Island Life by David Slack


Burn fat, not oil

You may have seen images on your TV last night of mild-mannered types such as myself storming the Auckland Harbour bridge and causing chaos. I blame Rod Oram. Whenever he turns up, things just go feral.

Optimist that I am, I had little expectation we'd get onto the bridge. When it happened, I had the sinking feeling that we were being set up for blow-back. Get two lanes of the bridge, and you'll merely slow it down. Get all four, and you will piss people off. If I were marooned on the motorway for an hour and a half, I'd be pissed off too.

And so it came to pass. The Herald says there were 2,000 of us; my own guess would be 5,000. Happy people. What we asked for was the chance to ride and walk across the bridge and remind everyone that there are other ways of moving Aucklanders around their city. We say our way is healthier, cheaper, and kinder to the planet. We say that it's time to do some fresh thinking. Time and time again, the only mode of transport that gets the lion's share of public funding is the almighty car. Even though it costs a fortune. And even though the oil is running out.

Cycle lanes could do us so much good, and make so much economic sense in the long run, it's remarkable, really, that we're having to argue over the soundness of them.

We fielded several very good speakers - because the affair began with a rally - and the best of them all was Christine Rose. She is on the ARC, and she is without question someone you want to vote for when Rodney Hide finally decides how you're going to do it.

What's the motto, Christine? Burn fat, not oil.

I was hoping for big things from last week's entrepreneur huddle, but if Give it a go bro is the best they've got, really: come on, guys. You're branding yourselves as something you're not.

How about you give this one a go: If there were a cycle lane on the harbour bridge (in the next three years, not in the thirty years time, thanks very much, Wayne Macdonald) - what do you think that might do to give Auckland tourism a shot in the arm?

Imagine a cycle lane that ran along the bays from St Heliers, across the bridge, around a ring road of the Devonport peninsula and up the East Coast Bays.

Wouldn't that help to persuade those thousands of tourists who arrive at Auckland international airport to stay here in the Auckland region more than one night? Sounds too good to be true doesn't it? Well, you can have it for vastly less than the billions being spent elsewhere in Auckland. It's practically spare change when you put it up against the car money.

And I now conclude by offering the magic incantation:

in time for the Rugby World Cup.

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