More feet and less wheels on High Street

Auckland CBD is getting more pedestrian-friendly
Supplied Content (Edited)
Auckland, October 16, 2019

Restructured High Street provides better view of Heritage Buildings

A trial to create a safer and more vibrant High Street in the Auckland Central Business District for everyone has begun today (installation time lapse video available here).

In this first phase the area along High Street, from Shortland Street to Vulcan Lane, has been rebalanced to provide more space for people.

Auckland Mayor Phil Goff said that the Project is about designing High Street for the needs of the people who use it most.

It is better to walk than drive on High Street

“Traffic and pedestrian counts show that there are 14 pedestrians for every person in a vehicle on High Street. Upgrading the streetscape will ensure that pedestrians are no longer squeezed onto narrow footpaths by relatively few cars and will improve enjoyment, safety and help to improve air quality by reducing vehicle emissions,” he said.

Mr Goff said that with nearly 60,000 people now living in the City Centre and more than 100,000 travelling in each day for work, study and play, it is important to see how the amenity of the streets for people, not just vehicles could be improved.

Doing things different

“This trial on High Street presents a fantastic opportunity to do things differently and will help create a thriving commercial and cultural precinct for Aucklanders and visitors to enjoy,” Mr Goff said.

Congested High Street before the transformation

North Shore Ward Councillor Chris Darby said, “We are reconceptualising our approach to urban space by promoting design that recognises people as essential to the fabric of city life. Improved pedestrian access and enhanced accessibility for service vehicles, emergency services and people with disabilities will build on the unique character of the High Street precinct while revitalising it for 21st century living.”

Cam Perkins of Auckland Council’s Design Office is thrilled that the trial has begun.

“Over the past few months, we have worked with Heart of the City, High Street businesses and residents to understand what they want to see for High Street. As a result of our co-design process, we have installed decking to create wider footpaths, bike racks and planters with edible plants. The wider footpaths will make it safer for pedestrians and for those using personal mobility devices. Vehicle access will be maintained which is particularly important to support business deliveries and servicing,” he said.

Promoting heritage

Mr Perkins said that the changes will also improve lines of sight so that people can better appreciate the wonderful heritage buildings along High Street.

“The changes represent a lighter and faster approach that we can learn from and adapt for future projects. We will be monitoring and evaluating how people and vehicles use the space,” he said.

Heart of the City Chief Executive Viv Beck said that the trial is a great way to test street improvements without disrupting trade.

“High Street businesses have been part of the design process from the start. We are all conscious of people’s livelihoods, especially as we head into the busy shopping season for retailers. High Street is a fabulous part of the city centre and is a special place for many. This project celebrates and enhances its unique qualities,” she said.

Ms  Beck said that Heart of the City was looking forward to seeing how it works and will be speaking regularly with businesses to get their feedback on the trial.

Stage two of the project, running from Vulcan Lane to Durham Lane is planned to start on February 2020. Feedback from the High Street community on stage one will inform this next phase.

(Pictures Supplied)

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