My focus this morning has been on San Francisco and watching Team New Zealand win the first two races in the America’s Cup (bloody hell that first race was exciting). It has also got me thinking of an initiative that happens in San Francisco that I would love to see implemented here in Auckland – Sunday Streets. San Francisco didn’t invent the idea but they definitely appear to have embraced the idea. Here is how it is described:

Sunday Streets are events that encourage recreation, community activities and fun in San Francisco. Sunday Streets closes stretches of city streets to automobile traffic, and opens them to people for several hours on a various Sundays throughout the year, so participants can enjoy a large, temporary, public space where they can bike, walk, run, dance, do yoga, or do any other physical activity. Non-profit and health organizations offer free activities and share information about their services during the event.

The great thing about the idea is that it doesn’t have to cost huge amounts of money on permanent infrastructure. Some temporary road closures and staff to manage it but it is really just about making use of streets that already exist. Here’s a photo’s from San Francisco but there are heaps more here.

And here is a video from a few years ago of the event in San Fran.

In New York the idea is known as Summer Streets

While in the city that first came up with the idea 30 years ago – Bogatá, Columbia – it is known as Ciclovia. What is neat about the Bogatá ones is that they appear to be a network of routes and the focus is more of a case of just turning over the street to pedestrians and cyclists rather than the more festival style implementation in San Francisco.

About the closest thing we have had was an event in February 2012 called “Playing in the Streets” where a section of Queen St was closed down. But that was a one off and hasn’t been repeated. How neat would it be if we could do this on every Sunday during the summer months, perhaps each week could take place in a different local board area to ensure it is spread around the city rather than just be CBD focused.

So where would you like to see get the Sunday Street treatment?

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  1. Who wouldn’t?

    Sunday streets in sunny parts of lower CBD, Broadway Newmarket (Khyber to Mortimer), Ponsonby (Franklin to Hepburn) Road, Parnell (Burwood to Garfield), Onehunga Mall (Arthur to Princess). etc etc. Anything to make mega malls and their concrete jungle car parks less attractive

    While we are at it, how about a few dollars per person Sunday Funday pass like Sydney has?

  2. A Funday pass would be great but it’s unlikely to happen in Auckland. The privately owned bus and ferry companies would baulk at the thought of any reduction in their profits as would the private operator of the rail service. Auckland Transport (the Auckland branch of the NZTA) wouldn’t know how to organise it (see Hop fiasco) as it might require changes to timetables, it would involve co-ordinating different fare regimes and, of course, it would affect the all important farebox recovery ratios.

    As for Sunday Streets the big problem would again be Auckland Transport which wouldn’t see the point of it because it might disrupt all important motor vehicular traffic and place unnecessary strain on the two two-car ADLs they run hourly on the Western line during those weekends when they bother to operate.

    1. Why should the operator of the rail service experience reduced profits? If anything, car-free street-activities such as this encourage people to use the train to get there. This is certainly the experience in Wellington (Santa Parade, Thorndon Fair, Cuba St carnival etc)

    2. @ Christopher T
      Ah, apologies, I didn;t read your original post properly. Your ‘profit’ concerns arise from the Funday Pass suggestion, not the Sunday Streets suggestion. You are probably right that paranoia over revenue-maximising could deter operators from offering something that feels like a cheap deal to the passenger, even though such deals can often boost business overall. Does Auckland not already have a day-pass / rover ticket faciltiy, usable on multiple services?

  3. A fantastic idea should just be weekends. Public Transport -in particular buses from day 1 is planned around these areas (no go areas). With a $90 off-peak per month in incl weekends obviously cost is not an issue.

  4. AT are near on USELESS at the simple things.

    This sounds like a great idea and I’d love to see it. Auckland Transport at present don’t have the ability to organise things well and I think it would put too much of a strain on them.

    They currently have
    – a website that does not work with all browsers.
    – cannot process credits. I had one, it go assigned a case number and then they said I get a credit of $8.46. I had to wait 48 hours before I could swipe my card to get the credit. After 2 months the credit hadn’t shown. I called AT Help, another case was created. after sometime I was advised separately that I got an $8.46 credit coming and also a $5.04 credit coming. It has now been 46 days today when I swiped. Still nothing. I rang the help desk with the friendly people and….. another case has been created to investigate where the credits are… after some weeks I expect another email advising another credit and to swipe my card. I have already advised I don’t want to have the credit added to my card just post me a cheque. How much dollars has this cost AT to do 3 separate investigations and to reinvestigate the basis for credit previously. Does AT make it impossible to get a credit to discourage people asking for them? I am reminded that “No one is completely useless. At least they can serve as a pitiful example.” And AT is that example.
    – Britomart help staff are by and large unhelpful.
    – I HATE dealing with AT. They are absolutely awful. They taken bad service to a whole new level.
    – the LCD displays at stations are hard to read
    – the machine for buying tickets is hard to use and I have had to give people instruction so they could buy a ticket. The buttons and where you press the screen are well out of alignment so that you have to press the button above to get the next button down.

    I’m sure AT are trying hard but they just need to do better. I look forward to the result of my 3rd CASE for a simple credit. Really it’s just too funny and an utter waste.

    1. Most of the things you noted seem to relate to HOP. Of course seeing that this is one of the may connections the average person has with AT, that’s still telling…

      Myself, it took me 3 weeks to set up my account for HOP, and then it became clear that I can’t yet register my cards (because they aren’t the stupid snapper hop cards!) and that even if I could, there’s still no online top-up facility, so there goes the only reason I would ever register them anyway! Poor.

