Cycling to Southland – Day 1 (the easy part)

When I initially conceived of this journey to Southland by bike, I hoped to cycle down the west coast from Picton. But a quick look at the distance (over 1000km) and the calendar made it clear it would be impossible to get to the festival by the 21st.

So I decided to take the train from Picton to Christchurch, a journey that can be arranged in conjunction with the Interislander ferry from Wellington. And to my pleasant surprise, the two modes are quite well integrated. It’s only a 4minute walk off the ferry to the train station, and you can arrange to have your luggage transferred for you upon check-in the ferry terminal.

Bicycle facilities on the ferry are sorely lacking, and I am hard pressed to understand why. You pay extra to bring a bike, and there is plenty of room for a nice rack in a clean and well lit area, which would hardly cost much. I was told to walk to the end of the car storage area, with no instruction how or where I should secure my bike. I saw another bike already tethered to some sort of railing ensconcing barrels of what appeared to be motor oil. The ground was wet and oily, and there were a few random ropes that I used to tie my bike to a filthy railing.

My beautiful bicycle was treated better on the train, which has quite new and very comfortable carriages. The luggage operator expertly secured my bike with a small, new bungee cord to one of the luggage racks. But there isn’t much room for growth in bike/train tourism as they would not easily be able to accommodate more than a few at one time.

The Picton-Christchurch rail service is lovely and efficient, with some of the most stunning views of the Kaikoura coast. I highly recommend taking this train. At about 5 hours, it competes well with driving for time, and is far more comfortable than a car, as you can read, move around, and enjoy the gorgeous scenery.

The only problem with the alternative journey from Wellington to Christchurch is it’s comparable in price to flying, if not more expensive, even though it takes far longer. How could that be? Surely an airplane is more expensive to buy and operate than a small train, and one would expect the ferry to be more cost effective for passengers only.

I suspect the answer lies in the relatively low demand for rail, which may have roots in unintentional subsidies to other modes, and the asset stripping that occurred when the rail line was privatised. I’m also curious about subsidies or initial state investment that enabled airports to get up and running, though that merits more research in the NZ context.

If externalities such as climate pollution are included, the ferry and train could become more attractive, despite the longer journey. As demand for these slower but lower carbon modes increased, there would be more opportunities for services (making it more convenient), fixed costs could be distributed over a larger pool of consumers, we would see potentially more competition with the ferries, and consequently relative prices may fall, or at least have more variation as airline tickets do.

What do you think?

Arriving in Christchuch I was a short ride from Riccarton, where I am staying — a neighbouhood well endowed with bike shops, outdoor gear outlets, and cheap tasty Vietnamese food. Everything a girl could dream of, except the surplus of big empty car parks behind the shops of course.

All in all, it was a great day and journey. I have some photos to illustrate the post, but I may have to upload them later.

Now I just hope the wind stays a nor’easter or dies down, or it’s going to be a hard slog to Ashburton tomorrow!

Next Post: Day 2 — The windy Canterbury Plains

34 thoughts on “Cycling to Southland – Day 1 (the easy part)

  1. Well, I’m astonished to read that the ferry has such poor provision for bicycle storage – it’s a good story though, I could smell the oil from here!
    Trains and bikes go together well. Long ago, I stood with my then-girlfriend, waiting at the station at Hampden, for the freight-train from Invercargill that I knew was carrying the two old bicycles we were to ride across to Central Otago and beyond on our summer cycling tour. The classic Triumph and Phillips 28″ wheel, soft seat, single-speed his and hers bikes had been renovated by my girl friend’s father and he’d put them on the train and sent them on their way north, to where we waited.
    The train duly arrived, the large door of one of the freight wagons slid open, hauled-upon by the railway-man inside, to reveal a lot of empty space and…the two old bikes, painted black and looking very romantic (to our eyes :-)
    “Starting a museum?”, the man asked.
    Those two bikes carried us huge distances around Otago and Southland, down the Skippers road in the scorching heat of summer, into Glenorchy, across Dansey’s Pass, over the Lindis Pass (in the snow!).
    We’ve still got the two bikes and ride them occasionally, as well as several others (BSA, Hercules, Royal Enfield etc.)
    Good luck with your biking over the next few days, Julie Anne. I have to say, the highway down the east coast between Christchurch and Gore is not the most romantic you could have chosen to ride; those long stretches between ChCh, Ashburton and Timaru will be a trial!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0 (+6)

  2. Julie,

    The same plane could fly Wellington to Christchurch many times in five hours, which helps explain the price. The plane moves more people in the same time.

