Climate, growth, transport: it’s simple maths. Just do it Wellington.

Wellington (like many other towns) has separate strategies with separate consultations for growth, tackling climate change, and transport. Sigh. Here’s your TL;DR for… ALL THE THINGS

Let’s start with a Pop Quiz:
Would you rather it was easier or harder to do any or all of the following:

  • have happy, healthy, independent kids
  • know your neighbours and have local friends
  • have a strong base of physical and mental health
  • support local businesses
  • stay connected to your friends, community and relationships as you get older
  • have a lighter greenhouse footprint
  • have more time and money in your household budget

?

If you’re not bothered about it being harder to do any or these good things, you can stop reading now. (You’re probably on the wrong website TBH.)

If you do care, and would rather it was easier to lead a good life, know this: two things make the lion’s share of the difference.

The physical shape of the places we live – our built environment; where stuff is in relation to other stuff. How spread out, how close together; what’s near what.

AND

Transport – the options we have to get around for regular and occasional trips make the difference.

Overwhelmingly, these two determine the life you get to lead.

If they’re basically wrong, good choices are an uphill battle for ordinary people. Get ’em roughly right, it’s surprisingly easy to do good (without knowing it, even).

How’s this? Don’t we have free individual choice?

Yeah sure, of course we do. Oh, unless we’re not privileged. Oh, actually, and often even then we don’t have free choice.

So actually no. Because let’s be honest. When doing the right thing – be it getting to know the neighbours, or taking lower-carbon transport – is a bit of a hassle, or too expensive, or feels scary or unpleasant, or takes ages, most of us don’t really do it. It frustrates us in our thousands, day in day out. But our built environment and our transport planning are bigger than us, and they make it too hard to make good choices, and too easy to do bad stuff.

We have to call it out, because councils seem far too afraid to do so because (I’m betting) they’re worried that people who dominate the comments sections will feel put-upon and attacked, and punish them at the polls.

But we must call it and put the fault and the fixing where it must lie.

Driving far too many of our weekly trips is bad. And it’s not our fault that most of us do it.

Councils and NZTA have made our built environment so it’s too hard to do good things.

Easy peasy submission hack

When three or four calls for “give us your feedback” come out from Authority Organisation X…

When consultation fatigue sets in and you haven’t even had dinner yet…

When you feel your civic energy seeping away at the prospect of reading through all that stuff because you Feel You Should Be More Informed…

Just ask:

Will this mean my household and I can readily change a bunch of our common medium-length car trips into non-trips (cos stuff is nearby) or do them by public transport?

Will this mean we can stay in the same area regardless of our age, and maintain or improve our happiness?

Will this mean that for most of the regular and frequent trips my household does (friends, groceries, playdates, sports, worship, beer/coffee, dog walking and so on) public and/or active transport is the first-best choice?

If you’re looking at one option and you reckon Yeah, and you reckon “Not sure” or “Probably nah” for the other, you won’t be far wrong.

How do you think First To Zero and Planning For Growth scenarios pan out with this TL;DR hack?

(PS, of course we’ll have more proper content on these important things in the coming weeks. But fundamentally this is it – it’s really all you need to make a strong, useful submission.
All the rest is nuance, adding in your nifty ideas, and sounding smart.)

(PS II: the “eco-city” idea is great but stands or falls on transport and density. If Wellington could build Lincolnshire Farm so that by climate-friendly transport its residents could get to Porirua, Wellington, Tawa to work in 20-30 minutes, well sure.

Hmmm.

What do you think are the odds of that?

And if you think they’re low, best to say No to big greenfields development of satellite suburbs in favour of good-quality intensification of existing places to live.)

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