Saturday Morning with Jack Tame •

Jack Tame: Get rid of cars on Queen street - Saturday Morning with Jack Tame

Saturday Morning with Jack Tame

A few years ago, I asked my Grandad about his impressions from when he first set foot in New Zealand. It was the mid-1960s. He’d sailed from the U.K with his wife and two boys on an Italian liner, when they drew up and docked in Auckland. Together, the Tame family went for a look up Queen Street.  ‘It was horrible!’ said my Grandad. ‘Just awful. We couldn’t wait to get out of the place.’ His midlands accent added an additional level of disgust at the state of Queen Street, back then. And needless to say it was all he could do to get on a train and make his way to the South Island. Queen Street must have been really bad. He’s held onto a grudge for almost sixty years and as far as I know, he’s never been back since.But to be fair to my Grandad, when was the last time you heard someone gushing with compliments for Queen Street? When was the last time you heard someone say, ‘Queen Street’s amazing! It has all the buzz and intrigue of a street befitting the centre of our biggest city!’.The Herald is reporting this morning that Auckland Transport is drawing up plans that will effectively ban cars from Queen Street. There will be a section where buses can travel north and south, but that’ll be it. After a controversial programme which removed two lanes of traffic from Queen Street last year, the authorities want to remove the two lanes of traffic that remain. Queen Street looks set to be pedestrianised.And I for one think the idea is worth exploring. I can understand why some retailers are concerned about change, but at the moment there’s nowhere easy for shoppers to park and the cars on Queen Street are already travelling at a pretty low speeds. I’d assert that most people shopping on Queen Street don’t arrive by car, as it is. And with the Central Rail Link, buses, and rental scooters, there are plenty of other ways to get in to the city. I did an interview a few years back with the chief urban planner in New York. It made a massive impact on me at the time. He talked about revitalising some of Manhattan’s most tired neighbourhoods after 9/11. The key to a good city, he said, is to consider everything from the pedestrian’s perspective. No great city has been designed around cars. Good urban space always puts pedestrians first. And if you build good public space, and nurture good public space, human beings will always use it.To be clear... I’m not suggesting we turn Auckland into an entirely car-free city. But I think the Queen Street idea has merit. As my grandad would probably say... isn’t it worth a crack? After all, it’s not like Queen Street could get much worse. LISTEN TO AUDIO ABOVE 
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Jack Tame: Get rid of cars on Queen street - Saturday Morning with Jack Tame