Auckland: city of sails cars

I often complain about Auckland’s car-centric culture and a couple of recent events have emphasised just how dire the situation here is. A friend of mine was cycling to her home a couple of weeks ago when she was struck by a car from behind. Apparently the driver did not give way but will not be charged the $150 fine because according to the attending officer, he did nothing wrong. How is failing to give way not doing something wrong? My friend is recovering well and was lucky not to have any fractures. She explained to the officer that she actively commutes everywhere and he responded by telling her that cycling in Auckland is dangerous and that she should get a car.

A couple of months ago a 12-year-old boy was riding his scooter home from school when a car turned a corner and hit him. The boy was physically unharmed apart from some bruising and a tire mark on his knee but he was quite shaken. A little while later the driver’s insurance company sent the boy’s mother a fine for $1569 for damage to the car. Apparently the child crossed the road at the wrong place and so it is his fault.

Someone who chooses to walk/cycle/scooter instead of making the trip by car does a great service not just to themselves but to society as a whole in the form of reduced congestion, reduced pollution and a reduction in the health care costs associated with a sedentary lifestyle. It is one thing to make little effort to encourage people to choose this form of transport over their car but another thing altogether to actively discourage it, which seems to be the case in Auckland.



  1. NZ and Australia are at a disadvantage regarding the development of cycling as a preferred transport alternative. It will take generations of commuters in this hemisphere to determine co existence of motor and peddle powered commuters. Europe and Asia have had decades of such education and experience. Both sides, of what seems to be a dichotomy, have far to “travel” (pardon the pun), before respect, acceptance, accommodation and environmental considerations, lead to a new system of commutation. Conflict of force and nature must be addressed… mechanical power against the natural dynamic of physical power. Car drivers believe they have a “right” to the asphalt without consideration of their role in the overall dysfunction of urban transportation and its impact on the environment.

    On a nostalgic note… my dad used to ride to and from his place of work daily, then on weekends, cycle 10+ miles to watch his football team play on a Saturday afternoon after work and home again, followed by church attendances and back home on a Sunday. He never thought twice about it… fit, healthy and engaged in his community.

  2. Hi Rachel, whilst I agree that there is a tension between motorists and cyclists that often ends up with Injured cyclists, from my experience in so many cities of the world, the problem in Auckland, and it is a problem, is comparatively low. They are talking about education programs in Australia to try and improve the situation as there is an increasing number of cyclists on the road, and increasing number of accidents.

    1. From what I’ve seen, Brisbane, with its new network of cycleways, is miles ahead of Auckland. The problem is easily addressed in my view: build infrastructure for bikes and people will cycle and they will cycle safely. Cars and bikes shouldn’t have to share the road.

  3. I used to cycle to school everyday in London. It was some decades ago now, but the traffic was still pretty busy

    I think the problem is idiot drivers.

    1. Great article thanks. I can’t believe QLD rejected the one metre rule. How crazy is that? It makes me so cross. People like my friend, who want to save money and get some exercise at the same time are effectively being told they can’t by our society. Do we really want everyone sitting in cars, getting fat, fouling the air and creating traffic problems?

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