Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Environmentalists risking lives

A group of transport fanatics are proposing that Aucklanders break the law and walk and cycle along a motorway this Sunday. They of course mean the Auckland Harbour Bridge.

There is a reason walking and cycling on motorways is illegal - motorways are built for motor vehicles travelling at open road or close to open road speeds, and are free of obstructions to avoid accidents. If there was a walkway/cycleway then fine, but there isn't. It's like the stupid teacher who decided to walk some kids through the Terrace Tunnel in Wellington - recklessly stupid.

The construction of Auckland Harbour Bridge was funded through tolls on motorists and its ongoing maintenance is funded through fuel taxes and road user charges on motorists. Auckland ratepayers pay nothing. Pedestrians and cyclists pay nothing. There is no "right" to use something you don't pay for, and which creates hazards for those who do.

Building a walkway/cycleway isn't cheap, partly because having people walk on a bridge creates challenges different from a road bridge, because it creates a resonance effect from the steps, different from rolling. The cycle/walkway enthusiasts don't want to pay for it, they want the money taken from road users, even though the business case for it doesn't stake up. They lie that every biking or walking is taking a car off the road, when it is more likely it is a new trip, as it is a novel experience. The effects on congestion will be negligible.

The answer simply is for those who want it to pay for it. Imagine even a turnstile either side charging £2 to cross the bridge. Why not? The motorists paid for their part.

Meanwhile, the issue is a bunch of activists willing to risk the lives of people, by walking on a motorway, which will give others the idea that walking on motorways is fine. What parents take their kids on a protest march on a motorway?

The Police set a bad precedent by letting a Hikoi cross the bridge illegally some years ago, so refusing it this time will look like "you can get away with breaking the road code if you're a Maori led group".

Where else might they demand "a right" to travel? Through Rimutaka tunnel? Through the Terrace Tunnel? Through Lyttelton Tunnel? It's a nonsense. Pay for a walkway, or use the bus or ferry.

7 comments:

jarbury said...

As much as a protest against not having walking/cycling lanes across the Harbour Bridge, this is a protest against NZTA not scheduling a proper celebration of the harbour bridge's 50th anniversary by opening it up for people to walk across.

It's just a Sunday morning when the bridge is dead quiet anyway. Closing off two lanes would do no harm at all. Come on Libertyscott, I'll see you there!

Clarke said...

You said:

"The construction of Auckland Harbour Bridge was funded through tolls on motorists and its ongoing maintenance is funded through fuel taxes and road user charges on motorists. Auckland ratepayers pay nothing. Pedestrians and cyclists pay nothing. There is no "right" to use something you don't pay for, and which creates hazards for those who do."

Actually this is only partly true. The bridge is part of SH1 so its maintenance is funded in the same way as the rest of the roading network. According to the Ministry of Transport "Surface Transport Costs and Charges" study from 2005, motorists only pay 68% of their direct costs for the network - the remainder comes out of general taxation. This means that pedestrians and cyclists are indeed paying for the Auckland Harbour Bridge, albeit indirectly.

Working from the principle of "no taxation without representation", it appears completely fair that NZTA open the lanes for a few hours.

The updated STCC study info can be found here: http://transport.govt.nz/understanding-transport-costs-and-charges-utcc/

Sally said...

Cyclist better watch out; government is always looking at ways to tax the life blood out of its people.

Before you know it, they will require that all bicycles be registered. There will be laws put in place for the police to collect fines because the owner does not have a warrant of fitness with the registration.

May sound far fetched but look at where we are with the nonsense of the destructive carbon taxes!

libertyscott said...

Jarbury: There are serious reasons why walking on the bridge before it is strengthened to allow it is immensely destructive. It is about resonance. Also, since when is it ok to break road rules, when you're a cyclist?

Clarke: The full cost of state highway maintenance is recovered from road users, you're taking one fact - around total costs and extrapolating nonsense. No general taxation pays to maintain any state highways.

Sally: Indeed it is a risk

Clarke said...

I phrased my point badly. The STCC study took into account all the costs of building and running the roading network, and when looked at holistically car drivers are only stumping up 68%. In effect there is a significant cross-subsidy from non-drivers to drivers.

This means that non-drivers should be entitled to a seat at the table when it comes to the expenditure.

Samuel said...

"There are serious reasons why walking on the bridge before it is strengthened to allow it is immensely destructive. It is about resonance."

I'm pretty sure you only get resonance when people are marching across in lockstep, not walking normally. The Harbour Bridge carries thousands of vehicles a day, so since nobody's proposing to march an army across it, you can probably rest easy on this.

jarbury said...

Oh dear it was just so dangerous today. All the little kids were in such enormous danger.

OK I'll turn off sarcasm - damn that was fun! You'll regret not being there Liberty!