After Covid – back to near ‘normal’ or radical change?

Will how the country comes out of this crisis shape the economy and society in New Zealand for decades to come? A bit for sure, but how much?

One thing is for sure, the old ‘normal’ is no longer, after Covid-19 has subsided (presuming and hoping that it does fade away in the next year or two) the world will be significantly different.

One local government councillor in Wellington has suggested radical changes to traffic and streets – RNZ:

A Wellington regional councillor says now is the chance to think about how to restart the economy without also ramping up emissions, as the latest data shows air pollution fell dramatically during the first week of lockdown.

Air pollution from traffic emissions in the central city dropped 72 percent, and by 63 percent in Upper Hutt.

Greater Wellington’s climate committee chair Thomas Nash says how the country comes out of this crisis could shape the economy and society in New Zealand for decades to come.

I haven’t been appreciating any change to streets because I haven’t been out in any streets for three weeks. But some people have been going for walks and bike rides and have been enjoying the lack of cars.

But how can cities make streets “permanently safer and more pleasant”. By banning are severely restricting car use?

In the short term that would not be a good idea. For most people the alternative is public transport, and that must be a lot riskier with the virus around than safely commuting in our automobubbles.

And there’s the cost factors – councils are being asked to limit rates rises because people and businesses are facing income cuts. It may not be good timing spending big money on mass transit system. Projects in some places may be worth looking at, but I don’t see how mass transit can work in modern Dunedin, and many suburbs are too hilly to encourage a sudden shift to cycling.

And if councils want to look at resilience from viruses in the future then mass transit may not be the answer.

Most councils take so long to decide on doing things there is unlikely to be a sudden rush to radical change. That may be a good thing, especially if there’s a few idealist councillors around like Thomas Nash.

And Wellington has had major problems with their bus system as it is, and that was before the pressure of Covid. Rushing in to radical change would be a huge risk.


UPDATE:  Govt to fund temporary cycleways and footpaths post COVID-19 lockdown

The Government will provide extra funding to help councils expand footpaths and roll out temporary cycleways to help people keep 2 metres of physical distance after the Alert Level 4 lockdown, Associate Minister of Transport Julie Anne Genter announced today.

“When people begin to return to city centres following the lockdown we want them to have enough space to maintain physical distance,” said Julie Anne Genter.

“Some of our footpaths in busy areas are quite narrow. Temporary footpath extensions mean people can give each other a bit more space without stepping out onto the road.”

Funding will come from the Innovating Streets for People pilot fund, part of a wider programme that supports projects using ‘tactical urbanism’ techniques such as pilots and pop-up, interim treatments that make it safer and easier for people walking and cycling in the city.

“Footpath extensions would use basic materials like planter boxes and colourful paint to carve out a bit more space in the street for people walking, like we’ve seen on High street and Federal street in Auckland,” said Julie Anne Genter.

“A number of cities around the world, including New YorkBerlin and Vancouver, have rolled out temporary bike lanes to provide alternatives to public transport, which people may be less inclined to use in the short term.

“Councils are able to use highly-visible plastic posts, planter boxes and other materials to create temporary separated bike lanes where people feel safe.

“It’s now up to councils to put forward projects if they want to take advantage of this initiative. The NZ Transport Agency will help councils implement street changes that meet the Innovating Streets pilot fund criteria safely and with minimal disruption. While planning can start during lockdown the rollout of temporary changes will not happen while we remain at Alert Level 4.

“Councils can apply now for funding from the NZ Transport Agency, who will cover 90 percent of the cost of rolling out temporary changes to the streetscape,” Julie Anne Genter said.

How long will these ‘temporary’ changes be in place? “The rollout of temporary changes will not happen while we remain at Alert Level 4” – so it will be rolled out as people start to use their cars more.

Leave a comment

25 Comments

  1. Blazer

     /  12th April 2020

    Risk and reward.
    It is surprising what quite quickly becomes accepted as ‘normal’….Auckland houses costing $1million ,obscene executive remuneration,dirty politics,politicians accepting large donations ,gridlock traffic,an obsession with GDP,homelessness,and spending other peoples….money.

    Reply
    • Conspiratoor

       /  12th April 2020

      B, you overlooked wealthy foreigners about to swoop into what they now see as a bolthole and hoover up vast swathes of land. Compliant politicians with their eyes wide shut.

      This will not end well…

      Reply
      • Blazer

         /  12th April 2020

        Supposedly we have a foreign buyers ban in place.
        Bridges has vowed to over turn this,as foreign buyers make up 3% of property buyers. 😉

        Reply
  2. Alan Wilkinson

     /  12th April 2020

    The elite are still in their bubble. They have no perception of the kickback coming from below.

    Reply
    • Blazer

       /  12th April 2020

      I’ve asked you before Al…who are these ..elite in NZ?

      Reply
      • Alan Wilkinson

         /  12th April 2020

        The ones still fantasising about public transport, climate change, rate increases and streets empty of plebs in cars.

        Reply
  3. PartisanZ

     /  12th April 2020

    This is an MND (Mother Nature Dictates) public announcement for Righties –

    *%(&(&!!! SYSTEMS FAILURE!!!! **OO*^*$##@ STYSTENS FALIURE!!! &&%$##@ STTTYME FARTURE!!!

