Innovating Streets – Ward Street

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The Ward Street Innovating Streets project is the fifth time in the past two decades that HCC has spent money on a proposal to have a ‘Better experience for people in motion: safer and more pleasant walking, wheeling, biking and scooting and a better experience for people who want to spend time on the street: more shade, green, and places to sit; more things to do and reasons to be there’ (link). The Innovating Streets project is the first time Ward Street has actually been improved. Below are images of a variety of proposals for the area, followed by a discussion on comments from businesses, and a statement on overcrowding on the slip lane island near Hamilton Girls’ High School.

Hamilton Kirikiriroa Innovating Streets – Ward Street
2005 plan for Ward St – CBD Future 2020 Vision – The plan was to ‘enhancement of link between the Wintec campus and CBD along Ward Street west, and the creation of a pedestrian friendly piazza along Anglesea Street
2010 Ward St – ViaStrada idea – The plan was to link Girls’ High to Ward Park and provide single direction cycle lanes along each side of Ward St … ViaStrada’s focus was on encouraging students to bike to and from Girls’ High school, Ward Park and the city centre.
2017 Ward St – AECOM Concept – What it shows is the Western Rail Trail extending to Anglesea St. It shows that by removing the flush median and moving existing car parking, magically there is space for a 3.6m-wide protected cycle lane. So the reason we don’t have protected bike lanes in Hamilton is not about car parking or space.

The greatest risk for existing business on Ward St is a rise in the property values on which their leases are based. This means some will have to change their business models. With the recent traffic modifications trialled in the Innovating Streets project, some business predicted ‘a 30 to 40 per cent drop in custom if the Innovating Streets trial goes ahead’ (Waikato Times, 10 Apr 2021). The 30 per cent claim is also seen in Pukekohe, where a tenant ‘claimed his business’s turnover is down 30 per cent because of the changes’ (Stuff, 26 May 2021). This nominal 30 per cent also was also used in the 1970s when Groningen changed its city centre: ‘From the start businesses published reports in rapid succession showing the harmful influence of the removal of cars on the inner city economy. According to “small businesses” they suffered from “a decrease in sales of 25 to 40 percent” (link). However, in Groningen it was found that ‘businesses emphasised the negative effects of the [change] regardless of the facts’ (link). The change in Groningen drastically reduced car numbers in the inner city. This improved the environment there, and more inner city business increased their net profit than did comparable businesses in the provinces. Most cities in the Netherlands have now followed Groningen’s example.

2018 Ward St – Matt Stark’s submission – ‘The concept would see a narrowed street with lower traffic speeds, increasing safety for cyclists and pedestrians Ward Street is also heavily used by Wintec and Hamilton Girls’ High School students

‘Every Innovating Streets for People project must: Make a street environment safer and nicer for people – i.e. less car dominated than before’ (link). The FAQ page on Ward Street asks – ‘Why choose Ward Street for a trial makeover? … It’s a key route for students of Hamilton Girls’ High’

Out of the five proposals, three identified a need for more space for school students by removing the slip lane at the intersection of Ward and Tristram Sts. The Innovating Streets project as implemented did not do this. Should the slip lane be removed?

Ward St is changing, regardless of road modifications. The south side of the street will be a construction site for the next few years, and we can expect nothing to be the same. Preserving the status quo is unlikely, so should we be planning for something safer for pedestrians, right from the start?

Link to HCC ‘Infrastructure Operation Committee’ agenda Tuesday 17 Aug 21 – see from page 48

Related post of shared space – Ward St – Benchmarking

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One comment on “Innovating Streets – Ward Street

  1. The only traffic using Ward St is local, or the Dinsdale bus (3). It’s also part of Te Araroa long distance walkway and links with the pedestrianised east end of the street and the Western Rail Trail, as well as having the school and WINTEC nearby. Therefore it makes sense to minimise car space all along the road.

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