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Ben Hamilton-Baillie/Auckland Shared Streets

This is an interesting video of Ben Hamilton-Baillie at the recent Congress for the New Urbanism conference (CNU22). Hamilton-Baillie one of the leaders of the progressive street design movement explains how the street delivers the purpose the city- economic exchange, social exchange, and cultural expression, or “money, sex and art” as he quotably sums it up. He describes the progression of the urban street from a condition where things moved very slowly, people moved carefully along and across the street-  to today, where everything is over engineered, and highly regimented and segregated. This dramatic change occurred with the  introduction of the automobile and enabled by modernist design philosophies (Le Corbusier, CIAM) and technical proponents (Colin Buchanan).  This led to the orchestrated surrender of our streets to the automobile (as described here).

At 26:00 Hamilton Baille describes the biggest problem with street design being the confusion between the utility of roads/highway and public realm. Highways are highly regulated, singular focused, and predictable, while the public realm (ie streets) serve a multitude of uses, are constantly changing, and require eye contact and other human cognitive skills. Combining the two results in a Frankenstein environment where people are caged off (or worse relegated to overpasses), signs regulate the most basic movements, and traffic movement is stifled. This environment works badly for both traffic and  the public realm. This is very similar to the Strongtowns concept of STROADS, which describes the horrible outcome when the function of roads and streets is blurred.

It is amazing the receptiveness that he gets in this forum. With regard to shared streets this is one of the many areas where Auckland is  a global leader amongst new world cities. Today it’s hard to imagine how these were ever built. Was there a traffic signal technology conference in Canberra during the week they were approved?

A few months back Google Streetview introduced a feature many people called the “Wayback Machine” which allows users to toggle back in time through their collection of images. I’ve grabbed a couple before and afters below.

Fort Street Before and After

Fort Street, Auckland – Before and After (Google Streetview)

Fort Lane Before and After

Fort Lane Before and After

For people interested in shared streets or think that the Auckland CBD is still riddled with of $2 and tacky tourists shops, take a tour of these streets:

Elliott Street 

Darby St (for some reason you can only see the after of Darby here)

Lorne St

Fort St

Fort Lane.

Designing Quay St

Some of the big improvements needed in the CBD seem to be finally starting to move along. First there was the announcement that AT will be doing some more detailed design work on the CRL at the northern end and yesterday the council announced they’re starting the process to get the design for Quay St nailed down.

Auckland Council is seeking proposals from designers to assist with the future redevelopment of Quay Street.

Quay Street has been earmarked for change under the City Centre Master Plan – a blueprint for the future use of the central city.

The council is issuing a request for expressions of interest from design consultants.

Concept designs for development of Quay Street will be considered by the Auckland Development Committee, and Aucklanders will have an opportunity to have their say before designs are finalised.

“We have a once in a lifetime opportunity to create a great waterfront and city centre, and we need the best designers working with us as we develop our proposals to transform this area,” Deputy Mayor and Auckland Development Committee Chair Penny Hulse said.

City Centre integration general manager Rick Walden, said the project was at a very early stage. “As options are developed we will be seeking input from the wider community.”

The council aims to complete the appointment of a design team in November.

This follows work done last year on draft concept designs for the area and one of the images from that work is below

Quay St Concept

There’s not a huge amount to go on from that image but from what I can gather it appears the concept has

  • Shared space intersections
  • Two lanes of traffic each way and no separate turning lanes at intersections
  • A central planted median with Trees
  • Slightly widened footpaths
  • No parking
  • No Cycle Lanes

My understanding is that the design contract will cover from Hobson St potentially all the way through to Tangihua St.

Of course already some Councillors aren’t happy. Cameron Brewer is asking where the cars will go and Mike Lee is suggesting we have to build an insanely expensive tunnel for them.

Quay St - Mike Lee

It’s amazing and disappointing that both of these two only seem to think we should upgrade our city and make it more pedestrian friendly as long as we somehow keep drivers happy.

This is obviously a project we’re going to be focusing on very closely.

