Armstrong on Cycleway

July 28th, 2009 at 8:16 am by David Farrar

John Armstrong is underwhelmed:

Is that it? says there is a lot more yet to come. But yesterday’s announcement of the first sections of what is intended to add up one day to a national cycleway from North Cape to Bluff is slightly underwhelming – especially given a prime function of the project was to be a relatively cheap, easy and quick method of soaking up unemployment.

On that score, yesterday’s unveiling of just seven “potential” routes where construction “could” start this summer failed to live up to the high expectations that Key himself raised when he first mooted the project at his Job Summit back in February.

I’ve never been convinced that the cycleway was going to make a major impact economically or in terms of jobs. In fact it will be interesting to see the exact cost-benefit analysis done for each route.

However what I have noticed is that recreational cyclists are absolutely enthused about it. One I know is almost apolitical – does not follow politics much at all. And he said that he and his mates now see Key as God (pardon the blasphemy) because they are fanatical about having more routes.

Whether the national cycleway will be a plus or minus for Key politically depends on how much actually gets built in the two years before the next election.

But, tellingly, Key’s “vision” of a national cycleway is now being pitched in terms of the environmental, health and longer-term job-generation benefits of the project.

The shift is admission that Key’s high hopes of the national cycleway being a stunningly successful stop-gap job-creation scheme have foundered.

Yeah as the costs were more fully done, it became clear it would incredibly expensive.

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50 Responses to “Armstrong on Cycleway”

  1. Auberon (873 comments) says:

    But Key is God!

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  2. Razork (375 comments) says:

    Had to laugh at Goff last night.
    Highly critical of Key’s $9M announcement, laughing that it’s only 7 stages.

    But hold on, back when the nation wide cycleway was first announced Goff thought it was the dumbest idea ever and that we couldn’t afford the $50M

    So what do you really think Phil?

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  3. Bryan Spondre aka The Link Whore (225 comments) says:

    The cycleway is Key’s first major fuck up – an incredibly foolish idea that is easily lampooned by opposition parties. It takes valuable resources away from tasks that will make a difference like reforming the RMA, rolling out Tasers to police, encouraging foreign investment.

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  4. expat (4,050 comments) says:

    Personally, I was initially sceptical but as I mulled over the idea I saw where Key was coming from.

    A national cycle network complements the fantastic great walks network this country has put in place, and will pull in more outdoorsie tourists who aren’t trampers.

    As someone who has ‘done NZ’ as an expat looking through a tourists eyes, the great walks and equivalent activities are the essence of NZ.

    Anything to add to this mix, such as a national ‘great cycles’ routes is a bloody great idea especially since the routes are likely to interact more closely with local industry along the way in the same way cycle tours in France, Vietnam and Southern China do with home stays, agri tourism, wine makers and the like.

    So, in two ways the cycle path will create jobs 1) creation and maintenance 2) tourism.

    Top marks to Key for pushing this through for tourism in New Zealand, in a few years it will be a must do in Lonely Planet New Zealand.

    I wouldn’t be surprised that if you asked Helen Clark what she thought, she’d say ‘not a bad idea’.

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  5. Dan (44 comments) says:

    A national cycleway is all very well, but I think more needs to be done to promote cycling as a way-of-life kinda thing.

    It really is a shame that even despite good intentions, the results of any effort all-to-often miss the mark.
    Good on the Manukau City Council for putting in a cycle path between Manukau and Manurewa (this was a good few years ago now), but they obviously didn’t consult any real cyclists, since the method of paving is terrible: concrete sections punctuated every few metres with a strip of brick. WTF?

    It’s like riding a bull! I prefer to brave the traffic and ride on the comparatively smooth asphalt road than buck around on that piece of pavement.
    I’ve seen this in other parts of NZ too, and am bewildered.

    I have to say the bus lanes are quite useful, but the state of the road surfaces really leaves a lot to be desired – I rode a section of chip-seal the other evening that was so rough it shook my rear light out of its clip – not to mention the rocks, broken bottles, and bits of metal all over the place.

    I’d rather see the investment go into keeping our roads cleaner and better maintained. And if the council or the government feels like they want to put in a cycleway, that would be great too, but at least put down a surface that allows us to move along at a decent pace without risking life, limb and equipment.

