The main thoroughfare in Wellington, New Zealands capital, is set to become car-free by 2023, after local authorities opted for the most ambitious reform option available to them.
Pavements in Wellingtons Golden Mile will grow in size by up to 75%, cyclists and pedestrians will be prioritised and two bus lanes one in each direction will allow continued public transport. It is expected to cost between NZ$52m and NZ$79m.
Wellington mayor Andy Foster said the decision would future-proof our city and make it even more attractive going forward.
Tamatha Paul, a city councillor who represents many of Wellingtons younger and more progressive residents, said she totally supports the plan but said it must be accompanied by other projects to transform our inner city.
Three options were open to local authorities. The decision in favour of the car-free plan came after a patchwork of groups, including environmental advocates Generation Zero and liveability advocates Talk Wellington, urged residents last year to submit in support of it to decision-makers. Of the 2,000 public submissions made, a decisive majority favoured the car-free option.
It is, however, opposed by some in Wellingtons retail community, who worry about reduced patronage and are concerned by the announcements lack of detail.
There are hundreds of businesses along the Golden Mile that are going to be affected, but no information yet on service and delivery vehicle access, taxi stands, or how traffic flows may operate, said Simon Arcus, chief executive of the citys Chamber of Commerce.
Foster promised local authorities he would work closely with the business community as the plans details were ironed out. Theres always going to be pain with any change, he acknowledged. Our job is to minimise that pain.
Foster has also been under pressure over reports of violent and sexual crime in the inner-city. He intends to use the car-free plan to overhaul those spaces.
The plan is part of a wider NZ$6.4 billion transportation project called Lets Get Wellington Moving, which has been under heavy criticism recently for delays and cost blow-outs.
According to Daran Ponter, one of the projects key figures and chair of Greater Wellington Regional Council, Were now seeing the first tangible results of Lets Get Wellington Moving, which has been gestating longer than anyone could have expected. The rubber is finally hitting the road.