Auckland Council’s Emergency Committee has endorsed Auckland Transport’s applications to the first tranche of Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency’s Innovating Streets for People pilot fund.
The projects, from across the region, range from safe street improvements outside schools, slow street interventions, and walking and cycling facilities to give Aucklanders more space to enjoy their streets and neighbourhoods through quick, tactical changes. The Innovating Streets fund allows for quick lower-cost projects to be trialled as a transition for long-term projects.
One project, in Waiuku, will improve safety at an intersection by trialling a rubber roundabout. In the central city, Queen Street’s Access for Everyone pilot is also included.
Auckland Mayor Phil Goff says Innovating Streets is about creating safer, more people-friendly streets. “Government funding allows us to work with local communities and their local boards to design and test changes at low cost to see how well they can achieve the objective of creating places that are good for pedestrians and people on bikes to be.
“The projects we are submitting in the first application round focus on making streets around schools safer for students and improving town and city centres to be more pleasant places for those who visit them.
“When an idea we test works well and has strong community support, we can look to make the changes permanent,” Phil Goff says.
Councillor Chris Darby says, “With generous and creative government funding, we can fast-forward plans to enliven streets for people by providing room to move safely and enjoyably.
“The lockdown has seen Aucklanders rediscover the delight of walking and cycling and now’s the time to lock in some of the good habits we took up during the lockdown.
“With massive growth in online retail during lockdown, local retail centres need engaging points of difference. Just as we successfully re-imagined High St to make it safer and more appealing for people, we’re now looking towards enlivening the high streets in our local centres.
“Innovating Streets is just the tonic, providing playful interventions like play-street programmes, ‘Slow Sundays’, low traffic zones, pop-up bike paths and car calming around schools.”
Councillor Josephine Bartley says, “It is good to see the next phase of the process will include all elected representatives and the various departments of Council, Auckland Transport and Panuku. This is a great opportunity provided by Waka Kotahi NZTA to make our streets safer and more liveable, thereby making a positive difference for our communities.
“Lockdown has shown that our communities are eager to get out there and keep active, and these projects will ensure we can continue doing so safely.
"I am pleased to see that the first round of projects submitted for funding includes several projects aimed at improving safety around schools.”
The list includes also includes Panuku Development Auckland projects to improve town centre streets in Henderson, Onehunga and Takapuna, as part of its overall work in these neighbourhoods.
Adrienne Young-Cooper, who chairs AT and Panuku, says the range of projects are a part of existing AT and Panuku programmes but the high NZ Transport Agency funding assistance of 90 per cent deliberately encourages councils and their agencies to think differently and creatively about quicker transitional ways to deliver those programmes.
“Through the level 4 lockdown, people have already enjoyed what it is like to have quiet roads and streets, with more space for people to walk, cycle and experience public spaces in a different way,” she says.
“People have not only seen what the future might look like, but they have actually lived it and loved it. We want to take the great lessons from the past few weeks and deliver more of what our communities want.
“The projects we are including in our application will deliver medium term, tactical improvement trials that we can learn from and work closely with locals to co-design. It’s also a great opportunity for Panuku, Auckland Transport and Auckland Council to continue to collaborate on projects to make communities more accessible to all.”
During the lockdown, AT undertook research to gauge Aucklanders’ support for tactical urbanism to create more space for physical distancing, with early results showing a high amount of support by Aucklanders.
“69 per cent of Aucklanders support this type of initiative, with support rising to 71 per cent when the initiative is focussed on creating safe spaces for walking and cycling,” says Ms Young-Cooper.
“More than half of people surveyed believe these initiatives are more relevant since the pandemic began. These types of projects have strong support, especially when more space is needed for physical distancing to continue.”
Auckland Council, Auckland Transport, Panuku and other partners will also work closely together in the coming months to apply for the second tranche of the Innovating Streets for People pilot fund, which closes in June.