Social distancing cones rolled out across Auckland CBD

Author
Newstalk ZB / NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Thu, 30 Apr 2020, 12:31PM
Social distancing cones have popped up in Auckland's CBD. (Photo / Supplied)

Social distancing cones rolled out across Auckland CBD

Author
Newstalk ZB / NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Thu, 30 Apr 2020, 12:31PM

Auckland is living up to its reputation as the City of Cones by rolling out 17km of orange cones for pop-up cycleways on places likes Queen St to create extra space for social distancing.

The sudden appearance of the cones is being welcomed by pro-cycling advocates and politicians, but questioned by critics.

Heart of the City chief executive Vic Beck recognised the need for social distancing under level 3 but has big concerns about placing more cones in Queen St as the city centre reopens for retailers and business.

"We have to make the central city a conducive environment for trading and customers.

"We have had significant patches coned off for a considerable period of time. We know the impact of that. It is not positive. I'm expecting a lot better," said Beck.

From last Thursday, Auckland Transport has been installing 17km of temporary cycleways and walkways on 20 roads and popular walkways to assist with safe physical distancing in level 3.

They include Ponsonby Rd, Oteha Valley Rd, Lonely Track Rd and Mangere, Otara and Manukau town centres, and removing carparks on the seaward side of Tamaki Drive between The Strand and St Heliers.

Today, AT said it was placing cones on Queen St to increase space for pedestrians and people on bikes and using public transport. Cars will be banned on Queen St between Customs and Shortland Sts. Cars will also be banned from continuing down Queen St from Mayoral Drive.

Over the next two weeks, similar changes will be applied further up Queen St as far as Mayoral Drive. AT said the cones could be replaced with things like planter boxes ahead of level 2.

The changes would be monitored, said AT, and wouldn't say how long they'll be in place.

An AT spokesman said the extra space on the seaward side of Tamaki Drive means people out getting fresh air, whether on foot or wheels, can safely maintain social distancing.

Since the cycleway went in on Thursday evening, there had been an increase in people on bikes in the area - up 91 per cent along Tamaki Drive compared to the rolling 2020 average.

"That equates to 3000 people a day and does not include those walking or running," said the spokesman.

He said AT chief executive Shane Ellison had made it very clear this is not a "trial" for permanent arrangements.

Associate Transport Minister Julie Anne Genter this month said the Government would support pilots and pop-ups to help people keep 2m apart after the level 4 lockdown is lifted.

Mayor Phil Goff said the Queen St measures would prioritise access for business traffic, emergency vehicles, public transport and access to private car parks.