11: Teenagers in the City

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What if teenagers had more independence and freedom in this city?

This to me, is one of the more important social changes we can expect for Auckland life from current and future changes to our public transport network in Auckland. The reliance on driving or being driven for kids growing up in our auto-dependent suburbs (and for many I’m sure, a feeling of social isolation) makes them far less independent and mobile than growing up in the transit-rich cities of Europe and Asia for example. Of course, any changes in this area can also improve the lives of driving parents as much as their children!

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  1. As a parent with two teenage children the lack of a safe easy PT system through out Auckland means lots on unnecessary car trips to drop off and pick up kids. The kids are less independent because they have to rely on their parent for transport and their freedom of choice is limited in what they can do and who they can see.

    1. “the lack of a safe easy PT system through out Auckland”

      Buses go all over Auckland. They’re not really fast, but that is just inherent to buses on suburban streets. I don’t see any issue with either ease or safety. What is unsafe about Auckland public transport?

      1. “What is unsafe about Auckland public transport?”

        According to the Herald, that esteemed source of balanced reporting, it is the young people causing the problem with safety on public transport. “being intimidated by young people of gang persuasions”


        In reality of course there is nothing especially unsafe about public transport in Auckland, it’s probably safer than driving in a private car, especially when you see this:


  2. Meh. Teenagers have too much freedom and not enough independence. Get a job and then get a car, but first to get a job you need a car. Oh darn…

  3. Got a chickle out of this post – a complete non issue in every town and city in NZ, including Auckland (the city is packed with teens). Teens in NZ probably have more freedom of movement than any other western nation. In most towns and cities in NZ they can walk, bike and drive anywhere, with ease.

      1. SB, resorting to insult is what one does when you don’t really believe you’re own argument. My point stands – refute with evidence if you disagree. In Auckland, teens get to the city easily on trains and buses or by driving. The city is full of them. Everywhere else in NZ it’s a complete non-issue as transport issues have been avoided in the first place by not over-developing. Drive, bike or walk is sufficient in most kiwi towns and cities. Maybe you should travel more, and familiarise yourself with the true state of transport in NZ, which is not as this blog likes to portray.

        1. I probably travel/have travelled more within New Zealand in the last decade than you have Geoff. I f you really think it is easy to get around out city without a car then you haven’t actually attempted it. Especially if you are pushed for time it is incredibly difficult and cycling just is not safe.

          1. The sheer size of Auckland makes biking or walking difficult yes, which obviously isn’t an issue in most towns. But there’s nothing that can be done about that.

            In terms of PT, the proposed PT network has fewer routes than at present, so getting to as many locations around Auckland as possible without a car will actually worsen over the next few years. I suppose the pertinent question for people wanting to live without a car would be “is Auckland the best place to live”? There are so many towns and cities with a higher quality of life where cycling and walking are realistic, tangible options, for all destinations town or city wide.

          2. “The sheer size of Auckland makes biking or walking difficult … But there’s nothing that can be done about that.”

            Well that’s that sorted then.

            “There are so many towns and cities with a higher quality of life where cycling and walking are realistic…”

            Sadly, I fear many of these towns and cities are in other countries.

          3. “Well that’s that sorted then.”

            Yes, unless you plan to shrink Auckland.

            “Sadly, I fear many of these towns and cities are in other countries.”

            Indeed, you’ll find them all across NZ and the globe. Here in NZ most of our towns and cities are cycle-friendly, by virtue of their size (generally no more than 5-10km across) and low density suburban living without any single high-demand destination, meaning no road congestion.

            Auckland functioned better 30 years ago as a series of towns. Transport and housing issues have only come about since it was decided to centralise a lot of employment in one small area, to the detriment of both Auckland as a city, and to provincial New Zealand, where much of the adminstrative employment was previously based.

          4. “it was decided to centralise a lot of employment in one small area”

            By those communists running the businesses located downtown? No one forced them there and you’ve never managed to post a sensible suggestion on how they might be convinced to move somewhere else.

          5. “Yes, unless you plan to shrink Auckland.”

            Ironically, this very blog has many an article about actual things that could actually be done which may actually improve the cycling amenity in that very city. As a die-hard believer in doing nothing*, they may have escaped your attention, but rest assured the matter has been considered in a capacity greater than “…But there’s nothing that can be done about that”.

            * Or perhaps it would be fairer to say, a die-hard believer in returning to the past…?

          6. counterpoint, I don’t ever recall this blog calling for Auckland to shrink. Obviously my point that nothing can be done about making Auckland smaller so that it can be biked across routinely is correct – it ain’t gonna happen. Maybe if volcanic activity wiped out a significant area, then maybe………

            conan, not communists – it’s capitalists behind Auckland’s intensification, in terms of business benefits, and in terms of real estate provision. The natural function of the communists and socialists is to give all their money to those capitalists.

