Today we bring you an example of an experiment that unfortunately couldn’t achieve long-term change. This teaches us the importance and challenge of gaining public acceptance, and the dangers of a naysaying minority.
On the 20th May 2021, plywood boxes were put in place to close 5 residential streets (with 5000 veh/day each) to vehicular through traffic and redirect it to the main arteries. This created quieter and safer streets that invite walking and cycling, and made them a multi-purpose space for human-centred activities.
The changes being trialled were the outcome of community engagement that took place from December through February. The project was 90% funded through the @waka_kotahi ‘s Innovating Streets Programme and was delivered by the Maungakiekie Tāmaki Local Board and supported by @akltransport.
However, a month later, some residents vandalised the boxes and even moved them out of the way with a forklift (pictures 7, 8 & 9). Among the reasons for dissatisfaction with the experiment were:
– Longer travel times
– Traffic jams on nearby main roads
– Poor convenience and delays of buses and trains
– Alleged lack of clarity, despite announcements in community news, a pop-up stall at the Onehunga Festival, workshops and letterbox drops
In addition, there was a worrying escalation of criminal activity by this minority, including several reports of near misses involving cars and pedestrians and property damage.
Despite the $41,000 invested and the observable benefits, it was decided to cancel the experiment for public safety.
How do you think this could have been avoided?