Trial to turn Auckland's Queen Street car-free to start next month

Source: 1News

Central Auckland’s main thoroughfare Queen Street is set to become largely car-free starting next month as Auckland Council commences a trial to prioritise pedestrians.

Queen St, Auckland (file picture).

The trial, part of the Access for Everyone strategy, aimed to increase pedestrian access and free road space for public transport and emergency services by removing non-essential vehicles from parts of Auckland’s CBD.

The pilot was originally planned for later this year. The trial on Queen Street is expected to be undertaken between Mayoral Drive and Customs Street.

But Councillor Chris Darby, Chair of the council’s Planning Committee, said Council wanted to take advantage of the physical distancing measures introduced on Queen Street during Alert Level 3 when social distancing was required.

These measures included widening footpaths using road cones, reducing car access to one lane each way. 

“The emergency measures provide a layout for safer space,” Mr Darby said.

“Now, the opportunity is to build off that and investigate how to make Queen Street more attractive and easier to use.”

Auckland Transport would be undertaking the trial, and had asked for $600,000 for it in May.

In the coming weeks, enhancements to the appearance of the emergency installations would be made based on initial feedback.

Waitematā and Gulf ward Councillor Pippa Coom said Auckland Council wanted to work alongside the community, businesses and property owners throughout the trial.

“A key principle of Access for Everyone is the environment is co-designed with the community it is meant to serve,” she said.

Auckland councillors voted unanimously for the Access for Everyone strategy in November 2018.

Auckland Mayor Phil Goff said at the time the move towards pedestrianising Queen Street would change Auckland’s main street from a traffic route to a place people can enjoy.

The open streets trials would close off limited areas of the city and suburbs from vehicles to enable streets to be used for people and events, he said.

"We want Queen Street to be a great place to walk, gather, relax and enjoy. 

“We want it to change from an area with one of the worst levels of vehicle pollution to a place that is pleasant and healthy to be in.”

He said the City Rail Link would increase public transport capacity by 370 per cent, meaning more pedestrians would be in the city centre in the future.