Today saw lower Queen St transformed from a road into a playground for the Playing in the Streets event so I popped down to have a look, there were plenty of people around but it definitely didn’t feel crowded. Here are some photos (sorry they won’t be as good as Patrick’s)

There were also some demonstrations like this gymnastics one.

While sports where the main theme of the day there were a few other activities for those who wanted to show their creative side and there will definitely be some interesting marks left on the street.

I think it is fair to say that the majority of the events were aimed at kids, not that it is a bad thing. If there was one thing I would like to see it would be it made into more of a carnival atmosphere with more music, activities etc, but at least its a start. Hopefully we start to see more events happening and these two signs become a more regular sight in the city.

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  1. A bit more space dedicated to somewhere to just sit around and enjoy the sun would have been nice. Ironically, while it was great to see the street closed off to cars, all the activities took up the street space so generally you found yourself walking along the footpaths and sitting on the seats at the side of the road. Just like normal.

    Still, a great start. Now let’s try to get this sort of thing happening most weekends.

  2. Sitting around, listening to music, drinking coffee, eating some interesting foods and just enjoying being would be my preference. Jan Gehl reminded us that people are social creatures. People watching is a great pastime.

  3. I would assume the lack of people would be because these were ordinary day to day activities.

    What was the point of this event again?

    1. Geoff – different people different things, not everyone is a trainspotter like you, so stop making sarcastic comments about other people enjoying their weekends unless you want people to start doing the same to you.

  4. Went along and thought it was a good first attempt. For next time:

    * Tell the retailers that it is on. The manager of Michael Hill asked me what was happening. In her view events like this don’t result in increased customers. My thinking is this may be true if noisier more active events are being hosted. If the overall concept was to make Queen St more attractive to come to then this may result in more customers coming to the city.
    * Make public transport more attractive for families. For a 2 stage fare, 2 adults and 2 kids that is $18.80 return. Parking at the Council owned downtown carpark was $7.50 all day. I chose the carpark. Run it on a weekend when trains are available.
    * More chill out zones / picnic spots / free space for pedestrians. I didn’t see any available in the morning.
    * Get rid of noisy petrol powered generators.

  5. Disappointingly they talk about doing this again NEXT YEAR, I thought they were aiming for regular i.e. weekly, monthly or the such closures, doing this sort of thing once a year is never going to build the momentum to close Queen Street to cars completely.

  6. Given its strong focus on sport, fitness and playing, the event it most reminded me of was the the opening of the new indoor sports centre in Wellington last year. I was down at Playing in the Streets fairly early (10 – 11.30) so that I could catch the Triathlon at Takapuna in the afternoon and it still seemed to be getting up to speed. Some things worked well, other things I think they could have done better. Maybe next year they could extend it to Victoria Street to create more room for picnic area, more activities and so on. The Wellington event just had a staggering number of sports going on at once: basketball, netball, turbo touch, korfball, floorball, futsal, volleyball, running races, ultimate frisbee, martial arts and dance classes. It was a great advertisement for the size and versatility of the ASB Centre space.

  7. It was great to see so many kids coming out to play, if a city can be child friednly then it entices more young families to live inner city lives. For that day, Queen street was a great amenity for these families, if it was more regular, or even permanent in some way then it would make central city a liveable place.
    It was fairly busy while i was there a 2pm, would have been good to have more seating, less noisy generators as well.
    A great start, it seems to have made an impact.

  8. I found it sad, with people trying to enjoy themselves in the middle of a street. It’s full of parks, green and beaches all around Auckland, why would you go between concrete buildings and generators?
    Fill Queen street with stages, music, artists and bars (where da … are the bars in Queen st?) and close it up at least until Aotea Sq.
    Half done again, the Kiwi way, like the Wynyard tram.
    Sad, so sad.

  9. It’s an excellent way to turn people of PT though.

    I noticed about 30 people waiting at for the Airbus at the stop just south of Wyndham St – apparently one had failed to arrive because of the closure.

    I found the whole experience extremely claustrophobic and excessively noisy.

  10. In New York they’ve done simple things like closing whole Avenues e.g. Park Avenue, for half a day for people to cycle up and down (was extremely popular), on other days they’ve closed a couple of blocks and put out deckchairs everywhere with potted trees for people to just sit and enjoy the experience of sitting in the middle of the street. These sorts of things are easy ways to show how different the downtown could be if it wasn’t a 4-5 lane road.

    I think what the council has done was a great start, I just think we should be aiming for this being a regular thing not once a year – and this would be possible if we also had simpler and easier to organise closures as happens in NYC.

  11. I am one of the organisers of the Playing in the Streets project. Thought I might be able to clarify some questions around the event. The project was created by 4 people who were part of a Committee for Auckland Future Auckland Leaders programme. It was not a council event, however we were assisted by the Waitemata Local Board and staff on the council who could see the benefits from the event. It was 18 months in the planning, our (significant) time was voluntary on top of jobs and lives (two babies were born in that 18 months).

    While Auckland’s CBD does have good parks surrounding the CBD, until recently when Wynyard Quarter opened there was little space for kids and people in the CBD itself to play. In 2010 less than 1% of the activity in the CBD is kids playing, and 2% people being physically active.

    We were inspired by cities such as Bogota and New York. The term play was specifically chosen as it can be reinterpreted to host music, performance, art, etc. Sport was chosen as the first theme as it has broad appeal especially to kids.

    This project was envisaged as a legacy project for Auckland and long term we hope can be extended in scale, frequency and theme. The first event demonstrated the concept appeals to Aucklander’s with approximately 10,000 kids and adults playing, people watching or walking through during the day. We have also learnt a lot from what worked well, and what we can improve on. Ideally there would have been more picnic zones, however having one central area really gave a great concentration of people, and we simply didn’t have the budget for more.

    The process of obtaining a permit to close Queen St requires retailers be informed of the closure and event via a letter drop. The Traffic Management Plan for the event with the rerouting of PT requires patrons to be notified with bus stop ambassadors on the street. Unfortuntately the generators were necessary as power is not freely available in Queen St.

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