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  • Ethan Rogacion

More Pedestrians on Cuba St Will Destroy Business, Say Campaigners


A coalition of business owners on Cuba St are petitioning the Council to reconsider its plan to

remove 20 car parks along the stretch of road between Ghuznee and Vivian. Organised by

(unsuccessful) Lambton Ward candidate and famed Kaffee Eis creamslinger, Karl Tiefenbacher,

the “Park It” campaign hinges itself on business owners arguing that losing the 20 car parks will

make a significant impact on their profit margins.

“The thing to remember is that a lot of people walk here, obviously, and I get stupid statements

like, ‘cars don’t spend money, people do’, but cars don’t drive themselves either, so every car

brings an extra person to Cuba St,” he told Salient. “You know, we’re selling a low cost product,

and we need a lot of turnover, so if we lose something like 10% of our business [by having no

car parks], that’s enough to send us under.”

Policy documents from Waka Kotahi on the economic impact of having walkable cities stand in

contrast to this claim. According to Waka Kotahi, citing research done domestically and in other

comparable cities, walking interventions drive higher consumer spending in retail settings, and

that shoppers value good walkability more than they do good car parks.

“[This proposal from Council] is not pedestrianisation - all they are doing is extending one side

of the footpath by the width of a carpark ... They’re using the argument that it's safer for

pedestrians, which is a whole load of bollocks,” he said.

Tiefenbacher argues that having parklet seating opposite cafes and restaurants - which a larger

footpath would allow for - makes it more dangerous and difficult for waiters to traverse the

shared space. This is despite businesses further down Cuba St and on nearby streets making

full use of extended footpaths to have parklets, and having few issues with such arrangements.

Not all business owners along the street are opposed. One retailer that Salient spoke to

suggested that people who come in cars tend to be on Cuba St for “a quick trip” at a specific

shop, and that most of her customers are pedestrians that wander in. Steven Hinderwell from

Slow Boat Records echoed this sentiment, saying that Council’s proposal was a good idea, and

will bring in more people visiting Cuba St.

He added, “there’s plenty of other car parks around, so I don’t think it’ll be bad for business.”

The proposal does not impact other existing public car parks or the multiple, larger private

parking facilities dotted in the surrounds of Cuba St - including at Left Bank, Garrett St,

Ghuznee St, Marion St and Taranaki St - which have a combined total of at least 20 car parks.

In response to the campaign, Pukehīnau/Lambton Ward Councillor Geordie Rodgers told

Salient, “Most people in Wellington walk and international evidence shows they will walk down

the streets that are the safest and most accessible to them.” Rodgers added that, “Events like

Cuba Dupa have shown us just how vibrant Cuba Street can be when space that’s currently

reserved for storing cars is returned to people.”

“I want to see a Cuba Street where people want to spend time with their friends, where

shopfronts are lively and open into a street full of people rather than an empty street with some

parked cars.”


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