Motorbikes are fun.
Although if you find yourself unexpectedly airborne on one it’s a good idea to at least have your feet on the pegs when you come back to earth as my left knee reminds me if I don’t exercise it constantly.
Bicycles are great – from a design and engineering point of view, efficiency, the health benefits they provide and the exhilaration of being on one in the right conditions.
The right conditions in my opinion do not include a main thoroughfare in peak hour.
For my daily commute I prefer something with a wheel at each corner, a place inside where people can sit and at least an optional roof in case it rains, turns baking hot, is magpie season – whatever.
But this is already changing for many who used to drive a car to work in Canberra.
By now you know the basics of how it’s going to be quite different in the NCA areas which used to be no cost but will now set you back $12 a day.
There is a discount – not a very big one – if you choose the weekly option.
(In case you’ve been away or you’re new to Canberra, here’s a handy link to the NCA map which illustrates the affected zones http://bit.ly/Z4dijj )
When we last had discussion going on this topic following a piece I wrote for Riot Act there some who said I’m sick of this – we already have to pay to park in the city – why not in Acton, Barton, Parkes, Russell etc as well?
Apparently some worker bees weren’t paying – they were parking in the aforementioned and then going to their place of employment by other means.
Whether they’ll still do that – $14 a day in Civic vs. $12 in the aforementioned areas is a saving of $10 a week (approx) – but will it be worth the trouble?
One of the biggies which has brought about this change I’m told is that canny Canberrans were parking in spaces which should be available to Australian taxpayers who have driven to the National Capital to visit some of the National Institutions which have been built, staffed and stocked with their hard-earned tax dollars.
Can the NCA expect blowback along the lines of “Why should Canberrans be pushed out of parking spaces to accommodate the tourists?” I asked the relevant authority.
I don’t think it’s an argument which will play well with the rest of the country, but if that’s how you feel, by all means say so.
During a conversation Friday afternoon with Malcolm Snow, Chief Executive of the National Capital, I raised the issue of whether – given that Canberra has long been known as Car City – there should have been more car parks built before now.
Mr. Snow’s answer is “No – any city that hopes to be sustainable must look at other forms of transport”.
Seemed like a good time to bring up the possibility of light rail.
I said I thought the chances of that ever actually happening were remote.
In fact I said that during my time in Canberra I’d noticed that the Canberra Times on more than one Monday had the light rail story, illustrated with the traditional “artist’s impression” with what to my eye looked like carriages drawn rather too small so as not to interfere with the trees on Northbourne Avenue.
“Definitely not”, said Mr. Snow.
He is very much of the opinion that there is room for trams and trees.
He then went further and told me that Burley-Griffin was originally of the opinion that a cable car system similar to ones he’d seen in the US should be considered for Canberra, so the design would accommodate light rail.
I still believe that at the first sign of a lopped tree or a habitat issue (not the speckle backed toadlet again?) the activists will be out with their placards demanding the median be left in peace.
In the meantime though – between now and when those light rail tracks are laid – Mr Snow did tell me although it had not been the NCA’s intention to inject life in to the local economy with the new parking arrangements, sales of motorcycles and bicycles are booming in Canberra.
For cycle riders on some of the hotter days, will a shower facility in the office be the new work perk?
Of course if it becomes too popular I imagine shower time will be metered too.
In any event, the change is on and I don’t just mean to lycra for the ride home.
If you bought a house in the burbs thinking you could commute in air conditioned, four wheel privacy you may now have to consider the bus.
Or are you finally going to buy that Harley you wanted when you were nineteen?