We need to make it safer, quicker, and more attractive for people to walk, bike, ride devices, and take public transport in our towns and cities, to help people travel safely and with minimal impact on our environment and air quality. All these activities take place on streets – but most streets in New Zealand do not give dedicated space or priority to these activities.
Reshaping Streets is a package of regulatory changes that will enable communities and local authorities (like councils) to work together to modify their existing streets to provide more space for people to move around using a variety or transport options.
It does this by giving councils the option to:
Reshaping Streets will help deliver on strategic transport priorities for emissions reduction, safety, and providing people with better travel options. It will reduce administrative complexity for councils, giving them better tools to do their job. It also makes it clearer to communities how councils will work with them to make any changes on the ground.
Most councils will need to embed Reshaping Streets into their processes before the rule changes can take effect in their region. In the coming months Waka Kotahi will work with councils to support them to do this.
The Reshaping Streets rule changes are enabling and are a new option in the toolbox for councils to deliver changes on the ground. They also do not take away the need for councils to work with their communities to make street changes. Councils will still need to engage and consult effectively with their communities.
Reshaping Streets is distinct from Accessible Streets, which is a separate collection of rule changes that are being considered. Accessible Streets is designed to improve safety for footpath users, encourage active modes of transport, and support the creation of more liveable and vibrant towns and cities.
If you’d like to talk to us about Reshaping Streets, please email: Reshaping.Streets@NZTA.govt.nz and we’ll do what we can to help.
The Land Transport Rule which enables Reshaping Streets is called the Land Transport Rule: Street Layouts 2023.
Community Streets, also known as Play Streets, will make it easier for local communities to work with councils to temporarily restrict traffic on quiet local streets so tamariki can play and communities can connect.
Enabling children’s right to play, and particularly playing outside together, has enormous benefits for their health and wellbeing, and activities like these are great for strengthening community connections. Trials run in Tāmaki Makaurau in 2021 showed that approximately 80% of Play Streets participants were more likely to recognize and know their neighbours’ names, and over half of those surveyed would be more willing to share a meal or garden produce with their neighbours. Enabling communities to get together in their streets builds community cohesion and reduces loneliness.
Reshaping Streets will make it easier for residents to apply to host these kinds of events and make the approval framework clearer for councils. Residents can apply to host their event on a regular basis (e.g. once per month) for a period of up to 12 months.
Event organisers will need to consult with neighbours as part of the application process, and if approved, notification of events is required a minimum of four weeks in advance of the event. Councils may also impose conditions upon residents hosting Community Streets to ensure that safety and traffic management considerations are catered for.
School Streets make it easier for communities to open up space around schools for our young people, reducing congestion and improving safety near the school gate.
Councils, working alongside schools and communities, have the options to restrict traffic on streets outside schools during drop off and pick up times, allowing our tamariki and rangatahi more ability to travel to and from school independently. School Streets are widely used overseas in places like the United Kingdom and Europe, but Reshaping Streets is the first time there has been provision for School Streets in New Zealand legislation.
Internationally, School Streets have seen improved road safety outcomes outside of schools, with perceptions of safety increasing up to 87%, increases of walking and cycling to school of up to 50%, and traffic congestion decreasing – even on surrounding streets near where the School Street is put in. Evidence from abroad shows they lead to a significant reduction in driving, and those parents who continue to drive simply park further away.
Councils will have to consider a variety of factors when enabling school streets including alternative drop off points, bus routes, traffic levels and guidelines from schools and Waka Kotahi.
Street Pilots enable councils to pilot, or make short-term changes to streets, to test different street layouts and features. This allows communities to experience these changes in real time and provide feedback.
Pilots allow communities to be more involved in the process of changing their streets and for continual improvement of the design while it’s in place. How the design works in practice and community feedback can then inform future permanent street changes.
Councils are already using pilots through programmes like Streets for People (2021-2024) but have been using rules that are outdated and that were not designed with pilots in mind. Reshaping Streets provides a clear framework to enable councils to run pilots with appropriate safeguards.
Pilots do not remove consultation requirements for new street layouts but provides councils the ability to consult while the pilot is in place. They must notify the public at least four weeks before installation and give people a reasonable ability to provide feedback during the pilot. Councils can also modify pilots in response to consultation. Pilots can be installed for a maximum of 2 years.
Reshaping Streets also enables councils to restrict or limit traffic in places that are important for community life like town centres, in neighbourhoods and around schools, including to prevent streets or parts of streets from being used as thoroughfares. They can use signage or physical barriers to restrict some types of vehicles from entering streets, reducing traffic so streets are much quieter, and supporting people to move around safely with less impact on our environment and air quality.
To do this, councils must take account of the purpose of a road and can only filter or restrict traffic if it is to improve access for alternative transport options (e.g. walking and cycling), improve provision of public transport, improve health and safety, support environmental sustainability, or create spaces that support public wellbeing.
Reshaping Streets does not override by-law making powers, decision-making and consultation requirements and appropriate signage will still be required when filtering or restricting traffic.
Public consultation on the Reshaping Streets package of rule changes ran from August to September 2022. Consultation showed strong support for updating legislation that is over forty years old and outdated. Around two thirds of submitters supported or strongly supported most changes, and feedback from submitters, including those who did not support the changes, has been incorporated into the final Rule. Consultation provided valuable feedback that was used to improve the proposals. For example, some changes were made to increase public notification requirements.
Further changes were consulted on as part of the Reshaping Streets package of regulatory changes including making the process for creating pedestrian malls more consistent with other types of street changes, and simplifying the process for creating transport shelters (eg bus shelters, as opposed to bus stops). These changes have not been enacted in 2023. In the next term of government, parliament will consider these changes as part of amendments to the Government Roading Powers Amendment Bill.
We will update this page to reflect any progress as it happens.
Waka Kotahi has a range of additional guidance that supports local authorities to reshape our streets.