I should have learned back in 2011 never to trust a journo.
Back when I was active in political lobbying for Motorcycle issues we received word that the Wellington City Council was going to do away with the 600 free motorcycle parks in our fair city, the capital of New Zealand and expect Motorcyclists to pay for and share pay and display car parks.
Retail reps had asked the council for more kerb space parking, as it’s a revenue generator the council were quite determined to recover the 600 meters of kerb we bikers were allocated.
WCC had just started a campaign to get bikes off the nooks and crannies on footpaths as well, we felt targeted and isolated from the rest of the citizenship by these acts the council were proposing.
One of our BRONZ committee members opened an e-petition on the council’s website (their very own tool of democratic feedback) which within 7 days had over 8000 signatures and as I recall 1100 plus by the time it closed.
For anyone aware of the cost benefit ratios of the size of a congested cities motorcycle commuter fleet would understand how bad this proposal was for the state of our cities streets in rush hour. If we had to pay we would likely just take the car and gridlock was only a few hundred cars away as it was and a fleet of 1500 motorcycles flowed into the city every day carrying IT workers, hospo and retail staff, people who needed to find a spot for their bikes. Back then 1500 bikes a day, now in 2017 it’s up to 2500 bikes a day. Be quick or miss out basically. However the fact remains well published, and well understood by bikers in Wellington PnD parking spaces are not available for MC’s to park in.
BRONZ had a large swelling of ground support from all walks of life to keep the status quo. We even had two insiders, one the now retired councillor who held the motorcycle portfolio and another from within council parking services who was advising us on laws, bylaws and helping us focus on achievable outcomes that would likely fly. Many signatories stated they were car drivers and supported the free bike parking as every major city in the world supplies free MC parking. It leaves more car spaces for them if bike parking’s regulated to approved free spaces and discounted smaller spaces in parking buildings citywide.
The end result was after the negotiations and a show of 60 or so bikers at the council chambers to respectfully let them see the face of the wellington motorcycle community, the proposal was withdrawn.
BRONZ negotiated that the existing bylaw that stopped motorcycles using Pay and Display parking spaces remained in play, and the council agreed 600 meters (500 bike parks) of kerb spaces to be reserved for dedicated free motorcycle parking.
Now… a Kiwi iconic TV journalism show has come out swinging at the deal all because ONE person has laid a complaint to them that the council ticketed him for parking in a car space. Fair Go, the champion of ‘the little guy’ came charging along and did their utmost to vilify the council and the deal struck by the community (remember thousands supported the retention of the bylaw) because ONE guy complained to them… ONE!!!! And Fair Go unleashed their hound….
ONE complaint and the TV journalism behemoth Fair Go starts a war on behalf of this guy who is determined to ignore the bylaw, and have his precious BMW bike parked ‘in sight’ of his shop window. He clams it’s because no other bike parks are free for him when he gets to work… what a load of bollocks, 2000+ other motorcyclists a day find spaces that are not in Pay and Display, or get a slot in a parking building.
Never mind the thousands of other motorcyclists that supported the 2011 campaign, agreed to the terms BRONZ negotiated and henceforth for the last 6 years proceeded to respect the council bylaw so that ALL Wellingtonian’s get a true Fair Go at obtaining a parking space. Lets not forget Pay and Display parking is intended for day trippers, 2 hour parking limits and retail shopping access.
I shouldn’t be too surprised really…. despite the previous high regard I felt for Fair Go (having grown up watching them champion real issues,) that a hungry journo smelled a fight, got a scent for blood and turned a minor complaint from one MORON who has to defy the local by law and insisting it’s HIS right to park anywhere he is willing to pay for into a storm in a teacup. The man has lived in Wellington for 12 years… he must be the only motorcyclists I have ever heard of here in Wellington who was ‘unaware’ of the bylaw (highly unlikely, IMO he’s just a dick looking to make a noise).
Check the Facebook post they made, dozens of bikers and those who were involved in 2011 explaining we don’t want the PnD access, yet Fair Go and the complainant still insisting THEY are right, the councils wrong and stuff the wider MC community! Stuff the bylaw, stuff the deal that was struck, ignore over 40 minutes of interview time with BRONZ explaining the history and accord met…. We are gonna publish our story as we see fit, who cares about mere facts!
The comments are interesting, explain the situation over and over and yet because the power of Fair Go is behind this idiots individual complaint (one with no legal, moral or ethical ground at the community level) and they all start crying foul!
Some have reasoned the situation once explained. ‘Ohhh I see, ok no issue’ while others have decided it’s a reason to go to war on the council…madness!
Back in 2011 a sensationalist journo turned our post interview ‘off the record’ discussion into the headline ‘Bikers threaten to disrupt Rugby World Cup’. As with many Stuff articles revision later changed the headline but the damage was done.
That headline resulted in death threats to me, and I resigned as President of BRONZ due to public backlash. Ce la vie, that’s life… take one for the team when you have to. But it left me wary of the press and their ability to twist facts. And here we are again, this time it’s the venerated Fair Go programme at it.
Bottom line we had won our position with WCC by peaceful action and respectful attendance in numbers to the Council meeting, intelligent negotiation by our Media Spokes Simon, and the status quo remained in place. As per the agreement and the wishes of the wider Motorcycle Community as negotiated by BRONZ in good faith with our city council, the WCC.
Now Fair Go edit up their story to make Mario look oh so reasonable…. In the TV story the reporter states ‘given no reason for the rules’ … an outright categorical LIE as Mario was warned a few times and both Fair Go and he were told of the bylaw. It was explained to him in great detail when he challenged his fine and then let off as a ‘misunderstanding’. The story states he had several previous warnings so claiming he was ignorant of the by law and having lived here 12 years (during which the parking campaign of 2011 occurred) makes both Fair Go and Mario look like utter idiots.
Top it off, and here’s where Fair go lose every ounce of respect I ever held for them, they spent 40 minutes with the BRONZ executive committee who explained all this to them… but as it’s not the story they wish to purvey not one second, not one soundbite of the other side of the story, of our 2011 negotiations, made their TV piece. Not one sound bite. I reached out via Facebook messenger to their admins, asked them to call me to get 5 minutes’ worth of the history and facts on this issue…. Got a courteous ‘Thanks Brent’ comment and nothing else so not even interested in any other POV, bar their own and Mario’s.
That my friends is an UNFAIR GO to EVERY motorcyclist that rides into Wellington City and has the possibility of creating aggro with the people legally entitled to use Pay and Display (every vehicle type bar Motorcycles) and the motorcycle community who unlike Mario are happy with the status quo.
Thanks a LOT Fair Go. Yeah…. Thanks a LOT for NOTHING. From this day forth I see you as nothing but sensationalist hacks looking for ratings at the expense of the truth.