    We’ve been “Swept Home!” … therefore … “Return to Normal” = *Danger, Danger Will Robinson*!!!

    You’ll Robinson Crusoe us all! There’s far much more risk embedded in deploying “Return to Normal”. We need a New Normal … especially with Globalization, the rule of the world by ”Free Market’ ideological ‘economic’ pseudo-scientific sorcery favoring Corporate-Political Elites.

    Considering ‘Globalization’: We know its going to be “New”. We know it must be an “Order” of some sort? I’m having trouble with why it WOULDN’T be “World”? Or “Global” – NGO = New Global Order?

    “When your first plan fails, you gotta get yourself another plan” – says a recaptured Slave character in ‘Roots’

    This is an opportunity – “Opportunity Locks!” – to do what’s ethically right “Once and For All”

    As we are discovering, the necessities of life haven’t changed much since half-or-more of our settlers arrived to establish an egalitarian nation of “homesteaders”, with village, town and city dwellers, tradesmen and professionals, artists all, without an Upper Class – their “supply lines” and “trade routes” have become our “supply chains” – the chains that both release and bind us …

    We also engaged in an agreement or Treaty with tangata whenua to be permitted to do this here … and we’ve dishonoured that agreement many times. This needs renewed attention …

    Kiwi “Truth & Reconciliation” that folds seamlessly into Constitution-making; Nation-building.

    Mother Nature reasserts Herself in mysterious ways, like Easter, and we already know –

    “The military option proved fatal” …

    PartisanZ

    Reply
    • PartisanZ

       /  12th April 2020

      I’m suggesting a new economic model I call ‘Four Wellbeings Ethical Economics’, which recognizes “marketplaces” are as natural to humankind as breathing – hence, FWEE Markets!

      Luckily for us, some truly intelligent and compassionate people have been preparing for this –

      Reply
      • PartisanZ

         /  12th April 2020

        I vote “radical” ……….. REALLY radical …. Nothing to be afraid of …

        Reply
        • Execpt being cold, sick, hungry and poor. Thanks but I’ll pass.

          Reply
          • PartisanZ

             /  12th April 2020

            Okay, this place is way further Right than I thought …

            The situation is probably terminal in that case, for Mankind I mean …

            Reply
      • Gezza

         /  12th April 2020

        I’ll have a watch a bit later & get back to you with any thoughts.

        Trying to get the front lawn scarified, de-mossed, de-clovered, & the bare/mossy patches replaced with new lawn sods from round the back yard, & grass seed, & lawn food, before it starts raining in Welly. Sposed to rain tonite, but it looks & feels like it might do anytime at the moment. Sometimes the weather forecasters’ timing is out by a few hours either side.

        That lawn’s been a bloody tragedy ever since the contractors dug it up to put the broadband fibre cable along it & their idea of making it as good as new afterwards was as effective as Twyford’s affordable housing plan.

        Reply
      • Gezza

         /  12th April 2020

        I’m certainly not a believer & entusiastic follower of “rampant consumerism”. I make every effort to get as many years of use as possible out of any item I have that still serves its original purpose well. I’m always repairing or re-purposing things once they wear out or go bung so that I don’t have to buy a new one. I like the challenge of fixing things & inventing other uses for them.

        Luckily for us, some truly intelligent and compassionate people have been preparing for this –

        Ok. Who are they & what have they done ?

        Reply
  4. Added to post: Govt to fund temporary cycleways and footpaths post COVID-19 lockdown
    (But they can’t be installed until after we drop to Level 3 and start to use cars again).

    Reply
  5. Griff.

     /  12th April 2020

    Many years ago around 1980 the council in Onehunga Auckland had a planning brain fart.
    They closed the shopping percent to cars with large rocks at ether end of queen street to make it a better environment for pedestrians.
    The result was the area died, all the shops closed, Onehunga become a windswept wasteland with only a few wasted streets kids inhabiting it . It was reopened to traffic in about 2000 and the area has slowly returned to life.
    Please don’t do it again it does not work.

    Reply
    • Gezza

       /  12th April 2020

      What’s the point of closing a shopping precint to cars with large rocks? How many people drive cars with large rocks in them. Must be tons of them in Auckland, by the sound of it. Not the done thing down here in Welly.

      Reply
      • Alan Wilkinson

         /  12th April 2020

        That invites a bad joke that we should resist.

        Reply
      • Griff.

         /  12th April 2020

        Nice sandstone rocks they were.
        One piece was brought by my neighbor and turned into a sculpture of a woman with big boobies.
        It sits outside a bar called heading home at 317 te rakau drive you can see it in the entrance to the bar on goggle maps .

        Reply
  6. Pink David

     /  12th April 2020

    This is going to be a reply of Christchurch. Rather than rebuilding as quickly as possible, year of ‘debate’ over how to make a ‘better city’, in the meantime much of the population got on with their lives elsewhere.

    NZ is going to take a 25% hit to GDP and people are talking about making the buses better and cycle lanes.

    Reply
    • PartisanZ

       /  12th April 2020

      Pink David, “cycle lanes” are merely a comfort-food for those many remaining fanatical supporters of John Key who have yet to emerge from the Darwinian jungle economy …

      Reply

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