The government are currently consulting on a suite of much needed changes to legislation that will remove red tape, to “make it easier for local authorities (like councils) to make street changes that support public transport, active travel and placemaking“. And that consultation closes later today.

We wrote about the changes here. You can see the full consultation document here. There is more detail on Waka Kotahi’s website.

In total there are 18 changes proposed across seven categories. Several of these have clearly come from lessons learnt as a result of Waka Kotahi’s Streets for People programme and, if enacted, will make it easier for programmes like that to thrive. This suite of updates also builds on the Accessible Streets changes that were consulted on two years ago and are currently waiting for cabinet signoff.

The changes, which are summarised below, are all pretty innocuous and sensible. They really represent just tidying up existing rules, bringing some of our outdated legislation into the 21st century and making it more consistent with other aspects of our transport system. They also in no way require councils to make changes to streets – nor do they remove the need for public consultation.

  • Proposal 1: A new approach for piloting street changes
    • 1A: Provide Road Controlling Authorities (RCAs) with new powers and requirements to install pilots, and set requirements for how to install them
    • 1B: Enable pilots to be used as a form of consultation, with feedback collected during the pilot used to consider whether to make street changes permanent
    • 1C: Enable pilots to be installed for up to two years
    • 1D: Amend the Local Government Act (LGA) 1974 to make it clear that RCAs should not use the provision for ‘experimental diversions’ when piloting street changes
    • 1E: Allow RCAs to lower the speed limit to support a pilot, in areas with a posted speed limit under 60km/h, during the pilot
    • 1F: Update rules for trialling Traffic Control Devices (TCDs), so that RCAs can trial TCDs as part of pilots and choose how they notify people about TCD trials
  • Proposal 2: Powers to filter and restrict traffic
    • 2A: Enable RCAs to install modal filters if the objects they use are safe
    • 2B: Ensure legislation provides clear powers to filter traffic, by removing the requirement in the LGA1974 that facilities built on roads cannot, in the opinion of a council, “unduly impede vehicular traffic entering or using the road”
    • 2C: Enable RCAs to restrict or prohibit the use of some or all motor vehicles on specified roadways to support public transport use, active travel, health and safety, emissions reductions, and/or to create public spaces that promote community well-being.
    • 2D: Provide RCAs with an explicit power to install TCDs
  • School Streets
    • 3: Establish powers and requirements for RCAs to create School Streets in partnership with local schools
  • Community Streets
    • 4: Establish clear powers and requirements for residents to hold Community Streets, provided they have approval from RCAs
  • Closing roads for other functions and events
    • 5A: Allow RCAs to close roads for reoccurring events, by removing the 31-day limit per year for road closures in the LGA1974
    • 5B: Bring together powers and requirements to close roads for events in one piece of legislation and update notification requirements so that RCAs can notify the public in any way that they consider appropriate at least two weeks before an event.
  • Pedestrian Malls
    • 6A: Remove the requirement for local authorities to use the special consultative procedure when establishing pedestrian malls. Instead, they must apply the consultation principles in the LGA2002.
    • 6B: Remove the ability for people to appeal to the Environment Court when a pedestrian mall is being created. People would be able to challenge the installation of a pedestrian mall through judicial review.
    • 6C: Shift legislative provisions for pedestrian malls to the proposed Street Layouts rule
  • Transport shelters
    • 7: Remove special notification requirements for creating transport shelters. Instead, RCAs would be able to publicly consult on transport shelters in the same way they do for other features, like bus stops.

Despite the changes seeming sensible, they need support as there has been opposition, with claims this is part of a conspiracy to force people out of their cars.

If you want some more thinking on this to help in a submission, our friends over at Bike Auckland have put together a submission guide.

Submissions close at midnight and if you just want to indicate your support for them can be completed in just a few minutes, so get yours in now.

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30 comments

    1. Untimely yes, separated from pedestrians as well to be fair. Reducing speeds, making resident only zones and tactical traffic calming devices also makes cycling safer and is a quick and cheaper way to make a larger area safer for those not in cars, and also negates the need to quickly remove on street parking (which I cringe at saying only because I know of the uproar doing that would cause).

  1. Now, is there an opportunity here to wrestle the control of the roading infrastructure off AT by forming one of these Road Controlling Authorities (RCAs) for Auckland?

    1. I am old enough to remember, before the SuperCity, that the people around the predecessors of this blogs used to *dream* of a single Transport Authority for the whole region which could do “joined up planning” of public transport and roading. As opposed to the old days where transport initiatives stopped at the boundaries of the individual districts/cities.

