Publication:

Manawatu Guardian - 2021-11-25

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How to shave minutes off the Palmy commute

NEWS

Dave Mollard Dave Mollard is a Palmerston North community worker and social commentator.

My wha¯ nau and I lived in Delhi for three years, a city of 22 million people with roads filled with trucks, rickshaws, motorcycles, animals, rubbish, smog, beggars, and potholes. We laughed as we moved back to Palmy, the wide clean streets devoid of buses, corrupt cops, bicycles, and cows. The joy of pulling up at a red light knowing that as soon as it turns green, we would be through and out the other side. We boasted to our Indian friends that nothing was more than 12 minutes away in our city! Maybe I’m getting older but in the past few years, it seems Palmy traffic has got a little thicker, not Delhi thick, but more than “12 minutes to anywhere” thick. In fact, if you try to get across town at 9am or 3.30pm on a school day, the clock on the dashboard moves faster than the Honda Odyssey. I’m a volunteer firefighter, and time stands still when driving to a callout at the station when I get stuck behind a granny in Featherston St trawling along at 37km/h. Don’t even talk to me about the bottlenecks in O¯ taki, Pukekura Bay and the Terrace Tunnel when driving to Wellington. Being a solution-minded person, I have come up with a few ideas to resolve this issue until self-driving cars come along and make our driving skills, carparks and traffic lights redundant. Here is my big idea! Think Indian! My brothers and sisters in Delhi are the best drivers/riders in the world. Swerving in and out of lanes, taking up every piece of real estate on the road and converting two lanes into four as needed. Us Kiwis are far too passive, too polite and too slow! It takes twice as long for 10 cars in Aotearoa to go through a green light as 10 cars, four trucks, three rickshaws, 15 motorbikes and three camels in the subcontinent (stopping at red lights optional). We would have to put up with more broken wing mirrors, scratched panels and blaring horns, but we would shave four minutes off the Cloverlea-to-Hokowhitu pilgrimage. Actually, with a little more thought on the subject, the extra four minutes saved are not worth the carnage the Indian system creates. Already we are looking at solutions for our traffic problems, the new rental e-scooters we see on every street corner must be replacing some car trips, our bus system is getting reviewed and our ring road is in its final updates. I’m confident Palmy is experiencing “peak traffic” and technology will soon solve the problem without having to use bulldozers and chipseal. We can help by riding bikes, e-bikes, e-scooters and getting our groceries delivered. The only constant is change.

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