Parking for five cars

There’s an article in the NZ Herald this week, Auckland house prices vs world’s, which compares the median house price in Auckland – a whopping $670,000 – with other similarly priced homes around the world. The house chosen for comparison in Auckland, is a $675,000 five-bedroom, three-bathroom house in the suburb of New Windsor. New Windsor is a featureless suburb sandwiched between the suburbs of New Lynn (rough and industrial) and Mount Roskill (up and coming but also featureless). The primary schools in the area are all fairly low decile (five and under) and the house is on a main road. It’s over 9km from the city centre, there’s no train and peak-hour traffic will resemble a parking lot.

As is typical of car-obsessed Auckland, a reported feature of this house is parking for five cars. That’s right folks, five cars because if you want to live in Auckland, you gotta love your car and the more of them, the better. The nearest supermarket is a two-minute drive away. Who wants to walk to the shops when you can drive? Even better is the brand spanking new motorway about to be built right next door.

Is this really how people want to live?

This week I stumbled across a report titled, Generated traffic and induced travel. The report explains how the building of more roads and motorways does not actually reduce congestion because traffic congestion will always tend towards equilibrium. This is how it works: congestion -> build new motorway -> temporarily reduced congestion that encourages new traffic to the road -> congestion again. If you build it, they will come (they referring to additional cars). The industry term for this is generated traffic. Building new roads and motorways generates new traffic, it does not reduce it.

The New Zealand government does not understand this concept. This is the transport plan for 2012 – 2015:


If New Zealand wants to throw money down the toilet by building new roads and motorways and create car-dependent, polluted cities that encourage a sedentary lifestyle with the associated skyrocketing health care costs, then it’s probably going about it the right way.

12 responses to “Parking for five cars”

  1. Canberra is doing the same thing as Auckland (which is probably doing the same thing as thousands of cities around the world). New roads are being built everywhere. Worse still, they’re taking over huge tracts of bushland so people can get from A to B faster. It’s really sad to see. On the other hand, very few resources seem to be going into building bike paths. I’m wondering whether a five carpark house is in the same league as the Sydney house that has 11 bathrooms.

    • 11 bathrooms! That’s a lot of cleaning. It really doesn’t make sense why governments would choose to do this when it is very expensive and provides little benefit. I can only assume that it is good for votes.

  2. I’m baffled by the thought that somebody might have five cars. Five cars for what? One for Dad, one for Mum, and one for each of your three kids? That’s all I can think of, and it doesn’t really make sense…
    Silly car-obsessed people!

  3. If you really want to reduce traffic, then increasing public transportation and walkability are the two most proven methods. Planning for more cars only make more cars, as you said in your post 🙂

    • Auckland is not known for its public transport, which is dire, and it is not a walkable city by any means. Perhaps if traffic congestion continues to spiral out of control, people will start to demand better public transport.

  4. The NSW state government, not necessarily known for clear thinking on transport, has begun one interesting innovation. The city of Penrith is on the western edge of the metropolitan area, 50 km from the Sydney CBD (about an hour by train). This is a district which was traditionally McMansion territory, the sort of place where you might well find 5-car families. However the Australian Defence Department recently vacated a large tract of land adjoining Penrith railway station right next to the city centres. A new suburb, Thornton, is being constructed. It is designed to be walkable, bikeable and of course at most a 10 minute walk from the station.

    The development surrounds a large village green, a kids’ playground and a day-care centre, all of which are already built (although the direct walkway to the station and city centre isn’t yet). A couple of dozen houses have been built as display homes and housing lots are selling fast. A characteristic feature is that many of the houses will be 2-storey terraces, with a similar footprint to those built in the late 19th century in inner Sydney suburbs.

    The objective is two-fold: to allow modest property prices; and to try to reproduce to some degree the walkable nature of the inner suburbs.

    It will be interesting to see how it develops,

  5. I have lived in New Windsor for 10 years. I get to work in the CBD by car in under 30 minutes in peak hour traffic with virtually no delays. Buses are reliable and take 30 – 40 minutes to reach the CBD at peak hour traffic times. I get into the CBD in 25 minutes on my Mountain bike. If you should ever be near New Windsor Rd I would recommend that you stop by New Windsor’s fun and quirky little local Cafe called Sweetie….Jase 🙂

  6. […] I listened to an interview on RadioNZ with Peter Newman, Professor of Sustainability at Curtin University, this morning, and in it he discussed the archaic focus by New Zealand on roads and motorways. He says the “era of car dominance is over” and that New Zealand is “one of the last places in the world to continue with that tradition”. The tradition he is referring to is the building of new motorways as a means of easing congestion. New Zealand is out of date. I wrote about why building new motorways does not ease congestion a little while ago in a post called Parking for Five Cars. […]

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