    Secondly, you seem concerned about subsidy that helped get the airports gong, but not the subsidies that helped rail get built, and continue to operate today.

    People prefer planes. If your only means of making trains more attractive is by pricing is “externalities”, then you need to think harder.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 7 (+1)

  3. Good luck for your cycling today. I completely agree about the relative prices of land-based and air-based transport. Planes, as Elsie says, are much faster, and their price should reflect this convenience, as well as the extra harm they do in terms of emissions.

    I travel from Otago to the North Island occasionally, and choose to go by train or bus and ferry when time is not an issue, but it does require a lot of planning. My next trip is going to require an overnight stop in both Christchurch and Blenheim so will be very leisurely.

    I remember fondly the pre Wahine sinking days when there was an overnight ferry between Wellington and Lyttelton each way. Those days the ferries had compulsory bunks, but most people these days would be happy to spend the night in a comfortable recliner such as they have on the Picton ferries. I’ve done that several times on an overnight trip across the channel to Brittany, and after all, one of the current ferries used to be called “the Princess of Brittany” so is used to such a system.

    Think of the fuel savings for passengers, trucks and trains if that system were reinstated

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 (0)

  4. I’m a big fan of rail. Buit to make rail work economically you have to have shedloads of it, and run it hard, and have trains run between (or along) points where lots of people want to travel.

    If you don’t have shedloads of rail, you suffer from an incredible lack of economy of scale. Cars (and planes) are cheap because there are huge numbers of them, and the costs of keeping them running are thus spread many ways. Trains also suffer from a lack of mobility. You can take your 737 to pretty much any aircraft service station on the planet under its own steam. Trains are constrained to rails, and thus the servicing costs need to be built into the network.

    There’s debate in the UK at the moment about the building of a new high speed train link from London to Birmingham, Manchester, Liverpool, Leeds. It will undoubtedly cost a lot of money. But it’ll be fast, well faster than flying when you take into consideration all those hours sitting around in airports. If its faster and cost competitive with flying then people will use it to the loss of domestic air travel.

    It also extends the commuting distance to the big centres.

    But it’ll only work if it has passenger volume.

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  5. At about 5 hours, it competes well with driving for time, and is far more comfortable than a car, as you can read, move around, and enjoy the gorgeous scenery.

    Oh, to be young and carefree :)

    Would you like to borrow my two kids, and their associated luggage, and transport them via train, including getting to the train and transit to final destination at the end?

    You might find the car has many advantages in this respect.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 5 (+1)

  6. Elsie, Only some people prefer planes. Although a bit slower the ferry and train journey gets you there a lot fresher and is more convenient with bikes.

    To fly from Wellington to Christchurch only takes an hour (or less) in the air, but when you add on travelling to the airport, boarding and waiting times, it adds up to a lot more. Plus you have to add the costs of getting to the airports.

    So few go by train mainly because so few go by train. The service is not advertised and no thought is given to making it pleasant and affordable. Plus the train station in Christchurch is not longer conveniently located, and the service south was cruelly discontinued.

    Air travel is pretty cutthroat, and the discount airfares are only marginally profitable. The same could apply to ferry/train if anybody managing rail was interested.

