Street Smart (Autumn 2023)

From the front...

Autumn 2023 

Kia ora, 

One of the things our organisation seeks to do is to make journeys safe. I try and do the same, but I like adventuring. Case in point, I recently returned from a month at the Sub Antarctic Auckland Islands.

I was grateful to be selected as crew aboard a private scientific expedition. My role was as a deck hand, generally helping out where required, driving the tender, rope work, cleaning and occasionally cooking. I was one of four crew members supporting seven botanists. The purpose of the expedition was to document the flora of the Islands. 

The experience was unique, spending 30 days isolated approximately 450 kilometres south of Bluff. This is an inhospitable environment but also one of immense grandeur deserving a high degree of respect. I have a new respect for botany and conservation. I suspect my crew also have a new respect for technology and engineering.

It’s engineering that created Abley, but today we also do consultation and engagement, software development, spatial analysis, detailed design and much more. This year we’ve been in business for 20 years. Milestones are moments for celebration, and we will be celebrating our success throughout 2023.

Finally, journeys don’t have to be adventurous as mine. But they should always be safe. 

Reach out if you’d like to know more about my trip. I am very keen to share. Enjoy this edition of StreetSmart.  

Noho ora mai from all of us.

Steve Abley 
Chief Executive

Recent award wins

Bridget CardenClare Cassidy and Tracy Fleming were thrilled to win awards for “Best Think Piece” and “Best Conference Paper” at the 2023 Transportation Group Conference. Congratulations also to Jae Morse, who won the award for “Best Abstract” for his road safety presentation on “The Human story: refocusing fatal crash reporting”.

Abley was also excited to win “Best GIS & Spatial Firm” for our category (revenue<$30m) in the 2023 Client Choice Awards by Beaton recently.

Also great news, our Christchurch office was really proud to have once again been crowned the winner of our category (20-49 employees) in the annual Aotearoa Bike Challenge held in February.

Read more about our latest achievements below:

Inspiring positive change through leadership roles

At Abley, we encourage our people to join a professional organisation to further their networking skill, support their career development and most of all, inspire positive change in their industry. Dr Shane Turner and Paul Durdin are both members of the Australasian College of Road Safety and hold chair roles within the College.

What is the Australasian College of Road Safety?

The Australasian College of Road Safety (ACRS) is the peak association for road safety professionals, advocates, and members of the public who are focused on eliminating death and serious injury on the road. The College has over 800 members with broad backgrounds including policy makers, health professionals, and transport professionals working across government, consultancy and academia.

What is the purpose of the Australasian College of Road Safety?

The ACRS has a vision to eliminate fatal and serious injury on roads, supporting its member’s efforts to eliminate serious road trauma through knowledge sharing, professional development, networking and advocacy.

Our ACRS roles

We would like to congratulate Dr Shane Turner who has recently been elected as Co-Chair of the International Outreach Chapter of ACRS. This aligns with the work Shane has been doing In Indonesia. In this webinar, Shane presents on the safer infrastructure options that have been trialled and are in use in Indonesia.

Paul Durdin is the Co-Chair of the New Zealand Chapter of ACRS. Paul is passionate about progressing Safe System outcomes in New Zealand, and would like to see the New Zealand chapter have a greater voice in the transport sector.

We love seeing our team members inspire positive change outside of their technical work at Abley. Paul and Shane are both passionate about sharing their knowledge and making a difference for our communities. We’re excited for the future of the ACRS and encourage anyone interested in road safety to consider joining this organisation.

To learn more, visit:

carbon neutral cycling

Local government commuters leading the change to low-carbon commuting

Local government employs approximately 30,000 staff across New Zealand (LGNZ). Using CarbonWise surveys completed by South Taranaki District Council, Queenstown-Lakes District Council, and Bay of Plenty Regional Council, our team to estimated the annual commuting emissions of all local government staff in the country.

 The result is 30,000 tonnes of CO2 equivalent, or twice Nelson City Council’s operational emissions.

Many councils strive to lead by example in climate change initiatives. Reducing carbon emissions through employee commuting is an area where this is possible. Some councils already support low-carbon commuting, for example by providing bike purchase schemes and carpooling programmes, while others provide state of the art cycle parking facilities.

When it comes to behaviour change, setting precedents and inspiring others goes a long way. We are social creatures, often comparing and mimicking each other. Local government employees throughout Aotearoa have the opportunity to demonstrate that low-carbon options for commuting are feasible, healthy, sustainable, and enjoyable. We need early adopters of all ages, origins, genders, and abilities to use methods such as cycling on our transport networks to make others identify and think “this could be me”.

How councils can lead the commuting revolution:

  • Survey employees to understand their commuting choices and challenges to understand what support will help them change, for example by using CarbonWise.
  • Collaborate internally across teams on commuting initiatives. Ideally, form a working group that meets monthly to progress initiatives.
  • Providing on-site parking for employees is costly for most councils. Remove or reduce free parking, or reserve it for car poolers, or match with benefits for other types of commuting (e.g. a public transport subsidy, bike purchase scheme, etc).
  • Organise events to encourage alternative methods of commuting (for example working with a supplier to trial bikes and e-scooters).

