Mode Shift DomPost

If you live in Wellington, hate cars and are happy to see them driven off the City’s so called Golden Mile (GM), which runs from the Cenotaph near Parliament right through to the Embassy Theatre in Courtenay Place, you will love the DomPost’s Mode Shift campaign.

Every issue it seems has at least one article about the joy that comes from living in a car free city. Examples are drawn from all around the world about how to live without the car. Sounds like Utopia is it not?

However there is just a few problems which include retailers who believe if their customers cannot drive and park in the City somewhere close to the GM, then the customers will go elsewhere and they will go broke.

Many restauranteurs in Courtenay Place are convinced they will be damaged by the radical proposal, which will see most side streets on the GM closed off at their ends.

You might think the DomPost would let these people publicise their views in the intersts of balance. Clearly when it comes to Mode Shift, the DomPost thinks balance is yesterday’s thinking, and not required.

Even correcting facts seems to be a struggle such as whether Wellingtonian’s “overwhelmingly” support the radical “transformation” option presented a couple of years ago, which they don’t. In a consultation process the misnamed Lets get Wellington Moving (LGWM) got fewer than 2000 responses from a total population of 217,000. Of this minuscule percentage responding a majority favoured the radical option.

All credit to the cycling enthusiasts and Greens for lodging their submissions but let’s not pretend they represent Wellingtonians. I have a special interest in the whole LGWM project, but that vast majority seem unaware of the detail far less the implications.

When the DomPost used a mediaeval city in North West Spain to prove their point about cars, I wrote a letter below. And for those who don’t know, NZ does not have any medieval cities which were all built hundreds off years before the car.

Dear Editor

Kate Green (June 18) said in her article about traffic in the Spanish city Pontevedra, that “Wellingtonians overwhelmingly backed the plan” to “transform” the Golden Mile, which would see most side streets blocked off from Lambton Quay, private cars removed and commercial vehicles access limited.

There are about 217,000 people in Wellington, so a majority of 2000 who responded, says zip about what Wellingtonians truly think of this radical proposal. 

I expect the majority of respondents were cycling advocates and Green supporters, who are fully entitled to have their say. But it’s dishonest to claim they represent the overall views of Wellingtonians, most of whom in my experience understand very little about what’s proposed. 

I know from real engagement, the business community is overwhelmingly opposed to the changes. If the writer wants to meet some I will happily organise because I have facilitated three intensive sessions with business people Andy Foster and LGWM staff.

Barrie Saunders

Tennyson Street, Te Aro, Wellington

Not yet published and I am not holding my breath it will because it doesn’t fit the editors’ narrative.

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