O’Connell Street upgrade, CBD [Updated]

Another city centre street is being upgraded. In this case, it is O’Connell Street, running parallel to High Street.

O’Connell Street could currently be described as a car park with two tiny pedestrian strips (generously called footpaths) along each side. Even car traffic has a tight squeeze.

Auckland Council / Auckland Transport are proposing to get rid of all that parking (except for a total of four spaces), and strongly widen the footpaths (shared space has been decided against, because they feel the wide footpaths will be better for outdoor seating and pedestrian movement in this narrower street). There are no cycle facilities proposed beyond some bike parking – though cycling along here should be more pleasant without all the car doors that open into your face!

Generally, CAA is in favour of the change (more space for people, less space for large metal boxes – that’s almost always good). One item we are mulling over would be whether to call for space for a contra-flow cycle lane. In the proposed design, the traffic lane would be only 3.2m wide, so not enough. But one can already cycle southward in the nearby High Street – so would it be worth it to take a metre or more extra from the future footpath for a cycle lane? Really not so sure.

What do you think – is the proposed O’Connell Street upgrade a great idea? You can leave online feedback to Council here.

UPDATE: After consideration, Cycle Action Auckland has decided to ask for a re-think and Council to design for shared space on O’Connell Street. We believe this can be done with respect for mobility-impaired pedestrians (the reason COuncil raised against it) even in narrower streets like this.

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