PART 1 of a 3 PART series:
I walk around the city on a daily basis and I have subsequently noticed that illegal parking is out of control. If nothing is done to curb the problem soon we are heading for disaster. I have lived in a Country where you let this slide and then you let that slide, before you know it matters are out of control and there is no way of getting things back to the way they were. I partially blame Shared Spaces (more on this mess in a future post) for the chaos that is ensuing on our inner-city streets. The rules for Shared Spaces stipulate that no parking or loading is allowed before or after the following hours, 6am-11am (Monday to Sunday, including public holidays). Unfortunately the complete opposite is taking place. Auckland Transport and The Auckland Council are turning a blind eye and allowing vehicle users to park in shared spaces at all times of the day.
This brings me to the point that I am trying to make – if rules are there to be broken without any form of repercussions then why should anybody care where they park ? Free parking for all, where ever and when ever you like. It appears that the entire city is one big Shared Space. To hell with pedestrians, to hell with the handicapped, to hell with the visually impaired, to hell with parents who have strollers and to hell with the children who use the sidewalks. This is the sort of attitude that is becoming increasingly prevalent in our city. On the other hand, the Auckland Council is promising us a people-friendly city where people come first and foremost, they sell us a dream i.e. the World’s most liveable city. Yes it is possible – for automobiles and not people.
The next set of photographs will leave you dumbstruck. Where is Auckland Transport ? Who is responsible for this mess ? as ratepayers and proud citizens of this wonderful city we deserve some answers and immediate action. Meet the ignorant, lazy and selfish drivers that reside in our fair city:
Wai-atarau Plaza [formerly known as The Rob Roy Plaza] – located between Franklin Road, Victoria Street West and Union Street:
Recently refurbished and part of The Victoria Park Tunnel Project, Wai-atarau Plaza (thanks to ArchitectureNow and Patrick Reynolds for the photographs) is a pleasant and modern space for people to use but some people have other ideas and would much rather use the plaza as a car park. Quite frankly they couldn’t care less. Parking on the plaza gives you front door access to The Victoria Park Markets, it is free and extremely convenient. I took it upon myself to contact Auckland Transport and I provided them with details of illegal parking on the Plaza. I was told that a warden will be there soon. I waited for an hour and ten minutes and nobody showed. During that time cars had gone, more arrived and then they were gone – so it continued. The offenders got away with it and will continue to do so.
What is even more ridiculous is the fact that these cars would drive on and off the plaza between the traffic lights where people stand to cross the road and at the pedestrian crossings. Is this some Mickey Mouse society we live in ? Let’s not forget that small children are taught that they are safe on the pavement. They are also taught that they can run around and play on public plazas. In lieu of this fact I contacted Auckland Transport on the 12th of October 2012 and I made the suggestion that they install bollards where there is easy access onto the plaza. I received the following response from Auckland Transport:
“To prevent access to the plaza would require a large number of bollards and access would still need to be maintained for service vehicles. This is not currently considered justified, however we will monitor the situation, and may make changes at a later stage”.
Will Auckland Transport take responsibility for the death of a toddler because they didn’t take the necessary precautions to prevent people from driving and parking on a public plaza. Will it only be justifiable when it is too late ? The installation of 3, maybe 4, bollards is all it will take and I am willing to show them where to place them. Access is easy if you have a key to remove the bollards, which most service vehicles should have. There are simply no excuses when lives are put at risk and quite frankly we don’t want our plazas to be used as free-for-all car parks. These are just some of the images that I have captured over the last couple of days:
Victoria Park Markets – Union Street:
Directly across the road from Wai-atarua Plaza is The Victoria Park Markets. Nobody can forget how awful The Victoria Park Markets were but that was then and this is now. I for one love the new look and it is shaping up to be a market full of promise. The only issue is the public access on Union Street. Here cars block pedestrian access without a care in the World. I don’t know if the blame for this bad design lies with the developers of The Victoria Park Markets or with the Auckland Council but it needs to be fixed.
The bollards are in the wrong position and should be placed closer to the edge of the pavement so that cars can’t park there and consequently obstruct pedestrian access. People in wheelchairs or parents with strollers have to use the street and let’s not even begin to imagine how the visually impaired will have to cope. Come on people, use a couple of brain cells when you plan these things and do it right from the start – think about people first and foremost, not vehicles.
Victoria Skatepark – Beaumont Street:
Yet another great addition to the area, just a shame that we have a few who would like to spoil it for everybody else. This is an area frequented by children of all ages. As I have stated before, we teach our children that it is safe on the sidewalks and grass verges but that is unfortunately not entirely true in Auckland. All it will take is for some small child to sit on the grass verge behind a parked car and/or for some child to be skating along the pavement to be knocked over by an over-zealous buffoon.
Now before anybody tells me that there isn’t enough parking, think again. I have seen lots of parking spaces available in the surrounding area. There is no excuse for this sort of behaviour. It is against the law to park on grass verges and where there are yellow markings on the road.
If it’s a problem to find parking there are other solutions. Use public transport, walk, ride your bike, skate or scoot. If I had been involved with the planning of this area I would have made provisions for bollards along the entire skatepark periphery – we are dealing with “challenged” teenagers here who couldn’t care less about the safety of others. I have also reported the issue of illegal parking at Victoria Skatepark to Auckland Transport on numerous occasions and one would think that they would patrol the area on a regular and daily basis but to no avail.
In the photograph below it is quite clear to see that there are tyre tracks on the pavement, proof enough that cars are driving here:
The solution to the problem is simple. Place the same bollards as the ones that already exist here along the periphery of the skatepark but along the edge of the road. Children’s lives could be saved and parents can rest with peace of mind :
PART 2 features Wynyard Quarter, The Viaduct and Quay Street. It will blow your mind when you see how badly planned things are in Auckland. The Auckland Council is going to have to put their money where their mouth is and I can assure you that this issue is not going to go away until there are efforts made to fix the problems. A link has been emailed to Randhir Karma (Traffic Operations Manager ), Mike Lee, Shale Chambers, Christopher Dempsey, Christine Fletcher, Victoria Park Market, Nazla Carmine, Ludo Campbell-Reid and Len Brown. If there is anybody that can find a solution to this problem, the afore-mentioned people can.