Councillor Chris Calvi-Freeman has called for an end to tooting in Wellington’s Mt Vic Tunnel. Over the coming days many will discuss this important issue. But what does the Tunnel think? Emily Writes sat down with them to find out.
I’ll say it right now, at this point in my life, I’m a huge fan of what is known in my whānau as “The Beep Beep Tunnel”. My love for the tunnel hasn’t always been so robust. I loved it as a teenager – we used to sit in the middle at night and try to guess which cars would beep. When I lived in Hataitai and did one year of drunken study at Massey University, I walked every morning and every night through the tunnel. I can’t say I liked it as much then as I do now – but then I used to smoke cigarettes in bed back then, in my early 20s, so I wasn’t exactly not a scumbag. So should I listen to 20-year-old me? Or slightly more responsible 32-year-old me?
Now, as a mum of two, I love The Beep Beep Tunnel. When my kids are screaming in the back seat, I sometimes purposely go to the tunnel to shut them up. The beeps mesmerise them. They each pretend to beep and go buck wild with joy when other drivers actually do it.
The Mt Vic Tunnel beeps can be a barometer for how the entire city is feeling. On a Monday morning, there’s very few beeps. On a Friday – joyous, end of work beeps. Apparently people have been tooting in the tunnel since 1961. There are lots of theories as to why, but I think the reason people beep is because everyone else beeps.
And aren’t our VERY FREEDOMS at risk if we are told not to beep? Is this not an issue of FREEDOM OF SPEECH? Isn’t the very core of who we are, as a city, as a people, as a country going to be eroded by this heinous Nanny State PC Gone Mad nightmare of a suggestion? I personally think yes. But I am an objective journalist who is only ever objective. I went to the Tunnel itself to ask what they think about this grotesque violation of transport rights.
I was excited to get the views of the Mt Vic Tunnel in their own words. They’re a Wellington icon and have brought joy and pain in equal numbers to millions. I was nervous – this could be the most important interview of my career. I decided to get right into it.
Emily Writes: Hello, I’m an important journalist and I wanted to get your opinion on the recent comments by Councillor Calvi-Freeman.
Mt Vic Tunnel: Beeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeep beep beep.
He told the NZ Herald “Most people don’t realise when they are driving through that it is not really one of these victimless things… what you are doing is creating a great level of annoyance for people walking through the tunnel.” That sounds extremely melodramatic to me. I mean isn’t it our right to annoy other people?
Mt Vic Tunnel: Beep. Beep. Beepbebebebeeep. Toot.
OK, well Ellen Blake, vice-president of Living Streets Aotearoa, says tooting your horn inside, uhh, you is “illegal already, as horns are for emergency warnings only.” She sounds like she hates freedom and is a wowser fun hater and also a PC nanny-state tree-hugging hippy. Would you agree?
Mt Vic Tunnel: Beeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeep
Do you think we should riot? Take some kind of stand against people stopping us from tooting? Do you like the tooting?
Mt Vic Tunnel: Beep Beep Beep Toot Tooooot Beep Beep.
Would you prefer some kind of tooting curfew like you can only beep on Fridays and the weekends?
Mt Vic Tunnel: TOOOT.
Do you think that Mr Calvi-Freeman should focus on shit that’s actually important to pedestrians like I dunno making it safe for us to walk at night in Wellington? Like as a young woman even when I hated the tunnel tooting I still cared more about the assaults happening around the city meaning it was unsafe for me to walk home. Maybe he could focus on the bus system and how unreliable the buses are after the big change? Or the 248 people killed or seriously injured in 2017, including 14 fatalities, while driving on Wellington roads? What about safety for cyclists? There were 29 cyclists seriously injured and one killed in 2017, while 30 pedestrians were seriously injured and six were killed.
I dunno it just seems like there are more important things he could focus on you know? What do you reckon Mt Vic Tunnel?
Mt Vic Tunnel: BEEP!
Do you have any final messages for your critics? Anything else you want to say?
Mt Vic Tunnel: I’m a tunnel beeeeeeep fuck you!