National’s road building is an expensive white elephant

11 10 2010

Update: The Greens, bless ’em agree with me and think the $2b of motorways are rubbish. Public Transport is Smarter

You don’t have to be the Oracle of Delphi to know that NZ’s National-led (with Act clowns) government is going to spend a whole bucket of money to achieve very little in Wellington and it is going to do so building a slew of over-priced and unaffordable roads. It also looks like the bucket is the bucket that the bucket boy who walks behind the elephants at the circus has been holding, and it looks like those elephants are white. $2 billion dollars and we’ll still be stuck in traffic, says the Dom Post.

The Hawkes Bay and Kapiti local election results were disappointing. In Kapiti the mayor was re-elected, and promising to work on all the things she didn’t manage to get done in her first term. Surely her first priority must be fixing the very poor winter (and autumn and spring) air quality in Raumati, or banning needless polluting rural fires. Surely a so called environmentalist politician must actually do something about the environment in this term of her office. Supposedly the whole country went “left” in the local elections. I don’t quite see that myself. Kapiti’s vote were all largely results that were the opposite of what I wanted, and 2 of the 3 worst candidates got up and are ready to promote air pollution. There could be some good news in Wellington, with Celia, a pro-bike candidate, almost over the line, rather than Kerry Prendergast.

The Auckland results are great though. With PM Key’s blessing Act joker Rodney (give him a wig, he ain’t Jekyll) Hyde foisted the super-city on the good people of Auckland. And the good people of Auckland went “Hey eff you Rodney” and they voted for Len Brown and enough “leftie” councillors to give him control of council. National and Act are now egg-faced. (Don’t get the egg in your wig Rodney). Auckland Trains tells it best. And those po-faced, egg-faced National boys are having a dummy spit.

Well I know that a whole lot of people in Wellington and Kapiti would happily let Auckland have 2 billion bucks to spend on decent rail-based transport, rather than waste it on 2 billion dollars of unnecessary roads. We’ll just have to not vote National next time  (I don’t have to say not to vote Act, like anyone who can read this blog (or at all) is going to vote Act).

So it’s megabucks for road, and peanuts for cycle infrastructure, according to National.

It’s putting pingpong balls down the throat of Act. (Just imagine Rodney, sans wig, with his mouth agape moving it from side to side, and you’ll know what I mean)

Or it is moderate sensible spending on cycle infrastructure and on sensible rail and other public transport projects in Auckland and the rest of the country from Wellington Regional Cycleways.


Fitting rear lights to a carrier

10 10 2010

Handy hint.

Dunno about you, but I think most of the rear bike lights sold in NZ are rubbish. They all come with fittings to fit them to something round like a frame or a seat post, and there is hardly any choice about where to mount them, and I want mine on the back of my pannier rack. So we end up jerry-rigging some daft thing and our rear lights fall off and there goes another $25 we’ll never see again.

But after a bit of digging I found Cateye part CA5342250  and it looks like this:

It is within most NZ bike shop’s capabilities to order one in for you and that’s why I gave the part number above. It should cost about $10 or so, which isn’t much, except it is really only a small piece of plastic, 2 screws and 2 cable ties. The holes are 50 mm apart, and were easy to fit as my carrier had a metal plate hanging down with holes in the right places. See:

and now I can ride around with this without it falling out:


Electric bike share

8 10 2010

This blog sits in the nexus of bicycles and public transport being interested in bike technologies and the real meaning of the word sustainability, not as some fancy buzz word used by limited ability politicians, but as a real fix the world, make it a better place kind of word.  So I think that trains and trams should carry bikes. I think that there should be bike share in cities and towns. I think that we deserve decent cycle infrastucture rather than rubbish cycle infrastructure designed by highway engineers. And I advocate a clean environment in which to ride.

