Over the last few days the council have shown that miracles can happen, even if they’re somewhat belated, with High St finally starting to be transformed into a more people friendly space.

To tie in with Art Week, the council have implemented the first stage in a trial give more space to pedestrians. With the exception of expanded loading zones on the eastern side, car parking has been removed from between Shortland St and Vulcan lane. In its place on the western side is the most significant change so far with the footpath being expanded via the installation of decking over the carparks. The whole installation only took a few days and I was really impressed with the quality of the result with the surface completely level with footpath so no risks of people tripping. I felt like it really helped to open up the street more and it is particularly nice being able to walk comfortably and not having to squeeze past people.

Cam Perkins of Auckland Council’s Design Office says he’s thrilled to see the trial begin.

“Over the past few months we have worked with Heart of the City, High Street businesses and residents to understand what they want to see for High Street.

“As a result of our co-design process we’ve installed decking to create wider footpaths, bike racks and planters with edible plants. The wider footpaths will make it safer for pedestrians and for those using personal mobility devices. Vehicle access will be maintained which is particularly important to support business deliveries and servicing.

“The changes will also improve lines of sight so that people can better appreciate the wonderful heritage buildings along High Street.

“The changes represent a lighter and faster approach that we can learn from and adapt for future projects. We’ll be monitoring and evaluating how people and vehicles use the space.”

Here’s a time-lapse video of the changes being installed.

Tuesday not only saw the changes make their debut but also saw the whole street closed for Art Week, thereby giving a further taste of what High St should be and saw some tables and chairs added to the street as well as art installations.

The closure made the street even more pleasant and the council should have just left the signs up and the street only open to pedestrians.

It will be fascinating to see what happens to pedestrian numbers in the area following these changes.

The dip from September 2016 to September 2017 will have been related to the construction works at Freyberg Square and Ellen Melville Hall

The changes to High St are being made incrementally with the next section to get treatment being Vulcan Lane to Durham St early next year.

Stage two of the project will run from Vulcan Lane to Durham Lane and is planned to start from February 2020. Feedback from the High Street community on stage one will inform this next phase.

Now that we’ve got our first real taste of it, we need to see these types of changes being rolled out at pace, not only in the city centre but in town centres across the region.

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  1. It’s great to see that. This really shows that a tactical implementation can happen very quickly if there’s enough will.

  2. Wonder how long Murray Crane will keep flogging the ‘don’t pedestrianise High Street’ horse if this is a success which it will no doubt be. Looking forward to checking it out tonight!

        1. If you’re concerned about pedestrian trip hazards, might be good to advocate for changes to those that pedestrians face every day and night of the year. For example, https://www.greaterauckland.org.nz/2018/02/27/western-victoria-quarter-part-3-vehicle-prioritisation-pedestrian-design-failures/

          The artificial grass was there for one day. Do you think temporary brightly coloured trip hazards in a street furniture zone (as opposed to the throughway zone) is really the big concern here?

  3. Oh lol, what for the retailers on the side with the retained parking/loading to start complaining that it’s not fair, all the customers are on the other side of the street, how easy it is to see their shop fronts/displays, etc etc… (these will be the same ones who have fought improvement in the area the whole way).

    1. Yes this could be an interesting bit of A/B testing. Will any shops complain of being “stuck on the car side”.
      Painful that these things take so long but glass quarter full etc etc.

  4. I still wonder why they can’t just turn the entire street into a shared space.

    Like just what are all those car parks actually needed for?

    1. It would certainly be the most logical solution. I’d go a step further and make it pedestrian only with bollards that lowered between 5am and 11am to allow for deliveries.

      1. I was thinking of a pedestrian mall as well, but then looking at the businesses along there it seems many of them would be needing delivers to came and go throughout the day and so it really needs access to be left open.

        You also of course still need to allow for fire engines etc.

      1. There is reason for delivery vehicles to have access though. All those shops/cafes don’t get their stock by teleportation.

        1. And residents like myself like to have the occasional vehicle access, too. Short windows for delivery vehicle access sounds like a good compromise.

      2. Most pedestrian streets around the world get delivery early morning and then the road is closed all day for humans. Although, Cuba St in Wellington – you know, I’ve never seen anyone getting a delivery there. I honestly think that it must arrive by magic…

        1. I think a reasonable fraction of Cuba Mall shops have service access from the rear, from Leeds/Eva Streets on the eastern side, or on the western side through the World Trade Centre carpark or (before the current redevelopment) the former Farmers carpark.

