With Aucklanders suffering a housing crisis and poor transport choice, new housing in convenient, well-connected parts of Auckland can’t come soon enough. While the unitary plan allows for new housing along transport corridors, there are still a number of barriers slowing the regeneration of these areas. Which isn’t much fun for people stuck in substandard living or commuting conditions.

I’d like to highlight one barrier to “transit-oriented-development” along our arterial roads. These corridors have good bus routes, many amenities within a short walk, and everything you’d normally need just a short bus or cycle trip away. Eventually, hopefully, we’ll see a good mix of housing, retail, commercial, recreation and cultural facilities, and all served by efficient, but people-friendly, safe multi-modal streets.

Council’s Parks and Opens Spaces Strategy, 2013 notes that extra dwellings in urban areas means residents will

use local parks, streets or squares for activities that may have traditionally occurred in the suburban backyard…

And puts as a priority for Council to:

See our streets as places.

Auckland Transport’s Sustainability Framework, 2017 notes that to meet one of its four over-arching goals:

Meet the Social and Health Needs of Aucklanders

sets an objective:

Enhance the liveability of Auckland’s streets

The built environment along these transport corridors could be inspired by Peter Calthorpe:

Or maybe by a more traditional neighbourhood:

Except… car yards.

Car dealerships are not just remaining along our key transit oriented development routes, they are continuing to invest in and develop their sites. Car yards offer very little in the way of public good, or of meeting any of our goals of modeshift, health, environment or social outcomes. And their car transporters are making the streets dangerous.

Suggest compulsory land acquisition or changing the zoning to exclude them, and you’ll meet a barrage of property rights, existing use, and business confidence reasons why this is impossible. The story goes, we need to wait for the market to move them on.

But what if Auckland Transport is skewing the market?

A flurry of recent articles (1, 2 and 3) about an unsafe situation on Great North Road in Grey Lynn offers insight to how Auckland Transport is probably preventing housing development in many parts of the city.

Plunkett and her daughter once became trapped on a pedestrian refuge after a transporter pulled over on the road in front and another behind them. Traffic was busy and the pair had no way to safely navigate to the other side of the road.

She also saw ramps being lowered on the road, cars being revers[ed] into oncoming traffic, cyclists struggling to navigate around them and a transporter parked completely over the top of a pedestrian island.

The lack of room on the road also jeopardised the safety of the drivers, who had to walk in the traffic to operate the transporters, she said…

“The yellow lines are there on the road for a reason”…

Bike Auckland chair Barb Cuthbert said Great North Rd was a key cycling route and was used daily by hundreds of cyclists who took advantage of the safety bus lanes provided…

“Riding around the parked trucks into the live traffic lane is a particular risk for those of us on bikes, and it’s not a lot safer on the footpath.”

This is an unacceptable safety situation, preventing children’s independent mobility and endangering road users. There are no two ways about it from a safety perspective – road safety should have been enforced until safe solutions were found. But let’s explore whether responsible enforcement could also have allowed the gradual change in land use in the area that a growing city – focused on its people – would expect to see.

Solution 1

Cooperation between the various businesses could have seen the development of one unloading facility to serve all the yards in the area:

Was space available for them to achieve this? Yes. Any one of the sites that became an upmarket car yard over the last decade or so could have been used for this purpose. This site, for example:

became a car salesroom instead of a safe unloading facility:

Auckland Transport realises the dealerships could have provided their own land, but ducks for cover behind planning regulations:

Ideally, car yards would have areas for transporters to deliver and unload cars to on site, but Strawbridge said most of the car yards along this particular stretch of Great North were built before consent conditions around the loading and unloading of transporters were required.

Consistently enforced safety regulations could have been as effective as consent conditions in encouraging dealerships to provide their own, shared, facilities. On this expensive land, of course, it would have involved quite a cost.

Which would have made a cheaper site appeal strongly – one not on a Transit-Oriented Development route earmarked to help solve our housing problems.

Solution 2

Enforcement could have limited the car transporters to use just the existing loading zones. For example, this car transporter is in a legal, 21.8 m long, loading zone.

To use existing loading zones like this one requires smaller transporters, in order to be able to negotiate the back streets, plus cooperation between operators, with some sort of booking system.

One existing loading zone in the area isn’t used by large transporters because they can’t get in and out of the side street, and another proposed area isn’t suitable for the same reasons…

Chris Carr, who owns Carr and Haslam, a car transporter company, has been in conversation with AT for about four years trying to come up with a solution…

“The longest of our trucks is 23m long. That would block a whole road while you were either driving in or backing out, and backing out is fraught with difficulty.”

Without enforcement, there is no level playing field for a responsible operator trying to use smaller trucks and safe parking practices. Relegated to using smaller trucks and needing to coordinate loading zone time-slots, or facing escalating non-compliance consequences, Carr wouldn’t be discussing his longest truck. Instead, the discussion would be about how much he would need to charge per vehicle delivery.

And higher charges per vehicle delivery might have been the trigger for moving.

