This post by Heidi was originally published in July 2019.

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.

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  1. Thanks for this, 100% agree.
    AT said they will enforce if signs are installed (yea, more obstacles and cost).
    Here is a copy of 2 replies I have from AT. This line is in the 2nd email.
    “Parking on the berm is illegal. This is clearly outlined in the Road Code and drivers should know this.”
    Not sure if that’s just an individual working for AT opinion, as it doesn’t feel like policy.

    noreply (AT)
    Thu, 26 May, 09:44
    to Nick
    Kia ora Nick,
    Auckland Transport acknowledges that parking on the berm may pose safety issues and potentially cause damage to trees and the grass. This activity impacts the ratepayer in terms of cost to repair and maintain.

    The street/area you have highlighted has been added to AT’s list of areas to be considered for installation of no parking signs. However, due to the large number of signage requests AT has received and the requirements to have the signages approved by the Traffic Controls Committee, it is difficult to give a definite timeframe for the installation.

    Once signs have been installed the area will be monitored by Parking Officers and infringement notices will be issued to any vehicle parked on the berm.

    Thank you for bringing your concerns to our attention and we hope that we have been able to clarify this matter for you.

    Ngā mihi,
    Parking Design and Solutions Team
    Auckland Transport
    20 Viaduct Harbour Avenue, Auckland 1010

    Info (AT)
    Thu, 9 Jun, 11:17
    to Nick
    Kia ora Nick,

    Thanks for your patience, we’ve now completed our assessment
    Thanks for getting in touch regarding vehicles parked on the berm near Sandringham and change of speed.
    I’m so sorry for the delay in response and we appreciate your patience.

    Our Road Safety Engineering team have reviewed your query
    Auckland Transport (AT) controls over 7,300km of roads and is responsible for ensuring that all these roads have speed limits that are ‘safe and appropriate’ for their function, design, safety and use. The Safe Speeds programme is reviewing speed limits on roads across our network to identify where changes are needed. Due to its scope and scale, the program is divided into multiple tranches for delivery purposes.
    Auckland Transport has already completed the review for this round of the speed limit review.
    This Road is currently not included in this portion of speed limit review.
    However, based on your request, we will include Leslie Avenue in our database to be potentially included in the next round of speed limit review process.

    Illegal parking on the berm
    If you see illegal parking, please call us on (09) 355 3553 with the vehicle’s details so that enforcement action can be taken.
    Parking on the berm is illegal. This is clearly outlined in the Road Code and drivers should know this.
    We appreciate you taking the time contacting us about this matter.

    Thank you for getting in touch
    I will now be closing this case.
    Thanks again for your time, Nick. Have a safe and lovely week.
    Ngā mihi,

    Customer Care Case Manager
    Auckland Transport
    20 Viaduct Harbour Avenue, Auckland 1010

    1. Why the hell should we do your job for you? I was ticketed twice by Auckland Council about 15 years ago as there was no clear idea of where the verge ended and where my front yard began. Both tickets were issued in the early hours of the morning….where are these money skimming beasts these days? Working from home maybe!

      1. I think another 39 million to consultants will sort this out. As for the people in council of this gloriously more efficient supercity. Well they will be paid regardless. Glad I live rurally. Nsmfi

  2. In April 2020 I also wrote:

    AT admit they are able to enforce the rules that show it’s illegal to park on the paved parts of footpaths, where there is no legal “ambiguity” excuse. But they don’t. This demonstrates their position is one of ideology, not of having their hands tied by a legal ambiguity.

    I asked to see the legal opinion on which their understanding of this “ambiguity” exists. Most disappointing of all has been the Ombudsman who refused to accept that it was in the public interest to see the legal opinion on which AT’s position rests, even though it is our safety, our assets and our future which have been compromised. The ombudsman decided it was not necessary to make them release that legal opinion because the situation would be resolved by the new Accessible Streets legislation.

    But this is nowhere to be seen. And, we have no reason to think it’s going to solve the ambiguity properly. Can we be assured that the default position for berms that are edged with a kerb will be that it remains illegal to park there? Or is the default going to be that they are all places people can park unless the RCA has listed them as places you can’t park – which will be an unworkable solution for many reasons.

    The ombudsman made this decision in 2020. Who is it who gets to respond to him, saying that allowing a recalcitrant RCA to continue to operate unsafely on the basis of legislation that at the time hadn’t been passed, is not necessarily going to resolve anything, and that still isn’t passed 20 months later, fails to fulfill the ombudsman’s role of holding AT to account?

  3. the problem is the war on cars. if they didnt make parking legally practically impossible / prohibitively costly people wouldnt be trying to find loopholes. thats the REAL reason why things used to be better. its because of the constant removal of places to park.


      CORPORAL HONDA: Sir, the pedestrians are advancing across no-cars-land! What should we do?
      LIEUTENANT TESLA: Hold your ground. You know we’re not allowed to go there. There are little signs!
      PRIVATE FORD RANGER: This is madness, sir! I’m going in… I’m going in and damn them all to hell!
      LIEUTENANT TESLA: Stand down, Private — that is an order!
      PRIVATE FORD RANGER: Write to my mother and tell her I parked across two disabled parking spots!
      CORPORAL HONDA: No, Ranger! The grass! You’re making it all muddy!

      1. PRIVATE FORD RANGER: “I’ll never forgive those humans after they turned over a new Leaf at the Ford Fiesta”

        … and with a raucous cry of “Free the Mazda 6” and reveling in his “new aggressive styling” TM he dropped his clutch and flattened an 8 year-old cyclist.

