Posts by Tom Semmens

  • Hard News: Haphazardly to war,

    I see Key is going to the cricket together on Saturday, presumably so his presence may steady the boys. John key is surely a parody of Henry Newbolt.

    There’s a breathless hush in Zealandia to-night—
    Ten to make and the match to win—
    A bumping pitch and a blinding light,
    An hour to play and the last man in.
    And it’s not for the sake of a ribboned coat,
    Or the selfish hope of a season’s fame,
    But his Prime ministers hand on his shoulder smote
    “get some guts! get some guts! and play the game!”

    The sand of the desert is sodden red,—
    Red with the wreck of a deployment that broke;—
    The Hummer’s destroyed and the SAS dead,
    And the veterans maimed from shrapnel and bomb.
    The river of death has brimmed his banks,
    And Zealandia’s far, and Honour a name,
    But the refrain of the prime minister rallies the ranks:
    “get some guts! get some guts! and play the game!”

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 1834 posts Report Reply

  • Hard News: Haphazardly to war,

    Sunni, Shia and Kurds harmoniously sharing power and working together in Iraq.

    John Key forgot to add “and ponies for everyone”.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 1834 posts Report Reply

  • Speaker: Why all the fuss over six trees?,

    There is certainly a sense among many commentators that unelected officials have been given far too much power…

    Welcome to the neo-liberal state. Rodney Hide didn’t create the CCO abominations for them to be democratically accountable and consultative organisations working with the people of Auckland, they were created to be gift-wrapped privatisation presents for the rapacious Auckland business class.

    And if you haven’t noticed that centralised authoritarian solutions to problems is pretty much the Key government’s solution to any problem created by alternative values or thinking, then you’ve been asleep for seven years.

    It’ll be the same with the RMA reforms – They’ll get rammed through, a compliant media will talk about couples bonking in public and in a year everyone will sit around wailing about how powerless they are to stop a Chinese corporation building a mega-resort at Cathedral cove, and wondering why that nice Mr. Key could possibly have let it happen.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 1834 posts Report Reply

  • 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 • 1834 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 • 1834 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 • 1834 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 • 1834 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 • 1834 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 • 1834 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 • 1834 posts Report Reply

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