Minister of Transport refers to “car fascists”

Minister of Transport Julie Anne Genter at least attracted attention to an issue when she tweeted “We need a few car fascists to stop opposing infrastructure that gives more people the option to walk, cycle or scoot safely if they wish.”

But it’s worth seeing this in context.

And what’s as notable about this is that it’s possible for MPs to have reasonably civil engagement on Twitter.

It came in an exchange that started with:

In response:

Scott:

In that case you should support my desire to drive a gas guzzling V8 tank around. Fairs fair right?

Julie Anne Genter:

Um, are you taking up less road and parking space than the average vehicle, causing less damage to roads and pavements, and adding no pollution to the atmosphere? Because that was my case for why others benefit from me being able to travel safely by bike.

Scott:

You want your choice? great. But I’m entitled mine too right?

Julie Anne Genter:

You have that choice now, no one is stopping you. However, most people don’t feel they have the choice to cycle safely right now. The infrastructure is not there.

Scott:

I pay towards the road infrastructure through excise taxes. Will cyclists be contributing to their infrastructure on an equivalent user pays basis?

Julie Anne Genter:

Ratepayers pay for half of local infrastructure. People on bikes cost WAY less than people in cars. My point is that each additional person on a bike is way less costly & more beneficial to the efficiency of the road network than an additional car.

Car infrastructure is not “user pays”. Ratepayers pay half of local roads, and 90%+ of all parking costs are subsidised by all of us, no matter how we get around, thru higher land costs for all the off street parking that is not paid directly by motorists.

Not to mention the on street parking that is subsidised – instead of the local road space being used to optimally and safely move people, like those who would like to cycle, businesses and car drivers get free or cheap on street parking.

Some follow on exchanges:

Richard Swan:

In all fairness what is stopping anyone in Wellington walking to walk? Stopping anyone running to work?

Julie Anne Genter:

It’s not as pleasant or convenient as it could be (especially if you’re pushing a pram) in many places. The light phasing and infrastructure design treats people on foot as secondhand citizens, or makes them share with bikes, which is not ideal.

Richard Swan:

Really? Where are the footpaths putting people walking ? I run 140 km a week, including commuting to and from Karori so I am exceptionally confident I am more familiar with the state of footpaths in Wellington than you.

Julie Anne Genter:

Do you push a pram? Do you know anyone who has to use a wheelchair? You sound exceptionally more able bodied than most (including me 😂)

Richard Swan:

Well unless you want to remove Wellington’s hills , then Wellington has certain geographical constraints on wheel chair use….

Julie Anne Genter:

And yet some people get around in chairs or mobility scooters, many more walk with prams, and the infrastructure could be more amenable to their needs. Seperate cycle infrastructure means they don’t have to share the footpath with e-scooters, etc.

Another exchange:

Girvana:

Proud to be a car facist. Get me a T-shirt

Julie Anne Genter:

I guess it’s just a sad irony that the very infrastructure you oppose (along with much better frequent public transport) is by far the most cost effective way to improve the reliability of car journeys on the existing network of roads.

Girvana:

This council cannot even change bus operators successfully do no faith in PT changed. There is room for both but focussing on everything but extra roading is daft.

And another:

Michael Gaunt:

I support the move to more pedestrian friendly, public transport and low emissions…especially cycling. What’s a car fascist?

Julie Anne Genter:

The vocal minority of commentators who oppose safe cycle lanes. They oppose choice. They need to be called out. It’s got nothing to do with how you get around, it’s about opposing new infrastructure that improves safe choices.

Michael Gaunt:

Thx. I’d love more safe cycle ways. Our own bikes are massively underused because of fears around safety. I’m a fan of cycleways not being on the side of roads but different somehow.

Leave a comment

25 Comments

  1. David

     /  17th May 2019

    Take a trip to Christchurch where we have spent 250 million, yup one quarter of a billion dollars on cycle lanes and we are flat and yet still very very few people cycling and still loads of folk cycling on footpaths.
    And before my stalker pops up the cycling stats are bollocks and so are the crash numbers, widely panned here.

    Reply
    • After a lot of expense and disruption on cycleways I have noticed a bit of an increase in cycle use in Dunedin – from hardly any to a few in and around the centre city area.

      The harbour walkway/cycleway has been much more successful. People seem more interested in recreational use rather than commuting, but that doesn’t do much to address growing traffic congestion inn the city (it has become noticeably worse over the last few years despite all the cycle lane work).

      Reply
      • Conspiratoor

         /  17th May 2019

        Interesting observation pg. Recreational cyclists outnumber cycle commuters in my home town also (far north). But this is about to change. The era of the ebike is upon us.

