Heritage vs car culture

Napier central, Tiffen Park entrance

Napier. A great architectural legacy and the idea that heritage presents a value to the city, to be safeguarded (see Napier City Vision 2015). And in the middle of that, the ongoing complicated love-story with cars.

It reminded me of Wellington’s beautiful Fire Central, also in the central area, at the crossroads of the active Courtenay Place and the seafront, but cut off by endless lanes of traffic. It makes me also think of virtually all town centres in New Zealand, where historic buildings are disfigured by shrill footpath roofing, floor-to-ceiling advertisements and signs on the footpath, yelling at you “2 dollars!” or selling you any kind of service.

Now imagine these amazing buildings in an environment that encourages walking and sojourning, and that puts them in evidence, making them participate in the public space. I think that their value, as assets. would skyrocket. I also bet that vast majorities would support that new status quo. From a transport planning perspective, this would support the cities’ efforts to increase liveability and reduce reliance on cars. I hope councils go in that direction.

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Need permission

In Auckland, in the busy/trendy Newmarket neighborhood, with bunches of shops and restaurants, you have free parking*, and as a pedestrian, you need to ask the permission to cross the parking entrance/exit! This is also meters from the light rail station but obviously traffic still has right of way.

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* Of course, there’s no such thing as free parking, it has land, building, maintenance and operation costs, that need to be covered by someone. And this someone is often everyone, through taxes. So if you don’t drive, you are basically subsidizing those who do!

Donald Shoup became a rockstar studying parking and its perverse effects (yes that’s possible!), highly recommended reading. Here you’ll find his brilliant free dessert analogy and info about his publications.