The Queen St We Deserve


I am sitting in Queen St, enjoying the friendly pedestrian space.
This is not our Queen St - but the namesake in Brisbane where not only cars are banned, but since Christmas, so is smoking.
The mall was refurbished in 1999 with its signature terracotta tile footpath replaced by a grey slate tile footpath, with the addition of art, trees and shrub enclosures and more seating.
In the last couple of years, it has been further extended and even a small lane has recently been added to the space.
It works -and so could our main street.
We’re tinkering around the edges of Queen St with the much-welcomed Shared spaces in Elliott, Darby and Fort St but we need to be bolder.

Fort St being turned into a Shared Space

Even in a post-Christmas environment, Brisbane’s Queen St is being enjoyed as people roam free amid the shops and cafes without worrying about the rude interruption of vehicles.

Brisbane CBD itself is far more friendly and accommodating to both pedestrians and cyclists including the pedestrian bridge across the river.

And it’s such a pleasant walk around the waterfront.




  1. Cam says:

    I agree Queen St mall is fantastic. It’s just as good at night as well.

    We do have a lot of ground to make up with the Australian cities in terms of our CBD but with the tank farm, shared spaces, and developments like Rhubarb lane and Britomart we are moving in the right direction. I think Auckland’s CBD in 10 years time will be a vastly different place.

  2. KLK says:

    I still cannot see why private cars need to travel down Queen St - aside from wanting a park outside their favourite $2 shop. The street can be accessed by a short walk from numerous car parks in the CBD. And if there is no need for private cars to be there, there is no need for a 4 lane highway.

    Buses I could live with, particularly if the corridor was down the centre, future proofed for the trams/light rail.

    There has been talking of “trial” pedestrianisation during summer weekends and RWC. Bring it on.

    Next up: Quay St.

  3. DanC says:

    It would change Auckland hugely if Queen street was pedestrianised. From Victoria Street to Customs Street would be ideal.

  4. James B says:

    I’d say Customs to Mayoral Drive would be ideal. With Victoria and Wellesley crossing the street. That way most of the important civic and cultural buildings around Aotea Square would be included.

  5. Simon says:

    That`s what I`ve always been interested in having as well James. We should at the very least do what the Shinjuku shopping area in Tokyo has done for the last 20+ years and have pedestrian only Sundays.

  6. Jon Reeves says:

    Queen Street would be better for businesses if the spending public can relax and enjoy the area.

    Cars DO NOT spend money, PEOPLE SPEND MONEY.

  7. Ian M says:

    I totally agree that Queen St in Auckland should be permanently closed to cars, most probably from Wellesley Street down. A good idea may be to keep the roads that intersect queen street open (ie Victoria St), such as is the case in Brisbane and Glasgow etc.. Imagine the difference if we had restraunts and cafes in the centre of Queen Street

  8. kel says:

    Just to cause a stir…

    I’d like to hear from you all about why it’s wrong to have cars driving down Queen Street? :)

  9. Luke says:

    @kel you seem to miss the point somewhat. Its not that its ‘wrong’ with having cars down Queen St, its just that it would be so much nicer without them.
    And as this post shows is possible to do, and has been done in many similar cities around the world, including all major aussie cities.

  10. Eric says:

    Was the Queen St in Brisbane a main street originally like in Auckland? Also, was this project funded by local or central government?

  11. kel says:

    No, Luke, I’m not missing the point. I’m just creating debate, because, one thing I would worry about is if Queen Street was fully pedestrianized, the amount of people on the sidewalks would thin out a lot (since Queen Street is quite wide) and most of the noise and speed would vanish. This could, in turn, make Queen Street feel rather dull and lose its energy, pace and sense of activity and excitement. Some of the narrower side streets along Queen Street that are* pedestrianized are very attractive and I wonder whether some of them could be extended as some sort of shopping strips and cafe/bar streets to attract more people along those ones instead.

    PS: I don’t want to be criticised and attacked here (which happens from time to time by many know-alls on here), because I’m just presenting a point, not necessarily my opinion.

  12. DanC says:

    One thing I’m all for is that it would stop the Friday / Saturday night cruises driving up and down in loud cars. Not to be a party popper (I used to do it back in 90′s RX7 days) Of course they will go somewhere else as it’s the age of old enough to own a car but can’t get into a bar. But it would make queen street seem not so dodgy at night.

  13. Anthony says:

    If you put in sideshows, news agencys and cafes through the middle of Queen street and have markets and festivals there frequently and maybe even merry-go-round, it would be possible to make the street very attractive, therefore making the street even busier, and brings life and sound into the CBD.

    Im also keen on the idea of bringing the trams looping the CBD via the Queens Mall.

    (Queens Mall, how neat does that sound!)

  14. James B says:

    Kel. There is nothing wrong with having cars go down your main street. Auckland lacks the malls that other NZ city seem to have, e.g. Cuba Mall in Wellington, Cashell Mall in Christchurch. Personally I think we should make High Street a mall first. I think Queen Street is also a good target for turning into a Mall as there are no property entrances from Quay Street to at least Mayoral Drive (barring a small section of Airdale Street, which could easily have a ramp constructed down from Mayoral Drive). This makes it unique in Auckland for a road of its length, even High Street has the loading zone for Metropolis and the carpark at the end to deal with.

