Green for stop

August 8, 2014

Green is usually the colour for go but in politics it’s the colour for stop:

Transport Minister Gerry Brownlee says the Green Party owes it to New Zealanders to identify which State highway projects would not proceed under its just released transport policy.

“With $11 billion removed from planned State highway projects, it’s hard not to conclude it’s all of them,” Mr Brownlee says.

97 per cent of New Zealand’s passenger travel and 91 per cent of freight movement is done on the roads.

“The National Government supports public transport and has provided $2.4 billion over the past five years. With the local government contribution that is $3.5 billion spent on public transport, including commuter rail investment in Auckland and Wellington.

“The Green Party needs to explain which of the following roading projects it would axe first, or if it’s all of them:

Northland (Puhoi – Wellsford: $1.38 billion, Akerama Curves Realignment & Passing Lane: $10-$13.5 million, Loop Rd North to Smeatons Hill Safety Improvements: $15-$20 million).

Auckland (Western Ring Route: $2 billion, Northern Corridor: $450 million, Southern Corridor: $210 million, State Highway 20A to the Airport: $140 million, East West Link: $10 million investigation).

Bay of Plenty (Tauranga Eastern Link: $500 million, Rotorua Eastern Arterial investigation).

Waikato (Waikato Expressway: $1.9 billion).

Taranaki (Normanby Overbridge Realignment: $10-$15 million, Mt Messenger and Awakino Gorge Corridor: $20-$25 million).

Gisborne (Panikau Hill and Wallace Hill Slow Vehicle Bays: $1.2-$1.5 million, Motu Bridge Replacement:  $3-$5 million).

Hawkes Bay (Napier port access package investigation).

Manawatu (Whirokino Trestle Bridge Replacement: $25-$30 million).

Wellington (Wellington Northern Corridor, includes Transmission Gully: $2.1 – 2.4 billion).

Nelson (Nelson Southern Link investigation).

Marlborough (Opawa and Wairau Bridges Replacement: $20-$25 million).

West Coast (Taramakau Road/Rail Bridge: $10-$15 million).

Canterbury (Christchurch Motorways: $730 million, Mingha Bluff to Rough Creek realignment: $20-$25 million).

Otago (Kawarau Falls Bridge:$20-$25 million).

“The Greens also propose to cut local road spending by over half a billion dollars, putting pressure on our communities and compromising safety.

“Since being elected in 2008 the National Government has been rectifying a 30 year deficit in road transport infrastructure. The Green Party proposal would put us back by decades.

“The National Government has a balanced land transport policy (www.transport.govt.nz/gps) which gives commuters choice in the modes they use to travel and helps businesses to choose the most efficient way of getting their goods to domestic and international markets,” Mr Brownlee says.

 The Green’s transport policy shows it’s anti-progress and anti transport.

It also shows how disconnected it is from provincial and rural New Zealand.

The road improvements it would stop are vital links within and between provinces.

They carry people, emergency services, stock and produce as well as tourists all of which are important for the social and economic well-being of the communities they link.

The only go about the Green transport is the progress which would go away if their policies were implemented.


Best not done publicly

July 12, 2014

Mis-tweet of the day:

This would indeed be irritating and many people will relate to it.

Some might even give him points for using a bus.

But MPs have more power than the rest of this and expressing irritation over a worker’s action is best not done publicly like this.

The criticism will get back to the driver’s employers and s/he could well face some sort of disciplinary action as a result of it.


Roads to somewhere

June 30, 2014

The single-lane Kawarau Falls Bridge at Frankton has been a bottle-neck for years.

Over the peak holiday period last summer traffic waiting to cross it queued for several kilometres.

Delays like this don’t just waste time, they waste money and fuel.

But in spite of pleas for urgency the best the NZ Transport Agency could come up with was:

. . . The project is now ready to proceed to detailed design and construction when funding is available.

The next phase of the project is not currently programmed but is likely to be included in the 2015/18 Otago Regional Land Transport Programme. From there it may be approved for funding as part of the 2015/18 National Land Transport Programme and an expected construction date can be set. . .

That was until yesterday when Prime Minister John Key announced $212 million from the Future Investment Fund for a package of 14 regionally important State highway projects.

