Innovating our streets for our people

Published on 03 September 2020

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‘Creating great places, supporting our people’ is the mission that guides what we do every day at the Council and is included on nearly every document you receive from us. Last week, three Far North community-focused projects were given the go-ahead by Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency after they were selected for funding. The Kawakawa, Moerewa and Kaikohe projects were among 32 plans from around the country to get the agency’s go ahead. I think the three in our district perfectly demonstrate what we strive to achieve every day as a council: each project supports our communities to work with us to innovate and make changes that will make our great places even better.

These projects were part of the second and final funding round of Waka Kotahi’s Innovating Streets for People programme. This $7 million fund is supporting around 72 projects across the country focused on helping local authorities and communities work together to make urban areas safer and more people-focused.

The intention of the programme is for councils and communities to co-design and retrofit streets with innovations that will help reduce vehicle speeds and create more space for people. Each project will test layouts, materials and design options that can then be applied more widely to permanent street upgrades. Changes could include piloting new walking or cycling facilities, organising pop-up community-led street events, trialling low-traffic neighbourhoods or reallocating street space for people.

The successful projects include the Kawakawa Safety and Streetscape Improvement Project. This will trial four key initiatives contained in Kawakawa’s Twin Coast Discovery Highway Township Plan and aims to actively respond to increasing growth and safety challenges, and help Kawakawa make its streetscape more people-friendly.

Moerewa Safer Streets will fast-track and trial better ways to connect Moerewa with Otiria Road, reduce traffic speeds and provide safe access to schools, marae and community facilities.

Finally, the Tai Tokerau Kaikohe Safe Streets project will see the Council co-design and trial temporary solutions in one of five key Kaikohe locations. These will reduce traffic speeds, activate Broadway, provide safer routes to and from schools, and encourage economic growth by better linking the town to the Pou Herenga Tai – Twin Coast Cycle Trail.

These projects can include very simple physical changes to street design, such as kerb build-outs, or change the way residents think about and use their streets. That may include promoting regular street programmes to build community support for re-purposing streets or by piloting cycleways and pedestrian networks.

The support offered by Waka Kotahi goes beyond simply funding. It encourages us to work more directly with communities, so together we can quickly create changes to urban environments. Each community can re-imagine how to use its streetscapes and by using the engineering expertise we have in Council, can test out design options to see what works best for them. This approach emphasises community input and gives our residents a direct stake in creating safe places that are great for all residents and visitors.