  15. Matt L says:

    A couple of things to consider, it would lucky for there to be 10,000 cars a day along the road since the upgrade a few years ago, this is because the traffic light phasing has been moved to be in favour of pedestrians rather than cars meaning it can actually be slower to drive between Customs St and Wellesley St than it is to walk. By comparison there are something like more than 40,000 pedestrians a day of which tens of thousands are during the middle of the day when people are having their lunch break.

    My opinion is that if the whole street was pedestrianised then while you would see some spreading out of people it wouldn’t be as much as though as down the middle we would likely see stalls and other things also we would probably see existing stores spreading out a bit so while space is increased to walk along it won’t be 4 lanes worth of space. Also the better environment would likely draw more people to the street and make it lively, especially as more CBD development occurred as a result of the CBD tunnel ;-)

    More likely I can see two lanes being left for buses initially but hopefully long term for modern trams. By closing off the access to general traffic buses would have a pretty free run up most of the street speeding them up even if they are travelling slowly. More space would be available for pedestrians and would be a good compromise. Any buses using the road would need to be monitored as we don’t want noisy smoky buses up there.

  16. Jarrod Gill says:

    If only we could get on with it. Trams from the tank farm going past Britomart and up a pedestrian only Queen St? How cool would that be? It has to happen. Along with opening up the waterfront, this would make our CBD great. Add in the CBD rail loop and we’re in business. If only.

  17. Matt says:

    One concern I do have with all this talk of making entire streets into pedestrian areas is what to do for fire brigade access. For police and ambulance, on foot is mostly acceptable. Ambulances aren’t terribly large if one has to be brought right to the door, and they tend not to come in herds.
    By contrast, in the inner CBD it’s normally six fire appliances for an alarm activation and if it’s a confirmed fire that immediately jumps to at least 10 and often more like 15. Right now it’s relatively easy to handle because they just park in the street (though that gets tricky with High Street, which is also used for brigade driver training because it’s so narrow), but full pedestrian malls are a different matter.

    I like the idea, I’m just concerned about an issue that I don’t think anyone else has raised and which, given that there are usually a couple of alarm activations along Queen Street a day, is not easily ignored.

  18. Julie says:

    I think the idea sounds very exciting but what about tradesmen (electricians, plumbers etc.) who do maintenance in the shops and buildings, carrying ladders and tools some distance from where they can park would be a problem.

  19. Matt L says:

    Matt - It is something I have though about before and the best solution would be to have the bus only lanes up the middle as I mentioned, that way they could just drive up there. Another thing is that there are lots of lanes and other streets that are near to or join Queen St, if they were designed as shared spaces then that could get them pretty close to their destination.

    Another solution is what has been done in LA with the Third St Promenade, that is also a pedestrian mall and is pretty popular, down the middle there is a small lane that has been built. At each end are bollards to stop people just driving down but they are removable but in general it is just a people space. I also has low kerbs to make it easy to get around.

    One thing though is I remember talking to an ex firefighter who was based in town, he said the fire trucks deliberately travel up Queen St whenever they could, not because it was quickest but because it gave them a chance to look at all the girls along the way.

  20. Nick R says:

    Matt, for fire access we should simply ask what the do in Queen St Brisbane, or Pitt St Sydney, or Bourke St Melbourne. They seem to manage. I assume the answer is to simply maintain a 4-5m wide section down the middle of the mall that is free of any structures… that’s if there isn’t any bus or tram lanes.

    One ironic benefit of closing Queen St to cars is that is would greatly improve traffic conditions in the CBD. It would involve the removal of six signal controlled intersections, and would leave only two vehicular crossings of Queen between Mayoral and Customs.

    Furthermore, these two remaining intersections would only need two phases, buses/trams and pedestrians going north-south alternating with general traffic and pedestrians going east-west.
    Buses, pedestrians and traffic alike would experience way less wait time by removing the myriad turning and crossing phases. Buses would only have to contend with two intersections on the way down, and even then these would be green around half the time anyway. It’s win, win, win.

    It could be a good idea to make Kitchener St a two way road if this was done though, although this could be a good idea anyway to slow down all the cars that whizz along between the city and the park anyway.

  21. Anthony says:

    since Queens Street is four lanes wide, we could have a one lane street passing through, for buses, taxis, trams and emergency services to use, i don’t remember how long Queen Street is, but what i do remember is the huge crowds that is all shunted to the side and heavy traffic passing through, making uncomfortable for people who likes having space.

  22. KLK says:

    Kel - make Queen St more attractive as a “destination” and more people (and in turn more retailers) will come.

    The “thinning out” argument is weak. You said yourself that pedestrianised areas around Queen St have been a success - why wouldn’t a relatively small area of Queen St (Mayoral Dr to Customs) be any different? If anything, it would be more of a success as it is a more popular pedestrian thoroughfare and has a greater number of shops. Moreover, the place would still have buses (and hopefully trams) running to ensure your “excitement” (from vehicles?????).

    Like a good rail system and dedicated bus lanes, I cannot understand why something that works well around the world “won’t work in Auckland”.

  23. James B says:

    @Matt L: For the record 3rd Street Promenade is in Santa Monica, not LA properly. You are right in saying that is awesome though. I despised most of the LA area, but Santa Monica was nice. It didn’t feel as car dominated as LA properly. They were setting up for the 4th of July when I visited which involved a few days of celebrations before the big event. I’d moved on to New York by that stage so I didn’t get to see it in full swing. Needless to say it had a great party atmosphere, more like a European village than what is essentially a suburb of the city that defines sprawl.


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