Solution 3

The cars could have been driven in from a location further out. Chris Carr argues against this solution here:

You could ban the trucks, he said, but then there’d be ten times the number of vehicles driven in and out of the city, playing havoc with traffic congestion.

Would that have been the ultimate result, though? Multiple drivers would increase delivery costs, and dealerships don’t want to add mileage to the cars’ speedos.

As each dealership in turn felt the pinch of parking enforcement, short term solutions like this might have led to one of the other solutions, or to a decision to move out of the prime development area.

Auckland Transport’s contribution to the problem

This situation is not a new problem. Auckland Transport say they have limited powers:

the agency was well aware of the problem, but limited to handing out infringement notices for parking violations… A police spokesman said parking infringements were a matter for AT, not police.

If our road controlling agency really is ill-equipped to solve this long-standing safety situation, they have had years to escalate the issue. Part of their role is in advocacy to both government and to police. Are we really to believe that this is one area of the law where serial offences could not lead to more stringent penalties and action?

If unsafe trucking practices in urban areas – such as parking – fail to provide the same grounds for revocation of an operator’s license as we’ve recently seen for a logging truck operator, does this reveal a systemic bias against urban safety needs? A bias against the safety of people cycling and walking compared to rural car drivers? AT is an urban road controlling authority – what have they done to right this bias?

“We are well aware there is an issue and we enforce regularly.”

To the contrary, I believe the fact that AT hasn’t enforced proactively is the reason the issue still exists.

The problem is a mindset one – a belief that safety shouldn’t impinge on business, and that existing protocols have precedence over society’s emerging and urgent demands. Here’s what needs to shape AT’s actions:

We have a safety crisis. Solutions must improve outcomes for walking and cycling – so if road space is reallocated, it must be given to these neglected modes.

We have a climate crisis. Solutions must favour sustainable modes and provide real incentive for people to take to cycling, walking and using public transport.

We have a housing crisis. Solutions must not delay the natural exodus of car yards from an area suitable for intense housing development.

Auckland Transport’s mandate is to provide a safe environment. And their role during our city’s regeneration process isn’t limited to just streetscape redesign.

There’s no mandate in the Governmental Policy Statement or the Auckland Plan to provide further highly-contested space in the road corridor to car transporters. It is enforcement of the rules, not subsidising the car yards with more space, that will improve the safety situation. And yes, that might mean the car yards will move out. Auckland Transport should have no role in skewing the market to help them to stay.

If they do, it will be at the expense of commuters stuck in traffic or in substandard housing, who’d prefer to live in a more convenient location.

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  1. Totally agree Heidi. There needs to be much stricter enforcement, and enforcement with more teeth. Most of the penalties are $40 or $60 fines (https://at.govt.nz/driving-parking/parking-rules/types-of-infringements/), which is a joke in the scheme of running a heavy commercial vehicle. If I remember a previous GA blog on the subject, these fines are set by central government and haven’t been updated in a long time.

    A lot of car yards are barely more than an empty section that’s been paved and had a portable building placed in the corner. Very little is invested in them. I’m pretty sure most of these are just thinly-disguised land banking. Land banking is already bad for urban areas for a number of reasons and there need to be some incentives against it. Car yards are just a small symptom of that issue.

  2. This section of Great North Rd is one of the best places in Auckland for massive apartment developments. I wonder whether having a height limit of 4 floors is also part of the reason why we haven’t seen more development. 15 floor buildings would be great here – they’d get incredible views too!

    1. +1 Groot. Should have a minimum height limit rather than a maximum. Minimum 5, and let them go up as high as they like.

  3. Heidi thanks for speaking to the bigger picture of one of the most egregious road safety situations in Auckland.

    Like I was saying re bunnings-
    We know that this area is, can be and will be home to many people. It is right on the frequent public transport network, it is geographically supremely walkable, it has important amenities – like one of our two public primary schools near the city centre.

    After having the separated cycleways dangled in front of us and very good work from a community design advocacy organisation, we wait with silence.

    Hopefully when the CMP emerges, it is in a form which acknowledges and responds to GNRs role in our places, not just as a vehicle conduit to max out.

  4. Have there been any crashes caused by cars being unloaded on the median? We have a great database. If it shows a problem then the problem should be solved. If the problem is people have moved into the area and are pissed off they live next to a car yard then maybe nothing needs to be done.

    1. We have the data on the drop in children’s independent mobility, miffy. The safety crisis is limiting our children’s development – psychologically, intellectually, physically, emotionally.

      This isn’t a liveable street. That needs to change.

    2. Actually the car yards are the ones who have moved into the area not the other way around. Giltrap Prestige is on the same site I used to work on. I remember the McDonalds opening across the road and walking through the drive through when working late to grab some food.
      When you look at the buildings across the road from them you can see how much of this road used to be. Companies occupying single lots as opposed to single companies owning multiple sections and still expecting free use of public space to make their companies viable. One solution would be to force them to have all vehicles delivered at night time.

