Reshaping Streets is anti-car, anti-business, undemocratic, one-way traffic

“Hot on the heels of the government's unannounced KiwiSaver changes, Transport Minister Michael Woods ‘Reshaping Streets’ proposal looks set to drastically change streetscapes up and down the country despite few people knowing about it,” says ACT Leader and Epsom MP David Seymour.

Urban Activists’ Manifesto

“The changes amount to an urban activists’ manifesto, allowing dreamers in local Government to get in the way of people trying to go about their business without consultation nor consequence. It will affect goods and people getting in and out of urban areas.

“The big winners will be the shopping malls, when people frustrated with activists’ hijinks opt out of traditional town centres and go where they’re welcomed and can find a park. Business Associations, their members hammered by two years of COVID interruption, are understandably furious at the prospect of anti-car activists being unleashed to use the streets as their laboratories.

“These rules will make it the norm for activists in councils to do what has been seen in New Lynn in recent years, where motorists trying to go about their day find the latest lunacy is their rates and taxes being used to put planter boxes all over the street.

Consultation and Change Back to Front

“The new Rule works by reversing the order of consultation and change. Councils will be allowed to drastically change streets as a ‘Pilot’ without consultation. The only requirement is to give two weeks’ notice. The ‘Pilot’ can go on for up to two years. The consultation happens after it’s done, when the Council ‘consider[s] feedback from the public on the changes, based on their experience of using the street layout changes.’

“A ‘Pilot’ allows a council to do practically anything to a street. A council can block streets, remove car parking, put objects such as planter boxes in the middle of the roads (aka ‘traffic calming’) ban certain types of vehicles (aka a ‘modal filter’). They the changes can include ‘installing or removing modal filters, curb cut-outs, plants, trees, or street furniture.’ They can change the speed limit, or put in a cycle lane.

“A council can continue to alter a pilot, giving two weeks’ notice each time. In this circumstance, residents and businesses face constant change, with feedback opportunities becoming meaningless as what is being consulted on continually changes.

“At the end of a Pilot, a Council can elect to make the Pilot permanent, even if it contradicts a bylaw. Instead of consulting on changes, then making them if they’re justified, and change can be bedded in over two years and confirmed as a fait accompli.

Emergency services find out afterwards

“Councils will not be required to consult emergency services if they will be blocked from accessing an area. Instead, they will be required to ‘notify’ them as ‘specified organisations.’ This takes the proposal from annoying to dangerous, with emergency services already finding it difficult to access some new urban areas.

Anti-car agenda, shopping malls the winners

“The agenda is clear, and it is totally anti-car. Making it inconvenient for people to drive is not a possible outcome of these changes, it is the intended outcome. Of the changes, and that much is clear in the rules.

“As the Regulatory Impact Statement for the changes says ‘In the counterfactual scenario of not making these changes, it will be more difficult to deliver on national strategies and to meet the target in the ERP of a 20 percent reduction in vehicle kilometres travelled by cars and light vehicles by 2035 through improved urban form and providing better travel options.’ In other words, if we don’t make it hard for people to drive, they will keep doing it.

“The Rules at 2.1 (1), say a Council can prohibit the use of motor vehicles, or one or more classes of motor vehicle, install or remove car parks, install, or remove traffic calming devices. They can do these things if the goal is To improve the access and mobility of any of pedestrians, cyclists, mobility devices, wheeled recreational devices (Rule 2.1 (3)).

“Critically, nowhere in a pilot is the ability of motorists, the overwhelming majority, to get around. That is why this proposal is anti-democratic.

Some parts good

“There is some good in the Rules, they allow for areas outside Schools to be made safer and, in very limited conditions, for streets to be blocked off for the purpose of children playing on them. Interestingly, these proposals have to consider preserving vehicle access, and the restrictions have to be proportionate.

“These sorts of ideas have merit and deserve consideration, but unleashing the Council activists on hardworking businesspeople and their customers does not. The Proposal should be dumped, and represented with the community streets and school streets concepts only.”

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