The Soap Box: Who says we all want more cycle ways?

Author
Barry Soper,
Section
Opinion,
Publish Date
Tuesday, 11 December 2018, 8:41AM
Minister for women Julie Anne Genter.
Minister for women Julie Anne Genter.

COMMENT:

One thing you can say about the American twang of Julie Anne Genter is that it's enthusiastic, particularly when it comes to her pet topics.

One of them is cycling, to such an extent that a few months ago she cycled to the birthing unit in Auckland to induce her baby boy.

And at the Greens' Christmas drinks the other night she made a beeline for me, telling me she had a bone to pick.

My criticism of the announcement she made on her first week back on the job after maternity leave was unwarranted, she remonstrated. To spend more than $23 million on buying bikes for schools and building tracks for the kids to learn how to ride them was justified, she insisted.

The reasons for the justification flowed thick and fast and with passion and had me agreeing that no one can argue the benefits of biking, but spending so much money on doing a job that parents themselves should be doing, saw even more spirited debate. It was time for a quick beer and to scan my app to see whether there was an Onzo bike available to take me home.

Today Genter will be out at Wellington's ritzy Oriental Bay with Phil Twyford opening a cycle lane that locals didn't want. In fact in the capital, like cities around the country, tens of millions of dollars are being spent by ratepayers and taxpayers, all aimed at making our roads safer for cyclists, and yet enthusiasm for them is about as keen as a female Father Christmas.

Now one death on the road is one too many, but if the statistics are anything to go by it's not as though cyclists are taking their lives into their hands in nearly the same way as motorists are. So far this year there have been four deaths on the roads and only one in an urban setting which is where the cycle lanes are now springing up.

Cycle ways have become something of a fad and it should come as no surprise they're being heavily promoted by the leadership in Christchurch, Wellington and Auckland cities which all have one thing in common - Labour mayors.

And it's hard to argue with their logic. On a cold, wet, blustery day on the Wellington hills, taking the kids to kindy or school, as well as dropping the partner off before work, is a job for cars. That's why most people have one.

My Onzo took me along the new cycle way being officially opened today on Oriental Bay - but I spent much of my ride dodging pedestrians!

The fury in the capital about them has seen the birth of a political party, Wellington First, which intends to contest next year's election on a pro-car ticket, furious that hundreds of car parks are being lost to the cycle lanes. They're not opposed to bikes as such but argue it's a 150-year-old technology that cars have virtually eliminated.

Overnight Talk

Overnight Talk

12AM - 5AM