Transport Minister Gerry Brownlee says the government is committing up to $80 million from the package to accelerate five critically important regional projects, with work beginning next year.

These five projects are:

  • Kawarau Falls Bridge, in Otago
  • Mingha Bluff to Rough Creek realignment, in Canterbury
  • Akerama Curves Realignment and Passing Lane, in Northland
  • State Highway 35 Slow Vehicle Bays, in Gisborne
  • Normanby Overbridge Realignment, in Taranaki.

“These projects are fully investigated and designed, and address current safety, resilience or productivity issues, but construction wasn’t due to begin until late this decade or after 2020,” Mr Brownlee says.

“Following today’s announcement construction on these projects could begin in 2014/15, and be completed by 2016/17.

“The government is committed to fund the next six projects with an additional $115 million and subject to the usual investigations, construction would be expected to begin within three years on each of these projects.

The six projects are:

  • Whirokino Trestle Bridge replacement, in Manawatu/Wanganui
  • Motu Bridge replacement, in Gisborne
  • Opawa and Wairau Bridge replacements, in Marlborough
  • Taramakau Road/Rail Bridge, on the West Coast
  • Loop road north to Smeatons Hill safety improvements, in Northland
  • Mt Messenger and Awakino Gorge Corridor, in Taranaki.

“A further $12 million will be available to accelerate investigation and design of three large projects in Hawke’s Bay, Nelson and the Bay of Plenty,” Mr Brownlee says.

These projects are:

  • Port of Napier access package, in Hawke’s Bay
  • Nelson Southern Link, in Nelson
  • Rotorua Eastern Arterial, in Bay of Plenty.

“Each project could then be considered for funding under the proposed Regional Improvements activity class in the next Government Policy Statement on land transport.

“By directly funding some of the most crucial State highway improvements, the government is freeing up more funding in the Regional Improvements activity class for other priority projects.

“This funding package also strongly complements the government’s Roads of National Significance programme, ensuring people and freight reach their destinations quickly and safety,” Mr Brownlee says.

 Not all of these roads will get as much traffic as the Kawarau bridge but all are important links in the regional roading network.

When National announced its policy of partially selling a few state owned assets it said some of the money would be invested in other assets and infrastructure.

Without the proceeds from the partial sales these projects would either not go ahead so soon or would have had to have been funded from more borrowing.

With the money the roads will be improved sooner, making transport faster and safer.

#‎TeamKey‬ is working for New Zealand, building roads to somewhere in stark contrast to the left whose policies will take us nowhere.

We're committing an extra $212m across 14 regional roading projects that will make these roads safer, increase regional productivity and improve the way our roading network operates. http://ntnl.org.nz/1jxfGlO


A stupid, stupid man

April 17, 2014

Think about Labour policy announcements this year and what comes to mind?

Debacles.

Wrong figures, wrong impressions, wrong strategy.

The latest is what has been dubbed a clustertruck – the proposal to restrict trucks to the slow lanes of three and four-lane highways.

Truck drivers said preventing them from using the outside lane on three- and four-lane highways would be unworkable and unlikely to reduce congestion.

The Automobile Association (AA) also questioned the policy, saying its members had never cited trucks as a cause of congestion. . .

Then there’s another problem with the transport policy:

Transport Minister Gerry Brownlee says Labour leader David Cunliffe has got himself in the most astonishing predicament on TV3’s Firstline this morning, by claiming the National Land Transport Fund is “going to be in surplus very soon,” so it’s time to give some of it back to taxpayers.

“We know Mr Cunliffe is under significant pressure from his own caucus, having announced policy on the hoof yesterday without telling the team back at Labour’s war room,” Mr Brownlee says.

“Now, when asked by the media this morning to explain where the forgone revenue from this policy would come from, Mr Cunliffe has resorted to making things up, presumably thinking no one would call him on it.

“The fact of the matter is the National Land Transport Fund is by its very nature incapable of achieving a surplus, or a deficit – it is what it is.

“This is an ongoing fund which is used to fund the National Land Transport Programme, which for the years 2012-2015 will see $12.3 billion invested in road building, road maintenance, public transport, and which includes $300 million a year for targeted on-road Police enforcement.

