I Fort The Cars & The Cars Won


Auckland motorists will face a real challenge with the Shared Space concept when stage one of Fort St opens shortly.

Watching the cars travel down there as the work on a Share Space “transformation” continues, I don’t see any sign yet of motorists’ behaviour in any way adapting to an accommodation with pedestrians and cyclists.

At the moment, crossing Fort St is the usual battle and it’s far too risky to contemplate wandering along the actual road.
Motorists will have to buy into the concept.

Problem one is when vehicles peer around the small road between Shortland and Fort and motorists push down the accelerator to roar left or right as soon as they sense an opening.

Quite frankly, why is that Fort lane still open to vehicles? Now that it’s been nicely paved, it’s actually works well as a European-style pedestrian-cycle only space.

And that remains my conclusion about Shared Spaces in this car-obsessed city. Because of Aucklanders’ arrogant right-to-drive-anywhere-and as-I-please attitude, “pedestrianisation” of the CBD streets is the only way to achieve progress.

Especially as cars are still parked in Fort St.

One hopes the taxi rank that existed there will not return. Talking of that taxi rank, this photo of how it was is a good contrast and shows a great improvement already today.
The new look makes the street feel more welcoming, wider and more open.

How Fort St used to look with its taxi rank

A worrying problem is the reason many motorists come to use Fort St.
It’s the only way to turn from Customs St and then double back to Queen St as the Britomart area has a no right turn.
When motorists discover they can’t turn directly into Queen St I notice they often look frustrated and agitated and by they time they get to the end of Fort St where they can find a way into Queen St, they often act as if they have 5 minutes to get somewhere.
So how will Fort St work? Will we still have vehicles and pedestrians and cyclists competing or will the new rules be understood and accepted by all?

We will have to wait a bit longer. This is only stage one and presently without the trees that I assume are coming. Stage 1 is being timed for- as everything- the RWC2011.
The finishing touches and surrounding area won’t be fully completed until 2013, including no construction taking place during the RWC. The total number of streets for upgrade here are Fort Street, Fort Lane, Jean Batten Place, Gore and Commerce streets (between Fort and Customs streets) and Shortland Street (between Queen Street and Jean Batten Place).
And this is how Auckland Council envisages the final look:

The newest Shared Space Elliott St, around the corner from Darby St, feels much much better but it always has been a street where pedestrians and courier and delivery vans have always got on well.

Hopefully this will be how Fort St is when that is completed. The chairs along Elliott St and eating places like The Stables make it more European and people-friendly than Fort St. In Fort St some cafes and eat and drink places do exist along the street but are widely spread out and some of the best of them are way down the other end from Queen St.

Elliott St behind Smith & Caughey

Lorne St, near the Auckland Public Library, is also under development as a Shared Space. It’s too early to tell how that will be.
I would argue strongly that being such a short street and in front of a library and art cinema it should be completely closed off to vehicles apart from any authorised delivery vans that could still service any businesses that bordered the street.

Imagine if, on a sunny day, people emerged from the Library and could sit in this street under trees and read their books without any cars passing by. And there could be rows of available cycle racks to help make a statement about how people-friendly Auckland’s CBD is.

Oh well. The intentions are great and fully supported. I just don’t trust Auckland motorists. Look what happened in the early stages of Darby St when cars took to parking there. Fingers crossed.

Related Posts

  1. Fort St Shared Space Underway
  2. Fort St Shared Space Starts
  3. $23m Fort St Shared Space - Final Concept Approved
  4. Shared Spaces Are Halfway Houses
  5. How It’s Looking: CBD Shared Spaces




  1. Matt says:

    I think an important way to improve things is to ban all parking, and enforce it with immediate tow-away.

    Seeing parked cars encourages motorists to use a paved section of ground, and also takes up space that can be used for street trade or pedestrians.

  2. Patrick R says:

    Fort will work when we take the cars off Queen St. There’s no need for them to be there…. with a little courage we can make this work. Perhaps a little more courage…..

  3. KarlHansen says:

    If we end up needing any quick fixes, we can always add more street furniture. People will NOT speed in a 2.2m wide car when the gap they go through is 2.8m.

    So put up some added planter boxes and stuff. It’s not supposed to be CONVENIENT for cars. Just accessible.

  4. Matt L says:

    I actually find that most drivers aren’t that bad on Fort St, I often go down there and most drivers are pretty courteous with people walking along Queen St and I have seen some wait for quite a long time until there is a gap in the pedestrians. I have of course seen the opposite but no where near as many as the number polite drivers.

    I also think that cars speeding along the currently completed part is mainly due to the area being fenced off, once the barriers come down I think things will be fine.

  5. BoB says:

    Fort St does have alot nicer feel about it but does have way too much traffic. Fort Lane has carparking buildings and delivery points so is probably why it isn’t pedestrianised.

  6. BoB says:

    Also don’t understand why the writing on the paving on Fort St “whenua” is so faint?


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