Dunedin attempting to fast-track CBD car deterrence

The Dunedin City Council has had plans to make the main street in the CBD (George Street) more pedestrian friendly and less useful for cars. They are trying to fast-track this citing Covid-19 as a justification.

However trying to establish a pedestrian dominated street heading into winter seems risky for the success of the plan and for businesses desperate

They have already trialed a car-free area including and around the Octagon in February. This was controversial and heavily criticised by some businesses who claimed big drops in trade.

And the current plan to rush into a major change is being opposed and delayed.

The council were going to vote on whether to go ahead with the changes yesterday – on Monday the Chamber of Commerce and businesses hadn’t even been consulted, but it appears council plans were already under way.

ODT on Wednesday: DCC response plan lambasted

A plan to support local retail and hospitality businesses through Covid-19 Alert Level 2 has been panned by members of the Dunedin business community.

The Dunedin City Council’s proposal is touted in council documents as an effort to encourage people to return to shopping areas and includes a temporary 10kmh speed limit in George and Princes Sts, the installation of temporary speed bumps, and increasing the frequency of Barnes dance crossings.

The proposal was called ‘‘disgusting’’, ‘‘pedestrianisation jammed down people’s throats’’, and an ideologically driven change that ‘‘could be the straw that broke the camel’s back for many businesses’’ by a series of business representatives yesterday.

The ‘‘Safer CBD Streets – Covid-19 response’’ plan, which will be considered at tomorrow’s planning and environment committee, was mooted by Dunedin Mayor Aaron Hawkins at the May 4 council meeting.

Yesterday he rejected the notion that the plan represented a major change to the area; that there was only one viewpoint representative of the entire business community; and that the proposal was an example of pedestrianisation.

‘‘Yes, it’s about bringing people to the city centre but it’s about making people feel comfortable that they can return to that part of town and be able to maintain safe physical distance from one another,’’ he said.

‘‘This is about trying to support both customers and retailers to operate in an unusual environment for however long — we don’t know.’’

At a time of unprecedented business turmoil it seems unwise to push through an idealist experiment.

He conceded there had been a trade-off between bringing a plan forward in time for the move to Level 2 and a higher level of consultation, but said another survey was sent out last night to seek views of businesses and building owners in the city centre.

Seems like very little consultation. ‘Another survey’ a day before the council was going to vote seems extraordinary.

The Otago Chamber of Commerce had not been consulted on the proposal and chief executive Dougal McGowan said he had not seen the details until Monday night.

The details had surprised members, and concerns the business community had not had the opportunity to be consulted ‘‘in a timely and effective way’’ in order to have changes ready for the first day out of lockdown was a theme in the feedback he received yesterday.

Heart of Dunedin spokeswoman Nina Rivett said the central business district advocacy group opposed reducing traffic flow and called for at least 12 months for businesses to regain resilience and try to attract people back into the city centre.

Radical change now ‘‘could be the straw that broke the camel’s back for many businesses’’.

The vote has been delayed, but just by one day – Traffic changes vote held back

The debate and decision on a contentious 10kmh speed limit through Dunedin’s city centre was delayed yesterday until this morning.

After a one-hour public forum Dunedin city councillors voted 9-6 to delay a decision on the Dunedin City Council’s George St roading plan, “Safer CBD Streets-Covid-19 response”, which includes a raft of health and safety measures, also designed to assist businesses, including temporary wider footpaths, 10kmh speed limits, speed bumps, and increased waits at traffic lights.

The delay would allow George St property owner Cr Jules Radich to seek legal advice over his participation in the debate.

Counsel for the council Michael Garbutt said the office of the auditor-general had confirmed Cr Radich had a pecuniary interest in relation to George St for deliberations in the annual plan.

He believed it also would preclude Cr Radich from participating in yesterday’s planned debate.

That would mean one vote less against the rushed changes.

During the public forum, Generation Zero presenters Jenny Coatham and Lydia Le Gros asked for councillors to consider taking advantage of the NZ Transport Agency’s innovating streets for people pilot fund for both the long-term and the temporary project.

The fear that the proposed temporary changes in the proposal were “the first step” towards pedstrianising the street were voiced by AA Otago district council chairman Malcolm Budd yesterday.

Otago Chamber of Commerce chief executive Dougal McGowan asked whether allowing retailers to expand on to footpaths might add to the congestion on footpaths and what other measures to allow for physical distancing had been considered for footpaths.

