Monday, 3 October 2011

Peter Goers

Peter Goers is erm different. You can hear him on ABC Radio in the evening. He's a slow talker which makes it very relaxing. He is a refreshing antidote to radio hosts who shout at you at a million miles an hour.

He's also famous for driving a really old Volvo around. We know this from his page in the Sunday Mail. Peter is a friend of the motorist and has written in the past about how unfairly they can be treated.

On his opinion page is a little box with the heading "What's hot and what's not". This week, Peter told us that bike lanes are not hot. He says:

Bike lanes aren't very widely used. Parking is more valuable so let's get rid of them.

Suggesting that bike lanes are not widely used is a very easy mistake to make. What Peter might mean is that he does not see bikes banked up in them. If that is so, it is for obvious reasons. Only Copenhagen has recently complained of too many bikes. We are very far from having that problem.

Similar complaints were made not long ago about a bus and taxi lane that was put on the M4 motorway outside London on the way to Heathrow airport. There were lots of complaints saying that the lane was mostly empty and that cars should be allowed to use it again. Instead of properly analysing it, the Government listened to the whining and reopened the lane. The effect was to slow traffic down for everybody. Peter should be careful what he wishes for.

It's the second sentence in Peter's comment that confuses me though. It is as if parking and bike lanes are mutually exclusive. We all know they're not. On some roads, the bike lane will be painted between parked cars and moving traffic. They are useful because theu provide some protection for the parked cars. In other places, parking lanes are the bike lanes. Here's some top class cycling infrastructure in Medindie:

Describing parking as "valuable" is interesting but probably correct. I took this photo of the car park to a Government office on Main North Road the other day:

Nobody uses it because it's too far to walk from it to the extrance to Target. It would take at least two minutes. The only cars that are ever parked there are these Government Toyotas. They are alwasy sitting there. If built on, that land could fit a whole bunch of townhouses. At $300k a pop, that's probably a couple of million dollars worth of land. The cars are all nearly new. My estimate would be that they each cost between $25k and $35k depending on whether they're Corolla or Camry (I'm sure that's pretty conservative).

So you're looking at about $200,000 worth of cars sitting on land worth seven figures.

And that's on a public holiday when the office is most definitely shut. "Valuable" is certainly one way of describing it.

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