Andrew Dickens: National's new transport policies are pure nanny state

Author
Andrew Dickens,
Publish Date
Mon, 16 Dec 2019, 3:56PM
National's transport spokesman Chris Bishop. (Photo / NZ Herald)
National's transport spokesman Chris Bishop. (Photo / NZ Herald)

Andrew Dickens: National's new transport policies are pure nanny state

Author
Andrew Dickens,
Publish Date
Mon, 16 Dec 2019, 3:56PM

I’m a bit worried that the National Party has caught a little bit of the nanny state disease that their supporters criticise Labour and Greens for. And for the tax less crowd, they’re all of a sudden very fond of new taxes.

Today’s talkback was great entertainment as the silly season got underway a week early. Well, you can always bank on the old cyclists versus motorists debate.

Chris Bishop laid down the click bait on Sunday, suggesting that cyclists be forced to ride in cycle lanes by being fined if they don’t use them. It’s what happens in the Netherlands, apparently.

Well, firstly, if we had a cycleway system nearly as good as the Netherlands then I’d agree. But we don’t.

There are three types of cycleway in New Zealand. Good cycleways, abysmal cycleways and no cycleways at all. 

The vast majority are just useless. For instance, any rider will tell you that cycleways going downhill are unnecessary as you’re already riding at traffic speed and when you ride at speed you don’t want to be constrained into a metre wide strip with curbs on either side.  They’re more dangerous.

Other cycleways have been put into roads that never needed them such as the Island bay cycleway which ruined a broad boulevard that was a pleasure to ride on.

If cyclists don’t use cycleways it’s because the cycleways aren’t good enough and that’s their choice.

Chris Bishop’s policy was like a naggy Mum. “I’ve built you this cycleway and you will use this cycleway whether you like it or not”. Hello nanny state.

National is trying to use a fine to change behaviour. You can call it whatever you want but at its heart a fine is just another tax. Using a tax to change behaviour is National’s continual criticism of nanny state Socialists.

But then today we hear that they want congestion charges on our most clogged up roads.  They want this to replace the hated fuel taxes. But to my eye it’s still a tax and no better even if they do say they want it to be revenue-neutral. If your business needs to use a congested road you will have to pay a fee which will be an impost on your business. 

You can call it whatever you want but at its heart a charge is just another tax. Using a tax to change behaviour is National’s continual criticism of nanny state Socialists.

Maybe I’m being a bit too pernickety but to my mind what our congested roads needs is more choice for commuters, not more punitive taxes.

Build better cycleways that cyclists are happy to use rather than fining them for not using rubbish.  Build better transport options and workable cities so more people leave the car at home rather than taxing people who only have one alternative.