The Great Race

Daniel Hutchinson
From The Hutch

Usually, at this time of the electoral cycle, locally-elected councillors are being super nice to everyone.

Everyone vying for the few positions available musters up their most popular ideas and displays them for everyone to see.

Those already in the hot seats try not to do anything stupid in the months leading up to an election. For example, no councillor in their right mind would hand out $2.5 million in fines to thousands of residents who have been bamboozled by a half-baked attempt to improve traffic safety.

The Links Ave trial strikes me as a little bizarre – not the least because of the name of the road. An avenue is defined firstly as ‘a way of access’. Calling it Links Avenue seems to leave no room for ambiguity.

But Tauranga City Council is a little bit different this year. Painting a green strip at one end of one of the few viable commuter routes in Mount Maunganui and then fining anyone who drives over it, is par for the course.

Perhaps we should just call it the ‘Commissioners’ Cul-de-sac’ instead?

I have a lot of sympathy for those who live on this road but at the end of the day – and the beginning of the day for that matter – people only have three options if they need to travel through this stretch of suburbia.

Not many options

State Highway 2, or Maunganui Rd, is obviously the preferred option for motorists – however never-ending roadworks at Bayfair have put the brakes on that idea somewhat, for now. That leaves Oceanbeach Rd and Links Ave to carry the can, until that arterial route is finished. Both roads slow to a crawl – and sometimes even slower – at peak times of the day.

This has all been done with the best of intentions but closing one of those alternative routes is obviously going to frustrate the hell out of anyone trying to get to work or school, or both.

When more than 5000 people sign a petition asking for mercy over their $150 fines, that sounds like a groundswell of disenchantment. Coupled with the sheer volume of tickets handed out, I’d suggest this trial has been an unmitigated failure.

Links Ave may have become a rat run for desperate commuters in recent years but it’s just a symptom of a dysfunctional transport system.

The legend of the rat

According to the Chinese zodiac, the rat has won the right to come first, and I feel like there are a lot of parallels with the situation in Mount Maunganui.

The story goes that a panel of emperors decided to work out who should get from Papamoa to their place of work or study first.

They organised a race for all the animals – from Gravatt Rd to Hewletts Rd – a race which had a treacherous stretch through Bayfair.

Rat won the race simply by following Ox down Links Ave and then popping out at Golf Rd when Ox pulled over to let some fare-paying passengers out.

The Ox – although often not where you want it when you need it – came second because of its size and the fact it has its own designated lanes.

Lucky Rabbit

Tiger was third, but only because it was shouldered out the way by Ox. Next up was Rabbit who almost got wiped out by a courier van when it went through the Bayfair roundabout. It recovered and got a lucky break at the roundabout under the overbridge.

Dragon was driving a Ford Ranger so was expected to do better, but she stopped twice on Maunganui Rd to let other animals into her lane.

Horse was confident heading into the race and decided to take a gamble on Maunganui Rd. Just as he approached the overbridge, Snake sped up the left lane and cut in front of him to take out sixth place.

Sheep, Monkey and Goat were car-pooling so got there at the same time but were held up a bit because they had to go down Oceanbeach Rd to pick up Rooster.

Dog was happy to just chill out on Maunganui Rd and listen to a bit of Fat Freddy’s Drop so came in at 11th while Pig stopped off at the service station on Girven Rd for a bacon and egg pie and came last.



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