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Fort St Shared Space a Success

A report to the Waitamata local board shows that the shared space on Fort St has been a success and approval has been given to carry on with stage three of the upgrade which will introduce another share space at the eastern end of the street. Here is the executive summary of the report:

The purpose of this report is to communicate results of the Fort Street (Stage 1) shared space evaluation and seek the Board’s support for the shared space design proposed for Stage 3 of the Fort Street upgrade.

The results of the evaluation indicate that the performance of the shared space in Fort Street (Stage 1) has thus far been successful. Stage 1 comprises Jean Batten Place, Fort Lane and the western end of Fort Street between Commerce Street and Queen Street. Stage 2 extends from Commerce Street to Gore Street and includes the section of Fort Street that runs between them. Stage 3 covers the eastern End of Fort Street running between Gore Street and Customs Street East.

A key objective of the project was to improve pedestrian amenity and to create a more attractive environment for people. Feedback from users indicates that people find the space more attractive with a majority keen to keep visiting the area in the same or greater frequency than they did before. Counts suggest that pedestrian volumes have increased in the area (more than 50% in peak hours), vehicle volumes have decreased (more than 25%) as have average vehicle speeds (to approximately 20 km/h). User feedback has shown that vehicle travel time delays through the area are minimal (6-11 seconds), delivery agents have found it ‘much easier’ to make their deliveries in the new shared space environment and people feel much safer in the area. Moreover, property owners (75%) revealed that they see value in being located near a shared space. Further detail on the evaluation results can be found in the attached document.

There is some pretty good results in here, pedestrian volumes up 50% during peak hours, traffic volumes down, minimal traffic delays, delivery vehicles are finding things much easier and property owners are happy which I think is an astounding result and a testament to the hard work put in to get this project going. Stage 3 was designed at the same time as the first two stages but was delayed pending the outcome of this evaluation. After getting the feedback the report says that there was only one commercial tenant, located in the stage 2 section, that was unhappy with proceeding on to stage 3.

Here are the key results out of the evaluation:

  • User Perceptions – improved
    • Highly positive perception of users
    • 91% of surveyed users highly complementary about the area post upgrade
  • Foot Traffic – increased
    • More than 50% increase in pedestrian numbers in peak hours
    • Peak hour count of 7400 pedestrians using the area, up from 4800 in 2009
  • Pedestrian Environment – improved
    • Majority of pedestrians and drivers believe pedestrians have priority
    • In reality, data indicates pedestrians assume priority when pedestrian numbers are 1000+ per hour. Vehicles tend to be given priority otherwise.
    • 52% of surveyed users felt there were still to many cars in the shared spaces
  • Vehicle traffic – reduced 
    • 1470 less vehicles per day using Fort St
      • 2009 count of 6170 vehicles, 2011 count 4700
    • 1000 less vehicles per day using Jean Batten Place
      • 2009 count 2918 vehicles, 2011 count 1918
    • Reduced Vehicle Speeds
      • 5-9km per hr reduction in Fort St
      • 2-8km per hr reduction in Jean Batten place
    • 25% of surveyed users felt vehicle traffic should be more restricted
    • 75% of delivery services found it ‘much easier’ to make their deliveries
  • Safety – improved
    • Over 80& of surveyed users felt ‘very safe’ in the area
    • Greatly improved perceptions of safety at night time
    • Minority (5%) of users felt the space was dangerous/confusing/unsafe for pedestrians
  • Distinct destination – more analysis required
    • Anecdotal evidence suggesting the area now has a broader appeal as
    • Fewer people feel there is nothing special about the area
  • Economic performance - inconclusive
    • Limited economic information presently available
    • Areas to be measured in coming years
      • Property values
      • Vacancy rates and sales data
      • Retail turnover
      • Consumer spend
    • 75% of property owners saw value in being located near a shared space

As I said earlier, these are some great results and the local board along with the CBD Advisory board have approved for stage 3 to go ahead. Personally I tend to go down there at least once a week and love the improvements, the place is a far cry from the grotty area it was not that long ago and it has been great to see new private development happening to really maximise on these improvements. In time I think this will become one of the best areas in the CBD and it would be great to see a few more areas given the same treatment.

26 comments to Fort St Shared Space a Success

  • morecityplease

    It would be nice to test one of these streets with simple street closures or partial closures.

  • DF

    Great to read such good feedback. As someone who works in the area, it has been a massive improvement. Looking forward to stage 3. The only tweak I’d suggest is making Fort St between Queen and Commerce one way eastbound — this would reduce a lot of the traffic, which currently uses Fort St to avoid the Queen St/Customs St traffic lights.

  • KLK

    So another cool laneway between Gore and Fort?

    How is the one in the other newly-shared area going? Imperial Lane, isn’t it?

  • Luke

    contrast this to Wellingtons dreadful lower Cuba st that opened early this year I believe. This is just plan but can see its a faliure.
    http://wellingtonista.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/09/Lower-Cuba-Final.png
    Unfortunately the council seems to have totally missed the point and the street looks and feels like a road. Yet another way Wellington dropping the ball and Auckland catching up.

    • The other way Wellington is way behind is how long pedestrians have to wait to cross controlled city streets. Increasing the frequency of ped cycles is the cheapest and quickest way to improve quality of street life in a city. Despite the trolly buses and the relative carelessness of Lambton Quay it is clear than the place is still run by traffic engineers only with vehicle privilege in mind.

