A couple of days ago, sometime-cycling advocate Bob Parker decided that, yes, we did need cycle ways in the rebuilt Christchurch – so much so, that we would be charged an extra $20 a year to pay for it. While I agree that an improvement in cycling infrastructure is much needed, I don’t think that this is the right way to go about it. 

 The council has a massive budget, and included in that is a provision for cycleways. It is not very big at the moment. We are going to have a rates increase of around 6.6%, and then an additional levy for cycling? Why is cycling the additional levy? Why are some of the other capital projects, such as the covered stadium, convention centre, cricket oval etc – all of which are controversial, I would argue more controversial than cycle ways, which were largely supported in the “Share an Idea” scheme – included in the rates bill, but cycling an additional tax? By making the cycling “tax” additional to the rest of the rates bill, it has made it incredibly easy for opponents of cycling, and opponents of rates increases to knock this down. The letters to the paper already reflect this. It’s dead in the water already, and that’s a shame.

So while the council can find money to repair the tram lines that are run by a private tourism company, we can’t find money for something that the public expressed a strong desire for. I will kind of commend the council for putting this on the table, though I think calling it a “tax” and making it solely about cyclists was such a stupid way of going about it that I almost wonder whether they wanted to sabotage the idea. The problem for the council is that CERA and the CCDU have no desire to put cycleways in, and they have all the power and all the money. We shouldn’t be blaming the council – we should be targeting our guns at CERA. The problem, as it is with many things in the city at the moment, is that because the council still has some degree of representation, that is where the debate will be. 

The council – including Parker and Keown with their new-found love for cycling (must have noticed it is an election year) – should be pressuring the government, not tax their ratepayers.