The Grafton Gully Multiway Boulevard

On Wednesday Kent presented a plan to the Waitemata Local Board for dramatically improving one of the worst corridors in the central city – Stanley St and The Strand. The plan was originally dreamed up by Nick (who is currently overseas). You can read the full presentation here and below is the area he sought to improve.

Grafton Gully Blvd - area

The route is a crucial one for Auckland yet it serves none of it’s users well. It’s fed directly from the motorway network so gets a large volume of vehicles many of which are trucks heading to/from the port. In addition it serves people moving east-west from Parnell as well as the growing developments between Stanley St and the rail line.

Grafton Gully Blvd - Traffic

The photos below show how bad the area is, particularly for people walking and cycling. Let’s also not forget that a man recently lost his life on the intersection of Parnell Rise and Stanley St. It’s been said that he was at fault however it’s my view that no one should have to pay for a mistake with their life.

Grafton Gully Blvd - existing

Grafton Gully Blvd - existing 2

A large part of the problem is that the current thinking involves extending the motorway to the port which is no easy task the development that already exists. It has been assumed a tunnel would need to be built but that would cost huge amounts of money we simply don’t have, it would take up a lot of land, especially as it would need a full interchange and probably create even more severance, not less. An elevated structure would be no better and also made difficult but the rail lines. The indecision over what will happen has left the area in limbo creating urban blight and stagnation, particularly on the pieces of land that the NZTA already own primarily to the east of Stanley St. A summary of many of the issues is below

Grafton Gully Blvd - Issues

So if a motorway too expensive and creates even more severance what can we do to improve things for all road users? One potential solution is a Multiway Boulevard.

But what is a Multiway Boulevard, the key functions are:

  • Designed to separate through traffic from local traffic
  • Parallel roadways serve distinctly different functions
  • Side roads designed for slow speeds, high access (including parking), and pedestrian movement and comfort
  • Central roadway designed for vehicles travelling longer distances (through) at higher speeds

Examples can be found around the world, particularly in Europe but also increasingly in other places like San Francisco.

Grafton Gully Blvd - Multiway Blvd Examples

Key design concepts involved include

  • Different realms for different tasks e.g. a movement realm, a pedestrian realm
  • Buildings that face the street with direct pedestrian access and parking/loading areas on the street.
  • Intersection Priority
  • Closely spaced street trees to provide a full canopy.

So how would it work on Stanley St and The Strand? With just the removal of a handful of buildings, most of which would go as part of any motorway type development anyway, a continuous 40m corridor can be created. This includes under the rail bridge which already has a 40m main span over The Strand. The buildings that would be needed for 40m are in yellow, but it looks like a slightly narrower corridor might avoid them? Note that the curve next to St Georges Rd is already a road reserve, long planned to cut the corner and straighten out the route.

Grafton Gully Blvd - Corridor Width

Within a 40m cross section you could fit the below layout.

Grafton Gully Blvd - 40m Cross Section

A smaller cross section could be provided if the local access road was only provided on one side.

Lastly addressing the corridor would open up a large number of sites for development/redevelopment. In San Francisco a Multiway Boulevard replaced the Central Elevated Freeway and the selling off of the excess land more than paid for the redevelopment of the road.

Grafton Gully Blvd - Development

Overall this seems like a fantastic idea, we address an important corridor while still allowing and improving the experience for a significant number of vehicle movements. At the same time it improves the experience for walkers, cyclists as well as local traffic. It opens up land for more development and in the process might actually help pay for a significant amount of the project. Importantly it also allows us to cross off the list what would have otherwise been a large and expensive project, that’s good for taxpayers and ratepayers. I really can’t see any downside to this proposal. Great work Nick and Kent.

Photo of the Day: High St- low value use

The top of High Street is interrupted, dominated, and devalued by the double-laned exit from the Victoria St car parking building.

High St_4694

The footpath on the east side is frequently blocked by impatient drivers….

High St_4681

…while on the west side it is so narrow that the high numbers of people there are forced onto the oversized carriageway with the jammed traffic.

