More roads? Less pollution – I don’t think so.

Tuesday, December 15th, 2009

It’s no irony that at the moment when John Key is supposedly at a Climate Change Summit in Copenhagen: City of Cyclists, that the government is poised to increase road building – a 4-lane road from Levin to Wellington – via Transmission Gully or otherwise.  While Key is fluffing around on the other side of the planet (moving from supporting specified targets for reduction to a more general “political” statement), back home the government is trying hard to waste the planet we’ve got.  Aren’t we meant to be trying to reduce our impact on the environment?

It’s a no-brainer – and I mean that quite literally – there are no-brains about clearly.  Why are we building more roads?  Aren’t words like peak oil, climate change, global warming, emissions trading – oh I get it now … more emissions, more trade?

But I’m also talking about things from a more practical, day-to-day point of view.

In the short time I’ve been cycling to work – the number of cyclists I encounter has increased at least 4-fold, and trust me, being a cyclist with short legs on a slow bike, I come into close contact with all of these cyclists every morning as they squeeze into the paltry space between me and fast moving lumps of steel called cars.  We really need more room for cyclists, who take the most efficent form of transport possible – yes even more efficient than walking – as anyone trying to lose weight will know – for the same distance, walking burns more calories than cycling.

We don’t need more roads to encourage long distance commuting.  We need better and larger capacity public transport, in this case more $ for KiwiRail, and other alternatives to the private car – made available through initiatives such as better cycleways (or even just having cycleways!) – like those in Copenhagen.  I just hope John Key gets out enough while he is there to actually have a look at some of them.


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Posted under: urban design | 7 Comments »

7 Responses to “More roads? Less pollution – I don’t think so.”

  1. mechaniker Says:

    Why is it that I get the impression you think everyone agrees with your view of cars?

    I just drove up to Wanganui this last weekend to visit my mother, the drive was as always hindered by the poor quality roads out of Wellington. I applaud the announcements for improving the highway and look forward to the day I will be able to have a more pleasureable drive up to Wanganui.

    Public transport will not help. I will not take the train (even if there was one), from Wellington to Wanganui as once I arrive I have no vehicle to drive me around the city.

    You obviously have a very idealistic view of how people would react if they were given your so-called “alternatives”.

  2. Dansk Mobile Says:

    The problem with Mr Key, if we go by that picture, is that he is surrounded by men with security headphones, and when Obama arrives in 3 Jumbo jets full of secret service agents, there’ll be yet more men, all talking hot air and refusing to get anything done. I suspect that if the rooms were full of women instead we would have achieved a concensus many years ago.

  3. Whanga Says:

    Mechaniker – I’m delighted to hear that you want to go to Wanganui, or Whanganui. But I’m really not sure that you would need a car to get around the city. It’s about a 10 minute walk to do the whole place.

  4. Secrete Says:

    Key says that it is not possible to reduce our emissions – despite other, bigger, more industrialised countries doing just that. So how have they done that, and yet we cannot?

    The answer lies partly in the fact that countries like Denmark, Germany, and the UK have made massive investments in Wind Power over teh last few years – Britain has gone from having virtually none 15 years ago, to a situation where they will have the biggest array in Europe when it is complete in a couple of years time. They’ve actually made an effort.

    The other reason of course, is that we have just concentrated on having more dairy cows, whose farts, burps, and pissing are doing massive damage to the whole country. Bring back sheep !

  5. Dan Milward Says:

    We should look at what Japan, New York, London, xxx big city, xxx big city and xxx big city do for ideas…

    Good rail between smaller towns is probably a good idea if it is affordable for the public. In Japan it is amazing to think that somebody who lives as far away as say from Palmy North to say Wellington could get to work in 20 minutes on a fast train. So yes we’d have more workers being productive making money for the country. This is a good thing but NZ can’t afford it. The ONLY way to do this is to build a new city, called New Hong Kong City. We invite a million people over to NZ but they all “must” live in New Hong Kong City for at least 25 years. Their tax money would provide this country the revenue necessary to build the public transport infrastructure you’re suggesting – and probably a really good nuclear power plant too. Or at least some decent solar farms to replace all the stupid wind turbines that keep popping up over ugly WGTN.

    In the meantime if you think I’m going to pay for crap buses from Eastbourne to WGTN you’re wrong. If you think I’ll catch the ferry at $10 per ride when I could drive in for less “and” pay for a car park then you’re still wrong. The problem is that “public transport” does not exist – only “greedy corporate owned transport” exists.

    And who the hell is going to cycle from the Hutt, Petone or Eastbourne to WGTN city? It’s windy, dangerous, miles away and nobody wants to cycle that early in the morning. At least not enough people to call it a good alternative.

    So in the mean time I’ll drive to work thanks. And I’m excited about buying a V8 (think yellow Transformers car called bumblebee) just because I like the sound of the engine and those big fat gforces that my little Fiat 500 doesn’t deliver. It reminds me that I’m alive – and while I’m at it I’ll dream of days when Wellington didnt have traffic lights in “every” single city block!!! But that said while I’m here

    p.s. I don’t own fiat 500 but it’d be cool if I did!

  6. stephanie Says:

    Interesting point – can we afford more roads? and I mean in the fullest sense of the word not just a simple short-term cost … but if you’re interested there’s a similar conversation going on at eyeofthefish – http://eyeofthefish.org/trannie-gully/

  7. tomek Says:

    I assume that most people who read this blog also read the Fish. There is a really heated exchange over there on this topic: http://eyeofthefish.org/trannie-gully/

    Even though I’m only a naturalised kiwi sometimes I am ashamed of our country’s short-shightedness. My dad worked in the fishing industry here for years and the same thing happened there. Except it all got swept under the carpet. People spent a lot of money to catch a lot of fish and now there is bugger all left. Stupid. To decimate one’s own natural and easily renewable resource is just stupid.

    Now we’re doing it with roads. Spending billions, BILLIONS, on roads while hospitals, schools and public transport are neglected. And those are only material things. How about spending money on figuring out how to fix our alcoholism, drug overuse, waterway pollution and teaching people not to throw frigging nappies out their car window? Clean, green… my arse.

    So, if these new roads would somehow fix or contribute to solving some of our social, transportation and environmental problems then I could understand the expenditure but by all educated, level-headed accounts they won’t. It will be a short term fix which will actually create a bigger problem in the long term.

    So how do we react to this? We are outraged of course. We comment on it loudly. However, rarely do we suggest viable alternatives. People, some things are just too important to leave to blogs. We need to get together and think how we can go about educating the wider public of New Zealand so that we can all make educated and wise choices.

    Rant over, pheeew, I feel better now. This blogging thins is quite therapeutical.

    cheers,
    -tomek

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