In 2017, The RiotACT’s correspondents provided thoughtful opinion pieces on the issues important to Canberrans. Among the most-read stories were pieces about transport, with the light rail eliciting robust discussions as did posts about dangerous drivers on the Kings Highway and poor behaviour towards cyclists.
Also ranking in the top 10 was an article about the ACT’s NBN rollout and two stories about housing – one about the ACT Government’s plans for public housing and the other exploring the legalities of renting your apartment on Airbnb.
Charlotte Harper’s story about the construction of the light rail network in March was among the first of many on the topic this year. The RiotACT readers were enthusiastic in discussing the issues associated with the mammoth construction works, such as lane closures and traffic flows, but particularly concerned about the funding of the project and the associated expenses.
Serina Bird Huang was surprised to receive a letter from her Body Corporate saying that no-one in her unit complex could host Airbnb, and wondered why there are restrictions placed on who could stay in her home. Our RiotACT poll asking readers whether Airbnb and similar services are good for Canberra showed 57% of readers in support, with 14% wondering why it was even an issue at all.
John Hargreaves started off the year by admitting he had broken a New Year’s resolution – to not get upset at those selfish middle-aged and old NIMBYs who object to development in their local area. Only 22 percent of people who responded to our poll thought NIMBYs were concerned citizens who ensure government and developers are kept in check, while 37 percent of respondents agreed with John that NIMBYs should back off and allow the city to grow instead of objecting to anything progressive.
Chris Steel’s story about tackling disadvantage and ensuring Canberra’s vulnerable people have adequate housing generated plenty of discussion. However, not all RiotACT commenters agreed with the ACT Government’s public housing renewal plan for the territory.
There was a huge response to Kim Huynh’s article in January which reflected on why people are unkind to cyclists and oppose bicycle infrastructure. While many responses were supportive, there was also considerable vitriol directed at the pretentious or aggressive lycra-clad variety of cyclist. Readers were quick to suggest dos and dont’s when it comes to cycling in Canberra and beyond.
It’s little wonder that South Coast locals call Canberrans Yogies, wrote Charlotte Harper after a particularly frightening experience on the Kings Highway during the January holidays. She wrote that the crash rates on the notorious road were a huge 85 percent higher than the NSW average, and speculated that poor driving by Canberrans was part of the reason.
Chris Endrey’s defence of Canberra in response to Miranda Devine’s scathing article in April whining about the capital hit the mark with plenty of The RiotACT readers. He argued it’s Canberra that should be whining about the rest of Australia ruining everything and said the Canberra-bashers need to stop and think again.
In February, the supermarket shopping experience for Canberrans was transformed when shopping trolleys were modified to require a gold coin to release the chain. Rachel Ziv was critical of the new legislation, saying it made shopping more difficult than it was when you just had to worry about how to handle your kids and remember everything on your shopping list, but plenty of others disagreed.
In June, Robert Knight wrote that it was time to rethink Canberra’s car-centric and toxic transport culture. “The support for better public transport and active transport (walking and cycling) that exists in the community now, must be built upon and encouraged,” he wrote, and plenty of The RiotACT readers agreed with him.
Kim Fischer’s story about the rollout of the NBN in the Canberra region was the most popular opinion piece on The RiotACT this year. She wrote that the truth about the NBN was damning: nearly all of the ACT has been pushed to the very back of the NBN’s revised rollout schedule.