    I’ve recently spent 12 months in Switzerland, and so I guess I’ve been a bit spoiled. But over there chip-seal is rare, and they have a massive network of bike paths that are separate from the roads. Not to mention the attitude of drivers drivers – most of them are cyclists when they’re not in their car. But I guess it’s too late for that here in suburb-ridden, arterial-route-crossed, NZ.

    I still find it amusing that only 4 of the 6 bike lockers at the Manurewa Train Station are in use, yet the Swiss town I was living was smaller than Manurewa and had several hundred bikes parked up outside each day.

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  6. david (2,557 comments) says:

    Who was the tosser on TVONE news last night who complained that the cyclists were unlikely to be considerate to walkers. FFS it is called a CYCLEWAY. The federation of trampers or whoever they are have any gods number of WALKWAYS to get lost on!!

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  7. david (2,557 comments) says:

    And where are the Greens on this? It should tick all their boxes but they can’t bring themselves to applaud an initiative that promotes pedal power, clean greenness, healthy exercise.
    Oh wait – we need a national BUSWAY. That’ll get their juices flowing.

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  8. getstaffed (9,186 comments) says:

    I was interested to see Key and the Greens chap sitting shoulder-to-shoulder on this scheme, while the Greens made fun of Goff’s limp opposition to the cycleway. Perhaps the Greens see a blue meal ticket in future. Would make a hellova strange watermelon.

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  9. Auberon (873 comments) says:

    david, I think you’ll find the Greens are right on board, with their “cycling spokesman” Kevin Hague fronting a lot of the media yesterday, having been part of the official launch.

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  10. MeneerCronje (43 comments) says:

    As a non-cyclist, I’d support this if those four-abreast obnoxious a-holes were banned from major roads – especially roads with cycle lanes on the pavement like Tamaki drive in Auckland. You are not better than others for being a cyclist.

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  11. expat (4,050 comments) says:

    It IS a great strategic tourism initiative. And its bloody simple and relatively cheap.

    Win, win, win.

    Labour are just sore they have missed a trick on this one. You just know HEC would have grudgingly approved as an outdoors woman, and thats what really makes it a great political move as well.

    All we need is a Conde Nast travel writer hitting the opening ceremony for cycle path #1 declaring it a great coup for travel New Zealand.

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  12. Colonel Masters (409 comments) says:

    How long before the first cycling tourists are slaughtered because we continue to pedal (geddit?) the notion that this country is safe and crime-free?

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  13. Gooner (995 comments) says:

    Oh for chrissakes it’s not even going to be sealed. That cuts out at least 50% of potential users who don’t have nobbly tyres or mountain bikes: in other words, it rules out using road bikes. What tha?

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  14. Dan (44 comments) says:

    Meneer, but that’s just it – the Tamaki Drive cyclepath is littered with rollerbladers, pedestrians, and kids on scooters. It might be fine for your average BMX-riding school-ager, but any of us who are actually trying to get anywhere are moving along at a pace that would just be outright dangerous on that cyclepath.

    Of course, since I’m not a non-cyclist, I’d argue that cyclists are better than their fellow car-bound commuters. Healthier lifestyle, take up less space, quieter, less polluting.

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  15. Glutaemus Maximus (2,207 comments) says:

    If it was announced that a New Cycleway was being built, and it was proven that by grants from UNDP, and airlines that it would make money from day one. Goff would still be stupid enough to mock the idea.

    Keep going Phil, we love you!

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  16. Nigel (516 comments) says:

    It’s a major win, great for Northland to make use of an old railway track, combined with the “discovery” of the surf at Ahipara & it’s all good, the fact it cost such a minimal amount makes it even better.
    But it’s smart politics as well, working with the Greens when it makes sense is smart, along with getting the cyclist lobby behind National, both groups are influential voters & not what one would think of as core National :).

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  17. Craig Ranapia (1,915 comments) says:

    Could someone tell me how many jobs a week are created by the Press Gallery bitching and sniping on the sidelines? Not many if any, I hear you say?

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  18. expat (4,050 comments) says:

    Yep, mountain biking is quite popular these days gooner, in case you hadn’t noticed.

    NZ is a an adventure tourism destination and some safe cycle routes would bring in more tourists especially if a fe wof them are flat and easy for the over 40’s and kids to navigate, on moutain bikes.

    Any-one keen on a wager as to how much tourism coverage the project will get NZ?