    Apart from a few holiday sailings the ferries are never full of foot passengers. They could do cheaper deals on certain sailings. What about $10 one day returns to Picton? Package deals for Wellington to Christchurch to Greymouth?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 2 (+1)

  7. We took our two boys, aged 7 and 5, by train from Invercargill to Blenheim many years ago, accompanied by out luggage (leather suitcases with the label holders buckled on), and it was a fabulous experience. The boys loved it. We met an American inventor, travelling the country selling his revolutionary ‘soft frisbee’. I remember my eldest son amusing himself and the ticket collector by making beard and moustache disguises from pipe cleaners and talking in a deep voice (French accent).
    Even further back, I remember travelling, as a boy, from Blenheim to Chch by railcar and discovering that the soles of my bare feet had turned pitch black from walking around the carriages.I mostly remember the tunnels at Kaikoura – fantastic fun – the clackity-clack, the darkness, the pale carriage lighting, the sudden re-emergence…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0 (+5)

  8. Julie Anne – you’ve inspired me!
    I’m taking my bicycle to the festival (have to deliver boxes of vegetables at the same time, so will arrive by car), so that I can bike back home afterwards. Viva le velo!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 1 (0)

  9. But there isn’t much room for growth in bike/train tourism as they would not easily be able to accommodate more than a few at one time.

    There are spare luggage vans, so I suspect that if there were growth in bike/train tourism, all Tranz Scenic would have to do is add on an extra luggage van.

    The only problem with the alternative journey from Wellington to Christchurch is it’s comparable in price to flying, if not more expensive, even though it takes far longer. How could that be? Surely an airplane is more expensive to buy and operate than a small train, and one would expect the ferry to be more cost effective for passengers only.

    Firstly, you have assumed that airlines buy their planes – a large proportion of planes are actually leased, although there are obviously lease fees involved. In terms of operating costs, sure planes are less fuel efficient than a train might be, but there isn’t the cost of maintaining track involved. All that needs to be maintained is the runway and the airport.

    The other problem is that Tranz Scenic have poor yield management – if I wanted to get from Wellington to Christchurch tomorrow, I could pay as much as $299 on Air New Zealand, but with Tranz Scenic, I would pay $99 plus the cost of the Interislander fare. What Tranz Scenic needs to do is have a slightly more graduated fare system with fares being based on time of purchase.

    I suspect the answer lies in the relatively low demand for rail, which may have roots in unintentional subsidies to other modes, and the asset stripping that occurred when the rail line was privatised.

    Maybe, although one needs to remember that passenger rail in New Zealand performed badly long before privatisation. I think you will find that New Zealand Rail didn’t even start trying to modernise their rail services until the early 1970s, by which time NAC was already flying Boeing 737-200s between Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch.

    Sadly, what I suspect started the kill off passenger rail in New Zealand was the Second World War and the coal shortages that plagued NZR in the immediate post-war period. People remembered being unable to get from A to B because, oh the new timetable has cut services from once daily to three times a week, and oh, because there is no coal to run the train, your train service has been cancelled today.

    I’m also curious about subsidies or initial state investment that enabled airports to get up and running, though that merits more research in the NZ context.

    That is an easy job – a lot of information about Airports, NAC and TEAL/Air New Zealand can be found in the Appendices to the Journals of the House of Representatives. I am pretty sure that the Parliamentary Library should have copies.

    If externalities such as climate pollution are included, the ferry and train could become more attractive, despite the longer journey. As demand for these slower but lower carbon modes increased, there would be more opportunities for services (making it more convenient), fixed costs could be distributed over a larger pool of consumers, we would see potentially more competition with the ferries, and consequently relative prices may fall, or at least have more variation as airline tickets do.

    What do you think?

    You don’t need any of that. What you need first and foremost are more freight trains along that route. Kiwi Rail already want to increase their market share of Auckland to Christchurch from 20% to the 60% that it was during the period when it was privatised (incidentally, there was a big push on Auckland to Christchurch when rail in New Zealand was privately owned, including a co-ordinated service which was designed to get your freight from Auckland to Christchurch within 24 hours). Get the amount of freight up, then your fixed costs would be more spread out.

    Secondly, use needs to be made of railcars. Railcars are far more fuel efficient than locomotive hauled trains (as an example, a Silver Fern running from Auckland to Wellington only used 150 litres of fuel), and because they are smaller, you can run more services.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0 (+1)

  10. The train trip from Picton to Christchurch is very scenic, but I think a Wellington/Christchurch ferry would be a good idea. The railway line (and road) along the Kaikoura coast is vunerable to slips, erosion and sea level rise so coastal shipping may be a more sensible option in the long term.
    It would be great to have a proper train service south of Christchurch. I don’t know if it would work ,but I picture trains combining freight & passengers so that there is more than one train a day. Years ago my friend’s father, who was visiting from England, went to book to travel from Christchurch to Dunedin. He was told that the train left at 8am (or similar), that was a bit early for him so he asked when the next one went and was told 8am the next day! With a timetable like that it’s not suprising people didn’t use the train much.

