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With suburb names like Mt Eden and Mt Victoria, the geography of Auckland and Wellington provides a challenge to those relying on pedal power. Yet technology is coming to our aid, especially those of us whose legs have seen better decades, with small electric motors giving us a boost.
The only real constraint to cycling, other than the limitations of carting groceries and children, is the inequality of outcomes when a cyclist and motorised vehicle collide.
I refuse to wear a helmet, out of contrarian defiance rather than any libertarian principle, although I demand my young son wears his. The impact of one’s head against asphalt can be detrimental to cognitive function and the most likely cause of such an event is cycling, literally, into a car.
Damien Grant refuses to wear a helmet, but demands his young son wears his.
I don’t have much confidence in those designing and building the new pathways and cycle lanes designed to accommodate these new forms of transport; but the desire to prevent them, in order to ensure traffic continues to flow, is flawed.
Even if you refuse to embrace the joys of lycra and saddle sores, getting more people onto bikes is a positive. It means less competition for the limited amount of roadway. Some recent designs seem counter-intuitive, but the trend is a positive one; and the new plan to build a cycle and pedestrian path across the Auckland Harbour is exciting; although I am sure it will follow all government projects by being far too expensive and blowing out the initial cost estimates by a factor of ten.
Cycling, as my son is discovering, is a form of individual freedom, and the new electric bikes and scooters provide a new alternative for those seeking to avoid the ongoing congestion failures of our major centres.
Cycle lanes that make pedalling from one destination to another safer and faster are a rational response to our modern transport troubles.
Damien Grant is a business owner based in Auckland. He writes from a libertarian perspective and is a member of the Taxpayers’ Union but not of any political party.