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  19. Brian Smaller (4,023 comments) says:

    The construction phase of these cyclesways will not provide that many jobs but downstream there will be heaps if overseas and existing NZ experience is anything to go by. Tourism is our big opportunity. People can fly here and then feel great about doing “green” things like cycling around pretty spectacular terrain. Trying to portray the cycleway as an alternative to the old NZR to siak up unemployed is bullshit – Key never sold it as that – in fact the only one who has seems to be Goff. The Greens love this idea – they just want it extended to every street to get rid of those nasty cars.

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  20. ngaioconservative1 (10 comments) says:

    Shut up the knockers! You whingers! It has to start somewhere and the Hokianga to Russell and the St James are going to be unbelievably great experiences.

    Every Government initiative is being assessed for whether it is the one true silver bullet that will take us out of recession and re-employ the 50,000 who have lost their jobs. Goff and Armstrong should stop this nonsense. There is no silver bullet.

    BTW Swiss tourism was transformed 20 years ago by initiatives like this where they created cycleways and mountain bike routes criss crossing the country connecting hamlets and villages and avoiding the autobahns. The quality of services in these little regions went through the roof. The locals had more employment and better quality service. It just takes a bit of time and John Key had to start somewhere.

    In 30 years time this will be considered visionary.

    PS I am an ardent MTBer

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  21. Cerium (23,578 comments) says:

    Don’t underestimate the boost that the cycleways may give to a lot of smaller towns. If they are anywhere near as successful as the Central Otago Rail Trail they may provide life support for some places, and initiate a lot of small businesses.

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  22. expat (4,050 comments) says:

    Ka pai Cerium.

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  23. Alan Wilkinson (1,878 comments) says:

    Nigel is right. As a fellow Northlander the track proposed up here is an excellent choice and will definitely work for tourism. Can’t speak for the other ones.

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  24. bearhunter (853 comments) says:

    I think it’s a good idea overall and quite why Phulk Off has to smile smarmily and say “Oh it’ll never work” is beyond me, especially as he has delivered precisely no alternatives. One issue though is Key saying he’d like local government to foot a decent whack of the bill, which is the polar opposite of Hide’s injunction that councils stick to their knitting – ie: foopaths, water and rubbish collection. Not sure how that one works out if the PM is exhorting councils to unloose the purse strings for bikers.
    Still, a good idea, esepcially if it gets cyclists off the roads and onto specially built tracks where no one can hear them bray self-righteously about how great they are and how they alone are saving the planet through their commitment to environmental modes of transport and unbearable, nauseating priggishness and po-facedness.

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  25. hubris (208 comments) says:

    They would have been better off spending the money on an enormous skateboard ramp the length and breadth of the South Island. Would provide great tourist entertainment whilst clearing the skater dudes and emos from the streets.

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  26. petal (706 comments) says:

    To be honest the whole cycle way idea was cringe worthy in the context of saving a country from the worst of a recession.

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  27. Nigel (516 comments) says:

    Tks Alan, The cycleway will be huge for Okaihau, but equally I hope it starts to turn Kaikohe around, certainly the current Northern Mayor seems to care only for the coast ( which is where I live as an aside ) & I really think he’s missing a major trick ignoring the heart of Northland which has real potential for activities like this bikeway & thermal springs, activities that are not as seasonal as Paihia / 90 mile beach.
    P.S. Agreed Petal in economic terms, but sometimes seeing something happen is more important than the scale & going back to Think Big, large govt projects are inefficient anyway.

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  28. expat (4,050 comments) says:

    petal, it was never a ‘save the nation’ idea, its keys pet tourism project that happens to need a few shovel jockies to build it. the same shovel jockies that were needed to build the milford track etc.

    whats really cringe worthy is new zealands continuing insecurity in whats good about new zealand, which is in part its great outdoors.

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  29. Gooner (995 comments) says:

    Don’t get me wrong, I’m an ardent cyclist. I love the sport. I love the concept, but it’ not gonna be sealed!! That’s sad.

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  30. s.russell (1,642 comments) says:

    Poor Phil is just desperate to look effective, and that desperation is affecting his judgment. He won’t win any points at all from his criticism – rather the reverse – but he just cant shut up.

    But perhaps he is right? Maybe the only thing worse than an Opposition leader who says stupid things is an invisible one.

    Meantime, John Key gets on with doing something positive…

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  31. bchapman (649 comments) says:

    John Laws was saying that we could turn his track into a cycle race track. Does this mean the Whanganui River track is going to be sealed? Hope so, its about time some of those rural council spent less on roads and more on tourism ventures.

