Positive response to pedestrian precinct

Two University of Otago students are rapt with the council's response to their idea to block off traffic to part of Dunedin's CBD.

Alexis Belton and Georgina Hampton (both 25) are calling for the lower half of the Octagon and lower Stuart St, to the Moray Pl intersection, to become a pedestrian zone.

This area could become the ''heart'' of Dunedin's CBD and act as a ''visual showpiece'' for the city, they argued at last Friday's annual plan hearings.

Their call, backed by a 36-page proposal, for the council to trial the idea and consult local businesses before making a permanent decision, was warmly received by councillors, particularly David Benson-Pope.

''I am delighted to see this proposal. I would like to compliment you, as I am sure my colleagues would, on the amount of work you have put into [the proposal].

''I think strategically it is time for the city to pick up the pace in terms of the street works and urban design,'' Cr Benson-Pope told the pair.

Ms Hampton told the Otago Daily Times yesterday they were pleasantly surprised by the response from councillors, which gave them hope the council would pick up their idea.

Both were keen to emphasise it was not a new concept and other cities around New Zealand and the globe had pedestrian areas.

In response to questions from councillors on Friday, Mr Belton said the ''shared space'' in lower Stuart St would include a one-way exit for cars leaving Bath St.

They had explored the option of blocking off some of George St, but this would be be more difficult as it involved disrupting bus routes, he said.

As part of researching their proposal, they consulted local businesses and council transport planners.


Tram would be good

What would be great if they do make it a pedestrian only street is if they have an old tram going up and down it as well. Would attract a lot of tourists.

Didn't we have a shared space?

It was called John Wilson Ocean Drive, note the drive part where cars and pedestrians could share the space and views!

Why must Jinty account for green jobs?

Southd, I think I came in late, and don't understand why Cr McTavish must account for 'green jobs'. Has she promoted 'green jobs' somehow? What on earth are they? Is Cr McT responsible for a Council quota of such jobs? As for cars bringing life to a city, that is more likely if they are well maintained late models and coupes, I suggest.

Be careful here

Like or not vehicles add vibrancy to a city. There are some good examples of pedestrian zones working and some really good examples of where they have been totally unsuccessful _ Tauranga is a good example. Fair enough have a trial but be prepared to say this may not work.

I'm more concerned about the council and its non-ability to take opportunities for business growth.

Can Cr McTavish give a detailed and accurate example of how many so called green jobs have been created in her tenure as councillor?

Real progress

Great idea. Congratulations Georgina and Alexis for the success after all the work you've put in. This is what real progress for Dunedin looks like.

To all the knockers, I've got two words for you: Cuba Street.

How many fingers does it take to count them?

Trev says, "Have a look at downtown Sydney where streets became malls".  Snoot says, "When New York City decided to make Broadway pedestrian only, everyone complained. Now they won't have it any other way."  Squeaky wheel says, "I completely agree with Hype.O.Thermia - "Dunedin isn't like elsewhere." - Quite right, elsewhere this kind of progress happened about 30 years ago."  
I can think of quite a few places where this didn't happen and isn't likely to, not until motor vehicles become extinct.  Compare and contrast Dunedin on a busy day with New York or downtown Sydney on a slow day.  Notice the number of people out and about.  Does this suggest any reason why what works in some places won't work in others?

The Stuart Mall?

Great idea. Just do it! Business will not fail due to no traffic - quite the contrary. Have a look at downtown Sydney where streets became malls - great.Just a couple of points for Council. Don't let coffee shops/pubs/shops invade the pedestrian space more and more. Don't defer a Stuart St.decision forever like you have with changing George St. pedestrian crossings to Barnes Dance crossings on the grounds of an untrue cost estimate of $60,000.And don't let a mall be taken over by junk jewellery stalls like the Octagon. Go for it.   

Get on your feet

When New York City decided to make Broadway pedestrian only, everyone complained. Now they won't have it any other way. 3rd Street in Santa Monica is vehicle free and it is a busy, successful destination - and, as far as I recall, there is not a bar in sight.  
There really isn't a reason to restrict this idea to part of Lower Stuart Street, a big chunk of George Street could easily be clased as well.  It will restrict traffic?  Of course!  That's the idea.  Will it assist businesses in the area? Of course!

Dare to dream

Here I am, GoDunedin! I'm progressive. I'm a Dunedin born-and-bred boy who managed to escape for a while and live... overseas (insert sharp intake of breath), where inner city greenspaces, pedestrian streets, and cycleways are the norm. I fully support the pedestrianisation of Lower Stuart Street. 

In fact, my vision includes stopping traffic on a couple of blocks of George Street on Saturday mornings and having the Farmers Market set up in the roadway. Imagine (shock horror) market goers meandering along George Street, under the cover of the verandahs when it's raining, popping into the odd retail shop to buy something... parking their cars in one of the three parking buildings adjacent to George Street.

