Survey: George St parking no dealbreaker

New concept drawings released by the Dunedin City Council show a car, a bike, and a pedestrian...
New concept drawings released by the Dunedin City Council show a car, a bike, and a pedestrian sharing a reimagined George St where the kerbing has been removed to allow for increased pedestrian access. IMAGE: SUPPLIED
Nearly nine out of 10 pedestrians surveyed in a Dunedin City Council-commissioned study would continue to visit the city centre if George St parking was not an option.

The survey, part of a report by urban design and landscape architecture firm Aitken Taylor, follows a suggestion by council consultants to recreate George St so the at-present car-oriented road provides for 25% vehicles and 75% pedestrians and public space.

As one of seven reports published by the council in advance of a Monday meeting at which council staff will update councillors on controversial plans to partly pedestrianise George St, the George Street Public Life Survey makes the case for pedestrianisation through monitoring pedestrian, cycling, and "staying" activities, an outdoor seating audit and face-to-face surveys with 65 pedestrians from March 11-13.

The Otago Daily Times extended an offer to all city councillors to comment on the survey yesterday, and council planning and environment committee chairman David Benson-Pope applauded the "comprehensive expert advice on which to base our decisions".

Cr Andrew Whiley noted the pedestrian study was done during a busy summer period when three cruise ships were in town, including Ruby Princess, which carries 3600 passengers and 1100 crew.

Further, he noted the user experience survey included more than a third (34%) of respondents who were aged just 15 to 24.

Eighty percent of those who took part in the user experience survey were residents, 42% were in George St for recreation, 37% were there daily, 42% arrived in a private vehicle, and 29% walked.

The pedestrian survey noted 72,402 pedestrian "movements" on the Saturday, 42% of the foot traffic between the times of noon and 2pm.

There were 1230 weekday bicycle movements, and 92% more cycling trips were made during the week than on the Saturday.

More than half (57%) of the so-called staying activity recorded was "standing", and included people smoking cigarettes or window shopping.

There were 51 outdoor dining chairs available in George St over the survey period and they were at a peak seating occupancy of 29% on Saturday, up from 27% on the weekdays.

As viewed from the Frederick-London-Pitt-George Sts intersection.
As viewed from the Frederick-London-Pitt-George Sts intersection.

A pedestrian age and gender registration showed less than 3% of the people in the street were under 5 years old, and those over 65 were under-represented demographically both during the week (14%) and on weekends (7%).

Plans to revamp George St into a more pedestrian-friendly, or car-free, area after renewing its aged underground infrastructure have come under fire recently.

George St jeweller Brent Weatherall presented a petition with 6000-plus signatures last week opposing the initial concept design.

Comments

View all

"The pedestrian study was done during a busy summer period when three cruise ships were in town"....That say's it all about this council, doesn't it.

'Look here everyone!...We have a study that CLEARLY shows no-one cares about parking!!!!!'....'We were right, and you were wrong!'...'The fact is was done during a cruise ship visit when 3600 people DON'T HAVE A CAR, isn't really that important'

And Benson-Pope has the gall to say it was 'comprehensive expert advice'....!!!
Shaking my head at the sheer incompetence of this council.

Did you read all of the article?
80% of those surveyed were residents.

"Nearly nine out of 10 pedestrians surveyed in a Dunedin City Council-commissioned study would continue to visit the city centre if George St parking was not an option."
SO WHAT !!??!!
Other than showing us how incompetent the Dunedin Undemocratic Non Council of Elites (DUNCE) is at understanding the nature of George St and the businesses that are located there.
The only survey that would be relevant from a business perspective, would be of those utilising the services offered or making purchases in the area.
It would include questions about how convenient was the parking in the surrounding area as well.
These idiots are trying to justify the outcome they want, with third rate data that has no bearing on the principle issue.
If business reduces because of these changes, who is going to pay for their pet project let alone replace the Rating revenue that will be lost.
This is our WHOLE CBD we are talking about, NOT a side street or park.
The DUNCE needs a laxative.

DCC needs to remember the definition of consultants. They borrow your watch, tell you the time and then walk off with your watch. The survey referred to seems pretty shonky. The ODT survey question isn't much better with just the two options. Given the limited range of shops in Dunedin most people will need to shop in George St at sometime. The question should not be about parking on George St but about easy access to parking in order to shop in that area. We have a very poor public transport service, particularly from outlying areas which is unlikely to improve much (it has actually got worse). DCC has reduced the number of parking places and its overall actions in the planning area give us no confidence in their abilities, particularly Hawkins & Benson-Pope. They need to come up with a plan in consultation with all stakeholders that ensures easy access to all to central Dunedin (and keeps scooters and bikes off the footpaths).

Did the survey check how many of those standing around smoking and window shopping worked there and were taking a break? ("37% were there daily.") How many were waiting for someone who was shopping, how many had been shopping or intended to spend money there that day? Since "42% arrived in a private vehicle" were they asked if they would be more or less ready to visit the area if parking was more scarce and more expensive than it is already? The parking immediately outside a shop is not the main issue, it is the difficulty of finding a park within coo-ee and the need to rush back before time on meter runs out. There are fewer and fewer parks on side streets, Filluel, Great King, Cumberland and Castle Streets.