      So cheap and so effective, certainly the best thing that has been done in AK recently…. Love those shared spaces too, and it is easy to see how they follow from a general sense of human priority first assisted by better crossing privilege.

  • obi

    These shared space projects all look really good and are a great improvement for the city. But… I wish they were a little less shared. Like they should be open to deliveries and drop offs, but not to through traffic. You could encourage this by blocking the spaces at one end with enough room for a vehicle to turn and then exit in the direction from which it entered. Alternately I wouldn’t have a problem with a rule that said any vehicle entering a shared space must spend at least 5 minutes in it, and enforce this with time-stamping cameras at entry and exit.

    I still find myself looking over my shoulder as I walk through the shared spaces. Just in case a motorist doesn’t understand the walking pace speed they should be doing, or the fact that he/she doesn’t have a right of way.

    • bbc

      In all honesty I think many of the streets will be pedestrianised in the future once it becomes more politcally acceptable to do – these shared spaces are about changing the perceptions of people and retailers in the city. That said, Fort Street will never be able to be pedestrianised due to the dozens of carpark entrances that line it.

    • AS

      I agree, as a pedestrian I’ve had a few near-misses in these shared spaces and it is a little stressful to walk there. Motorists seem to get frustrated too. It’s like a half-way solution that doesn’t quite work well — just go for the fully pedestrian option with delivery vehicles only, as is very common in Europe.

      • James B

        The problem is that the shared spaces are on roads with building carpark access. This prevents you from fully pedestrianising the street.

        • bbc

          Actually, aside from Fort Street pretty much all the others such as Darby, Lorne Street, Elliot Street, O’Connel St (up next) could quite easily be pedestrianised. Again, the route of least resistance to that outcome is the shared space. Turning these spaces into walking streets will be quite simple, but making the jump directly to that is difficult as seen with Darby Street which was knocked back by the backpackers who wanted car access to their premises.

          • James B

            Darby, Lorne and O’Connel maybe. But Elliot has a huge carpark entrance for the National Bank Building.

          • Bbc

            Only the lower end of Elliot and there’s nothing there anyway, would be no problem having that part as shared and the rest closed.

        • You are all missing the point. Shared doesn’t mean pedestrian only, that’s the big idea. The anxiety that the sharing promotes in all users is the source of the heightened safety and improved experience. Don’t think like last century and assume that grade separation is the answer, because it isn’t. That just leads to vehicle domination.

          Now having said that, it is a step on the way to returning human dominance to these city streets. With sufficient transit in place we can then price the wasteful car parking land use into converting into higher value purposes. Because the private car IS the biggest problem for city prosperity and amenity. Especially for delivery, for emergency access, for quantity of foot traffic, for commerce.

          Of course Queen St is the real prize here, and this would have a big impact on the quantities of cars in the city centre:
          http://transportblog.co.nz/2011/08/30/guest-post-why-are-there-cars-on-queen-st/

      • TimR

        Disagree. Moving through a shard space involves negotiations between users. I think pedestrians need to assert themselves more. St look the motorists straight in the eye and they wil almost always give way. They might not like losing (especially the lawyers driving into the multi storeys on Fort under Shortland St towers) but they are rarely stupid enough to drive over a pedestrian looking at them.

  • bbc

    I was interested to see the Waitemata local board have been discussing ‘parklets’ – that’s great to see, there’s no mention of what they discussed in particular, but I’m very pleased to see how they are actively looking for ways to humanise the city.

  • Who is fhe one commercial tenant objecting to Stage 3 going ahead and why I wonder?

    • Bbc

      If you read the original letter with the raw output from the survey which were anonymous (I guess council knows who made all the statements) the only negative comments were typical Cameron Brewer statements such as no one goes there so why should it be upgraded, and complaints about the removal of car parking. These were well in the minority ie clearly the views of 1 or 2 people at most.

    • JohnP

      Five bucks says it’s either Tournament Parking or the parking building Stage Two who are not too keen on Stage Three, and fair enough as they are trying to protect their interests. But as a CBD resident and frequent walker, Fort St is miles ahead of where it was before the upgrades.

  • Andrew

    One unexpected positive (to me) in that list is that deliveries are easier. Hadn’t expected that one, but in retrospect it makes sense, delivery trucks don’t have to compete with parked cars and can simply pull over to the side of the street and stop to unload, with no expectations/worries about impeding the flow of passing vehicles.

  • Ari

    Great news. Baby steps. Good things take time, especially when we are trying to convince shop owners that shared space gives them a point of difference from other parts in town. They need to continue to put these wherever there is high pedestrian demand.

  • Geoff Houtman

    As long as the next stage isn’t “turn everything gray” go for it!

  • Stu Donovan

    Love it! Projects like this make me want to stay in Auckland rather than spending the rest of my life in Europe …

    • James B

      While I love Europe, I think Auckland has the potential to be one of the most beautiful cities in the world. We have a fantastic natural environment which is something most cities would envy us for. We just need to get the built environment of the city right. The shared spaces along with Britomart, North Wharf, Imperial Lane and other public and private ventures have already changed the nature of the city. With Federal Street, Daldy Street, ATC theatre etc along with projects that will happen but haven’t been confirmed like High Street pedestrianisation (really I think this is inevitable) I think we will see another 5 years of dramatic change.

  • Mimi

    I ABSOLUTELY HATE the shared space that my ex-favourite street has become. It used to be gritty and have a great atmosphere but now its just a try-hard wannabe European disaster. It works for Elliot St, but not Fort

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