You could say it's confusing. The numbers of Aucklanders using trains, buses and bicycles are all at record levels and all rising fast. E-scooters are suddenly popular too.

But this is also happening: most new cars sold in this country are now double-cab diesel utes. Preferably black. And, as ever, most urban vehicle trips involve a trip shorter than 3km by a single person driving a car that seats five or more people.

Our use of not-cars is speeding in one direction; our use of cars is stuck going the other way.


And in the middle, bearing the great weight of a debate that stands in for the entire conflicted question of how we get around, are bike lanes.

It's the bikopalypse. People so greatly enraged, you'd swear it was the end of the civilised world, brought on by bicycles.

But despite the rage, we're not going to keep designing cities for individuals to drive their trucks around in, stoked up by talkshow hosts on the car radio who tell them their rights are more important than everyone else's.

We can't. We don't have room and we don't have the planet for it. Our cities – especially the inner cities, especially in Auckland – will give priority to the way most people get around them: on foot. And for those who can't or don't want to walk, which is all of us at least some of the time, they'll develop other smart, safe, easy options.

But how do we get there? How will we avoid the bikopalypse? As it happens, here's a handy nine-point plan.

1. Focus on schools. Phil Goff campaigned for mayor in 2016 saying he wanted to bring back cycling to schools. How's that going, Phil?

There has been some work. Northcote has a big new bike lane on Lake Rd running through a catchment of 7000 schoolkids. But now what?

How about the council, AT, local businesses, community groups and the schools themselves develop a big new plan to get everyone who can using it?

And in suburbs Te Atatū, Point England, take your pick in the flatlands down south, how about the same kind of project?

2. Do it quick and dirty. Not every bike project needs to be a multimillion-dollar spend. Why, for the love of progress, doesn't AT set out temporary trial lanes, promote them well, and develop them with the engagement of the local communities?

Start spending serious money when you've got buy-in and a good idea you've tested and know really works.

3. Rethink what bike lanes look like. In many European cities, the bike lane is on the footpath, distinguished only by different paving. It's unobtrusive but clear. It's not as safe as a completely separated bike lane, but it's cheaper so you can build more. In parts of the city that should work well.

4. Do much more. What's with that Mt Albert bike lane? And the one on Carlton Gore Rd by the Domain? Short stretches that don't connect to anything do a poor job of selling the concept – either to riders or to the wider public.

Always take the lane right through: connect, connect, keep expanding the web. Cost isn't an issue yet because see 2 and 3 above.

5. Show us the future. The artwork showing light rail on Queen St doesn't have any bikes or scooters in it. But we do need lanes for those modes. That artwork shows us 2010 with a tram in it. It doesn't really make sense.

6. Stand up to the bullies. Some bike lane opponents are far more noisy and disruptive than their numbers warrant. Stop treating them as if they speak for the majority.

7. Reframe the plans and sell them well. West Lynn was a disaster, but a big reason for that was a breakdown between cycle plans, road engineering, stormwater planning, landscaping and bus planning.

That project is a complete redevelopment project for the village, with a cycleway as part of it. AT has not sold that message well.

In fact, AT is not good at selling any messages. This summer, are we getting a hearts-and-minds campaign to encourage tens of thousands more people to ride a bike and walk? I sure hope so.

8. Lead from the front. Where's our mayor on a bicycle? Where are the council- and AT-branded bikes for staff to ride around town? Where are the campaigns fronted by other bike-riding civic leaders?

9. Learn from e-scooters. Lime will have at least two competitors in Auckland by the end of summer. Onzo was supposed to launch yellow ride-share scooters before Christmas but got held up by shipping issues. Bird, an American company, is expected to launch its black scooters in February.

Hot tip to all three: juice twice a day, please. Not just overnight. Searching for a juiced-up Lime in the evening in Auckland is disheartening.

What's next? The bus fleet will convert to electric and smaller shuttles will make a comeback. Hoverboards are on the way in. Did you know you can buy dog-powered scooters? You can race them, too: the sport is called urban mushing.

Lime is researching transit pods. Small enough to fit three to a car park, sideways. Uber's going way further: its subsidiary Uber Elevate is developing people-carrying autonomous drones.

No need for bike lanes. No need for roads at all.

The big takeout is that the way we use the streets is changing. We already need far more space for small electric and human powered vehicles, bikes included. In 20 or 30 years, who knows? But we're never going to need more roads for double-cab utes, no matter how many people buy.


Today: How to get better bike lanes

Tomorrow: How to get better politicians

Saturday: A dream of a new museum