        1. I remember Giltraps used to have a site on the corner of Great North Road and Newton Road. Yes there was a small yard where Auckland City is but where Giltrap Prestige is now is a more recent development considering the building isn’t even built when you look at Google Maps satellite view. As is the Giltrap Volkswagen/ Eurpoean Motors site which is where the testing station used to be.
          When you consider that over the same time period Bunnings has been redeveloped just a few blocks the other way down Great North Road and I highly doubt they have their delivery trucks park in the middle of the road to be unloaded. So why can one company be expected to provide safe off road unloading area while other companies in the same area don’t.

        2. The 2018-opened Tesla shop on K Rd (epic lol) also seems to use street delivery – including blocking half of Hereford St on a blind rise when theres others in the loading zone. So they really are exceptional cars…

        3. Felix (top of this column) the “2018-opened Tesla shop on K Rd” was also a new land-use for the site.

        4. @miffy both Giltrap Prestige and Bunnings sites were redeveloped around the same time, inbetween when the last satellite image and last Google street view were done. One company has a delivery area accessed from a side street on site and provides customer carparking on site, the other expects council to provide on street loading zone for free and parking for customers.

      1. Agree. Compulsory night deliveries, with temporary road safety procedures (cones, signage, lane closures, traffic marshals). This isn’t much different than that which would be required for road-blocking truck movements in other central city locations. The increased cost of deliveries should be borne by the car dealerships. This may cause them to reflect on the sustainability of staying in that location, which is only appropriate as the character of the area changes.

    3. Many of the car yards were serviced from on-street loading spaces or just used the kerbside parking. A lot of the parking was removed to provide a flush median and additional lanes without any alternative loading being provided so the trucks did the obvious thing and used the flush median instead. The issue was caused by the Council not providing any loading area. The council’s response was to require on-site loading, but that has two problems. First a huge amount of space is needed if trucks are to turn around within a site, second the rule only kicks in for new car yards so the existing yards will still use the median.
      The same thing happens at Wairau Road and at Greenlane. The Council says it is the car yards’ problem but it is really just poor use of street space.

      1. You don’t need turning space if you drive in one entrance and exit onto a different road. Many of these sites have access to a side road. The sites are sloped and some have access to two side roads so copying what Bunnings has which is a delivery area at the back of the site means delivery into what is a basement area and takes nothing away from the street level display / office area.

        1. I have done car yards on Great South road where we provided for trucks to drive through without turning. It is the only way to make effective use of the site without requiring a 25m circle for trucks to turn around. But the Great North Road sites have side roads designed as narrow residential streets serving the old Arch Hill hovels which in turn were built before cars were owned by the masses.

      2. Sorry can you just run by me again WHY Council should provision services and street space for these private Businesses? Am I missing something?

        Much like the debate about moving Golf Courses out of prime area so we can get better use of land, wouldn’t single storey building with predominantly huge surface level car park be suited further out being as a) people drive there, you hardly pop into a luxury car yard whilst you’re out doing your shopping, its usually by appointment b) delivery of their products is easier for them c) Surely its cheaper land for them to operate from?

        But yeah damn the council for businesses breaking rules!! I assume private cars can just park on the median too with no issues right?

        1. “Sorry can you just run by me again WHY Council should provision services and street space for these private Businesses? Am I missing something?”

          Because it’s an existing economic activity in the area that provides hundreds of jobs? Funny how “subsidies = bad!” is a thing when it comes to non-white collar jobs in the area, but not when it comes to people from Grey Lynn being able to ride their bikes to work in the morning.

        2. Non White collar! Come on, you make it sound like selling Ferrari’s and F1 McLarens is like working down the coal mines!

          Areas develop in every City, you know this. You also know that there are much more suitable places to sell cars and you know that this route is perfect for the type of development all our plans are telling us we should have. Don’t try and hide behind some working class protection of the worker…nobody is saying these car yards shouldn’t exist.

        3. …and you’re making it sound like every job on the strip is selling high-end luxury cars. It’s not.

          This area developed, and related businesses developed around it. According to some here, those jobs should be relocated to areas with non-existent transport links on the outskirts of the city. In other words; “not my problem”.

        4. Car yards are an ideal activity to locate on the fringes – the rating and zoning settings in place at the moment discourage this. Surely the jobs associated with this are better on the outskirts to reverse peak traffic flows and provide jobs for fringe dwellers which don’t require a commute into the city?

        5. …and if you are setting up a new lot, that’s the place to be. Many are; Central Park Drive, North West etc. That doesn’t mean the substantial investments and capital already on GNR was going to move overnight.

        6. Well they don’t have to provide loading for businesses at all. But if a business established using on-street loading and the Council removes that loading then we can’t really expect anything other than what has occurred here. Heidi has suggested the businesses band together and provide collective loading spaces, yet that is what councils exist for, to provide collectively what individuals cant provide for themselves. Thinking that competitive businesses will band together and buy property to be used just for loading is like expecting parents to band together and build a safe cycle way for their kids. It isn’t going to happen. Whether you like it or not roads have a function of taking goods to businesses. Removing on-street loading spaces without putting something else in its place results in what we have here. The council did this, they should fix it.
          As for the market moving the car dealers on, it took high rise office buildings to displace the car dealers from Symonds St. A few low rise apartments are not going to displace a successful car yard.

