The NZ Transport Agency has launched a new programme to support councils to try out different ways of making their streets safer and more liveable.
The ‘Innovating Streets for People’ programme aims to remove the barriers to street innovations and raise the capability of New Zealand communities to deliver projects aimed at making streets more people-friendly.
Kathryn King, Urban Mobility Programme Manager, NZ Transport Agency says innovation is a powerful way to test out street changes that help to support good quality of life.
“The technique of employing fast tactical changes has been proven overseas and has the potential to deliver significant social and environmental benefits in a short time frame. In New York they famously closed Times Square as a pilot and in Bogota every Sunday hundreds of kilometres of streets are open to people to walk, cycle and enjoy.
“Innovations can include pop-up, pilot or semi-permanent changes that reimagine existing spaces with a focus on people. It could be anything from a one-off event that turns a street into a public space with no cars for a day, to reallocating traffic lanes, or creating a new footpath area from parking spaces and turning it into mini-parks.”
Draft best-practice guidance released online today – www.nzta.govt.nz/innovating-streets(external link) - will be tested over the coming months through live council case studies of street innovation projects to ensure it is effective, before being finalised in 2020.
“By testing physical changes to streets with local communities, councils can gain invaluable feedback on what will make their spaces more people-friendly before committing to a major investment. This knowledge will be shared so councils can learn from each other.”
As part of the programme, the Transport Agency is reviewing professional codes of practice (such as the Code of practice for temporary traffic management - COPTTM) and other legislation to ensure it supports innovation.
“Government is one of the many partners involved in ‘city-making,’ and we need to work collaboratively to create great places for people to live. The Innovating Streets programme will help to create vibrant neighbourhoods where more people can choose to walk, cycle and use public transport and feel safe and comfortable.”