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About the programme

“Our vision for 2050 is a low-carbon, safe and healthy transport system that is sustainable and multimodal and where public transport and active modes are the first choice for most daily transport needs. Towns and cities are reshaped to reduce people’s reliance on cars and support active, healthy and shared transport choices.”

Toitū te Taiao, Waka Kotahi Sustainability Action Plan

The Government’s focus to transition to a low-emissions and climate-resilient future sets out the actions needed to help Aotearoa achieve our 2050 emissions reduction target.

The Emissions Reduction Plan will identify interventions and set targets to reduce transport emissions, with the objective of reducing vehicle kilometres travelled by 20% by 2035. Given the lag in the delivery of electric vehicles and public transport schemes, walking and cycling will need to work harder in the early years, targeting the 75% of journeys that are under 5km. Most of these journeys are currently driven but could easily be walked or cycled in the right conditions.

The Streets for People programme is designed to equip the sector with skills and experiences needed to deliver several hundred kilometres of changes each year in order to meet the ERP mode shift targets. Beyond developing sector capability, the programme aims to tackle business as usual processes inside Waka Kotahi and within local government partners that are barriers to delivering change.  

Knights Road in lower hutt with cyclists and cars experiencing the new street layout.

People try out the temporary cycleway on Knights Road in Lower Hutt


The Innovating Streets for People programme was established by Waka Kotahi in 2018 to trial a new way of designing and delivering transportation infrastructure. It helps deliver the government’s goals to create liveable cities and thriving regions and was a flagship programme for Keeping Cities Moving(external link) the national mode shift action plan.

The programme was the first in New Zealand targeted at building capability in the rapid reallocation of street space using a technique called Tactical Urbanism. It has enabled councils, with the support of Waka Kotahi, to speed up projects that would normally take years to implement.

The programme aims to make it easier for councils to deliver:

  • temporary, or semi-permanent, physical changes to streets
  • improvements that test a permanent fix and prototype a street design
  • activations that help communities re-imagine their streets.

Tactical urbanism is well evidenced internationally and has the potential to deliver a broad range of benefits in a short timeframe. to deliver change benefits relatively quickly, to learn from success and failure, and to inform decisions about permanent changes.

This first phase has been the learning phase, with many councils using tactical urbanism for the first time. As with any new approach, there has been a mixture of successes and challenges. Even projects that were removed early, have led to great learnings. Our evaluation of Innovating Streets has focused on capturing this learning to inform the next phase.

By piloting street changes such as better street crossings, protected bike paths, low traffic neighbourhoods and more welcoming and inclusive town centres, the programme has helped councils provide more travel choices that are better for people’s health and the environment, while also progressing projects that have been in the pipeline for years.

Transitioning to a low-emissions and climate-resilient future: emissions reduction plan discussion document(external link)