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.