The Council’s updated City Centre Masterplan (CCMP) creates a fantastic vision for how the city centre will develop over the coming 20 years.

One of the key transformational moves is about making Waihorotiu / Queen St Valley more people friendly, saying:

CCMP seeks to bring new life into the heart of the city with a revitalised, pedestrian-priority Queen Street. The laneway network would be expanded as the centrepiece of a new zero emissions zone, which is free of through-traffic.

Plans to pilot improvements to Queen St have been on the cards but the need for change was brought forward by the response to COVID-19. That has seen a number of temporary changes made to the street along with iterative improvements to them. The current state includes features such as the bus buildouts and concrete cubes to provide space for physical distancing.

There have been some attempts to change it, there are still far too many cars in Queen St though, many of which are uber/taxi’s cruising waiting for a job.

There had been some opposition to the temporary changes with some calls to return Queen St to four lanes mistakenly thinking that will encourage people to drive to the city to shop. When combined with the lack of progress on light rail there had even been some attempting to relitigate the entire CCMP. Thankfully neither of those things happened, both because we’ve obviously since had a second lockdown but also because it would’ve been absurd to rip everything out only to potentially put it or something similar back again a few months later as part of the pilot,

The good news is the council are now moving to the formal pilot stage and they’ve also release this good video about it.

One thing that I was very pleased to see in the video is that the council are clearly defining the high-level vision as well as the short term non-negotiables. For example, that “over time it becomes and expansive pedestrian and public transport zone” and that in the short term it will need to accommodate the buses diverted as a result of the City Rail Link works. Making these things clear upfront will be important in helping to keep the co-design discussions on track.

As well as the formal co-design process, anyone is able to provide feedback that will be used to “inform the design trials on the street” via their social pinpoint tool.

As the video highlights, the CCMP is about catering for 130,000 jobs and over 35,000 residents. This is notable as just yesterday Stats NZ released their most recent population estimates for the country and they show the city with almost 122k jobs and nearly 38k residents.

I’ve also been keeping an eye on the pedestrian numbers on Queen St in response to COVID. Like what we’ve seen with PT numbers, they’re looking very similar to the first lockdown which means that once we move back to level 1, fairly quickly we should get back to at least 80% of last year, if not higher. I don’t have it in the graph yet as Friday’s always drage the weekly average up, but even just for Monday and Tuesday the numbers are looking up on last week which is notable given the Harbour Bridge disruption we’ve seen.

I’m quite excited to see what comes from the co-design process. It was also used on High St and delivered us the fantastic widened footpaths that have made the street so much more pleasant. Further, when combined with all of the downtown works we’re starting to a much more interesting city emerge. That’s something that will do far more to attract people to visit and shop than retaining a few extra lanes and carparks on Queen St ever will.

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36 comments

  1. If the plan whilst Albert st being worked on is to put more buses down Queen Street then we need electric buses now more than ever. There isn’t going to be much thats pedestrian friendly than a line of Diesel Buses spewing out fumes.

    Have high hopes for CCMP, hoping they don’t half bake or mess it up.

  2. They could be doing this much better. So far, they have taken out the bus lane, and instead made buses and cycles join the general traffic lanes. That has caused significant delays, esp to buses on Lower Queen Street. I can understand removing general traffic. But I doesn’t make sense to keep the general traffic while removing the bus lanes.

    It’s also much harder to now cycle down lower Queen Street. Previously you could use the bus lanes. Now with parking indented into the ex-bus lanes, you can’t really use that ex-lane, and have to join the general traffic.

    As a bus user, cyclist and office worker in the area, it’s become a must-avoid for me.

    1. Cycling down Queen Street now (which is the best route to get to my office) is abominable, and actually rather dangerous. The alternative would be to use the Nelson Street cycle lanes, but that just dumps you out on the wrong side of the CBD with no protection from traffic either, and a set of road works to deal with.

      1. Could you cycle down Grafton gully bikeway? Then use the cycleway on Quay Street to go to a destination in the lower CBD? When K road completed could you not use the cycle ways there and Meyers park to access mid city/aotea square?
        Ok things are imperfect but there are alternatives to cycling down Queen street.
        In a few years time completion of some of the current projects will make things a lot better but the CBD is going though a massive rebuild at the moment. There is inconvenience for everyone at the moment. You do have other safer options if you wanted to take them…. but it will take longer.

        1. Agree, Grafton gully is a great experience for cycling down, probably adds only 2-3 mins to a journey to lower Queen/Shortland area but is safe and pleasant. Trying to navigate from the NW pathway to Upper Queen and then down is dangerous and painful now.
          As for Queen St itself, they have to get the cars out. Lower Queen is so backed up with cars (what are they even doing here) trying to turn right into Customs (short right turn phase) that it blocks all the buses wishing to turn left, and then you get the entitled people thinking they can park on Queen st itself or loading zones.
          Electric buses will be key

        2. @kerry What do people think about trolly busses, or overhead lines in general for light rail. I personally love how those systems look. Battery’s are good and all, but in the end direct delivery from the grid is more efficient, and better for the environment.

        3. Problem is, Arum, that people cycle on Queen St to get to places on Queen St. And this is surely what we want, to support our city centre and our retailers? When I arrive in the city on the NW cycleway and want to go to a store in the middle of Queen St, I’d prefer to take 5 minutes to cycle directly down Upper Queen St and Queen St than take 25 minutes to go via Grafton Gully.

