Traffic planners will tell you that the best way to encourage drivers to do something is to make the alternative unpalatable, by making it expensive, inconvenient or both.
Such thinking underlies this week's announcement that roadside parking charges are to rise in central Auckland. The proposal, which is open for public submissions over the next three weeks, is cheering evidence of a continuing desire to change urban drivers' behaviour.
The rises are modest - from $4 to $5 an hour at most - and the one-hour maximum stay will be lifted for those prepared to pay. But pay-and-display zones will become a more expensive option than a parking building for anyone staying more than an hour.
Councillor Cameron Brewer's warning that the new charges will send more shoppers to suburban malls seems a curious response from someone who for so long represented the interests of retailers in Newmarket. The CBD long ago lost to the malls in the battle for parking convenience; what suits the interests of businesses in the Queen St valley is for parking spaces to be more easily available for short-term visitors, who are more likely to be spending money in the shops.
The move is part of a welcome trend in inner-city traffic management to make the place more welcoming to people than their vehicles. The traffic-light phasing in the Golden Mile now privileges pedestrians ahead of motorists, giving them twice as many crossing opportunities as before. At the same time, the "shared space" zones in the Elliot, Lorne and Fort St precincts have discouraged the assumption most of us make when we are behind the wheel that in fact we do own the road.
The implicit encouragement such measures provide to use buses and trains is also to be applauded. In the straitened times in which councils now operate, substantial increases in public transport subsidies are not possible. But measures of low fiscal impact that incentivise public transport patronage will make the system more sustainable - and the city will be a better place for everyone.