When I was out looking at the trial bus shelters on Sunday I was reminded of an issue that plagues our footpaths – clutter. Symonds St where the bus stops are suffers from this quite a bit but by no means is it alone. In the case of Symonds St the footpaths are made quite narrow by the presence of the bus shelters and is made worse by a mixture of

  • Light poles
  • Real Time Displays and electrical plinths
  • Bus Stop and bus lane signs

All this can make it quite difficult for people walking to get through the area, especially if a lot of people are trying to get on a bus and it must be terrible for someone in a wheelchair or mobility scooter. Some examples of the clutter on Symonds St are below.

Footpath Clutter - Symonds St 1

Real time Displays, sign poles and even a car to get around – the car belonged to one of the guys finishing the installation of Shelter B and there wasn’t enough space for someone in a wheelchair to get around

Footpath Clutter - Symonds St 2

Looking straight on you can’t actually see down the footpath thanks to the light pole.

Footpath Clutter - Symonds St 3

And from a different angle you can see again the light pole, real time display and further down sign poles blocking the path.

One example I experience every day is on Albert St while waiting for my bus to Takapuna. The bus stop pole, light pole and bus stop board combine to completely block the view up the road (note buses usually stop with their front doors between these two poles).

Footpath Clutter - Albert St 1

Auckland Transport should really have a programme to identify and fix sites like this to improve the pedestrian realm and waiting experience for PT users.

I’ve seen plenty of other examples recently and I know many other readers have too judging by our twitter feed.

Share this


    1. If I can reply to myself, I know he’s there as part of the works, but it is a well established Auckland habit that motorists will park wherever a car will fit. Across footpaths, in traffic islands, on the narrowest of streets, with impunity and barely enforced.

      1. “If I can reply to myself, I know he’s there as part of the works, ”

        That actually gives him LESS of an excuse, because those works like this (in the road reserve) legally must have a temporary traffic management plan. If they needed car parking as part of that, they should have identified it in the plan, secured it with cones, and provided a walking path around it. This is just shoddy practices.

        1. One of the things I see often with roadside works, where the footpath is obstructed, is the placing of ‘Footpath Closed Use other side”signs. These direct the pedestrian abruptly to the opposite side of the road often with little consideration of how exactly the pedestrian achieves the diversion or in some cases to where there is no footpath at all!
          It seems that because these signs are there a box has been ticked in the site management process with no requirement for any overall sanity check.

      2. I’ve noticed that a lot of people park illegally on Elliot St, and seem to think that leaving your engine running and your hazard lights blinking makes it OK.

        1. As a resident of Elliott Street this grinds by gears greatly. Creates a very well defined corridor for drivers encouraging them to speed as well.

    2. I regularly see people park across the footpath in our local Mt Albert suburb – where there’s oodles of on-street spaces. No, too lazy to walk another 10m, so they block everyone else. And know they won’t ever be likely to get a ticket for it.

      1. Phone Auckland Transport and report it. I used to have a real problem with people parking across the cycle lane I rode through right by home, always just around the blind corner. They stopped after 6 tickets were issued in one night.

  1. Another example is customs street. The bus shelters have been removed and all that remains are the ads. Half the footpath is now dedicated to advertising signs. Completely unacceptable right downtown.

    1. Thats bad, I assume that the councils shelter contract says that the bus shelter folks provide a shelter in return for the Ads on the end – so if there isn’t a shelter, then either put one there, or the signage should go as well.
      Whats the use of a vertical ad-board thats offers no shelter.

      Talk about privatising public space.

  2. I’ve never understood why the light poles need to be midway across the footpath. They should either be far back against the edge of the road reserve (in this case definitely) or if thats not possible e.g. as per your Albert St photo wherre the veranda prevents this, then near the road, but half way between is useless for everyone.

    And its not just here, but also down Manukau road (from Broadway end) they did recess the light poles back to the edge of the footpath on the property side of the road reserve, but some poles don’t follow this plan still intrude quite a way into the footpath. requiring you to walk around it.

    And along Orakei Road near the Orakei Boardwalk on the shared path, theres one lightpole bang in the middle of the walkway, but ones either side are not positioned like that, its like someone deliberately placed it there.
    Possibly someones half-arsed attempt at a sfatey measure (slowing cyclists using the shared path), but it makes the footpath a real danger to all users as a result.

    As for that car on the footpath, thats poor, that footpath is very narrow as it is, and this guys wants to park his car there.
    Why can’t they get a permit to use the “far end” of the bus stop instead of using tyhe footpath – won’t need a coned off area or inconvenience any pedestrians if they did this.
    I know technically its illegal to park in a bus stop – but so is parking on the footpath, and I know what the safer of the two options is.

    I also have to say that the positoning of the bus shelters is also a joke – normally they are positioned exactly in the wrong place and cause a narrow bottlneck for anyone walking past the bus stop who is not using the bus stop.
    And woe betide you if the bus pulls up to disgorge passengers as you get near the bus stop.
    And then there is usually a rubbish bin next to the bus stop sign, right by the bus stop, further narrowing the footpath at the bus shelter.

    I think as much of the bus stop related signage (PIDs, what buses stop here), the rubbish bins and anything else, should be part of the bus shelter design, not separate bits of street furniture as they are now.

    1. I had the same thought regarding bus related signage Greg. Should definitely be achievable to have bus signage as part of the bus shelter itself.

  3. Yet despite such sidewalk clutter, pedestrians somehow manage to move around without crashing into each other. Imagine if we put these obstacles in the path of vehicles on the road, oh the chaos!

