Tuesday, March 10, 2009

The Onion-verse expands

New Zealand Herald: Cycleway 'being taken seriously', Key says

A proposal to build a cycleway the length of New Zealand appears to have gained momentum, with high level discussions about it having taken place today.

The proposal was one of the more unusual ideas to have come out of the jobs summit held in Auckland last month, with the initiative slated as a potential benefit to tourism and employment.

Prime Minister John Key said he had met this morning with senior officials to discuss such a project.

"The issue is being taken seriously," he said.

The big question here is "why?" Not that there's anything wrong with a cycleway the length of the country; we have a planned walking track, and it could be an interesting tourism feature. But the idea that this is an adequate response to the economic crisis besetting the country is simply ridiculous. Nero fiddled while Rome burned; John Key rode his bicycle.

If we're going to be investing in public works to create jobs during the recession, we can do better than this. "Make work" schemes during the Great Depression gave us the Waitaki Dam and Tekapo A, plus railways, forests, and state houses. We could do worse than follow in their footsteps. Auckland needs serious investment in its commuter rail system, we need more trees to soak up our carbon emissions (and potentially provide feedstock for the next generation of biofuels five to ten years down the track), our existing state houses are poorly insulated, we don't have enough of them, and we have a housing affordability crisis (and all of these things provide serious training in key industries as well). These are the sorts of projects we should be investing in - not in a pissy little cycleway.