Posts by Tom Semmens

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  • Hard News: Works in progress,

    Physical separation by a barrier is better but cycling lanes that are just marked are still a good start. Where they occur I’d usually rather have them than not have anything.

    I agree, separation can be as simple as a line of those orange knock down lane marker thingies with the reflectors on them stuck every 5-10m on the traffic side of the painted cycle way.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 1861 posts Report Reply

  • Hard News: Works in progress,

    Yes. Auckland’s hills are the essentially the gap between reality and the nice things people say about cycling infrastructure in Amsterdam, New York or London.

    They’re a showstopper for new and casual cyclists, and they help make the advocates’ idea that everyone should just ride around in their normal street clothes all year a bit unrealistic.

    For 80 million dollars – just 5% of the cost of the Waterview project – the government could buy and give away 80,000 free electric bikes (hills? what hills?) to Aucklanders, which kinda shows how skewed our transport priorities are. The idea of even subsidising the cost of electric bikes would be laughed at by this government, when they happily throw billions and billions at roading infrastructure that amounts to a massive subsidy for road transport.

    But imagine if a subsidised “government” electric bike was available at the Warehouse for, say, $250. For a lot of people, those show stoppers would vanish. For hilly and windy NZ, mass adoption of electric bikes could be a Kiwi solution for Kiwi terrain.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 1861 posts Report Reply

  • Hard News: Works in progress,

    Cycling in Auckland seems to be condemned to special, sometimes “off the main track” routes,

    and

    I want to cycle along Dominion Road, Sandringham Road, St Luke’s Road,

    I couldn’t disagree more. If you are a chicken like me then there is no safe way for cyclists to share the same space as cars, let alone buses and trucks. Physical lane separation and the creation of a complete alternative cycleway network is the only way you will make cycling safe enough for large scale adoption. The thing is, the cost of the creation (to a high standard) of such a separate network would be chicken feed compared to the billions poured into motorway projects, but there is no political will for it. The problem is total policy capture of public funding by the roading lobby and an endemic culture of reactionary anti-environmentalism in the National government and business, a mindset which sees investment in transport infrastructure as primarily about the amount of freight they can ship over it.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 1861 posts Report Reply

  • Hard News: Works in progress,

    I guess I am talking about the intellectual leap from cycling being seen as a recreational and sporting activity to it being seen as a valid form of transport for people who are not interested in lycra or MAMIL ego and all that other cycling palaver. For example, if I want a second hand car to commute I go on trade me and there they have Cars, Boats and (motor)Bikes. But if I want a push bike for my commute I’ve got to go to the sports section. I want bicycles to be moved to reside alongside cars and motorbikes as a normal form of commuter transport.

    Only once you “normalise” the bicycle as a mainstream form of getting around quite separate from sports cycling then you’ll get more thoughtful design of cycleways, because at the moment I think the assumption is the average user of a cycle way is a reasonably fit person using their bike as a way to stay fit.

    Yup, I have an electric bike for commuting. I do a 16km round trip everyday, pretty much all of the journey is along the cycleway. If it wasn’t, I wouldn’t cycle. I consider Auckland’s roads just to unsafe to cycle on regularly during rush hour. I consider my life far to important to end it on something as squalid as a car vs bike incident on some dull concrete roadway.

    But biking is great – no need to worry about headwinds or bumpy bits, and I still get to have a nice bike ride twice a day. However, I also put the bike in the shed around Queen’s Birthday, and it doesn’t come out again until about a week or two before Labour weekend. I hate cycling in the dark and the cold.

    Against the cost of an electric bike is the quite significant fuel savings. In summer, I might use my car once or twice a week for routine tasks. My fuel bill is $25-30 a fortnight max. In winter my fuel bill is at least $50-60 a fortnight. I reckon all up I save around $500 a year in petrol alone.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 1861 posts Report Reply

  • Hard News: Works in progress,

    I guess that the obvious solution is to buy an electric bike. They are amazing, like the iPad they take a whole lot of incremental improvements in technology (batteries, motors, gearing, construction, electronics) and create a new sort of revolutionary transport. I was talking to a bike shop owner about this just the other day. If you want cycling to become a mainstream method of transportation, you've got to stop seeing it as primarily a lifestyle statement and a form of sport and recreation that happens to get you to work and more as simply a healthy, cheaper and more fun alternative to a car for everyone.

    Less humourless MAMILs wishing they were in a real peloton, and more smiling Mary Poppins' on an electric bike going home with a baguette and some groceries in the basket.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 1861 posts Report Reply

  • Hard News: Works in progress,

    All the rest involve a stiff uphill climb at the end of your trip. Admittedly it’s hard to see how they could have done anything else...

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 1861 posts Report Reply

  • Hard News: We're in this together,

    For all that we revere Michael Joseph Savage, it is worth recalling that he not only nationalised all radio, he personally vetted the news radio put to air.

    Our radio are so much more independent these days, they don't need the PM to write their copy for them.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 1861 posts Report Reply

  • Hard News: Some reprehensible bullshit,

    The so-called Taxpayers Union calling for recall elections is hardly surprising given that the Auckland political right – an odious assorted bunch of creeps that includes the core of the dirty politics brigade with the likes of Cameron Slater, Dick Quax, Cameron Brewer, and Carrick Graham, plus most of the right wing business establishment and a pile of fellow travelers at the Herald – have never accepted Len Brown as mayor and have considered him an unsuitable upstart from the third world of Manakau from day one of his mayoralty. The whole Palino sponsored Bevan Chaung “scandal” was a straight-out attempt to subvert the last election result, which should show how short the right’s patience is becoming.

    Eventually, if the Auckland right can’t win an election they will try and engineer a “crisis” and get their National party mates in Wellington to appoint a commission to run the city. I guess this sort of beat-up story is part of the building blocks of that sort of campaign to create an atmosphere of crisis and financial mismanagement. It also means Len Brown cannot run again. If he did, the vileness, hysteria and character assassination of the man would reach unbelievable heights, and if he still managed to win, the Auckland right would try and make the city ungovernable to provoke a “crisis” that would “require” Brown’s removal by by John Key.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 1861 posts Report Reply

  • Hard News: Park Life,

    Agreed that it is a scandal that public land has a private club on it, but why develop it at all? Unitec is busy planning to tarmac over as much of it’s site as it can, converting this space into a public park and linking it to Western Springs somehow would roughly double the green space to around 65 hectares, or alternatively give a Western Springs sized park on the other side of an area bisected by the North-Western motorway.

    Maybe we need to stop the impetus to a greed-driven stampede to property development whenever a bit of green space is spotted…

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 1861 posts Report Reply

  • Hard News: Incomplete, inaccurate and misleading,

    Extraordinary how not one cheer-leader on this site…

    Succeed in politics and you have many enthusiastic fathers crowding about. Fail and you are that sad, forgotten orphan sitting on the step outside in the rain.

    Besides, the failure of Cunliffe was an error in judgment, not in intent. We still have just one intent, and we’ve got a shiny new cannon.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 1861 posts Report Reply

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