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  32. Lance (2,655 comments) says:

    At least it will be somewhere to cycle in safety away from the homicidal fuckwits who pass for motorists these days.
    I see irrational, impatient and dick-brained aggression for the slightest of millisecond delay created by a cyclist from fools in large cars… especially very large 4WD’s. That’s the situation in Auckland anyway.
    These people should be banned from driving for a year and have their car crushed, fuck them and the horse that brought them to town… but I am a moderate of course.

    Oh and I wouldn’t cycle on the road as it is too dangerous, neither would I recommend it for children.

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  33. NeillR (351 comments) says:

    I think it’s a good idea and i don’t just think it will be overseas tourists that inject money into the ecomomies of the small towns on the routes. I can’t wait for the first bunch of cycleways to be built, as i will definitely try out the one from Paeroa to Waihi and then tackle Ruapehu to Wanganui. Don’t leave town ’til you’ve seen the country!

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  34. annie (539 comments) says:

    I think it’s a great idea IF AND ONLY IF they provide regular toilet facilities. Popular cycle ways tend to be lined with excrement and toilet paper. If you’re a walker, forget going offtrack to sit on that nice looking rocky outcrop for lunch.

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  35. paradigm (452 comments) says:

    especially given a prime function of the project was to be a relatively cheap, easy and quick method of soaking up unemployment.

    If John Armstrong buys the idea that a $50 Million project over 3 years was ever going to massively influence unemployment, he’s not half the political comentator he claims to be. Christ just compare it to the cost of beneficiaries to government, and thats just paying to have them do nothing rather than also including raw materials and equipment.

    Now National were somewhat foolish to let the cycleway get spun in the “universal saviour” direction by virtue of the fact it was raised during the jobs summit, which was reported as yielding few other new plans. National should have marketed the job summit as a debate to get the internal govt policy settings right for the budget, reform regulation etc as well as bring up new initiatives: There’d be far less pressure on them now to produce something to “fix the country” if they had done so. They might have also been able to justify additional reform in the budget.

    Really what the cycleway provides is a new Tourism opportunity for a relatively minor sum of money.

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  36. Brian Smaller (4,023 comments) says:

    Gooner – get a fucking Mountain Bike you whinger:)

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  37. Owen McShane (1,226 comments) says:

    Most of the growth in cycling is in recreational or fitness cycling. As someone said on radio “Cycling is the new golf!”
    So there is a growing demand for cycling tracks for these recreational and fitness cyclists – many of whom cycle as families or in swarms.
    Sadly, most of the money spent on cycle ways is designed to serve the few who commute and who are used to moving from lane to road etc.
    The result is that many of these recreational and fitness groups end up on the roads and cause massive tension between motorists and cyclists and make life difficult for genuine cycling commuters.
    An exception is Hawkes Bay where the cycle routes are plentiful and are designed as recreation paths and yet work for the commuters as well.
    In Houston I noticed that the new comprehensive developments there have wonderful cycle tracks along the levies and so on and are used with enthusiasm.
    They connect up to gyms and to playgrounds and to schools but do not drop the users on to major arterials.
    We need to recognise these two different (or three if you include the mountain bike groups who have different requirements) and allocate more time and resources to recreational tracks and less to commuter lanes.

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  38. Repton (769 comments) says:

    In fact it will be interesting to see the exact cost-benefit analysis done for each route.

    Stuff says:

    No cost-benefit analysis had been done, but in Britain every $1 spent on a cycleway produced $18 of benefits.

    Personally, speaking as a Wellingtonian cyclist, I’d rather they spend the money on a cycle track on the harbour bridge. I think it would get a lot more use than any of these trails…

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  39. Dan (44 comments) says:

    Owen,

    That’s probably what I was trying to express in my comments above – the distinction between the requirements for the two different types of people – recreational cyclists and those for whom cycling is a part of daily life.

    The Tamaki Drive and Manukau-Manurewa cyclepaths are great for recreational cyclists, families, etc. But commuting cyclists are much better off on the road.

    I think a change in attitude for drivers would go a long way to helping cyclists using roads. While cyclists need to obey the road rules like every other road user (and I’ll admit many of us don’t), they also need to be seen as legitimate vehicles, i.e. overtaking rules apply etc.

    We have a trailer for our two boys, and that takes up a bit more space than just a bike, but the response from drivers to the trailer is ridiculous; e,g. pulling away from the lights (we were at the front because we’d got there, not because we’d squeezed our way up the left) the driver of the first car back – an older lady with white hair – just held her hand down on the horn as she drove past – glaring and staring and gesticulating as if we were doing something wrong.

