It’s that time again when every three years we’re called upon to do our democratic duty and vote in the national elections. Official voting day is not until Sat Oct 14th, but early voting is now open. Labour has led the Government for the past six years, but a lot of people are making noises that it’s time for a National-led government to return. Personally I think it’s too close to call (and has shades of 2017 again when the highest polling party didn’t actually get over the line). So who to vote for, particularly if you have your cycling helmets on?
It can be instructive to look at both future promises of parties but also past performance. Let’s start with proposed party policies: you could look to hunt down all the various main parties’ policy manifestos for the coming election, but it can be a bit of a faff trying to do that. Let me suggest a simpler route, checking the brilliant policy.nz website from the folk at The Spinoff. In a very convenient manner, you can compare different parties or different local candidates on a variety of issues (including transport) to see how they stack up. Clicking on a policy gives you even more background info. You can even do a “blind” comparison where you switch off the names to see which policies you like the most…
Still, promising stuff is one thing; can they walk the talk? It’s always useful to also be reminded of past performances. When National last came to power in 2008 for example, there was a lot of concern when they got rid of most funding supporting walking and cycling modes. But then came the NZ Cycle Trail programme, which sparked a lot of regional development still continuing today, and the targeted Model Walk/Cycle Communities in Hastings and New Plymouth. And one of the useful outcomes of the 2014 Cycle Safety Panel was the rolling out of a big dollop of funding for the Urban Cycleways Programme.
Labour and the Greens then picked those up and ran with them even further, bumping up the funding on offer, and particularly targeting some climate change funding in that space recently too. The other really useful cycle-friendly initiative has been the rollout of lower speed limits around the country (including lots in Christchurch). Still, there is the rather frustrating lack of progress on a few other initiatives (Auckland Harbour Bridge pathway anyone? Accessible Streets legislation?)…
Still not sure? Perhaps another way to look at it is to see which party(s) you are most aligned with. There’s a clever tool developed by some political scientists call Vote Compass – answer some questions covering a range of opinions about things and see where on the political spectrum you end up – you might be surprised!
I’m not going to tell you which way to vote because no doubt you each have a variety of different motivations that influence you. I’d like to imagine that most people reading this blog are supportive of sustainable transport, and wider climate change mitigation goals. But each to their own – do your homework and make your choice!
Have you worked out where your votes are going this election?