All we hear at the moment is the bleating from Auckland Mayor, Phil Goff about how he’s not got the money to fix the abysmal disgrace that is the Auckland road network. It seems they’ve all been taken by surprise that encouraging people to New Zealand will equate to more drivers on our roads – that’s 800 more a week for the Auckland region, with Goff proposing to spend $12billion over the next 10 years in an effort to fix it, while others reckon there needs to be another $600million chucked in on top of that to make a real difference.
With what the AA describes as a ‘noose around motorists’ necks – tightening to the tune of 40,000 more cars per year in Auckland alone – I don’t understand why the Auckland Mayor – who rides a Triumph and has appeared in the pages of this very magazine – isn’t encouraging motorcycling as a quick, easy and cost-effective solution? Let’s face it, almost every car you see sitting in traffic on the Auckland car parks/motorways has only got one occupant, so why aren’t they on a bike, or a scooter? Dump the ACC levy, increase free and secure parking in the city, make areas only accessible to public transport, motorcycles and bicycles and the congestion will drop overnight. He’s a motorcyclist – why doesn’t he see it?
And the lack of congestion wouldn’t be the only benefit. Have you driven or ridden in Europe, the States or anywhere where there’s a big city with large volumes of traffic? In almost every other major city, motorcycles and scooters are everywhere, which in turn makes other motorists aware there might be a motorcycle there when they change lanes, nip through a line of traffic or try and make that yellow light that’s just turning red.
The motorcycling solution is a win, win. It’ll make it safer for motorcyclists, reduce congestion and I bet everyone who makes the switch from being trapped in a stationary queue of four wheelers to the freedom of mobility on two wheels will undoubtedly be happier.
But no. Instead, the members of the committees and ‘think tanks’ are trying to push everyone onto public transport, you know, the public transport which has just been on strike and caused unmitigated chaos during rush hour in Auckland. And with more commuters being forced from personal transport to public transport, the transport providers ability to negotiate via industrial action will only get greater. Uber was going to be the answer, with the ‘think tanks’ predicting we’ll all sell our cars and just call an Uber when we want to get somewhere. Although, they didn’t quite think that through, as the reality is, it’s actually taking people off public transport and putting them into, you guessed it, cars…
Why are motorbikes always ignored in this debate? Even the NZ Herald’s recent ‘race’ from somewhere in Auckland to the CBD, chose to ignore using a scooter as one of the modes of transport, instead sticking to public transport, a car and a bicycle, and not even an electric bike, showing just how out of touch they are. Instead, the cyclist arrived at the finish as a sweaty mess, just great for turning up to the office.
You’d think the motorcycle distributor or maybe even BRONZ or some other motorcycling body would be jumping up and down at the back of the crowd yelling “We’re here, what about us?” But the silence is deafening.
With more models in the small capacity class on the market today than ever before, the choice and availability for drivers to make the step to riders has never been easier. We need them coming into our world, as without new riders we’re likely to just grow old and die – well, that’s the bulk of the riders anyway.
So, the next time you’re talking to someone and they mention the dreaded traffic situation, go ahead and suggest, “why don’t you try a bike?” Most will scoff at the idea, with excuses of ‘too dangerous’, ‘too expensive’ or ‘too wet’, but it’s down to us to try and persuade them. If we don’t, our rights as motorcyclists will continue to be eroded along with the numbers of bikes on the road.