The Wrong Side of my Car

A blog about Auckland City, its streets, and culture shock

16 Nov 2016

What’s so special about those Link Buses?

Someone once told me that Ponsonby is about halfway from the city centre to Grafton.

Is it?

Huh?

Yes it is:

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10 Nov 2016

Terrible craftsmanship: Queen Street, Northcote Point

Here we go again. This has been going on since a few years now. AT wants to do some roadworks to improve Queen Street for cyclists. And hopefully make it a bit less of the miserable wannabe arterial street it is now.

Coming soon on Queen Street?

If that image doesn’t give you the chills, you probably never cycled near one of these before.

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7 Aug 2016

Why is walking in Auckland so awkward?

Back when I started this blog I made this handy flyer to remind myself how you’re supposed to get around in Auckland.

A handy reminder

Things are improving, slowly, but they’re also coming from a deeper low than I first realised. There’s this deeply ingrained assumption everywhere that you normally drive, while walking is some obscure corner case not really worth catering for.

Let me count the ways walking is awkward around here:

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30 Jul 2016

Residential areas in Auckland, New Zealand versus Leuven, Belgium

New Zealanders and Belgians have quiet different ideas about what a run-of-the-mill residential area should look like. Of course the Belgian way is way better than the New Zealand way. And not just because I happen to be from Belgium.

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2 Jul 2016

Cottage for sale

This is the coolest auction of the year.

As seen on TradeMe

During my walk around Hobson Street I encountered those two little cottages between all those towers, as silent witnesses of a time when St. Matthew’s church was still dominating the skyline of Auckland. One of them is going under the hammer. They’re unique in Auckland, and not just because the somewhat surreal setting.

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26 Jun 2016

Let’s explore aerial photography: Auckland

Last time we looked around in Belgium, this time we will have Google Earth hoover over Auckland.

What’s so different between cities in Europe and Auckland? Auckland lies within what used to be the British Empire. Long story short, the British liked their cities Extra Large.

Auckland city

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14 Jun 2016

Let’s explore aerial photography: Belgium

Lots of people think I’m weird. I’m interested in weird things. I can spend way too much time on silly things. Like writing a blog nobody reads. “Normal” is overrated. It is often just a fancy synonym for “boring” anyway.

One of the particular things which can mesmerise me for hours are maps. New maps. Old maps. Old aerial photographs. Relief maps. Following how the streets and railways find the best way through areas with a lot of relief. And so on.

Today we have aerial photos, more specifically stills from Google Earth. Let’s have a look at what cities look like from above.

Brussels, centred around the Grand Place

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1 Jun 2016

Pedestrian improvements in ponsonby — Not too much please

A few months ago Auckland Transport did a consultation for some improvements on Ponsonby Road. Which is very welcome, as that road is at the moment just another miserable 6-lane highway (2 lanes are permanently used for parking) through the city.

Ponsonby road. Find the pedestrian crossing.

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30 May 2016

That’s not funny.

Ah another nugget of news blew over from back where I grew up. But first, a joke about council workers:

One day a workman came and dug a hole on the edge of the street. And then he started digging more holes further down the street, one every 10 metres. A few hours later, another workman came, and he began filling up the holes again, one by one.

A curious bystander went to the workman to ask what the point is. The workman answered, “There was supposed to be another guy planting trees, but he called in sick.”

Yeah, lame joke. Everybody knows those things don’t happen in real l—

Oops.

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10 May 2016

Terrible craftsmanship I: the most embessasing missing pedestrian leg

I had a stroll on the Lightpath a while ago. Great. It’s always good to see some humanity in our city, especially in that area, dominated by its spaghetti junction, 6-lane one highways, and brutalist style apartment blocks.

But come out at either end and you’re right back into Auckland. Take a bow to the Rights of the Car. On the Nelson Street end you’ll find what I think is one of the more embarrassing missing pedestrian legs in Auckland.

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1 May 2016

Cycling revolution: bike shopping

The about page of Bike Auckland proudly boasts this nugget of information:

Did you know that one in four Aucklanders owns a bike?

Let’s teleport to the Belgian Countryside, the most brutally car-dependent suburb ever. Where you basically can’t survive without a car. Did you know everyone owns a bike there? Apart from babies and toddlers, I don’t know anyone who doesn’t own a bike. Literally not a single person.

So for the majority of people, the first stage of the bicycling revolution is shopping.

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16 Feb 2016

Auckland’s ghost cycle lanes

Let me introduce you to the map of current (red) and future (blue) cycling projects. This map also shows already existing cycling infrastructure, in solid black lines. So if you look at central Auckland it looks like it is at least reasonably convenient to cycle to the city centre.

Auckland proposed cycle network

Right? Can you guess where these cycle routes are in real life?

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14 Feb 2016

Cycling revolution: cycle lanes

So it seems 2015 was a good year for people who like to ride their bicycle in Auckland. Transportblog thinks we can unequivocally say that 2015 was the best year ever for cycling in Auckland and NZ. Bike Auckland is even talking about ‘revolutions’.

It was a great year for sure, but let’s not get carried away. Here is the big picture:

And we also know the Big Reason why. The most important revolution will be undoing this Big Reason, and we are not there yet by a long shot.

Nonetheless bicycle lanes have their place, both as a way for cyclists to have a feasible way to ride along arterials, and also because people may pick up from their presence that cycling does in fact has a place on city streets.

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8 Feb 2016

The Big Reason™ why Auckland is Unfit for Bicycling

A lot of people argue that there’s a Big Reason™ why people will never ride a bicycle in Auckland.

And they are right. They just guess the reason wrong.

It’s too cold some say. It has zero days of frost, and zero days of heavy snow per year. How terrible.

Or it rains too much. If only we had a nice warm and dry climate. Like Amsterdam or Copenhagen. You know, if you look at the winters over there, we’re doing pretty good on the ‘warm’ part.

Or it is too hilly. Maybe. I commuted to work on my bike from a few places, and the usual serve of uphill stretches is 15 to 20 climbing metres per km. That’s a lot. But I still make it to work. Just a bit more slowly.

Wrong, wrong wrong. The Unique Reason™ is inside the people living here.

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23 Jan 2016

Noise pollution, Auckland edition

Last time I told you we have a bit of a noise problem in Auckland City. Now, your first reaction may be, well duh, you’re not in the wop-wops, mate! And you’d be correct. Expecting heavenly silence 24/7 in a city centre is ridiculous.

But sometimes it’s a bit excessive. And unneccesary.

It gets interesting if someone from Belgium (and probably much of the rest of Europe) asks. It is hard to explain this to them. Because the worst sources are a bit like 91 octane fuel. You just don’t encounter them over there.

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10 Jan 2016

Reflections on living in an apartment for a year.

If you have been following my blog, you might know that, um…

Sigh. Who am I kidding? Nobody is following my blog.

…I have been living in the Auckland city centre for almost a year now. One of the big Sovjet-style apartment blocks along Hobson Street.

Yes, one of those

You may also know I came from the Belgian countryside. Where the idea of living in the city is a bit of a mystery. Is it really so convenient to have everything close by that you could even—gasp—ditch your car? Or is it really that dystopia of dull grey, crime, claustrophobia and terrible traffic?

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