Businesses call for O’connell St car ban
Businesses initially opposed a central Auckland street being turned into a shared space. Now they want to go the whole hog and make it pedestrian-only.
A petition signed by 25 O’connell St businesses is requesting Auckland Transport (AT) ban all general through traffic from accessing the street, while still allowing entry for service vehicles until 11am.
It was presented to AT in late October.
Vehicle access to the shared space was halted in August 2016 while Freyberg Place was getting a $11 million makeover, but reopened to traffic in September 2017.
Wine Chamber owner Martina Lutz said it made sense for through traffic to be banned now Freyberg Place had reopened.
It would give businesses and the council the chance to make O’connell St a more vibrant and enticing place for shoppers, Lutz said.
‘‘We could beautify the street more, it is still pretty boring, it’s not always clean and it’s not very welcoming,’’ she said.
Safety was a concern, as close calls between pedestrians and cars were increasing as more people ventured down the lane, she said.
‘‘Cars come racing through the street and there is nothing there to stop them,’’ Lutz said.
Jason Books owner Maud Cahill said while the street was closed during Freyberg Place renovations, business improved because of the increased foot traffic.
Waitemata¯ Local Board deputy chair Shale Chambers said initially businesses opposed the closure of O’connell St back in 2014 however, their change of perspective could be commended, Chambers said.
O’connell St had two options under the Local Government Act when opting to become car-free, he said.
The first was to become a pedestrian mall, which would allow for limited entry for certain vehicles, Chambers said.
The street could alternatively give up it’s legal standing as a road, permanently banning all vehicle access, he said.
AT spokesperson James Ireland said it would assess O’connell St, to determine if they should become pedestrian only.
At this stage there was no set timeline to make the decision, he said.
Wine Chamber owner Martina Lutz has operated restaurants on O’connell ST for the past 13 years.