Congestion: Eliminate the Need to Drive

The new transport is fibre, not concrete. It redefines business, reshapes habitat and reinvents local. It's the best opportunity NZ has ever had. Fiber is the game changer. Make no mistake about it. Countries all around the world are figuring out that fibre redefines the meaning of distance. Global communications is free and instant. Every country is trying to figure out how it can use fibre to compete.

So what does New Zealand have that makes it distinctive, and what does this have to do with traffic and congestion?

Right now, New Zealand does not have enough to offer. Sure, we speak English, have a great climate, spectacular natural beauty, low corruption and a good business reputation, but that's not enough - lifestyle has to be more than a beer at the bach on the beach. In this new global competition for business, New Zealand needs to attract small to medium enterprises that can thrive. Those businesses need their employees to be stimulated, engaged and happy - loving what they are doing, and knowing life is good for their families. That's part of the MarketTown concept.

Commuting home after work

But a key part of that is breaking the addiction to daily driving. We can't find NZ statistics, but in America the average worker must work two hours a day to pay all the costs of driving, and then they spend an additional hour and a half behind the wheel. It's an incredible waste of life, not to mention money.California Traffic Jam

So a core part of the MarketTown is to eliminate the need to drive on a day-to-day basis... and not only driving; eliminate the need to travel every day by bus, train or ferry. Move destinations, not people. Creation of a life-style that is not transport driven will hugely appeal to the audience that MarketTowns targets.

Let's talk about congestion in Auckland. It's bad, and it will get worse. Transport Auckland says they need $60 million to build up the infrastructure and they say congestion will still be with us. With MarketTowns, we opt out of that problem. We introduce growth without traffic. We do this by making an important distinction about driving, one that does not seem to be on the radar of the current transport plans:

There are three types of driving:

  1. Business: Travel delivering goods, providing services, transporting people & meetings
  2. Travel: Personal and business movements going somewhere unusual
  3. Home Ranging Driving: From home to work, school, shops & services, recreation. This follows the same general route everyday.

The target is Home Range Driving:  Zoologists invented the term home range to described the territory an animal travels day-to-day to accomplish the mundane chores of daily living. It applies as much to humans. For the first 10,000 years that humans lived in villages and towns, almost everyone had a walking home range, and people were reasonably healthy for the exercise. Even today, shoe leather is cheaper than cars, petrol, insurance, road taxes and wars fought to control the petroleum supply. Walking makes a lot of sense. It works. 

Shoes and Bikes

However, when the human home range is expanded by transport... using cars, buses, local rail and boats to get around, all sorts of unanticipated negative side effects crop up. We don't need to list them. Everyone knows them.

We accept Home Range Driving because it passes for normal; we can't imagine living any other way, even though for 99% of human history in urban living, motorised transport did not exist.

In fact the one-person/one-car system was invented-in-America, replicated-in-Britain, duplicated-in-Australia and then imitated-in-Auckland.

The car-based transport system was invented in America after WWII as a way to keep America from relapsing into the Great Depression. The war was won with petrol-driven vehicles, so America rezoned its farmland and invented suburban sprawl. It worked because America had the petroleum, made the cars and used its own internal resources to pay for the largest infrastructure system in history. In America that 20th century model is proving unsustainable.

But conditions are very different in New Zealand. Our number one import is petroleum, number three: motor vehicles. We have to earn cash earned by selling milk to pay for our transport-based zoning. New Zealand has never had a good business case for building transport-based urban communities. In rural areas, cars will remain king, but in the urban centres the new technology is rendering transport-based communities obsolete.

Cars on Wharf

With the onset of fibre, everything is changing. Millions of businesses now can be anywhere there is good fibre. The decisions on where to locate can now be based on qualities other than physical proximity. It completely changes distribution networks as well, as shopping malls, supermarkets and other retail outlets where the consumer funds the last transport link (the customers drive their cars to the carpark) are being replaced with home delivery. One home-delivery truck is more efficient than a hundred cars on the road. But with this change, the whole world can compete for businesses. We can't just presume the businesses will come to New Zealand. We have to make it attractive.

The MarketTown is, by design, inherently attractive. One of those attractions is to make its urban core car-free, and to have a policy of no outbound commuters. In other words, to create a Walking Home Range. This is why the MarketTown requires a critical mass of people, about 5,000 to 10,000 to provide the numbers required for those local businesses and destinations to thrive. The mandate during the planning stages is to identify all of the usual day-to-day destinations of 10,000 people and ensure they are all local.


In A Pattern Language, Christopher Alexander wrote: "Cars turn towns to mincemeat". It's worth reading the link, as he makes it clear, it is the local driving that is the culprit.