“The fund might be above or below forecast at any point in time due to factors like the performance of the domestic economy, or fuel prices, but this is a dedicated fund, with all its money coming from Road User Charges and Fuel Excise Duty on an annual basis.

“All of that money is spent on New Zealand’s roads and public transport through the National Land Transport Programme; the question of surplus or deficit simply never arises.

“What’s more, thanks to changes in driver behaviour – in particular more efficient use of vehicles by large transport fleets using GPS technology – and increasingly fuel efficient vehicles, there has been greater financial pressure on the National Land Transport Fund in recent years, not less.

“Despite that, over the past six years this government has invested more in our land transport system, following a sustained period of under investment, and that’s just starting to pay off for all New Zealanders.

“We know this is increasingly difficult territory for Labour.  They don’t want to talk about building roads because they don’t want to offend their Green coalition partners.

“But if Mr Cunliffe believes there is a surplus to be had in the National Land Transport Fund, he needs to explain what bits of the fund’s programme he is going to cut.

“If there’s some mystical way of creating a surplus inside the National Land Transport Fund without cancelling planned investment, David Cunliffe needs to tell us.

“I’d love to know what document he has seen that suggests this fund has, or will soon have, more money than it needs.”

Paul Henry says it all:


Country roads aren’t motorways

March 31, 2014

Rural Canterbury areas are campaigning to get motorists to slow down on country roads:

Selwyn District Council says the “country roads are not motorways” campaign has come about after 187 crashes in the district from 2009 to 2013, in which speed or driving too fast for the conditions were a contributing factor.

No caption

Photo: IS 100k OK CAMPAIGN

Eight people died in those crashes and 33 received serious injuries.

Of all the speed related crashes during that period, 86 percent were on the open road.

The speed limit is a maximum not a target and drivers have a responsibility to drive to the conditions.

Narrower, windier roads which may or may not be sealed require a lot more care than many motorists, accustomed to little more taxing that Sate Highway 1, give them and 100 kph is often not OK on them.

But it’s not only visitors who speed. Locals and frequent users including stock can get a bit complacent and go faster than they should too.

That said, I’ve seen some very careful and considerate behaviour from Fonterra tanker drivers.

One summer evening I was at the top of a hill when I spotted a tanker on a farm track heading for the road a few hundred metres ahead.

I crept down the hill, round the blind corner, up the other side and found the tanker waiting patiently in the gateway for me to pass.


Green pot calling blue kettle black

December 3, 2013

The Green Party is complaining about transport costs:

New data shows that families’ spending on transport is skyrocketing, driven by the cost of petrol and cars, and National’s transport priorities is making it worse, Green Party transport spokesperson Julie Anne Genter said today.

This is very much a case of the Green pot calling the blue kettle black.

Her party would make fuel even more expensive through higher ETS charges.

The Green Party also wants to lower the value of the dollar which would increase the cost of imports, among which are fuel and vehicles.

And the party is campaigning strongly against mineral exploration which has the potential to not only earn export income but also reduce our reliance on imported fuel.


Better roads, better business

October 30, 2013

I’d left plenty of time for a trip to Dunedin on Monday in case the road was busy.

I needn’t have worried.

Traffic heading north was only intermittent and I drove more than 40 kilometres before I needed to pass another car travelling south.

There were more vehicles as I got closer to Dunedin but not enough to cause problems.

Reports from further north told a very different story, including an 8km queue of traffic near Otaki.

Holiday traffic exacerbates traffic problems but better roads aren’t just required to help people get in and out of cities  more easily at long weekends.

Economic Development Minister Steven Joyce points out, they’re better for business:

. . . we have a lousy transport link between Wellington and the Horowhenua. You open that up, just like we’re doing with the Waikato Expressway south of Auckland, and suddenly businesses can develop along that highway in those towns leading to the capital city. The National Party’s very focused on that. We have actually got a number of projects underway – the Kapiti Expressway, Transmission Gully – but there’s a whole lot of people on the left who have got their heads in the sand about this, and I think it’s actually very sad, because they’re focussing on the area closer to Wellington, but I want to focus on those regions in Horowhenua and the Manawatu who would have great economic benefits out of that one piece of infrastructure. . .