Generation Zero and a Green mayor versus the business community.

Council chief executive Sue Bidrose said there were more than 70 speed limit signs ready to put in place from yesterday afternoon, as well as “many, many, many” circles to be painted on the road with the Dunedin logo on them “that would remind people that the road space is ‘cars and cycles and scooters and pedestrians’.”

It looks like the council expected to go ahead regardless of consultation and voting.

The Dunedin CBD could be heading into a winter of discontent.

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39 Comments

  1. Gerrit

     /  15th May 2020

    Unless you have transport infrastructure in place from all points of the compass directly funneling into the CBD (including car parking buildings) it will be a total failure. Auckland Queens Street was turned into a pedestrian mall and totally failed. As did Onehunga. Reason is simple, Peoples transport needs were not accommodated for and people simply did not have a convenient and quick way to get to the CBD’s. In Auckland case too the rise of the shopping mall and acres of public car parking meant the experiment was over before it even started.

    Reply
    • A problem in Dunedin is they have reduced parking and pushed parking further and further away from the CBD, but expect people to walk the main street with no easy way to get there.

      A lot of the pedestrian traffic in the CBD is made up of cruise ships tourists and students. There’s none of the former and a lot less of the latter now.

      Reply
      • Duker

         /  15th May 2020

        Interesting situation for Dunedin as its changed long term in CBD. I dont know it well but seems The octagon was the original centre of town, but the retail side moved away when the trams came to a ‘linear’ street and for larger format ( department) stores. Then the growth of University and Hospital workers ( decline of industrial) meant the shops moved further away from octogon and catered for day traffic. Dont know if they have malls like other citys but I seem to remember the Council keeping supermarkets close to the CBD

        Reply
  2. Gerrit

     /  15th May 2020

    Worth a read. It may be different in Auckland this time as the rail comes directly (not 6 K’s away) into the CBD, however the traffic management plan needs to be fully adjusted to allow eastern suburbs to the bridge flow. A flow already disrupted by the road restriction on Fanshaw Street.

    https://ahi.auckland.ac.nz/2020/02/25/after-the-trial-mall-queen-streets-stagnated-development/

    Reply
    • Duker

       /  15th May 2020

      Eastern suburbs to Bridge connection is via bottom Parnell -Grafton Gully motorway by passing CBD streets

      Reply
      • Gerrit

         /  15th May 2020

        Technically correct if crossing the bridge is the route to be taken. However it is no good if you want the St Mary’s Bay, Ponsonby Wynyard Wharf, Westhaven, Viaduct Basin, etc. precincts. Once on that link to the bridge the next off ramp is over the bridge at the elephant house (Birkenhead). You could go to the North Western but the first off ramp there is a Motat/Western Springs. A long back track to the western end of the CBD.

        Reply
  3. duperez

     /  15th May 2020

    Mmmm, fast-tracking rules to slow traffic down.

    Making such a dramatic change in the circumstances of the moment, especially if there is little of no consultation is dumb and arrogant. Some probably want to go the whole hog while they think people are distracted. No half way measures like reducing the speed from 30kph to 20kph from Frederick through town even as a “we’ve got an idea in mind, we’ll try this and see what happens?”

    You want to revolutionise the way people use THEIR town and think about the way it operates? It seems the present approach is the best way to alienate and piss them off.

    Reply
  4. oldlaker

     /  15th May 2020

    In Auckland’s Takapuna, a project to upgrade the central thoroughfare, Hurstmere Rd, is being pushed ahead too. Businesses were going to be badly affected anyway in good times but roadworks and less parking will annihilate them.

    Reply
    • It has elsewhere, what makes people think it won’t there ?

      Roadworks killed a successful cafe/takeaway that I knew. It was really popular with truckies and the pies had won prizes. But with roadworks it was impossible to park anywhere near it. The owner had no option but to close.

      Reply
      • duperez

         /  15th May 2020

        The answer is the Mike Hosking solution of course – don’t have roadworks. Or structure the work in such a way that only tiny bits of a road are worked on at a time. Probably far less immediate impact if you work on 10 meters of road rather than 100 meters. The work will take 10 times as long to complete though and cost considerably more.

        Or have crews working 24 hours a day. The logistics of staffing would be problematic and the costs much higher but work would be completed sooner. The caterwauling about the noises from the work disturbing the neighbours and locals would be fun.

