Skip to content

6 ideas to make biking in Auckland better



So often I bike to the shops and there’s nowhere to secure my bike. I’ll loop my lock through the back wheel and lean it against the shopfront, hoping like crazy no one in a truck drives by and decides to nick it. It’s not only about security; it’s also about welcome. What better way to suggest to your customers that they bike rather than drive than to install a nifty bike stand outside your shop!


Face it, cars don’t really want to share their road with cyclists. It sometimes takes forever to find a safe place to pass. So why not allocate a special lane for them? Or at least one they can share with the buses. Auckland has so many berms – strips of grass between the road and the footpath – that could easily be co-opted for bike lanes. And do we really need parking along the main streets? That space would be better used for bikes and buses, which would mean less cars and less need for car parks.


My mother tells me that there’s been a new optimum bike route indicated through Mt Eden that goes up the steepest streets. Do town planners actually bike the routes they suggest? Or if they do, are they ex-Tour de France cyclists? I like biking but I’m not a super fit-type. I don’t much like breaking a sweat. I like to take the cruisiest route possible, pootling along just fast enough to make my hair flap a bit.


Talking of taking the easy route, wouldn’t it be awesome if there was a bike lift on Upper Queen Street? You could just hook yourself on halfway up and arrive at your K Road cafe date fresh as a daisy, not about to salt your espresso with sweat. I think the same could apply in many Wellington and a few Dunedin streets. This is one of the the reason why Auckland is not Amsterdam: too many bloody hills.


When I was in London and Paris there were bikes to hire everywhere. Of course they had the advantage of being bike-friendly, flattish cities. Auckland also tried to instigate this but as far as I can tell it didn’t really take off. Perhaps because there were too many cars trying to run bikes down, not enough places to park your bike and no bike lifts to help you up the hills. But we can change that, right?


This is one for my husband Jonathan. He complained that his old work didn’t have decent showers for after his bike commute. If all work places had decent bathroom facilities and gave biking employees an extra 15 minutes to freshen up then there would be so many more people happy to bike to work rather than being stuck in a bus. When I had an office in town I used to bike rather than bus because then I always knew how long it would take – 25 minutes rather than 20-50 minutes on the bus, depending on the traffic.

Do you guys have any more ideas for Auckland or your own city? Please add them in the comments.

34 Comments leave one →
  1. 02/08/2014 4:56 pm

    Fantastic ideas, what about charge stations for electric bikes

  2. 02/08/2014 4:57 pm

    I especially agree with less parking, the parked cars always make me wary of doors opening, which means I ride further out and dare I say it, slow the cars down

  3. 02/08/2014 4:59 pm

    And a third idea, slower speed limits on suburban roads, with dead end streets so the cars don’t use them for a short cut. Makes the street safer for bikes and the local neighbourhood

    • Sarah Laing permalink*
      02/08/2014 8:36 pm

      All great ideas, I will add them to my illustrated biking manifesto when I get a chance.

  4. Fraser permalink
    02/08/2014 5:18 pm

    PN’s streets are often awash with broken glass, particularly after the weekend, and especially on the fringes of the liquor ban area. We have a little sweeper truck that putters about sweeping up the glass. I get fewer punctures than I used to.

    • Sarah Laing permalink*
      02/08/2014 8:38 pm

      I used to get punctures all the time when I pushed my mountain buggy around. Not so much on my bike (although now I’m tempting fate) – I do have those armoured tyres, but maybe Auckland council is good at sweeping things up too

    • 03/08/2014 8:46 am

      We never get punctures since we used armoured tires, but then robyn got a puncture last week and we couldn’t find the tire leavers and rubber cement had dried out. Not sure the solution to fixing punctures infrequently is

  5. Alison paulin permalink
    02/08/2014 6:29 pm

    Repeal the helmet law, or make it for under 18yrs. Bikes go on the front of buses for free. Sarah have you sent your beautiful comic to Cycle Action Auckland?

    • Sarah Laing permalink*
      02/08/2014 8:33 pm

      Good call! That was the thing in London and Paris – all these incredibly stylish people who weren’t wearing helmets – it does give you a bad case of hat hair. Although I still remember the helmet lady coming to our school assembly and scaring the bejesus out of us… her poor son…

      • 02/08/2014 9:16 pm

        The helmet lady in the town I used to live in lost her son when he pitched over his handlebars in Boston and hit his head. But in Denver, where they have rental bikes on the street and no law, the Post has helmets its employees can borrow so they can take advantage of the bikes without giving up the protection of a helmet.

    • 03/08/2014 8:50 am

      They keep saying bike helmets increase accidents for a population, but for an individual they save lives. We have had to replace several helmets because of hitting the road (the head seems to lead for some reason) and believe the law is as valuable as the seat belt law in cars

  6. 02/08/2014 6:48 pm

    If we can’t have instant cycle lanes, there are plenty of under-used footpaths that could have white lines painted down the middle, with a pedestrian half, and a cycling half. I often take to the footpath when it’s empty, or when I’m feeling too scared to tackle traffic (yes I’ve been “doored” and broke several bones). Some pedestrians don’t mind, while others hate it. But in many cases, it would make sense if we could just share the safest part of the street.

    • Sarah Laing permalink*
      02/08/2014 8:34 pm

      Yes! I often ride down the footpath, especially seeming they are so underused. You do come across a few enraged people, but most are accommodating.