A classic example of the prioritisation of the driver over the walker. Some traffic engineer has greedily taken way too much of this public resource for only one type of user.

Furthermore the floods of traffic that this sadly over-expanded vehicle store generate lead to gridlock at the intersection as it is really too close to both the Queen St and Kitchener St intersections for the sudden volumes that this exit at times produces [people still tend to head out all at once].

At the very least the cars could be rationed out the exit by taking it down to one lane, but much better would be to move the exit up the hill onto Kitchener St where the entrance is.

Victoria St parking building

No problem adding an exit to this entrance here with a bit of reworking, the left hand space used to be the entrance before it was doubled. And AT would then have to sort out this intersection and its poor pedestrian phasing.

Vic park entrance

And best of all the High St ground floor could be repurposed for a human use: It’s the kind of hip industrial concrete interior that Prada love, but failing that: A pool hall, dingy nightclub, dungeon? ….. PingPong centre!

High St Big Mouth.

Anything would be better than that gapping maw and adjacent pissoir, and on the street that has pretensions to being the country’s preeminent fashion shopping strip. Well I suppose it did have those pretensions until the retailers there threw their coat hangers out of the cot and stopped it becoming a shared space, and now the action has gone elsewhere….

Note how wide those lanes are at the intersection; really they could be car width, and the rubbish truck could just hog one and a half  lanes occasionally. Until of course the car park exit is gone and High St becomes the Shared Space it obviously ought to be.

Bledisloe Lane being upgraded

The Council have announced a long needed upgrade to Bledisloe Lane is about to start. The lane runs between Welleslety St and Aotea Square and often feels dark, dingy and cramped due to the really low roof and lack of natural light. Here’s what it looks like now.

Bledisloe Lane Upgrade Now

Here’s the press release.

Work has started on the upgrade of Bledisloe Lane to deliver an improved city centre laneway and enhanced access to Bledisloe House.

A popular thoroughfare for inner city workers, theatre-goers and tourists, the lane which connects Wellesley Street to Aotea Square has often been criticised for its dark recesses and gloomy, dated appearance.

The upgrade will transform the lane into a brighter and safer connection with new paving, a new glass canopy and façade to Bledisloe House at ground level and includes an upgraded pocket park on Wellesley Street. The existing canopy which significantly limits natural light will be removed in stages between June and September.

The upgrade also aligns with the relocation of the council’s Customer Service Centre from the Civic Building to the ground floor of Bledisloe House later this year. The introduction of new value-added interactions such as self-service kiosks, combined with the new location on the popular walking route, is set to deliver a new standard of service delivery for the centre.

Both projects share the vision of enhancing the public’s experience of Bledisloe Lane.

Auckland Council design champion Ludo Campbell-Reid says the upgrade is one of the many council projects realising the City Centre Masterplan vision to create a vibrant, better connected city centre that showcases Auckland as the world’s most liveable city.

He says Bledisloe Lane is a hugely important segment of what is described as the city centre pedestrian laneway circuit running from Aotea Square to the Waterfront.

“Currently the lane is well used, but its poor design quality does not encourage pedestrians to linger and enjoy the space,” says Mr Campbell-Reid.

“This situation does not fit well with the creative vibrant nature and potential of the Aotea Quarter cultural and entertainment precinct, or the kind of experience we want our Service Centre customers to have.

“Our plans to redevelop the lane, introduce a new service centre and redesign the Wellesley Street pocket park will transform the pedestrian experience”.

The design also considers future upgrades to Wellesley Street and the proposed site of the Aotea City Rail Link Station on Albert Street.

To expedite the construction works and ensure public safety the lane will be closed to pedestrians from late June to late September. Intermittent access will be allowed depending on construction occurring that day however customer access to New Zealand Post, Metro Centre and Bledisloe House main entrance will be maintained throughout construction.

The lane upgrade is expected to be complete later in the year.

All up the upgrade is costing $4 million and has be budgeted for in the current Long Term Plan. Like the shared spaces and other CBD upgrades in recent times, a lot of the money for it will be coming directly from the special CBD targeted rate paid by CBD businesses. Here are a couple of images of what it is expected to look like once it’s been finished.