        What is the happy solution? Past getting rid of all organisers of such work of course. They all sit round at planning time and at the start of each day and repeat something from their mission statements, “How can we annoy as many people as possible and make life impossible for them?” (Hosking had it earlier this year that making things difficult for people in Auckland was a deliberate strategy.)

        Reply
  5. Good on Mayor Aaron for taking a new approach as the ‘Green Mayor’ of Otepoti !

    The main issue here; the obvious unwillingness of many (old guard) to actually get out of the precious cars & either take public transport into the city OR even walk a couple of blocks, into the CBD.
    Having lived o’seas for a few decades.. this is the one thing I noticed most, about ‘Jo/Joe Kiwi’.. (after returning, back to Aotearoa/NZ)
    >many seem to think, the only walking they want to do, is from their front door to the car door & from the car door (in the closest car park) to their destination.. Time to WAKE UP folks, its 2020, not 1970.

    Reply
    • I saw a documentary about the fat capital of the US (Buffalo, I think) One mother drove her son to the bus stop across the road. I wouldn’t have thought it was worth getting the car out.

      Reply
      • Zedd

         /  15th May 2020

        Yes, its not just a ‘kiwi phenomena’ BUT obesity among the young is becoming more apparent too. When I was a teen (1970s) we walked or cycled to school & most other places; sports events etc.

        I hear of a recent issue (in Otepoti)
        >Taxis doing ‘the School run’.. taking kids to school & the lines of cars (parents) dropping them outside the school gates.. WTF 😦

        OD HS NM…… ?? :/

        Reply
        • duperez

           /  15th May 2020

          In our town I know of a school with parents who’ve not been happy to just drop the kids off up the road or right at the gate, but driven their kids as close as possible to the classroom door.

          The kids go then inside and put on their PE gear so the teachers can take them for fitness!😂

          Reply
          • That’s a bit like all the people who drive to a gym to get fit.

            I got some land and that keeps me as fit as I need to be, and slashing dead gorse or splitting wood with harbour and hill views and fresh air is a lot more satisfying than crowding in to an indoor sweatshop.

            Reply
            • Alan Wilkinson

               /  15th May 2020

              Me too, PG. Plus a bit of beginners yoga to keep flexible.

            • Corky

               /  15th May 2020

              Spot on, Pete. If splitting wood was good enough for Muhammad Ali during his prime, it’s good enough for us.

              I have a 40cc long shaft branch/scrub trimmer. It’s so heavy my arms become pumped and I can only last about 5 minutes. But there’s something special about wood splitting that experts are still trying to figure out. The Tornado Ball is an outcome of some of that study.

            • How do you split logs with a branch/scrub trimmer ?

            • Corky

               /  15th May 2020

              I would say with great difficulty. However, this is a subject that doesn’t need your attention.

            • Corky

               /  15th May 2020

              Require. 😀

          • Most people do it with a log splitter, not a trimmer of any kind; I have seen enough people doing it to know that.

            Reply
    • Gerrit

       /  15th May 2020

      Its the old story Z, the market will decide. If enough people are willing to patronise the Dunedin CBD by walking, cycling and busing it will be a huge success. If however it prove burdensome to get there, people will literally vote with their feet and go suburban shopping, socialising and be entertained. And don’t forget the first and last mile between the resident to and from first public transport contact has a large bearing on its useability.

      I too have lived in European city’s where public transport was excellent, however the systems were far more extensive and ably supported by a very large population. Not sure Dunedin fits in with having a large enough population, willing to pay the taxes, required to have an extensive, fast and reliable first world public transport system.

      Reply
      • Yes, it works in European cities because of the population. None of ours have and they are nothing like so dense.

        In places like the town we lived in in Belgium, there was nothing like the public transport except from the station to various places.

        Reply
      • Zedd

         /  15th May 2020

        I often take buses, to the new ‘Bus Hub’, (except during covid lockdown), when Im going to town.. besides ‘rush hour’; many of the 30 seat buses, have about 3-5 people on. Meanwhile streams of cars are buzzing by (mainly with driver only). Its not so much. that we dont have this option, it just seems the ‘kiwi mindset’ that its ‘SOOOO uncool’ to do so ??! IMHO :/

        Reply
        • Some parts of the city are well serviced by buses, but a lot of the city isn’t. There used to be an occasional bus that came past near where I live but the times didn’t suit me and that was scrapped years ago.

