Know Stuff. So unless there’s a strong boost in a more progressive direction, the status quo bias will determine what Wellington gets: most emphasis on “more of the same” to fix the problems that same created.
- Change is possible! Fun fact: Copenhagen, with its superlative per capita GDP, international liveability awards and high proportions of sustainable transport, was just as car-centric as us until their people said “go another way” in the 1980s and 1990s. They’ve still got plenty of car use, but where people have another appealing choice they’ll take it – even Aucklanders!
- Importantly, Ministers are open to change, but need to know there’s a Wellington mandate. From a series of meetings with various transport groups, the Transport Minister and Associate Minister are saying, in essence “if you think Wellington deserves something more progressive, show the evidence: lots of LGWM feedback from citizens saying “be more progressive”.”
Given all this, tactically, the only way to make an impression on decision-makers and maybe shift their thinking towards better transport, is to show a strong desire for progressive transport.
So don’t be afraid to be more boldly “progressive” than you might ordinarily be!
I’m in a hurry! What’s best to say?
2-minute feedback for busy people:
- Jump to here –http://yourvoice.getwellymoving.co.nz/have-your-say?page_id=4 .
- Pick Scenario A (remember, tactics!)
- Then write in the freetext boxes about prioritising mass transit – build that first to maximise usage, and then look at building more road space.
- If you want a nifty shorthand, “give us Scenario A+” will do great – Scenario A+ is the very sensible approach proposed by a coalition of Wellington progressive transport groups.
- If you’re feeling inspired (or live in The Lands Out Of Scope), you could add a bit about needing better options to commute to and from Wellington from north of Ngauranga.
Your feedback will help give our leaders a good boost – we’ll definitely get more space for cars, but there’ll be a chance we’ll get some progressiveness in the mix too.
HOORAY FOR YOU! And hooray for us all.