Billions have been poured into cycle infrastructure around the country as a result of the political influence of the cycle lobby groups like Cycle Action and Generation Zero whose tactic is to take over the transport decision making bureaucracies. Yet the statistics show, as I’ve said before, that cycling is an activity in decline.
This is particularly true when it comes to cycling to school. An article on today’s Stuff highlights a new Ministry of Transport report showing a sharp drop in the number of children cycling to school.
The number of children cycling to school has fallen dramatically in the last 25 years as "stranger danger" and a lack of cycling infrastructure make parents wary.
A new Ministry of Transport report into long-term travel trends found significant changes in how school children commute.
The report said that in the late 1980s, walking was the most common way for kids to get to school, while one in eight rode their bikes.
Today, nearly 60 per cent were dropped off by a car, and only one in 50 took their bikes. About a third still walked - although the ones that did were likely to be on scooters.
Authorities have examined the reasons why so many parents drop their kids off at school.
A 2009 report by the NZ Transport Agency found many wanted to children wanted to bike to school, but "stranger danger," a lack of cycleways, and a belief that roads were less safe than they once were proved to be barriers.
What the report illustrates is a failure to win over the hearts and minds of parents.
Maybe that is because of the widespread use of scare tactics to justify the spending on cycle infrastructure. Scare tactics work well at the government and local government level but can have unintended consequences at grass roots level.
One of the most successful scare ploys used by cycle activists, at least with governments, is to use ‘climate change’ to make people feel bad about using cars and good about using bikes. They use buzz words like ‘sustainable’ for cycles and ‘polluting’ for cars and use concepts like ‘peak oil’ and ‘global warming’ to justify a hatred of the most preferred mode of transport for Kiwis, the motor car.
Here is an extract from government propaganda that illustrates the point.
Part of climate change solution Walking and cycling are the most sustainable forms of transport as they use no fossil fuels. Currently, a high proportion of our motor vehicle trips are less than two kilometres. These short trips are the most polluting per kilometre travelled because the distances are too short for engines to warm up to their most efficient temperature. As petrol prices increase, substituting walking and cycling for these short trips can save money and help reduce emissions.
Scare tactics can also have unintended consequences. Cycle activists use cycle road death statistics that show it to be the most dangerous form of road use to lobby for cycle only space on roads. Again, it has been successful in diverting funds into cycle infrastructure but the tactic has the unintended consequence of increasing the number of parents who drive their children to school because they fear for their children’s lives.
The public isn’t stupid. A constant stream of Green propaganda has failed to make any difference to car usage. Now that petrol prices have stabilised cars numbers are on the rise again as never before. By the time children morph into teenagers they prefer to use motorised transport, whether its motorcycles, scooters or cars.
Instead of trying to force people to fit into a mould created by propagandists with a UN Agenda 21 agenda, government and local government should be looking at what the people really want. That way transport solutions can be built around reality not some Communist Utopian fantasy.