Great street design helps make our existing towns and cities great places to live, work and play but wholescale upgrades have long timeframes, are expensive, and face a wide variety of barriers.
Like many countries around the world, Aotearoa is at a critical stage in deciding how best to respond to the challenges our urban centres are facing. Many cities have declared a state of climate crisis, are grappling with unacceptable rates of crashes on their streets, and urgently need to improve public health. People need tools to adapt their streets at a pace that matches the scale of these challenges.
By testing innovations in streets with communities before committing to major investment, road controlling authorities can have more assurance that they're getting the direction of change right. Testing also enables communities to get a sense of what their streets could be like, to input to changes in an iterative process and make more informed decisions. This technique of employing fast tactical changes is well-evidenced and has the potential to deliver significant safety benefits in a short time frame.
Figure 1. Innovating streets process diagram
The vision of the NZ Transport Agency’s Innovating Streets programme is to make it faster and easier to transition our streets to safer and more liveable spaces.
We aim to help the sector plan, design and develop towns and cities by providing a toolkit of techniques specifically targeted at retrofitting streets to reduce vehicle speeds and create more space for people.
We are improving the support we offer to councils involved in street innovation by providing draft guidance that will be tested through several live case studies. This support package will make it easier for councils to deliver:
This guide aims to demystify the process of transitional design, of testing changes and provides a growing body of evidence from cities around the country. It provides low-cost options for improving the vitality of our centres and making spaces that work harder for our communities.
The guide is a work in progress and the tools, case studies, monitoring and evaluation and legislative changes will be updated as we progress.
The Innovating Streets guidance is primarily for professionals: council staff, consultants, politicians, and those who are mandated to deliver streetscape projects.
However, it also seeks to support community groups or members of the public who are thinking about change in their local streets.
Innovating Streets is an umbrella term for any project that seeks to:
Use quick, lower-cost and temporary techniques to deliver positive people-centred changes to streets
This can include tactical urbanism, ‘trying through doing’ for consultation, fast changes to streets, and activations to help people think of their streets differently.
The Innovating Streets guidance separates projects into three types:
While a permanent solution is vital to understand and aim for, its delivery and project steps are not covered in this guide. Similarly, large-scale pilots and those in higher-risk road environments are not covered. These will be covered in the Transport Agency’s Complete Streets Guide, currently being worked on.
The first question is: why use a temporary or interim technique rather than a standard process?
Reasons include being able to:
Before starting on your project, you need to be clear if a temporary approach is appropriate for your project given its environment. Many Innovating Street projects are directly aimed at safety improvements, but no matter what the objective, safety needs to be front of mind at every stage of the project.
Overall, it is important to retain perspective of the risks and understand the benefits of the street changes your project will test. Our research found that ‘safety’ and ‘risk’ are often used as generic reasons not to innovate. It’s important to find the balance of managing real risk appropriately. This draws on your organisation’s commitment to innovation, and is important in project design and also in engagement and communication.
This guide is devised for lower risk streets, where there are already, or you are trying to achieve, slower traffic speeds and lower volumes of traffic.
|Most suitable for Innovating Streets projects||Less suitable for Innovating Streets projects|