Plans For The Future - Will It Be A Brave New World?
I have enjoyed our environment in a once in a lifetime way, it is quiet – so quiet, I can hear people and birds talking, my daily treat is getting outside for a walk locally, people are nodding and smiling, some stop for a 2 metre chat; to use the cliché, we are all in this together and I feel part of my community in a special way.
Thinking more about what there is to like, I find that walking with so many others outside feels safe and social. We are very conscious of how we use space near other people and are so considerate. Walking in the middle of the road feels like the right thing to do to move safely. We all need that 2 metres, and in a visit to the supermarket it is most marked. I notice if a car goes past because it is loud and exhaust is smelly. I hear the bus down the road as it provides that essential service for all of us. Is this what people in Christchurch found post 2011 earthquake?
Moving to level 3 and beyond we will need to keep our distance and the government has proposed many initiatives and funding to help us do that. Some funding is especially for testing out new ideas to see if they work and how to design the best solutions. Wellington City Council will decide how it will respond soon . . .
Living Streets has suggested ways we can keep public space working well as we get out more and walk further, in the central city especially:
- Wider clear footpaths will be essential. That means no sandwich boards, escooters or tables blocking the 2+ metre wide path. Extend the footpath where it is particularly narrow on Featherston Street, Cuba Street, Tory Street, Dixon Street. Keep the Wellington railway station and Bunny Street clear for walking.
- Crossing the road must be easy. Keep the automatic pedestrian beg buttons at the lights. Keep waiting to cross to a minimum – more than 30 seconds is too much time together – fix the lights by Chaffers New World!
The waterfront seems wide until we all try and use it with a 2 metre gap, so let’s test out some ideas that have been kicking around for a while – a cycle lane along the Quays would help.
We walk locally so local places need a boost too. Kilbirnie’s shopping precinct, Bay Road, is a busy place with a lot of people and could go car free. Johnsonville’s route from bus to shops to trains could have a wide dedicated walk-only area. Newtown needs more footpath space around the shops. This is an opportunity to act on the good ideas.
Some additional mobility parking spaces for the disabled is needed near all shopping areas so that all of us can move around safely – no one left behind.
We are living in unusual times where we are together in ways most would never have dreamed of. Let’s keep those good bits for a lot longer – caring for others, consideration in public spaces, supported by the right moves from local government.
This article is from Ellen Blake of Living Streets Aotearoa. Living Streets Aotearoa is the New Zealand organisation for people on foot that promotes walking-friendly communities and provides a voice for pedestrians. We are a nationwide organisation with local branches and affiliates throughout New Zealand to encourage everyday walking.