Not a very practical cycle way

datePosted on 06:17, March 9th, 2009 by Anita

The government’s plan to build a cycle way the length of New Zealand encapsulates two key themes of this National administration.

  • It’s for wealthy tourists, not New Zealanders – it won’t get us to work or study, but it’ll allow wealthy western tourists the clean green NZ experience well insulated from the reality of our car dependency.
  • It’ll provide work for the construction industry – mostly men, mostly larger business, returning good profits to wealthy shareholders.

Of the two it’s the first that bothers me most (the second is just business as usual for National), building cycle ways to get people to work or study would make a real difference in our real lives. Whether you’re planning for peak oil, a recession, an ETS or carbon tax, or reducing obesity making it safe for people to cycle commute would have been a huge step forward.

Instead we’re green washing the exhaust fumes to look good to the rest of the world.

16 Responses to “Not a very practical cycle way”

  1. Danyl Mclauchlan on March 9th, 2009 at 07:52

    1. I’m not really sure why only ‘wealthy western tourists’ would be able to use the cycle way, and not the overwhelming majority of New Zealanders that enjoy holidays in their own country.

    2. Assuming that – for whatever reason – only wealthy western tourists use the cycle way, wouldn’t it be pretty good for our economy to have rich tourists moving very slowly from one end of the country to the other?

    3. While the construction industry is mostly male, it’s also mostly small to medium, privately owned businesses who subcontract to large construction firms. It’s a massive engine of wealth creation for working class New Zealanders.

    4. How do you come up with these ideas and blog at the same time? Do you stand up or have a special chair with a hole in the seat?

    What we really need is more cycling lanes within cities, where most cycling kilometers are traveled. This would be more rational from both an economic perspective (i.e. you would get more kms traveled per $ spent), and an environmental perspective (it would save more units of carbon from being emited). I’d like to see both eventually though, so it’s not ultimately a bad idea – it’s just being prioritised over a more rational option, which makes it a bad decision at the moment, don’t you think? oh, and I’m curious, how did you develop your obsession with scatology Danyl? (RN)

  2. StephenR on March 9th, 2009 at 09:54

    It’ll provide work for the construction industry – mostly men, mostly larger business, returning good profits to wealthy shareholders.

    Now that National has expanded Kiwisaver (well, as of April 1), it would be a rare worker who doesn’t effectively own shares, wouldn’t it?

  3. insider on March 9th, 2009 at 11:18

    Hmm the construction indsutry may be mostly men, but I’d suggest most of those men also have wives or daughters whose wellbeing relies on those men’s incomes. You’re taking pay equity to an insane new level if any stimulus package has to be based on it (whatever competing definition of ‘it’ might actually be)

    I’d rather these things generate good profits than bad. Good profits will likely mean more is spent and invested, bad profits implies cut and run.

    Nice comment Danyl – it’s one of those “you can’t make this stuff up” posts

  4. imperial zeppelin on March 9th, 2009 at 11:31

    Maybe somebody would like to alter this and make it relevant to the present day/ Key/ and the jobs summit?

    Just a thought.

    http://www.cartoonstock.com/directory/n/norman_tebbitt.asp

  5. George Darroch on March 9th, 2009 at 14:09

    I like the idea of being able to cycle around NZ, or to the next city for the day.

    What I find offensive is that it seems to be the only thing that’s been proposed that isn’t ridiculous.

  6. George Darroch on March 9th, 2009 at 14:11

    4. How do you come up with these ideas and blog at the same time? Do you stand up or have a special chair with a hole in the seat?

    Danyl, have you ever asked DPF that question? He’s equally prolific.

  7. Jack on March 9th, 2009 at 14:41

    George – you can already do that. We already have a vast network of cycleways around the country. I frequently use them to cycle between cities. We call them “roads”.

    Slightly more seriously, it seems that someone’s taken the success of the Otago Rail Trail to heart and noticed the effect it’s had on the local economies. The building was only the start of the economic impact – if you’ve got leisure cyclists pootling slowly along at about 50k per day, you’ve got a lot of demand for food & accomodation. They’re now hoping to expand this model to the whole country.

    I’m still not sure what I think about this. I think a national offroad cycle network would be good, but I’m not convinced that it would be well engineered. In my experience, far too few people involved in making decisions about cycling infrastructure are actually cyclists. I think a traffic free network around the country would be great, but I doubt you’d get consistent results. For each Otago Rail Trail, you’d get large sections where it’s impractical to build a new trail and you just end up with green paint on tarmac.

