How to fix a city built to accommodate cars
How to fix a city built to accommodate cars
Solution proposed by:
Auckland Council; Auckland Transport.
In a Nutshell:
Auckland city is a city built around car use and parking. We wanted to reclaim the city for people. Some of the solutions were to build more cycleways, shared spaces and laneways so people have more options to move around and can enjoy the city streets and public spaces.
Where and When:
Over the past 10 years in Auckland, Auckland Council and Auckland Transport have implemented a number of changes to improve the streets of Auckland’s city centre for pedestrians and people on bikes. This change is set to continue with significant investment committed for the future.
Traditionally and historically Auckland has been built and designed around cars. The real challenge was to design, shape and redesign areas in the CBD to limit and restrict car use, and to become people focused. Shifting the mindset of everyday Aucklanders and businesses that removing car parks and spaces and increasing foot traffic and laneways would increase business in the areas and create a better city. The biggest challenge was to get people reimagine the city. Local businesses needed convincing that less car parking can still mean a growth in business
The two key innovations are the development of shared spaces and the development of a safe, separated cycling network. The most ambitious cycling project to date, and one that has inspired budding cyclists is the Lightpath, also known as the Nelson St cycleway. It has repurposed an unused motorway off-ramp, and taken a lane off one of the city’s busiest streets. Numerous new shared spaces across the city centre have also repurposed from car dominated streets into vibrant city streets.
The Lightpath repurposes a redundant motorway off-ramp, and includes a new architecturally designed bridge that connects the former off-ramp to city streets. The concept was developed through a collaboration of architects, landscape architects, engineers, lighting designers and an indigenous artist. The Lightpath has been given a vibrant magenta surface and a super graphic at one end. Interactive LED lights stretch along its nearly 700m length integrated into safety screens. These lights respond to the movement of people on foot and cycle, and can be programmed for light displays for special events. The LightPath is now a safe, exciting space for people on foot or bike, day and night. The shared space concept has been introduced into many city streets. This concept removes traditional road features such as kerbs, markings and traffic signs. It introduces a degree of uncertainty which enhances people’s awareness of each other – either in a car or on foot. This encourages a fundamental behavioral change to how everybody uses the street. People in cars are welcome but need to negotiate with pedestrians. This uncertainty and change in behavior increases safety on these streets.
Auckland has recently established a new vision for the future, to become the world’s most liveable city. The Auckland Plan and City Centre Masterplan have been key strategic documents that have set the direction for the next 30 years. These documents have set a new focus and path for investments around the city. Auckland’s cycle network is in its infancy. However, this is about to change as a major investment of $200m from Auckland Council, Auckland Transport, and the national government is about to be spent over the next three years on a safe, separated cycleway network. Lightpath sits in the middle of the busiest part of New Zealand’s motorway network, providing a streak of magenta and colour in a concrete tangle of ramps, motorways and traffic. The project was a partnership between Auckland Council, Auckland Transport and the NZ Transport Agency. It provides a new link into the city. By the end of this year connections will be extended further through the city and link with other planned cycleways to grow the network. This investment has already seen an early response in the number of people on bikes around the city, young and old. A number of shared spaces have been developed over the past five years in Auckland. Most of these are within the city centre. The streets tended to be one way streets, uninviting and filled with parked cars. The city centre has been progressively changing this over the last decade, while still early in its transformation, the momentum is building. In the early 1990s there were less than 2000 people living in the city centre. Today more than 30,000 people live within the city centre. An extra 5000 of those came last year. The investment in cycleway and shared spaces is helping to transform the city to be more liveable and people orientated.
The Lightpath has inspired people to try cycling, created positive coverage in the media for people on bikes, and become an Auckland attraction. It is now the second most popular cycling route in Auckland and also an exciting new promenade for people day and night, in a very unusual urban environment. Shared spaces have provided high quality public realm and increased pedestrian numbers. These successful spaces have demonstrated and enabled people to reimagine the future potential of the Auckland as a city for people, and more towards being the world’s most liveable city.