Bledisloe Lane Upgrade 1

Bledisloe Lane Upgrade 2

I look forward to this being completed.

Downtown: Little Queen St

This is a quick post on the Downtown site. Precinct Properties, the owner of the Mall and the two existing towers [Zurich Hse + HSBC Building] between Lower Queen St and Lower Albert St, are expected to lodge a resource consent in a couple of months for a total rebuild of this site. We expect this proposal to include:

  • a 36 story tower on the south west corner, opposite the Customs Hse
  • 3 story retail precinct in between the three towers
  • an unknown quantity or location of carparking
  • the reinstatement of streets, or ‘street-like’ ground level public realm through the site instead of QE II Square.

Other significant and related issues:

  • Construction is expected to begin next year [2015] and will include the tunnels for the City Rail Link through the site, regardless of the government’s position on this project. Council funding is secured for this.
  • Buses will be removed from Lower Queen St and moved at least in part to Lower Albert St. Lower Queen will become a vehicle free pedestrian space at least for the length in front of Britomart Station.

We are told to expect both a new east/west street connecting the Piazza in front of Britomart to the buses on Lower Albert and a north/south street between Quay and Customs. The later is a reinstatement of a previously existing street called Little Queen, and is what I am focussing on in this post.

In 1966 10 highly detail topographical maps were produced from arial photographs of Auckland City, now in the Auckland Libraries Collection [where the black and white images in this post are also from]. These maps are a fantastic source of detailed information on 1960s Auckland; here is a close-up of the Downtown site before the current 1970s mall was built there, the CPO turned Britomart Station is bottom centre between Calway [sic; should be Galway] and Tyler:

Little Queen St 1966

So running between the Ferry Building and the Customs House was Little Queen St. The Harbour Board owned all the reclaimed land in the vicinity of the port and, like POAL today, it was focused on making more of it, either out of the sea, or in this case, it contrived to invent real estate out of a public road in order to ‘rationalise’ that resource. Presumably the trade off then with the city and the citizens was how we came to get the most dreary public space in the city: QE II square, proving for ever that not all open space is equal, especially urban open space.

Little Queen St 1973

The east side looking towards the sea and Ferry Building [and one person].

Little Queen St Esat 1070-75

The same side from a higher angle with a couple of humans and more than 10 buses. The street is pretty wide, wider it seems than its Melbourne namesakes; Little Collins and Little Bourke. Or perhaps just emptier?

Quay and Little Queen 1965

Quay St from the Ferry Building looking towards Lower Queen [The still extant Endeans building on the left and the Cupola of Britomart poking above], Little Queen on the right. 1965. Plenty of tarmac.

The history of this site is fascinating* as it is a clear example of the failures of mid twentieth century modernist urban master planning. But the outcome we are familiar with now isn’t simply a matter of design fashion but also the demographic, social, and commercial landscape of the period; the spirit of the times.

montgomery ward huntington beach ca 1966 pleasantfamilyshopping

The 1960s and 70s were at the height of the ‘flight from the centre’ period, a time of anti-urban idealisation of the new decentralised suburban life. A then sexy new Californian dream of a car centred complete life away from the tired old city centre: Living, shopping, and working without bothering with the old fashioned, degraded city. Clean, convenient, new. Supported and subsidised by Central and Local government policy in a myriad of ways, especially in transport spending in Auckland once Robbie’s Rail was killed. This lack of confidence in the city and disregard for the existing urban built environment was the dominant theme of the time so I guess it is of no surprise that the outcome of that Downtown redevelopment is suboptimal.

There was vocal opposition to the design we now have when it was proposed, in particular the shading of the new Square by the now HSBC building was, correctly, predicted to be severely limiting, and for years it struggled commercially [although more recently I believe it was one of  previous owner Westfield's better performers, and their only property without onsite and free parking], the site now clearly offers its new owners a huge opportunity but only if completely redesigned and rebuilt. And that opportunity is simply people. The return of people in concentrations to a now more exciting and busy city environment that only good public transport and dense land habitation can provide.

