In the Ponsonby Rd Masterplan, here and here, there are proposals for much improved cycling and walking amenity along this important road as well as small tweaks that should lift the performance and appeal of the buses serving the area. The better of these proposals do reduce the number of onstreet parks by a few spaces so I thought it would be useful to look at other changes to the availability of parking on the strip.

Recent Addition:
Ponsonby Central
Ponsonby Central

Here’s the newly expanded at grade park for about 60 cars behind Ponsonby Central.

Under Construction:

Lot 3, 134 Ponsonby Rd, a mixed use retail and commercial development on the old petrol station site. Most recently the site of the Mini Garage. 100+ new carparks over 2 subterranean levels.

134 Ponsonby Rd_parking floors
134 Ponsonby Rd_parking floors
On The Way:
Vinegar Lane
Vinegar Lane

Vinegar Lane. Last I heard there are to be some 650+ new spaces here:

Parking Hole
Parking Hole

And let’s not forget its former glory for the sentimentalists out there:

Pollen St
Pollen St

Ponsonby Rd is getting some 800 additional carparks. Of course these are all coming with new projects that will increase demand for all ways of getting around the area. The danger here is that if we only build more car parking but fail to improve quality of the alternatives to driving then Ponsonby Rd and the surrounding streets will become ever more clogged with vehicles getting to and from these parks as people use the only fully supported transport system available; driving. So if we don’t find ways to improve the quality, speed, and frequency of the bus services in the area, and persist in keeping cycling a dangerous and unappealing proposition then Ponsonby Rd is likely to become as exciting as an edge city shopping mall on a Tuesday morning:

Botany Town Centre

Ponsonby residents and especially Ponsonby retailers and business people ought to be very mindful of the need to enhance the area’s characteristics and competitive edge. Easy parking and driving is something that places like Botany and Flatbush beat Ponsonby hands down on. These suburban conveniences aren’t Ponsonby’s soul or selling point; character and forward thinking are.

I am not suggesting anything very radical here, simply that it would be a huge mistake to not grasp the opportunities as expressed in the Masterplan to upgrade the urban design and quality of place for pedestrians, and the expanded appeal to attract people by bike or on the buses. This is a great opportunity to keep Ponsonby up with international trends, attractive to younger people, and ahead of other centres in the city.

There are however other parking issues that I do think need attention and which would be more useful for retailers and others wishing to attract and retain customers. Anyone local knows that because so much of the road side parking spaces in the area are not controlled that they are very attractive to informal park-n-riders. People that drive to the limit of paid parking to use free on-street parking and a short Transit trip in order to get to work. A single zone bus fare is a bargain compared to paid parking in the city.  These spaces therefore do nothing for the cafes and shops on the strip because they are locked up all day by hide-n-riders. Here is an example:

Summer St, just off Ponsonby Rd

This is the very top of Summer St, a wonderfully narrow Victorian street, with absolutely no parking restrictions, even outside the few commercial buildings at the top. This shot was taken at 5:30pm on Monday. What is remarkable about this scene is the almost total absence of cars [except an inevitable Audi]. The Hide-n-Riders have ridden the Link bus up Ponsonby Rd and driven back to their outer suburb homes. This street will fill up again in the morning. It is always full all week by all day parkers. Contrast this with the top of Vermont where there are always parks because there is an hour limit.


Same spot at 11am this morning. And the same cars were still there when I came by again, although that was only half an hour later:


Instead of fighting to prevent improved cycling, walking, and bus amenity on Ponsonby Rd because a few parking spaces will be removed, local business operators should be appealing for timed parking, at least during business hours, on these streets, or parts of these streets near Ponsonby Rd. Hide-n-riders are unlikely to be great spenders here being more intent on getting to work or home as they pass through. And of course their car being stored for free on the publicly owned street does nothing for the businesses in the area nor the local residents.

Local business owners should also remember that getting people out of their cars and walking is the best way to get them into the bar, cafe, shop, or business. Parking right outside a destination is not always the best outcome for the commercial area as a whole; the opportunity for chancing upon something that the shopper wasn’t looking for  is an important function of street and place appeal. And we know that people actually prefer a walk from a car park if the area has other attractors, as described in this NZTA study:

The study also identified that retailers generally overestimate the importance of on-street parking outside shops. Shoppers value high-quality pedestrian and urban design features in shopping areas more than they value parking and those who drive are willing to walk to the shopping precinct from other locally available parking areas.

And that cyclists, walkers, and Transit users are good spenders:

The data shows that sustainable transport users account for 40% of the total spend in the shopping areas and account for 37% of all shoppers who completed the survey. The data indicates the pedestrians and cyclists contribute a higher economic spend proportionately to the modal share and are important to the economic viability of local shopping areas.

