2020 Panui with a Whanganui a Tara - Wellington twist

Thanks for your continued support for pedestrians and walking in this most exceptional of years. Living Streets Aotearoa stepped up to the challenges and opportunities in a number of novel ways, continuing to provide a voice from an entirely volunteer-run organisation. Here is a short round-up of our activity this year with a Wellington hat on.

One of the silver linings of the Covid19 lockdown in New Zealand has been the experience of enjoying a walk on low traffic streets. So many people got out in their neighbourhoods and discovered the many interesting local walks and experiences to be had. These were shared in some of our April blogs. Let’s keep this great experience in mind as we seek to get improvements for the most equitable, healthy and carbon neutral way of getting around — part of every journey!

The 2020 Living Streets Walking Awards went ahead with the brave new experience of an online ceremony. Andy Smith, dapper in his tuxedo, presented awards for outstanding efforts to:

  • the Lockdown Bear Hunt
  • Be Counted at Palmerston North City Council
  • School connections Brightwater consultation
  • Chris Teo-Sherrell walking champion
  • the High Street trial from the Auckland Design Office, and
  • Roger Boulter’s new book Planning for Walking and Cycling in New Zealand

We were lucky to have both Tim Jones and Susan Hutchison-Daniel, Wellington LSA members, elected to the new National executive at the Living Streets AGM in June.

I would like to congratulate the Wellington Tuesday walkers and particularly Ron Ross for continuing these great lunchtime walks over many years, and with all the hiccups that this year has bought. Thanks to all the leaders Ron, Julie Brixton, Steve Williams, Bev Dixon, Jackie Shorland, and Kate Riddick. Check out the new programme here a little later in the new year.

Living Streets Aotearoa is actively involved in many local government initiatives through submissions and attending very many meetings both in Wellington, and in a smaller way, in the Hutt and Porirua. Special thanks to Mike Mellor and Wellington committee members for sharing the load of this important work. All our submissions are on our website. We are always looking for more people to help with our work.

Here are some of the highlights and challenges:

  • Wellington Parking Policy, a new policy and approach approved. We will continue to seek change to the discriminatory policy that allows discretion in enforcement outside the central city if one metre’s width of footpath is clear of parked cars (footpath parking is prohibited in NZ Road Rules everywhere). This is unfair and means that vehicle users all too frequently get away with blocking footpaths and preventing safe access for pedestrians, particularly children, older people and those with disabilities.
  • Let’s Get Wellington Moving’s many projects. The early delivery programme will (hopefully) provide big improvements to walking mostly in the central city. We particularly want to see improvements at: traffic lights; a more walk-friendly Golden Mile well integrated with public transport; and a pedestrian crossing on Cobham Drive. We expect to see some more of the detail in February.
  • Safer 30km/h speed limits in the central city.
  • Wellington draft Spatial Plan suggestions for some practical means to ensure we do end up with walkable neighbourhoods – green space, active street frontages and accessible design for starters.
  • Participation in, I think, all Wellington traffic resolutions. This is where decisions are made by Council on the nuts and bolts of traffic planning – that detail that is all too often the make and break of good pedestrian design.
  • Participation in planning for the Transmission Gully off-ramp at Kenepuru with some good ideas to improve this area. So far this has not succeeded in retaining a safe footpath between Porirua and the south, with the replacement by a shared path. The crossing to the hospital will become more tricky with increased traffic. This is a good time to contact your councillors about these plans.
  • Many suggestions for improved footpaths in the Hutt, participation in the Jackson St, Petone project, and the greenway through the Hutt that will provide an alternative walking and cycling route.

We published a blog about Gaylene Preston’s experience of being in a crash early in the year. This is a reminder why we need to keep footpaths safe for pedestrians and our parks a pleasant place to walk, and why the Footpaths4Feet coalition is actively seeking to retain pedestrian-only footpaths in the Accessible Street road rule package. A message to your MP now will provide timely support as these decisions are expected early in the new year.

And finally, please let us know what you want to see happen in 2021 for pedestrians and walking. Email us or join us at a Picnic at Parliament (Wellington) on 9 January 2021, 11.30am, to help set the direction for our walking journey in 2021.

As a voluntary organisation donations are always welcome or how about buying a smart walk tee shirt or bag.

We value your support and ideas.

Ngā mihi o te tau hou

Ellen Blake, Kaituitui a Whanganui a Tara