Cycleway shifts up a gear

A journalist remarked to me on Monday that they found it strange to see John Key and I sitting together (one green tie, one blue) to answer media questions about the New Zealand Cycleway Project. My position is that when the Memorandum of Understanding with National was signed he (correctly) indicated that there were some areas of common interest in which the Green Party had expertise that National did not. Cycling is clearly one of those, and so far I have found the experience of working with him to be a positive one, where the Greens’ expertise is acknowledged and valued.

Monday’s announcement of the first seven ‘quickstart’ links in the network was a really important step and gives a glimpse of what we hope will be possible. The seven represent different parts of the country, different natural and other features, different kinds of cycling experiences (from mountain biking through to easy family rides) and different levels of difficulty. Maps and details here [PDF 2MB]

Initially these will lend themselves to “destination” cycling (i.e. you either live there and it’s your local, or you travel to get there), but as more and more links are added it should become more and more possible to join rides together, creating the possibility of much longer rides, for those whom that suits (including, yes, a length of the country ride). There’s no reason at all that already existing tracks and routes can’t be added in if they fit.

In my view it is communicating this vision of how the network will be when it is finished that is key to engage people with the project and make sure that the huge enthusiasm out there at local and regional level is well-channelled.

Right now it’s important for people to understand that if their great idea isn’t in the first seven this doesn’t mean they have been rejected. Projects only got considered for the quickstart package if they were reasonably likely to be able to start construction this summer. In some ways it’s a bit of a reward for those who had already begun work before this project came along, but many of the most exciting proposals simply will take longer to get to the implementation phase, so couldn’t be considered quite yet.

What I think is very important is to make sure that in the first 3 year period – and the PM signalled on Monday that he is thinking longer term than 3 years, and more money – that at least some of the projects funded provide the needed linkage into urban areas. The economic evaluation [PDF 1MB] undertaken of the National Cycle Network in Britain shows terrific value for money for the whole thing, but especially in urban areas where tourists and recreational riders are supplemented by people going to the shops, work or school. Benefit-to-Cost ratios for these components are a touch under 40:1, which is extraordinary. I should also point out that these areas are also those where we should expect more people to be walking too, and around half the users of the NCN are walkers.

So it was great on Monday to also hear the PM agree that he thought that links into urban areas would be an important part of our network, though of course this should not replace NZTA funding for urban walking and cycling development.

All in all a great start, and I’m proud of the role we have played to date. Proof of our ability to work with National on issues of agreement, but also of the point that we haven’t blunted our criticism when we disagree.

21 thoughts on “Cycleway shifts up a gear

  1. Peter

    Or this gem:

    I’d like to see
    Russ stand up in front of a group of breast cancer
    sufferers and tell them why they can’t have Herceptain,
    but tell them why
    they do need to fund some bicycle lanes instead.

    Sounds so much like:
    ..stand up in front of severe pain sufferers and tell them why they can’t have Sativex, but tell them why they do need to fund some bicycle lanes instead.

    Doesn’t it.

  2. Peter
    A while back you said (of herceptin being a National Party bribe)

    It is no less a bribe than a lot of Green policy is.
    A lot of it is expensive and has negligible, if any gain. It keeps a small self, interested, vocal group happy at the expense of others. In my example, cyclists.

    Do you still hold that opinion, now that Key has pandered to that ‘small, self-interested, vocal group’?
    Do you think that the cycleway is ‘ expensive and has negligible, if any gain ?

  3. What would be the idea carrying capacity for the planet, from an environmental point of view?

    Is it a good idea to have just as many people, but making do with less? But then you’ve still got a population control issue. How do we limit to replacement at that point?

  4. BluePeter

    I’m not surprised that you haven’t really thought it through, it’s not really ‘think-through-able’. You’d probably be able to find something at your local video store that would give as good an idea as any.

    For myself, believing that there is serious weather ahead, next to no chance that the ‘global community’ will rein it in and very, very little sign that communities will get any kind of act together (aside from a few ‘transition’ groups and ‘climate campers’), I’m picking a gradual deterioration of the lifestyles we now enjoy, and the emergence of a ‘closer to home’ version, where community activities come to the fore and all that that means. I feel that the skies will become greyer over NZ and the weather tumultuous. Depression will be a major challenge for all of us (except us forever perky types :-)
    As for your scenario, billions dead, collapsed capitalism, subsistance .. I can’t say. You’ll need to ask a more powerful thinker than me.
    As for your question, Is this a bad thing? I think yes, your scenario is ‘a bad thing’. I think that we (the human race) are pregnant with possibility, on the stellar scale, but presently under-performing.

    How about you?

  5. Indeed, Greenfly :)

    It’s not good is, it. Mind you, it looks like all the sheep are waking up, so hopefully there will be a lot of support for welfare becoming a safety net once again, rather than a trampoline with full safety attachments. Legs open, hand out, bounce, bounce…..

    (did that last bit stir your blood?) :)

    Anyways, Greenfly – lets have a hypothetical discussion. I’m not sure of my thoughts on this – Ihaven’t really thought it through – but I’m guessing you, and BJ, might have done.

    Lets say that the climate will change, for whatever reason. We’re either too late to do anything, we didn’t do enough, or we couldn’t have stopped catastophe anyway.

    What’s the endgame

    Let’s say temperature “settles” in a warmer, but survival band. Most of the worlds population gets wiped out. Millions survive. Capitalism – well, global capitalism – grinds to a halt. We return to subsistence, local living.

    Is this a bad thing? Is this a bad thing for the earth? For the human race (long term)?

  6. BluePeter is bored with news of a changing climate, poor mouse!

    Let’s see if I can get your blood stirred Blue..

    I hear that beneficiaries are taking your money Peter and they are laughing as they do it. Laughing.

  7. 40% of nothing is nothing. 15% of nothing is nothing. Lets just make it zero – save us all a lot of money.

    Another tiresome “ice is melting” story on the news tonight. Fear. Dread. Be scared.

    Yawnies……

  8. No Peter, lucky for Key to have people like Kevin Hague and other Green MPs cooperating with him in areas where they have expertise. It’s a great shame that Key’s ‘vision’ is so narrow that he has not ‘acknowledged and valued’ the Greens for the expertise that have in the fields of Climate Change and Peak Oil. Perhaps he’ll wise-up when our trading partners send him their first message of dissaproval over his (probable) weak target.
    15% (or 20% at a s-t-r-e-t-c-h) Weak as dishwater, that.)

  9. “so far I have found the experience of working with him (Key) to be a positive one, where the Greens’ expertise is acknowledged and valued”.

    Lucky for you, eh.

    New Zealand is lucky to have a real leader who gets things done.

  10. BluePeter thinks the Green Party should be grateful to ‘John’.

    (Is that the sound of forelocks being tugged, or is it gagging?)

    BluePeter says the Green party don’t understand cooperation, yet the post from Kevin Hague is about ..cooperation. He says,

    so far I have found the experience of working with him (Key) to be a positive one, where the Greens’ expertise is acknowledged and valued.

    See Peter’s foot, see Peter’s mouth ..cooperating!

  11. Yes, it said we’d work with whoever was in govt on areas of common interest and led to the MoU with National.

  12. And imagine if the shoe was on the other foot – the left were in charge, and consulted/partnered with Key on economic issues, because of his extensive knowledge of finance.

    Wouldn’t happen, would it.

  13. The rider on the backseat of a tandem bicycle gets the bad air and doesn’t get to steer, but I guess it’s better than being left in the dust by the side of the road, hurling abuse.

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