This is sad because it removes real solutions to real problems from the drawing board. You can see this battleground, 'us' versus 'them', mentality reflected in today’s column in the Herald by Bernard Orsman entitled “Car v people issue splits city precinct”.
Cars or pedestrians? Retailers in the central-city fashion precinct of High St are divided over the idea of vehicles and pedestrians sharing the same space.
On Friday as part of Park(ing) Day, an annual worldwide event where people transform metered parking spots into temporary public parks, the likes of Generation Zero, landscape architecture students and the council set up several "parklets" along High and Lorne streets.
This followed a public meeting the night before where fashion leaders, retailers and lawyers revolted against the removal of a narrow strip of road as part of a $4 million redesign of Freyberg Square.
It is a year since nearby O'Connell St was turned into a shared space, which has pleased some retailers and left others frustrated.
Under the design, by local architects Pacific Environments, traffic heading from any of five directions could pass beneath a new pedestrian precinct through which the only other motor vehicles would be trams, vans or trucks servicing shops and restaurants. That would free the intersections of New North and Mt Eden roads, and of Khyber Pass and Newton roads, for pedestrians and cyclists as well as trams.
The problem — at least the most visible one — was that we had relinquished our streets to the automobile, relegating all other users to second or third class status. We had taken the complexity of the public realm and dumbed it down into a single-use car sewer. Cars good, walking bad.
So how did we try to fix that? By doing the exact same thing, except in reverse. This time it was cars bad, walking good, which presents a similar set of problems because community doesn’t thrive in the all-or-nothing extremes of complexity reduction. Instead, the workable solutions tend to be the ones found in the messy middle ground, where culture and commerce intersect and competing interests are confronted and reconciled.
Sadly for Auckland it is the inflexible attitudes of the ‘Green Party’ youth movement Generation Zero that are winning out. ‘Shared spaces’ are giving way to ‘pedestrian only’ spaces. This is aided and abetted by activist ‘Green party’ transport ‘planners’ in Auckland Transport. I have been shown an exchange of emails between Generation Zero and Auckland Transport that shows Auckland Transport is even providing the political group with Council owned premises at peppercorn rents.
The poor ratepayer is being forced to subsidise the ideological philosophies of the Green Party. That is wrong. It will lead to bad outcomes. It is inflexible. It excludes the many for the sake of the few.
As I have said in a previous blog, Killing the city centre, it will eventually lead to the death of the city centre. It will take a newer, more enlightened generation than the self-centred, self-serving Generation Zero to clean up the mess.