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  11. but I picture trains combining freight & passengers so that there is more than one train a day.

    Viv, we tried that in the past and it was not popular. Mixed trains are very slow because of all the shunting that the freight train needs to undertake along the route.

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  12. Maybe I’ll just say to Elsie that there were children on the train, quite a few, and they were all very well behaved, content, and quite happy to be able to go for short walks to the restaurant and viewing cars. It may not work out to be very cheap, but you might be pleasantly surprised at how much less stressful a family journey could be if you didn’t have to drive and the kids weren’t confined to a small area. I take your point that the system doesn’t work perfectly now and i dont blame you for driving because it’s more convenient, but certainly in countries where they have good train and other public transport services, families take them all the time. My point is that we could have a different transport system in NZ, one in which it is practical, affordable and convenient for you to do a lot less driving, even with your family.

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  13. Julie,

    We took trains in Europe, with children, but did so as a novelty. In most cases, a car was the most appropriate choice, mainly because of the flexibility and convenience, particularly when carrying a lot of luggage.

    A train suits some types of journeys, but other modes are often more appropriate. We must be careful not to push one mode for – it seems – purely ideological reasons whilst chastising those who choose a mode more suited to their needs.

    Creating a European style train system in New Zealand is not economicly feasible. The economics don’t even work in Europe, in many cases.

    We must also be careful not to make the false assumption that cars can only be powered by oil. The individual vehicle will be with us for many years to come. The motive power may change.

    Why would I want to do “a lot less driving”? The ideological bias in such a statement is obvious.

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  14. “..We must also be careful not to make the false assumption that cars can only be powered by oil…”

    i find i have to agree with that..

    ..with of course the solar/wind?/w.h.y.-powered vehicle..with free/clean propulsion..being the holy grail…

    (and we don’t have to build new ones..conversion..conversion…)

    ..and living in auckland…at the time in an inner-city commercial space..

    ..i/we tried living without a car..

    ..it worked well (a couple of years) until the boy started playing soccer..

    (..and it only worked because we were in the inner-city..at the hub of a public transport system that both sucks and blows..both in efficacy and cost…)

    ..with soccer games all over auckland..(and not wanting the uncertainties/social-discomforts of being a serial-ride-bludger..)

    ..we had to bow to the inevitable…

    phil(whoar.co.nz)

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 4 (-1)

  15. Rail transport for people is basically a novelty. It takes a long time (so business travellers often find it better by plane) and there are no longer sleeping facilities on trains so overnighter travelling, or a trip you’ve done 6 times already that year, especially with kids, isn’t viable.

    At the end of the journey train and plane you still have to rent further expensive transport to get to your next destination, and if that includes multiple destinations with some travelling time, then taxis, buses and bikes are out of the question. Can you imagine sending your manager on the train, making then bike into town, bike to get food and/or meetings, bike back to rail station? That’s not counting luggage issues. They’d be out of the loop for ages. And if you’re paying for taxi, why not pay for plane, they’re not there for sightseeing. So that takes care of the majority of travellers.

    Next is tourists. Yep they get to see farms, and nice places. But they only have limited time and how many times do they want to see the same farms etc. So they tend not to reuse the service. And often tourists especially internal ones or ones visiting family, just want to get to the people they want.

    As to the original article. It would be nice if the ferries had better bike resources. But. look when they were bought. and second hand. you buy bargain basement you get bargain basement stuff noone else wanted. Governments been driving rail into the ground for decades, roads are it. If there wasn’t a need for a bulk freight service, there wouldn’t even be a ferry! If they were sensible, they would have dumped the Picton terminal long ago.

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  16. Why would I want to do “a lot less driving”? The ideological bias in such a statement is obvious.

