By John Baldwin
26th December 2009

Don’t you just love that feeling of relief as the hectic rush of Christmas peaks and the last shop shuts?

Now to unwind in anticipation of those wonderful special times with family and friends.  Time to rejoice, time for goodwill and time to be grateful Kiwis.

Aren’t we are so lucky to be living in this remote and beautiful part of the world with an abundance of clean air, water and lack of pollution….despite the amount of traffic on our roads?

I’m reflecting on these thoughts, pedalling in the sun to Raumati, heading for some tranquillity on the Wharemauku trail so as to escape the bumper to bumper traffic on Kapiti Rd.

On the other side of the road thousands of Kapiti Coasters in their cars are preoccupied with getting to Coastlands  – quickly – for Christmas shopping. It would be quicker on a bike I think out loud. The sheer number of vehicles speaks volumes. Copenhagen? No concern here for the environment nor the impact their poisonous emissions are having on clean green NZ and the air I’m breathing as I cycle on.

The sight is beginning to irritate me. As a distraction I start to play a ‘commuter’ game, a simple mental exercise requiring a modicum of intelligence – even drivers in solo occupant cars could probably manage?

Simply add up the number of cars in a row with only one person in them.  Stop adding when you see a passenger. Ten is a breeze and you’ll be surprised how quickly you get to fifteen or even more.

Next time you are on the road give it a whirl. I’d be interested to know your best score.

Speaking of numbers, I recently had the opportunity to survey dozens of cyclists of all shapes and sizes from all ‘rides of life’. The riders were participating in a Memorial Ride we were holding for Frank, the cyclist who was tragically killed in Te Horo by that drunk woman driver from Waikanae.

I asked them “if there was one thing that would make the roads safer and more enjoyable for you to ride on, what would it be?” At the risk of restricting free thought, seven choices were provided to help guide respondents:

1.     Road User Education

2.     Safer Roads & Routes

3.     Special Facilities for Children

4.     Lower Speeds

5.     Tougher Fines & Enforcement

6.     Compulsory 1.5m to Pass

7.     Courtesy on the Road Campaign

Top of the list and clear favourite was Option 2. – Safer Roads & Routes at 25%. Road User education was next at 18%, followed by Tougher Fines & Enforcement -16%, Courtesy on the Road – 13% and 1.5m to Pass at 12%.

Naturally these results are influenced by rider type and personal circumstances – (road, commuter, neighbourhood, everyday, married with children, no children).

We were hoping for a higher response rate on the day. However in the circumstances it was a tall order gathering responses within the limited time available.  In the end we were grateful for the results achieved and to all who participated. I am looking forward to discussing the outcome with local MP Nathan Guy in the New Year, along with the impact on existing and potential cycling network of the recently announced four lane motorway to be built along the Western Link Route.