Image via Scoop, ”There’s a fridge in the street.’ (Yep, that’s Wellington; on-street parking privilege is a universal issue)

If I went out today and put my refrigerator or washing machine on the street outside my house, I could expect pretty quickly that someone would tell me to move it. Even a bicycle left sitting on the carriageway would elicit a response that it shouldn’t be there.

Yet we leave another household appliance parked outside our house almost 24/7 – like most household appliances it is only in use for a small percentage of the time – and we have yet to receive any complaint from our neighbours or notices from the Council.

That’s because this household appliance is a motor vehicle – which has a very special status in Auckland. We have never been asked to pay for the use of about 30sqm of public land – maintained using your rates and taxes – that we use almost constantly. This space holds an almost religious significance in Auckland and any desecration of this most sacred of cows can create a violent backlash from its acolytes.

This religious devotion to the use of public space for the storage of private property has Auckland Transport back pedalling (well more like backing up in reverse gear – not much pedalling of any kind seems to happen at AT) at a furious pace on projects that actually want to use the carriageway for what it was designed to do – move people. CAA has noted a worrying trend in AT’s willingness to sacrifice cycling and walking (and public transport) projects at even the slightest protest from those who take advantage of this free use of public land.

Gladstone Road 2
A map prepared by AT showing the proposed changes that have now been cancelled.

This has manifested itself lately on the Beaumont Street and Carlton Gore Road projects and the latest is a relatively minor loss of parking at the Gladstone Road/Avon Street intersection. Currently there are 5 angled car parks at this intersection. The proposal was to convert these to recessed parallel parking to reduce the danger reversing cars pose to other road users, particularly cyclists – with a net loss of 3 spaces in the whole area.

This has been opposed by local residents and/or businesses – and AT has now indefinitely parked the project (“will not be implemented until a wider strategic review of cycling in theParnell area is completed” – whatever that means, and however long it takes – and “If any new proposal for the Gladstone Road / Avon Street intersection arises from that process we will consult with you again…“).

The really worrying thing is that this project was not even intended to put in place any dedicated cycling infrastructure but only to address some safety issues – for all users – after crashes in this area which were identified (describe in AT’s initial letter on the proposal):

Site observations and crash analysis for the past five years have shown that there have been 8 crashes on Gladstone Road between Judges Bay Road and Canterbury Place. Three out of eight crashes involved cyclists and one crash involved a pedestrian at the zebra crossing, resulting in three minor and one serious injury crash. Two cyclist crashes occurred at the intersection of Avon Street, and the remaining two at the intersection with Stanwell Street.

High quality Dutch bidirectional cycle path with footpath
Are we getting closer or further away from seeing scenes like this Auckland? Where is AT’s vision?

AT in the letter acknowledge themselves that “Gladstone Road is a popular cycle route in the Auckland Cycle Network and is used by approximately 375 cyclists per day.” Yet the safety of these 375 people – and the improvements to the safety of car drivers and pedestrians too – is apparently less valuable than a couple of parking spaces.

It is a real shame to see AT ignoring the safety of people travelling so that more public space can be used by Aucklanders for the storage of private property. AT seems to be forgetting that its role is to help people get around Auckland better and more safely – not store metal boxes.

Auckland Transport Cycling safety General News
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12 responses to “Parking: Auckland’s Sacred Cow

    1. I saw that today as well Tony. It goes to show that subsidising car travel isn’t the only way to stimulate an economy. News that might be a surprise to the current government with their massive road building programme.

    1. The last I heard it had been put on hold while the Council found alternative parking for some apartment owners. Apparently the Council had actually promised a small number of apartment owners that they would always have free use of public space to store their private property. I don’t know why the Council would have done that but it won’t carry on to the next owners.

      1. Hasn’t the council ‘promised’ on numerous occasions an improved cycling network. Haven’t these promises outlined x y and z objectives.

        Why does the power of the individual and nimbyisum hold so much sway over AT?