    Not so sure about that. Another 10-15 years older and I will prefer letting someone else drive… assuming that my vision and reflexes still permit ME to drive at all. That has deathly little to do with my ideology and a lot to do with the reality of getting older… and I am an enthusiastic and experienced driver. I LIKE to drive, but I know what happens…

    The emphasis in this country has been on the individual car at the expense of rail and that has been true for decades. The result is that “a European style rail system isn’t economically feasible”. I submit that many of the obstacles are not so insurmountable.

    BJ

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  17. Elsie, it’s not ideological, it’s simply reality fuel for cars is finite – as for the economics of battery powered cars … time will tell.

    carl – fast trains are emerging as the commuter alternative to air travel. Even in the USA, let alone China, Japan and Europe. Even the UK is going to have them from London to Birmingham – and they take no one out of the business loop – people on trains are better connected than those driving cars (who cannot even use cell phones legally).

    Even here people use laptops commuting into Wellington by train (cell phones on).

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  18. SPC,

    It is ideological. It appears to me that the Greens position is this: if oil becomes too expensive, then cars will disappear.

    This is one scenario, but I’d suggest that it is highly unlikely. It is highly unlikely because there are many ways to power a car. The car could be powered by battery, by biofuel, by hybrid configurations, by CNG, by controlled fusion (not there yet, obviously), by less fuel due to increases in efficiency, by synthetics, by methods we haven’t yet dreamed of, and so on.

    I’m not against trains. I highly recommend the train from London to Paris, which is preferable and indeed faster than going via Heathrow.

    But the train is no replacement for the car. The car has utility where trains and buses simply do not, nor ever will have. They are well suited to some applications, but not others.

    It is simply absurd to write off the car.

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  19. The only ideology involved is recognition of the part that public policy can play in recognising the need for providing for public services, such as trains and buses (that have a long term future regardless of the future of the car) and otherwise allowance for use of bikes on roads.

    No one is writing off the car, but its fate is in the hands of the market, not public policy.

    In a world in which children get driven to school, rather than walk of cycle as they did not so long ago, and in which we have emerging health issues relating to convenience food diet and lack of exercise, the utility of cars has its price.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0 (+1)

  20. Elsie, I’m really sorry that you interpret my points as being ideologically biased. I have done a lot of work and research it this area, and I think there is plenty of evidence that traffic engineering standards and town planning rules have unintentionally subsidised car use. I have never said all car use is bad, and I take great pains to say that I don’t blame anyone for travelling in the way that is cheapest, easiest and most convenient for them. Traffic engineering has made it almost impossible not to drive, but that is costing us in many ways. The costs of a car dependent transport system are not just fossil fuels, the biggest cost is the land cars require (for movement and storage). If these costs were more direct and we didn’t have car oriented planning rules, we could have more lively and safe towns and cities, and more options for getting where we need to go (or even travelling less). For some people, owning a car will always be desirable, and for some trips, a car will always be the most efficient. My main message is that we can provide more diverse travel and dwelling options in a way that is less costly, results in less congestion, and reduces emissions and road crashes. For more explanation, try the videos on http://www.julieanne.co.nz

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  21. It is simply absurd to write off the car.

    Yes, and it is even MORE absurd to assert that that is what we do.

    Green transport policy is to bring urban mass transit up to the level of support that successive governments have provided for private cars over perhaps 30 years of serious neglect. Stupid enough to sell off the rail system (privatising assets like rail and power systems is an ideological illogical imperative for National), the neglect of Auckland mass transit systems is now a centerpiece of their effort to punish that city for having the temerity to elect Brown as Mayor.

    The Green party does not however (despite the attitudes of SOME of its members), regard the personal car as the enemy. It IS a poor transport model for an city… but a necessity in many of the townships and backwoods of this country.

    This –

    ” It appears to me that the Greens position is this: if oil becomes too expensive, then cars will disappear.”

    – is not true. If oil becomes too expensive petrol cars will get scarce but the internal debates and the debates here do not, not in ANY of them over the 8 years I’ve been here, support the notion that we are planning for cars to disappear.