In this regard then, it is essential that the quality of the new work; both the architectural form of the new buildings and the relations between these buildings; the negative space between, these new streets, are of the highest standard, and provide real public spaces, unlike the faux public space of the suburban mall, or the formlessness and inauthenticity of the current QE II square. And in this the challenge is greater than at Britomart as there are no pre-sprawl era buildings to revive to give structure, scale, and continuity, and still the blocking mass of the HSBC building [which covers the northern end of the old Little Queen St] as well as a new tower to accommodate. Precinct and their architects have a great deal to balance but they know if they get it right all else will follow: The people.

A critical difference now is that these new projects are not for and by people that see little value in the city, a place only fit for escape. In that sense they are building for a new age, and one that offers the chance at least of the return of those powerful but difficult to summon qualities of great cities and great city places: Enchantment, mystery, possibility.

No pressure then.


* There is a totally absorbing history of the lead up to the downtown development in the Architecture New Zealand 2. 21013 by architect Dennis Smith. Highly recommended. Shows various schemes, perfectly of their time, and all completely dominated by car parking.

UPDATE: The kind folks at Architecture Now have put Dennis’ great article online now:


Postcard from Portland

Portland has something of a reputation as an urbanists poster child and my first impression is that it is indeed doing things right. Portland’s renaissance stems back ultimately to a local government amalgamation in the early 90s that led to a compact city master plan for the region that could actually be put into place (well the bits within Oregon state at least). This lead to a big focus on transit, walking and cycling and intensifying in the city. Some big parallels with the Auckland situation there, hopefully Portland represents what Auckland will achieve.

A few observations are immediate. They have short blocks, with lots of cross roads. That means lots of street frontage and lots of corners. Not much in the way of lanes or arcades, probably because they don’t need them. Most intersections are either four way stops with pedestrian priority, or signalised. I noticed that the ped signals appear to be synchronised on some of the main streets, I walked about eight blocks without breaking my stride!

There are a lot of street trees. Lots. They provide shade from the sun and make thing just that much more pleasant. I’m no arborist but those trees look young, perhaps only ten or fifteen years old. I get the feeling they were recently added in a citywide programme to tree every street in the city. Auckland should do the same. Also something that is not immediately obvious is they have very little fast food chains downtown… but they do have a permanent hawker/food truck market covering two city blocks!

Unlike Vancouver or Seattle the streets in Portland have a narrow cross section, probably 20m from building to building. That’s the same as Auckland. In a way it makes the streets more homely and intimate, especially as they aren’t choked with traffic. Broad footpaths, cycle lanes, tram tracks, trees, just not parking and dozens of traffic lanes. Again they intersections don’t splay out for extra lanes or turn pockets. If anyone tells you Auckland streets are too narrow for this or that, point to Portland.

Street parking is uncommon and I can’t recall many parking buildings, bar one particularly huge monster downtown. I wonder if that one building does most of the parking for the whole city?

Portland has both streetcar trams and proper light rail. There is a distinction here. The streetcars are conventional, relatively small 20m trams that run entirely on street. They are effectively flash buses with nice stops, and are great to ride, however they do run in mixed traffic. Downtown they run kerbside, with only one track per street. Opposing directions run on different streets one block apart which can be confusing at first. Frequencies are quite good at ten to fifteen minute head ways most of the day.

The light rail is a different beast. The vehicles are longer, taller and wider, and seem to run exclusively coupled into pairs. A pair like that is about the same size as a single EMU in Auckland, so it’s by no means small. While they do run on street downtown like the streetcars they use different streets and tracks and have a nominally traffic free lane. The killer app here however is that once outside the downtown grid the light rail runs on its own dedicated railway lines, generally located alongside freeways. So they have excellent, if a little slow, penetration into the dense city core, and fast long reach in the suburbs. I caught this out to the airport and it was faster and more convenient than many other airport rail links. There are four lines each running at ten minute headways, but in the centre they pair up on two corridors given very frequent service all day. A great system, and again it could be a very effective option for new corridors in Auckland.