        7. “Heidi has suggested the businesses band together and provide collective loading spaces”

          Slight distinction: I have suggested AT should have been enforcing safety so that the dealerships consider this as an option. The flush medians were also a poor device and poor use of space. There are undoubtedly things Council should have done too.

          A safe environment isn’t just a nice-to-have. It’s possible with big trucks. They just need space and good design. But the space should not be public space, which is too highly contested. Businesses that needs lots of space need to pay for it, so it makes sense to be on cheaper land.

        8. I think you are correct. The council should provide this common land and charge a rate that gives a market return on their costs of purchasing it. If the car dealers can still survive then good on them.

        9. How do you calculate the market rate of return on road space which is not currently fairly allocated, and won’t be while safety is marginalised in favour of car dependent status quo?

          There may be a way, but does it involve, for example, the loss of the local children’s independent mobility, and the lifelong consequences for them of that?

        10. Heidi – sorry I should have clarified, I meant the council buying an off road lot for unloading of cars. It is similar to your suggesting of the dealers banding together to purchase a lot.

          The roadway is far too valuable to the wider public to be used for this purpose.

        11. Does this outrage on public space use apply to all the footpath space taken up by Ponsonby cafes, bars and restaurants?

        12. We certainly have to make sure it’s the public using the public space. It’s not just cafe seating – sometimes there are bevies of people standing outside shops catching up with each other while the kids unwrap their iceblocks, and people walking have to step onto the road to get past. The solution is generally to reallocate road space to better public uses – sometimes this happens when the traffic lanes are super wide and could easily be trimmed. Lots of small towns have bollarded off car park spaces so the cafe seating can go there.

          My biggest problem is when bars get to pay for precious undercover space, forcing pedestrians into the rain, in an alcohol ban area. Eg Pt Chevalier square. So those with money can drink in the public space, but people trying to live a more frugal lifestyle can’t grab some beer from the supermarket and sit on the grass in the sun.

        13. Hospitality businesses apply to use the footpath, and pay an ongoing fee for that. I have never heard of one doing that *instead of* having tables inside.

      3. Council has no obligation to provide loading for a private business. If a business is not able to safely meet your business loading needs on your own site then it’s the business’ problem. If that means they have to move and or go bust so be it. A private business’s needs cannot compromise other people’s right to safely use the public road, it doesn’t matter how long they have been in business or how the road used to be used. End of story.

    4. Well here is a question for you. Is unloading a truck parked on the flush median less safe than turning a truck across traffic and across a footpath where kids are walking and cycling to unload on-site and then driving the truck back over a vehicle crossing again across the pedestrian flow?
      Maybe not taking the trucks into a private property to unload cars is actually safer. If we don’t look at any data then how can we know?
      Maybe parking trucks in the centre of the road well away from where the kids are is better.

      1. they park on the median next to the only pedestrian ‘haven’ crossing located immediately adjacent to the school access, blocking safe views of all users of the crossing for the full extent of their unloadings.

        Definitely less safe than making one maneuver into a driveway.

        And as you say below, Reversing isn’t the only alternative.

  5. Same here, whilst I live and work in a different area (in Ellerslie, Penrose, Newmarket and Greenlane), I can’t help but feel the town planning failure by having so many car yards along this important transit corridor. The small stretch of Great South Road Corridor between Greenlane East/West and Campbell Road could have been an ideal location of higher density housing given its proximity to train stations (Ellerslie and Greenlane), Bus corridors (Greenlane and Great South Road) as well as SH1.

  6. It’s terrible to think that in this day and age, we accept anything less than white collar office work in an urban commercial district.

    1. There’s scope for all sorts of light industrial activity in the area. A mixed use environment is more healthy socially and economically than one with strict zoning. But any activity needs to ensure it doesn’t impose danger on other people in the area.

      1. There is existing commercial activity and employment in the area. Maybe the needs of the local businesses should have been taken into account when the on-street space was being divvied up. I would have said this was the actual planning failure here.

        1. Arterial roads close to the city centre need to take a lot of people flow, with planning especially for the sustainable and the space-efficient modes. That’s the geometry of the situation. One planning failure has been the lack of provision for this. There should be bus lanes and protected cycle/scooter lanes.

          For the rest of the available public space, anyone calling for it to be allocated to existing businesses is perpetuating the norm that the public need to subsidise businesses, and perpetuating the bias for the status quo.

          That would be fine – if it creates a safe situation for all users, and if there is a social mandate from the people of Auckland to retain the status quo by subsidising the car dealerships. I don’t believe there is.

        2. Is there a social mandate to push employment centres further away from transport links? Or does that not apply to people who aren’t engineers, consultants or office-dwelling accountants etc.

        3. Buttwizard – you are dreaming up conspiracies, there is no social mandate. Car dealers employ a fraction of the staff per square metre of ground compared with the other forms of employment you mention.

