Back in April the Waka Kotahi NZTA launched a fantastic initiative, a $7+ million pilot fund for tactical urbanism called Innovating Streets for People. The agency invited councils around the country to apply and would provide financial (90% of costs), organisational and technical support for tactical urbanism projects. Put another way, making it faster and easier to make our streets safer and more liveable, saying about the programme:

Many of us in urban areas want to live in vibrant neighbourhoods, where we easily get to work, and access shops and services. We want to feel safe and comfortable moving around, in ways that are good for our health and take care of the planet.

Tactical urbanism can be used to make quick progress by testing and piloting projects to help demonstrate their value to the community.

In Auckland we’ve already seen some great tactical urbanism projects, such as the wider footpaths on High Street and safety improvements to the Wellesley/Sale St intersection and both were case studies used.

Yesterday they announced the first results of the programme, which seems to have been a very popular idea with the agency approving twice the budget.

A $13.95 million government investment will see around 40 projects that make streets more people-friendly being delivered across the country before June 2021.

In the first of two rounds of funding, from the Innovating Streets for People pilot fund, Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency has confirmed it will support these projects to be developed, installed and adapted in a range of towns and cities. Each project will be designed in partnership with local communities to make streets safer with more space for people, and will test layouts, materials and designs to inform permanent upgrades.

The projects include neighbourhood-wide interventions designed to reduce traffic and create more appealing environments for adults and children to walk, cycle and play; intersection repairs that improve safety outcomes and make it easier for people to cross, and improvements to make business districts more vibrant.

Innovating Streets is a nationwide programme designed to support councils and communities to build experience and knowledge in co-design processes to deliver urban street upgrades faster and with more community insight built in.

Kathryn King, Waka Kotahi’s Portfolio Manager Developing Regions says: “The programme aims to use the pilot fund to grow our national capability in the ‘tactical urbanism’ approach so we can scale up the pace of change as we transition to safer, cleaner, healthier and more equitable towns and cities. Pilots, pop-ups and interim treatments help us try out street changes and gain valuable on-the-ground feedback from communities.

Yesterday the Council announced Auckland’s results from the fund with the region getting just $1.4 million of that for four projects.

The projects are:

Queen Street, Access for Everyone pilot

The highly anticipated ‘Access for Everyone’ pilot for the Waihorotiu/Queen Street Valley will begin next month, signalling the start of pedestrian priority for the heart of Auckland.

Auckland Transport and Auckland Council will use a co-design process with Queen Street users and stakeholders to test low-cost ways to lay out the street that can be quickly adjusted, adapted, improved or removed through the process. This approach has successfully been used in High Street, where it won an award from Living Streets Aotearoa.

Access for Everyone will work towards the removal of non-essential car traffic from Queen Street. This prioritises pedestrians and frees up road space for public transport, deliveries, emergency services and for people with limited mobility.

Ratanui Link, Henderson

This proposal pilots a pop-up walking and cycling link and improved access to Henderson Train Station. This will be tested by reallocating some street space in Henderson’s town centre to make more space for people, all designed through a collaborative process with local stakeholders and businesses. As well as improving walking and cycling safety, the project also aims to make it more enjoyable for people living close to the town centre.

Huron and Northcroft streetscape improvements, Takapuna

This proposal aims to work with local community to co-design a series of temporary interventions to support better walking connections through Takapuna, due for completion in October 2020. It will build directly on previous and current Panuku led tactical urbanism initiatives in Takapuna and will permit adjoining businesses to explore activating their street frontage, widening footpaths and providing safer crossings. The learnings will be used to inform a future permanent upgrade.

Safe Schools

Safe School Streets Pilot: will use temporary tactical measures to trial co-designed safety improvements near school entrances to fully understand what’s needed before a permanent solution is delivered. This could include parking changes, new drop off and pick up zones, new pedestrian crossings, and speed calming measures.

School speed reduction: will reduce the speed around several schools using co-designed tactical urbanism measures to reduce the risk of death and serious injury.

School Streets road closure and rapid active mode shift programme: aims to get more children walking and cycling through community bike programmes, walking school buses, and temporary school street closures.

It’s great that these projects are being progressed.

The council of course have talked up the result but Auckland submitted 15 projects and the result is clearly well below Auckland’s population share. A memo from the NZTA to Auckland Transport on the topic was included in the minutes to a recent Planning Committee meeting and suggests that instead of innovating streets, Auckland Transport proposed a lot of business as usualing the streets, saying Auckland’s projects “fell short”.

I feel like I should be surprised by this but I’m not as at the moment it feels like AT are going backwards at a rate of knots on most urban transport issues. The small wins we do get only seem come from a hell of a lot of work to overcome obstructive and oppositional elements within the organisation. As an example you only have to look at the complete lack of progress on cycling projects in recent years and that there doesn’t appear to be anything in the pipeline after the current tranche is completed – Karangahape Rd, New Lynn to Avondale, Northcote Rd & Tamaki Dr. Their 10-year cycling programme has all but been ignored since the cycling team was disbanded.

