I’ve only just come back to this neck of the woods. Last time I lived here was in the 80s and Tauranga and The Mount were two quite separate places.
I was a self-made 16-year-old who had enough money from stacking vegetables at Woolworths to buy a Mark III Cortina and a Commodore 64 computer.
Despite these obvious symbols of success I still struggled to find girls who shared the same values as me.
My parents were big on attending church so I knew that God loves a trier and on one occasion this divine confidence had me following a lead all the way to Tauranga.
For some reason I didn’t drive the car. My wealth didn’t always stretch to petrol and the toll on the brand new Harbour Bridge was offensive.
Or it may have been around that time I broke the drive shaft and the repair my friend’s Dad made was not quite right.
Every time I went over 50km/h, it would rattle so hard the fillings threatened to fall out of my head.
So, dressed in my most seductive attire - Levis and a green Billabong sweatshirt - I cycled out of The Mount and across the Matapihi Rail Bridge on an 18-speed Mountain Yak.
The trip was quite pleasant and quick and I remember thinking how silly it was I hadn’t done it earlier. But it was a hot day and by the time I got there I was not cool like The Fonz. Even the liberal spray of Insignia before I left wasn’t coping with it.
She was fairly disappointed and expecting someone older or more mature, with a car. So before long I was consoling myself with a quarter chicken and chips back at Bayfair.
This was one of life’s great learning experiences.
Now I drive everywhere.
Which is great, because I’d be fresh out of luck if I wanted to cycle over there now.
I wouldn’t be sweaty, I’d be dead.
I’m not sure who made the decision at NZTA to rip out the underpass and replace it with a four-stage crossing across a two-lane roundabout. It’s not a 40-something woman with brown hair and a puzzled look on her face is it?
Maunganui Rd was a dangerous crossing 30 years ago. Now it’s an epic adventure.
People get to the other side, beaming, with arms raised in the air pronouncing: ‘we knocked that bastard off’.
What they have done to this neighbourhood is right up there with other great barriers - that wall in China and the wall they used to have in Berlin.
The only difference between this one and the one that Trump’s building is that NZTA has almost completed it.
Once the Bayfair Pedestrian Underpass is removed, the only way to get out of Papamoa or Mount Maunganui will be by car. Which is fine if you have a car and you like waiting in line with other cars.
Now, I’m a motorist so I totally agree with NZTA on this. We shouldn’t be allowing non-motorist Mounties and Papamexicans to cross the border and steal our jobs. The last thing we need to see after grinding our way to work through the traffic is a healthy, smug, middle-age cyclist eating gluten-free porridge in our favourite shared working space.
If they are not paying for petrol, they are not paying their share of tax.
No doubt a few people will get across in the wee small hours of the morning when traffic has died away and the city is dozing.
But it will stem the tide of cheap transport.
In the most perverse and cynical of acts – and this will appeal to sadists – NZTA has another little surprise in store for pedestrians.
It’s the big button.
The big button
Press this big button and all the traffic will stop so you can skip across the big empty roundabout like a little kid chasing a butterfly.
Don’t look up though - a thousand angry eyes will burn you to a smouldering pile of ash. A stare might be the worst thing that happens but some motorists won’t stop at all. They simply won’t believe that their Government has gone to all that trouble and expense ($120 million) to make the trip to Tauranga great again, only to make them stop and wait for button pushing bi-peds trying to get across the road.