Pedestrianise Queen Street? Hell yeah!

The Auckland Council is consulting right now on a discussion document called the City Centre Master Plan (PDF). It almost slipped under my radar but I’ve managed to draft up a quick submission to go in before the closing date – this Friday, the 17th of June.

I encourage you to make an online submission or send in an email too. This discussion document is short but it has some great ideas in it which should be encouraged.

I mainly got interested in it because of the transport aspect – the document suggests that Queen Street should be pedestrianized. It also says many of the other streets in the CBD should be made safer and more attractive for walkers and cyclists. Naturally they want to complete the CBD rail loop (who doesn’t? Apart from the Collosus of Roads that is).

Other exciting ideas include a proposal to two-way Hobson and Nelson Street (which right now are absolute wastelands for everybody not in a motor vehicle) and connect up the waterfront using a light rail system. Of course, this process has already started with the heritage trams at Wynyard Quarter.

What else is discussed that I like the sound of? More tree planting, a heritage trail, sustainability design standards for new buildings, and trying to create an amazing learning precinct.

This would be awesome and sorely needed as right now the two big universities in the CBD (AUT and University of Auckland) don’t really feel very well connected at all.

They also talk about the need to provide more facilities for families living in the city with children and better designed apartments for families. This is something I’m very conscious of, bringing up my kids in a flat in the Wellington CBD. We need more children’s playgrounds and sports fields in our city centres, as well as primary schools.

Finally, they talk about making the waterfront more accessible. They suggest there could be a continuous boulevard and cycle path from the Harbour Bridge through to Saint Heliers. This would be a great use of Tamaki Drive – an outstandingly beautiful road which right now is just dominated by heavy traffic and parking. It would have flow on effects that would increase the value of the land adjacent for business and residential development.

In general, I’m a pretty big fan of the City Centre Master Plan right now. But please do make a submission to try and make it even better! A few ideas I’ve suggested to improve it are daylighting the Horotiu Stream (imagine Queen Street with a stream down the middle – it happened in Seoul where they turned a freeway into a river) and extending the walk/cycle way on Tamaki Drive all the way out across the Harbour Bridge.

14 thoughts on “Pedestrianise Queen Street? Hell yeah!

  1. Queen St has always been a traffic/pedestrian hazard – but creating some sort of City Centre at the Harbour end makes a lot of sense – pedestrian only?
    For a block or three, Yes Definitely.
    I am one who went looking for Auckland….and never found it!

  2. Might be an idea to check the history of the main street through Onehunga, and see if we could learn from their experiences. Over the past 20 years, this has been changed several times – from memory, it has variously been pedestrian only for most of the shopping mall, pedestrian only for part of the mall, one-way for part of teh mall then diverting traffic through side streets, and has now gone back to being full traffic access.

    Anyone know the reasons for all the changes there?

  3. You do know that we already have over 20 heritage trails in Auckland? 3 in the CBD alone (Downtown, Midtown and Uptown) along with the University trail, several writers walks, Northcote, Takapuna and Mt Eden walks. We’ve been trying to get permission to publish these on our mobile platform for a while – Stay tuned.

  4. If Queen St is pedestrianised, it would be a great opportunity to ‘skylight’ and restore Waihorotiu/ Ligar Stream. With some judicious native planting this could really beautify the Queen St canyon.

  5. Anyone considered pushing for a pedestrianisation of High Street? High Street is too narrow for cars and pedestrians to exist together, and it already has some pretty high class shops along it.

  6. When I was in the ACC during the early sixties one of my tasks was to close Vulcan Lane. A bold experiment at the time.
    The biggest problem came from those who were willing to Trial It but did not want to do too much reforming in case it didn’t work and had to be re-opened.
    We finally won the argument that a trial closure almost guarantees failure. I’t still closed so it was worth the battle.
    One of the real problems faced by Queen St is that it is a valley with steep climbs on each side which is tough on the smart set on hot humid days. Wellington’s advantage is that is has a large flat CBD that one can walk all over without cracking a sweat. My grand solution was to build a first level deck spanning right across Queen Street, say from High St to Elliot St (or further depending on slopes) so as to provide a massive pedestrian platform and leaving Queen St itself clear for all the traffic below.
    All the first floor shops and offices would have become “ground floor” shops and offices, with service access underneath.
    It was a bridge too far.
    However, cities overseas such as Minneapolis are moving towards pedestrian bridges crossing intersections at first floor level.
    studies we did back then indicated a massive redistribution problem if Queen Street was closed and I suspect that problem has not gone away. Again, my fear is that to try and avoid this problem the proposal will be compromised. Vulcan Lane re-run.

  7. Is there a business district street that has been closed/pedesterianised that has not been reopened to vehicles after patronage plummeted and shoppers all enede up driving to the mall? Onehunga Mall comes to mind, along with Wellingtons CPC/Manners precint.

  8. There have been many partial closures (say one block – or even seasonal) but the larger the closure and the greater the redistribution problem the more likely the re-opening.

    The main cause of this failure is the failure to recognise the size of the redistribution problem.
    If you suddenly take 20,000 vehicles per day out of a major route those 20,000 vehicles can destroy the environment of the streets that have to deal with the diverted traffic.

    it cannot be “willed away”.

  9. In the case of Manners Street, that was more for the sake of buses because the intersections were causing capacity problems. I would hope that a public transport corridor is kept for Queen Street, because we are going to need the room until the CBD Loop is built and Queen Street/Symonds Street would make the logical pair of public transport corridors with Albert Street (or Hobson Street if it were made two way) as a secondary public transport corridor to serve the Western CBD.

    The main cause of this failure is the failure to recognise the size of the redistribution problem.
    If you suddenly take 20,000 vehicles per day out of a major route those 20,000 vehicles can destroy the environment of the streets that have to deal with the diverted traffic.

    Although do you have 20,000 vehicles a day using Queen Street? I would guess that the figure would be reasonably less, and the question of where all those vehicles are going would need to be posed – there are few streets which have their sole accessway from lower Queen Street (as in north of the Town Hall) and aside from Durham Street West, they could be easily pedestrianised.

  10. When I am making a general argument I use general figures to illustrate the point – to avoid people applying the argument to a specific solution or problem.

    20,000 is a figure plucked out of the air and intended to be extreme to make the point.

    The other side is that nearby streets may be running near the gridlock point and it does not take much redistribution to grind them to a halt.

    Delivery is the other issue which is often not dealt with seriously but can be reasonably managed by time slots.
    Demand cooperation but if it is worth it it will be forthcoming.

  11. The other side is that nearby streets may be running near the gridlock point and it does not take much redistribution to grind them to a halt.

    From my own observations, Symonds Street seems to be running pretty smoothly, and if the traffic lights were phased properly, then most of the other CBD streets would run fairly smoothly all the time as well (much of the problem in places such as Customs Street is because one light turns green whilst the one up ahead is still red). Hobson Street has problems because of the on-ramp lights.

    Delivery is the other issue which is often not dealt with seriously but can be reasonably managed by time slots.
    Demand cooperation but if it is worth it it will be forthcoming.

    Agreed – address the delivery problem and that is pretty much the battle won. Many of the shops between Victoria and Wellesley Streets have loading bays at the Lorne Street end of their shops.

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