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.