    Misinformation is something we often find our guests carry into this forum… often. The media aids and abets the propagation of misinformation and certain other parties provide a ready source.

    Actually asking US what we think of those ideas would be good journalistic practice… which is to say, something that hasn’t been done in NZ for decades.

    Our policy:

    http://www.greens.org.nz/policy/transport-policy-smart-moves

    Now I’ll admit that there are times when I think the party is doing the wrong thing – and there ARE some very opinionated very anti-car folks in the party… but the policy is sound enough, and the 30 years head start that the cars have been handed at the expense of rail systems PARTICULARLY in Auckland, is difficult to overcome. Having lived in cities that have actual working mass-transit systems as well as cities that are desperately trying to rebuild something like one, I can see where Auckland fits into that spectrum. What has been done to it over the past 30 years is almost criminal stupidity.

    Correcting that is fundamental. Reducing reliance on petrol and diesel vehicles is fundamental. Taking notice of the fact that forcing an ageing population to keep driving is a recipe’ for trouble on the roads AND extra expenses in caring for the old folks, is more realistic than paving even more of the Auckland CBD.

    … but don’t succumb to the misinformation that is ALWAYS presented about the Greens… be smarter than the “journalists” out there.

    That unfortunately, is not as difficult as it ought to be. :-)

    respectfully
    BJ

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  22. BJ,

    Taking notice of the fact that forcing an ageing population to keep driving is a recipe’ for trouble on the roads AND extra expenses in caring for the old folks, is more realistic than paving even more of the Auckland CBD.

    Wait till we start clogging up the cycleways with our mobility scooters. Howls of outrage as cyclists have to slow down for the old guy hogging the cycleway!!

    New laws required for cyclists to slow down when passing a mobility scooter on the cycleway?

    Just imagine mobility scooters three wide on a cycleway holding up the cycle traffic. The new traffic jam, cyclist backed up for miles, crawling along behind the mobility scooter!

    Heheh that should be fun!

    We may be old but we can sure still cause a jam, petrol or not!

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  23. Julie,

    I watched your presentation, which gave me food for thought, particularly in relation to the valuation of available building area. This is not something I had previously considered.

    Whilst I’m not so sure about the viability of extensive city to city rail networks in this country, I certainly agree with you about the need to make cities more walkable/bikeable. Have have you talked to Bob Jones? He’s in favour of pedestrianizing large parts of Wellington City. Bizarrely, the council just ripped up a major pedestrian and social area in order to create a dangerous bus lane. One example of how favouring public transport can have negative effects.

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  24. Thanks Elsie, I’m glad you found it interesting! I agree with you about Wellington. Part of the reason they trade off pedestrians for buses is because they are unwilling to take away space from private cars, even though they carry far fewer people in a given space at peak hour. It would be interesting to see the effect of upgrading big streets like Wakefield, Jervois Quay, and Customhouse Quay to be more pedestrian friendly and have dedicated bus lanes. If we shifted buses over a few blocks and improved the street environment, we could make the golden mile a shared space or entirely pedestrianised. This could improve development potential all the way from the golden mile through to the waterfront, and make travel times even faster for people travelling by any mode. In Vancouver for at least 15 years they have had the following priority in their transport planning. 1. Pedestrians, 2. Cyclists, 3. Public transport, 4. Commercial vehicles and taxis. It makes sense because those that require the least amount of infrastructure and contribute less to congestion have the highest priority. Of course people can still take cars into the centre of Vancouver, but many chose not to because they have better options.

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  25. BTW – the voting mechanism on these posts seems an odd choice. If we make arguments we feel are right, but many do not, then we’re effectively silenced when our posts become invisible?

    Seems unnecessarily childish for a grown-up forum of debate.

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  26. I agree, Julie. I’ve long thought traffic should be routed around the edges, and the inner area should be pedestrianized.

    We still need to deal with cross town traffic (i.e not walkable distances/inconvenient on train/bus due to luggage requirements/kids/interchanges), which is why I think we need motorway/ring roads.

