The latest iteration of what was once Transit, now called the NZ Transport Agency, (obligatory maori moniker: Waka Kotahi) is now into publishing.
Edition no. 3 of Pathways is glossy and cheerful, and like most of the recent publications from recently re-organised public service departments, entirely full of bumpf and platitudes with nothing much useful to say at all. One article however was worse than plain useless: it was simply plain wrong.
The author was off on a simile voyage, claiming that designing roads was like being a master chef:
“The planning of walking and cycling facilities in New Zealand resembles dinner at a fine restaurant. You enjoy your appetiser, you fill up on your main meal and if you have some money or room left, you order some desert.”
He (senior Policy Advisor Jason Morgan) goes on to say that
“In a sense, walking and cycling have moved from the dessert menu right into the main course. A little bit of creme brulee on the side of your filet mignon, if you like.”
So: a master chef (road builder) would have to have a little creme brulee (cycle path) on the side of the filet mignon (main highway).
Not only would this be a truly horrendous looking and tasting meal, but it is also entirely the wrong thing to do. To continue the NZTA’s chef awful simile, what they appear not to understand is that to be a cyclist is more like requesting a completely vegetarian dish, as opposed to the all meat and two vege alternative on offer. Cyclists are certainly not pudding, and like vegetarians, don’t really appreciate a dribbling of rare beefsteak juice leaking onto their side of the plate either.
Continuing this awful line in simile to its logical conclusion then (don’t blame me – they started it), you also need to offer a fish dish (public transport): again, not contaminated by either the beef (cars) nor dribbling fish sauce onto the vegetarian’s salad. The fish dish of course is the dish for all of us – acceptable to most vegetarians if not the full vegan option, and happily scoffed down by the meaty boys if there is enough cheese sauce on top. Like fish, the train or bus options need to be carefully quota managed so as to not exhaust the fish stocks, and if managed well, we can all eat very healthily.
As the New Zealand Transport Agency, you need to concentrate on providing healthy wholesome dishes for all New Zealanders to enjoy, with a range offering beef, fish and veges for all of us kiwis, in big and small servings. Just offering the beef only: my, my, those days are well and truly over, just like Cobb and Co last century. And the last thing we want is a Valentines Steak House with huge juicy slabs of dead cow, and some hideous Chef’s special with pudding stirred in. That just won’t do at all.
So, Waka Kotahi – petrol-heads and bad chefs all of you, understand this: offer fillet mignon to those that want it, and then offer a completely separate clean plate with a freshly washed, wholesome all vegetable dish on, full of carrots and a nice green lettuce. Keep the beef well away! No bloodstains on the tablecloth! Only then will the customers be calling out to Chef, “Seconds please!”
And forget about the creme brulee simile – you should know by now that you can’t have any pudding till you’ve finished your dinner.