Battle lines are emerging as Dunedin city councillors prepare
to consider another step towards the pedestrianisation of
parts of the city.
Councillors will today consider a staff report with
recommendations that, if approved, will take the city another
step closer to trialling the closure of the lower Octagon and
lower Stuart St to vehicles.
But councillors spoken to by the Otago Daily Times appeared
divided over the moves already afoot, which
included early work that could lead to pedestrianisation in
other parts of the city.
Dunedin Mayor Dave Cull said the work was not aimed
specifically at pedestrianising more of the city, but rather
to reconsider the existing transport ''balance'' in its main
That balance favoured cars at present, but could be tweaked
to introduce new solutions to make pedestrians safer.
That could lead to more pedestrian-only zones, but
alternatively to more shared spaces, lower vehicle speed
limits or the reintroduction of Barnes Dance crossings, for
example, he said.
''It's a matter of saying how do we best serve the people who
want to use this area at any particular time of the day?''Cr
John Bezett favoured making it easier for pedestrians, but
worried the council was rushing into the lower Octagon trial
when more information was needed ''before we even entertain
Cr Andrew Whiley was hearing ''rumblings'' about the proposed
trial, and worried the council was taking a ''piecemeal''
approach to projects, like cycleways, without an overall
Cr Doug Hall said he could be ''swayed either way'', but for
now remained unconvinced.
''I haven't got time to walk around the CBD. If I can't park
close by, I won't be going, and I know a lot of people that
feel the same way.''
Cr Hilary Calvert questioned whether pedestrian-only zones
would work in Dunedin, and believed the council should focus
on reviewing the entire Octagon's future use.
However, other councillors expressed support, including Cr
David Benson-Pope, who said one of Dunedin's greatest
strengths - its ''human scale'' - needed to be enhanced.
''I think we need to keep moving to improve the physical
environment for locals and visitors alike, and that includes
future inner-city pedestrianisation, in whatever form,'' he
Cr Richard Thomson supported the trial, but cautioned it
would be hard to judge the extra vibrancy a permanent change
- with associated improvements - would create from the
The council would also need to be ''hellishly careful'' to
make any change the right one, or risk a significant public
backlash, he believed.
Cr Kate Wilson supported the concept of pedestrian-friendly
areas, saying results overseas were ''impressive'', but the
devil would be in the detail.
''It comes down to the detail and how seamlessly we can
manage to do these things, and trialling them and getting
people on board.''
Cr Andrew Noone also favoured a cautious approach, but
believed ''there's no doubt'' pedestrianisation worked in
Cr Mike Lord said he was ''not against things like that'',
but would not vote for any change that was not supported by a
majority of affected businesses.
''There's a lot of places around the world where people have
made those changes, and there's no reason it couldn't happen
Cr Lee Vandervis said the proposed trial ''seems to be driven
currently by an uncomfortable mix of Octagon pub managers and
greenie car un-enthusiasts''.
''Until we get some better information about exactly what is
proposed, its wider implications and who wants it, I can see
little benefit and significant cost arising from the current
Deputy mayor Chris Staynes and Crs Jinty MacTavish, Neville
Peat and Aaron Hawkins could not be contacted.