    I was in Italy recently, and liked their system. They have a multi-lane Autostrada, which is pay-as-you-go, and takes most of the traffic. They have secondary roads, much like our SH1, which are free and lightly trafficked, meaning cycling is more viable. Then, the city centers – particularly the old cities – are often pedestrianized.

    It worked well. In the cities, one doesn’t expect to get anywhere fast in a car.

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  27. Elsie

    Yes… our voting system here as a bit odd. Sometimes works for us, sometimes not. The “invisibility factor” can be set at the top of any page… “Hide comments with a score of” … and you can ALWAYS see what someone said by clicking the post itself.

    It isn’t unreasonable. The theory is that feedback helps improve the blog… though sometimes we DO wonder :-)

    respectfully
    BJ

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  28. BJ,

    Thanks. I’m not sure what the thumbs down means? Does that mean people are “booing”? They disagree with the argument, but would rather “boo” than counter the argument and offer their view? One is “applauded” only if one makes a view acceptable to the majority?

    It does strike me odd.

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  29. They disagree with the argument, but would rather “boo” than counter the argument and offer their view?

    That is often accurate… probably as accurate as any characterization I might make. The regulars here are apt to do both as a rule.

    respectfully
    BJ

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  30. The emphasis in this country has been on the individual car at the expense of rail and that has been true for decades.

    bjchip, rail didn’t need the emphasis on roads to decline, it managed to shoot itself in the foot quite well. NZR insisted on running slow mixed trains well into the 1950s, which simply encouraged people to drive as soon as they had cars – even if the roads were gravel. NZR purchased a fleet of railcars which had mechanical problems from day one, and ended up being retired because of those problems long before their time. NZR had built very indirect corridors in the 19th Century – notably Auckland to Tauranga and Auckland to Whangarei. NZR expected everyone to rush out of an express train at Taumarunui and grab their food, scoff it down and then get back on board, whilst the rest of the world used dining cars.

    It was only in the 1970s that NZR started thinking about the passenger, and by then, aside from some niche applications, it was too late – people had fled to their cars or to NAC.

    In a world in which children get driven to school, rather than walk of cycle as they did not so long ago, and in which we have emerging health issues relating to convenience food diet and lack of exercise, the utility of cars has its price.

    The question is why did that change occur, and I am going to suggest that it was the paranoia of parents which did it. The message of stranger danger was drilled into our children (and their parents) in the 1980s and 1990s, and parents decided that it was much easier to simply drive their children to school than to worry about their children being kidnapped.

    Stupid enough to sell off the rail system

    Selling off the rail system was viewed as the lesser of two evils; the alternative was closing the whole thing down – it was losing bucketloads of money at the time.

    Part of the reason they trade off pedestrians for buses is because they are unwilling to take away space from private cars, even though they carry far fewer people in a given space at peak hour

    I would suggest that the main reason why Manners Mall was converted into bus lanes was because the existing bus route was quite indirect.

    If we shifted buses over a few blocks and improved the street environment, we could make the golden mile a shared space or entirely pedestrianised.

    Or instead of playing the shoot the public transport system in the foot game, why don’t we take cars of Lambton Quay, have two lanes for buses and have the rest for pedestrians. That would double the amount of space for pedestrians and ensure that buses can still get through the Wellington CBD efficiently.

    In Vancouver for at least 15 years they have had the following priority in their transport planning. 1. Pedestrians, 2. Cyclists, 3. Public transport, 4. Commercial vehicles and taxis.

    The problem with that approach is that you shoot public transport in the foot quite brilliantly. When Queen Street was upgraded, there was a massive push to make it more pedestrian friendly and guess what happened – the trip time for buses going down Queen Street went through the roof. I once took a bus from the Grey Lynn end of Richmond Road through to the bottom of Queen Street at 10 in the evening, and it took longer to get from the Town Hall down to the bottom of Queen Street than it had getting from Grey Lynn through to the Town Hall!

    That is often accurate… probably as accurate as any characterization I might make. The regulars here are apt to do both as a rule.

    For me, it really depends – I tend to use the thumbs up function more and sometimes I even give a post the thumbs up when it has useful information (like that posting in the General Debate thread informing people about the Rena fundraising scams that are going on).

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 1 (0)

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