          There’s space to allocate lanes for scooters and bikes. It’s not a biggie really.

  3. “over time”? can they be more vague than that? maybe in 2040 we will be able to walk around that area without cars then. Ridiculous

    1. It’s ridiculous. I applaud them for doing this, however the timeframe on this project 20 years? is just absolutely ridiculous. Most of us won’t even be here to experience nice paved pedestrian Queen St. This could be done right now while tourists are out of the country

      1. I think the Universities have a large impact too. Uoa is still work from home mostly. Before Covid it was just pretty incredible how busy it was. Annoying walking around I’ll those people, even on the already massive sidewalks.

      2. I am not missing all the Trump supporters who used to camp on ships at the bottom of Queen Street. Perhaps we could divert them all to Opua in the future.

  4. I sincerely hope that the trial is actually trialling a car free Queen Street as approved in the City Centre Master Plan.

    If we are trialling stuff we should be trialling what we want, not a trialling an interim solution!

  5. What I want is for cycling to be really pushed for Queen St. 3 lanes of bus / bike width, a bus lane each direction, and a solid bi-directional cycleway. All clearly delineated from each other with different surfaces / heights. I would be concerned if we just had the two bus lanes and a massive pedestrian walkway. The next concern is downtown bike parking. Trying to add a number of parks around the transport hubs would be a fantastic start. Especially at the new build train stations. Almost half of Dutch train trips either start or finish with a bike trip. Adding secure bike parking can massively increase the catchment area of a station. https://www.railtech.com/policy/2019/08/21/netherlands-opens-worlds-largest-bicycle-parking-at-train-station/

    1. Yes. Although since there are destinations all along the length of Queen St, it’s not really suitable for a bi-directional cycleway on one side. How do you get to a property on the other side? If the solution is going down to the next set of lights, crossing and pushing your bike back on the footpath, that’s unnecessary hassle.

      But agree on all your other points.

      1. @heidi – bi directionals are great. Even with destinations on both sides of the street, just have plenty of bike parking along the street. Hoping off the bike and walking 20-50m to the shop isn’t a big deal surely.

        1. Queen St (from Mayoral Drive down, anyway, doesn’t have driveways to contend with, which makes a bidirectional work better from a safety point of view… although up on the steep bits this does become a bit of an issue.

          What are the advantages you see to bidirectional, though? On a narrow road it’s a way to fit everything in. On Queen St, with just two bus lanes required, and some loading zones, there’s loads of space for active modes.

        2. Probably space for bidirectional on both sides. ie two lots of them. For those flatter sections anyway. Saves crossing in front of buses or light rail.

        3. I really like the bi directional because you can pass way easier and makes it more comfortable to ride side by side. Having two one directional cycleways takes more room to give the same amenity imo. It just gives more flexibility, prevents people going the wrong way on one directionals, you can u turn easier. I don’t see the crossing as being a major issue, but I do see your point. Hopefully busses / light rail only traffic will be light enough to not need to cross only on lights.

  6. Great video. Devil will be in the detail though.
    I would like to see a lot of Low impact urban design. There has been a tendency in recent times for most public spaces and plazas in Central Auckland to be almost devoid of landscaped spaces, going for a very Euro-style public plaza style.

  7. “That’s something that will do far more to attract people to visit and shop than retaining a few extra lanes and carparks on Queen St ever will.”

    This comment is the one. So need to close of as much of Queen St to cars as soon as it can be done.

  8. Notice in the video that the buses have changed from double deckers to bendys? Previous promotional material had all the buses as double deckers, but in this one there are only a few of them.

  9. Was in Queen St / Waihorotiu Valley today – the part that used to be a stream but we paved over it back in the day . Silly us now we have a water shortage . Wake up Auckland , today in the city you could hear a pin drop , park anywhere in the Civic car park and if you were an able bodied , fully sighted human you could walk at will the length of the Queen because there’s NOBODY there. Also no signage or volunteers to tell folk what is happening . There is no accommodation for the less abled or disabled. There is no consistency of “ street furniture” at intersections . Some have round concrete bollards , others hit sticks . Some tar seal is painted , some isn’t . In the video there is light rail . Pretty sure that’s off the table. All this is aspirational . We’re in a recession , the Council is broke , the harbour bridge is broke, the shops are empty or closed . Wake up Auckland , we’re in Emergency Budget territory here. Not sure how much this is all costing but good luck to us mates we’re gonna need it with this Council running the show.

  10. As a cyclist, the temporary measures feel like a step forward but not quite there yet – the big while block things feel really unfriendly, there’s a lot less space in the lane, and the seperated bit is way too meandery and up and down all over the place. It’s a step in the right direction it’s just not quite there.

    Also coming from upper queen, where Queen goes to bus only past the town hall is horrible to ride through.

  11. Let’s stop being polite
    The super city is a massive power grab for control of assets
    Corporations have designed this project for their benefit not the residents of downtown .
    Good design comes after good consultation,
    Good design comes from talking to people who know the place, it is not imposed upon us by those who think they know what we need

    1. You should make a submission and go to the meetings and encourage people you know to as well then. They will publish the feedback when its all done. See if you and your group represent the downtown residents as much as you think.

      1. Hi Jack thanks for your response
        Although I have not personally attended meetings I have worked hard in the background to assist those who have
        I hope this project brings what you are hoping for. Thanks for your advice

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