Friday, April 07, 2006

Alan Lewis: Biker's penalty seems unfair

I got a ticket on my way to work recently, and now I'm confused! I was riding my motorcycle between the slow-moving middle and fast lanes of cars on the motorway on my rush-hour commute and out jumps a cop and nabs me. "That'll be $150 for passing on the left," he says.

I was riding steadily between the rows of traffic. It's called lane splitting - when motorcyclists ride between the rows of cars jammed on the motorway at rush hour. Isn't everyone passing on the left when the inside lanes are moving faster than the fast lane?

When I took the decision to sell my car and start commuting by motorcycle, I felt this was a win-win situation. Even a small percentage increase in the number prepared to commute on bikes instead of in cars will generate a significant improvement in Auckland's traffic problems.

Why are the traffic authorities acting against the very vehicles that can help them improve traffic flow? What is the Government trying to achieve, forcing motorbikes to behave like cars? If every motorcyclist takes up as much space as a car, the traffic will continue to get worse, making the congestion tax a certainty. Is this the aim?

Commuting by motorcycle needs to be encouraged. If the Government is to find solutions to our transport problems, it must stop removing the advantages a different form of transport offers. What's the point of commuting by bike if the only difference from commuting by car is increased risk and the occasional drenching?

All motorcyclists are acutely aware of the dangers from motorists. If safety is the concern, please target red-light runners, those who fail to give way and indicate - i.e. drivers who endanger my life every day on the road.

I was going to spend the $150 on an advanced-rider training course to help me improve my skills and safety. Perhaps my money will help our new roads get built more quickly. Let's just hope it's not being spent on planning congestion taxes.

* Alan Lewis is an Auckland commuter.

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