Cycle safe: Trading places - Day five

By Martin Johnston

Cyclist Martin Johnston becomes a motorist for a week while car-driving Herald reporters bike to the office

Martin will be back on his bike again on Monday. Photo / Richard Robinson
Martin will be back on his bike again on Monday. Photo / Richard Robinson

Diary of a driver - Martin Johnston

Symonds St is a nasty place for cyclists. It should have "cyclists not welcome" signs.

For my final drive to work in this week-long experiment, I poured the car into the commuter funnel from Balmoral, slid down Dominion Rd, curved over the motorway-like flyover to New North Rd, up-and-over to Symonds St, and down into the CBD.

It was raining and if anything could make me give up my bike, it's the rain. So it was no surprise to spot just five cyclists on my last drive in.

I spied one grinding up New North Rd towards Symonds St. He was hard to miss with his highly personalised backpack rain cover - a large piece of clear plastic flapping in the wind.

I've enjoyed my week behind the wheel. It's so easy. But I'm not about to pay for a second family car, daily parking or gym membership.

Come Monday, I'll be on my bike, despite Auckland's roading deficiencies.


Diary of a cyclist - Kris Shannon

Fast cars, big cars, parked cars - they were all the enemy. Photo / NZH
Fast cars, big cars, parked cars - they were all the enemy. Photo / NZH

I knew I was in the deep end as soon as I left my flat in Royal Oak and set off for the central city.

The entirety of my cycling experience since childhood has come at the beach, heading to the shops for an icecream or to the ocean for a dip. And the peaceful boulevards of Pauanui are a long way from the mean streets of Auckland.

I headed down Manukau Rd in mid-afternoon, grateful my late start allowed me to avoid the worst of the traffic.

The largely two-lane stretch towards Newmarket seemed like a blessing, in theory giving me a bit of breathing room, but it was still fraught with difficulties.

Namely cars. Fast cars, big cars, parked cars - they were all the enemy.

As I continued through Parnell towards the city, the roads became tighter and I became sweatier - partly from battling the heat and a stiff breeze, partly from nerves.

But my voyage eventually ended without incident and, taking a more direct path, my time on the road was roughly the same as the circuitous bus route.


Read more stories in our Cycle Safe series here.

- NZ Herald

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