A controversial makeover to an inner Hamilton street as part of a $1.33 million trial that not only failed to draw in more cyclists or pedestrians but also forced some council staff to leave the organisation will remain in place.
Hamilton City Council's Infrastructure Operations Committee voted to keep the new Ward St design in place until a major overhaul is carried out in several years despite protests from the business community that the trail was costing them money.
The only changes being made was reinstating two lanes near both intersections and maximising parking.
The Ward and Rostrevor St trials were two of 70 projects that received a share of $29 million of funding from Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency as part of its Innovating Streets pilot launched after last year's lockdown.
The purpose of the trials was to look at ways of making streets safer and more people-friendly by making it a nice place to visit, shop and travel which council did by replacing a large number of on-street car parks with brightly painted street furniture and cycle lanes. The speed limit was on Ward St also lowered to 30km/h and a pedestrian crossing was installed.
Data presented to elected members today showed the five-week Ward St trial did not achieve many of its goals or was inconclusive.
There were fewer pedestrians in the area than before the trial and it had not made it a safer place for children to play.
While there was no clear evidence of any more than the usual 60 cyclists riding along Ward St each day using it, the number of heavy vehicles on the road had significantly reduced and the lowering of the speed limit had made it safer for cyclists.
A key benefit had been the addition of the pedestrian crossing where there was a clear increase in people using the safe and more accessible option, according to the report. There was also an increased pride in the area during the trial.
Hamilton City Council came under fire from businesses in the area during the trials who claimed it was affecting their livelihoods and the removal of 24 on-street car parks on Ward St and 40 on Rostrevor St was keeping customers away.
However not all were against the changes with environmental and cycling advocates telling council it supported its attempt to cater for those other than motorists.
Hamilton deputy mayor Geoff Taylor said the trial was "hardly a stunning result" given the data showed cyclists weren't using Ward St any more and pedestrians seemed to have disappeared too.
"I think the failure of this trial was that it was a clumsy retrofit."
He said there seemed to be a lot of hate for motorists yet most people still favoured cars.
Councillor Mark Bunting summed it up in four words: "Please make it stop". He went on to say that staff had got sick, been brought to tears and even quit over the project which he described as the new Garden Place of Hamilton.
Mayor Paula Southgate said she didn't want to spend any more money on Ward St until she knew the results would make definite improvements.
She said the Innovating Streets trial had left a "black mark" on future projects.
While many councillors were left unsure about exactly how much council had contributed to the project, it was clear that it was much more than the 10 per cent it had originally agreed to.
Councillor Rob Pascoe said innovation was about trying something new and reminded people that the project was majority funded by taxpayers and not ratepayers. However the majority of feedback he had received was that people wanted it returned to its former glory.
Councillor Ewan Wilson admitted it wasn't the council's finest hour. However he said there were some positives to come out of the challenging process such as reducing the speed limit and installing a new pedestrian crossing.
Councillor Dave Macpherson said Ward St had looked and felt like a dog for many years and thought tweaks needed to be made to bring it into the 21st century which included having cycleways.
Councillor Sarah Thompson said cycleways would need to be retrofitted into existing streets not just built in new areas and that the council needed to keep "chipping away at it".
Those councillors in favour of the new layout - including Thompson, Macpherson, Maxine Van Oosten and Angela O'Leary - acknowledged just because change was hard, it didn't mean they shouldn't do it.