    This attitude is crazy, and widespread, but I’ll be buggered if I know what we can do to change it.

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  40. Gooner (995 comments) says:

    Gooner – get a fucking Mountain Bike you whinger:)

    I would Brian but the government has just stung me $3K on account of some fanciful climate modelling so I am now unable to afford keeping the atmosphere free of Co2.

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  41. Owen McShane (1,226 comments) says:

    I see that Phil Goff appears to have put his foot in his mouth again.
    He says that Rodney Hide is undermining Key by insisting that local councils stick to core services while John Key is suggesting councils contribute to the cycle tracks.
    Goff says that cycle tracks are obviously not part of the core services of councils.
    Pardon?
    Cycle tracks are part of the transport infrastructure but more importantly are a vital part of the parks and recreation service traditionally supplied by local councils. (see my comment – cycling is the new Golf)
    You can also add on health and safety benefits of course and not to mention promotion of economic growth and development.
    So if cycle tracks are not a part of a councils core services then what the hell are?

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  42. backster (2,174 comments) says:

    TOAD:………….I need some guidance, you have commented adversely on every other thread which don’t seem very relevant to Green issues whaddya say.

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  43. thedavincimode (6,759 comments) says:

    Razork

    “Had to laugh at Goff last night.”

    Perhaps you should advise us when you don’t.

    And how is that comment relevant to the cycleway thread? Ummm. Errr. Because … Mr Goff’s comments underscore … the need … to de-politicise … projects … of national importance … LIKE THE CYCLEWAY … because only then can … ah … the merits of such projects, and PARTICULARLY the cycleway, be properly debated … meaning that if you tell us that you have stopped laughing at Mr Goff, it must mean that he has stopped politicising these sorts of debates and PARTICULARLY THE CYCLEWAY debate, meaning in turn that you now take him seriously, which then means that he must have something important to say about THE CYCLEWAY. Whew! This is too hard.

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  44. Alan Wilkinson (1,878 comments) says:

    Spent a summer holiday on the Isle de Re recently where all the tourists (well, a heck of a lot of them) hire a bike to cycle to and from the beach, shops, accommodation etc.

    Works really well in a little place with nice scenery and a good network of cycle tracks.

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  45. wreck1080 (3,919 comments) says:

    Intel make high tech microchips, Nokia push out cellphones, Japan manufactures cars, Germany are experts in heavy engineering , the USA have some of the most innovative and productive companies in the world manufacturing everything from cars through to space rockets and computer software.

    What do we do? make milk, cycleways, and overpriced housing.

    NZ will remain in the bottom half of the OECD, and deservedly so.

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  46. James (1,338 comments) says:

    Its a stupid socialist idea…no new productive jobs are being created…indeed private sector jobs that would have been will now never eventuate as the money that would have fueled them has been stolen and misspent on this silly busywork for adults nonsense.Add to that the further loss due to churn (yes people the State doesn’t rob you for free…it charges for the service) and this scheme actually has a loss making negative affect….just what we need to boost wealth and prosperity…not!

    Its the broken windows fallacy writ large people….

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  47. Alan Wilkinson (1,878 comments) says:

    James, I would agree with you if the private sector could do it. But the RMA makes that impossible. So it is an infrastructure project with modest cost but good long term prospects.

    It is a LOT more productive than wasting money on welfare in these remote communities. That is literally a broken windows fallacy of a different kind as you will see if you visit a town like Moerewa.

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  48. Mike Readman (363 comments) says:

    Cyclists might see Key as God, but do they say hi back to him if says hi when they pass him?

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  49. thehawkreturns (162 comments) says:

    There is no God. I guess most people are stuck in various versions of the Dark Ages.
    Does this mean that Key will not transform the power industry to enable us to be
    enlightened?

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  50. James (1,338 comments) says:

    “James, I would agree with you if the private sector could do it. But the RMA makes that impossible. So it is an infrastructure project with modest cost but good long term prospects.”

    Alan….its not an alternative private cycleway I was meaning but ANY other private enterprise that will now not evenntuate thanks to the realocation of peoples money to a socialists wet dream.

    The RMA must go….no issue…..but people need to start to pause and consider the path not taken when the State steals money from the private sector for nonsense feel good busy projects like this.

    State spening like this is not productive….its regressive redistribution.

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