The biggest change is what has been called Access for Everyone (A4E). This will see Queen St, which has 13 times more pedestrians than cars, and some adjoining streets become pedestrian, bike and public transport only.
Outside of the Queen St valley, the city centre would be divided up into eight zones. Pedestrians, cyclists and public transport would be able to pass between the zones but cars and trucks wanting to get across the city centre would need to exit back out to the motorway edge and go around the city. This means that only those vehicles that need to be in the city will be there and the council suggest this could reduce non-discretionary vehicle trips by up to 20%. Already more people live in the city than drive in the mornings and non-car modes account for over half the people arriving in the city morning. With CRL, Light Rail along with other bus and ferry improvements, capacity on PT is expected to increase by 370% in the coming decade.
Last week the concept was showing in a series of high-level drawings but the council have now released a much better image to explain the concept. As you can see, there are number of zones where the streets have been disconnected from each other. Note: I wouldn’t take this as a final version as there is bound to be a lot of work needed to confirm all of this and some zones will be easier to implement that others.
One particular movement I look forward to not seeing in the future are the large trucks that rumble along the waterfront to get to and from the North Shore rather than use the motorway to go around the city. Especially as that enabling that was one of the key justifications for upgrading the Central Motorway Junction in the early 2000’s.
On top of unanimously supporting A4E, the council went further and added the items in red below. It’s great to see them supporting tactical urbanism as that can help enable us to see some of the outcomes much sooner and cheaper. As we’ve said many times before, Queen St is unique and there’s no reason for a car to be there, there are no driveways or loading docks on it. Cars are only there because we let them be there. Importantly, the A4E work would have been needed at some point anyway as it’s a pre-requisite for when light rail is installed. Getting it agreed now, and even better, a tactical urbanism implementation, will make it easier to deliver light rail in a few years-time.
We’ve also talked a lot over the years about need for regular open streets events where the streets are simply closed to traffic. It’s good that the council want to see this not just in the city centre but elsewhere in Auckland too. It would be great to have a number of locations where open streets type events happen on a regular basis, say every Sunday (to start with),
One aspect I found interesting yesterday afternoon/evening was how our major news organisations reported it. Below are just the headlines
- NZ Herald – Council votes to trial turning central Auckland into a car-free zone – a good piece from Simon Wilson
- Radio NZ – Car-free CBD in Auckland comes one step closer
- Stuff – Cars will be banned from Auckland’s Queen St, and it could spread
- Newshub – Car-free CBD trial to go ahead after unanimous Auckland Council vote
- 1news – Queen Street pedestrian-friendly plan wins unanimous Auckland Council approval – I like the focus is on making it friendly for pedestrians and also the image they’ve used which highlights just how much space there is on Queen St
I wonder what response we’ll get from some of our regular media commentators today about it all.
Overall, it’s really positive that the council have not only agreed to this but have done so unanimously as that should help to send the message to certain council controlled organisations *cough* AT to get on with helping to deliver this.
Now, when’s that first open streets event?