Ponsonby Rd needs to stay ahead of the pack, and adding more car parking just won’t do it. Ponsonby Rd risks becoming unappealingly car-choked through the constant addition of more car parking so is in desperate need of improvements for all other modes. Now.


A start: The new bike park on Ponsonby Rd also this morning, 11-ish, five bikes instead of one car, and with room for five more. Connect this up to real bike lanes and it will become a real customer fountain for the surrounding businesses. And without clogging the surrounding streets. It would be especially good if the staff in the cafes around here used this mode instead of filling the residential streets for the length of their shifts. Full bike lanes are the way to encourage that.

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  1. Do you know how many existing on-road car parks there are on Ponsonby Road in total (excluding side streets).

    1. Ok just done a quick Google count and came up with 257, including the 3 Lamps stretch. So even if every one was removed, which no one is proposing, we are still looking at a substantial net gain of parking. So basically the removal of some parking spaces is just not an issue.

  2. Imagine if cars were only as wide as bikes. They wouldn’t need as much space to park. I offer current councilman Toa Greening’s proposal to build and lease narrow commuting vehicles as a solution for Auckland’s parking issues. See http:\\ for the study report. With Greening’s study proposal, Auckland is the clear leader in revolutionizing worldwide commuting transportation by building, leasing, driving, and parking narrow commuter vehicles.

    1. Is it April Fool’s already!? What daftness. If you’re willing to mess with an 18 wheeler on the motorway in a car that looks like it got caught in a lift door, then good luck to you!

    2. By the way, just to illustrate the fool’s logic at work with this idea – what about bikes as wide as cars? Oh yeah, they’re called rickshaws. And about as useful a solution…!

      1. Riskshaws are too slow. Tangos easily travel as fast as motorcycles on highways.

        I would absolutely share the road with an 18 wheeler while driving a narrow commuter car like the Tango, Carver, Lumeneo Smera, and/or Nissan LandGlider (especially a Tango). After all, motorcycles share the roads with 18 wheelers all the time. Plus, with special lanes for the cars (like bike lanes) it could be even safer and much, much faster to commute in and park.

        Saving time and space is a good goal in transportation planning. No other plan does it as well as Toa Greening’s. Auckland has a huge advantage in bringing narrow commuting car technology to the world thanks to Greening’s study. Here’s the link again:

        1. Michael I’m sorry that is no solution; motorbikes already exist and if you check the number have been increasingly taken up recently as the cost of running cars becomes more punishing, but so what? Unless every vehicle is half the width no lane will be halved so capacity will not double.

          Bike lanes and rail lines are narrower because every vehicle using them is narrow, but the utility of the current road vehicle fleet is too high to abandon them all for much less useful little solo people pods. Just drop it; it ain’t going anywhere.

        2. Of course it’s the solution, Patrick. There isn’t utility of the current road vehicle fleet when over 90% of people commute by themselves. In fact, that’s extreme waste of space on roads, bridges, and parking lots.

          Motorbikes, bicycles, and scooters clearly fit on roads much better than cars with passenger sides, but they don’t afford as much safety and speed as narrow commuting cars like the Tango. Like bike lanes, special lanes could be developed for the narrow cars. Individually, narrow car drivers would be allowed to safely lane split which would afford immediate congestion relief to those drivers.

          Some city or government will eventually see and adopt the simple logic of Greening’s proposal. Auckland has a decided advantage, and it could make its citizens extremely successful and happy.

        3. Sigh. Exactly; people who are happy to use smaller vehicles already do; they’ve got their motorbike or scooter and good on them. There is nothing preventing their use and they already have the advantages you describe both in traffic and at parking time. Oh and they can use bus lanes. But many many others use absurdly oversized machines for one occupant but won’t be trading them down for many reasons, some more logical than others. One group fill these big cars on weekends or on holiday and quite rightly don’t want to buy two cars for these different occasions, others of course are tradespeople, salespeople, or anyone else who actually have quite a lot of things in their vehicles. Some feel safer in a bigger machine, some more powerful, and some just superior in their SUVs and won’t be seen dead in a little putt-putt, as that won’t help them with their deep-seated sense of inadequacy or gnawing existential emptiness.

          So unless you have a method for evaporating the need to move things and others, tow boats or trailers, and especially unless you have a scheme for curing everyone of their ego and insecurity issues this idea hasn’t got a hope in hell.

          Basically; you’re dreaming.

