On my walk home this past Tuesday, an Auckland Transport employee asked me if I could answer a few questions about a newish project. He asked me what do I think new red lines like these mean:


Now, I don’t drive in Auckland. Yet. But I have driven, not in New Zealand, but in DC and in New York, so I should be able to earn my Girl Scout badge in defensive driving, with some demerits for cursing under and over my breath. Maybe I’m better at driving defensively.

Red usually means stop or slow down. In an afterthought, yellow or white may be interpreted as slow down as well. Three wide lines make the point that something is coming. So my guess was: Slow down before you get on this really busy road in and out of the city.

The nice AT guy told me the lines are intended for drivers turning off from the main artery into a residential zone, to get them to slow down.

AT is calling these lines the “threshold treatment,” signaling to drivers that they’re no longer in the fast-paced commercial zone they just zoomed down. It’s part of a wider effort to institute a “Residential Quiet Zone” in the neighborhood, aimed to prevent drivers from speeding through side streets.

The meaning of those red lines wasn’t intuitive to me, but I’m just a person and a migrant. He asked if there is something that could be done to improve how the lines are supposed to get the message across to drivers. I suggested using a different color or painting a word down. But I also added the caveat that I just moved here, I don’t drive yet and I certainly do not have a degree in engineering.

The guy was gracious for the input anyway. I went off on my day, wondering how the hell I’m going to get acquainted with New Zealand driving laws. Driving school, that’s how. I think I will need my head reprogrammed in order to drive on the left and interpret the rules.

Would you have thought “slow down driver” if you saw red lines like these? Tell me in the comments.