A few days ago my friend Roberto tipped me off to this article by Australia’s current PM, that he wrote in 2008. My god, on first reading, you would think Tony Abbot was once a bicycling advocate. Go read it, but ya’ll come back now, ya hear. It requires some analysis.
So who spotted a crack in his logic? He refers to the famous Andersen study that found cyclists can expect to live many years longer, even accounting for accidents. Unfortunately for Tony’s argument the Andersen study was conducted in Denmark, a country with separate bike infrastructure and therefore roughly one 3rd of the deaths per million kilometres cycled than we have here in Australia where cyclists generally use the road shoulder. It is hardly the study one should be citing in the build up to their conclusion that Australia should not build protected cycle tracks, because the road shoulder, somehow, is better. And what does he have in mind when saying separate bike infrastructure is steeper than roads? If not at the actual side of the road, separate bike infrastructure tends to follow waterways or rail easements which are flatter than roads. Tony Abbot seems unable to synthesise facts with a vision.
I’ve never joined the chorus of left wing progressives who mock our PM. All my life I’ve only known intelligent prime ministers. Howard, Keating, Hawk, Fraser and Whitlam would all have scored higher marks than I did in school. I must admit to feeling somewhat uneasy with this revelation that someone who can only score a B with an essay is making ministerial appointments. If Tony comes crying about me marking him down, point him to an example of an A+.