Freshly minted Northern Ward candidate Jacob Toner wants to foster resilient communities to make sure Wellington is ready for many risks it faces by introducing Hutt Valley inspired ‘Hitching Posts’ around the city. He has announced:
Following the evacuation of most inner-city buildings there was a large congestion of people keen to get back to their homes. I was working in the CBD when the quake struck and witnessed firsthand the chaos at the train station. With commuter trains stopped for track inspections thousands of Wellingtonians were left without a way to get home.
Thoughtful motorists pulled into the station and offered others lifts, filling up empty seats in cars. This was Wellington at its finest – people banding together to support each other.
An easy way to support people helping each other in these times is to make it easy to co-ordinate with others going the same way. ‘Hitching Posts’ have been used in the Hutt Valley since 2006 to provide a marking point for people looking for a lift, and would work well at the train station too.
‘Hitching Posts’ would display a popular destination such as Johnsonville or Tawa, and people queue at the sign. Someone with space in their car can easily identify who they can carpool with. This would have significantly eased the chaos at the train station, and had the added benefit of helping to build connections between neighbours.
This is a very cheap and easy solution. There are big issues to address, such as earthquake strengthening buildings, but there are also quick wins to building more resilient communities.
This isn’t the biggest or particularly revolutionary idea out there, but it’s good to see candidates bringing them forward. My biggest questions would be around how could it be made to work properly and be successful. The Hutt Valley’s experience have been somewhat controversial but nothing proper planning and implementation couldn’t address. It could also complement other or folded in to other projects that could make them safer and used more.
Also, expect to hear the word “resilient” a lot over the next 50 or so days.