Yo, Auckland, listen up: I have absolutely no problem with your traffic.
Think I'm joking?
Well, I'm not. I really mean it.
Yes, yes, I know complaining about how bad the traffic supposedly is here is the proverbial glue that binds us all together. No matter where we come from or what is going on in our lives, we can all bond together and commiserate over our clogged motorways and crumbling city, right?
I'm not having it. At all.
Go ahead, come at me like an 18-wheeler doing 120, or the All Blacks' counter-attack. But before I'm crucified, at least allow me to defend myself and my views.
Let's think about the facts for a moment: There are just under 1.5 million people in Auckland. Yet you can still get to almost any part of the city in under an hour, even in the worst conditions (like rush hour or an accident that forces the closure of several lanes of the Harbour Bridge).
My hometown of Portland, Oregon has only about 650,000 people. However, traffic is sometimes so bad it'll take you three hours just to drive from the suburb I grew up in on the west side to the airport on the east side (seriously, you can fly from Portland International Airport to Vancouver, Canada in less time). And Portland's gridlock is considered "good" by American standards.
I've also travelled a fair bit. Ever been to New Delhi, Beijing, Paris, Buenos Aires, New York, Sydney or Nairobi? Then you'll also know their endless congestion makes Auckland's seem like a joke in comparison.
Auckland could be like Kabul, where driving down the motorway in anything other than an armoured vehicle is not recommended, unless you wish to find yourself in a box. I may or may not be speaking from experience.
These comparisons don't mean Auckland's traffic situation is perfect. But when people talk about the Super City's allegedly crumbling infrastructure and over-population that's supposedly pushing things to breaking point, I find it rather ridiculous. Not only that, but I've also noticed such talk frequently turns a bit racist; you can't blame us immigrants for wanting to come here and make better lives for ourselves. To boot, compared to other cities I've lived in (like Berlin), there really aren't all that many immigrants here in the first place.
Things can be improved, yes. But just because it takes an extra 15 minutes to get somewhere does not mean it's the end of the world - nor does it mean we've reached breaking point.
If you have a problem with the traffic, here are a few ideas: walk, bike, carpool, use public transport such as the bus or train, or do what I do and take an Uber to work (and just about everywhere else). Not only does it help get cars off the road, but it's a solution that doesn't cost billions of dollars (here's looking at you, Waterview Connection).
There are bigger issues to deal with right now than the amount of time it takes to get from one part of the city to the other. Like, for instance, pervasive discrimination against fellow immigrants and genderqueer people, discrimination against women, transphobia, racism, an ever-growing gap between the rich and poor. And a recent UNICEF report has shown, once again, that New Zealand has the highest rate of teen suicide in the developed world. It's also worth saying this: most people in Aotearoa do not live in Auckland.
So, again, come at me all you want. But I'm sticking to my guns on this one. I'm going to keep thinking positive. Tamaki Makaurau's traffic could be a lot worse. Why can't we be thankful for what we have - or what we aren't? Seriously, you have no idea how glad I am that this city's not Los Angeles.