Open Streets? Neat!

When was the last time you got to experience Wellington streets truly open to the people? Graduation parade? Cuba Dupa? Thorndon Fair? THIS SUNDAY we’ve got a one-off chance to experience the magic of moving about our glorious city without the metal boxes that are normally king of the kerbs.

 

Open Streets in Wellington will mean us humans – generally considered second-class citizens in this, the age of the machine – will be able to walk, bike, skate, and play with abandon! Certain streets will be closed to vehicles from 6am-3pm with parking restrictions starting the night before. NO CARS! NO BUSES! Community groups will be running activities for everyone to take part in – there are eight main hubs but there’ll be plenty to discover along the 1.4km route.

 

Be free, my pretties!

Open street events are held regularly in cities across the world. But wouldn’t it be awesome if we had car-free streets all the time? What if we could protect the pedestrian? Think of the benefits:

 

Walkability

Jeff Speck’s General Theory of Walkability states that a journey on foot should satisfy four main conditions: be useful, safe, comfortable and interesting.  

“Life happens on foot. Man was created to walk, and all of life’s events large and small develop when we walk among other people. There is so much more to walking than walking. There is direct contact between people and the surrounding community, fresh air, time outdoors …” Jan Gehl

 

♩ Walk free, as free as the wind blows ♩

 

Third spaces

Having a third space means we’re winning at life. People hang out together, form communities, and, best of all, they’re free. Hong Kong and China are amazing at third spaces. NZ? Less so.

“The nature of a third place is one in which the presence of a “regular” is always welcome, although never required. Membership is a simple, fluid process of frequent social contact, renewed each time by choice of the people involved.” Ray Oldenburg

 

 

Cycling

A borough in London introduced a “Mini Holland” cycling scheme for children in 2013. Earlier this year researchers declared that those children involved in the scheme would live longer. And we’ve got those glorious Onzo bikes helping us do the same. But Wellington is still a scary place for cyclists, as our project manager discovered.

 

Don’t let that smile deceive you…

 

And more

There’s also the benefits of active transport, fresh air, healthier spaces, and better use of urban shared spaces. An Auckland street was closed off to celebrate Diwali earlier this month. The result?

 

 

Here’s a couple of examples of other Open Street days around the world.

 

Streeeeeetch

 

Chalk the chalk

 

“We shape our streets, and thereafter they shape us.” Steven Burgess

 

We’re so used to cars we’re conditioned by them. Carcentrism is suppressing our quality of life. Let’s Get Wellington Moving knows that our transport system is affecting liveability and is working to provide an answer. Oh how we hope that it reduces the reliance on private vehicle travel as it promises… It’s our right to have healthy streets (we’ve discussed it before); perhaps we need to make some of them completely car free forever. If we made the streets for the people rather than the boxes transporting them, wouldn’t we all feel more alive, more human? How awesome would our city spaces be without cars at all?

 

Are you going to head to Open Streets in Wellington? Check out the full day’s events here: http://www.bikethere.org.nz/te-ara…/what-is-an-activity-hub/  What are you excited about? Would you like to see this as a regular event?

 

 

Further Reading

We deserve third spaces

 

Picture Credits

Banner image CC by WCC

Route CC by bikethere

Cuba Crossing CC by Stuff

Yoga CC by Bob Dixon

Chalked streets CC by Medium

 

 

 

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