Not in my backyard!

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Oh for the love of the NIMBY.

Nothing gets me more fired up than a car lovin’, public transport hatin’, change fearin’, placard wavin’ ignoramus on an ill-informed mission. And last night the Gold Coast had 600 of ’em. All fired up about plans for a light rail along the strip. They want to lobby the local government to scrap the project. Despite the fact that such a scrapping will cost a lazy 200 mill in broken contracts. Despite the fact that public transport along the Gold Coast strip is almost non-existant, relying on inefficent buses and far flung train stations. The argument  presented in the media today beggars belief. Some guy with presumably not much to do with his time who sat on the side of the road and counted the number of people who got onto buses. He came up with 8 at peak time. Ergo, we don’t need a light rail. Moreover, they took away our car parking spaces. Scrap the light rail and keep the already widened roads for more cars. Ugh. It does my head in. The unwavering love of the car.

From a parental point of view, it’s a no brainer for me. We chose to live in a high density, public transport friendly area. We wanted options that did not include our car. For the first year and a half after we came home from living overseas, we had no car. Our son knew no other way so we just walked or got buses and trains everywhere. He loved it. It took him about two seconds of car ownership before he began to protest walking to day care or the train station. I wanna go in the car!

When I am on school holidays, I pick up the kids on foot and walk home. When I’m at work, I pick them up on my way home in the car. Guess which is more fun? When we walk, Mr 4 talks to me all the way home, telling me all about his day. We discover rocks, flowers, dogs, other people and weeds. We learn about road safety, other people, animals, each other and how not to be scared of dogs. When we drive, all three of them zone out. Not much talking. When we catch public transport or walk, the experience is invariably filled with teachable moments. What other people are doing or saying, different or challenging behaviour in others, social graces, self confidence, what to do if you are lost, what this or that building is, what happens in a hospital, I can think of so many times we have had valuable conversations about things that have happened on our journeys. Oh and there’s also the minor advantage of it being greener and healthier. When we drive, they fall asleep or fight.

Sadly, the guy counting bus passengers may have a point. The residents he represents love their cars so much they’ll boycott the light rail on principle. But it’s a narrow view. Tourists, young people, public transport lovers like me, young families and yes, local businesses all stand to benefit from better public transport along that strip. We recently spent a weekend there and we limited our activities to those within walking distance of our hotel because on public holidays and in the evenings, the only option to go further up the strip was to drive. And yes, public transport can be difficult with prams, this I know. But I also know by year’s end we will be out of the pram and will be much more able to enjoy getting around more freely on public ttranposrt. And I couldn’t think of anything more fun than zipping up and down the strip with my boys on the light rail, learning, talking and watching the world go by.

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