          The advertising industry has a good handle on the forces behind human behaviour and don’t try to hide it:

        4. The many, many folks who commute in the colossally wrong-sized cars have never been given a real choice to drive narrow cars like the Tango. Therefore, a proposal to build, lease, drive, and park narrow commuting vehicles makes the most sense for city planners because it would give the people the option to use the right tool for the right job.

          Not long ago, everyone carted around huge suitcases in airports because they were the only choice. At one time, men never typed, but now almost all do. Why did macho men go from carrying big, bulky suitcases and not typing to carrying little suitcases and typing on their smartphones to communicate? The answer and solution is that speed and convenience wins every time there is a real choice.

          It’s the job of city planners to make the smart decisions about which vehicles fit which roads and parking lots in the most efficient, intelligent way. It’s the job of advertisers to use graphic and theatrical devices to sell the vehicles. After all, Coca Cola is just carbonated sugar water, and the iPhone is just a wireless telephone with internet access.

          With Toa’s study report, it’s easy to envision intelligent government support, community pride and buy-in, advertising budgets, billboards, and television and radio ads that would be far more persuasive selling Tangos than the dopey “Live Large (DREAM BIG)” billboard ad.

          Any advertiser will tell you that if you start with a smart idea, selling the idea is a piece of cake. The “cure” for the ego and insecurities is intelligent government leadership and honest community involvement and communication.

          (I tried to reply to you comment under the comment with the ad, but the reply button wasn’t available. Sorry this reply is out of order).

    3. I look at all these solutions (driverless cars, hydrogen cars even (I hate to say it) electric cars) as just excuses to put off reconfiguring our cities and giving priority to public transport and cycling. Mostly put forward by people to whom the idea of sharing space with another human being is toxic and denigrates their high caste status.

      Cycling of course is something for the crazies and the poor (like the vast majority of the Netherlands and Denmark).

      Maybe they should move to India – looks like they are headed in their direction:

      1. Agreed, other than electric cars which I only partly agree with. Electric cars are a sloution to the need for cars in reduced oil availability, not a replacement for the car in reduced oil

        1. I know and I was always and really still am a massive fan. However, the really destructive thing about cars is what they do to the urban spaces with the amount of space they take up and the horrible bland suburbs they encourage. Electric cars wont change that.

          Electric bicycles on the other hand…

      2. Bus rapid transit programs are difficult to integrate into a city because of the width of buses. Buses are too wide to travel on city roads without ridiculously segregated lane privileges and too narrow to safely and efficiently transport bicycles, strollers and wheelchairs.

        On the other hand, bike sharing programs have been more successful. For instance, in Chicago: Because of their width, bikes are easier to integrate into streets and sidewalks with less damage and segregation of space.

        Greening’ proposal is more like bike sharing than BRTs. As a hybrid of motorcycles and cars, narrow commuter vehicles take the best attributes of both and put them into one functioning efficiently spaced vehicle.

        Indeed, goosoid, Like bicycles, scooters, and narrow commuter vehicles like the Tango, because of their speed and width, electric bikes are a great solution for many travelers.

        As Greening says in his proposal, “It’s the width…”

        1. “ridiculously segregated lane privileges” Only someone who doesnt like PT and really just wants more roads and more traffic would say that. In what way are bus lanes or the Northern Busway “ridiculously segregated”? If by ridiculously you mean effectively then you are right.

          You are displaying your mode bias and that you are really juts desperately looking for any option rather than having to share your personal space with nay low caste members of society.

        2. Indeed, special lanes for enclosed motorcycle pod cars are fine, but special lanes for buses, that’s ridiculous!

        3. Ok Michael I think it’s time for you to stop using this blog to market a product. Please check the User Guidelines above:

          8. The editors decide what is acceptable. We reserve the right to delete comments and suspend accounts as we see fit. Grounds for suspension include:

          i. Obsessive arguing in a thread or threads

          ii. Repeated statements without supporting evidence

          iii. Blatant promotion of products and/or services

          iv. Use of multiple anonymous identities

        4. Sorry, Patrick. Thanks for the warning. I’m happy to post by the rules. I’ll briefly respond to the recent posts without promoting in hopes to share my perspective without arguing.

    4. So how do we manage the logistics of converting every single one of Aucklands approximate 1 million vehicles from full width to half width in one go? Because this scheme won’t work unless every vehicle is half the width.

      1. Nick R: Since narrow car drivers get immediate parking and congestion relief via special lanes and lane splitting, it’s a simple matter of giving citizens the choice between driving and parking faster or carting around passenger seats that aren’t used. Just like any transition of mode, it would be a gradual change. The goal, faster driving and parking, would be received immediately by those adopting it first, regardless of whether the other people on the road are driving them. Read the proposal at

        1. We have had that option for almost as long as we have had the car, how gradual are you talking?

        2. As far as I know, Greening’s proposal to build, lease, drive, and park narrow commuter vehicles is the first of its kind. It’s certainly the first of its kind to propose the Tango as its model car.

