The Wrong Side of my Car

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

12 Aug 2019

Two ways home from Wynyard Quarter

Last time, we were on Wynyard Quarter. For me, coming in from the North Shore, the obvious way in is to drive. But many people live close enough to come in on foot.

Once you start walking you’ll quickly encounter what I will here euphemistically call the rest of Auckland.

How to minimize impedance to traffic flow — keep those pesky pedestrians off our intersections.

Crossing is a quite cumbersome affair. You do a little detour to a signalized crossing, which leads you to a little pedestrian cage in the middle of the road. There you’ll often wait a couple of minutes before getting green light. All of that often to let less than a dozen cars through.

Looking back from the corner

Looking back you’d be forgiven for not figuring out at all how to get to the other side.

That is a long fence.

Once we make it across, we enter Victoria Park.

Not many parks boast a motorway bridge.

This is one of those quintessential Auckland things. It looks like an open space, an oasis of peace and quiet…

Expectation

But actually…

Reality

… the roar of motorway traffic is ever present. *1

On reaching the other side, we’re confronted with another large arterial road, Victoria Street.

Bifurcation

This is where people of different walks of life may split paths. If you’re very well-heeled you might go right on Franklin Road, towards Ponsonby

Franklin Road recently had a facelift, turning it into a modern urban street. It has real ‘Copenhagen Lanes’. Further away, Ponsonby Road had a makeover, albeit a much more timid one, a few years ago.

Franklin Road

You will without a doubt appreciate the progress our city is making.

People of more mundane means will probably go left, on Cook Street towards Victoria Quarter. A speed bump symbolically forms a border, and the landscape changes.

Cook Street forms yet another barrier for pedestrians. Unlike Fanshawe Street it doesn’t even have a formal crossing. Walking along the left side is just merely unpleasant but many people will have to cross Cook Street to go home.

They have to take their chances with cars coming from seemingly all directions out of blind corners, most notably the deceptively smooth Cook Street motorway off-ramp. They expect no help from anyone to make it across in one piece. The other option is to detour all the way to Nelson Street.

The progress our city is making? Meh.

Cook Street

It is a tragic irony that people living here pay the city centre targeted rate, while those across the motorway don’t.


(*1) 

The bridge carries the southbound lanes of State Highway 1 across the park. The northbound lanes are going through a tunnel since 2012. Rumour has it that both directions could have been undergrounded for only a small increase in budget, but that opportunity has passed. So, instead of a quite oasis in the city, the sound of the motorway overhead is ever present.

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