John Key has overruled Bill English and got the money for his beloved cycleway (now a group of “Great Rides”), $50 million spread over three years.
I won’t waste too much time on the substance.The argument’s the same as it always was. Cycle tracks are neat but spending $50 million on them over three years isn’t going to make a blind bit of difference to the economy. I note that Key doesn’t claim 4000 jobs will be created any more, and the media don’t hold him on that.
Instead, I want to critique this article reporting the announcement.
I loved this quote:
“His initial claim of a $50 million price tag for what was originally pitched as a national cycleway from Cape Reinga to Bluff was thought by many to be unrealistic.”
No. Every professional political commentator lapped it up without a moment’s critical analysis. There was only one person who ripped his price and jobs estimates to pieces, they did it within within half an hour of Key’s initial cycleway announcement and it was published on The Standard.
Finally, this quote, which was first in one of the weekend papers months back has been bugging me:
“Tourism Ministry figures show fewer than 2 per cent of visitors take part in cycling, but they stay more than twice as long as the average tourist and spend 1.6 times as much.”
I might have to check with Marty G but I’m pretty sure if they are staying twice as long and spending 1.6 times as much as average that means they spend only 80% of the average per day in NZ. So I guess they’re staying in cheaper accommodation and doing free stuff (like cycling) more than other activites. I thought we were trying to attract big spenders, to get a better return for our investment in tourism infrastructure.
Cycling’s cool but it’s not a winner for tourism, jobs, or the economy.