Dear Mike Hosking…

Chris, Jane & Sarah seeing Amsterdam by bicycle

For the offshore reader, Mike Hosking is a voluble and high profile radio talk show host who is very vocal in his opposition to cycleways and the impossibility of cycling being a significant local transport option in New Zealand. He unfortunately and antagonistically reduces the debate to a head-on conflict between motorists and cyclists, who are clearly not mutually exclusive groups.

Dear Mike

I strongly suggest you never visit Amsterdam. The city would annoy you beyond belief, because there is almost as much infrastructure for cycling as there is for driving. You would be driven nuts by the apparent requirement that everywhere in the centre of Amsterdam can be reached safely and easily on a bicycle, along with public transport.

If the infrastructure didn’t annoy you sufficiently, I am sure the people would because these crazy Amsterdammers are actually using the cycle ways, en masse. What self respecting cycle-lane lambaster would want to be caught anywhere close to such a plethora of insane people.

These mad people will get wet if it rains and it rains one in every three days days most months in Amsterdam. They may have trouble parking their bikes – the bike parking spaces were very full when we visited. They will definitely have issues storing their bikes in their very small houses, which almost certainly leads to the full bike parks on the street.

Of course, if there’s nowhere to park a bike, there’s even less nowhere to park a car. That makes you think about transport options, doesn’t it, when valuable city real estate is given to cycle lanes and bike parks and there’s little room left to park your car. You would think all the shops would be empty and the shop owners destitute, because that’s what happens when people cycle rather than drive, right? The destitute shop owners may have already shut up and left because there were no empty buildings in sight and plenty of thriving retail and dining options everywhere. How odd.

There are people of all ages, shapes and sizes on bicycles. Clearly, neither the education systems nor social pressure have conveyed to them how ridiculous they are, cycling everywhere. These people must be exceptionally stupid that the message doesn’t sink in, particularly the older people who have had years to hear it. And how can parents take their children’s lives in their hands cycling with those children or, worse, put their children’s lives in the hands of those same children by letting them cycle on their own? This must be a country with an embedded death wish, don’t you think?

One thing that might make you and your anti-cyclist compatriots happy, Mike, is that the proportion of Lycra wearers in Amsterdam is very low. Most people just wear ordinary clothing on bicycles, avoiding unsightly displays of unmentionable parts at the cafes they frequent. When people get off their bikes you wouldn’t even know they were cyclists – so sneaky.

Mike, if I could discuss cycling in Amsterdam with you as a model for other places, I imagine you would point out the differences between Amsterdam, the Netherlands in general, and New Zealand. You might well expound on why these differences mean that cycling may work in Amsterdam but it could never work in the same way in, say, Auckland. One thing it has required in Amsterdam is determination, by people and government alike, so you might be right. You are certainly doing your best to ensure attitudes of “cars first and foremost” remain entrenched.

What happened to you, Mike? From a 2010 position of concern over unreasonable excessive spending on cycleways, with you as a self-declared V8 owner and regular Lycra-clad bicycle rider, to a 2022 spitter on the possibility that cycling could be a form of mass transport. I would note here I do agree with you in that some new cycleways appear excessively expensive and poorly planned. But, then again, would roads seem well planned if one had to create a roading network slowly and piecemeal? I would also like to point out that cycleways are hardly the epitome of overtime, overbudget transport projects…what about Transmission Gully, to name just one car-focused piece of infrastructure?). .

Was it the clickbait media style that sent you down this anti-cycling path? To be a talkback show host forces you to be anything but moderate. It must get tiring to be consistent in your negativity and vituperativeness. Perhaps you need to get out on your bike more? Take deep breaths, slow your pace and consider possibilities (and potential necessities on a warming planet). All religions allow for the possibility of redemption.

Yours in hope

Jane

Published by janecshearer

I'm a self-employed life enthusiast living in Gibbston, New Zealand

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