Auckland’s urban design makes us fat

“Build loose suburbs carved up by busy roads and without green spaces and you help to create a population of fat, lonely people plagued by criminals. Build dense, leafy settlements with mixed uses, protected from traffic, and you help to create safe, fit and friendly communities.”
George Monbiot

I love living in central Auckland and appreciate the beautiful nartural surroundings of the City but sadly the built environment is making us fat. Even in Zone 1 the design and lack of public transport encourages us to drive short distances and to feel unsafe cycling.

Why has so much bad urban planning been allowed to happen in Auckland? Why is our CBD cut off by motorways and many of our shopping streets welcoming only to cars?  I think the problem has been a lack of visionary leadership in Auckland, weak planning and developments driven by the desire to make a quick buck.

Barb Cuthbert, spokesperson of Cycle Action Auckland, sums up what we could be aiming for:

I see scope to make our one way street system less forbidding torrents of cars, and more alluring entry points to our city. Our city could be home to more distinctive businesses, walkable, colourful streets, connected with cycling and frequent public transport routes, lively markets, active places full of people, rather than voids full of cars.

I am hopeful that the new Auckland Council structure, with a requirement to put in place an overall spatial plan, will mean that Aucklanders who want the city to be liveable and supportive of a healthy lifestyle  will define the design of the city rather than property developers and car obsessed traffic planners.