Last week the excellent Streetfilms published a new video on tactical urbanism and some of those leading the charge. It’s a great look at how often simple and cheap changes can help make significant changes to our streets.

Tired of waiting for local governments to fix dangerous conditions, in many cities everyday citizens are practicing DIY traffic-calming to make streets safer for walking and biking. Some are forming “Departments of Transformation” to show others how to implement low-cost interventions, like traffic cones, to slow drivers down.

Often these installations are quickly removed by local DOTs, but in other cases, cities are embracing what’s come to be known as “tactical urbanism.” Some cities are making citizen-generated improvements permanent, while others are encouraging the movement by sanctioning, and even sponsoring, tactical urbanism projects.

Watch as we check in with people who are making this happen around the world!

I think that perhaps the closest we’ve seen to really using tactical urbanism has been some of the works in and around Britomart with the CRL but there is so much more we could do.

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  1. Fun stuff. Cheap enough toilet plungers might be a US thing… $16.99 at Hammer Hardware, I think the $5 ones are too small, but you can also spend $106 for a very plain one from FIshpond. Including delivery. 🙂

  2. Have always thought that an intervention involving everyone bringing large plants in pots and dumping them at the entrance to High St at a designated time would be good. If AT won’t shut the street to cars, let’s block it.

  3. Since the eastern lane of the upgraded St Lukes overbridge has been left redundant, why not use semi-permanent planter boxes to brighten up the area?

  4. Yes that’s an ideal spot. Yellow dashed lines around corners near schools where people still park to pick up their children are another one. The dashed lines don’t stop them but some cones with flowers in the top might.

    Years ago I picked up a couple of cones in an inorganic collection – discarded because they were graffiti’d. (I picked them up for the kids to steer around in the back yard.) Asking for cones due for discarding might be a good idea.

  5. We could achieve a lot for cycling with those armadillo things you bolt to the road. Get something up & running a lot earlier than the cycleways which seem to take an eternity to eventuate.

  6. From the even better news file -AT are actually engaging in tactical urbanism! They are allowing motorists to park down either side of Akoranga Road (the one to Akoranga Station) on the yellow lines and on the grassy island in the middle of the road. Actually people seem free to park wherever they like if today is anything to go by -partially obstructing driveways and walkways. This has the effect of calming traffic. At about 3pm a Ritchie’s bus coming from the north rounded the roundabout to head for the station. That’s as far as he made it obviously seeing that the way ahead was impenetrable.
    This parking issue is nothing new and is a disgrace. Why can AT not manage even the very simplest of issues? I read about the positive things others see, but in my interactions with them they just seem inept.

    1. Do you want to start a post with photos, details and copies of correspondence with AT? Plenty of people on this website can provide photos of motorists blocking cycle paths and cars parked on footpaths.

      Then if AT is responding well, they’ll get credit, and seeing that it’s worthwhile to send details in will encourage others to report this sort of thing. If they aren’t it will provide AT with a kick up the r’s.

  7. The same idea can be used by shop owners who wish to beautify the road in front of the store.

    What can be done includes repaving the sidewalks, install full shelter, tidy up the lawn, put in furniture, art and planters.

    In Japan there are retail street where shop owners body corp build the street roof, repave the street and install lightings. Essentally converting a public street into a public shopping mall.

    1. I think it’s a good attitude for retailers to have. I notice in places like France the cafe owners take responsibility for making sure the bit of pavement outside their shop is clean and clear of leaves, etc. Here, some submit to have the trees cut down so the leaves don’t look messy. :/

  8. What is the legality of this? What stops me from buying (a lot) of cones and doing this?

    Not much point in it if I’m going to get arrested every time.

    That’s an AT managed street. If I started messing with cook street I’d be straying into NZTA territory – will I end up at Guantanamo Bay?

    1. This needs to be researched, dr. So go ahead, and we’ll then tailor our next moves according to the outcome. 🙂

    2. Nothing is stopping you from doing it. You only get arrested if you get caught. Get a group of people to help. The more the better because then its harder to blame everyone. Better yet, get a bunch of school children to help! If you form a group called the “Cook St Residents Association” even better. Because you can rack up a bunch of legal bills and then declare bankruptcy.

      I’m not sure if it is illegal in terms of you sticking some cones out and rolling out some astro turf and putting in a swing set or something. You might not have approval to put a traffic management plan in place, but I think that isnt illegal in the sense it is against the law, it is just not approved. But someone in a car could just come and move the cones if they want so you need more than cones.

      It may take a day or two before AT even finds out.

      You are more likely to receive a bill from Auckland Transport than be arrested.

    3. Also, how successful were you with your report into the Victoria Quarter? If following the normal processes doesn’t work despite the strength of your case (and your case was very strong!), then the normal processes are at fault and need to be challenged.

      But I would first approach AT as per Bevan’s link – the Rotterdam example in the Streetfilm is preferable to the US examples. However, the US examples are what leads to someone like Janette Sadik-Khan having the mandate to make change.

      Twice as many people killed (200) in the world for trying to save the environment as five years ago. But none of them were in NZ.

      I can start propagating some hardy natives and trees that don’t mind having their roots restrained in boxes (figs for example do better like that, and grow really easily from cuttings, and I’ve even found persimmons seem to do well in poor conditions.)

      1. Well, it was included as a comment in the budget feedback, and I managed to get the Local Councillor and a planner from AC out to talk about it.

        There was some positive information, the Sale Street/Wellesley intersection was already supposed to be fixed, but the discussions around the Bus routes on Wellesley and Victoria Street have delayed that (indefinitely for all I know). The intersection at the base of drake/Wellesley was being talked about being closed. That was about it – all current focus w.r.t. to CCMP is Nelson and Hobson Street – literally no one had spent any time thinking about the area between vic park, nelson street and the sugartree block. Cook Street will get raised again, but it’s still tied up in AWHC discussions – I understand that none of the options do anything to improve that (and only make things worse).

        So overall: nothing good is happening any time soon.

        1. I’m thinking of a plan for the whole quarter, with layers for stormwater – based on the council layer, but with depaved areas and raingardens added – and for planted areas – which should include the many endangered lowland plants that only live in Auckland’s bioregion.

          First projects would be the cheap options like your example above, but AT and council would be able to see the longer term plan.

          Then ask for assistance and say you expect not to be hindered given that non motorised users are currently in jeopary.

  9. Sometimes Council’s can be slow to act on these things. Like the guy in Aro Valley in Wellington, who has been asking WCC to paint yellow lines on the blind corner in his street, since 1979…. and as they were too incompetent, then he’s been doing it himself since then. Sometimes you just have to do things for yourself…

  10. We could do with some tactical urbanism to fix the mistake our authorities made in restricting speeds to 80kmph on the North Western Motorway.

    Someone needs to take a spray can to the 80kmph signs and rectify the error. #100kmph

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