Thursday, 17 January 2008

The nut behind the NRMA wheel

The President of the NRMA stirred things up a bit this week by telling the RTA that the Epping Road bike lane is a waste of money. Predictable amounts of poo then hit the fan.

I am an NRMA member, and I buy a fair bit of insurance from them, and I think the guy is a twit. He seems to not get the point that motorists do more than just drive their cars. Why, some of them get out of them from time to time and walk. Others even jog, or ride a bike, or take a bus or a train or a ferry. Or even a plane.

Most of us are consumers of multiple modes of transport. At some point, everyone has to get out of their car and walk - even if it is just from the garage to their door. Ok, except for those in wheelchairs.

Anyway, I think he is a pin head because he is focusing solely on the needs of motorists - but there is no such thing as a "motorist." I drive a car, but do not consider myself a motorist. Hell, I've rebuild numerous car engines, stripped and rebuilt a few cars, and scrapped the odd one as well. I am not some anti-car, tofu wielding whale cuddler. I've even spent a lot of time driving trucks. I love the sound of a loud V8, and hate the sound of a turbo-popping rice burner. I am a petrol head that currently has that interest parked in limbo.

I am a person, not a motorist. There are some places that I prefer to drive to, and others that I prefer to ride to. I am yet to find somewhere that I want to catch the bus to, but that is another matter. Although I ride twice a day during the week, if you look at total kilometres per mode over the last six years, it is car - 100,000km and bike 10,000km. I have ridden a lot, but driven 10 times as far.

Call me a heretic, but I am reasonably satisfied with our road system. Sure, there are some terrible spots on the Pacific Highway, but they can be safely traversed if one has patience and pays attention and avoids falling asleep. The road system gets me where I want to go, and most of the time, I get there with little frustration and few delays. That's mainly because I am very careful about when I travel, and avoid peaks and bottlenecks like the plague.

Bonehead Evans though seems to think that the peaks and bottlenecks will go away if we throw more tarmac at the problem. No, it won't solve the problem. Road usage at certain points will always grow to exceed the capacity of the road at certain times. Which is great if you own toll road shares, like I do. I bought them because I heartily believe that traffic on our toll roads will continue to grow at a faster rate than the economy is expanding at.

I'm not sure what the solution is, but I am sure that Evans doesn't have the answers. He should stick to running the breakdown service and keep his yap shut.

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