Who are you and what have you done with Auckland Transport?
For the third time in a week I find myself praising Auckland Transport for something related to walking and cycling. This time following the fantastic Open Streets on K Rd.
AT fixed the biggest issue from the last few years on Quay St when there simply wasn’t enough space for the tens of thousands of people out enjoying the day due to them leaving half of the road open to traffic. This time they closed off the entire street from Newton/Ponsonby Rd all the way through to Upper Queen St. The day also went longer than in the past with this year it opening to people from 12-7pm. The extra space and time were definitely needed with the event proving hugely popular and thousands flocking to the street. Given K Rd’s colourful history I suspect for many it might have been the first time in a long time – and what a way to see it.
AT worked with the K Rd business association to put on the day and I love that the organisers didn’t try to sanitise what makes K Rd unique, instead the event felt like a celebration of what K Rd is so wasn’t something else that was awkwardly shoehorned into it. From the music to street performers to the drag queens commenting on street football/limbo, the street’s culture and colour were vital in helping to make the event both interesting and also not feel manufactured.
The very nature of the street also played a big role, the subtle twists and turns as K Rd makes its way along the ridge helped too in breaking up the street and creating some mystery. As you come around a corner and the street opens up ahead of you, you found something new to check out and a heap more people.
I think the day would have also been great for businesses along the street, some of which don’t normally even open on a Sunday. All of the cafe’s and bars I saw were humming with people and their presence meant there wasn’t a need for things like food trucks which also helped in allowing for more space for people.
Everyone that I talked to, both on the street and online afterwards was extremely positive about the event with many also saying:
- It should happen every Sunday
- It needs to happen in many other town centres around the region.
If the K Rd event did become a regular event and even if only half as many people turned up it would still be hugely successful and see a far greater number of people use the road than had it been open to cars.
Following the previous events on Quay St, it feels like Auckland is now starting to tap into the right vein of what is needed to make events like this successful in the future. This includes
- Closing the whole street to give people enough the space to move about
- Tapping into the local community and letting them put their own flavour on things.
- Not over manufacturing things
And as successful as the day was, I also couldn’t help imagine what it would be like once the CRL is open and thousands of people an hour are pouring out of the K Rd station.
There are a heap of photos from the event on twitter and I’m sure other social media too.
As part of the event Auckland Transport were also talking about the options for upgrading the streetscape of K Rd which includes adding cycleways. The project covers the area from the Newton/Ponsonby Rd intersection through to Symonds St. AT are still working on the design for it but were asking for feedback on which kind of cycleway design people liked best.
For most of the street where there’s enough space they asked for people’s preferences between three different cycleway options.
While for the central section between Pitt St and Upper Queen St there were two options suggested. For these AT also had the ideas shown in virtual reality which gave a different perspective and definitely influenced my preference.
And as of about 5:15pm, here’s how the voting AT had set up was looking. As you can see they were hugely in favour of physical separation in both cases. In the central section, after looking at the VR version I actually preferred the kerbside option as the extra width was noticeable and there’s less likely to be people walking over the cycleway.
Overall an excellent day that was enjoyed by tens of thousands. Well done to all involved in organising this.
Did you go to the event, if so what did you think?