Open Streets, open hearts, open minds – a full-on delight

May 04, 2016
Open Streets, open hearts, open minds – a full-on delight


Open Streets on K Rd was a vigorous sequel to last year’s keen( but in the end half-pie) event on Quay St. Turns out, if you’re going to open a street, you can’t do it by halves: you have to go the whole hog. The whole street, the whole day – or most of it. And as others have pointed out, it really helps if the street is already full of things to do and people to see.

Over the course of seven hours I bumped into friends new and old – and popped into shops and encountered all sorts of activities – and yet I still managed to miss half of what was going on, and half the people I knew were there but didn’t manage to run into. There was such a sense of more-ness, of inexhaustibility. Carnival. A surfeit of opportunities, more than could reasonably be enjoyed in one day. Surplus fun. Joy to spare.

My eyes were mainly on the bikes, of course. So many different kinds of bikes, and so many different kinds of bike people! Some came on the train, some via park-and-ride, others had biked in along the busier than usual Northwestern Cycleway, or braved the main roads. There they all were, in fleets and flocks and family groups…

… seriously, everywhere you looked, BIKES!

Local colour on the overbridge.
Free air, free oil, free bike love.
K Road, old and young.
Jessica Rose, our events queen and Local Board candidate for Albert-Eden. Vote Bikes!
A magnificent contraption.
Bikes and beatboxing.
Richard Barter’s big rig demonstration. Astonishingly, his cargo bike is invisible from the cab of that truck. Believe it.
Parking is always nuts on K Road. Even more so on Sunday.
Bikes and DJ, outside St Kevin’s Arcade.
Smiles even brighter than their fluoro gear.
Gen Zero always has the coolest hangout.
Laid-back cyclists.
Teau and co biked all the way in from Mangere (as part of an impressive convoy). No sweat!

And taking the usual ‘furniture’ off the road made for entirely new perspectives. Both in terms of being able to imagine space for bikes – and also just the exciting ‘what if’ that happens when you roll up the carpet and turn a couch into a fort.

It felt like a glimpse of the future. In city spaces, I like to see what children make of things. So often we’re corralling them on footpaths and corners, anxiously mustering them along on their bikes, holding tight to their hands and saying ‘Wait till I say GO, then cross as quickly as you can.’

Sunday’s child got to linger and play. Here, a little girl in pink is assessing the inimitable stylings of cabaret legend Mika.

A rainbow of colours. Mika is singing La Vie En Rose, naturally.

This small boy is mesmerized by a golden pirate.

KARRRRRrrrrangahape Road, matey.

When was the last time you roller-skated on a main street?

Two wheels great, eight wheels (and stoppers) even greater!

And here’s my little niece taking her pet tiger for a walk in the jungle. It’s not every day you get to do that on K Rd.

Tiger Tiger black and white/ In the jungle of the, er, median strip/ What immortal hand or eye/ Dare frame thy fearful symmetry?

As Matt noted over on TransportBlog, if the day had a refrain it was “We should do this everywhere/ every weekend!” After this definitive proof of concept, main streets all over Auckland should be lining up to turn parking space into piazzas, tarmac into turf, and space into place.

All it takes is the will to do it… and local support. More than one official observer noted how crucial it was that the K Road Business Association had swung in behind to make the day happen. Looks like their optimism was rewarded handsomely. Let’s do it again, somewhere, soon!

— All photos by Jolisa Gracewood, except Anja’s tweet. 

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