It's bizzare and, frankly, laughable that so many of the comments here would suggest that Dunedin isn't quite ready for something as radical as 50 metres of pedestrianised street. Do these people honestly believe that closing this small section of street would cause traffic chaos, promote social unrest and lead to an exodus of businesses from the CBD? Honestly?

I completely agree with Hype.O.Thermia - "Dunedin isn't like elsewhere." - Quite right, elsewhere this kind of progress happened about 30 years ago. 

It's also embarrassing to read the condescending, cynical and insular comments directed at the proposers. I'd like to say 'thank you' for their efforts and hope that they aren't put off.

Great idea, but ...

Having seen how successful a pedestrianised space, with service vehicle access outside hours, can be in other cities around the world (Edinburgh for one) this could be a great initiative and really benefit locals and businesses.

A few points though.  It needs a good focal point, not just more space for cafe tables: so green space, water and light fountains etc; and it needs to be done properly, not just a token effort.  A few road cones and more chairs on the road would be a disaster.  There's the next problem - the city financial resources have been tied up already.  We currently don't have the cash to do this the right way.

The last thing we need is yet another under-funded, under-resourced, under-implemented, good idea that proves the nay-sayers were right (for the wrong reasons).

Brilliant work

Brilliant work from two passionate Dunedinites. There will be so many benefits from making downtown Dunedin a more people-friendly place. 

The small trial will not make it harder for people to get into town by car, I am not sure why so many people commenting here are reacting in such an extreme way.

It will make it much more attractive for people to spend time in town - as anyone who has seen the incredible difference made by the shared spaces and other pedestrian areas created in the past few years in Auckland would know.

Cities large and small all over the world are taking steps to be more people-friendly, with fantastic results.  Can't wait to see the results of a trial in Dunedin.

Really Dunedin?

I'm actually amazed at the poor arguements raised up in protest to this. Reduced parking and access for the disabled? From blocking off less than 100m? 

We were just talking the other day about how lovely it would be if George St was closed to traffic. Do we need to drive down one small section of street? This will surely add some vibrancy to the area, as nearly all pedistrian malls worldwide do. 

As the future of the Dunedin (a young professional), I would love to see these improvements made. 

Hype is right

Nice comment Hype. i think you're spot on there. I do most of my spending on a credit card and have just received the account for last month's purchases. Of the 21 purchases thereon, only 5 were made in Dunedin. Of those 5, 3 were at the supermarket, 1 at the gas station and 1 at Warehouse Stationery for a new keyboard and mouse. In total, they accounted for 10% of the bill.

The other 90% of the statements value (16 purchases) was spent online. 

The harder it's made for me to go to town and park, the less I will go and spend there. It's quite evident from that credit card statement that I have already had a gutsful of the mess that is our city centre as I am already doing the majority of my purchasing out of town. 

Go on, close another street to traffic and watch a few more bussinesses go down the toilet. There was yet another in today's ODT and more will follow.



Cost benefit analysis, consultation, traffic engineering

Theory: If the disheartened GoDunedin offers to independently fund a cost benefit analysis, area surveys, traffic engineering studies and assessment reports et al, along with the full public consultation process - at no possible cost to ratepayers and renters - then they will be in a happier place?! (having perhaps taught DCC the finer worldly points of contemporary consultation process often missed when eradicating cars and parking spaces in favour of a small few cyclists heading to town to get drunk at night).

But even after having been so generous, I suppose, GoDunedin still risks not earning the Key of the City and the humble right to arbitrarily shut down legitimate existing uses and established businesses in this quarter.

We'll obey, yeah

Pedestrianise parts of the CBD, reduce parking, "encourage" aka attempt to force people to use public transport and cycles instead of cars.  Sure.  Change the rules, change the layout, make life more difficult for motorists and we'll grumble briefly then comply with the New Way.  

Or will we?  Why assume that we'll keep on doing the same things a - their - different way?  What happens if we change our patterns so we can achieve our objectives in the way that is least annoying, least time-wasting and least expensive to us?  What if we shop online more, bank online, do like Central Otago people did when Alexandra had the best shops with the best range of goods, and get together with a car-load of friends for a shopping trip/excursion to the nearest centre that suits us and respects our way of doing things?  People weren't doing it every day or every week, but when they did they had a real stock-up of everyday necessities that were at better prices, as well as clothes and tools and makeup and so on.

The DCC may have someone who has been here long enough to remember what happens when a street gets "traffic calming" i.e. extremely annoying road humps to stop drivers using it as a shortcut which residents dislike because there are too many of them and they are not driving slowly enough for their tastes.  Within the shortest time that street is abandoned by through-traffic and another is being used instead.  Then the residents of the first street themselves find the road humps annoying and want them removed, and the people in Street 2 want them.  People adapt.  We're not passive creatures who keep on doing the same thing no matter how many discouragements are placed in our way "for our own good". Will retailers bother staying in the expensive premises in the CBD when a significant proportion of their customers come into town as seldom as possible and go home as soon as possible without spending time or money anywhere that doesn't have a big free carpark?

