Aotearoa needs low-traffic neighbourhoods and cities to reduce emissions, improve road safety, and to create the connected urban communities we need in a post-pandemic future. We need urban design decisions that focus on safety so that urban public spaces are open to everyone.
In this research stream, we set out why transport matters for equity, illustrate why reducing car dependence is the key to decarbonising urban transport, explain the risks of pursuing rapid decarbonisation without adequately considering equity, and lay out a path for how Aotearoa New Zealand can transition to the connected, low-traffic cities we need.
We also consider how denser city living, which will be an increasingly important feature of Aotearoa New Zealand’s cities in future, increases demand for urban public spaces. This demand exacerbates existing inequities that impact on how safe we feel, which we suggest can be addressed through coordinated urban design decisions.
We take this urban focus because, as we outlined in a recent report about Aotearoa New Zealand’s diaspora and demographic trends, nearly three quarters of Aotearoa New Zealand’s population growth in the next 30 years will happen in cities. Tāmaki Makarau Auckland alone will account for half this growth. By 2048, there will be almost one million more people living in our cities than there were in 2018.
This growth places increasing pressure on our urban infrastructure and creates demand for new investment, including new and improved transport infrastructure and public spaces.