Riders had better be ever alert
Following a recent heated online debate about matters of blame in an accident between a car and a bike, the most salient point I think I can make is that when it comes to car versus bike collisions who is at fault is largely irrelevant because the cyclist inevitably comes off second best.
Having been a cyclist for about 40 years, including a stint as a cycle courier, I eventually learned that anger, blame, shouting, flipping the bird or whatever gets you nowhere if you are lying on the ground injured, the car that has hit you has driven off and the witness who decided to chase the car to get the number plate has driven over your bike. Yes, it happened.
What does help is developing a library of heuristics for every imaginable traffic scenario and working intently on your observational skills of driver behaviours.
For instance, when it comes to lane splitting, riding up the bus lane or just riding up the inside of a static line of traffic if you see an unusually large gap between two cars, then you need to be super alert and prepared to brake suddenly in case a polite driver (a rarity, I'll admit) has stopped to wave somebody through.
It could be a car, a truck, a bus, a parent pushing a pram, even another cyclist. It doesn't matter.
Be ready, always, for anything. Your life may depend upon it.
John Christiansen, Mt Albert.
Diesel buses endanger health
Auckland Transport's continued fixation with diesel buses is endangering our health.
Moving at a snail's pace, our public-transport overseers plan only a dozen clean electric buses for Auckland's 1300 bus fleet over the next few years.
More noisy, toxic fume-belching diesel buses are being bought because it's cheaper in the short term.
We can't expect the majority of Auckland's buses to be electric for another 20 years at the present rate. Never mind the loud alarm bells already ringing over climate change from greenhouse gas emissions.
Compare AT's feet dragging to Wellington's Tranzit, who already have 10 66-seat quiet and clean electric buses on their roads, with a further 70 planned within the next two years.
Auckland will barely have a dozen, half on Waiheke, in that time.
Can someone please shake AT awake?
Jeff Hayward, Auckland CBD.
Peter Kammler and Brian Leyland are both criticising the electricity market here (NZ Herald, February 14). I've got another gripe.
We have solar panels on our roof and export any excess generated back to the grid. Over a year, we export significantly more to the grid than we import from it.
Whatever we do buy in costs us around 24 cents a unit, while what we sell back earns us only 8c. All the electricity suppliers with buy-back options appear to have formed a cartel as all offer virtually identical prices.
When the petrol engine on our lawnmower died a couple of months ago, I bought a replacement electric motor, battery and blade assembly. That cost about the same price as a new petrol engine set-up would have.
So now, instead of using the thick end of a dollar's worth of petrol to mow my lawns, we do it with about 6c worth of electricity (or 2c worth if it was electricity that I would otherwise have sold back to my power company).
Next we'll buy an electric vehicle when an appropriate one with a tow-bar arrives on the scene.
Lindsey Roke, Manukau.
Tax and first homes
An article in the NZ Herald (February 14) talked again about capital gains tax (CGT), which clearly lacks political support, at least for the near future.
Largely missing from the housing conversation so far is mortgage tax relief for first-home buyers.
Many countries presently provide better tax incentives than we do to encourage first-home buyers. Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, Italy, Japan, Netherlands, Sweden and the United States all allow tax relief for mortgage payments. Some of them combine mortgage tax relief with other incentives like the one-off grants we have now.
Whilst the exact makeup of the scheme, income limits and other criteria can be debated and decided based on budget availability etc, surely it is time to make tax relief for first-home buyers part of the solution? We need to give young Kiwis a fair go, even out a little the competitive advantage that investment property buyers enjoy.
We will only make this problem worse if the affordable houses we build will be largely purchased by investors, not first-home buyers. It's time to add this to the toolbox for first-home buyers.
Kushlan Sugathapala, Epsom.
Where is the outcry from Whānau Ora supporters and the rest of the country as to why the 4-year-old boy beaten senseless in Flaxmere was not removed by Oranga Tamariki but was instead returned to his whanau after having "been hospitalised with broken bones in a suspected case of abuse" (NZ Herald, February 16) previously?
Can you imagine that child's terror knowing he was going back to his torture chamber, having been repaired in a place of comparative safety?
When are we going to see a mandatory, standardised response throughout Aotearoa every time a child is abused regardless as to colour or race?
Arrest all adults present in the house at the scene of this horrendous crime and put the onus on them to prove their innocence prior to release or else charge them with being an accessory.
Have we learned nothing from cases like the murder of the innocent Kahui twins or does being a parent in Aotearoa preclude a licence to kill?
Marion van Delden, Ōpōtiki.
Loans must be paid
With millennials bemoaning their student debt, I feel it is timely to re-enter a missive penned a number of years ago, as nothing has changed. With education costs, a contract signed is a contract to be honoured — a debt is still a debt.
For those who baulk at the cost of an education, it is negligible to that of stupidity, poverty, poor decisions, bad choices and a life scraping at the edges of society with nil understanding of how life works, blaming and looking to others to bail them out of any situation.
With the whole of the educational sector heading for a total revamp, I have the forlorn hope the minimum standard that will apply is that every child who leaves school must have a basic standard of reading, writing and mathematics, how to budget, their rights when buying goods and services, their way around a bank, how to cook, put a condom on or take the pill, set an alarm clock and all other life skills that teach their true value, their self-worth and belief and the absolute accountability for their own decisions and actions — as their destiny is not a matter of chance but an outcome of choice.
Higher education and its attendant costs purchased with interest-free loans are a contract between we taxpayers who fund it, and those students that benefit — the universities are funded via it.
The cost of those that default on these student loans are funded by those of us grafting, the size of the debt is indicative of a failed model: the irony is not lost that those in higher education and those that provide it despite their intellect chose to be wilfully blind to an inherent obligation to honour the trust and faith placed in them.
Paul Evans-McLeod, Hamilton.
Ignore gang rights
How much more proof do we need that gangs are a curse on society and need to be disbanded?
Gangs are the biggest drug dealers, which are a scourge on our society. They totally disrespect the law and use their intimidation to run rough-shod over the rest of society.
When is the Government going to grow the big ones and take action and disband the gangs? Don't worry about trampling on their rights — they don't respect ours.
Jock Mac Vicar, Hauraki.
As a regular listener of Concert FM, I have to say that their choice of music in the morning slot, which often features heavy and dreary programme music designed to accompany film and theatre, has a tendency to go on often to a painful and merciful end. This is hardly therapeutic for one's morning cerebral awakening.
The piano concertos and concert chamber music of Mozart, Beethoven, Mendelssohn, Brahms, Vivaldi, Bach and Grieg are enormously uplifting for the soul. As one journeys to one's workplace, and even while engaged in morning activity, all are noticeably absent in Concert FM's immensely important morning programme.
So hopefully the current shake-up might just spark a re-think of the music offered in whatever the new station presents to the audience of classical music lovers morning-wise.
Gary Hollis, Mellons Bay.
God defend NZ anthem
Leave our national anthem alone.
I love the second line: "In the bonds of love we meet."
This is very appropriate or should be appropriate, and very explicit.
Does anyone know what "Advance Australia Fair" means?
Ailsa Martin-Buss, Glen Innes.