Former NSW Premiers Dept head bags cycle funding

I've just sent this email to Quentin Dempster (ABC TV's Stateline) following his interview with Gerry Gleeson who was secretary to the Premiers Department between 1977 and 1988.  Coincidentally, he has an article it today's SMH (bottom of page 13)

Out of the blue, Gleeson made extraordinary, uninformed comments criticising bike facilities and funding.

NSW Stateline
Hi Quentin,
I was astounded with the interview with Gerry Gleeson.  He was making interesting comments covering the last couple of decades of the NSW administration then he managed to comment on cycleways, which seemed
a marked digression from his earlier comments ..... he even mentioned the King
St cycleway.  While Gleeson was a top public administrator he clearly has no
understanding of the role cycling can play in reducing peak hour congestion,
health and environmental benefits, etc.   The PricewaterhouseCoopers draft
report into the 3km long cycleway 'missing link' between the Sydney Harbour
Bridge and Naremburn currently out for public comment has identified a benefit /
cost ratio of 4.95 to 1.
Refer to .....
Many road projects are battling to achieve a BCR of just 2:1.
We currently have around 700 cyclists an hour riding across the SHB cycleway during the morning peak ...... and 30% increase in the last year. 
Gleeson needs to get out of his car and see what's happening as young people are
flocking to bikes.
The City of Sydney AECOM report covering 15 inner suburban councils stated a BCR of 3.88:1.  Gleeson comment was unprofessional (clearly
not knowing the BCR's of these studies) and damaging and must be addressed.  I'd
recommend contacting Omar Khalifa, the recently appointed CEO of Bicycle NSW, to
provide the opportunity to address Gleeson's unfortunate comments.
Russ Webber
Vice-president Bicycle NSW 1983-2001, president 1995-96, joint winner Cycling Promotion Fund award of the year (2008) -- honorary category

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Replies to This Discussion

I agree, cycleways have their place and certainly do confer benefits even when slow to use.
And in many ways low speeds are a complementary solution, rather than an alternative.

There's a boundary developing in my head around where a cycleway is useful, and where it is futile. As an Engineer also (when I'm not a boffin) I know there are times when I have to make a call on an engineering activity to the effect that it is not going to be successful.

I think for me a cycleway does have to confer a net safety benefit. At a direct engineering level it is relatively easy to see when a cycling facility is less safe than a road.

Quantifying the bigger picture seems to be a bit more challenging, yet when we are getting into determining benefits vs. costs that does seem to be a valid thing to do.

Having enjoyed superior cycleways overseas I do despair over the shoddy facilities we get in Sydney. I hope I don't sound mean or nasty by writing that personal truth.
I'm not in Sydney these days and haven't visited for about 2 yearrs now so I haven't seen them for myself. But I have heard a few remarks on some aspects of the Sydney Cycleways that don't sound ideal.

Truth hurts but engineers have to be told the users opinions, able to take the truth and work out improvements for the next one. If there are good reasons for the way they have done a project then they need to be able to explain that to the end users. So - if you think Sydneys cycleways are "shoddy" send an email to SOC and explain the issues then see what they send back. (Probably just a bureaucratic nothing letter taking no responsibility that governments are trained to give for legal & political reasons but you never know.) They may have reasons for the "shoddy facilities". If they don't then they'll become more aware of the problems and hopefully improve it.

Lack of money and political willpower in our car dominated society appears to be a common major factor from what I've seen of many bikeways around Aust. No-one likes tax or rates increases so .....


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