tip off

Roads are so 20th century

Crikey readers talk the missing Nigerian schoolgirls and whether roads are a good investment.

Roads not the way to go

George Crisp writes: Re. “Not investing in roads is politically correct denial” (yesterday). Peter Callil has based his whole road-favouring argument on fallacies. Firstly, there is no evidence to suggest that building new and bigger roads solves congestion. Simply speaking, more roads have resulted in more traffic.

Secondly, he assumes the future will be just like the past only bigger. This is very unlikely — just ask the electricity utilities about decreasing demand over the last four consecutive years. Younger generations here and overseas no longer have the same desire for car ownership. Not to mention that we are running into increasingly scarce, and therefore expensive, oil and climate change.

He also fails to consider the very large health and social benefits that can be gained by promoting active transport and reducing air pollution, congestion and other urban externalities from ever-increasing roads and their vehicles.

Roads were just so 20th century.

Gin Graham writes: Peter Callil says “public transport infrastructure, cycling tracks, and pedestrian bridges … are … no economic benefit whatsoever”. Really? The decrease in health costs because of increased exercise is of no economic benefit? The increase in community security, by having people walking or cycling our streets, is of no economic benefit? The ability for youth, elderly, and other non-drivers to access mid- and long-distance transport for jobs or training is of no economic benefit? The decrease in pollution due to people choosing not to use cars is of no economic benefit?

Money spent on cycle tracks, public transport and pedestrian facilities, if spent wisely, brings an economic benefit by reducing traveling times (yep, the bikes won in a recent Wyndham Council to Melbourne city transport race), associated fuel costs (trains, cycling and walking much more efficient for fuel) and transport costs. Efficient non-motorised transport infrastructure reduces fuel use per kilometre, and also greenhouse gas emissions. I have to agree with you that spending on infrastructure that enables greater efficiencies is an investment. Its a pity that your world view is so car-centric that you cannot see where the real efficiencies lie.

As you note, there is a place in this world for expenditure for fun. And of course, everyone taking public transport does it for fun, right? Unlike those self-sacrificing car drivers.

When ideology trumps safety

Martin Gordon writesRe. “Rundle: #BringBackOurGirls a familiar song, but feminist chorus could be lethal” (yesterday). Rarely does Guy Rundle write much that I would agree with. The sudden international interest in the abducted Nigerian school girls and the belated western feminist interest in this lot of girls raises all sorts of questions, I agree with Rundle on that.

But Boko Haram like Al Shahab in Somalia, and numerous other Islamist extremists are the respective “Taliban” of their countries. This abduction by Islamist extremists is not unique in terms of its outrageousness. The sudden interest of Michelle Obama in this group of girls is a nice distraction and fills up the media. But what of the millions who are the victims of previous, current and future (post-2014) repression by the Taliban in Afghanistan and the comparative silence of Western feminists about Afghan girls and women, let alone other daily outrages across the Islamic world? Misplaced priorities, it seems.

One would think that arguably the most disadvantaged and repressed females would warrant more attention by the media and the feminists, but presumably nice politically correct concerns in the West are more important than life and death for these repressed women!

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