          Yes, they are very low priority for this sort of central location. They are of course perfectly entitled to stay there but they should be dealing with the challenges of a constrained site themselves not making it everyone else’s problem.

          I’ve never seen Linfox unloading groceries for an inner city Countdown by parking in the middle of the road.

        4. Jezza; I am more familiar with staff numbers in car dealerships than most. There is a difference between a ‘car yard’ and a dealership with a head-office, service centre, etc on site, as many of these GNR sites have.

          And to speak to your Linfox example: I see plenty of Bidvest, milk trucks, etc delivering goods to cafes, restaurants, dairies, etc. No one is demanding they all be fitted out with loading bays; they have loading bays provided because on some level, we accept this would be stupid. If a territorial authority changes the road and parking outside a business and makes it almost impossible to receive their goods, despite that business being there for decades in an area with many other similar operations, is that the fault of the businesses for daring to operate, or is it the territorial authority who was prepared to pretend they would disappear overnight and came up with a roading plan that was, with the benefit of hindsight, probably unfit for purpose?

          Anyway, as some have pointed out, we will probably get LRT through here which should result in the centre of the road being reprovisioned for mass transit. Maybe it is a problem that will solve itself.

        5. Bidvest, milk trucks etc are generally much shorter than car transporters. There is already a loading zone for smaller trucks it’s just that the operators prefer to break the law rather than use equipment suitable to the site.

          I don’t doubt there are dealers that employ a significant number of people on site but very few of these are directly employed in selling the physical cars at the site, which is where the problem is here. If dealers want to have a head office and a yard on the same site then good on them, but they shouldn’t be breaking the law and causing others inconvenience to make this model work.

        6. The needs of the many < the wishes of a few.
          This is THE bus corridor for the entire west.
          The major walking and cycling link between Grey Lynn, Arch Hill, Ponsonby, K Road and the city centre.
          A brownfield residential growth potential area with outcomes that match our goals, and maximise the potential of existing investment plans (cough crl…)

          All of this can't be accommodated elsewhere, unlike car storage.

        7. “The wishes of a few”
          “Car storage”

          And here ends today’s lesson on dis-empowering people through language so we can ignore the economic impact on just wiping out their jobs, or moving them away from the transport links we insist are so vital for everyone else.

        8. Far better to wipe a few people out with trucks, and disempower all the children nearby who would otherwise have freedom, isn’t it?

          This was a residential area. It became a dangerous area because the needs of the children and vulnerable road users was overlooked. It has continued to be dangerous because AT has continued to overlook the danger.

          I’m pointing out there would have been a natural change in land use – not a ‘wiping out’ – if the car yards had had to comply with safety regulations that should have been in place all along.

          Why would you resist this change?

        9. Lol yeah actually I am all about disempowering the poor Giltraps off the block ‘using language’ so kids can go to school. foh.

          Car yards have got to be one of the least densely labour intensive employers in the area.
          The importance of the transport links this situation is impacting simply shit on the idea that we should prioritize the unlikely chance the mechanics and valets and god forbid the managers can’t get to work if the CAR YARDS end up having move somewhere that isn’t immediately adjacent to our space constrained city centre.

        10. Perhaps stating the obvious, but…

          Simple observation tells us that, despite the seemingly very low density, car yards are a viable business model over there. Why is that?

        11. I don’t even know where to begin with felix, but I am definitely sure he has no idea how a large-format car dealership works.

          “I’m pointing out there would have been a natural change in land use – not a ‘wiping out’ – if the car yards had had to comply with safety regulations that should have been in place all along.”

          Or, maybe AT could have come up with a plan that accommodated the existing commercial activity in the area?

        12. Roeland, it’s because they have legacy ‘mixed use’ zoning that effectively protects that low density ‘light commercial’ land use in that location.

          If it weren’t for the incumbency carried forward in the Unitary Plan, that area should be zone metropolitan centre at a minimum (like Newmarket), if not City Centre (like K Road).

        13. The whole point of civic planning is not to ensure continuous hegemony, it’s to achieve better outcomes over time.

        14. Although I must say it is changing quickly regardless. The recent build of Giltraps was a five storey office building with a glassed in retail showroom at ground level. They’ve obviously move on somewhat from the old open-lot concept.

        15. Existing use rights don’t come from the Unitary plan or any other plan. They are legal rights that, while they exist, can only be extinguished by an act of parliament. The sites that established without on-site loading can carry on operating regardless of what rules have appeared since. The council provided loading on the side of the road and then they took that away and replaced it with an area in the middle of the road so people load there. they will probably continue to load there until the Council builds a better loading area. The same will happen in Queen street if loading spaces re removed and not replaced. Even arterial roads have a local function.

        16. miffy, you’re ignoring the picture in the post of the smaller transporter that uses the existing loading zone just fine. Like the Semenoff case, if you don’t enforce safety regulations, you allow the companies that flout them to get too big to fail. Smaller trucks work fine … it’s just that companies using the smaller trucks and better parking practices were priced out of the market by the ones that make more money flouting the rules.