        With an ‘unlocked’ motor i can sit quite happily at 40kms/hr and burn 273 calories in an 18 minute commute for a few cents of electricity. Sitting in a motorised cage would save 3 minutes, cost $7.54 and burn base cals only. My wet weather gear keeps me dry as a bone.

        The bike lanes are improving at the same rate the traffic congestion is increasing. There can only be one outcome

        Reply
    • I use the Christchurch cycle lanes daily to go to work and often I bike to the central city in the weekend using cycle lanes. I think there are a lot more using bikes in my area – Beckenham. Tennyson Street, where I live, was probably the first street to have a cycle lane and it has been there for years. There are a lot more using the cycle lane now than in the past.

      Reply
      • David

         /  17th May 2019

        Its always been popular that side of town, pretty much unused on the East. Until Cantabrians learn how to drive in a civil way and they get rid of the helmet requirement its a waste of money.

        Reply
      • Duker

         /  17th May 2019

        What about the cycle lanes most roads have …opps I mean footpaths

        Reply
        • David

           /  17th May 2019

          This is the frustrating thing you have these very expensive cycle lanes which are seperated off so the roads are now frighteningly narrow and then you get held up by a cyclist going down the bloody road.
          Either that or you have cyclist using the footpaths that runs adjacent to the cycle lane and zero response from plod as well.

          Reply
  2. Gerrit

     /  17th May 2019

    How easy the label “fascist” rolls of the tongue if one disagrees with the “Oh so kind, gentle and the loving mum Genter.

    So much for inclusive government.

    Reply
  3. duperez

     /  17th May 2019

    Never heard the term “car fascists” before. I suppose had he been in Auckland in the ’60s and ’70s Mike Hosking would have had a ‘car fascist’ attitude towards rapid rail. He wasn’t and didn’t but others were and did.

    And so, 50 years later, living with the results of the folly Hosking carries the flag with the luxury of being a modern day car fascist while others try to come up with solutions.

    Reply
    • Gerrit

       /  17th May 2019

      Surely the correct word Genter should have used is “fanatics”. Car Fanatics.

      More accurate and without the jack boot image. But the term Fascist is so ingrained in the Green and Red Socialist vocabulary, it is used without any notion of what it actually means.

      It is their new F word. To go along the Greens reclaimed C word.

      Absolutely agree that before long the “I am a Car Fascist” emblazoned T shirt will be proudly worn by those who like cars.

      Reply
      • duperez

         /  17th May 2019

        I’d be fairly sure Genter chose the word she thought was accurate to what she meant. Ingrained in vocabularies? Maybe another shirt could be one with the A word. Arrogant.

        Reply
      • Fight4NZ

         /  18th May 2019

        Facist may or may not be the ideal word. But full marks for a comprehensive demonstration of how to completely miss or distract from the point or address any of her actual arguments. And, by the number of uptickers, how lamentably shallow many people’s assessment of an issue so often is.

        Reply
  4. Duker

     /  17th May 2019

    Genter is being misleading is saying ‘50% of local road funding is from council’ knowing that as minister she is working hard on providing money from the petrol tax fund for cycle ways and any major state highway work has to have a cycle way included.
    Look at the Netherlands they say… but dont say its 17 mill people in an area the size of Canterbury – without the mountains

    Reply
    • Alan Wilkinson

       /  17th May 2019

      Yep, the Dutch who visit our holiday house won’t even tackle the driveway to the carport which is all of ten metres. Too steep they say.

      Reply
  5. Alan Wilkinson

     /  17th May 2019

    Bike lemmings vs car fascists. We can guess the outcome.

    Reply
  6. David

     /  17th May 2019

    Christchurch also has a very expensive set of ring roads now and they are brilliant but they all have a fenced off cycle lane at god knows what cost with never a cyclist on them.
    Why would a cyclist use a ring road it makes absolutely zero sense.

    Reply
  7. Wayne Mapp

     /  17th May 2019

    A Minister should never get this deep into social media on a policy issue. I know you have to do some engagement, but she is doing is what I do now on The Standard, Kiwiblog, etc. Just wind people up. Not what aMinister should do.

    She should state her case, put a nice video on it. Have one or two responses, saying how good it all is and leave it that.

    Anyway that is my old fashioned view.

    Reply
    • I tend to agree with you on this. Ministers should have more important thongs to do than spend time on social media. But I think this will become more common.

      Reply
    • Corky

       /  17th May 2019

      Good on ya, Wayne. Expressed like a true Righty.

      Reply
    • David

       /  17th May 2019

      It surprises me how much spare time some MPs have to just dick around on twitter to what is a terribly small audience who seem to have totally entrenched views.
      NZ needs to embrace the podcast revolution.

      Reply

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