The Opposition criticise money spent improving the road north of Auckland  and labelled it the holiday highway.

It does provide access to and from some of the country’s most beautiful beaches. But it’s also the arterial route between Northland businesses and markets in the city, further south and, via the port, further afield.

If we want the country moving forward, literally and economically, we need better roads.


Too late to do the right thing?

August 11, 2013

We met a couple of friends at Wellington airport on Wednesday and agreed to share a taxi into town.

I ended up in the middle of the back seat, leaned forward so the blokes either side of me could do up their seatbelts then reached round to find mine.

I couldn’t.

I turned, looked and couldn’t see a belt either.

I asked the driver where it was, he told me it was covered by the seat cover.

The taxi was moving by then but I could have asked him to stop and got another taxi.

I didn’t.

I felt uncomfortable and unsafe but didn’t want to make a fuss.

Now, four days later I’m still regretting I didn’t.

Our trip was uneventful and we arrived at our destination safely, but what if a future passenger doesn’t?

The taxi shouldn’t have been taking five passengers if it had seat belts for only four.

But having not done the right thing when I should have, I think it’s too late to do it now because I didn’t take note of the company, the car make or registration or the driver’s name.


Sign sense and nonsense

July 1, 2013

The road rule requiring anyone passing a school bus picking up or letting off children to slow down to no more than 20 kilometres per hour doesn’t appear to be well observed.

That could be because it’s not widely known, it could also be because it’s not always easy to observe.

If you’re on the open road and come upon a stationary bus not far from a corner you’d really have to jam on your brakes to get down to 20 kph in the short distance available.

And that’s if you see it.

If it’s on the other side of the road and there’s other traffic passing it which obscures your view or takes your attention it’s very easy to not register that it’s a school bus.

North Otago thought they had a good idea to make the buses more visible and the speed restriction more obvious – flashing signs saying 20.

But the Ministry of Transport won’t allow them.

About 20 flashing warning signs, which displayed the 20kmh speed limit for passing parked school buses, were given to Ritchies Transport following a community fundraising effort about five years ago, but they were then left gathering dust at the Oamaru bus depot when the ministry asked for them to be removed from buses.

Oamaru Community Constable Bruce Dow said the signs had been ”highly effective” in the brief time they were installed on school buses, and called for the ministry to allow them to be used, or provide replacements.

”With that sign there you not only get warning, because of the flashing lights, but you also get the speed limit. . .

Ministry spokesman Brenden Crocker said at present only three signs had been approved for use on school buses. A flashing sign had been approved but it did not contain a speed limit.

He said in order for the signs to be recognised, they would have to go through a trial process under the auspices of the New Zealand Transport Agency, in order to provide ”sufficient evidence” of their value.

The Ashburton District Council had this month completed a 12-month trial of similar signs but no results had yet been passed on to the ministry, he said.

The use of a flashing sign makes sense, the Ministry’s opposition doesn’t.

There’s good reason not to have a plethora of different signs but could the North Otago signs not be reinstated and used as a trial?

Either way it’s 20 k is a simple slogan but observing it isn’t easy.

Flashing signs alerting drivers that a school bus has stopped and reminding them of the speed limit would surely help.


Either way it’s 20 k

June 16, 2013

On my way to town a couple of days ago I was following a car that was following a school bus.

The bus indicated to show it was pulling over. As it stopped the car behind it sped up and passed it.

I was tempted to follow the car but I remembered  either way it’s 20k – whether you’re following a school bus or passing it going the opposite direction it’s mandatory to slow to 20 kph.

It’s a rule many people are either unaware of or ignore, especially when they’re going in the opposite direction from the bus.

Rural Women NZ are doing their best to educate drivers and that’s what this picture is designed to do:


Parking problems

May 21, 2013

Auckland has parking problems:

Residents of central Auckland fringe suburbs such as Mt Eden, Parnell and Orakei are getting riled at their streets becoming free parking lots for commuters skimping on bus or rail fares. . .
Down here a parking problem means you can’t park outside the place you want to visit.
A bad parking problem is having to drive round the trees in the middle of Oamaru’s main street a couple of times before you find a park.
A really bad parking problem is when you do that and still have to park a block away.
Could someone explain why so many people want to live in Auckland?