  5. Great idea. Start off with the L-shape of Wynyard Quarter, Quay St to Ferry Building and Queen St up to Aotea Square. The Wynyard section is partially pedestrianised already so it’s not much of a leap to take it further.

    I suppose it may be necessary to allow the road crossing of Victoria St and Wellesley St to continue. Perhaps turn the traffic lights off and have a few police on points duty otherwise the road and car lobbies will have a fit of frothing apoplexy.

    1. Hi Glen- that’s fantastic, good to see.

      I have just spent a few days in CHCH and it is devastating how the quakes have accelerated our second city’s transformation into a polite version of Detroit: A doughnut city. All sub and no urbs. The CBD just endless at grade parking opportunity cut up by the high speed one way system. Nothing other than official rat runs, defacto motorways, city streets just a drive past for journeys between opposite sides of the doughnut.

      The only hope, from a placemaking and connectivity point of view, it seems to me, is the opportunity for a real and deliberate reinvention of ChCh as a great cycling city. There’s no problem with roadspace, it costs nothing to do it as roads are rebuilt. Really looks like the city’s only chance. Are you optimistic about the plans for cycling in the rebuild?

      Reflecting further on the direction ChCh is being taken, by fate and policy, it looks like NZ is dividing into two groups of cities: Christchurch, Hamilton, and Tauranga; the dispersers, going all out for sprawl. And Auckland, Wellington, and Dunedin, trying a more urban and contained form? Well Auckland is trying both, and Wellington and Dunedin’s urbanity is more based in history and geography than policy I guess. But still, these developments will be interesting to watch unfold.

      1. A change-of-government in 2014 might help. Get rid of Brownlee’s vision for a car-predominant city with public-transport simply an unspecified, tack-on extra. Factor in at this higly-opportune stage, a new transport system based on rail (light or heavy, whichever makes the most sense from a whole-of-region perspective).
        The current explosion of temporary at-grade parking is not such a problem as it will soon be re-developed into something better if the Greens get some say in things. If National gets another 3 years then yes, we should be very worried.

      2. Am I optimistic? Well, Council recently signed off on spending $79 million on cycleways over the next five years – see
        There is also a fairly nice draft Central City Transport Plan that we are awaiting the Minister’s sign-off on…
        As for the doughnut city; well they haven’t finished demolishing buildings in the Central City yet (900 down, 100 to go…). But there’s timelines now on CERA’s CCDU website for when all the big ticket items will be constructed; typically between 2014 and 2017 – see

  6. Close Quay street every sunday!

    They close it for sporting events some weekends and when it stays closed on Sat night the whole place is a much nicer place to be bar hopping.

    Once that is a success close the street down permanently. If you want to cross town west to east (or vice versa) in a car, take the bloody motorway, that what we spent a fortune building it for and it’s always flowing freely even at peak times. Otherwise use customs st.

        1. I’m sure the 7xx buses could easily be diverted along Beach/Customs (as they are at the moment when Quay St. closes).

  7. I would vote for the goverment that pushed for this. Should have happened years ago. AKL communities have lost touch with each other because winter takes 8months of every year.. We really need more shelter and more events in winter.

    1. It’s Colombia by the way guys (with an O), Columbia (with a U) could be any of a number of towns, provinces and districts in North America, but it ain’t the country in South America.

  8. Great idea but the traffic management costs would far outweigh any tangible amenity benefit. what city expense should we cut in order to fund this?

    1. Foe a one-off event, yes. But if this became a regular occurrence I would imagine the traffic management would simply become part of the routine and would be all set up for easy re-deployment each time.

    2. That’s a depressing attitude. We do this thing all the time (usually for big corporate sponsored events) but for the people, those who are the OWNERS of these streets, we can’t do it? Of course we CAN make it as expensive as we want, if we want to find a reason to not do it, all we need to do is over-complicate the issue, and look at every last rule in every last rulebook and see how we can include it in teh management plan.

      Bollocks to that. Put up some reflectorised barriers across the road ends and that’s it.

    3. Ari, in what way could an amenity benefit be tangible at all?

      Oh and boo hoo on the costs, if we are really scrambling for cash then take it from the events budget, or parks, or ask waterfront Auckland to do it. If we can close streets down for marathons, rugby games and trade shows we can do it for citizens pleasure. Hell, make it permanent and use the annualised road maintenance allocated to Quay St to pay for the capital works.

  9. Agreed Dave the residents at the nearby corner could put a couple of cones out. One traffic control -one man band to check overall as part of duties.

  10. There are good signs that a Sunday Streets or Ciclovia type event is going to happen this summer and hopefully not just as a one off.
    The traffic management plans for closing Quay Street were done for the RWC so are easy to roll out (the only real cost is implementing the plans on the day and costs can be kept low by not closing all the lanes on Quay Street). The City Centre Transformation Team at Auckland Council are looking at options for quick wins as a step towards the major transformation plans for Quay Street. A bike event on Quay Street is being actively explored.

    The City Vision team on the Waitemata Local Board has also asked the Parks department to investigate a Sunday road “opening” for walking and cycling in the Domain. There are lots of organisations and people who need to sign up to this happening but I am pushing for at least a trial this summer.

  11. I love the idea. Even just having the streets for cyclists and pedestrians and not creating an event around it would be an awesome start. My vote is for Ponsonby Rd, Tamaki drive, all the streets around Britomart.

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