Healthy Families NZ whānau across Aotearoa are committed to creating change that makes the healthy choice the easy choice for our communities. This is the vision we share with our communities, to have social and physical environments that support and enable our wellbeing.

On 26 February, alongside our partners Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency and Hutt City Council, we launched the first trial of physical changes to Knights Road in Lower Hutt that are designed to enable more people to choose active transport. We all know that active transport modes like walking and cycling are a healthier choice; for individuals, communities and our planet.

Knights Road is a key connection route between the under construction Beltway cycleway, public transport hubs and the Lower Hutt CBD. Used by four nearby schools with over 2000 students as well as bus and train commuters, the potential benefits of a new layout on Knights Road that actively enables active modes of transport are significant.

Lower Hutt Mayor Campbell Barry says that providing safe options that give people real choice on how they get around our city is part of the vision for the future of Lower Hutt’s transport network.

“Lower Hutt is a growing city, and part of our plan to ease congestion is investing in our transport infrastructure to provide our people more choices for active transport,” says Campbell Barry.

“The Knights Road trial will be a good indicator of how well shared walking and cycling infrastructure can work in Central Lower Hutt, and I’m looking forward to seeing the results.” 

Tactical urbanism uses co-design principles, temporary trials and real time learning and adapting to test physical changes to public spaces.  Making changes that are based on what is important to the people that use the street, while being temporary and meeting all the safety requirements on a busy street in a short timeline makes for a complex project.

Campbell Barry says that a vital part of the process is getting feedback on the new layout.

“We encourage people that live on and use Knights Road to share their feedback so we can understand what is working well and what could be improved.”

This project is one of 72 Innovating Streets for People projects that Waka Kotahi has funded. Across the Healthy Families NZ locations, five teams are actively working on Innovating Streets for People projects in their rohe.

Claire Pascoe, Lead Advisor Urban Mobility at Waka Kotahi, says “It’s really important for our future that we start to move towards low carbon, safe and healthy streets. The Innovating Streets programme is all about helping councils start to make progress faster, at lower cost and in a way that helps them engage more meaningfully by actually testing solutions in real life. We’re pleased to support this pilot through the Innovating Streets fund, and look forward to finding out what the Council and their partners learn as a result.”

The current trial layout on Knights Road will be in place for five weeks. During that time we expect to see more of our students, commuters and residents testing out how the changes to their physical environment can make it easier to choose the healthier choice of active transport.