Forwards or backwards?

April 7, 2013

Richard raised the issue of getting in and out of  angle parks.

Apparently the is law that one must go front first into angle car park or you risk a fine. That is OK but the problem is when you leave and have to back out. In the last two years my wife and me have had four bumps backing out of angle car parks always with others also backing out.
Its not our bad driving, at least not mine. Rather it is easier and safer to take the time to back in because you can watch the vehicles either side and you should know when to stop?
I think this issue could be a game changer in politics but have not worked out how.

Entering an angle park frontwards as they’re designed now would require an awkward manoeuvre, going past the park, then reversing back into oncoming traffic.

Even if there was a change in direction to make going in backwards easier, I’d prefer to back out into open space than into a confined area between two other vehicles.

However, visibility when backing out can be restricted, especially if there’s a bigger vehicle beside you.

Angle parks take less space than parallel ones but whichever way they’re angled and which ever way you tackle them, entering and exiting requires care.


Greens want to rob Peter to pay Paul

January 29, 2013

Year after year remits at National Party conferences sought to ensure fuel taxes and road user charges went in to roaring roading and not the consolidated fund.

The AA and other organisations with an interest in transport lobbied in support of that too.

Eventually they succeeded.

Fuel taxes and road user charges have been directed at roads and not treated as a general tax since 2008.

Now the Green Party wants to go back to the bad old days:

Transport Minister Gerry Brownlee says Green Party Finance Spokesman Russel Norman’s plan to raid the National Land Transport Fund to pay for his “Rent to Buy Housing Scheme”, shows a complete lack of knowledge of public finance in New Zealand.

“Mr Norman seems unaware that roading funding is collected from road users through fuel taxes, user charges and fees. That money is then dedicated to the National Land Transport Fund, to pay for road policing, public transport and road maintenance.

“This dedicated funding or ‘full hypothecation’ was introduced in 2008.

“The Greens can’t have it both ways – paying for houses from road taxes would cause serious problems for the funding of core transport services such as public transport.

“The lack of investment in new roading projects would create long term bottlenecks in our transport system and create congestion, leading to greater fossil fuel use.

“”First it was crank up the photocopiers to print money, now its let’s rob Peter to pay Paul.” said Mr Brownlee.

Cactus Kate found the Green Party housing policy is aimed at people suffering from entitilitis:

Sharissa Naidoo, 25, and her partner have been renting together for four years and say they are desperate to buy their first home.

“The concern is if we’re wanting to start a family and move into a house that’s more than one bedroom, we can’t afford that,” Naidoo said.

Naidoo recently graduated with a Masters Degree in Sociology.

She is now sick of renting and expects the net taxpayer (you) to underwrite a home for her to live in with her “partner” (hate that word) of four years.

All of this, not even one year after her graduation ceremony in May 2012. . .

Taxpayers shouldn’t be funding people’s wants and taxes collected from road users should stay in the transport fund.


Up vs out

December 31, 2012

New Zealand cities should go up rather than out, Federated Farmers’ chief executive Conor English says:

Manhattan-type cities that accommodate more people and stop urban sprawl is New Zealand’s farming leader’s latest vision for a prosperous economy.

Federated Farmers chief executive Conor English says New Zealand needs to lose its small-country mindset and get smart about growth.

That included “taking the lid off our cities”.

“Human capability is critical to all parts of our community and economy. In most parts of New Zealand, except Auckland, the population is flat or in decline. There are not enough people to produce the exports, provide the services, pay the taxes and build a future at first-world income levels. We simply need more people.”

Auckland needed to stop building out and start building up. . .

I was in Auckland three times this month.

Each trip required the long, slow journey from the airport to the central city and back.

It’s such a waste of time and fuel.

Could going up rather than out help solve the city’s transport problems and would Aucklanders want to live in high-rise apartments rather than houses with sections?

 

 


Fewer WoFs, safer cars?