  4. Auckland has this weird thing about footpaths. Every other town/city, in New Zealand (I’ve lived in a few), has good footpaths to where you want to go. When I came to Auckland, I was surprised to see footpaths just ending, and having to walk on the road or the wet grass.

  5. Manukau City has several streets where footpaths have been taken over by businesses in the area. In a lot of cases pedestrians are forced to walk on the road to get by because of cars, trucks and trailers blocking their way.

    1. That would work well if AT did anything to back up there SOI- like ticketing cars that regularly parked illegally on berms or yellow lines – but they don’t Hence using this head in the sand attitude will not change peoples behaviours for a long time to come!

    1. I have sent an email to my local Councilors. It is the only email that I have not received a response to (well done Chris Darby.) I suspect that he, like me, views communication with AT as a complete waste of time. They will treat it with the same arrogance they do most issues, as they know best. Why is this organisation so oblivious to their social responsibility to address all parts of Auckland’s transportation system to reduce emissions for the short and longer term benefit of all?

  6. Is this all about justifying the intensification that is going on? So many new builds have only one car park per unit or of more recent times no car park at all. As a result cars end up parked on the berm or illegally anyway.Auckland Council in signing off these resource consents is allowing this to happen under the guise of AT will take care of any parking issues – Yeh right !, AT are a complete joke ,

    1. Most of the time these aren’t resource consents, they’re by-right developments. If a resource consent is involved then AT are the ones that decide how much parking the development needs, and have traditionally imposed very high parking requirements.

      Regardless, the council / AT are not allowed to tell anyone how much parking to build any more, by decree of central govt. Forcing people to spend 20-60k on parking whenever they just wanted a home was a crazy solution in the first place, imposing significant costs on people that are uninvolved. Should never have been allowed. Parking in Auckland, using 15-30 square meters of space is basically the most expensive part of owning a car.
      A more fair system, and less onerous on non car owners, would be the japanese solution, if you want to get a car registered to your name, you need to prove you have somewhere to store it.

      1. Jack
        17 units on 2 sections is not a by right development. It I’d ludicrous – and it’s a corner site so where are peoples second cars going to end up. The berm of course because the roads not wide enough. But AT don’t want to know about it

    2. they are a complete joke, and they haven’t realised that people are laughing at them, and not with them.

    3. Auckland Council should be able to expect Auckland Transport will enforce the parking. I don’t think AT’s position is related to intensification much. What you’re noticing is increased car ownership and car domination of the public realm but that’s happening due to sprawl, bad policy and bad planning, not due to intensification. Car ownership per capita is higher in places with lower densities, and lower in places with higher densities in general. Good planning should harness intensification to help reduce car ownership rates.

    4. My South Auckland suburb has ample on-street parking almost everywhere, but berm and pavement parking are rife.

      Households have employed their garages for higher value activities, with conversions to bedrooms, workshops and rumpus rooms, while portable cabins, caravans or boats occupy driveways. It was happening spontaneously long before the council began changing the zoning, because people aren’t stupid and money talks.

      The cars are parked on the footpath rather than the road for fear of being hit by hoons and joyriders. Buildouts to protect on-street parking, raised table crossings and chicanes to disrupt long straights worked in the inner burbs.

    1. I provided AT a photo of a car parked on the footpath. Their response; we can’t do anything about it unless we catch the driver in the act.

  7. Rubbish bins are also an impediment io the use of footpaths. Bins put put out for “KERBSIDE COLLECTION”, in streets where the footpath is poured up to the kerb. In many arreas of Papakura and Manurewa and Papakura the footpaths oare so congested with these containers that they are virtually impassible with a pram of mobility scooter especially in these winter months.

    For several years I have been raising this with the Waste Management team wwith no success in getting the issue resolved. I would appreciate advice on how to gt this matter addressed.

    1. Ted
      Bins on the footpath should only be an issue on collection day and not 2-3 days later. If that is the case then call Council about it

  8. Cars parked where they should not be. On Titirangi Road half on the footpath so I have to put the pushchair on the road to circumnavigate the car and get back on the footpath. Cars on grass berms, too many cars in a drive etc. Don’t they give tickets out anymore?

    1. Well if they do, the price is too low. Hasn’t been raised in years. You have to complain for them to respond apart from a few monitored city centre etc spots I think.

  9. There’s a good reason for not parking on grass berms in most of Auckland because the services are running underneath them. In new subdivisions the services are being placed under the footpaths where they are well protected, including from the roots of roadside trees. Just means the footpath will have to be dug up if any major maintenance is required, but that is no biggie these days because a digger will be brought in whether it’s for digging up grass or footpath.

  10. May I suggest that people write to their local M.P or the media i.e. NZ Herald about the issue. Most government officials response to problems is, ‘If I don’t make a decision, I can’t be blamed, better to kick the ‘can’ down the road.

  11. “AT referred to a legal problem”. How very quaint the past was. These days AT will just claim it’s because of Covid.

  12. Most of this berm/pave parking is down to fear of hits from other vehicles, plus some laziness.

    Next time you feel compelled to walk out or take a pram or wheelchair into the road, at least have a go at forcing yourself between the parked vehicles. I recommend having your keys at your hip on a carabiner, or some old fashioned riveted jeans.

    Perhaps we can organize some shopping trolley races in affected neighbourhoods?

    A few good dents and scratches should help market forces sort the problem out.

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