      And now we’ve got it, and everyone hates it and wants it dismantled. What went wrong?

      1. We have gone from only local projects with no joined up planning to only mega projects with local streets getting worse and worse. The likes of the CRL will be great if you live near a train line, but if not then it has sucked billions out of the transport budget and now AT can’t even afford to upgrade broken footpaths, install even basic cycle facilities, or make it safe to cross the road. The volume of cars has increased significantly since AT was handed the reigns, yet the cycling and pedestrian facilities in most areas are exactly the same if not worse.
        Also bigger organisations are much more arrogant, for example I have reported many issues to AT that I shouldn’t have had to (because they should be monitoring the state of their footpaths etc), and there is no thanks, reply, feedback, etc at all, and then years later it hasn’t been fixed. Imagine reporting to your local power company that a power line had fallen down and they didn’t even bother to get back to you or fix it!

        1. “and now AT can’t even afford to upgrade broken footpaths,”

          That was the de facto situation well before CRL. Don’t blame a good project for all our transport woes.

          Re inefficiency / hating AT – I blame the “excess accountability” of your usual AT staffer. He/she has to make
          – things work within budget (at least at the time of writing)
          – their bosses happy
          – the local politicians happy
          – the regional politicians happy
          – the public happy
          – the often conflicting special interest groups happy (“special interest” is not meant as a moral statement here)
          If either of the later groups gets disgruntled, a public whipping follows, even from politicians who claim to be supportive. So the natural tendency is to be extremely slow and conservative. Why stick out one’s neck? So the results are even worse etc.

          Sure, to a degree any bureaucracy works like that. But the CCO model, instead of being more independent, ended up being much less so.

        2. Damian, I don’t read Jimbo’s comment as blaming all our transport woes on one project. He mentioned the CRL as something that will be great if you live near it, but it was simply an example of a mega project. His point was the shift from unconnected local projects to mega projects with little attention to local streets. I think that is a valid criticism.

          Nor should you sum up his informed description of AT’s non-responsiveness as “inefficiency / hating AT”. He didn’t use that emotive word. What he expressed was reasonable: organisations do have to work hard to mitigate the problem of being a bigger, more faceless organisation. AT is not doing that well.

          Personally, I’m tired of the valid criticisms of AT getting responses like yours which are all about the staff experience. Yes, it’s hard. Yes, they have professional responsibilities.

          The person for whom we are designing still needs to be the 8 year old independent child, or person reliant on a wheelchair. And frankly, AT has failed these people. Staff should be risking their careers kicking back on management decisions because it’s only their jobs we’re talking about, not their lives.

        3. The mega project ceromony and expense. The costings are always wrong anyway. Couldn’t we just give them a fixed allocation per year for each type of activity and tell them to get on with it.

      2. A total lack of accountability went wrong. The old roading departments answered to local politicians. If they didn’t give people what they wanted, the Councillors got involved and forced change. AT was sent up by Mark Ford to look and work like Watercare- some arm’s length monster, that could set its own objectives and do those. Problem is transport is political in a way that water flowing in pipes has never been.

        Add to this the reduction in political accountability where each area now has a couple of Councillors who represent more people than an MP, yet they can’t make a change in their own area because the whole thing is run by a majority of people from outside the area. Yes you will get CRL (with its B/C ratio of 0.6 and dropping fast), but you won’t get anything local.

        1. The old roading departments didn’t build any PT or cycling infrastructure at all, made cars a priority in every situation, removed pedestrian crossings etc etc.

        2. Zippo I wonder if that is what people voted for at that time though. Certainly our local board are very left wing, people want to see walking and cycling improvements, its hard to imagine them removing pedestrian crossings etc if they had any power. Also a bit of competition between areas might be good, the right wing areas like St Heliers might change their tune when they go somewhere left wing that has a much nicer people friendly vibe than their multi million dollar car centric “upgrades”.
          I would prefer a half way approach, similar to what we had with a regional council but with much smaller local councils, the regional does the big stuff and the local the smaller stuff.

        3. Yes other than Britomart station, Great North Road buslanes, the Northern Busway, Onewa Road HOV lanes, Dominion Road bus lanes, Sandringham Rd bus lanes, Symonds St bus lanes, Fanshawe St (west of Halsey) bus lanes, Tahaoro Rd bus lanes, New Lynn bus station, New Lynn rail station, Panmure station upgrade, the majorty of cyclce lanes, and the aquaduct. Other than that what did those Councils ever do for us?

        4. miffy they were almost all Auckland City Council or North Shore. Is that possibly because Waitakere and Manukau were hamstrung?