October 17, 2012

When the flashing lights came on behind me I knew I hadn’t been speeding but there was no other car in sight so I pulled over.

The police officer stopped behind me, came up to the window and said only one of my rear lights was working.

I told him I’d only just got a warrant of fitness.

He replied, that meant the car was fine on the day, it didn’t mean it would stay that way.

I’ve been thinking about in light of the conversation about proposed changes to Warrants of Fitness regulations.

The Motor Trade Association is urging caution:

With WoF and CoF inspections acting as a trigger for vehicle maintenance for many owners, it plays a key role in maintaining the state of our fleet at a very basic level. MTA will be providing a strong submission to Government to retain current inspection frequencies, but believes the inspection process can be improved to take into account the many new safety technologies in today’s vehicles.

There should be no changes to the current system unless there is a stronger commitment to education on maintaining vehicles and significantly more police enforcement. While that might be achievable in the longer term, it is likely to result in a transfer of costs from motorists to government thereby defeating the very aims the reforms set out to achieve.
Stronach says “While you might save $45 a year and perhaps 40 minutes out of your day, there may well be increases in other costs, including higher insurance premiums. We think all motorists want to have confidence that every vehicle on the road is safe, not just theirs, regular and comprehensive inspections are a good value for money way to achieve this.”

The Automobile Association thinks the changes could improve road safety:

“Some of the opponents of change to the WoF system seem to be cherry-picking information and not mentioning the time and cost benefits for motorists from a revised testing scheme nor the changes we can make to improve vehicle safety,” says AA spokesperson Mark Stockdale.

As part of the AA’s analysis of the changes being proposed, we looked at the data on every fatal crash in New Zealand over five years from 2007-2011. We did this to understand the possible safety impacts of any changes.

The crash data showed that out of 1640 crashes, there were 89 (or 5.4%) where a vehicle fault or factor was found that may have contributed to the crash.

Of the vehicles in those 89 crashes, 39% did not have a current WoF and 52% had a tyre fault.

Analysis of overall NZ road crashes indicates that vehicle faults contribute to about 2.5% of all fatal and injury crashes and to 0.4% where the fault is the sole cause of the crash.

To put that in some context, the most common factors contributing to fatal crashes are alcohol or drugs (36%), a driver losing control (34%) and going too fast for the conditions (32%).

“Vehicle faults do play a part in a small number of road crashes but it’s misleading to simply claim that changing the WoF frequency will lead to that number increasing,” says Mr Stockdale.

“Nearly 40% of the vehicles with faults that were involved in fatal crashes didn’t have a WoF anyway, so how frequently they are supposed to be getting one is not the issue.

“Worn tyres are another key factor in crashes but there are other ways to target this than solely through a WoF.

“Rather than having a regime that is testing the majority of motorists excessively we need to focus more on enforcement to get vehicles without WoFs off the road and investigate ways to better monitor tyre condition.”

Less regular checks would put more responsibility on drivers to check tyres and keep up with other maintenance that we ought to do anyway.

That could make vehicles safer because as I found out getting a warrant doesn’t mean everything keeps working as it ought until the next one.

The AA has more information on the issue on its website.


Could have been a tragedy

August 14, 2012

The truck was travelling at about 80 kilometres an hour.

As it got to a passing lane it pulled left and the bus behind it followed.

The four wheel drive vehicle behind  the bus indicated and entered the passing  lane.

When it was about half way past the bus it (the bus) pulled out and started passing the truck.

The only place for the 4WD to go was right and onto the wrong side of the road.

Had there been any on-coming traffic it could have been a tragedy almost certainly resulting in injuries and death.

As it was the road ahead was clear and the 4WD was able to get past the bus and back onto the correct side of the road safely.

But the bus driver hadn’t finished. He compounded his dangerous driving with a lack of consideration.

Instead of pulling back into the left lane once he was clear of the truck he stayed in the passing lane, meaning the cars behind couldn’t pass. I was driving one of them and was stuck behind the bus, travelling at 80 to 100 kph for several more kilometres.


Simpler rules for ag vehicles welcome

August 9, 2012

The government has made some welcome changes to simplify rules for agricultural vehicles.

