Sandwiches in a pickle
Sorry, it's the sort of subject where some sort of pun is hard to resist. Anyway, while I haven't posted about the council's Draft Footpath Management Policy (sounds so riveting, doesn't it?), a reader pointed me towards a news story about the battle for Wellington's footpaths, and over the fate of sandwich boards in particular.
I'm a bit ambivalent about them. The visual clutter aspect doesn't worry me, since in the CBD I generally prefer a loud, brash jumble of colour to a sterile and overly controlled environment. However, as a dedicated pedestrian I definitely agree with Living Streets Aotearoa when they call for the signs' removal in order to free up walking space. Lambton Quay and Willis St are congested enough at rush hour and lunchtimes as it is, and now that the city looks like it's under attack by giant moles (it'll be several more weeks until the gas mains are completely fixed), sandwich boards combine with fences, bollards, phone boxes and other street cruft to turn walking into a frustrating obstacle course. Especially when they gang up on you in surly packs and force you to deal with slow-walkers, wide-walkers, iZombies, random texters, meandering scrums of Golden Oldies and others who show no decent respect for Wellingtetiquette.
I understand the worries of small businesses, especially those who are stuck off the street in little malls, and who depend upon the signs to give them some sort of street presence. As Jan Gehl suggested (291kB PDF, p53), part of that could be alleviated by removing some of the less active-edged businesses (such as all the banks at the southern end of Lambton Quay) from the ground floor to the first, thus allowing extra space for small retail and food outlets on the Golden Mile itslef. That won't help everyone, but replacing the sandwich boards with banners on existing lampposts should still allow enough advertising to let people know that they're their.
It is, of course, of no relevance at all that two of the business who submitted (181kB PDF) in favour of retaining sandwich boards were Wishbone (who sell sandwiches) and, erm, Sandwiches.