An estimated half a million people walk around the Auckland CBD every weekday, many spending money that goes right back into the local economy. But until now Auckland hasn't had a strategy for better serving pedestrians – or placed a dollar value on improving the city for them.
Darren Davis from the Auckland Council has crunched the numbers and presented a business case for our biggest city becoming more pedestrian-friendly.
Davis, Auckland Council's Transport & Land Use Integration Programme Manager, takes inspiration from the city of Sydney, which found that during an average day there were 1.27 million internal trips across their CBD, 1.06 million of which were on foot.
No matter how you're travelling, every trip you take within a city includes an element of walking and the quality of that experience improves your enjoyment of the city as a whole, Davis says.
Not only that, the 'walkability' of a city centre directly impacts its economic viability and economic prosperity, he says, giving the "huge economic engine" that is the Britomart precinct as a case in point.
There, $8 billion of New Zealand's gross domestic product is generated within just a few city blocks, he says.
In the past, city planners have prioritised cars over pedestrians, but it is the people who spend time and money on the streets that we should build our cities for, says Davis.
Since its recent upgrade, Freyberg Place is a great place to sit at lunchtime – "maybe a little bit of an exaggeration" but not unlike the Spanish Steps in Rome, he says.
"We're aspiring to be a world-class city, so why not aim high?"