Associate Transport Minister Simon Bridges says changes to the rules for agricultural vehicles will reduce compliance costs while still ensuring safety. . .

The changes establish a two tier system for agricultural vehicles based on a 40km/h operating speed. Vehicles operating below this speed will be exempt from warrant of fitness and work time requirements.

A new licence endorsement will allow car licence holders to drive a greater range of agricultural vehicles once they prove they have the skills to do so. Other changes will improve and simplify the rules on pilot vehicles, work time variation schemes, hazard identification and vehicle visibility.

“Safety remains a key factor. The changes include a requirement that agricultural vehicles use a flashing amber beacon. This will better alert other road users to the presence of agricultural vehicles and associated hazards.

“The changes also reflect the Government’s focus on better and less regulation by improving compliance and providing greater operational flexibility for agricultural vehicle owners.

“Farmers and contractors sometimes work long and irregular hours. For instance, crops need to be harvested when they are ready and when the weather is right. The laws on the use of agricultural vehicles need to be fit for purpose and the proposed changes better reflect the needs of this very important industry.”

These are commonsense changes which will save time and money without compromising safety.

More information on the planned changes is here.


Good idea, wrong designation

July 13, 2012

Bigger parks for women, what’s wrong with that?

A small German town has made headlines by introducing easy-access parking spaces reserved for women.

The scheme, introduced by Mayor Gallus Strobel in the south German town of Triberg, sparked international interest after Mr Strobel said the women-only spaces were introduced because females were worse parkers than males.

That’s where he’s gone wrong, he’s making a generalisation and acting upon it.

In doing so he’s maligning women who have no problem with parking and doing nothing to help men who do.

He should keep the bigger parks but change the signs to show they’re available for anyone who needs more room. That could include anyone with passengers who need assistance getting in or out of the car as well as those of either gender whose spatial awareness isn’t up to scratch.

For the record, I hate small car parks, especially when I’m in a modern car from the driving seat of many of which you can’t see the vehicle’s extremities.


Giveway rule change working

June 24, 2012

Have you noticed chaos and confusion as a result of the change to the give way rule for vehicles turning left and right or at T-intersections?

In the couple of months since the rule change came in I’ve had to pause just once when I thought someone turning right was going to cross my bows when I was turning left and have had no problems at T intersections.

AA Insurance hasn’t noticed a spike in claims since the change.

“The low volume of claims suggests that New Zealanders understood the changes and drove more cautiously at intersections by reducing their speed and taking their time, preempting any rise in incidents,”said Suzanne Wolton, Head of Corporate Affairs, AA Insurance. “The handful of claims we received related, for the most part, to driver confusion about how to apply the catchphrase, ‘Top of the T goes before me’.”

In these cases AA Insurance customers who were turning from the top of the “T” were hit on the front driver’s side by third parties turning right from the bottom of the intersection.

The low volume of claims suggests that the new way, which is after all a return to the old way and the way traffic in most if not all other countries has to behave, is the right way.


Road toll zero

April 10, 2012

The Easter road toll was zero for the first time since records began in 1956.

Police believe the fatality free weekend is because of good weather conditions across the country and the decision to change the speeding threshold from 10 to four kilometres.

The roads weren’t free from inconsiderate drivers, though.

A woman was charged with driving too slowly between Levin and Palmerston North.

We were caught behind a couple on Friday who could have faced a similar charge.

We came upon the first driving considerably slower than was both safe and legal a few kilometres west of Omarama although in this instance the second vehicle was at least as much at fault as the first. We were the third car in line and there were a few opportunities where we might have passed one vehicle but the second made no attempt to pass the first and was too close to the first for us to pass it by itself.

We finally got past them then several kilometres on in the middle of the Lindis Pass we gained on a line of vehicles. When the road straightened the leading car pulled over and let several vehicles pass but pulled out again before we and the car behind us could pass. We had to crawl along well under the speed limit for about 10 more kilometres before we could safely pass.

If ever there’s a call to design purgatory I’d suggest a road like that with long queues of traffic led by a driver who shows no consideration for those caught behind with oncoming traffic preventing passing at every straight.


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