        17. I’m not talking about existing use rights Miffy, I’m talking about a different issue: the tendency during the Unitary Plan process to zone according to what was already there (which cynically I attribute to horse trading to get the thing over the line), not what the area is best suited to.

        18. Miffy
          Did the council historically provide on street loading bays of sufficient length to accommodate today’s full length car transporters and sufficient space behind to access the car deck?
          If they did not then surely there is no existing right. There certainly can never be any implied right to conduct a dangerous and non sanctioned activity on a public road. Like speeding, such activity though is currently effectively sanctioned by a lack of effective enforcement. It is cheaper to pay the occasional fine then change behaviour. This is by the lack of political gonads to change a dangerous status quo.

        19. Don how is stopping on a flush median well away from kids more dangerous than turning an articulated truck across a footpath where children walk? The centre of the road seem like a good place for large trucks to be compared to the option of having large trailers cutting across footpaths on very wide vehicle crossings.

        20. I wonder if narrowing/slowing general traffic lanes and establishing central median stopping areas for loading zones might be a way of ‘reserving’ the middle of the road for LRT? Once the LRT works actually start, the likelihood of owners selling the land the yards for redevelopment go up dramatically anyway.

        21. Miffy
          You are right that taking vehicles across a footpath is a danger to all but especially pedestrians. This danger is compounded if reversing across the footpath is required, and enlarged proportional to the size of vehicle.
          If these manouevres are required as part of a work place operation then existing safety legislation requires an assessment and an operational safety plan with a defendable method and conditions and periodic auditing. Unfortunately like Pike River, the critically under resourced labour inspectorate is making no efforts at acheiving compliance, being reduced to merely a prosecuting authority after a tragedy.
          What I ask for is that the appropriate authorities demand a proper safety assessment and operational safety plan, that acheives safety and that compliance is monitored.
          A workable safety plan may well specify acceptable hours of delivery, vehicle size and unloading area, temporary signage and assisting staff requirements. These conditions are already very familiar to AT contractors working in our city.

  7. What would happen if AT started installing tow away signs at these locations that have no stopped lines, and then enforced them.
    Towing a couple of transporters to an impounding area along with the heavier fines would start waking the industry up to their obligations.

      1. Which is a large part of the problem – these big dealers exert political influence throughout public agencies and those who make decisions. Endless supply of wet bus tickets and pork.

  8. You could insert ‘this area has so much potential’ into literally any relatively central Auckland suburb…yet we continue to pump out garbage. Haven’t seen any new apartment proposals for this stretch of road for a long time now, think the Crest which is nearly finished on Turakina Street will be the last for some time. So in this recent construction cycle the ‘market’ gave us a few $1.5m+ apartments, a massive Bunnings Carpark bunker and flash Car Showroom..great!

    Surely if the LRT runs along here out to PT Chev then onto NW that would completely change the way the road is used including stopping and deliveries

    Anyway, the only way I can see this ever changing is through technology (self delivering cars etc) and that’s some way off, although probably quicker than AT doing anything, or zoning laws changing, or the market changing.

    Pretty sure this falls under one of the thousands of volcanic viewshafts so 15 storeys is most likely out the question and isn’t really feasible.

  9. Last decade or so — wait, really? Last decade?

    Last year we’ve got a new BMW dealership on Wairau Valley Road, which didn’t surprise me since the area is designated wasteland in the Unitary Plan anyway (the technical term is ‘Business – light industry’).

    But on Great North Road I would find this a bit surprising. The UP says this is Business – Mixed Use Zone. From the description:

    The zone provides for residential activity as well as predominantly smaller scale commercial activity that does not cumulatively affect the function, role and amenity of centres.

    Aw, snap.

  10. If we must continue to allow massive car transporters to use major roads, we could at least require them to do so only when it would not inconvenience and endanger others: 1 AM to 3 AM on work days only, perhaps. If that is inconvenient for them, it’s all the more reason for them to move. This need not be limited to car transporters: apply it to all deliveries. Such a system worked in Ancient Rome: wheeled vehicles were banned from city streets during daylight hours. We would do well to emulate the Romans.

  11. Imagine if all the cars which are sitting in car yards around the city were on the roads instead then we would have total gridlock. Take Great South road it is just one big long car yard from brand new Audi’s and Mercedes at one end and used Nissan’s and Toyota’s at the other totally outrageous. If you want to bring your blood pressure down a bit I would recommend watching some “All the Station videos on You Tube”. I am watching the Ireland section at the moment and wishing we could have a proper passenger rail network in this country.

  12. One solution would be to allow car yards as a permitted activity in a rural area. As they are space intensive they would naturally migrate to low value land at motorway interchanges or the end of motorways. Then the jobs associated with them would having workers going against the traffic at peak times. Big space means big choice at lower prices so the inner city yards would soon all move or close. People only buy cars every few years so a car yard as a destination makes sense – much like the rest of the world has found.

    The ideal location would be where there is a bus or train station so people could leave their car for servicing and get PT to work. But this idea would be against the utopian compact city rules of the Unitary Plan so wont happen and you are stuck with the crazy situation of the car yards in town.

