The Roads First organisation exists because : of the very real danger that, if current perceptions and policies are prolonged, the western world will resile too far from rational economic progress, collapse it’s economies and socio-political coherence, and return us to the “dark ages” of serfdom under “protective” warlords. It happened to Roman and many another civilisation, and right now it it is happening to us.
Associates of Roads First have professional backgrounds in urban development of all relevant kinds. In the years since 1993, when Auckland Regional Council first imported the American architect-driven town planning construct known there as “Smart (sic) Growth” (and here as “Compact Cities”) as an appropriate manifestation of “Resource management”, we have striven to understand it’s origins (we won’t say foundations, because they are ill-defined and highly subjective) and rationale. We are still struggling to do so. In the meantime, we have covered a lot of ground in many fascinating fields of study arguably of considerable relevance: human motivation, economics, political systems and power, social (especially group) behaviour, the origins and trajectory of environmentalism.
Our overall conclusion is that Auckland is on a path to self-destruction, having substituted too many facets of “freedom and democracy” to self-serving power-seeking groups of all kinds, all the while assuming the economy – and social coherence dependent upon it – will just go rolling merrily on. It isn’t, and, with currently excessively restrictive (and costly!) policies and regulations, it won’t.
Roads First considers Auckland must urgently address it’s economy as it’s primary raison d’etre, and without which nothing else – environmental protections included – are possible. Roads First means first things first – reduce the constraints on efficient productivity and affordability of basic urban services such as power and housing. Council is in the box seat for effecting such change.
The changes that Roads First seeks to place before the public derive from five propositions :
1. Cities “naturally” expand under the pressure of increased population simply because expansion is the easiest, lowest cost, most choice-laden, most flexible and adaptable, and overall, most efficient form of urban development. We must remove the “Metropolitan Urban Limit” and facilitate far less expensive land development for affordable housing (and employment!!) purposes.
2. Cars (and vans/trucks!) are here to stay, if we want to keep our economy functioning. Every car trip is a commercial trip; taxing it off the road reduces commerce, jobs, productivity. Auto-mobility’s convenience, economy, efficiency, sheer usefulness and essentiality for modern commerce ensures that we can’t do without them. Moreover, steady technological improvement means that cars annually achieve greater energy efficiencies than urban reconstruction can achieve in several generations. We must reduce congestion to tolerable levels, and keep it for a (still possible) population doubling, by developing the main road network. That means more arterial roadspace, and only very rarely it’s conversion to buslanes. Public transport will never compete with the car for 95% of daily vehicular needs, no matter how much money is thrown at “improving” it, and how heavily it’s running costs are subsidised. (The 166km rail transit system currently planned would cost ratepayers a billion dollars a year in running costs alone.) Right now, all we can afford is more user-needs-meeting bus services, not their sacrifice to force-feed rail.
3. There is no shortage of carbon fuels. The earth’s crust, oceans and flora contain them or their components in great abundance; technology has to date stayed ahead of demand and, unless handicapped by prohibitions, will continue to do so. If there was a shortage, the easiest and most effective way of addressing it would be to continue current progress towards economically-viable replacements.
4. Runaway global over-heating has been reduced in IPCC terminology to “climate change”. Current projections of sea-level rise (using highly-dubious modelling of an immensely complex climate system with multitudinous drivers and feed-back mechanisms) are similar to the far more “natural” rise experienced over the last century. No technically-competent person who does his own homework can fail to realise that exhaust pipes are – not small – truly “tiny beer” compared with the natural climate drivers (eg all transport is only 12% of national energy consumption, which is only 3% of known and accounted natural sources of CO2). Our primary job is to save our civilisation; saving the planet (if and when necessary) can wait.
5. Unless we resile immediately from excessive environmental quality and safety standards (“world class” for a beer economy) in favour of “bottom lines” which are widely affordable, the glass ceiling this has erected over our lower-income people (eg as regards housing affordability, and personal and national indebtedness) will preclude and/or drive off the young families on which Auckland’s future depends.
This site will be developed to demonstrate these assertions as time permits