Cycleway Editorials

July 29th, 2009 at 8:38 am by David Farrar

The Press says:

When Prime Minister proudly unveiled the national cycleway project his critics were quick to label the plan a pipedream.

To an extent this view was justified. Key’s original proposal was for a ribbon of concrete stretching from Kaitaia to Bluff, the construction of which would employ about 3700 workers. This was always an unrealistic goal, especially as the announced budget for the project of $50 million would have been woefully inadequate. Yet although the seven cycle trail projects announced this week, including one at St James in North Canterbury, represent a major scaling back of that original feel-good vision, it is still a promising and achievable start.

And the Dom Post:

Prime Minister John Key’s grandiose plan for a concrete cycleway stretching from Kaitaia to Bluff has become something rather more humble seven regional tracks. That does not mean it is a failure, or that it should not be applauded.

Both saying much the same. The original was too ambitious and over-hyped. But even the more modest plans are not a bad thing.

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13 Responses to “Cycleway Editorials”

  1. TripeWryter (715 comments) says:

    I am amused at The Press’s editorial. Their editorial when John Key proposed the cycleway back when was very waspish and snide.

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

    FFS, this means that Sonic, and Mickey Savage might have to actually buy themselves bikes.

    Crikey.

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  3. ben (2,396 comments) says:

    I think it’s unbelievable that National should get such incredibly positive press from their decision to spend more of other people’s money when so deeply in the red.

    Bicycles are a century old and in all that time the private sector hasn’t gone near an idea like a national cycle track. That tells you in the clearest possible terms this idea isn’t worth it’s very considerable cost. Costs exceed benefits. NZ is poorer for this plan. Wasn’t Labour voted out in part to get rid of this low quality spending and low quality thinking?

    Ok cue the thumbs down.

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  4. MyNameIsJack (2,415 comments) says:

    The original was too ambitious and over-hyped.

    My thoughts exactly about Key and his Notional Government.

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  5. Redbaiter (13,197 comments) says:

    All this cycleway idea proves is that we vote idiots in to parliament and that whether its National or Labour in the driver’s seat, we are still plagued by the same government of goons.

    Key had a chance to draw a line between his government and Helen’s Klark’s, and instead, in true window dressing socialist style, he called for a “jobs summit, where political favourites turn up, and talk bullshit and come up with worthless ideas like this, just like socialists all over the damn globe.

    “The original was too ambitious and over-hyped.”

    Damn right it was, and you didn’t have to be any kind of genius to know that. That the idea ever got traction after voters had just widely rejected this kind of thinking is a disgrace.

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  6. Ruth (178 comments) says:

    In a perfect world the cycleway would be a tollway, but it’s still a good idea. The potential economic benefits longterm are very good for start up small businesses providing accomodation, cafes and so on.

    Have a look at the small Central Otago cycleway…it has revitalised the towns en route and has been a brilliant success in every way.

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  7. bchapman (649 comments) says:

    No bad thing, in fact we need a lot more to support regional economic and tourism initiatives. If this comes off, maybe Billy can loosen the purse strings a do a bit more.

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  8. Brian Smaller (3,988 comments) says:

    Ruth – I like the idea of a toll on the cycleway. To move that thought on a bit – a decent cycle track between Wellington and the Hutt Valley along SH2 would be worth paying a small toll. Mind you, for that I would expect it to be swept of the detritus from the road that accumulates on the existing bit of cycle lane.

    The existing track ends about half a kilometer from Petone so it is hardly used. An extension to Petone is currently being worked on, which will make a huge difference for cyclists. It also means that I will have another kimlometer or so of my cycle journey where I don’t have to wear a helmet.

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  9. Chthoniid (2,027 comments) says:

    I don’t think it is either a terrible or brilliant idea. For the record, I am a cyclist.

    A lot of people are deterred from cycling because of the road hazards. And cycling is a good way to explore some parts of the country in a way that motoring does not (and trains don’t). There is some potential to integrate this into the tourism infrastructure. Marketed correctly, it may well end up with a small net positive benefit.

    The issue would also be maintenance, it’s a pain dodging the broken glass, dead possums and assorted detritus in various cycle lanes already. You always seem to need to swerve out to avoid an obstacle as an SUV or bus roars past, hugging the edge of the lane- drifting closer.

    I’ve got a camera backpack and mountain bike already to go as soon as we get some stretches developed locally. :)

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  10. ernesto (257 comments) says:

    3700 jobs down to 280. Is that how we assess John Key’s claims in future … divide the claimed benefits by ten to get a realistic assessment.

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  11. ben (2,396 comments) says:

    Ernesto, jobs is an irrelevant measure of this project’s worth. Unless Key has found some way to hire people who would all have been unemployed but for his scheme – and good luck working that one out – then the number has no meaning. Mostly what he’s doing is shifting labour out of other areas of the economy and into his preferred activity via government fiat. Because this is done via command and because this is probably not profitable (the private sector has not undertaken this activity in a century of cycling) it is all but certain that this is value destroying.

    NZ is (even) poorer for yet another expansion in the reach of the government.

    Christ, what’s next from Key? A chain of national hotels?

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  12. Chthoniid (2,027 comments) says:

    In fairness, the coordination costs of setting up a national cycleway would be somewhat daunting for the private sector. This is partly why a number of infrastructure projects are initiated by governments. It escapes a lot of coordination and hold-out issues that bedevil ambitious projects.

    Further, if many of the benefits of a cycleway cannot be captured by the constructor (say, tourism service clusters), then the project may still be value-adding- just not sufficient to cover one provider.

    That said, I wish that critics would take on board the total package of initiatives. There is an additional $8.6bn of funding being made available for infrastructure projects. Within the construction industry, this has been described as a virtual lifeline that has softened the recession say, more that the down-turn of the early 90s. There a lot of people would be unemployed but for the bringing forward these projects (presumably which have passed a more rigorous CBA than the cycleway).

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  13. from174 (10 comments) says:

    A few wisely linked cycle lanes with lots of places to buy local fare (esp bread cheese and wine) have proved really successful overseas. To cycle close to the rivers and be able to burn off the calories from a huge fried breakfast has to be the best of both worlds – surely.
    Put money into this and you will get even lard-arses like me and my husband to think about donning the bicycle for a few hours. The great thing is that it will bring out the entrepreneurs to service the users : cafes, accommodation, guided tours, cycle hire, shuttle busses for broken arses etc (like the busstop café at lake Maeraeti in Mangakino)
    A scheme which sets a framework up and allows private sector to develop is going to be great – as long as the long fingers of give-me-dom do not try and tie it up in red (and black) tape.

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