  8. gingercrush on March 9th, 2009 at 15:45

    Christchurch is set up for cycling and there are some cycling lanes though they were suspended. But the point is, there isn’t that many using them. While weekends, you will see vastly more cyclists that are doing it for recreation. The point is that people in New Zealand don’t use public transport or cycling because at present its way easier to use the car. Where you don’t have to wait for public transport. I’m a car user, I use to take bus but since I brought a car. Its way easier to use the car than have to wait for a bus that will ultimately be delayed and at some point will sit on the side of the road for five minutes idling by wasting petrol.

    You could build cycleways in the cities and certainly you’d expect more patronage. But the money spent on doing that will ultimately outweigh the number of people who use it.

    Building firms do employ women. Particularly in the offices or is that point ignored. Any money that goes towards helping the building industry will also help women. Because while the construction is mostly men. Implementation, planning, designs etc etc are done by large numbers of women workers. I know the point you’re trying to make. But any plans in building will always help women as well.

    I don’t know about christchurch, but what passes for a cycle lane in Dunedin is a 1.5M strip along-side the one-way system. It’s actually a terrifying experience, and I know lots of people who don’t cyle because of the lack of a safe cycling lane – so your argument may be a little circular. What do you think? (RN)

  9. QoT on March 9th, 2009 at 17:24

    Hmm the construction indsutry may be mostly men, but I’d suggest most of those men also have wives or daughters whose wellbeing relies on those men’s incomes. You’re taking pay equity to an insane new level if any stimulus package has to be based on it (whatever competing definition of ‘it’ might actually be)

    Yes, but equally there are plenty of households relying on women’s incomes, which aren’t going to benefit from any stimulus package largely composed of “construction, some construction, and a bit more construction”.

    Those few families well-off enough to be able to rely on a single income aren’t the ones in greatest need of support during a recession.

  10. Anita on March 9th, 2009 at 20:56

    insider writes,

    Hmm the construction indsutry may be mostly men, but I’d suggest most of those men also have wives or daughters whose wellbeing relies on those men’s incomes.

    You appear to have just written that gender inequality is not a problem because women have husbands and fathers to pay for them.

    You’re taking pay equity to an insane new level if any stimulus package has to be based on it (whatever competing definition of ‘it’ might actually be)

    Why do you think it is ok for an economic stimulus package to be biased in favour of one gender (or ethnic group)?

    Are you saying gender inequality is always ok? Or just during a recession?

  11. Danyl Mclauchlan on March 10th, 2009 at 07:57

    What we really need is more cycling lanes within cities, where most cycling kilometers are traveled. This would be more rational from both an economic perspective (i.e. you would get more kms traveled per $ spent),

    I really, really doubt this – building cycle lanes in the country is relatively cheap and easy; digging cycle lanes in the city – buying property, getting consents, digging up roads and footpaths, disrupting traffic – is incredibly expensive.

    It’d be a nice thing to have, but the cost would massively outweigh the gains.

  12. Lew on March 10th, 2009 at 08:43

    As someone who cycles in Wellington, I think the major traffic problems would all be solved if a few dozen more people took to their bikes. The problems with drivers and urban design aren’t so much to do with malice as with novelty and absence of demand. It’s a chicken/egg problem, though.

    L

  13. insider on March 10th, 2009 at 10:19

    You appear to have just written that gender inequality is not a problem because women have husbands and fathers to pay for them.

    you appear to have completely missed the point in your blind adherence to a rigid analytical framework. The point was that there a many others who benefit from a salary beyond those directly earning it.

    Why do you think it is ok for an economic stimulus package to be biased in favour of one gender (or ethnic group)?

    I don’t. I think a stimulus package should be focussed entirely on stimulus, so it achieves maximum benefit for all, not on pushing political fashions.

  14. QoT on March 10th, 2009 at 11:49

    Are you saying gender inequality is always ok? Or just during a recession?

    Isn’t that basically the excuse Ryall gave for suspending the CYFS pay-inequality investigations?

  15. roger nome on March 11th, 2009 at 14:05

    “building cycle lanes in the country is relatively cheap and easy; digging cycle lanes in the city – buying property, getting consents, digging up roads and footpaths, disrupting traffic – is incredibly expensive.”

    Not if you’re thinking long term – i.e, past the next 10 years. But then again, neo-liberals aren’t into that.

  16. SPC on March 12th, 2009 at 00:38

    There is also an economic stimulus to be had ending the pollution of the waterways.

    The government should fund the work and the farmer should pay the money back – say as students do by paying back a loan.

    There are jobs now, there is safer water supply to communities, there is better recreation for locals and tourists.

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