    1. I have been toying with the idea that if people want a park and ride on the southern line on the outskirts of the city, which is incompatible with designing for housing development there, that maybe there’s a solution there.

      We could call it the car station – and the provision of the station, including the cost of including it in the network, could be covered by these uses. People could take the train out to the car yards – or drive. During the weekends when car buyers generally have more time to look for cars, lots of that park and ride would be available. If zoned only for car infrastructure uses, the land price would presumably stay fairly low.

      1. Yes Heidi that’s makes sense. If AT was to tip some money or help with consenting to make a dual use car park which had decent scale dealerships around it then the city yards would lose their critical mass and no longer be the best economic use for their land.

        When buyers are test driving a new car they don’t really want to be doing it on busy city roads anyway. In the UK most of the cars – new and used – are sold from big car supermarkets on the fringes – US too of course. One single Toyota yard in California sells up to 5000 cars a month – probably about half of all the cars, new and used – that are sold in Auckland in a month.

    2. “The ideal location would be where there is a bus or train station so people could leave their car for servicing and get PT to work”
      How prophetic. The closest building to Akoranga Station will be a new Mercedes dealership (leaving aside the golf driving range) so some people will be able to do exactly that. But is this really the best use of land around our transport stations? (I do appreciate that much of this land was a past tip site and I still remember Begbie Place).

      1. I agree johnwood – they need to be further out. Drury, Hobsonville, Whenuapai, Kumeu, Sliverdale maybe?

        The new car dealers get dramatically more profit/car the more cars they sell. If their costs are lower on the cheap land then it won’t take long for the city yards to become uneconomic.

        Also the AC could help this along by changing back to the more pro-development unimproved land value rating system.

    3. Now that rural car yard suggestion got me thinking. A rural area like be between Waitakere township and Kumeu around Taupaki Rd. Easy access to SH16. Rail line right there that could transport cars direct from docks to car yard. Potential buyers catch train to New Taupaki station and drive away on to sh16.
      Unlike doing same at other end of south Auckland it’s not using up good arable land.

  13. Another case of those in charge administering safety law saying “Safety is our Number One Priority” but by imposing budgetary constraint on enforcement resources, and by more subtle political interference, they encourage a reduction in that unpopular enforcement. Enforcement should never be a trade off between business convenience, and public safety and public amenity.
    Currently we have both the Police and the Labour Inspectorate, stepping away from any involvement or enforcement in this area unless there is a fatality.
    These are the conditions that gave us Pike River, and a dreadful road death rate
    The Labour Inspectorate needs to become proactively involved as it is clearly a Work Place safety issue, for both the transport companies and the receiving car yards.
    Drivers just wearing hi viz vests is not an adequate safety plan.
    The Government also needs to ensure that penalties such as fines and driver demerit points, reflect the created hazards and are sufficient to outweigh any commercial benefit of non compliance. It also needs to ensure that the Police and NZTA receive both the required resources, and an unambiguous message that safety is not to be compromised ever, to favour of business convenience . AT needs the same message with the added proviso that it is also required to administer precious street space for the benifit of all.
    Good businesses will adapt.

  14. Hello Heidi
    Some one should fact check Strawbidge comment “car yards .. built before … transporters were required”
    In Hamilton there has been a clear rule on dating back to the 1960s ‘Provision is also to be made for off-street loading and unloading’ & ‘the Scheme requires provision to be made in the design and layout of sites for goods to be loaded or unloaded from vehicles elsewhere than on the carriage way or across the footpath of public streets’


  15. Would cycling be better accommodated on the parallel routes (Williamson or Crummer these can then link into Ponsonby & K Rd)? These routes may be safer for cycling also? Would also benefit from 30k speed reductions for local residents too?

    Then GNR can remain as the car movement route and also have full length dedicated Bus lanes along with a few out of peak time loading zones surely?

    1. People cycling need access to the places along Great North Rd. And for those cycling through, the flatter Great North Rd is a better route. The cycling network has been ignored, and basically doesn’t exist. That needs to be fixed – not by putting it in just wherever a bit of space can found and it doesn’t create too much of a problem – but almost everywhere.

  16. if anybody is breaking the law and/or conducting unsafe workpractices they should be fined to the point they cease those practices, if their business is no longer viable then so be it.

    1. Luke, you’re right. That is exactly what happens in the rail industry, shipping, aviation. . . . In fact pretty-much every industry EXCEPT ROAD TRANSPORT.

      Why is more-or-less every government of every nation across the entire planet being so obtuse about this? Road transport in all its forms is an anomalous outlier in terms of the damage and danger it causes and is allowed to get away with.

      A fatality-count of Pike-River-proportions every single month, and 8-10 times that number of non-fatal but often life-changing serious injuries. This has been going on for decades. Why are we so slow to act?

  17. >the agency was …limited to handing out infringement notices for parking violations… A police spokesman said parking infringements were a matter for AT, not police.
    >Most of the penalties are $40 or $60 fines.

    until now, I’d not considered parking on the street wherever I like and falling between the enforcement jurisdictions… and if i do get a fine it’ll likely be cheaper and more convenient than the local parking building.

