This last weekend I was sick. Some sort of virus laid me out, possibly man-flu. Saturday was a nice day for riding, and I stayed in bed, so it might have been something more serious. Sunday was marginally better, spent on the couch, sending positive thoughts to the attendees of the opening ride on Te Ara Ahi, the cycleway from Rotorua to points south, held in a what looked, from my spot on the couch, like intermittent rain.
The house has new technology that allows us to see things like this on the jumbotron, so I trawled the interweb for stimulating content. In today's newsletter I was going to have a rant about some of the excellent things I saw, but then back in broadcast tv land on Sunday night we watched a horrifying piece about the state of road cycling in Australia. According to this snippet, it is even worse than New Zealand in terms of safety, with 33 people dying in the last 12 months. All cyclists.
That got me thinking. Its a researched factoid that carnage per kilometre travelled goes down as the percentage of trips made by bicycle goes up. Everybody knows big cities have a traffic problem, especially people who live in one. So far the only idea to get traction besides paying lip service to public transport is to spend inordinate amounts of money building extra lanes on roads, where possible, or burrowing under suburbs where necessary.
How about this: designate a set of commuter routes, (the side of the motorway would be the safest and simplest, good luck with that) and pay cyclists to ride them. Say $5 a trip, redeemable for cash or bike kit at discounted prices, or at macca's.
The economics would arguably still be in the black.
And even if it was only moderately successful, a programme like this would be far cheaper and easier to execute than building more roads, which cost billions and may not be needed when gas is $25 per litre anyway.
I am often wrong (another researched factoid). What do you think?