Green Transport and Green Ties.
My wife, Vicky, has become our family's main income earner as I have pursued my political aspirations. I was concerned that as the election campaign gets into full swing there will be a lot that she will have to endure, so I encouraged her to join her English family in Italy for a week's holiday. Vicky's great, great Grandfather was Italian and her family had traced a link to a region in Northern Italy and planned to spend some time exploring the area and finding family connections.
Vicky has just returned from her stay in Malcesine, an idyllic village beside Lake Garda and possibly the Italian equivalent of Queenstown. She brought back a wonderful Italian, green, silk tie for me and I intend to wear it as much as possible during the rest of the campaign
Vicky also brought back stories of the Italian lifestyle she experienced; the wonderful healthy food, the abundance of bicycles, the efficient public transport and the general ambience of sophistication and style that exuded from the people. The Italian Prime Minister may be a little crass, but Vicky found the people friendly, hospitable and very efficient.
We New Zealanders have developed a high level of cosmopolitan sophistication when it comes to food, wine and general culture, but when it comes to transport we are woefully behind the majority of Europe. Their city centres are designed for pedestrians and public transport is efficient and practical. Cycling is a lifestyle choice that not only saves the local environment from exhaust fumes but is a healthy alternative. Where bikes are common, high levels of obesity are not apparent and car drivers are very accommodating. We have a lot to learn and much to gain from following Europe's lead in this regard.
I have included some photos from a trip to Europe late last year (Zurich, Paris, Oxford) to demonstrate what could be achieved here and to show that climate should not be a limiting factor (these were taken in Winter).