An Open Letter to Mayor Wayne Brown

Oct 14, 2022
An Open Letter to Mayor Wayne Brown


Dear Mayor Wayne Brown,

You strike me as a man who likes to get stuff done. As such, we would like to lay down a wero, a challenge, to you as Auckland’s new mayor. We challenge you to work towards improving the unsafe status quo for people biking around Tāmaki Makaurau.

Today, I was biking home, and an oblivious driver pulled out in front of me, nearly hitting me. I frantically waved my hand, motioning them to go back. The road was too clogged for me to go anywhere else, and I could not brake in time. Fortunately, they noticed my waving at the last second and moved back, avoiding a collision that could have seriously injured me.

Although dangerous near misses with cars are nothing new to Auckland cyclists, what< happened next is rarer but not unheard of. A second driver wound down their window and started to hurl verbal abuse at me for waving the first car away. Alongside telling me that I was in the wrong, for some reason, they told me to “go get a job” and “go do some work”.

I’m an outspoken person, so I replied to the driver. I asked my verbal abuser two questions. One, if they thought people in cars deserve special treatment because they’re in multiple-tonne beasts, and two, why they thought they had the right to yell at me. The driver refused to answer both my questions. What a shame, I would have loved to have heard their reasoning!

Participating in the dominant transport mode, drivers aren’t used to getting questioned about how driving impacts the safety of other modes. At least this driver didn’t seem used to it. My interaction with the verbal abuser made me particularly frustrated and angry because of where it happened. It happened at the Royal Oak shops, the same shops where nineteen year old Levi James was killed on his bike in March.

Example of protected cycle way on Ian McKinnon Drive

Mayor Wayne Brown, you may not have campaigned on liberating a Harbour Bridge lane for bikes, special biking initiatives around schools or better traffic light phasing for cyclists like other candidates. But you did campaign on effective, simple and cheap bike infrastructure improvements. We challenge you, Mayor Brown, to honour this policy.

A lot can be done to cheaply improve or add bike infrastructure – look at what European cities did during their covid-19 lockdowns. Research suggests that those covid-19 cycle lanes increased safety for people on bikes and encouraged more people to get on two wheels rapidly. This was all achieved without spending millions on bike lanes like we do here in Auckland.

I’ll be the first to admit these kinds of bike lanes are not what many cyclists want. But they’re better than nothing. Their cheapness also means they can be rolled out quickly and widely. If they prove successful, safer, more permanent separation could be introduced later.

Mayor Brown, you campaigned on ‘fixing Auckland’, so we challenge you to fix Auckland’s unsafe bike infrastructure status quo. No one deserves to be abused on their way home for advocating for their safety, especially people on bikes who don’t have several tonnes of metal acting as a safety blanket. The mayor can and should champion infrastructure changes to separate bikes and cars, helping cyclists avoid uncomfortable and unsafe experiences.

Yours sincerely,

Your Bike Riding Constituents.

Join us

Bike Auckland is the non-profit organisation working to improve things for people on bikes. We’re a people-powered movement for a better region. We speak up for you – and the more of us there are, the stronger our voice!

Suggest a new ride