The relationship between pedestrian connectivity and economic productivity in Auckland’s city centre

Mehrnaz Rohani, Grant Lawrence
Auckland Council Research and Evaluation Unit, RIMU
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A report on a research project that assessed the value of walking (pedestrian connectivity) to the Auckland city centre's economy.

City centres are important to the economic prosperity of cities and nations. The large number of people located in close proximity to each other in city centres allows ideas to be quickly generated. Much of this transferring of ideas and knowledge takes place face-toface. There is a strong relationship between connectivity1 and productivity. High concentrations of people, firms, and activities enable ideas and knowledge to be generated and easily shared. This relationship is referred to as agglomeration economies.

It is well established that transport infrastructure such as roads, railways, cycleways and walkways can support the dynamics of urban agglomeration by enabling better matching, learning, and sharing between economic actors (Duranton and Puga, 2004; Venables, 2007). There are established procedures for estimating the impact of new roads and railways on economic productivity at the regional or inter-regional level. However, the role of walking (or pedestrian connectivity) in supporting agglomeration economies is not as widely understood. Walking facilitates personal and business networking within business centres. Attractive public spaces and walkable streets create a platform for business and social exchange and support the spread of knowledge.

This project seeks to understand the value of walking (pedestrian connectivity) to the Auckland city centre’s economy. This project on quantifying the economic benefits of walking to Auckland’s city centre is one of several work streams to inform the Auckland Design Office, Auckland Planning Office, Auckland Transport, Panuku and Auckland Tourism, Events and Economic Development’s work. In particular, walkability is the central factor in six of the eight transformational shifts in the Auckland City Centre Masterplan (ACCM). Understanding the connectivity of firms through pedestrian networks and the value to the Auckland city centre’s economy will help decision-makers to understand both the costs of disruptions to walkability and the benefits of improved walking conditions.

This research is the first study in New Zealand that examines the impact of walking connectivity on agglomeration economics. It is also the first study on agglomeration effects using fine geographic units.

Auckland Council technical report, TR2017/007.

Last updated: 2017-06-19