Seen a bike lane blocked or invaded by cars lately? We need your help!

Matt Lowrie’s blog post Friday before last had me shouting “Yes! Yes!” Have you read it? It’s a powerful photo essay illustrating what happens when dashed yellow lines are removed from a cycle lane, leaving it to rely on intermittent bike symbols alone to prevent takeover moves by predatory parked cars.

We’ve been tackling the same issue with Auckland Transport in a variety of ways for years. Our lack of success has recently got me daydreaming about buying bulk lots of yellow and white paint and grabbing a flash mob to spend our nights painting dashed yellow ‘NO PARKING’ lines in all our cycle lanes. And while we’re there, let’s re-stencil those sad, wasted cycle symbols that have lost their mojo.

Cyclelane faded Lake Rd

Sounds extreme? Maybe… but what’s the alternative?

I’ve met AT cycling bosses every month for the past four years to discuss cycling improvements. Every 3 months I’ve asked AT to repaint faded or disappearing markings on parts of the Auckland Cycle Network.

Despite pitiful success with this, in 2012 I expanded my requests to include action to prevent cars from parking in bike lanes. My AT colleagues have been sympathetic, but their best offer was to promise to act if complaints were logged to AT’s action line at (09) 355 3553 or via their handy online form

We put the call out to enlist our readers to call/ email/ photograph problems to log onto the action line. A staunch regular rider out West on Portage Rd proved to be the star of this campaign. Rudy first contacted us on 10th September last year, when new cycle lanes were marked on Portage Rd.

Hi Barb – just had the cycle lanes extended in Portage Rd, New Lynn.
All good but no broken yellow lines to reinforce “no parking”. Seems strange as every other lane I use has the lines. Spoke to AT. Changes made, council and/or AT have decided that the broken yellow lines are no longer needed, people know not to park there! Seems crazy to me. We need those broken yellow lines!

Cyclelane Portage Rd parked cars for blog

The new Portage Rd bike lane was an extension of the Clark Rd one. Like many areas of Auckland, the Clark Rd bike lane had yellow dashed ‘no parking’ lines, which pre-dated its installation and had been left in place when the bike lane paint was added.

I quickly saw that Rudy was a seriously committed correspondent. He diligently logged complaints on AT’s action line with photos of lines of cars parked in the Portage Rd cycle lane, and copied us in on his messages. By 29th October – three complaints later – Rudy was desperate.

It’s now the end of October and whatever you are doing is NOT working.

His message went on to report (with photos) cars parked in the bike lane between 6.30 – 8.35pm. He also noted the arrival and departure of a marked AT vehicle (a parking officer?). Rudy ended with the comment:

8.35 took photo of car still parked in cycle lane. I was there and observed everything.
The officer ignored the car and filed a false report... It is obvious that AT cannot monitor and keep this cycle lane clear for the safety of cyclists at all times. What are you going to do to sort this out?

Rudy’s smart move in keeping us informed meant I was able to back him up in asking for dashed yellow lines for Portage Rd at my monthly AT meetings.

Imagine my delight to get this news from Rudy in December last year!

I am now the proud parent of a bright new broken yellow line and I would like to show you how much joy it has brought into my life. Last week my life was one of frustration, with unreturned phone calls, ignored e-mails and up to 20 cars parked in my cycle lane. With the birth of my new BYL, on Wednesday evening the legal carparking was FULL but my cycle lane was CLEAR, not one car!!!!!!!!! Can you believe it, who ever said that car drivers don’t respect the BYL.

One minor point, there was a few bits missing off my new baby….. [Rudy goes on to request a bit more yellow line for a dangerous pinchpoint needing more yellow lines on Golf Rd near Portage Rd.] Looking forward to seeing this little problem sorted and enjoying a relaxed cycle in my new and much safer cycle lane.

Rudy’s campaign struck a chord with me, as I’ve had the same experience on the Devonport – Takapuna bike lane on Lake Rd. This cycle lane presently has symbols of varying visibility. Some parts have no symbols or greening (because of a  resealing job months ago) and other parts have dashed yellow lines and bike symbols.

Cyclelane yellow dotted lines Lake Rd Devo

These yellow lines pre-date the Supercity and AT, but I love them because motorists never park in this part of the cycle lane. Compare this with the other sections where my path is regularly blocked by people parked in cars to use their phones (well, at least they pulled over first…) or simply parking and walking off to leave their car unattended.

North Shore Councillor Chris Darby and I regularly ask AT to improve its monitoring and maintenance of cycle lanes across the city. AT tell us that new seal needs to ‘cure’ before the cycle symbols and greening are reapplied. But we don’t understand why AT is so nimble when it comes to remarking lanes for vehicles, and so tardy and forgetful in attending to symbols and greening for those of us on bikes.

I suspect cycle symbols and greening are often only remarked or remembered when a cyclist notices and logs a request to AT’s action line.

