For fans of Monty Python, there’s a classic scene in the movie The Life of Brian where the People’s Front of Judea (or is it the Judean People’s Front…) bemoan the occupation of their homeland by the Romans and ponder how their lives have been affected by this. A few years ago, Carlton Reid cleverly created a similar conversation about whether cyclists had made life worse for motorists.
I wonder whether another discussion needs to be contemplated about providing for walking. In NZ in particular at the moment, it seems that all of the focus (and money) is going towards cycling, much to the frustration of many walking advocates and local Council staff. While I strongly sympathise with the concerns about this current state of affairs (and think that a funding boost for walking nationally would be a pittance when big bucks are being spent on boondoggles like this), perhaps there is actually a silver lining for walking in what is currently happening…
Campaign Meeting of the People’s Walking Front:
REG: Bloody cyclists have hogged all the limelight, the bastards. There’s only a few of them, they steal our footpaths and run us over, and yet they get all the money and resources. And what have they ever given us pedestrians in return?
XERXES: New paths.
XERXES: New paths. You know, like that new one linking Grassmere Rd and Rutland St; that’s a pretty handy walking link.
REG: Oh. Yeah, yeah. They did give us that. Uh, that’s true. Yeah.
FRANCIS: And wider existing shared paths.
REG: Yeah, alright. I’ll grant you the new and improved paths are two things that the cyclists have done…
MATTHIAS: And the signalised crossings. So much easier to get across Waimairi Rd, Moorhouse Ave and the like.
REG: Well, yeah, obviously the crossings. I mean, the crossings go without saying, don’t they? But apart from the paths and the crossings, what have they ever given us? Just look at that bloody Cycle Safety Panel; more people get killed walking every year than cycling and yet they get a special group of trumped-up bozos to recommend improvements for cycling safety – how do those recommendations help us?
STAN: Um, lower speed limits?
XERXES: Plans for truck side under-run protection.
FRANCIS: Ooh, ooh, road rules giving path users right of way over turning traffic!
REG: Yeah, yeah… Alright, fair enough.
MATTHIAS: And new cycleways.
REG: New cycleways?!
MATTHIAS: Yeah, with all the separated bikeways, neighbourhood greenways, and so on, people don’t feel like they have to bike on the footpaths anymore to keep themselves safe. So we get those back too.
REG: Alright, but apart from the new paths, widened paths, road crossings, lower speeds, truck under-run protection, changed road rules and safe cycleways, what have cyclists ever done for us??
Have we missed anything?