        2. No magic then? Sad…

          But yes, you’re absolutely right. Small minivans can and occasionally do snake their way through the shoppers in the afternoon, from particularly insistent couriers mainly – but yes, most places must get their goods from a back alley – including off Left Bank – but here’s the thing – I honestly have never seen this happening, and my office is on Cuba St. So the big question is: is there a back alley anywhere for High St ?

        3. I don’t think there’s any rear access for most of High Street, and if there was it’d be off Queen Street or O’Connell, both of which are just as bad a place to do loading as High Street itself.

    2. As it has dotted yellow lines it means 1 thing LOADING zone .
      If you have a closer look at the 3 vehicles there only 1 is a goods service vehicle the other 2 deserve paking tickets . and any other vehcle that may/could use it are taxis for piking up or dropping of passengers only .

      1. Some loading zones allow any vehicles that are loading/unloading, and some zones only allow goods service vehicles. I don’t know which one it is here – you’d need to check the sign. The paint on the road is the same for either.

  5. One (maybe two) rising bollard at the Shortland St end. Fixed times for service and delivery vehicles (6am-10am?) bollards up, street open to people the rest of the time (emergency services can control).

    Sorted. Now get on to the rest of laneways…

    1. We have bollards like that here on Waiheke at Matiatia wharf and they are operated by the security gaurd to let vehicles onto the wharf and if I remember rightly he uses a controller like you use on a garage door

  6. We hope that it is a success and the shop owners will have an increase in their sales. Then other suburbs will be encouraged to make similar changes. Most of our suburbs are very run down and struggling.

    1. Yes, hopefully the city centre improvements can be rolled out now. The examples of evaporating traffic and improved air quality in city centres where people have been prioritised are pouring in. Any resistance to doing the same here has no basis; opponents should have to provide a business case for keeping the status quo.

      Which means some energy now needs to turn to creating low traffic neighbourhoods in the suburbs, so that the majority of children can see the benefits.

      1. Heidi,
        do you whether poor quality air results have been found in Auckland apart from the sites around Queen St?

        1. yes; among of the worst places are around the city motorway, like down the back of K Rd by the m’way junction; shocking results.

  7. I can see there is a few more improvements.
    -Similar to Takutai Square, we can put some seating during summer and close it off traffic, starting by one day a week.
    -The first parking slot near corner cafe should be outdoor dining with dining furniture.
    -The area outside Shakabowl can potentially allow a couple small space saving dining furniture.
    -They can paint some dots on the road to say it is a shared space
    -They can paint a green cycle/scooter lane on the road

      1. That sounds like a good way to irritate High St cafe/food outlets who pay high rents/rates for their shops. You want to keep business owners on side with these initiatives.

  8. its a good start.

    I do feel there was a missed opportunity to utilise Corner Bar to activate the space a little more throughout the course of a day, the layout prevents any spill out seating along the eastern footpath. Could encourage them to colonise some of High Street by waiving the fees to alter their liquor licence to serve drinks in that area.

  9. Just went for a quick stroll along High Street. Good progress. One thing that struck me was how many of the cars parked along High St are actually trade vehicles like electricians and plumbers (as opposed to delivery vehicles). It would be good if AT could provide dedicated parking for these types of vehicles somewhere else.

    1. Or, actually – they are the ONLY types of vehicles arguably needed to have parking access. Witness tradies arms bulging with muscles from lifting heavy loads.

      I love the example of Venice – absolutely no cars anywhere, and yet the shops still stay open and the goods get through. Their tradies have boats instead of vans, and they use barges for the big stuff, and they walk through the city with their tradesman tools in a rolling container they tow behind them, just like our tradies could do in High St as well.

      1. In other cities where street are patronized, there are dedicated hours for deliveries and tradies, generally in the morning or after business hours. The tradies generally schedule the work during those hours.

        1. Have already started seeing tool carts in Auckland.. Saw a guy yesterday who had his tool box attached on the back of a tiny folding bike

        2. Yes, my son excitedly pointed out a tradie on the NW cycleway who had an obvious toolbox kitted out on his pannier.

      2. Yes I guess tradies will adapt. Maybe a case initially for more specialist tradies that handle the central city. They could advertise as such.

  10. Heidi “The artificial grass was there for one day.”

    I’m sorry, I thought it was there for the duration.

    1. No, the planter boxes and decking are there for the duration but the road closure and seating in the middle of the road were just there for Tuesday.

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