  4. Have a look at Kent St in Newmarket where parking is at right angles, Vehicles park wheels up to the gutter with the consequent overhang reducing the footpath to single file pedestrians. Still not far away in Obsorne St and part of Teed St there is hope.

    Footpath encroaching foliage and hedges are an issue in suburbia too, as are eye level tree branches. Assume this now falls under the Council’s ‘Berm Department’?

  5. Just repeating Sailor Boys pint above, please don’t hesitate to report people parked illegally, especially where it is blocking footpaths or cycle lanes or bus lanes. After all AT can’t be everywhere and if the rules aren’t enforced it will just get worse. The cycle lanes on Lake Road are a classic.

    AT will usually be there within 30 mins.

    The number for reporting is (09) 355 3553 (put it in your phone)

    1. Does the same apply to northwestern cycleway? I cycled to the shore yesterday and there was a trailer unit parked up in such a way that the back end of it was blocking half the cycle lane. This was not far from where the cycle lane comes out on to Central Park Drive. I thought about taking a photo and reporting it but just figured it’d fall on deaf ears. Will keep a note of the number for future reference, though.

      1. Yes, do it. You can report any illegal parking whatsoever and they are very good when the parking is dangerous as well.

  6. City Rd is another narrow footpath design disaster. Similar to Greg’s example in Newmarket, parking a few cars is prioritised at the expense of much heavier foot traffic. These are historic design debts – relics of the 50s’ car first ethos (that lasted in AK well into the new millennium, see High St).

    Matt and Patrick: How about an annual transport blog best and worst design awards? Would get a bit of attention on these matters that otherwise go ignored and a good excuse for a party.

  7. Inexcusable to continue allowing barriers to pedestrian access like that. Auckland Transport has full control of the entire width of these streets including the footpaths. The old excuse used to be that different agencies controlled different parts of the picture.

  8. I cycle to work every day along the cycleway from Kingsland, and my work is on Symonds St. Once I am spit out onto the city streets it becomes a bit like frogger. The shared path at Ian McKinnon Dr. has a fair few low hanging trees I have to duck under, then when it becomes Alex Evans St. you’re of course just expected to know how to cross the road when you lose your path (and one side of Alex Evans St. is “closed to pedestrians” right now as well…you have to triple cross the intersection if you want to go from the Southeast to Northeast side). Then, the path magically reappears as you turn from Alex Evans to Symonds St. and lo and behold disappears again when you cross the Grafton Bridge. This is all in the span of less than 1 km.

    The shared path on Symonds St. (directly across from where these photos were taken) before the Grafton Bridge is, of course, littered with light poles. They did recently add more paint indicating that’s it’s a shared path though….

    Really, how is this acceptable?

    1. It’s not, but AT don’t really care in the slightest….their concern is maximising car speed and capacity at the expense of all other modes. The Symonds St ‘cycle lane’ is a complete joke, in fact cycling in the central city is a complete nightmare in general, to the extent that a lot of people I know who previously lived overseas and cycled daily have completely given up here. It’s just not worth the stress or being confronted everyday with signs that you’re basically not wanted.

    2. Symonds St is a nightmare. And of course, because we get to share the bus lane along the busiest bus corridor in Auckland, AT thinks it’s complete, nothing more to worry about. The uneven surface around City Rd is also super fun. I’m looking forward to the Grafton Gully cycleway. It’ll add distance and hills, but the adrenaline reduction will be worth it. (Ideally, Symonds St would have proper cycle facilities, as would all the other important routes into town, but I’m not holding my breath.)

  9. I think reiterating my comment related to bus stops and pedestrian friendliness from the other post is needed here. Why don’t we start the system whereby the “wall” of the bus stop faces the road, and the people face pedestrians? Like I showed before in my photo from Tokyo, it is perfectly possible.

    First time I’ve tried inserting a photo here, so not sure if HTML code works:

    If not, just go here to see what I mean:


    At least then you create a LOT more space on the pavement. Plus keeping all the associated clobber of street furniture, bins, real time information, plantings and light poles out of the walkway, it makes a big difference. The street pictured above used to be quite unattractive, the complete remake of Asakusa Dori has been a massive success and I recommend looking at how they’ve done it to create a better streetscape.

    1. There is I believe an example of what you suggest in the Glenfield Town centre by Jester’s Pies. Not sure if its still like that though, it may have changed.

  10. Carlton Gore Road is my constant bug bear.

    Despite the 6 lane wide (2 lane) road, the foot path is extremely narrow and has poles littering it. Add in the rubbish bins every week and single file is the only way to go.

    To make things worse, you would think that parking wardens would enforce the law re no parking on a footpath, but every day, there are cars parked in these “car parks”. I use ” ” as other than a mini, smartcar, or maybe a swift, no car actually fits in without blocking the footpath:


    1. One thing about arterial roads, like Carlton Gore Road, Whangaparaoa Road, Manukau Road, Lake Road, Tamaki Drive and others is that they could be made a heck of a lot safer by simply removing car parking. At the same time the space could be optimised for footpaths, cycle lanes, public transport and private vehicles. With six lanes on CG Road there’s no excuse for what Harvey is describing.

  11. At 588 Great South Rd Greenlane, outside of the Chinese Consulate Gerenal, a Fa Lun Gong group protests from 9am to 12pm, Monday – Friday along the footpath, sometimes blocking it. This has continued for more than 5 years. Is this legal?

Leave a Reply