          Regarding a timeline: “The challenge is for an authority to implement such a revolutionary transportation scheme.” See more details at

        3. We have a narrow commuter vehicle that can be built, leased, and parked already, why isn’t it working?

        4. I have read the proposal, it’s extremely light on any sort of analysis or evaluation. Seems like just another dilettantes fantasy to be honest, all enthusiasm and no substance.

          Special lanes, so to provide those are you planning on taking away existing lanes, or widening roads to add them on?

          The benefits of lane splitting and park splitting don’t actually exist until you have someone to split the lane or park with, for that you’d need a critical mass of microcars, at least a majority. Otherwise you just have a bunch of small cars mixing in with regular ones and taking up the same lane space or parking space as a regular car.

        5. Hopefully, since it’s responding to this post, it won’t be going against the good faith of the board rules to suggest that, agreed, the report is thin (maybe because there’s no similar pre-existing building/leasing study), but there are more reports about narrow cars to be found at the Downloads section of the website.

          And, briefly, again, in response to NickR’s post. : No added lanes. No widening lanes. Of course, like special bike lanes, it could work like that, too. Like motorcycles, narrow cars can travel between cars that are moving slowly or stopped because of traffic. They’ll be using space that only motorcycles who use the narrow space between the lanes use. If a leasing program goes through, likely areas for lanesplitting could be yellow highlighted. Radio stations can add the “lane splitting” lane times to their traffic time reports in hopes that the better times would encourage more people out of wide cars and into leased narrow cars.

        6. Lane splitting is a very gray area legally for bicycles and motorcycles already. You are only supposed to overtake on the right of traffic (or on the left if you have a special vehicle lane , like a cycle lane). So you’d also have to rewrite those rules too, or behave dubiously, to get the claimed “interim” benefits. I agree with the others. Building motorcycles with roofs / bodyshells won’t revolutionise the world.

  3. As part of the Masterplan process wold be great to do those surveys to find out how many people walk, cycle, bus to shops in Ponsonby. Even in large cities like London retailers massively overestimate the proportion of visitors who come by car.
    I guess the most important thing for retailers to really think about, is how to get more people into their shops down Ponsonby Road. The massive activity seen at 134 Ponsonby Road shows how expensive it is to build carparks into developments. The best chance is going to be walking, cycling and public transport. And notably supported by a lovely pedestrian environment so is a joy to walk from Jervois Road to K Road.

    1. Although Luke it’s much more about what numbers we can encourage to happen rather than what there is now. What we feed grows. Build the bike lanes and we will get bikes. Happens everywhere, why not here? Do what we’ve been doing for 60 years and only build for driving and parking and what do we get? Driving and parking.

      In the end it’s about what sort of city do we want?

      1. It was interesting to read in Jeff Specks book ‘Walkable Cities’ about examples where local parking meters were installed and the funds from these meters were fed back into the local business district rather than general council funds. I think this kind of solution could work in many parts of Auckland. I did read about a similar proposal in Auckland but from memory, the funds had to be spent on transport related projects. I have to ask “why”?

      2. “In the end it’s about what sort of city do we want?”

        Low-rise and sprawling, if one is to believe the Unitary Plan.

        Re Ponsonby Road, AT was talking to us about doing research to back up the common-sense argument that most people shopping in Ponsonby already DON’T arrive by car. But it will take more than data, because they had similar data for Dom Road…

      3. Totally agree, my comments were more around PR to convince retailers.
        At a few recent chats would be great to colonise some more parking spaces down Ponsonby Road and turn them into temporary bike parks. Really shows retailers than there can be 10 – 20 people where there was one carpark. Would just have to get 10 people to together, and turn up.
        Biggest issue may be having it somewhere a portable bike stand can be carried from a neighboring place, would be cheating dropping it off by car!

        1. Luke the challenge from here is really bike-ways not just parks. I have always found somewhere to tie up my bike in Auckland as i don’t mind adapting, but the way to grow cycling as a more meaningful transport and commercial force, and therefore for us all, cyclists or not, to get the benefits, is protected lanes.

          And if the retailers fight hard against this now it is likely that the money will go elsewhere and this opportunity will be lost.

        2. Yeah agree, I’ve never had a problem finding somewhere to lock my bikes. The council to date has seemed to favour doing the simple things such as simply installing U-racks everywhere and painting cycle advance stop boxes which border on pointless. The actual helpful stuff of actually installing cycle lanes they appear to just leave in the too-hard basket. So whilst things like the bike corral are great, the effort should be on cycle lanes no more and more places to put bikes but no safe way to get there to lock your bike up.