I don’t have a picture of it, but there is one odd street with three lanes: streetcar to one side, light rail to the other, plus a bus lane in the middle!



A picture here of the Portland gondola, which they curiously call a tramway. Gondolas seem to be flavor of the month in transport terms, often they are an answer searching for a question with little regard given to their real life strengths and weaknesses. This application however does seem to be the right choice of technology. It serves a medical precinct and university built at the top of a very large, very steep hill, in an otherwise flat city. One of the streetcars terminates at the bottom station and there is a large paid bike parking lot, both of which give good access to the gondola.

Speaking of cycling, there is plenty of it but a conspicuous lack of segregated cycle lanes and cycle ways. Many city streets have painted-line-and-stencil bike lanes, and little else. Perhaps this is actually the holy grail for cycling: a city where cycling is such a normal, standard aspect of using the road, and where traffic is so light and civilized, that special cycling infrastructure just isn’t needed.



A quick picture of their new waterfront development precinct. Human scaled buildings, street trees, cycle lanes, public transport, mixed use, some parking, short blocks and small intersections. Wynyard take note, this is how you do it right.


Overall Portland is a great city that clearly enjoys the fruits of its labours over the previous two decades. Auckland has a lot to learn from this city which rightly deserves it’s reputation as a golden child of reurbanisation.

Residential parking permits – Paraphrasing opposing views

For those who have not heard, AT recently released a draft parking discussion document (PDD). The PDD has stimulated considerable discussion on parking issues in general and residential parking permit schemes (RPPS) in particular. In this recent post I outlined four reasons why I consider resident parking permits to be unwise, specifically:

  1. RPPS are unfair, insofar as they prioritise a public resource for a particular group of people based simply on where they live;
  2. RPPS are inconvenient, insofar as they make it easy to park your car in the area where you reside, but less convenient in other areas where you might travel;
  3. RPPS create poor incentives, insofar as they subsidise residential parking and thereby encourage residents to make inefficient use of on-street parking; and
  4. RPPS are not an enduring solution, insofar as they do not tackle the underlying problem (excess demand) and instead ration demand based on location (and often first-mover advantage).

In this post I will now list some of the opposing views which emerged in the comment thread to my earlier post. Ultimately, these arguments haven’t swayed me from my original position: I still consider (heavily discounted) residential parking permit schemes to be unwise. Nevertheless, I think it’s worth paraphrasing opposing views, if only so we can confront them head on. In the following sub-sections I present the most common opposing views.

View #1 – Respecting different definitions of fairness

Perhaps the most surprising opposing view was the suggestion RPPS were in fact “fair” because they provided inner-city residents with the same opportunity as suburban residents to park on-street for free in the area where they live. One commentator, for example, argued thusly:

” … They [RPSS] allow inner suburb residents the same option as residents in suburbs further away – a park outside your house.”

There’s a couple of interesting issues here, most importantly how one defines “fair”. In my previous post, I suggested RPPS were *unfair* because they restricted access to a public resource based solely on a person’s place of residence. Hence, I have defined fairness as everyone having the same opportunity to access on-street parking, irrespective of where you live and where you want to park.

In contrast, the comment above suggests an alternative definition of fairness, specifically paying the same price to access on-street parking close to where you reside.

So in essence, the fairness debate boils down to one of subjective values: If you think that everybody should have equal access to on-street parking across the city, no matter where they happen to reside or drive, then you will likely agree with me that RPSS are “unfair”. On the other hand, if you think everybody should pay the same (zero) price for on-street parking in the area where you live then you might support RPSS. Respecting different definitions of fairness is important, if only because it helps us to understand what people value (image source).


