Matt Greenop on motoring

Matt Greenop is editor of Driven magazine

Matt Greenop: Where do bikes fit in?

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Tthe Auckland Harbour Bridge. Photo / Brett Phibbs
Tthe Auckland Harbour Bridge. Photo / Brett Phibbs

Grand plans are afoot to get cyclists and motorists far enough apart that they can co-exist without pulling each other's hair.

As coffee tried vainly to force my brain into life the other morning, I caught Auckland Mayor Len Brown on the telly talking about bikes and how they would fit into the scheme of things in the future.

Now - despite my incessant reassurances that I despise only those cyclists who insist on ignoring the road rules with the sort of arrogance someone dressed in a skin-tight advertisement should not really be capable of - this sort of talk, before the beans had a chance to work, wound me up a bit.

While the surge in pedalling may be as much a passing fad as hula hoops, rollerblades and United Future, there's always going to be a large core group of cyclists that we share the roads with. Things do need to get sorted, but is getting a private developer to fund a four metre-wide path being tacked on to the Harbour Bridge and then charging tolls the answer? With a cost between $25 and $35 million, it's not likely.

Cyclists want to be able to ride between the North Shore and the city, so they should be happy to pay up, right? Um, probably not at $5 each way, but some will. If it became popular for commuters, it could be like the Northern Gateway, but every single day on the way to work. On the bright side, it's cost-neutral to the council, so the rates bill won't be going up.

While more bridge clip-ons didn't seem ideal, Brown made good sense in other areas - like split pedestrian/cycle lanes where possible - with the end goal of keeping hard cars and comparatively soft cyclists apart.

To be fair to the mayor, that would make everyone's lives a bit easier - as long as all, or even most, cyclists actually used them. Tamaki Drive's rutted and tatty lanes aren't exactly winning over people on bikes, obviously.

Later that day, I looked up from my desk to see Brown wandering through the office on his way to record an interview about the Auckland Unitary Plan (bit.ly/13C7Tvp).

I suggested a trebuchet as a cheaper and far more entertaining way of getting bike riders back to the Shore. He asked what a trebuchet was and after explaining it wasn't a font but a catapult I think he might have seen some value.

It'd save on toll booth waits for the cyclists and keep gridlocked drivers amused.

- NZ Herald

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