Local government commuters are a pilot group that can inspire the rest of the community to change how they get around. They can be the ‘example on the streets’ that amplify local government’s work in the transport and sustainability spaces.

Our team love discussing employee commuting. Contact us for more details.

TomTom traffic stats

TomTom Traffic Stats Data

Abley recently used TomTom’s Traffic Stats data to provide journey time and speed information for traffic modelling.

Traditionally, we would have sent employees into the field in vehicles to capture position and speed data using mobile devices. We sometimes still use this method, but TomTom’s journey time and speed data does the job more efficiently and provides more data for traffic models.

Here are some of the benefits:

  • Volume of data – TomTom has an archive of journey time and speed information for New Zealand roads reaching back to 2008. The volume of data being fed into their database grows exponentially as more connected cars enter the fleet and the use of navigation app expands.
  • Flexibility– Users have control over the days and hours they choose to generate their journey time and speed calculations. If there are days where traffic volumes are abnormal (such as public holidays) then these can easily be excluded.
  • Timeliness – Simple traffic statistics reports are requested and delivered in minutes. This is a significant benefit over traditional methods of data collection where staff travel to site, undertake the survey, return from site, and process the data into a usable format.
  • Environment – Our team actively look for ways to reduce our carbon emissions. Using TomTom’s data instead of travelling to site is one way that we can do this.
  • Safety–There is risk to travelling to site and being on-site. The best way to keep employees safe is to not have them out in the field. From the safety of their desk, TomTom Traffic Stats removes that risk of harm.

While engineers and planners enjoy getting out onsite, the cost of doing so versus the benefits of using probe-based data just doesn’t compare. Get in touch with Jacob Pescini to learn more about TomTom’s Traffic Stats data and how it can benefit your organisation.

LGWM engagement

Engaging with communities for better outcomes

Effective engagement with our clients and their communities is fundamental to the work that we do. Abley’s Consultation and Engagement (C & E) team partners with stakeholders and communities to shape consultation and tactical engagement strategies in a planned and effective way.

The focus of the C & E team is to reduce reputational risk, minimise project delays and maximise stakeholder support. Being IAP2 certified, the team provides well-designed consultation and engagement from the beginning, continuing across project phases and delivering successful outcomes for clients.

In 2022, we welcomed Cath Jacobs, Associate Director – Consultation and Engagement to Abley. Cath brings 15+ years’ experience in consultation and engagement, relationship management, communications, event management, business development and project management, previously working in Singapore, Hong Kong, UK, and NZ. Cath is supported by Vanessa Sears, who has 12 years’ experience in market research, conducting focus groups and surveys. Also in our C & E team is Shendi Mani, who has five years’ experience as a transportation engineer and has a keen interest in public engagement.

A key element to C & E success is ensuring clients have a genuine mandate for their decisions, involving the community at an early stage, adding legitimacy to the decision-making process with the community being part of the solution.

Our C & E team partners with local councils and central government working on regional and national programmes. Current projects include supporting or leading C & E for six of the Let’s Get Wellington Moving (LGWM) corridors, working with Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency on SH2 safety improvements and with the Tauranga City Council on their central city bus interchange project.

Our C & E team members are based in Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch which allows us to provide expert advice throughout Aotearoa. Contact Cath Jacobs if you would like to learn more about how we can help you with your consultation and engagement solutions.  

Public kerbside collection from a high-density development, blocking the footpath and affecting the bus stop.

Who is taking the bins out?

The issue of waste does not fall neatly into anyone’s speciality bin when developing land. Bin storage is often an after-thought that gets added at the final design stage.

High-density developments often have centralised waste rooms and long private driveways which Council trucks cannot enter. The messy task of accommodating rubbish collection is left to the planner, architect and transport expert. To ensure developments can function well, bin storage areas should be incorporated into the design, to ensure residents and collection trucks can get to the bins safely. Without careful consideration, trucks may not be able to turn around within private sites, or there may be insufficient berm space for the bins to fit for kerbside collection. The bins may end up blocking footpaths, affecting pedestrian amenity and creating a hazard on windy days.

As we attempt to reduce landfill waste, we need to consider the changing legislation and grim realities of the waste we create. Our waste needs to be separated to make recycling, food waste and refuse easier to collect without cross-contamination. This is likely to mean multiple bins, trucks and collections each week.

As transport experts, we can help to identify specific waste collection vehicles and undertake vehicle tracking to assist with design. If engaged early in the process, we can add value by suggesting where the bin storage areas should be placed to make it easier and safer for residents and drivers to access them.

Recently, we have worked with developers, consulted with private waste collection providers, liaised with Council and provided design guidance to the architects on waste storage and collection, without compromising urban design elements.

Our advice is, ensure you get early advice about waste, so you are not picking up the scraps later. Contact Ashrita Lilori for more information. 

Meet the team: Chris Blackmore

Chris Blackmore joined Abley in 2017 after spending several years in North America on a working holiday. Chris also has five years’ experience working in Operations Management and Systems Analysis in the public utilities sector.