Personally I think the suggestion that everyone should pay the same (zero) price for on-street parking in the area where they live is somewhat unworkable. It would require on-street parking permits schemes in the city centre, for example, for which demand would quickly exceed supply. More generally, it rides roughshod over natural spatial variation in supply and demand and also ignores the potential for people to choose the area where they reside, and indeed the house they live in, based on their need for on-street parking. More on this below …

View #2 – Limited off-street parking

Several commentators suggested RPPS were warranted in areas with limited off-street parking. This argument goes something along the lines of:

  • Premise: Suburb A has limited space for off-street parking
  • Conclusion: Residents of Suburb A should have a parking permit scheme, which allows them to park their cars on-street for free.

The sheer weakness of this argument is overwhelming. Let’s try this for size:

  • Premise: Suburb A has limited space for bedrooms
  • Conclusion: Residents of Suburb A should have a bedroom permit scheme, which allows them to “park” their children on-street for free.

Imagine how popular that would be?!? I can see all the parents out there jumping up and screaming “right you little turd burgers – there’s no space for you here tonight. You’re out on the street.”

More seriously though, why are we prepared to cover for people’s inability to find somewhere to park their car? We don’t do that in a range of other areas of life. For example, if someone decides to save money and rent a house with three bedrooms when they actually needed four, we don’t turn around and say “hard luck Jim, why don’t we let you put a shipping container on the street for you to sleep in”. Seriously: Why are we prepared to dedicate space to provide subsidised car-parking, rather than subsidised housing? Surely there’s more need for the latter? As the infographic below suggests, the costs of providing free parking (on and off street) are enormous (image source).

Free parking

I’m generally flabbergasted by the temerity of the people who argue for residential parking permit schemes and minimum parking requirements. More on this in the following section …

View #3 - The eleventh commandment: Let there be parking

This is really a collection of “views”, which ultimately culminate in “more free parking reserved for me”. First I would like to quote from Oscar Wilde:

Selfishness is not living as one wishes to live, it is asking others to live as one wishes to live.

In Auckland the “eleventh commandment” views are most clearly articulated by a group with the rather eloquent name “Auckland Inner City Suburb Parking Alliance” (AICSPA, which is pronounced with a hacking sense of disdain). Now when I first heard of this group I presumed it was the the new company resulting from the merger of Wilson’s and Tournament’s off-street parking businesses. But alas no, it’s a far more serious treat than a rapacious corporate monopoly.  According to this recent presentation to Auckland Council, AICSPA is actually …

ICPA (2)

The AICSPA presentation lists the following issues with commuter parking:

  1. Destroying community amenity
  2. Stressing heritage streets not designed for public parking
  3. Reducing safe access/egress to homes
  4. Stressing elderly and young who don’t have access to off-street parking
  5. Compromising the economic viability of local commercial/shopping areas

Let’s tackle these issues in turn:

  1. Community amenity – This has absolutely nothing to do with commuter parking. If cars parking on-street are detracting from amenity, then reduce the amount of on-street parking. Cars owned by residents will reduce amenity just as much as cars owned by commuters (although I do acknowledge that members of AICSPA are likely to have fancy new European cars).
  2. Inadequate street design – Again, this has nothing to do with commuter parking. If the street is unsafe for parking, then remove on-street parking. You cannot argue one type of car is more dangerous than another. That’s just silly.
  3. Reducing safe access/egress to homes - same as above. If lack of on-street availability is the issue, then we can solve that with pricing. We don’t need to ban commuters to increase availability.
  4. Stressing elderly and young who don’t have access to off-street parking – pricing parking would free up spaces for everyone, including elderly and young. Again, this issue arises in instances of too much demand, where old/young people can’t park close to their house. In which case pricing is the answer.
  5. Compromising commercial/shopping viability – Seems to presume that commuters don’t contribute to commercial/shopping viability, at least not as much as residents. At the very least this argument is not supported by surveys of relative expenditure levels. My experience is that commuters (more commonly known as “employees” or “workers”) do spend quite a lot of money.