    • 03/08/2014 8:53 am

      Another big problem with footpath riding is that you become invisible to cars, and this creates a problem at intersections. Bikes belong on the road or road based cycle lanes with the same rights and duties of other road users. The solution is better cycle awareness education and systems for car and cycle drivers

      • Bryce P permalink
        03/08/2014 2:02 pm

        Only because of poor intersection design. This can be fixed. There are lots of examples worldwide but I’d start with Dutch examples.

  7. Drew permalink
    02/08/2014 7:40 pm

    Get local government to host an online site where anyone can log any cycling trouble spots on an interactive map – can include collisions, near-misses, pot holes, elephant crossings etc. People can then refer to it when mapping routes, and council can use it to support targeted improvements. Maybe. Also mileage clubs hosted by entertainment sector so for every 10 km you cycle you get a free cocktail. This will inspire more people to cycle, which will create more incentive for improvements via interactive map.

    • Sarah Laing permalink*
      02/08/2014 8:35 pm

      Haha, free cocktails, perfect incentive! And yeah, I love the idea of the interactive map – my sister is always telling me about the walking map that citizens are making with all the shortcuts marked on it.

  8. Anne Laing permalink
    03/08/2014 10:48 am

    Love the post Sarah! Here’s the map from Melbourne if you’re interested, which was hosted by one of the major newspapers

  9. sexify*bicycles permalink
    03/08/2014 12:12 pm

    Nice post and lovely illustrations!

    Perhaps an underlying idea: local counsellors to be required to ride bikes one day a week, ride public transport one day a week… If the movers and shakers in the city experienced how inconvenient and threatened their predecessors had made bicycling, all the above would improve faster.

  10. sexify*bicycles permalink
    03/08/2014 12:15 pm

    Nice post and lovely illustrations!

    Perhaps an underlying idea: local counsellors to be required to ride bikes one day a week, ride public transport one day a week… (or generally just drive much less). If the movers and shakers in the city (Auckland or Welly) experienced how dangerous and inconvenient their predecessors had made bicycling, all the above would improve very quickly.

  11. Shaun permalink
    03/08/2014 1:55 pm

    There are good examples around Greenlane where the footpath is divided so cyclists and pedestrians can share. There are lots of Auckland streets where the footpath is already wide enough & all we need is paint. The best example of a bike friendly city in NZ is Hamilton. Cycle paths or lanes feature on most of the main roads. If they can do it surely Auckland can.

    • Bryce P permalink
      03/08/2014 3:10 pm

      Agree. A wide footpath with delineation is not a shared path. The Dutch do this a lot. Make the bike part uni directional (so need the same on both sides of the road and quality intersections).

  12. Bryce P permalink
    03/08/2014 2:01 pm

    Pretty much everything you need is right here:

  13. 03/08/2014 3:39 pm

    It’s interesting how similar your wish list is to what the folks here, halfway around the world are asking for. It’s the same everywhere.

    My particular pet peeve are what I call “choke points.” These are highways, railroad tracks, or bodies of water that have no cycle routes across them. The trails and special lanes will go up to these and then stop. It isolates cyclists and keeps them from being useful commuter vehicles.

    Thanks for sharing.

  14. Jacqueline permalink
    03/08/2014 6:39 pm

    I’m a walker/runner, not a biker but completely agree with the need to provide secure areas to leave bikes. I notice the difference between suburbs in Wellington , e.g. Lyall Bay (wide roads), Khandallah/Ngaio (old, narrow roads) for room for bicyclists on the road. May I add a note for cyclists to accommodate pedestrians? Bring back the bell, which I had on my old bike. 🙂 Thanks to those cyclists on the old Hutt Road that sing out a cheery “coming through on your right” notice.

  15. 04/08/2014 8:05 am

    How about huge red lights so that idiot cyclists see them and stop like they are suppose to

    • Shaun. permalink
      04/08/2014 7:00 pm

      Now Bob, you’ve ruined your chance to make a valid comment by calling people “idiot cyclists”. It may be that there are riders who don’t stop for red lights but i would wager that there are not many compared to the number of drivers i witness crashing red lights regularly.
      Also the main point of the original article is that keeping cyclists separate from the vehicle traffic on designated cycle paths is very desirable. I think there are many drivers who would support this initiative, especially those determined to be annoyed by bikes being on the road.

  16. 04/08/2014 5:22 pm

    I live in Auckland and there is a shower in our building for those who want to shower. Only, it’s in the men’s toilets. No woman here rides to work so there hasn’t been any challenge on why there is a shower in the mens but not the ladies toilets. I’m guessing that the boss may have installed a shower for himself because he’s one of the few that ride to work.

  17. 04/08/2014 7:31 pm

    Reblogged this on Trung tâm gia sư Hà Nội and commented:
    Mọi người có thấy đẹp không?

  18. Chris Werry (@chriswerry) permalink
    20/08/2014 4:18 pm

    Here’s a real life bike lift in Trodheim, Norway:

  19. emma permalink
    02/09/2014 1:29 pm

    My suggestion: Give bike donations out to schools/ advocate for separate cycle lanes around schools/ get P.E. departments backing this conversation.
    More children riding bikes = More concerned parents = Media = Concerned councils = Concerned Governments = Cycle lanes produced as a solution.
    The concern for the safety of children on bikes could be a great way to change the attitudes around cycling, and see some of these ideas implemented.

    The cycling graphics above are very sweet by the way!


  20. patrickmorgancan permalink
    02/09/2014 5:40 pm

    Nice work Sarah. Please support your local bike advocates and we can get this done.

  21. 01/02/2017 3:30 am

    You have done an excellent work in passing out the message through this blog, keep up the good work!


  1. Social Media Discussion & Further Research | the underlying message

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: