Liberal TAMS spokesman Alistair Coe clearly believes that inciting hatred against cyclists by complaining about the cost of green paint on cycle lanes (Canberra Sunday Times 28 June p,11- sorry not on-line) is smart politics. After all, given that the average cost per annum is about 36 cents per Canberran, and the massive benefits cycle lanes bring to our city in improving road safety and reducing traffic congestion, pollution and parking shortages, it can’t seriously be about financial management- this is just a pretext.
Coe has clearly learnt nothing from his predecessor Steve Pratt, who adopted similar tactics in attacking cycle lanes and calling for their removal, for purely political reasons based on presumed electoral appeal to the motoring majority.
The tactic was fundamentally flawed; firstly, many drivers appreciate the benefits of cycle lanes even if they still choose to drive; and secondly, the lanes have not created anywhere near the level of inconvenience to drivers that anyone other than hardened bigots would have changed their vote on the issue.
Conversely, many bicycle riders, and their families, voted on this single issue – their lives literally depended on it. The Liberals produced an excellent cycling policy on the eve of the 2008 election, but it was too late- years of attacking cycle lanes had already cost them thousands of cycling votes, and Pratt himself lost his seat by several hundred votes, with Liberal voting cyclists playing a crucial role in his ejection.
Coe should take note of this recent history, set aside the politics of hatred, and concentrate on good sustainable transport policy if he really wants to improve the Liberals chances at the next election- and keep his own seat.
[ED – once more with feeling]