But at it’s heart this blog is about bikes, technology and how cities should be built. For instance this blog has talked about Railcycles, Sailcarts, Flying bicycles, Bike elevators, Ascensors and Bicycle Tubes. It also has shown a few rides around the lower North Island and presented a few ideas to make cycling safer and more fun. All of these ideas come together in my ideas for Wellington number 1 and Wellington #2 thru #11. A city is just a place where a whole lot of ideas come together. By happenstance I currently reside in, or near enough to Wellington. I don’t plan on staying forever. Over the next ten years it’s going to go through a motorway building phase that it can’t afford, and not a lot of progress is going to be made on just about any sustainable front. Whilst I have confidence the Transmission Gully Motorway will get built, I have no confidence that it will be safe to ride from Petone to Wellington in 10 years time. The weather is kind of rubbish, the local politicians are kind of rubbish too, and there are more progressive places to hang out. If living in and about Wellington has taught me anything it is how to think about how to get a bicycle up a hill, and it has coincided with my interest in electric bicycles. Also in 2009 and 2010 the internet and bicycles have come together in a way that some people are calling Bicycle 2.0. The bicycle-blogosphere is kind of a democracy of ideas, and a new kind of political activism. Where as before the local library might have one or two tomes on urban planning, it is now possible to learn more about urban development in an afternoon of clicking a few links and seeing photos of Dutch cycle infrastructure, or reading how crap cycling is in Waltham Forest.

So not only have I learnt what good cycle and public transport should look like, I’ve also learnt that we should be demanding it, and we should have little patience for any politicians who are just getting in the way. I’ve always felt poorly served by all politicians and thought they had ego problems, and now I know they’re almost universally rubbish. The blogosphere is way better in representing me than so called representative democracy.

The most important things I’ve learnt in the last year or so are these things:

Helmets aren’t important
Safe bicycle infrastructure should be well funded and well designed and extensive
Roads should be tolled
Bike share schemes should be made to work, and they should be integrated into a city’s public transport
Electric bicycles have a place in sustainable cities

So at that nexus if I was to say one thing that I would like to see it would be that there should be integrated into a city’s public transport system, not only a bike share scheme, but a bike share scheme that includes electric bicycles. In this part of the world that is quite a thing to hope for. By this part of the world I mean Australasia. I’ve lived and worked in Cairns, Broome, Mackay, Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide and Wellington. It’s only in this part of the world where we are stupid enough to insist on the unscientific mandatory helmet laws that deter cycling and make it look more dangerous than it actually is. Australian and New Zealand cities are car-sick, where cycling is looked on as a sport for lycra louts. Melbourne is the laughing stock of the whole world at the moment with its failing bike share scheme. I have more hope for Brisbane’s. But I live in hope that one day one smart card will let me catch any train, ferry, bus, tram or cable-car in cities from Perth to Invercargill, and the same card will let me hire bikes in each city and in country towns as well.

Electric bikeshare you might scoff, like it’s ever going to happen. Well it’s happening in Tokyo right now with Sanyo eneloop bikes. There are solar panels on the roof  of the bike shelter that charge the bike batteries, but also charge other battery storage so the bike batteries can be charged when the sun isn’t shining on the solar panels.

You know these things don’t have to be free for the first 30 minutes, nor possible only through advertising funding. I would happily pay for the privilege of riding a shared bike, electric or non-electric when I get off the train that takes me into the CBD. The roads into the CBD should be tolled to get people out of their cars and onto bikes and to provide funds for enabling and expanding the bike share scheme. Many of the roads should be closed to cars, and given over to pedestrians and cyclists. On street parking should be got rid. Roads should be very much slowed down to speeds where they don’t go faster than bikes. Our cities should be for us human beings, not for motor vehicles. The electric car ain’t going to save our cities, but bike paths might.

This post is dedicated to all those revheads in Bathurst at the moment. May they one day find the joy in riding an electric bicycle around Mount Panorama.

This post was brought to you by the letter eth and the number pi.

Dog on a bike

2 10 2010

Woof!! I am sure it’s done the rounds, but if you’ve not seen it yet, here’s your chance.