Sunday, September 21, 2008

Cyclists should pay for their own bridge

You see the current bridge was paid for by motorists paying tolls, and more recently maintained by motorists paying fuel taxes and road user charges. There isn't a cycling lane or public walkway because of a deal done by Auckland local authorities at the time protecting the ferry operations and the local government owned bus services.

So, as cyclists don't pay a cent into the National Land Transport Fund they have no right to demand motorists pay for an exorbitantly expensive NZ$42.8 million new lane. $42.8 million is NZ$4 million more than the Wellington Inner City Bypass, $1 million more than the Avalon Drive Bypass in west Hamilton on State Highway 1. It's an expensive project.

Furthermore, what the hell is the ARC Transport Chairwoman Christine Rose doing supporting the illegal cycle protest from Sunday? The Auckland Harbour Bridge is part of the Northern Motorway - cycling on motorways is a traffic offence because motorways are not designed to handle slow traffic.

This silly bint - apparently responsible for so much of Auckland transport (except the motorways and indeed your cars) said according to the NZ Herald "I'd like to know why it isn't safe, why can't you cycle across, and who organised that".

Being even more banal she also said that "walking and cycling across the bridge was an equity issue and "a human right"". Great, you go do that, every day Christine - maybe Aucklanders will be better off with you walking the motorways, getting taken into court or maybe, perish the thought, run over. If you don't know what the hell a motorway is, then you shouldn't be chairing transport at the ARC.

I notice also the Police, ever keen to catch a speeding driver who presents next to no harm to anyone else (like me doing 108 km/h on a straight empty highway in Canterbury) didn't fine the cyclists because "there was no harm done". There you go, a $250 fine avoided - perfect chance for more Green protestors to clog up Auckland's motorways. By the way motorists pay for the Police to do traffic enforcement through the National Land Transport Fund too - good to see the cops not doing their job then.

The illegal protest drew support from Labour and Green candidates apparently.

My view is simple - the bridge should be sold. The new owners should toll it to fund the expansion of the Victoria Park viaduct and a duplicate crossing if they deem it commercially worthwhile, and can choose to install cycling/pedestrian ways if they so wish. Meanwhile, those who haven't paid for something shouldn't moan because they can't use it - it's called life. Cyclists get full use of almost all roads in the country, even though they pay nothing to use state highways, and only pay towards local roads as ratepayers. If they want better facilities, they ought to cough up the money themselves or do some fundraising.

UPDATE: Brian Rudman has a rush of blood to the head, and is against the cycleway clipon in the NZ Herald. On the various proposals he says "there is no evidence to suggest building either will lead to widespread use. All we get is faith, argued on the basis of what is said to happen elsewhere".

He recalls this issue from decades past when the truth was that hardly any cyclists really cared "If I wanted to call the lobbyists' bluff, I'd lay on a trial shuttle between Northcote and Shelley Beach Rd and see how many takers there are. Even the cost of providing this as a free shuttle would be cheaper than commissioning another report. Thirty years ago, after a similar clamour, several shuttle trials were conducted. The first month-long trial carried 25 bike/passengers a day. A subsequent three-month trial shuttle carried fewer than 10 return travellers a day. A final year-long trial in 1983 averaged under 20 users a day.

The cyclists argue that shuttling or catching a ferry mid-journey forces them to a timetable and restricts their free-as-a-bird independence.

But surely they owe the public purse a better justification than pure faith, before asking for $43 million."

Indeed Brian - but the Green Party transport policy IS pure faith.


Nick K said...

Scott, you're wrong.

I am the ACT candidate who attended the event and I told the crowd the same thing you say: if they want it then they should expect to pay a small toll for it, just like the Harbour Bridge was tolled. I said "user pays" is much better than "paid for many, many times over but can't use".

All the other parties were for taxpayer funding.

And I had not idea of the illegal crossing until this morning.

Nick Kearney
ACT Candidate

Libertyscott said...

Nick, I apologise and will edit the post. Thank you for your clarification.

Nick K said...

No worries.

Anonymous said...

I am amazed at your comment user pay... as a cyclist and car driver when I use my bike I do not use my car therefore less wear and tear on the road, less pollution and often quicker to get from A to B. If more people cycled and got out their cars apart from being a fitter and healthier nation and therefore less medical care at tax payers expence, the cost to road users will be less, not more. We all pay taxes not just for the roads but total infrastructure. To cross the Auckland Bridge and cycle or walk on motorways should be a right for all. It is actually safer to do this than going on hilly bendy country roads where two passing trucks leave no space for the cyclists wedged into the grass verge or bush... think about it...

Libertyscott said...

Anonymous, you are forgetting that when you don't use your car you're not paying fuel tax (or RUC) to pay for that maintenance, which actually also pays for a mountain of public transport subsidies and cycleway work. So it more than evens out - you drive, you pay for the marginal costs of road maintenance through fuel tax - you don't drive, then you don't pay for the road.

Although half the cost of road maintenance is a fixed cost, not dependent on traffic volumes (rain and sun cause much damage whether the road is used or not).

You do NOT pay general taxes for Auckland Harbour Bridge, it is entirely motorist funded - you are not contributing towards that when you are cycling.

Go on, yes cycle on motorways, enjoy being bowled over when you cycle pass an onramp where vehicles come from both sides at 100km/h - sheesh, or should the vehicles paying for the road try to dodge the freeloaders?

Cyclists as ratepayers pay for local roads - where they should stay and have every right to use those roads.