AT has created a storm that never needed to exist.
Ten years ago, Aucklanders understood the law. You could not park a car on a verge or footpath, and vehicle crossings were for crossing the footpath, not places to park. If you parked there for more than a minute or three, you’d be ready with an apology.
Now cars are littering the public realm. Pedestrian malls, public plazas, footpaths, verges, driveways, edges of parks, bollarded-off service driveways… you name it, if drivers can physically manoeuvre a car into position, they will.
How did we end up in this anti-social and dangerous mess?
AT was formed in 2010. Now, apart from in the city centre, any enforcement is done only for parking on paved parts of the footpath or the vehicle crossing, and only in response to a complaint. As this has became more obvious the antisocial parking has became more and more of a problem.
I don’t know if they ever issued tickets for cars parked on verges, but Auckland Council used to. So people asked the question: “Why won’t you enforce the rules against parking on the verge?”
AT referred to a legal problem, while refusing to provide any details, and pointed people to the supposed need for a further law change, or additional signage everywhere.
Other councils didn’t require this change to take action. So when NZTA consulted about a change, many people rightly considered it unnecessary.
You see, the problem here is not the law. For typical urban streets the law is fairly clear:
- The road is the entire space accessible to the public.
- The roadway is the part of the road that is intended for cars to drive along.
- The footpath is a place principally designed for, and used by, pedestrians. Where there is a kerb, the footpath includes the kerb. The kerb is there to stop traffic from driving onto parts of the road that are not designed to take the weight of vehicles. Vehicle crossings of the footpath are part of the footpath.
My research is summarised here: Definition of Footpath and Road Margin
Under the present law, in a typical Auckland street, a grass berm or verge that is retained by a kerb is simply an unpaved part of the footpath.
The rules around parking are in the Road User Rule. Rule 6.14 covers parking on the footpath – you cannot park on the footpath. Rule 6.2 covers parking on the road, and says you should park off the roadway if possible. In urban areas with kerbs, this applies to parking bays and marked carparks. Otherwise you park on the roadway. Rule 6.2 does not override Rule 6.14 and authorise a driver to take over an unpaved part of the footpath.
AT could apply Rule 6.14 to ticket cars parked off the roadway on any part of the footpath, paved or unpaved. This includes the verges and vehicle crossings.
We don’t know what the legal advice AT received is, as they won’t release it. That advice is either wrong or based on such a limited instruction that it has missed the most crucial points, or AT are misinterpreting it.
Whether or not RUR 6.14 can be directly applied, the roading authority (in Auckland, AT) has broad power to set its own bylaws to manage the roads under its control (subject to signage requirements). Christchurch has set an example: they clarified that RUR 6.2(1) does not apply in Chistchurch – this clarification has no signage requirement.
AT should have addressed this years ago. Instead they have allowed a situation that was once clear to become murky, and now, politicised.
Auckland Council have been wanting this sorted for years, but were fooled that this is an issue of legislation. Instead, it is a cultural bias towards motorists over pedestrians, and an aversion to enforcement.
Auckland Transport admit they can ticket cars parked on the paved part of footpaths and in vehicle crossings. They just choose not to do it most of the time, and only in response to a complaint. A further change in legislation would simply have provided them with yet another law to ignore.
I have been in correspondence with Auckland Transport for the best part of a year on this issue. Until last week I was still hopeful that they would see reason and take action without my having to blog about it. However, they failed to reply by Friday as promised. After yet another media article of misinformation on Saturday, I feel obliged to respond.
The change required is not in legislation. It is within Auckland Transport.