The Eye of the Fish

April 7, 2017

Tory Street opportunities

Tory Street has been closed off since the big Kaikoura quake sequence last year, and has only just reopened to traffic and to the public. The old 9-storey car parking building, built in the era of Chase Corp, and destined to be the car parking answer to a 30 storey office and hotel tower (on the Reading site) that thankfully never happened, has been shovelled up and removed. Interesting to observe that a building allegedly so badly damaged that not a single human being was allowed back in, in case of collapse, nevertheless took 2-3 months of dedicated chewing up under the mighty jaws of Big Bertha, the warm, buxomly, motherly name of the big yellow digger that was anything but user-friendly, and even down to the last scrap, the carpark never looked anything other than massively resilient.

Methinks The Engineer doth protest too much!

Never mind – its gone now, and no one misses it. The owners are now painting a few white lines on the empty concrete floor that remains, to accommodate the few people that drive to the movies, but the empty site does now present a huge chance for a new vibrant quarter of Wellington. Look here at the hole it leaves:
Now look here at the vibrant architecture of the opposing side of the street. It’s small scale, it’s quirky, it is inventive, interesting, full of small businesses, and the ground floors of much of Tory St are filled with delicious food outlets. Right now they will be hurting – right now they will need your support. So, go there, eat there, buy there, support them and help them prosper again.
But the real opportunity lies across the road. What should we do, in Wellington, with such a bargain spot? It is certainly not going to be a carpark for long, with any luck. It needs and deserves a whole new way of thinking about the city – starting even with the street itself. The actual asphalt, the road itself, has been out of action for the last 5 months – and really, who has missed it? Are we any better off having cars once more growling through there? We haven’t needed them for the last 5 – why do we need cars there for the next 7 months?
Tory St is actually one of my favourite streets in Wellington – and not because it is drivable, but in spite of it. Why not close off Tory permanently to traffic, starting with the bottom section and then progressively enlarge the pedestrian zone further up, across Courtenay and eventually up to Pukeahu Park? It is the perfect size and width for a cycle-friendly route, a pedestrian route, and it works out brilliantly, connecting up to Tasman St. But it really doesn’t need cars. It needs space for delivery vans, sure, and for local residents, but for the most part, this street just needs space for the people of Wellington. How about it? Let’s trial it!

7 - 04 - 17

great idea, arent the council looking for a safe cycling route thru the cbd towards island bay as part of the govt urban cycleways package?

8 - 04 - 17

Indeed – the Island Bay cycle route as planned, when it gets near the city, is to turn off at the Basin Reserve, go up to Tasman St, and then down into town along Tory St. This is much better than getting cyclists to either navigate through the living gates of hell that is the Arras Tunnel underpass leading to the motorway, or the Cambridge Tce porto-motorway.

8 - 04 - 17

“Why not close off Tory permanently to traffic, starting with the bottom section and then progressively enlarge the pedestrian zone further up, across Courtenay and eventually up to Pukeahu Park?” – excellent idea. Let’s leave the bottom section closed to vehicles, then do the same with Pukeahu (cars should never have been allowed back to that bit of Tory), working from both ends towards the middle (the most difficult bit).

Wellington has been without the Reading car park for much of the last few years, so do we really need it?

8 - 04 - 17

There are arguments that Tory is needed as a traffic route to the retail outlets, but I just don’t buy that. Moore Wilsons is the main attractor to this end of town, but it can still be accessed by two streets directly off Cambridge Tce. Everyone else is just passing, rat-running traffic, who don’t belong here and are not wanted.

Mainly, impressively, the remainder of the traffic here is local residents, living in the many Te Aro apartment blocks nearby. But even more impressively, the majority of the businesses here in Tory are small, boutique, green, cycle friendly, and very tasty: this is the new ChinaTown, eateries galore. They certainly don’t rely on car traffic to deliver their punters to them. People round here walk. Block off the traffic. Think different!

Seamonkey Madness
10 - 04 - 17

The Top of Tory owners (and tenants) might have something to say about that?
*cough* The Warehouse, Noel Leeming, Exodus, Wilson Parking *cough*

They surround a carpark, so there might be a problem for traditional customers to get there. And I doubt that Johnny/Joanna Bicycle will be carrying a high-quality Veon 52″ flatscreen TV home on his/her bike. *pantomime wink*

11 - 04 - 17

Wink wink, cough cough, are you trying to tell me something? Haven’t you heard of people shopping by bike before? Transport Blog – now Greater Auckland – even invented a word for it – “Quaxing”. It’s named after Councillor Dick Quax, a one-time Olympic runner, who now believes that people only move by car. He’s been proved wrong – hence, Quaxing.

But it is not beyond the wits of mankind (or fishkind, or even seamonkeykind) to invent a way that the few people who still want to shop at the cesspit of Warehouse or the ghastly drone of Norman / Leeming / Aussie shitstores, that they can get to a carpark without having to have the entire road dedicated to traffic both ways 24 hours a day. Is it?

12 - 04 - 17

A bicycle friendly route doesn’t necessarily mean a total car ban, although certainly in parts this would work perfectly. There could be one-ways / shared areas / slow zones (how this is a 50km/h zone is beyond me) – and not having a long thoroughfare would be a perfect way to deter traffic from taking this as short cut / skip the traffic lights route.