Mike Hosking: Auckland's foot traffic is down - is anyone surprised?

Author
Mike Hosking,
Publish Date
Mon, 3 Aug 2020, 4:06PM
(Photo / File)

Mike Hosking: Auckland's foot traffic is down - is anyone surprised?

Author
Mike Hosking,
Publish Date
Mon, 3 Aug 2020, 4:06PM

Honestly, I hate to tell I told you so, but it has been revealed foot traffic in the Auckland downtown area is down 25 percent.

As a result, you can imagine the cries of worry and concern. Part of it, they claim, is tourist-related. There aren’t any in the recent holidays. Most in Auckland left Auckland, and those out of Auckland didn’t go to Auckland.

You might argue that some people have not returned to the city post lockdown and have lost their job or are working from home.

Here’s what I’ve said for several years. The place is a mess, it’s a jumbled, shambolic, dug up, poorly planned, hopelessly inefficient dump. The bike lanes that aren’t used, the bus lanes that cause congestion, the parking that’s been ripped up, the trains that get cancelled, the restrictions on speed and access and road closures and construction that has seen any number of business sent to the wall.

What’s to come downtown for the delusional fools who think we are some extension of Europe where we cycle to the café to have Pimms and macchiatos?

The delusional fools who think we are the same as Hong Kong and New York and a train are all that’s needed to speed us home to our car-less apartments.

The cold hard simple truth is the city planners have been tripped up by their own theory and seen that what they thought would be cool on a whiteboard doesn’t work in the real world where we love a car and a car park and we like the suburbs with some lawn and a dog.

And so, as they dig the place up, invest a small island nations GDP into road cones and generally just drive the poor saps who have to deal with the place nuts, is it any wonder foot traffic is down?

For foot traffic, you need people to actually want to be in the place, and if you’re in Auckland, look around: it isn’t flash.

Cities only work when they’re beautiful or historic or easy. Auckland, whether for a tourist or local, is none of those things.

Oh, there are fabulous bits, but they’re not downtown. Go to a North Shore beach or a bay, hit the countryside, its world-class.

But stand on Quay Street or Queen Street or K Road and you wonder why you bothered, which is why the stats are what they are: people no longer do.

And so, they are getting what they were always getting and deserved when they didn’t listen, got captured by ideology and bowled ahead despite it all. You can spin theory, harder to spin reality.