          A lot of Dunedin is too hilly to encourage cycling, and the weather, especially in winter isn’t good for walking or cycling. I have thought about cycling when the weather is good enough but won’t, at the home end I live at the top of a steep hill, and at the work end it would involve going right across the CBD in rush hour (east/west) with cycle lanes only going north/south.

          Reply
          • Alan Wilkinson

             /  15th May 2020

            A small population density means public transport services are only viable if infrequent which means inconvenient.

            Reply
          • theres about 3 different bus routes down Andy Bay Rd.. a few streets from my shack in Sth D/St K

            BUT many ARE almost empty, most of the time..

            All the chatter/excuses about ‘population density’ etc. is just drivel IMHO, it needs a mindset shift to get them used by ‘the masses’ (>100,000 in Otepoti)
            Im guessing, less than 5% ever, regularly use the buses

            btw: I had a chat with a man, who told me he only used the bus, if his car broke down: about 5-6 times since he left school (1970s ?).. its just TOO DAMN INCONVENIENT for most.. how precious can you be ?

            Reply
            • Zedd

               /  15th May 2020

              whats this no Tory downticks.. YET ?
              >come on need to do better… 😀

            • Gezza

               /  15th May 2020

              It’s just a quiet day, Zedd. Everybody’s got other things to do & there probably hasn’t been enuf time to figure out what to rip into with Grant’s budget.

              Welly’s got an excellent commuter rail service to most suburbs but I rarely visit the city these days & when I do by car the parking fees infuriate me. But most places of interest in & around the city are accessible on foot from the railway station, & trains run frequently – half hourly on weekends.

            • Gezza

               /  15th May 2020

              Mind you, the bus services, that used to be pretty good & are have extensive coverage to all suburbs well beyond the 3 main rail commuter routes (Hutt, Paraparaumu & Johnsonville lines) seem to have been diabolical since a new timetable was introduced a year or so ago.

            • There you are, Zedd, two downticks. Don’t say I never do anything for you.

            • Gezza

               /  15th May 2020

              Stop flirting Kitty

        • Gerrit

           /  15th May 2020

          Problem is you think that those single occupant cars are solely being used for the commute. Not necessarily so.

          The car gives one the freedom to do many things to and from work. Kids, sports, visit the gym, go for a swim, pick up some shopping, visit granny to make sure she is OK, and a myriad of other things that being stuck on a fixed bus route is simply not possible. Car drivers can take the “long way home”. Bus passengers are controlled by the fixed route and time. All good if that is your “sooo cool” way

          And if “taking the long way home” is kiwi culture, so be it. Get used to it. It it not going to change, any CBD that enforces the change can either grow as the “cool” people congregate or wither as the “uncool” take to suburban precincts that caters for their culture.

          Reply
  6. artcroft

     /  15th May 2020

    “It looks like the council expected to go ahead regardless of consultation and voting.”

    Its always the same; the left bang on about the need for community decision making and grassroots leadership (check out Action Stations values in above post) And then they get power and suddenly it’s my way or the highway.

    Hypocrites.

    Reply
    • Duker

       /  15th May 2020

      “The Dunedin City Council yesterday voted to go ahead with a consultation that would drop speed limits in central city roads in Dunedin’s city centre and Green Island from 50kmh to 30kmh;
      ‘Due to a procedural error during yesterday’s infrastructure services and networks committee, the consultation was approved without debate.”
      https://www.odt.co.nz/news/dunedin/dcc-keen-major-slowdown-roads

      Reply
      • artcroft

         /  15th May 2020

        It’s not a case of – if you can spell ‘consultation’ that means you’ve done it- from the article.

        “The Otago Chamber of Commerce had not been consulted on the proposal and chief executive Dougal McGowan said he had not seen the details until Monday night.

        The details had surprised members, and concerns the business community had not had the opportunity to be consulted ‘‘in a timely and effective way’’ in order to have changes ready for the first day out of lockdown was a theme in the feedback he received yesterday.”

        Reply
        • Duker

           /  15th May 2020

          Read it again , they approved it in error , when all they were supposed to approve was a ‘period of consultation’. No wonder every one else was surprised and fair enough it was a muddle .
          You dont have to continue the confusion by thinking the proposal will go ahead immediately , to say so would be…..

          Reply

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