          7. I can ride from the east coast bays to downtown in about 40 minutes, including a well timed ferry. If they build the Skypath I could get to downtown much faster, then up the new Grafton gully cycleway and out past Mt Eden in the same 40 minutes. Or I could get to Grey Lynn in about half an hour.

            So yes, we can shrink Auckland!

    1. “Teens in NZ probably have more freedom of movement than any other western nation” – You must be joking. Northern European children are much more independent. A huge proportion of children cycle, walk or travel independently (especially to school) on PT in those countries.

      Not only that but our child traffic death rate is double that of the Netherlands and Denmark (http://caa.org.nz/safety/children-friendly-new-zealand/). Their children are happier and healthier by all measures.

      When I go to small towns in NZ, I don’t see anymore children travelling independently and certainly not cycling as the street environment is completely hostile.

      1. +1. Add East Asia to your list, in Japan and South Korea etc. you see kids travelling independently to school etc. on PT all the time, as well as biking or walking. Safer streets + safer PT + a social expectation that they will be kept safe for kids = freedom for kids and consequently their parents.

        Contrast this to the stress and hassle of parents shuttling their kids around by car on Saturdays to sport etc. (and the irony of driving to a place of exercise…) But this is somehow normal and ‘better’ than overseas? The level of mass self-delusion in NZ about such issues is amazing.

        Fast, safe, cheap PT = freedom for all. Remember than on 20 September.

  4. Very interesting and pertinent topic, highlighting the situation which heavily-car-dependent countries like New Zealand have allowed themselves to slide into over time, with many people not appreciating what some of the negative implications have been.

    As a father of three children now grown up and gone, and a host-parent to a stream of exchange-students over many years, I am extremely grateful for Wellington’s public transport facilities (and the Johnsonville Line in particular) for giving our teenage charges the ability to get around easily and safely by themselves. It is a way-of-life in our community, that from 11 years of age, most children begin using the train by themselves, first to access intermediate school, and then high school from age 13. This means that instead of being cossetted to school every day in the parental pod, they get to walk to the station, travel with their mates, mix with the public, learn about tickets and timetables, etc. And before long they realise that this same conveyance can get them to hang-outs after school and into town at weekends – all free from the apron-strings. This sets in motion a pattern of living which does not presume on a car-trip for every little thing, and as a result none of our children expressed any urge to drive or own a car until well into their twenties. In fact one has a medical condition which will likely preclude her from driving permanently, so for her the Johnsonville Line remains a veritable life-line. And as they cross into their thirties, they appreciate the foundation of independence and alternative-thinking that this period helped to give them, not-to-mention the money saved, fitness retained, and grief avoided over car-habits at too young an age.

    And the exchange students present an interesting picture too. Some come from countries where public transport travel is the norm anyway, others do not, but all express appreciation at the freedom-of-accessibility they are able to enjoy while they are with us. Some have come to us from unsuccessful placements in other parts of the country where there is no public transport and where they are entirely reliant on their host-parents to go anywhere. These students consistently report a sense of relief at getting away from such strictures.

    I contrast my own teenage years with that of the typical parents’-car-dependent-teen of today. I grew up north of London with the whole of London Transport at my disposal. I used the bus to get to school, and soon discovered that for 3s.6d. of pocket money my mates and I could buy day rover tickets that would take us all over London and the Home Counties. And as we got older, train trips and bicycle rides got us anywhere we wanted. No kicking the streets bored and getting into trouble with this kind of adventure to be had. Although how easy it is for today’s youngsters to do this now I am not sure. Much else has also changed since those days.

    The freedom and liberation that mass car-use has brought us in certain respects needs to be seen in the light of the loss-of-freedom and unhealthy dependency that it has created in other respects, largely due to the erroneous assumption that alternatives to car-use are no longer necessary and can therefore be dispensed with or deprived of priority attention.
    A chance to help right this wrong may exist at the coming election!

    1. “No kicking the streets bored and getting into trouble with this kind of adventure to be had”

      Same here, as a kid in Gisborne, we biked everywhere, city-wide. But these days kids do that less, for other reasons, such as a perception by parents that it’s unsafe, or they spend too much time at home on video games or computers, so never develop an outdoor life.

  5. Leading one from this and previous comments about kids in the city, how about more teenagers living in the city? We live inside the motorway “moat” with two children who were both teens when we moved there in early 2012. Both are now at Uni and living at home- that’s a great reward in itself! (I kid myself it’s the great environment and not the money saved. We’ll deal with failure to launch down the track).
    When we moved back to NZ, one of our children was enthusiastic, and I still get the occasional hug for choosing such a great place to live. The other child was, let’s say, “less enthusiastic” and wanted to live in a “proper house”. As friends were made, and they declared living in the city cool or hip or something, the attitude has done a 180.
    There’s another point that’s not often mentioned on this blog- the city’s a great place to get PT from, not just to. So both our children can get to friends and events out of the CBD without much hassle. That is, there’s a bus going almost everywhere in town- none of those cross-town trip probs.

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