Posts by BenWilson

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  • Hard News: Nelson Street: Not too…, in reply to James Littlewood*,

    The NW cycle lane feels to me like it’s going to collide a cyclist with a pedestrian in a way that’s gonna hurt.

    I think "it's gonna hurt" is part of the reason that it also doesn't happen much. Cyclists can't casually kill someone through inattention or recklessness without also risking their own lives. Collisions, even when they do happen, are likely to be low energy, and the cyclist falls from a greater height, probably onto their upper body so their risk of damage is greater.

    Are the cycles that use this going to be equipped with brakes, or are they as unfashionable as the bell these days?

    Indeed. Cyclists slow down when near pedestrians, who are unpredictable. Slamming on brakes is a last resort, following several prior failures: Failure to keep to a speed at which you can see hazards in time to stop. Failure to see hazard. Failure to respond to hazard by slowing and/or signalling. Failure to make yourself visible/audible. Failure to control vehicle even in emergency, to minimize collision likelihood and/or severity.

    But! In this quite unusual case, there is room to spare to make possible something unique in Auckland, a well-designed high-speed section of cycleway, without taking away quite a considerable walkway. If well designed, it's located to become a preferred route for cyclists in the Western Suburbs. It could easily cut traveling times (and effort) significantly, whilst increasing safety. Worth considering.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 9036 posts Report Reply

  • Hard News: A dramatic and unremarkable decision, in reply to steven crawford,

    . I believe that people should be alowed access to cannabis for medicinal use.

    Me too, there's an even stronger argument for that than the already very strong argument that cannabis should be allowed for non-medicinal use. It's already being used in a massive way in this country, and those who want to use it medicinally instead of getting stoned should have the option not to have to break the law and get stoned as well, just to get access to the medicinal properties. My poor old great-aunt that recently died of cancer used for the first time in her life to help get through the shocking pain. It seemed a bit silly that she had to go through all the bullshit of making a connection, surreptitiously hiding her baggies and toking it up through a bong when a damned pill could have been prescribed.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 9036 posts Report Reply

  • Hard News: Nelson Street: Not too…, in reply to Bart Janssen,

    I meant the little bump thingies they use you let drivers feel the lane

    Ah, OK, that makes more sense for cyclists. Although from memory they’re extremely inconvenient to skaters, which seems a bit mean. They’re one of the groups I see most frequently on the Grafton Gully slope. They don’t seem to impede cyclists at all, being very maneuverable. All the more need for some soft bushes tho :-).

    the regular stretches of bumpy asphalt over tree-roots of the otherwise much smoother (but less than perfect) patchy concrete on the Gt North Rd/ Waterview stretch do a pretty good job of it if you are on a bike with skinny high-pressure tyres :)

    Tell me about! Gt North Rd going down from Blockhouse Bay has become a real ’mare, when it used to be one of the highlights of my rides. Being forced onto that patchwork of asphalt, tar seal, cracked concrete, tree roots, dropped fruits and nuts and those spikey ball things, leaves, gravel, driveway crossings, low hanging branches and so on, when I used to be able to just use the damned road to get onto the causeway, and easily keep up with the traffic, taking the whole lane for myself…that is a sorry excuse for a cycleway. I love how the traffic signage divert bikes just before the bottom – onto a staircase over a kerb, with no signal assistance at all – you have to just stop in the middle of Great North Rd and wait for a gap in two lanes of traffic including a motorway offramp so you can then ride to a kerb, quickly jump off, lift up your bike and carry it over the kerb and then down a flight of stairs. Only if you are in the know will you realize you should switch across to said shitty cycleway 500m before that point – I tend to ride along the median stripes waiting for a chance to dart into a driveway, because that is safer, believe it or not. I know the tunnel is important, but dear God how hard is it just to leave a gap in the fence at the bottom of the hill so people can enter the cycleway without having to cross the road and then use the bridge to get back to where they actually wanted to go?

    ETA: In case your route is down Gt North Rd to Waterview, onto the cycleway, I recommend actually staying on the road all the way to Carrington Rd and then doing a hook turn to get back to the cycleway. Preferable to attempting to turn right using the right turning lane on a three lane road going uphill. Hook turns are a bloody good thing to have in the arsenal. Also saves you having to use the pedestrian crossing on Carrington Rd, just to stay on the cycleway.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 9036 posts Report Reply

  • Hard News: Nelson Street: Not too…, in reply to Bart Janssen,

    t the most a speed bump every 5 metres or so.

