For experienced navigators of the city, it can be hard to remember what it was like just starting out. We get used to figuring out how to get from A to B by following the breadcrumbs, or the ant trail of other people on bikes. Once you know the way, it can be almost impossible to return to what the Zen masters call ‘Beginner’s mind’. But with Auckland Transport reviewing its paper bike maps (and looking at map apps for the digitally enhanced among us), it’s ever more crucial to see things with fresh eyes.
Enter Neil, a retired school teacher who regularly bikes around his Henderson neighbourhood for exercise. He contacted us the other day with the following good-humoured tale of woe, recounting the ‘fiasco’ of how he ventured into the city and tried – and repeatedly failed, through no fault of his own – to find his way home. Neil’s story poses a timely challenge to AT’s wayfinding team…
“Take your bike on the train to Britomart and cycle back out to Henderson,” they said. “It’ll be good exercise,” they said.
“A frustrating exercise” is what they should have said!
At Britomart there was no indication about bike routes that I could see. But I’d seen posts about the famous pink path and knew roughly where it was. So I made my way up Hobson Street, looking out for a bike lane, or signs pointing the way.
Nothing there – so I changed over to Albert Street. Nothing there, either, and the AT person at the AA bus stop couldn’t help. I pressed on up to Pitt Street. Still no signs. I explored to the Hopetoun bridge. No signs. Came back to Pitt Street ,and stopped another cyclist… who pointed me towards the top of Nelson Street!
At last! The famous pink path!
But alas! That only took me to the Upper Queen Street overbridge!
I crossed at Ian McKinnon Drive, and pressed on down the marked cycle track, only to find myself heading down Dominion Road! So I back-tracked to Queen Street where, with luck, I bumped into another cyclist.
“I’m going west, too,” she said. “Follow me.” Which I did with some difficulty as her bike was electric and I’m not. Half way down Ian McKinnon Drive she turned hard left up a little unmarked steep track which climbed up onto Newton Road and across the overbridge towards a motorway onramp and – at last! – there was the start of the cycle track out west. Thanks, AT, for making the journey so easy!
But wait! There’s more!
The track beside the motorway was obvious all the way past Kingsland and the Chamberlain Golf Course, but then…!
You come off the track onto a little suburban street, Sutherland Road, and then arrive at Carrington Road which is very busy in both directions – and there is NO SIGN visible to tell you where to go next! Thanks, AT.
(Incidentally, going the other way, towards the city on Sutherland Road, you find a sign which apparently sends you left down little Novar Street… which is a dead end!)
Emerging from Sutherland, to your left on Carrington there is a pedestrian crossing… but as far as you can see, it leads to no cycle track. Dodging through the busy rush of cars and, at a guess, going right, you do come to another cycle track… with signs you can only see from the other direction. Thanks, AT.
But wait! There’s more! After biking past Unitec and heading towards the new Waterview interchange, you come to an unmarked fork in the track; take the wrong one and you end up in Avondale!
Luckily, there was a local pedestrian who pointed me in the right-hand direction. I cycled over the Great North Road overbridge and down onto the causeway next to the motorway again, and continued on my journey west.
I’m glad I chose a day with a tail wind because it’s quite a long ride past Rosebank towards the Te Atatu turn off. But no! You don’t come off at Te Atatu Road. You tunnel under it (through the underpass) and carry on past two unmarked turn-offs to the left, until you get to a sign post sending you off to Massey!
Once again I back-tracked to the last unmarked turn-off, and headed off upstream, south towards Henderson. Thanks, AT.
Bacause I’m a Henderson local, at Tui Glen I knew to take the unmarked turn to the right across the footbridge past the Aquatic Centre and Pak’n’Save, and then to turn left to the unmarked crossing of Great North Road, and to swing right onto the unmarked track through the Corban Estate, and across the unmarked footbridge to Henderson Park…
…and safely home. Thanks, AT?
Thanks, Neil! We bet you’re not alone – in fact, we’re keen to hear any other tales of cycleway wayfinding woe, so we can pass them on to Auckland Transport and help improve the signage around town. Please share your lost and found stories below…