        5. “the majorty of cyclce lanes”

          What cycle lanes? The couple hundred meters of faded paint that is Greenlane West, and that, if both sides were combined, might make a single cycle lane?

          Oh, yes, I remember Auckland City Council’s cycle lane target before they got abolished in the super city. It was 1km a year. Can’t make it up.

          I also remember North Shore Council doing a budget proposal shortly before Auckland Council proposing to absolutely zero out any cycle lane investment.

          Rewriting the past is fun, but at least today much of this can be disproven with a bit of research.

        6. The New Lynn Rail station was sold as a traffic congestion solution rather than as a PT project.

          “Although the Treasury initially opposed the rail trench, a sceptical Labour Finance Minister at the time, Michael Cullen, was persuaded to commit $120 million of Government funds to the project after Mr Harvey and New Lynn MP David Cunliffe led him to the roundabout in rush-hour traffic.
          Mr Harvey said the demise of the level crossing would help to pave the way for the redevelopment of New Lynn as a 21st century growth centre.
          He recalled warning Dr Cullen that without the trench, worsening road congestion from traffic heading to or from the new Mt Roskill motorway extension would “stop the West” and he praised National for continuing with the project. “

        7. Jimbo you can credit the Manukau rail station to Manukau City and the previous regional authorities. It opened after AT existed but they didn’t start it.

        8. In fact if you compare what the previous Councils did in their last 10 years with what AT did in their first 10 you have to ask what was the bloody point in AT?

        9. When you say ‘what’s the point of AT’, I assume you actually mean what was the point of the Supercity from a transport perspective?

          I think that the New Network is a massive win from AT and is something that the old councils would never have delivered. I also struggle to see how the CRL or Eastern Busway ever gets built without the Supercity. To a certain extent, the only improvement you will get from massive scale regional governance is massive regional scale projects, but it is unfortunate that so many of the smaller scale projects seem to have been lost in that transition.

    2. That is one of the main reasons for AT’s existence, so I don’t think that’ll have the outcome you intend, probably because the same ilk of traffic engineers will control the internal process and discourse of any body you setup.

      I think that’s why there is so much angst and noise about the governance of AT and other CCO’s. The issue is about having the plans and intentions of elected officials derailed by internal culture.

      The goal of reducing political interference in the internal working of core service providers was worthy on the surface, but hasn’t had the intended outcomes. Maybe it’s time to redesign the governance structure of CCO’s.

      1. “probably because the same ilk of traffic engineers will control the internal process and discourse of any body you setup.”

        AT barely has any traffic engineers. It’s all managers, even those few who are actually engineers. 90% of all technical work is outsourced.

  2. I had a reminder last week that what we might see as benign and sensible changes, other people see as an existential threat to their existence. I went to a mayoral debate in Christchurch organized by the local central city business association. The business association (which is clearly opposed to “reshaping streets”) asked the two candidates what their view was of the changes, and disappointingly both agreed that they wouldn’t run any pilots using the new powers. Also highlights why people should submit in favour of them.

  3. The “status quo” is a friendly companion to most people,and resisting change is where they feel most comfortable. Not realizing,of course ,that life is constantly changing around them.
    It is rapid change ,that gets most people on edge,unfortunately,the world has painted itself into a corner where rapid change is the only solution,the “status quo” is only going to bring further heartache and misery,(Nelson,Wellington,Northland).
    Proposed changes,like this ,allow our elected representatives to steer society towards a sustainable future,where our next generations can prosper. The “status quo” IMO,is not currently allowing that.

    1. Or so we’re always told. In fact, the whole “people don’t want change” thing is turning out to be a bit of a baseless beatup. It’s a narrative that serves the status quo, but doesn’t match reality. Latest example is https://twitter.com/nzsd/status/1571262708120694787/photo/1

      I believe advocates need to shift into a different gear about this. We need to make the authorities acknowledge the high public support for change. And every time someone says, “it’s important to build public support” call it out as a message that actually undermines acknowledging the support that is there.

  4. Its funny to see all the opposition to stuff like this (giving RCA / councils more freedom) from politicians that oppose 3 waters on the grounds that it takes local control away.

    1. Well, our “Libertarian” party ACT supports harsh residential zoning controls, so… it was always hypocrisy. People want to control what they dislike, no matter their stated claims to more/less govt.

  5. Please remember this is about legislation to make changes possible, not to make any particular changes. Opposition to these proposals is opposition to being able to do anything about the changes they would make possible, like school streets, pedestrian malls, regular market streets.

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