Too easy. In terms of underpinning principles, AICSPA seek: “Agreement that commuters to the inner-city must bear the full cost of taking their vehicle to the city …” Let’s replace the two words in bold in that sentence: “Agreement that residents and commuters in the inner-city must bear the full cost of taking their vehicle to the city …”

And a couple of slides later they start to be more explicit, and it’s not looking good:


The last two points provide the most significant insight into how these people “think”. AICSPA argue for securing “residents” rights, without acknowledging that commuters are residents too. The only difference is that the latter originate from other parts of Auckland. Their rights as residents of Auckland Council are no less relevant than yours.

Indeed, the dispersed, inter-connected nature of travel patterns in large cities like Auckland is one of the very reasons why AC/AT were formed (rightfully I think too). AICSPA need to realise that, from a transport planning perspective, integration across space is more important than integration across planning documents. In fact, I’d argue AT’s parking discussion document is, almost by definition, better integrated than what we have: Because what we currently have is a rag-tag collection of parking policies created by the former councils which is disintegrated across space.

And then the Moses punch: AICSPA want “sufficient on-site parking” in the city centre. What the flaming koala hell? Why?!? I live in the city centre and have done so for almost a decade. I live in a building with zero off-street parking. I have sufficient parking, i.e. none, because I DON’T OWN A FLAMING CAR. Requiring parking in the city centre is forcing people like me to live like AICSPA people. And I don’t want to. You people are crazy. That aside, my apartment was *cheaper* because it did not have parking. That enabled *me* to buy it.  If not then I’d likely still be renting.

Again to quote Oscar Wilde:

Selfishness is not living as one wishes to live, it is asking others to live as one wishes to live.

Anyone who advocates for minimum parking requirements needs to read that quote over and over and over and over again until it sinks in. Some people argue that removing minimums is actually removing choice. To which I say balderdash. Removing minimums does not prevent developers from providing parking if people want it. Hence, in a situation with no minimums people who don’t want parking don’t have to pay for it, while people who want parking can still get it. Everyone gets what they want, and what they pay for.

The moral of the story is that residential parking permit schemes and minimum parking requirements are unwise public policies. In the next post I’ll outline what I think is the better direction for Auckland to head in with regard to on-street parking policy … just so y’all don’t start thinking I’m an overly negative Noddy.

Photo of the day – Fanshawe St bus stop

On a wet and windy day like today the bus stop on Fanshawe St next to Victoria Park is not a nice place to be waiting for a bus. AT have said they plan on building a proper busway along Fanshawe St and that should include a proper station rather than just a few measly shelters.

Photo is credited to

Route optimisation in the CBD

In recent weeks we’ve started to see a number of small but important changes to in the CBD in the aim of improving the pedestrian experience. This has included installing a Barnes dance on the intersection of Quay St and Hobson St and closing the slip lane from Albert St through to Quay St. These changes are just the tip of the iceberg though according an item going to the Waitamata Local Board today. All the changes come under a route optimisation programme which Auckland Transport is undertaking. They say:

  • A Stage One pre-optimisation report was prepared by the Joint Traffic Operations Centre (JTOC) that captures the investigation strategy, current performance and optimisation recommendations. Recommendations include signal timings changes and physical works changes.
  • This project applies the Network Operating Plan approach which incorporates Auckland Transport’s strategic objectives. Priority in the CBD has been placed predominantly for pedestrians and public transport, but also an onus to maintain flow in peak periods for traffic. Through collaboration, Auckland Transport has incorporated other operational issues raised by parties such as Auckland Council and Waterfront Auckland.
  • Some benefits are already being experienced particularly for pedestrians through intelligent phasing to ease movements for pedestrian through the city centre during the inter and off peak periods whilst retaining and improving bus movements.

For the programme the CBD has been split up in five zones which are shown below.

CBD Route Optimisation Zones

For each zone almost every intersection appears to have been reviewed. The tables below show what is proposed although some of the outcomes are investigations rather than final solutions but still promising that this is being finally looked at.

CBD Route Optimisation Zone A

CBD Route Optimisation Zone B

CBD Route Optimisation Zone C

CBD Route Optimisation Zone D

CBD Route Optimisation Zone E

That’s quite a list and covers a lot of the issues that we’ve raised over the years so it’s pleasing to see some will be happening finally.