What I want from a Supermayor

I joked about running for mayor of the new combined Auckland City. My platform is bold and progressive, but I think that’s what we need. Under the current candidates I think we’re going to see more of the same mediocre urban planning and all-pleasing policies.

Here’s what we should do:

  • Aspen StreamRevitalise the inner city. Close Queen Street to vehicles from Victoria St to the waterfront. Resurrect the Waihorotiu stream as a grassy-banked stream. Like in Aspen, but bigger.
    Cruise ship tourists can drop off their shoes at the shoe-minder in the Ferry Building, and walk barefoot on the grass up Queen Street.
  • Harmonise the cost of driving with public transport. Primarily through a toll for single-occupant cars using motorways at rush hour. Electronically implemented so that couriers, wheelchair users, and others can be exempt.
    Use this income to reduce the cost of public transport, improve cycle lanes, and implement light rail (to airport, and the shore).
  • Invite international architects to pitch for a new harbour crossing and (if we need it) a waterfront theatre. Both can be public/private and funded with tolls and ticket sales. Perhaps a waterfront stadium to host a second team in the Aussie football league?
  • Aggressively pursue mid-scale international events for the city. Not the Olympics! Ironman, V8 Supercars, golf, an international-scale cycling criterium?

Expensive? Yes. Doable? Probably. Would you rather live in a city that has a crack at doing some truly interesting things, or one that seeks to chug along unchanged? Mustn’t grumble right?

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9 Comments

  1. And that my friend is why you are not an urban designer!

    I like the way that you are thinking but we really need to look at this city as a whole and not as individual trophy projects. We need a grand vision for what our city will be like in 20 or 50 years and only then work out what we need to get there. So we need a second harbour crossing – Should that be a bridge or a tunnel? Lets have the debate around what will work best. In the end does a harbour bridge really make a city? What should we do with our waterfront? Lets not look at a ‘stadium’ or a ‘theatre’ but lets look at how we will interact with our waterfront from the current harbour bridge through to the wharfs and then look at what we need and want.

    Once we have had a chance to look at what we want from our city then lets open it up to some great international design competitions. We don’t need to build everything at once but we should strive to build some truly great projects. Just see the Te Wero Bridge watered down design compared to the winning design http://www.aucklandcity.govt.nz/council/projects/tewero/winningdesign.asp.

    We need to empower our urban designers to create a great city and somehow promote this to a public who won’t understand how certain decisions on the face of it may seem wrong but in the long run helps to build better cities.

    1. I guess my “(if we need it)” implies what you are saying. Rest assured, when I’m the supermayor I’ll tap you up to lead the urban design strategy.

      But my stream down Queen Street is non-negotiable. Perhaps a waterfall at the end where it meets the harbour?

  2. I really want to see a cohesive transport plan for the whole city that actually looks to the future rather than “more of the same”. The plan right now seems to be hinging on electric cars turning up any time now, but anyone in Auckland knows that the number of cars on the road right now is too many, let alone more in the future. I’d personally like to see better plans for bicycles and motorbikes. Why are motorbikes being taxed more for accidents caused by car drivers when encouraging their use cuts fuel requirements, pollution, parking areas and road usage?

    The first criteria for a Supermayor is that they can fly.

    1. Absolutely. Also, when petrol was north of $2 per litre, there was noticeably less congestion on the roads, and yet everyone still seemed to be able to do what they needed to do and get where they needed to go. What’s up with that?

  3. hmm. what’s your plan for all the single people in the city Ben? Got a plan that doesn’t involve placing them in the cattle truck bars of the viaduct on a friday night? maybe river parties near the Queen St waterfall? 😀

  4. I want to see Melbourne style trams – running frequently – with jump-on, jump-off tickets.

    The biggest barrier I face against using public transport is the long wait between buses and the high prices. After 6:30pm they only run once an hour to my suburb. If more than two people need to make a journey the car is cheaper than the bus.

    And yes, I’d like to see more – safe and well maintained – public parks.

  5. Will the grassy-banked stream be home to mythical creatures, such as mermaids? My children would like that. But not the bad ones, like sea-monsters. A sea-monster once attacked us whilst we were on a cruise ship round the Pacific Islands, but I concede that might have been a dream.
    Anyway, keep up the good work – I like your considered political opinions… helps to break up the dull drudgery of gadgets and software and shit…

  6. The North Shore does not need light rail. The busway works very well, thanks. And it has the big advantages that its vehicles can go anywhere (unlike trains, trolleybuses and trams) and don’t encroach on road width.

    A better plan would be to increase the parking at the Park And Ride places to encourage even more patronage.

    1. The Busway is fine if you live on the eastern side of the North Shore – but the west side, where I live, is poorly served by public transport.

      Between 7 and 9 am it can take more than an hour to get onto the motorway if you are driving. There are nothing like enough buses to service the area, those that do appear often drive past waiting commuters because they are full.

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