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.
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.
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?
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!!