Paul Little at large
Paul Little is a Herald on Sunday columnist

Paul Little: Nimbies battle flight of fancy

An artist's impression of Skypath. Photo / Supplied
An artist's impression of Skypath. Photo / Supplied

SkyPath is the proposed cycle and walkway running under the Harbour Bridge. It looks like something from a city of the future conceived in the 1950s, but fortunately, retro is very on trend.

The name's a bit of a problem, too - it sounds like something the Terminator would walk along on his way to work.

But the tiny group of objectors dragging out the approval through the Environment Court aren't complaining on aesthetic grounds.

The Northcote Residents' Association - yes, the NRA - is not happy. Like Nimbyists everywhere they are all for the idea. Don't get them wrong. They think being able to cycle or walk across the bridge would be just peachy - just not if it starts in their backyard.

Scratch their arguments and it's hard to work out what they are complaining about. They are so short of sound reasons to object that their public statements have them arguing against themselves.

They claim the numbers needed to make it profitable will create chaos. And the enterprise has no chance of attracting the numbers needed to make it profitable.

These opponents aren't a fusty old bunch of dinosaurs. They even made a video on YouTube. It's voiced by a narrator with an accent that would probably be too posh for the Royal Shakespeare Company.

It focuses on crowd control and the effects of large numbers using a facility - which is generally what you hope will happen when you have a facility.

The NRA doesn't want to alarm anyone unnecessarily, but it does mention the tragedy at Mecca last year where more than 2000 lives were lost in a crush, and in a Romanian cafe with one exit where 27 people were killed in a fire. Just a few examples of what can go terribly wrong when you let people cycle over a harbour.

The NRA also got one of the kids who knows how to do this sort of thing to set them up with one of those Givealittle pages to raise money for their court battle - $564.50 donated since January. Unfortunately, that's not going to buy a QC's lunch during a break.

The opposition to Skypath demonstrates all the lack of vision, spirit and creativity that has bedevilled Auckland's development since we lost John Logan Campbell.

It is what stops Auckland from becoming the great city it is constantly trying to convince itself, often with the backing of dodgy polls in international business travel magazines, that it is.

An Auckland University researcher has found only 10 per cent of us have traits that could be called narcissistic.

This is great news - narcissists are so special, they'd hate to think they were part of a group any bigger than that.

But that is, in fact, 447,100 self-obsessives roaming our streets bumping into inferior people while checking their phones to see how many likes their latest Facebook update has.

It is also a baseline at the start of the narcissism-encouraging social media epidemic. The more interesting result will be how it grows in the next five years.

Until then it's worth noting that if 10 per cent of the population had gangrene we'd be marching for a cure and asking questions in the House.

At least gangrene doesn't go around trying to get people to look at it and tell it how fabulous it is.

- Herald on Sunday

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