Law Of The Jungle


I thought car window washers had been banned in Auckland City.

But they continue to dice death and cause stress for motorists.

Here’s one being a particular dangerous nuisance at a busy Fanshawe St intersection:

This guy didn't seem to like me taking his photo!

The biggest problem is they seem to be so oblivious to traffic light patterns and are determined to finish a particular car wipe even though the lights have turned green and the motorist is understandably determined to rush off.

I watched this washer for ten minutes and in the end had to walk away, scared there was going to be a tragedy the way he then skipped between moving cars to get out of the way once lights changed.

It is in fact illegal.
The Auckland City Council Traffic Bylaw 2006 was passed in that year stating:
25.5.1: No person may wash or clean the windows or attempt to wash or clean the windows of any vehicle or vehicles stopped at any road intersection or approaching any road intersection.
25.5.2: In accordance with the Local Government Act 2002, the penalty for breach of a bylaw under clause 25.5.1 is liable on summary conviction to a maximum penalty of $20,000.

Assuming the washers need the gold coins, you’re expect that penalty would be a deterrent but at a time unemployment figures don’t look healthy, there seems to be a return in force of them.
When I was in Victoria St on Friday, there was even a lunchtime committee meeting of them in a bus stop discussing how much money they had scored so far that morning.

The driver of the Link bus driver I was catching quipped that they were under some sort of substance because of  the loud and intimidating way some of them were behaving.

When the bylaw was being debated, the Mt Roskill Community Board argued against it, insisting the washers don’t constitute a threat to public health and safety.
“They do not constitute potential for offensive behaviour and are not such a nuisance as to require legislation. Different people in the community feel differently about window washers. Some feel they add colour, interest and vitality to the community, whilst others find them to be an annoyance.

“Regardless of one’s personal view of window washers, law exists to maintain order within a society and to protect where necessary the lives of citizens. It does not exist to interfere in the acts of private citizens engaging in enterprise, merely because people find them to be a minor annoyance. Members of the Board note that, according to Council officers, there are no records of deaths or injuries that have been sustained by people washing car windows or attempting to wash car windows at city intersections.

“Members submit that the majority of people engaged in window washing have been motivated to engage in private enterprise and productive activity. It may be that these same people will not find such productive activity outside of window washing. Council must consider the consequences of removing a citizen’s right to engage in private enterprise at the time.”

If there have been no accidents, that’s a miracle. I certainly held my breath at Fanshawe St waiting for one. it was only the reluctant patience of the motorists who had to hesitate before putting their foot on the accelerator once the green light changed.

Another increasingly common daredevil trend that I have seen even all over town, including in Queen St, during the busy afternoon rush hour, is skateboarders deliberately skating down a car lane.

A common ploy seems to be to just suddenly burst onto the road from the footpath and skate as the skater has looked around, seen no cop,and launched into the dare.

They get away with in when there’s no car in the vicinity but things soon get scary when a car suddenly comes across an unexpected obstacle in front of them. It may be Jackass cool but not if some poor motorist accidentally bowls over a skater and unrealistic people like the Mt Roskill Community Board takes the side of the skater. We’re having enough contentious debate abut motorists sharing the road with cyclists, thank you.

And talking of the law of the jungle: I wondered why a bus driver had suddenly put on the brakes in the middle of turning from Symonds St into Grafton Bridge at 5.35pm.
The reason? The unexpected discovery of a car coming towards him, across a bridge which has banned traffic between 7am and 7pm.
I hung around and saw two other cars crossing the bridge.

I wonder how common it is.




  1. rtc says:

    Auckland City Council fined 800 cars I think last month for people driving across the bridge - so it’s very common. They should just station one of their bus lane cameras there more often and we’d soon see the last of them.

  2. Al says:

    Agree its very common …… once more buses are using than route things should improve

  3. Joshua says:

    Don’t see to much wrong with skateboarding along the road, is it illegal? cause just like a bike they have wheels and I would have thought technically they would be required to ride on the road rather than the footpath. Not saying it’s the safest way for them to ride, but we also don’t want to create a nanny state.

    With regards to window washers, it’s more the way they do business rather than the fact they are there, I see no reason why they should be banned or the practice illegal, there should be guidelines to how they are to work starting with PPE (personal protective equipment). A hivis would definitely help. Just like rules in the construction industry. They have as mush right to conduct business as someone trying to sell products, just make the practice safer.

    As regards to Grafton Bridge, yes station a camera there for a while, one it would deter the cars eventually, and two while they are still risking it, we could earn some more money to put into developing the Public Transport system.

  4. rtc says:

    ACC have earnt 100,000 in fines in the last month alone, if they re-invested that into more cameras to monitor bus lanes and then ring-fenced the proceeds for PT it would start to help fund some improvments. Not really a sustainable source but if Joyce can ring fence petro taxes for roads then the council should be able to ring fence fines for using buses labes for PT.

  5. John says:

    I agree that washing windows at intersections is a dangerous practice. I would speculate that that was the reason it was banned. I do not see any way it could be legal while satisfying OSH even if PPE was used. If it were legalised, the next step is hawkers selling trinkets knocking on your windows…. do we want a road or a market? I spend plenty of time waiting for lights at intersections already without those in front of me finishing transactions….
    On one occasion I called the police to report a group of window washers that were particularly dangerous and had a rather disinterested response… although they did say they would send someone past. At other times I’ve seen police cars at the same intersections watching as the window washing went ahead.

  6. Johans says:

    Yeah it’s getting worse especially at the Karangahape/Ponsonby intersection.

  7. Joshua says:

    Well I actually don’t mind helping people out and getting my windows washed as long as they ask me and have time to do it. I get something out of it and so do they, but I guess a few will always ruin it for the rest.

    As I say as long as they have guidelines and they are followed, I think it’s good for the community and they provide a service that shouldn’t be banned.

    I don’t take notice of it in the city, as whenever I go there I try and take Public Transport, only when I’m carrying two full cricket bags, or at night do I drive to the city.

  8. Joshua says:

    Anything to deter drivers into the city gets my vote though, and if it’s annoying you being held up behind them i’m sure it will others so good on them!

  9. Ingolfson says:

    There seems to be a portable bus lane camera on Grafton Bridge every second day (or maybe part of every single day, I’m not walking past daily).

    So they are ticketing people heaps - but they aren’t getting it. Maybe larger signage is needed, and a fixed camera probably as well.

  10. mark says:

    Re Grafton Bridge: wouldn’t it make more sense if the council re-phased the traffic signals so that vehicles never actually got a green light to get onto the bridge in the 1st place between 7 and 7? Or do they rely on making $$ out of foolish people who are too dumb to read signs?

  11. ingolfson says:

    Mark, all the lanes that people primarily use to go onto Grafton Bridge are shared turn-and-through lanes. If you are turning, you are sitting legally in those lanes.

    Also, these lanes are obviously used by buses and cyclists, both who can go legally. So you cannot simply not provide a phase!

    Also, while I could see some concerns if all there was was some small bus lane signs. But a) there’s also big text markings on the road, b) huge portable VMS signs, and c) I would think the wide majority of all who drive over know the area quite well!

    And finally - I have no problem with Council making $$ (or even $$$) out of foolish people who break the rules.


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