The Eye of the Fish

Maximus
September 21, 2008

Get your skates on

Wellington has long had an ambivalent attitude to alternative means of transport unloved in other cities – we still have trolley buses (long absent from Auckland or Christchurch), we have a cable car (NZ’s and one of the world’s few commuter vertical transporters), and the cops here seem to turn a blind eye to youths driving scooters, sidewinders or skateboards.

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In most major cities of the world the sight of a dreadlocked MP riding down the road on a skateboard on the way to Parliament would have been a major story, but here Nandoor Tanczos made only a brief mention in the paper some years ago (an MP no more, that makes us all just that little bit duller).  Perhaps in Delhi the sight of holy cattle wandering the streets adds a frisson of excitement that cannot be matched here, except perhaps by the equal dodgem-ride feeling of steering around a Victoria uni student surfing merrily down the middle lane of Taranaki St, while buses and cars sail seemingly unconcerned past on either side. Skateboards seem to occupy a special place in the eyes of the law that even cyclists cannot reach – the ability to switch modes from road user to pedestrian is unparalleled by the simple act of ollying up onto the sidewalk, only to flip the board up under your arm and – hey presto – you’re a bona fide pedestrian once more.

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It’s an act that cars and trucks cannot pull off, despite their drivers attempts: while cars are derided and protested at vehemently when they invade the pedestrian arena,  skateboards are tolerated or even ignored for the most part, yet don’t seem to have to comply with road user charges, nor lights at night. Cyclists too are tolerated to a large extent in this small capital of ours, where sharing the pavement is accepted by most due to the narrow nature of most roads and the lack of a cohesive cycle network. So: tomorrow’s the day that submissions on the WCC draft Cycling Policy and Walking Policy are due. Want to tell us the bits of Wellington you think need to be improved for cyclists? Or do you think that cyclists should all go to hell, so to speak, and the roads in Wellington city be reclaimed for the good ole automobile?

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Would you love to cycle more (or even just start your cycling life) but there’s something big stopping you? The terrifying thought of Wellington motorists? the cold weather? or the lack of a shower at your workplace? or give up the bike and just go walking? Tell us all and maybe someone will get inspired and tell the council too!!

Greg
21 - 09 - 08

And I was hoping to see something with skates in there. There are a few of us who dart around the inner city with 2 sets of 4 wheels strapped to our feet, for both fun and transport. It’s definitely outside of the ability to chang modes with a quick flip, but we fit in that space in between wheeled vehicle and pedestrian all the same.

My submission (currently being finished for tomorrow’s deadline) is largely voicing the opinion of a minority with wheels. For instance, if someone in shoes can slip on wet red pavers, we’re destined to lose it.

Maximus
21 - 09 - 08

2 wheels good, 4 wheels bad, 8 wheels excellent then? Sorry no photos of sk8terboys and the like: perhaps it was a bit windy today. None sighted on the streets of Wellington this afternoon…

feral bogan
22 - 09 - 08

Demons and skate boarding display in Manners Mall, Tuesday 23rd, 12 till 2 with da Demon gurlz as well. Then you see what we’re up to….

Greg
22 - 09 - 08

Feet good, wheels good, so long as they’re used without endangering others. Same goes for motorised folk. Narrow, rutted and rough footpaths – all bad. Especially when light standards are planted in the middle of the already-too-narrow footpath.

I saw a guy on aggressive skates grinding along Harvey Norman on Tory on my way home tonight. Wellington’s got some talented skaters, and not just at Waitangi.

erentz
23 - 09 - 08

Hmm. Missed out on making a submission. In WLG I know the streets are narrow, but I’d most like to see it mandatory to have a bikelane on all uphill segments. Not so necessary on the downhill, but when you’re struggling up some hill and there are cars queuing behind you getting angry then they pass you without enough room (or they just hoof past you without enough room anyway) it sucks.

Also Bike Boxes would be very useful at quite a few Wellington intersections.

phil_style
25 - 09 - 08

Try walking (let alone cycling) from London Bridge to work every morning. . . . I’d take Willis or Cuba any day over this minefield.

rondo
25 - 09 - 08

Aaah, but then you have a Tube, or several, which we don’t. Problem with not enough critical mass.

Boris got rid of them bendy buses yet?

DavidP
25 - 09 - 08

A couple of times recently I’ve seen a skateboarder who has a ghetto blaster with him attached to a second skateboard. As it slows down he sort of reaches over and gives it a push so it’s running alongside him.

heep
25 - 09 - 08

and if they are going to ban using a cell-phone while driving a car, are they going to ban it for skateboarders as well? Cos i’ve seen a lot of phone-chatting skater-dudes lately, while in the centre of the traffic. Not seen one texting yet, but i’m sure its done…

Speaking of which – if you’re skating at night on a public road, can you get done for not having your lights on?

Greg
25 - 09 - 08

DavidP: I’ve seen those guys around a lot recently. 3 guys and one car stereo mounted between two speakers. A fun amount of funk for the footpaths around the waterfront.

heep: I prefer skating on the road at night. With cars having more lights on, I can see who’s shooting out of a drive without having to risk them not looking, which is so often the case.