There’s a second round of the Innovating Streets programme and the minutes also include the projects Auckland are considering for that – with submissions due shortly.

This list will be refined before sending it to the NZTA. Let’s hope they do a better job this time.

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  1. It is depressing how bad Auckland Transport have become at walking, cycling and placemaking over the past few years. In most other areas (public transport, safety etc.) they have slowly and painfully got better. But walking, cycling and placemaking are actually getting worse.

    At some point questions need to be asked over the chief executive’s accountability for this regression.

  2. “it feels like AT are going backwards at a rate of knots on most urban transport issues”

    Sure does. Gee, if AT understood tactical urbanism, they would’ve kept trying on Ponsonby Rd, and would’ve kept improving it. Instead, they ripped out their first attempt, and a young gentleman died as a result.

    And yesterday a poor lady in Glen Eden was killed by one of those pedestrian crossings where you don’t know who gives way and you don’t know if a vehicle’s stopping for you or stopping for the hump. Killed by the bad crossing type, that anyone who walks knows is unsafe. And AT includes these crossings in their safety projects still. W**kers.

    And Uber drivers and red light runners and truck drivers and bus drivers are driving like sh*ts. There’s no one in control. We’re in the wild west.

  3. Um, four projects? And look at them:

    – Queen St should have been finished ages ago.
    – Improved access to Henderson Station – good walking and cycling access to all stations should be core AT work.
    – Takapuna – forgive me, but that looks like Panuku’s work. So no credit for AT.
    – Safe Schools – again, this should be core AT work. AND it’s nothing compared to what’s happening in cities around the world for schools this year.

    That’s great that NZTA is holding AT’s hands as it tries to learn this stuff, but it must feel like they’re in kindergarten whereas other councils have already made it to high school.

    1. A4E should also have been funded anyway by AT. If you knock that out of the list, then
      AT got 1m out of the (13.95 – 1 = 13M) = 8%.

      Queen St Access for Everyone pilot – $1m
      Safe School Streets Pilot – Owairaka District School – $84,912 and Sunnyhills Primary School – $124,817

      Temporary Oratia and Ratanui Link- Pop up Walking, Cycling and Bus Priority – $556,600
      Huron and Northcroft streetscape improvements – $400,000

  4. Heidi
    The project for Huron St was because Panuku had to.

    First, the walk way from this part of town through the car park had lapsed into disrepair i.e. the paint had faded. I wrote to Panuku and was told that it was too big to fix, despite the lines outside 40 Hurstmere being replaced when that commercial area was redeveloped.

    Now there will be at least 450 pedestrian movements per day from the new gasometer car park (PEE) with no safe way for them to access the business area because they have to pick their way through the busy Anzac St car park.

    I also note that Panuku had always intended to upgrade Huron St (an upgrade as a sop for the local residents who will see their air quality diminished considerably – unlikely as Council seems to show little concern in other parts of Auckland.)

    So cross this off the list as any great initiative by Council.

    Panuku’s plan for Takapuna is to pedestrianise the town centre. Many years on we have seen little but we do have $30 million spent on a new car park building.

    1. “Panuku’s plan for Takapuna is to pedestrianise the town centre. Many years on we have seen little but we do have $30 million spent on a new car park building.”

      Selling three quarters of the public space to private interests, spending a fortune on a high-rise car-parking building, and lifting a finger at the urgent need for proper rapid transit. This council sucks, doesn’t it?

  5. The mere fact that AT has a separated Strategy Team speaks volumes to how they’re not geared up to do tactical urbanism… It is just another step/roadblock in the chain of approvals.

    Strategic thinking should be imbedded within AT. Not some tacked on department.

    AT trying to be tactical was never going to work with this kind of structure. Put a strategy SME into the various delivery programmes and embed them.

    My guess is that the Strategy Team sits away from all the Delivery Teams in some lonely corner high up in the building (most likely near HR, CEO and Legal) and is unavailable for contact half the time ; while they concoct their silo’d view of the world.

    Classic 90s corporate structure. Not innovative in the least…

    Get them to go sit with the plebs that actually deliver stuff. Empower the people that actually deliver things!

    1. Yeah, pretty much.
      AT has never had a strategy. Not really. Just a long list of random stuff they want to do. Just like AC. Just the same problem. Slap together a long list of stuff they want to do and slap the name ‘strategy’ on it. Print a bunch of pretty brochures and call it a day.

  6. It would be interesting to see what was funded elsewhere in the country and to see what learning/innovation is occurring there

    1. From their media release, they mention only the following cities so far:
      Auckland, Hastings, Christchurch, Whakatane, Cambridge.

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