    2. From

      “The data shows that sustainable transport users account for 40% of the total spend in the shopping areas and account for 37% of all shoppers who completed the survey. The data indicates the pedestrians and cyclists contribute a higher economic spend proportionately to the modal share and are important to the economic viability of local shopping areas.

      “The study also identified that retailers generally overestimate the importance of on-street parking outside shops. Shoppers value high-quality pedestrian and urban design features in shopping areas more than they value parking and those who drive are willing to walk to the shopping precinct from other locally available parking areas.”

      So active moders are underestimated by shopowners, but they out-spend car users proportionately – and cost much less to accommodate.

      What’s not to like?

  4. A parking zone for Freemans Bay and Ponsonby similar to the St Marys Bay zone will also be a game changer for Ponsonby Road in freeing up all the side streets for residents and short term parking. Auckland Transport are currently working on a parking policy that is meant to be going out for consultation this month with proposals for managing parking in residential streets.

  5. Just as a note – the Vinegar Lane development (full disclosure, I helped with the design & consenting) actually has very low car parking requirements. Lower than the unitary plan in many respects – you CAN actually build development almost without car parks here (and the few you are required to have, you can lease in the large car park). The large car park (which is a lot smaller than it was supposed to become for Soho) is also to a large degree for a supermarket, and large offices above.

    1. Max I’m not complaining about the number of carparks at Vinegar lane, especially as the current development is much better than the 2000 odd there was going to be in the previous much crappier development, I’m merely showing that whatever we do on Ponsonby Rd there will still be a net increase in the number of car parks in the area.

      Really just showing that opposing cycle lanes and other improvements on Ponsonby Rd because of the loss of a few car parks is really irrational.

      1. A one in, one out and sinking lid policies on parking are really what is needed but of course that would require actually policy.

        It has worked really well in cities like Zurich and created some great public spaces. Parking is just such a destructive and wasteful use of public space and as tax and rate payer I resent the subsidy being granted to motorists. There should be a policy to move more and more parking to off street and get the cars out of the way of people.

      2. Indeed, it has been a major success in Zurich. If you want to build a carpark you have to buy and then shut one down somewhere else. I loved the repurposing of underground carparks to all sorts of things like multi-level second hand shops.

  6. A very very familiar theme, bugger all effort to promote anything but cars. Sadly the decline in alternatives or initiatives seems to coincide with the creation of the incredibly bureaucratic and politically divided Auckland Council not to mention this current government. And even though they are road centric they do a particularly bad job of road maintenance just to add insult to injury.

    Ponsonby of course is not alone, check out Orakei railway station any week day, filled to bursting with the same hide n riders, although they couldn’t catch a bus there as there is no coordinated bus service feeding it.

    1. The news is good though Waspy as it won’t take much to improve both of these places, so long as the ‘Business as Usual’ crowd can be faced down for just a little bit of investment in the alternatives.

      Orakei is hilarious; absolutely insane way to subsidise the parking of high earners in the city. It must go, but as you say the time to do it is when the buses finally are sent this way… although cycling would be a good feeder here too, so good quality storage and protected routes heading here too are needed.

  7. Would be nice if the exit to the Ponsonby Central carpark onto Richmond wasn’t so high speed capable. Doesn’t encourage walking past, many drivers are only looking right and don’t look for pedestrians behind the rubbish bin area.

    1. Complain to AT. Quite seriously – crap safety design and too-speedy design ARE their responsibility to resolve.

      1. They don’t care, I’ve complained to them dozens of times about completely unsafe car-only roading around the city, they always fob you off with some stupid response and then delete your email. I’ve basically stopped bothering as I know I’ll get no real change.

        1. I just keep going back to them (AT) until something happens. I’m only really stuck on one issue at this time. There will be someone inside AT who curses every time they see my email address pop up 🙂

    2. I emailed the Ponsonby Central guys and they got back to me very quickly with a note that they are aware of the problem and are looking of ways to fix the exit, so hopefully all good. Nice to see a group like this does realise that some of their customers do walk there and having them squashed at the exit is not the way forward.

  8. As someone who works on Pollen Street, the traffic seems to break down into a few main user groups in order of size 1) People parking and then walking back up Crummer Road, 2) Panelbeaters/garages keeping the cars they’re working on out on the street 3) People who actually work/live on Pollen Street (there are a few apartments and townhouses but not many).

    I’m not sure how to fix this – personally an ideal solution would free up more parking so I suspect we have different goals 😛

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