Heather du Plessis-Allan and Mike Hosking hate Auckland's cycleways. Lots of people do. Not me. I love them.
My 8-year-old son and I enjoy our weekend rides down Grafton Gully, past Britomart on the Quay St Cycleway. Lunch at Wynyard then back up Nelson St over the pink path. It's a great option. Thoroughly recommend it.
Last time we went, there were hundreds of people pedalling round. Families, tourists, kids, commuters, fitness freaks. What a way to enjoy a day in this beautiful city of ours. Multiple festivals buzzing away, video billboards, greenery and a gigantic futuristic cruise ship spewing happy tourists into the newly developed parts of our fantastic city. The Utopian pages of the Usborne Book of the Future have arrived. I loved that book as kid. I feel grateful for the effort put in by so many to make our city better. I've been waiting for the future my whole life.
My son yelled back from his bike: "These cycle tracks are swag, Dad." I thought to myself "this is the future".
"Cycling isn't the future" was the headline of a du Plessis-Allan Newstalk ZB article. She was stoked "Auckland Council made the bold, bold move to slash its budget for cycling projects from $65 million over the next two years to only $6.5m".
I like du Plessis-Allan. Met her once and she was lovely. A quality broadcaster, too. Her husband, Barry Soper, and I spent an enjoyable hour together inside a giant replica of his bow tie a few years back. They're both great New Zealanders. But her article was completely at odds with the futuristic things I saw that day.
She reckons "That big pink cycleway … is barely ever used". Hosking claims "I look out my window every day. No bikes."
Here's my half-arsed anecdotal evidence to counter their half-arsed anecdotal evidence. Every day I see more and more people on the cycleways. Bikes whizzing around each other, never congesting. Heaps of people on the pink path, too. Which is not only an inventive and handy piece of infrastructure, it's also a striking visual asset we Aucklanders can be proud of.
Great international cities need cool, weird and wonderful things. The big pink track is just that. Hosking calls it a "pink monstrosity". I call it futuristic and fun.
I'm far from anti-car. I love Hosking's cars. I love my Ford Ranger too. In the weekends we throw our stuff in the back and steam off camping, skiing, fishing. I'd never be without a car. But driving my beast to work every day is illogical. There's only one of me and when it's not moving it's just a hunk of metal I have to put somewhere. So I ride my bike. I've been doing it for three years now. That's roughly 1440 times I haven't driven through the city blocking traffic with my truck. (48 x 5 x 3 x 2). Obviously some people have to drive. Their work requires it. If you have to drive, good on ya. But if you're annoyed by cycleway numbers and you can use them, then use them and your annoyance will disappear. Worked for me.
Parking sucks, traffic sucks, getting fat sucks. Don't hand over your hard-earned cash to meters and gyms. We live in Ed Hillary country, you can get yourself up our slight inclines. My 8 year old does.
Make riding futuristic and fun with speed tracking apps. Every day I try to beat my personal bests. I got up to 72km/h down Nelson St the other morning. You feel alive at that kind of illegal speed. I believe cycling is the future. I also believe my future will involve a horrible crash. I'm fine with that.
Knee-jerk reactions to complex issues are always popular. But often it's just punching people for trying. It's easy to have a go at those who attempt to make the world a better place. They've stuck their heads up. Sometimes they get it wrong. But if all we do is shut things down, we haven't done much. Sometimes you gotta give things time. It's not going to happen overnight but it will happen.
Auckland is an amazing place to live, I feel lucky to be here and thanks to those among us with guts and vision it gets better every day. Our future is futuristic. So keep your hands off our massive pink track — you bastards.