Parking: Auckland’s Sacred Cow

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.


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