As the more perceptive of you might have noticed, I was a little irked the other day having read the most recent writ issued by Her Royal Majesty of Mao-ness, Mayor Moore’s micromanaging mandate that every private home need have a bicycle spot as “part of the city’s effort to encourage cycling” (as well as regulating balcony sizes &c.).
Ms. Moore’s predication towards obsessive regulation, and her general antipathy towards freedom, is rather well known – one only need open the paper on any given day to see her latest edict (yesterday – even further restrictions designed to throttle the hotel industry), but it is the obsession of this 80 year old motorist (yes, she doesn’t bike, she has a taxpayer-funded car) with cycling that I wish to take up today, as it is particularly timely due to recent proposals for a congestion tax to help ease the shocking gridlock in Sydney’s CBD.
As some of you may know, I was back in Australia to in August, and travelling to the city, I was rather surprised by the increased traffic. As I had the good fortune to be travelling with my mother, I decided to ask her what was going on. “Bloody Clover Moore” was the response. Upon further investigation, my mother, who, I have no qualms in catogorising as a socialist criminal (if you are reading, love you mum!), decided to inform me that in her great wisdom, Mayor Moore decided to tear up huge swathes of highway in Sydney, and replace it with bicycle lanes. Which no-one uses. And cost $76 million dollars.
The problem with this plan, for those of you not from Sydney, is that Sydney is a suburban city, not an urban metropolis. The vast bulk of people live a rather large distance away from the CBD (or “downtown” for Americans), yet need to travel there on a regular basis. To expect my mother, who, I would humbly suggest is rather representative of the vast majority of Sydney residents, to travel an hour by bicycle just to get to dinner is clearly ludicrous (not to mention in many instances unsafe). Yet this is apparently what Ms. Moore expects will happen. That every person residing within 100km of the CBD will simply decide to bike, no matter their health, their age, their fitness. Get real. I mean seriously. Who will actually do this? It doesn’t exactly take a PhD in The Bleeding Obvious to work out that these bike lanes will be empty wastelands. And that, indeed, is exactly what happened. In fact, the Telegraph decided to see how many people were taking advantage of these lanes:
“When The Sunday Telegraph monitored the new cycleway in Bourke St, Alexandria, last week we observed just 25 riders using the dedicated lane during the morning peak between 7am and 9.30am on Wednesday. On Thursday, between noon and 2pm, just one cyclist used the new cycleway. On Friday, between 7am and 1.30pm, there were 33 riders. During the week we witnessed seven riders ignoring the cycleway, choosing the road or footpath instead.”
In fact, even if you assume a more generous 40 riders a day, it it would still cost $290 per cyclist per trip for the fist year. Which, even if you don’t live in the City of Sydney, you will still have to pay through increased rates passed on whenever you buy something at the shops or have a bite to eat.
See, these bike lanes look good on paper. They sound even better when spoken about at executive power-point presentations. And the glossy reports that highly-paid consultats give speak glowingly of them. And sure, I will concede, they might be fine for the inner-city elites, who will happily cycle the short distances from their latté lunch to their chardonnay cocktails, but the fact of the matter is pretty bloody obvious – they just doesn’t work for the majority of Sydney’s residents. This isn’t Amsterdam – Sydney is a suburban city, and to expect your average resident – not to even mention the elderly – to buy a bike, and cycle at night for 30km is just madness. So they will continue to drive, and these lanes of lunacy will do nothing other than increase congestion (which is not only bad for business productivity,but also is rather bad for the environment).
Not that Mayor Moore needs to worry. Her rather limited constituency is pretty much solely made up of inner city elites; the people who suffer for her policies don’t even get a vote. When I asked my mother her permission to quote her in this post, she responded:
“Sure you can mention me…. I live in this city, and no one asked me!!!”. Indeed.
Fortunately, we have strong Liberals on the City of Sydney Council to stand up for this foolishness! Enter Liberal Councillor Shayne Mallard:
(Cross-posted at Menzies House)