I have no doubt that these things work elsewhere.  One little point to remember - Dunedin isn't elsewhere.   We have certain habits and traditions, as well as weather and topography and population density, that make the way we do things now OK for most of us.  Until there is a widespread call for any particular change (that's widespread meaning by a large proportion of the people, not loud but by a tiny proportion) I'm 100% in favour of leaving well alone.  

can we drivers not give up one small section?

Answer for Godunedin:  Ahhh no.

Way too long

BMC: 2035 seems way too long. The stadium will be paid for in 2031 (assuming global interest rates don't go up in the mean time) - we could start then.


The proposal is for pedestrianising upper part of lower Stuart Street, not all of lower Stuart Street, so people would still be able to drive from the one way up Stuart Street and around Moray Place. In fact, people can drive pretty much everywhere in Dunedin - can we drivers not give up one small section?
Also, changes like these don't require many resources; see online for examples of small, cost-efficient changes that bring bold and strong improvements to inner city vibrancy.
Dunedin, you have so much potential, but these comments are so disheartening. Where are the forward-thinkers? Hello? Anyone? [Abridged]


I agree - oppose this

This proposal would mean that you would no longer be able to drive across lower Stuart St on Moray Place.  And what about the one-way going north? Yeah, that's going to work really well for traffic flow.

And what about people who have mobility issues and need to be able to park close to where they are going?

Vigorously oppose

There is nothing to be gained by wasting time and resources on this ad hoc proposal. It shouldn't go out for consultation or incur any other cost on Dunedin's ratepayers and renters. Currently, many central city retail services are experiencing hard times. Currently, we have serious health and safety problems in the Octagon, coerced in part by DCC allowing bars to cluster in the lower Octagon. I see no good reason to grow nighttime space for citizen danger. Retain open access to the area for vehicles, pedestrians and cyclists. Temporary road stopping for Octagon events and cruise ship buses shows up the daytime issues for local businesses, not all of whom can benefit from crowd presence or the removal of vehicle access and parking. Nothing about the proposal is egalitarian or predicated on fair play. It's an extreme imposition.

Put it on the 2035 Christmas list

As has been mentioned, it would be a 'nice to have'. But our current economic situation just doesn't support it right now. I was actually having a discussion at the weekend about other pedestrianised town centres overseas that we have been to and how nice they are to shop in. Personally I'd pedestrianise the main shopping part of George Street too. Include a painted cycleway down the middle to get cyclists off the state highway  also. With access for service vehicles before 10am and after 5pm.

Shared space

The concept of a pedestrian shared space is not a new one and works well in other countries. The world's longest walking street, Strøget in Copenhagen, is such a space. It is dominated by pedestrians but you can drive through it if you really have to (service vehicles etc). Bring it on, I say!

Shared space - that's what you want? You got it right now

Assuming you mean sharing between cars and pedestrians, that would make it.. what it currently is. 

Choose - Warm and fuzzy or the real world

A couple of young people with so much time on their hands put a lot of effort into, as they themselves admit, an unoriginal idea, present this at an annual plan meeting and get a picture in the paper for the effort. No issue with that, it's a nice little filler for the paper when, presumably, nothing else of importance is going on in Dunedin.

The problem is that members of the council are 'delighted' with the concept and would actually consider voting funds to explore and trial it when they are supposedly struggling to keep the next rates increase below 3%. 

Either the comments by Cr Benson-Pope were just platitudes to the young ones (hopefully), or there is a problem with some councillors realising that, with endlessly rising costs and deferred generational debt burdons, councils really need to focus on core services and stop spending, spending, spending on non-essential infrastructure projects that are, in reality, just on the 'nice to have' list.

Small-time crusaders, special interest groups and big-noters always have plenty of time to nibble at the public purse. Our elected representitives have to realise that the majority of people do not have the necessary time or energy to combat these people (I barely had time to write this comment) and we would hope our civic leaders will do this on our behalf. Wishful and naive that we are! 

Cut unnecessary expenditure, stay focussed and remember that nice ideas are not always the most prudent ones.

Shared space?

So is the proposal a shared space or is it totally blocked to traffic? Can't the whole area be shared space rather than block it completely (except for the Bath St one way exit)?

Into the 21st Century

If Duendin wants to retain and draw people like Alexis and Georgina (as fine examples of young, energetic, and talented people), then they should support this project.  Pedestrian-friendly, walkable cities are the future. 

More room for bars

Nice thought, but councillors need to consider how they will protect this area from becoming filled with more bars. We lost a pretty, green, family friendly Octagon with a fountain, and we gained an area for drinkers which seems to be getting more dangerous if the last few weeks are anything to go by. 

Sort out the booze problem in the Octagon and commit to not letting it spill down Stuart St, and I'll be happy.

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