I’m still daydreaming about my bulk paint order and calling up the flash mob of ‘tactical urbanists’… But Matt Lowrie and I always prefer to work beside AT to help improve its delivery of public transport, walking and cycling. So we’re meeting AT to discuss its bike lane woes on Wednesday this week.

We’d love to hear more from you on places where cycle symbols and greening are faded – or waiting to be added after recent resealing. And please tell us where you have regular problems with cars parking (or indeed driving) in bike lanes.

My line’s open now and I’m keen to get your emails before Wednesday – send me details at

Cycle lanes Infrastructure Lake Rd
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10 responses to “Those dashed yellow lines – we jolly well need them!

    1. Basically, where there is a cycle lane, there should be Broken Yellow Lines. Every time. A consistent, visible, approach will aid compliance.

      1. Yep, but currently, the rules say “this is not needed”, and the very “by the book” focussed TCC (Traffic Control Commitee) is thus resisting, it despite evidence to the contrary. Argh.

  1. I’ll repeat here the essence of what I commented over on the AT post:

    The short-term fix to these problems would certainly be to install/reinstall yellow no-parking lines. But I feel that the best long-term solution is actually to educate and enforce; the presence or otherwise of no-parking lines doesn’t override the obligations not to park in a legal cycle lane of any stripe (and here we need to ensure that the cycle markings are kept well visible). Until people learn this, you will continue to have a problem unless you mark every single bike lane in the city with no-stopping lines as well (otherwise people will think you can park in some of them) – pretty expensive solution to a behaviour/education problem.

    The green colour is also a (ahem) red herring because, again, the presence of green colour or not is irrelevant. It is used to help highlight pinch-points (not completely sold on its use to highlight cycle symbols; people might think that is the only section you can’t park on); using it continuously along cycle lanes would (a) be very expensive and (b) make it hard to highlight the true conflict points.

    Sticking a few flexi-posts next to cycle lanes at regular intervals couldn’t hurt as well to dissuade casual parkers, as well as discouraging drivers from cutting corners (as we’ve done in Chch –

    1. The trouble with not using broken yellow lines is the only indication that it is a cycling lane is signage and periodic road paint. This could be 50m away from where you are or there could be a car parked over it. We know there is good compliance for broken yellow lines so what is the downside – more paint? too busy a kerbside distracting drivers?

    2. I don’t see extensive broken yellow line painting as expensive. Not in the context of building cycle infrastructure. Damn sight cheaper than that green colouring.

  2. Clear unambiguous markings would help. If you drive from Birkenhead to Birkdale you’ll see a similar space between the kerb and the white line but that one is not a bike lane. (and the space disappears in a corner over a creast, just to make it more adventurous for drivers and bike riders!) I don’t know how often that bike stencil is repeated, but once someone parks on that stencil the only thing you see is a white line.

    In Belgium a bike lane is indicated with two rows of dashed lines, like here: (note the full white line is not mandatory) . That’s unmistakably a bike lane, and drivers know not to park over those. No need for painting the entire lane green or even for painting bike stencils.

  3. I have just had a discussion with a police officer who had his unmarked car parked in the cycle lane on Upper Queen St. He didn’t know he wasn’t allowed to park there, which nicely illustrates your point.

  4. A point I have complained about to AT, and received e-mail confirmation of complaint (2 or 3 months ago) but no further e-mail update or visible change on the road..

    It’s on the above-mentioned Portage Rd in New Lynn… traveling south (towards Green Bay) past Shadbolt park lower field, There is in excess of 100 meters of car-parking against the curb with the cycle-lane outside the parking, (there is no problem here, but you do need to be wary of doors) then the parking zone stops about 20m before Golf Rd round-about with a small triangular traffic island, and the cycle lane transitions diagonally toward the curb then up onto the shared foot-path to go past the round-about… The parking is used heavily in evenings for rugby and lacrosse practise, and the transition zone from the bike-lane outside the parking zone to the cycle path south of the triangular island, is regularly parked upon by two or three cars who’s drivers cannot be bothered walking the extra 50-70 meters from the only half-full carpark outside the rugby club on the far side of the round-about… There is no yellow dotted line between the end of the parking zone and the round-about, but painting them would clearly indicate to the idiots they should not be blocking this transition zone from the cycle lane outside the car-parks to the shared path…

    Additionally, what I haven’t complained about but is equally frustrating is just past the same round-about, the shared-path has a VERY large/wide area where the path splits in two… new-ish shared path next to the road and also old pathway over a foot-bridge to the clubrooms… this wide pathway also features, for no obvious reason, a lowered edge like a driveway crossing to the road… which enables another three to five lazy people to park their vehicles on the raised concrete shared path…. legally they should not be doing this at all, but if they could just leave 1.5 m for me to get my bike past easily, I really wouldn’t mind their pig-headedness… 😀

    Maybe I should just be a bit careless with my pedals and handlebars and leave them some reminders in the paintwork of who is supposed to be there?

  5. Pity there aren’t many Danny MacAskill types who could ride *over* any cars parked in a bike lane, leaving appropriate wheel marks and dents. Though I guess you could get off and walk over…

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