Where’s Wellington’s “Accessible City” plan?

It’s still not done to envy Auckland; it’s somehow disloyal. But guest poster Jamie Has Two Feet looks longingly at Tāmaki’s clear vision for people in their city centre.

Strong Accessible City plans get strong support, when communicated well. Where’s ours?

Wellington’s considering some big questions about access to our city centre and the great things in it.  Right now, through Let’s Get Wellington Moving, Planning for Growth and a variety of other initiatives, experts and decisionmakers alike are considering big questions. They’re considering the entry points into the city centre, how to make the city work as a destination rather than just a drive-thru, and how best to prioritise different uses for our precious street space (including car storage).

It’s all in the context of public feedback showing strong public support for a less car-focussed, greener, more walkable and bikable, livelier, lower-carbon and more people-centric city. (See the overwhelming support for these in the major engagements by Let’s Get Wellington Moving, Planning for Growth and Te Atakura / First To Zero.)

As Wellington starts to debate how our city centre should work, let’s consider Auckland’s Central City Master Plan and specifically its most revolutionary element: Access For Everyone. 

This dramatically curtails drive-through access to Auckland’s city centre. 

See the picture below: you can drive into and out of the different zones, but you can’t drive from one to the other. Central city access is by public transport, micromobility, walking, wheelchairing, cycling, hoverboard, horse – pretty much anything but private cars. You can only drive around their city centre, not through it.

Cue, surely, wailing and gnashing of teeth from Aucklanders who – we’re always told – are wedded to their cars (the most famous Aucklander is considering leaving his home city because he can’t drive freely).  

picture of Access For Everyone's coloured zones showing drive in but not through to city centre

And yet it was overwhelmingly supported.

84% of the feedback was “Yes” to preventing motor vehicle access to key streets, in order to give people easier and nicer walking, cycling, scooting, and sitting, shopping, eating, meeting, drinking, learning.

84% is a resounding public endorsement. And that’s Auckland, where it has long been impossible to have a good life without owning a car.

Where’s Wellington’s “Access For Everyone?”  

Is someone doing the thinking about how we should prioritise travelling right through the city centre at ground level in a smooth, uninterrupted, single-vehicle journey, versus all the other things that make cities places worth being?

LGWM claims to do this but nowhere in all their multiple workstreams have we seen this coherence of vision that Access For Everyone lays out.

And we need it badly, because it’s no exaggeration to say of our city centre: drive-thru or destination, Wellington?

Which is our priority?

Because that’s the tradeoff. 

Strong Accessible City plans get strong support, when communicated well. Where’s ours?

Read more:

Auckland’s Central City Masterplan (Auckland council website)

Some people’s clear vision for Wellington city (Dominion Post)

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