    Tricky question there. Do we really want/need to slow cyclists down? The more you make a cycleway like the horrible one on Tamaki Drive, the less cyclists will actually use it. At least not for transport, but only for dawdly leisure.

    No cycleway we've got anywhere yet actually has speed humps (aimed at cyclists), does it? Even the ones that are completely shared with pedestrians. And yet I haven't heard tales of terrible incidents involving collisions so far. You can go a tremendous speed down many stretches of the North Western cycleway - think of the drop-off just off the end of Takau St - I can easily go 50km/h down that and coast at 40km/h for a km or so. Similarly beside Chamberlain Park, and even more so down beside Unitec, and coming off the bridge onto the causeway. Then there's the crazy arse one going down from Upper Queen St through Grafton Gully...I haven't even tried to bomb that one yet, but I wouldn't be surprised if speeds over 70km/h are possible. But I obviously never do that if there's oblivious pedestrians or dogs or children around, or even just a cyclist coming the other way. My own life is at stake as well as theirs. Nor have I ever seen anyone else do it.

    If we're talking about an actual separated cycleway that's an opportunity to make something that is a second-to-none experience for cyclists, and that isn't smashing into a sharp speed hump every 5 meters on a completely empty cycleway.

    To make the fast areas safer, better engineering of the separation seems like a good idea. Rails along the footpath, or a dense hedge? Maybe even widening - the uphill side can be correspondingly narrowed since gravity will be slowing the cyclists down on its own! Considering that pedestrians can walk in both directions on a footpath, and there are no intersections on this bridge, the ability for pedestrians to cross doesn't need to be 100% - there could be some no-crossing stretches.

    But then again, perhaps the idea of placing the order of right of way firmly in favour of the slowest travelers is better. It depends on whether you want it to resemble a street mall or Tamaki Drive, or a good European cycleway with excellent adjacent pedestrian facilities. Fundamentally we're talking about a bridge here, a very rare resource, built for transport. No one is going to be living on this road, or setting up a shop.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 9036 posts Report Reply

  • Hard News: Nelson Street: Not too…, in reply to FletcherB,

    I'd wiggle your numbers a little bit (try walking at 10km/h!), but the point stands - a bike is usually going about 4 times faster than someone walking, and can easily be 10 times faster. It's similar to the gripe that many motorists have about bicycles. Just because you think you're ripping along at 40km/h on your bike doesn't mean you're not holding up people using the a vehicle in an entirely different class, and collisions between them are definitely best to avoid. So lane separation is kind of necessary.

    Pedestrians can also be runners, who can be surprisingly fast (I've been researching cursorial hunting and it turns out that humans are amongst the elite animals for distance running - even now a reasonably fit runner could run down most kinds of land animals on foot given enough time and ability to follow). Speeds in the 10-20km/h range for prolonged flat surface efforts. But footpaths do seem to be sufficient for the numbers of people who run, since they can stop, start and turn much faster, and collisions between runners and pedestrians are probably an order of magnitude less dangerous than between cyclists and pedestrians.

    ETA: Also, runners can't treble their speed going downhill...well not if they want to live.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 9036 posts Report Reply

  • Hard News: Nelson Street: Not too…, in reply to Roger Lacey,

    How about including a pause button too?

    Let's leave out the eject, though.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 9036 posts Report Reply

  • Envirologue: Choose Wisely, Grasshopper:…, in reply to Bart Janssen,

    As Rob pointed out this IS a new problem.

    I must have missed it, where did he do that?

    100 years ago the problem wasn’t the quality of housing it was having enough houses at all.

    Semantic games? But I'm meant to be the philosopher here. Unless people were actually on the street exposed to the elements, they were in some quality of shelter. The quality just happened to be, in many cases, extremely shit, and no government was going to legislate to force that quality up, because they'd be forcing people out of barns and onto the actual street. Which could be an outcome here. I doubt it, but I can understand that the solution is not axiomatic.

    This IS a new problem.

    It's been going on progressively my whole life, so no, it's not new. It's just come to a head.

    Now for me, at that point a responsible well-led government would have looked at the legislation and said shit we need to do something about this because sooner or later folks are going to die.

    No arguments there.

    You don’t need a poll to tell you that this is a good thing to do. You know damn well there are shitty landlords out there who need some kind of rule of law to make them clean up the shitholes they are renting.

    Nor there. I found it quite hard to understand in the mid 90s, when flatting, why it was that landlords could get away with renting out mould covered rooms that stank of raw sewerage, had flies in swarms, and had actual blood coming up out of the shower drain. 20 years have passed since then, nothing happened.