Eighty percent of those who took part in the user experience survey were residents, 42% were in George St for recreation, , 42% arrived in a private vehicle, and 29% walked.

Do people need purpose to be on George Street?

Nobody needs a reason to be in George Street. But it is the CBD (Central BUSINESS District) so there is a reason for businesses to be there - customers, profits. Unless the people using the area are supporting the businesses by spending not simply walking around and sitting outside them, the businesses will have to close or relocate to where *customers* are. They are not paying rent to provide a backdrop, might as well have a painted mural of shops if that is what the DCC wants. From a business point of view 5 paying customers are more relevant than 500 non-paying sitters, cyclists, smokers and walkers. Numbers only tell a small part of the story.

If the greens and DCC planner want us to believe their propoganda they can do one simple thing: immediately release their own report of the impact of the Octigan experiment.
Everyone knows or suspects that was a complete shambles with massively negative impacts on business and shoppers. And why hasn't the report been released? It can only be because it doesn't match up with the greens plans.

I like the concept a lot, but perhaps without the car access. Retailers in the area would benefit by expanding into/onto the pedestrian area especially at Christmas, creating more of a family hub and perhaps pop-up stores.

In the 8 years I lived in Dunedin I can't remember a time I parked on George St. Once you did a lap of the main you'd settle on a side street or a parking garage. If I let the George St parking spots dictate my shopping habits I would never have gone to any of the the city shops at all!

Why not park at the meridian/golden center carpark? Or even in the wilson carpark outsid new world? Do you need to park outside of whitcouls front door then drive to to farmers front door? Why is there a need for parking at all on george st when it adds to congestion? I personally avoid george street if i need to go some where.

Isn't the Wilsons car park opposite New World due to be demolished for the hospital rebuild?

Hawera tried turning part of the main street into a mall, and it didn't work!

20 years ago in Tianjin China, while I was living there, many huge malls were built. Now most are half empty because it's far more convenient to buy everything over the smart phone apps, delivery within 48 hours from anywhere in China. That's the future! Dunedin's George Street doesn't have a future.

We need to use the same model as the one used at the airport. Build everything around a huge parking lot. Parking is the key to the economic viability of Dunedin in the future. The CEO out there is a parking visionary, bring him in as an advisor and follow his advice.

Begs the question, would 9 out of 10 skateboarders agree to close the CBD to all but skateboarders? Would 9 out of 10 taxi drivers agree to close the CBD to all vehicles except for taxis? After 6 months of pedestrians only in the CBD would 9 out of 10 pedestrians still agree on this?
Ask this question on a busy warm sunny holiday at midday when the Octagon is full of cheerful diners and you'll get a very different answer than in the middle of winter on a cold and wet work day at 5 p.m.
DCC, you may be fools, but don't assume we are too.

Excellent comment!

I'd park in George Street if there was ever any parks spare (when there are, i do), as it's convenient if you're picking someone up, dropping someone off, going into a roadside/mall shop to make a quick purchase/pickup/drop off/exchange etc.

This concept design can be made two way as well, instead of a one way street. Which is what most people want.

Nearly everyone has been hoodwinked by the headline. What the survey actually shows is at least a 10% decline in city center shoppers if pedestrianisation goes ahead. That would be over 7, 240 pedestrian "movements" less on the Saturday the survey took place. Or according to the ODT survey running today about a third less people would shop in the city centre. Sounds like a deal breaker to me!

Concept looks great! It's a yes from me!

Three years ago I had secondary school students take a similar survey over 4 hours by Albany Lane exit onto George. Found similar results. I completely favour closing cars off the block between St Andrew and Hanover. That's where all the car parking is and the largest concentration of shops. Perhaps additional car parking could be provided in the existing buildings by enlarging them. Look forward to the concept becoming reality. All the retailers will want to be located there!

I totally agree, I support this concept 100%. And it won't be long until all the retailers finally understand how great for business it is to have a shop in a pedestrian area

I would think that those who plan to eat, shop and really utilise George Street are unlikely to park on it as those are clearly for the ‘run in and out’ stopper, being 30-60 minutes max. But please if this goes ahead, provide a free suburb to city/loop bus and or accessible (Including cost) longer term car parks close by. For me it’s never parking on George Street that stops me but rather finding parking anywhere close for the time needed that doesn’t cost Excessively high charges.

I parked on George St. once. And I dined in a car free Octagon a couple of times too. Of the two, I would have to say the Octagon experience was the better one. C'mon Dunedin, we're better than this.

exactly this!

View all

Local journalism matters - now more than ever

As the Covid-19 pandemic brings the world into uncharted waters, Otago Daily Times reporters and photographers continue to bring you the stories that matter. For more than 158 years our journalists have provided readers with local news you can trust. This is more important now than ever.

As advertising drops off during the pandemic, support from our readers is crucial. You can help us continue to bring you news you can trust by becoming a supporter.

Become a Supporter