    But seriously, if a regular passenger car was to behave like these car carriers, I feel the response would be pretty swift.

    1. Apparently some people do have exactly this attitude about parking their car, unfortunately. And there may be good enforcement in the city centre, but certainly not in the suburbs.

      In fact, if you’re looking for a photo of a car parked on the footpath, this section of Great North Rd never fails to provide a choice of options. Some of them are there every day; I imagine it’s the business owner’s car.

  18. It has to be said again and again: property owners don’t own the street.
    An existing use right to use YOUR PROPERTY in a certain way is not a right to monopolise the use of the adjacent public road. It does not impose any obligation on a public authority to mark out the road in the way that suits your business (I would assume – correct me if I’m wrong).
    If you have a business that relies on the adjacent street being marked in a certain way, you’re taking a gamble on how long that will last. If the street can be marked in a way that helps your business without negative effects on others, well and good. On the other hand, if issues arise that mean that the authority has good public interest reasons to change the markings (for example, pedestrian safety), and that makes your business unviable at that location, that’s tough. You gambled and lost. Find the space you need on your own property, or move.

  19. Out of interest, how long are the e car transporters parked like this on average? Is it all day long or just half an hour or so? It would be great if they could somehow speed this up and only operate off peak hours.

    1. Maybe car yards should allocate space within their yards for trucks to stop by in.

      Sacrifice some cars on display and get out of the public space

  20. I can see a compromise being to establish a sufficiently large loading zone in one of the existing left hand lanes on Great North Rd that operates between 1am and 4:30am.
    I encountered a transporter parked around the corner on Newton Rd one morning about 6 months ago. Traffic was backed up well past Ian McKinnon Drive and with queuing through intersections was causing gridlock.
    Where ever they park they create extreme hazards to cyclists beyond just the truck sticking out past the lane markings, and the cab door opening. It creates irratic and unpredictable behaviour from other drivers who also change lane at the last minute or when they realise they are stuck in a que of cars behind a parked truck.
    I think council should tow and impound for 28 days, load & all

  21. Great post thanks Heidi. Yes our city is changing and growing up so to me if the regulations are adjusted and enforcement carried out really they just will want to move out of these prime spots for economic reasons. Some sort of transitional setup or process may be needed.

    1. Since when has the problem of people dying from traffic danger been a ‘first world problem’? Since when has the problem of children changing schools several times a year as their parent has to change accommodation, been a ‘first world problem’? If a first world country chooses to leave these problems unsolved, despite their first world resources, that’s the problem.

      1. See, you’re exaggerating. Nobody’s dying from these trucks unloading and nobody’s going without a home because this land is being used for commercial purposes.
        It’s funny how you do this if you’re talking about cars and driving. It could lead a person to the conclusion that you hate cars.

        1. No, I’m not exaggerating.

          Looking to see where people are dying and providing some safety improvements there is an approach that we know has failed. Our safety record is poor, and our population is restricted and inactive as a result.

          To improve safety, we need to look at the whole system. And that is now government policy. That involves looking at a situation and recognising its potential to create a breach of safety. The situation described in this post is clearly a breach of safety.

          Only a callous attitude would encourage being blind to the needs of children stuck on median strips.

  22. This is a further example of where towing companies should be empowered to support parking enforcement.

    This would mean instead of a pathetic fine, requiring expensive enforcement costs, tow trucks could simple remove offending vehicles. This not only removes problem vehicles, actually solving the immediate issue, but creates a true disincentive to parking illegally.

  23. Some of these caryards have been targeted this morning by Restore Passenger Rail.

    When the teenagers of the future look back at the early 2020’s, these activists will be admired as heroes. Achieving the systems change we need now needs to be a fight on all fronts simultaneously. This is particularly so in New Zealand where leadership, governance and bureaucratic decision-making is of such poor quality that we’re missing out on so many decarbonisation improvements we could be enjoying now.

    That Giltrap was hit makes sense, given how unethical and dishonest their submission on the Great North Rd improvements was. https://newsroom.co.nz/2023/07/26/how-misinformation-has-been-used-to-fight-road-improvements/

    Anyone know if any other caryard was hit?

    1. According to Stuff, it seems to be just Giltrap – but both the Lamborghini and Porsche stores. https://www.stuff.co.nz/auckland/local-news/301021569/restore-passenger-rail-protester-targets-auckland-car-yards-in-morning-spree

      I like the tone of the Stuff article. The RPR reasoning is given early on, and it’s reasonable. The readers are informed that the paint had been cleaned off by 9 am, making the later quote from Giltrap about “vandalism” seem quite OTT, and I note the word is even put in speech marks so Stuff weren’t happy to simply repeat it.

      Giltrap then become even more ridiculous saying this nonsense, “we believe that discussions about climate change and inequality can be more productive through dialogue and cooperation rather than acts of vandalism”… like, honestly, who are they trying to kid?

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