  1. Is it just me or do those tracking lines show the truck would smash through the back of two of the parked cars shown on the aerial photo. Doesn’t this mean the parking is dangerous for trucks as well?

  2. Given the obvious safety/visibility issues for ALL road users caused by the car parking too close the intersection and the minor inconvenience of removing the car parks .

    It really is unbelievable that any consultation is required, surely safety would override all other concerns or at least you would think this would be the case!

    Perhaps Auckland Transport should read the NZ road code before marking on-street parking!

    “A driver or person in charge of a vehicle must not stop, stand, or park the vehicle on any part of a roadway so close to any corner or intersection as to obstruct or be likely to obstruct other traffic or any view of the roadway”

    1. Reverse in angle parking would solve the inherent safety issue caused by angle parking & blind-spots. To inconvenient?

  3. Walking and cycling safety has to be a priority but I don’t think the Gladstone Road minor safety proposal is a good example of parking being a “sacred cow”
    There are a number of factors that I think need to be highlighted:
    -The building on the corner of Avon Street/Gladstone Road was built in the 60’s with a set back from the street to provide for angle parking
    -the local shops receive a lot of custom from shoppers who can pull up for a short stop (of course customers arrive by a variety of other means but in this location there is quick turnover of local shoppers – as I observed on a site visit)
    – there is limited short term shopping parking in the area because most of the on-road parking is taken up by commuters
    – the building owner commissioned a report from TDG that found the crash data relied on by AT did not identify the angle parking as the main problem and recommended that a holistic approach needed to be taken to safety improvements
    – one of the issues on Gladstone Road is speeding – arguably the angle parking currently provides a safety benefit by calming the traffic (the proposal was intended to also improve the “efficiency” of car movements).
    Therefore the Waitemata Local Board did not support the proposal and has instead asked Auckland Transport to come up with a much better option to provide for pedestrian and cycle safety on Gladstone Road (with cycle lanes/slower speeds etc). An important first step is to put in place an effective parking zone that will increase the short term parking in the area (this will open up the way for a much more positive conversation with the shop owners/locals about the benefits of cycle lanes).
    In this instance I really think there was nothing to be gained by taking on a big fight over parking.

  4. Actually, I think it is a good example of parking as a sacred cow, both to AT, the locals and the Local Board.

    To argue that we should accept that a requirement from the 1960s should affect our road design now is horrible. And just because no cyclists have been hit by cars reversing here, doesn’t mean there’s no safety issue. What it shows is that parking is more important that reducing the risk of accidents.

    Holistic treatment is shorthand for “don’t expect anything to happen here, except maybe some reports being written”.

    1. Hi Damian.
      The Waitemata Local Board’s gave the following feedback on the AT’s parking discussion document regarding the proposal to reduce parking on arterial roads “On corridors serving the FTN and on-road cycling corridors with proven safety issues we generally support phasing out on-street parking where it is necessary to encourage more frequent and reliable PT service, increased PT patronage and increased walking and cycling”.
      There are a range of projects in the pipeline that have the Board’s support which will require parking to be removed to re-prioritise road space (eg bus lanes on Park Road/Parnell Roads; cycle lanes on Carlton Gore Road, K’rd and Pitt Street)
      However the proposal for Gladstone Road was a “lazy” option dressed up as a safety improvement for walking and cycling that was unlikely to slow down traffic. Getting the parking management right first (a key message from the Velo-city conference if you want success putting in cycle lanes and taking a holistic approach to the road design means we are going to end up with a much better outcome that is far more likely to have community buy-in.

  5. This is pretty disappointing, because as noted, this particular parking poses a real safety risk to cyclists. These angle car parks are always a worry, especially as you are invariably riding quite fast downhill.

    Gladstone Road is a preferred route to/from Newmarket because of the gradual incline and the street width.. it wouldn’t take much to make it very good. A little like CGR in many respects. Sadly, also like CGR, even a small change gets stuck at the first hurdle.

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