I love the shared spaces and have absolutely no problems walking down the middle of them even when cars are around but I can understand why others don’t feel that way and get nervous about the interaction between cars and pedestrians. This is especially the case when there are too many cars using the space, even if those numbers have reduced significantly from before the upgrades and admins post the other day about needing to ensure we get the right balance made me decide to post my thoughts on how we could solve the problem.

I do think that that the long term solution is to pedestrianise Queen St with perhaps the exception of using it for some form of PT however it is going to be a number of years before we can get to that stage so my solution focuses on what we can do today to further reduce traffic which will help to make pedestrians feel safer in these areas.

My main concern with traffic is the ability of the streets to be used as rat runs due to how they were traditionally used and both the Elliott /Darby St and Fort St suffer from this as the diagrams below show. The solution is to simply change the direction through which traffic travels, this would would negate these streets as rat runs while still preserving vehicle access for vehicles that really need to use them i.e. delivery vehicles.

In the case of Elliott/Darby St traffic wanting to get from Wellesley St to Victoria St or even just wanting to bypass the Queen St and Victoria St intersection, which has a lot of pedestrian phases, can use these streets to do so. Elliot St is also the only way to access the car park in the currently empty site at the northern end and vehicles have to travel use it and possibly Darby St to access that car park (of course ideally that site would be developed but who knows when that will happen).

Elliott St Before
Elliott St After

Simply changing the direction of these streets and only allowing left turns on and off of them would remove that rat run and mean that anyone using them will result in a vehicle going around in a circle which means that only cars that had to use it would do so. In this case it would also mean that cars accessing the car park wouldn’t need to travel the length of the road but only one end of it.

The second example is Fort St which is probably even more of a rat run based on the number of vehicles I see using it. For anyone coming from Beech Rd and wanting to get to Queen St it is probably far easier to use Fort St than get through the three intersections along Customs St East. I think what makes it even worse is the straight section between Gore St and Commerce St allows people to accelerate and they don’t slow down as much which means they travel faster through the shared space section.

Fort St Before
Fort St After

Again changing the direction of the traffic would remove that rat run, also as cars would need to turn off Queen St to access the shared space they would be more likely to travel slower through the area. It is also worth noting that the section between Gore St and Beech Rd is also eventually meant to be a shared space, I am undecided about the best direction for this but have opted to leave it the same to avoid creating more confusion/phasing at the intersection. Commerce St, Gore St and the middle part of Fort St will remain a normal road but the footpaths are being upgraded and widened as well.

The thing I think is best about these changes are they are simple ones that could be done fairly quickly and easily as they only require a few changes to signs and a bit of education but they have the ability to remove a lot of traffic from these areas in which pedestrians have been given far more priority.

Share this


  1. Ingenious thinking for both streets Matt. Certainly my ideal shared space is one where the only cars using it are those accessing properties within the area and you don’t have any through traffic. See my post earlier this week on the matter.

    The Elliott/Darby change should be really easy to implement too.

  2. There is one problem with the Fort Street solution which is that you can’t turn right in Queen from Customs. Nor can you do this from Quay. This leaves people coming from Fanshawe Street with the weird situation of having to either do a U turn on Customs Street or enter Britomart and perform some right hand turns in there to enable the left hand turn into Queen from Customs. I’m not sure what can be done about this except add a right hand turn phase to the Queen/Customs intersection. It’s too bad that the vehicle entrance to the Deloittes building wasn’t located on Shortland Street.

    1. I don’t see why this is a problem, there isn’t really any need for vehicles to access Queen St with possibly the only exception being to access Shortland St if coming from the western side of the CBD. Cars from the North Shore could just turn up Hobson St and then head across on Wyndham St. Also I have seen cars go in both directions to and from that car park entrance so no reason why they couldn’t continue to do so.

      1. I guess blocking off the Queen Street side and allowing cars to travel both ways would work. That might slow traffic a bit more as there would be the uncertainty around the possibility of oncoming traffic.

  3. How about simply closing Fort Street to traffic entirely between Quay St and Jean Batten Place? That is a step that would need to be taken for pedestrianising Queen St anyway.

    Likewise closing Darby St would sort out that rat run.

    1. Fort St doesn’t connect to Quay St so that wouldn’t be possible to begin with, I assume you mean Customs St. There are quite a few vehicle entrances to buildings along Fort St so you wouldn’t be able to cut them off, most of them are for buildings that actually face onto Shortland St like the Vero Centre. The only section that could be closed when Queen St is would be the bit where it actually joins as the Deloitte building entrance is between Jean Batten Pl and Queen St.

      As for Darby St, that wouldn’t stop the road being used for the length of it as people would sill have to drive all the way down it to access that car park.

      1. Sorry I meant Queen St, as in basically remove the intersection of Fort and Queen (west of the Deloite centre car park entrance that is) to cut out that possibility of traffic flow, not to mention improve pedestrian amenity and reduce delays to buses on Queen.

  4. well designed shared spaces are designed so cars drive cautiously by making them narrow, putting obstacles in the way etc. Maybe a little more of this needs to be done by adding more street furniture.
    The main issue is need to stop people accelerating quickly.
    Also they are still quite new so still time for behaviour change.

  5. Another solution I can think of for Elliot would be to leave the direction as it is but block it off (with bollards or street furniture) at the intersection with Darby. Reverse direction of Darby as mentioned. So cars coming into Elliot from Wellesley can only turn right into Darby, then Queen. The remaining top end of Elliot stays two way as is for access to the carparks. Rat run gone with only reversing Darby and a planter box.

    Similar on Fort, just block off the intersection to queen street. (think this is what Nick R mentioned above) Feel that exit is unnecessary anyway and would have an added benefit of removing a bit of traffic from Queen st?

  6. Excellent idea to make Victoria St the only entrance to Elliot/Darby St and I also vote that bollards are placed on the Fort St/Queen St intersection.

    Why not install retractable bollards at all shared space entrances, and then the council can choose when to close the streets and when to open them? Perhaps open between 5am and 11am for delivery vans. It would also be funny to ‘trap’ all the illegally parked cars 😀

  7. A couple of points to consider about reversing Elliot St:
    1. There is an entrance into the Wilsons car park from the Albert St slip lane, which appears to be the main entry for most drivers. The only exit is to Elliot St, so if the whole road is reversed then you’d end up with more traffic from the car park traveling the full length of the street (not sure how this compares to reduction in rat-runners though)
    2. Elliot is the only shared space on a slope. If traffic reversed cars would drive up, and I wonder if this might make them a bit more pushy to get through at speed than when coasting down. It would cause more noise and pollution from traffic too

    Maybe the suggestion of blocking Elliot St midway is worth considering? Another slightly less conventional solution would be putting a barrier arm across the street (top/bottom or midway) with a button for motorists to push to open. This wouldn’t stop couriers using the street, but would discourage passing through.

    Talking of Elliot St, this week they’ve repaved the areas where seats had been positioned but had been run down by vehicles, removing the gaps in the paving where the seat posts had been. It is disheartening that in one of the few streets where people are supposed to have priority over traffic, to see illegal parking being given priority over being able to sit and enjoy the area. Surely they can install more robust seats, like on Darby St. CCTV to prosecute illegal parking (and charge anyone damaging the furniture) would be good too.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *