The news that Auckland ranks a mere 94th in a survey of 145 "family friendly" cities may have come as a shock to some. Mayor Phil Goff, for one, says it "defies all the evidence". Perhaps he has to say that, but he must know he's wrong. Good weather isn't everything, Phil.
It also comes at the same time as the city experiences the rollout of a whole new generation of e-scooters, not lime green anymore, but glowing hot orange, black, pink, purple, green and doozy.
Yes, these things are related.
Auckland has a bad ranking in the survey, by German company Movinga, because housing here is more expensive even than in New York and London, the cost of living is high and it's too hard to get around. No surprises there.
• Premium - Simon Wilson: 6 myths about road safety
• Premium - Simon Wilson: Road safety is public health issue
• Premium - Auckland Transport's bold plan for road safety: but what about cyclists?
• Simon Wilson: The fast and furious vent on speed limits
These things are not the mayor's fault, or the council's, but still, they have to stand by while Wellington (38th) and Christchurch (52nd) take local gloating rights.
Not that 38th and 52nd are much to crow about, either. And Goff is right to say both house building and transport spending in Auckland right now are at unprecedented highs. Neither the council nor the Government are just sitting back and doing nothing – although they could both be doing far more.
Goff says "Auckland speaks for itself" because our population is growing. Actually the populations of Mexico City, San Paulo and Lagos are growing too, and for the same reason: when things are tough in the provinces, people move to the big city. It doesn't mean living in the big city will be all that good for them.
Don't get me wrong, I really like Auckland. I like living here, riding around in it – yes, on a bicycle – getting to choose which beautiful park or gorgeous spot on the waterfront to sit in to eat my sandwiches.
Also, I like that there's so much to do, you can't remotely hope to do it all. It's big and bustling, and because of that the chance of serendipity from the unexpected is high. Check out the Auckland Arts Festival programme , it starts in less than seven weeks with a free mass singalong in Aotea Square.
Simon Wilson: Why do bicycles provoke such a flamethrower of fury?
Simon Wilson: Why are we on such a slow road to change?
And, over three nights in the Domain, "angels will descend from the heavens". Probably to fling themselves through the air in divinely astonishingly acrobatic ways, although I imagine they might come with blasts on a mighty trumpet to lay waste to sinners everywhere. It's happened before, apparently.
Angels in the Domain notwithstanding, Auckland is not remotely as good for families as the mayor pretends. How could it be, when most parents fear letting their kids walk or ride bikes to school? When far too many of us don't live in a warm, dry and safe home? When schools are not yet all geared to meet the needs of all their kids?
We can't be too proud of anything when Middlemore Hospital remains so poorly resourced and children contract rheumatic fever and other diseases of poverty that simply should not still exist.
And what about business? Auckland will top the lists when Australasian and Asian corporate head offices decide they're better off here than wherever they are now. When we have a mass transit network covering the whole city, north, south, east and west, and it works so well that 20, 30, 40 per cent of people travelling laugh at the idea of taking the car.
We could do all this in 10 years. We actually could. But are we going to? Is there one single plan, at local or central government level, promoted by those in power or those who want to be in power, that properly commits to any part of this and sets out how to get there? The answer is no.
So, instead, let's focus for a moment on the scooters. The new licensing round has increased the number of rideshare e-scooters available in Auckland from 1875 to 3200. Some wonder why.
It's easy to think of scooters as the ultimate inner-city accessory: trundling around on the footpaths for the fun of it, a delight to many, a curse to many more.
But that reflects only a small part of their use. There are more e-scooters in Auckland now because their reach has been extended: they're in suburban centres, they're at railway and bus stations. They're offered as a "first-mile/last-mile" option: to get you from public transport to the office or home again; to get you to and from the local shops.
Suburban use will grow, and so will provincial and rural use. Lime no longer has a licence to operate in Auckland, but it's still the biggest rideshare operator in the country. It operates in Canterbury towns such as Lincoln, where student uptake is growing. Outside Hamilton, Lime scooters are becoming popular for getting from the industrial precinct at Te Rapa to the shopping complex at the Base.
It's called micromobility and it's going to keep coming at us. Bicycles, scooters, and there will be more. Rideshare e-scooters arrived only in October 2018: who knows what new tech options we'll have in a few more years?
Auckland Council was quite right to increase the number of rideshare scooters. Micromobility is moving towards a tipping point and it will happen everywhere. Why? Because it's convenient and highly functional, because it's good for the planet and, yes, because it's fun.
The council was also right to want to prioritise safety. Helmets and low speed limits may or may not have a part to play in that: when the Government finally gets round to releasing its proposed new regulations, there is an important debate to be had on those things.
But they're not the key. Scooter design really is important: new models have bigger wheels and better protection against wheel locking, and the technology will keep improving.
Most important, though, is infrastructure. If the council really was serious about scooter safety, it would instruct Auckland Transport to fast-track a whole lot more cycle lanes.
A full network in the central city, as a distinct part of the Access for Everyone programme to limit cars. Networks around shopping centres and around schools. And it would invite scooters to use them.
When that happens, we'll have safer roadways, safer footpaths, safer scootering and cycling, and more people, including more children, having more fun on them. We'll have a real sense that safety, public safety for everyone, is valued.
That would be an amazing step up to becoming a great city for families.
Oh, and another step we could take? Make sure the ferries don't get disrupted by cruise ships.
Why is that happening? Goff is angry, ferry company Fullers has ducked for cover, Ports of Auckland is nowhere to be seen. But as long as the council, the port and the cruise industry continue to say the best wharf for cruise ships is the same one the ferries use, this problem will not go away. It will keep getting worse.
Get the cruise ships off Queens Wharf and fill it with great things for families to do. How about that?