Chris graduated from the University of Canterbury with a BSc in Chemistry and a BCom(Hons) in Operations Research, and is now a Senior Transportation Planner specialising in Transportation Modelling and Economics.

During his time at Abley, Chris has worked on several significant projects, including developing and utilising the Rolleston microsimulation model plan change model and appearing as an expert witness at resource consent hearings. Chris has developed and worked with models in many New Zealand contexts, ranging from large-scale regional strategic models to bespoke project-focused microsimulations.

One of Chris’ most rewarding projects involves providing key economic analysis and advice to Environment Canterbury as part of the Public Transport Fare Review project. This piece of work included detailed economic analysis of the revenue, cost, and patronage implications of various fare schemes, with outcomes adopted by ECan and a two-year fare trial due to be implemented over 2023 and 2024. Chris was responsible for developing and utilising the economic models used to inform decision-makers.

Outside of work, Chris is a keen skier and mountain biker and is generally found somewhere in the Port Hills or Southern Alps. He is also a dedicated cycle commuter and enjoys making use of Christchurch’s expanding network of bike trails.

New starters add valuable skills and experience to our growing team


Mark Reeves (Group Manager, Marketing and Products) joins our Auckland team. Mark was previously at Mercury where he was Strategy Lead, Retail Integration and led the Customer stream for the acquisition of the Trustpower retail business. Mark’s expertise includes sales and marketing strategy, business development, partnership strategy, customer value proposition development and loyalty. Outside of work, Mark enjoys coaching his son’s cricket team, running and trying to train the family Vizla, Lola!

Sue Philbin

Sue Philbin (Associate Transportation Planner) joins us remotely in Tauranga. Sue previously worked at Traffic Planning Consultants where she held the position of Senior Associate. Sue has 25+ years’ experience in the transportation planning profession, with a passion in the delivery of sustainable transportation projects. Outside of work, Sue enjoys motor boats, sailing and fishing. 

Andrew Couch

Andrew Couch (Associate Director, Business Cases) joins our Auckland team. Andrew has been involved with business cases in heavy rail, light rail, walking and cycling and future transport solutions. Andrew joins us from his own consulting business, Big Blue Advice, in which he did business case work, economic case, peer reviews and investment assurance. Andrew’s interests include woodwork, Bikram yoga and electric vehicles.

Martin Ball

Martin Ball (Associate Director, Transportation) joins our Auckland team. Previously at Blue Barn Consulting as the Director of Transportation, Martin was responsible for commercial, client, team, project and delivery management of the Transportation team. Martin has 26 years’ experience which includes commercial management, design management, business development and strategic planning. Outside of work Martin is a keen football fan, has recently taken up CrossFit and loves House music.


Nicole Alfred (People Talent & Performance Manager) has recently joined our Christchurch team. Previously at Tait Communications as Global HR Manager, Nicole has comprehensive HR experience and is passionate about the work she does. Outside of work, Nicole is a Board Trustee at Youthline and she enjoys skiing, tramping, and working on her house renovations.

Xinghao Chen

Xinghao Chen (Senior Transportation Engineer) joins our Auckland team from Auckland Transport. Xinghao has five years’ experience in road safety, strategic planning, and project management. She has worked on projects including the Safe Speeds Programme Phase 2 & 3, Nelson, Fanshawe & Hobson Streets Safety Improvements and the Speed Management Plan 2023 – 2026. Outside of work, Xinghao enjoys playing golf, scuba diving, walking and connecting with nature.


Will Eason (Digital Marketing Coordinator) joins our Christchurch team. Will has recently completed a Master of Strategic Communication from Te Whare Wānanga o Waitaha/University of Canterbury and was previously employed by Allied Press before joining the Abley marketing team. Outside of work, Will enjoys getting outdoors and finding the best coffee. 

Ziyad Yusuf (Graduate Transportation Engineer) joins our Auckland team. Ziyad holds a Bachelor of Engineering from Waipapa Taumata Rau/University of Auckland and was previously employed by Waka Kotahi. Outside of work, Ziyad enjoys doing community work at the local mosque, plays football, and tutors his younger siblings with schoolwork.


Carlo Maniquis (Graduate Transportation Engineer) joins our Auckland team. Carlo holds a Bachelor of Engineering (Civil and Environmental) from Waipapa Taumata Rau/University of Auckland and was previously employed by Active Survey as a Junior Surveyor. Outside of work, Carlo’s interests are basketball, badminton, going to the driving range, and rock climbing.

Grace S

Grace Stapleton (Graduate Transportation Planner) joins our Wellington team. Grace is a recent graduate from Te Whare Wānanga o Waitaha/University of Canterbury with a Bachelor of Science in Geography and Environmental Science, and a Master of Urban Resilience and Renewal. Outside of work, Grace loves listening to true crime and running with her partner.

EOML Boatsheds

Join our team

We are always on the hunt for talented professionals to join our award-winning team. Keep an eye on our careers page for our current vacancies.  We are currently looking for: 

Project Manager

Transportation Engineer or Planner

Payroll Admin