    You are claiming this as a victory for the power of polling and an example of just how wonderful it is to have a government respond to polls.

    Yes, that is correct. Now, something has happened. Yes, it could have happened when the bill was raised. Maybe if they'd taken a poll then, it would have. Instead we relied on the so-called expertise of our leaders to do exactly what Labour did before them - nothing. That's where the fail happened, NOT when they did actually respond to the poll.

    That is why I and other despise this PM and his reliance on polling to define for him what is right and wrong.

    I don't like John Key either, but not because he followed a poll. I wish he'd do more of it, with the polls that I care about. What I don't like is his own personal judgment as reflected by his interpretation of his mandate, under which he has actually done things against the polls. There was never any public will for charter schools, for instance. Selling off assets, something his presumable expertise weighed so heavily on, was unpopular. Selling the state houses wasn't as a result of opinion polls, it was all him and his ideological cronies with their taste for inside money wrapped up in fiscal prudence bullshit.

    As for the definition of right and wrong, well, I don't think his own personal opinion is a better guide than the polls, do you?

    See what I did there : )) Experts in value systems? I bet they are ‘a dime a dozen’.

    Yes, they are. That's why I prefer the popular will as a more reliable (but certainly not infallable) guide to what values our government should promote. Because I genuinely don't think that there are moral experts. Not John Key. Not Helen Clark. Not Bart or any team of scientists. Not me. No one. As a society we come to the view that poor housing is unacceptable, and that we are rich enough that we can actually fix it. If Key responded to that, good on him, a pity he didn't do it sooner.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 9036 posts Report Reply

  • Hard News: Nelson Street: Not too…, in reply to Russell Brown,

    Heh. Between lanes, we need ||.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 9036 posts Report Reply

  • Envirologue: Choose Wisely, Grasshopper:…,

    Bart, only a small fraction of rentals are Housing NZ stock. Substandard housing has been a feature of NZ since forever. I grew up in a house that would be considered unsafe by today' standards, drafty, cold, damp. The back lawn was like a literal garbage tip, it took my father weeks to clean it up.

    It's like you're trying to maintain that this is a new problem. It's not. It's not even bloody close. It's not like people died from poor housing in NZ for the first time ever just before National reacted to the media panic about it.

    But looking at what actually happened, we are now in a situation where the government for the first time in NZ history is looking like passing a bill that could surely have been passed 100 years ago if there had ever been the political will to do so. Yeah, they looked at polling and made a good decision. Prior to looking at the polling they made a bad decision. But you want to blame it all on the polling? The polling is the thing that made it better.

    Sure, National should have done this years ago. So should Labour. So should fucking Norman Kirk. But none of them ever did. That's the exact same failure of governance that you're lamenting. With the caveat: In the past it was much worse. I know elderly people who actually lived in houses with dirt floors when they were kids.

    This is the behaviour I find despicable and that you are defending. To me it indicates a government content to allow its citizens to die unless it looks bad in the polling.

    As opposed to letting them die and not even giving a fuck about the polling, like what happened right up until now? I don't think that's better. I think you've got a strange philosophical objection to polling that you are letting cloud your judgement of what actually happened. To the point that it has made you argue that some positive outcome from polling is symptomatic of some underlying evil of polling. Who's being the philosopher here?

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 9036 posts Report Reply

  • Hard News: Nelson Street: Not too…,

    I'm looking forward to this and agree with the minimalists. Decent safety barriers on the sides to prevent suicides. If they're transparent and high, and overhanging they double as weather shelters, and massively reduce the wind, which is very likely to be a problem on an elevated path in a valley. If we must waste such valuable space on shrubbery, it could be small, low stuff that forms natural lane separators, and doesn't hurt to fall into at speed, and don't produce vast amounts of leaf litter. The most intuitive plan to give the best of worlds to both pedestrians and cyclists would be to make it like a road - footpaths to the sides, since people are going to be gawking at the views on both sides a lot, and cyclists do often want to just stop. Cycleway in the middle, preferably with lanes in each direction. Maybe a small kerb for the footpath. I'd think giving the pedestrians the lion's share makes sense. Dedicated unidirectional cycleways don't need to be that wide, when the danger of cars is zero. This gives plenty of room for such lovely conveniences as decent light masts, park benches, rubbish bins, public toilets, public art, with viewing space.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 9036 posts Report Reply

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