Cycling in Sydney Australia
Given this: https://twitter.com/cms2037/status/894338202907009024, I have been wondering if there is a way to influence the major political parties to adopt policies which will actually benefit, encourage and build numbers of cyclists as well as building infrastructure for us.
We are about 20 months out from the next NSW state election, if my calculations (I counted on my fingers) are correct.
Since the major parties are the only ones who will form government, how can we get either Liberal or Labor to come out with these positive policies?
What would we actually want these policies to say?
Do positive cycling policies have to come up from the grassroots via branch members or should we try to convince current higher-ups to support their introduction?
Is anyone on SC who is a member of either the Labor or, ahem, the Lieberal Party, able to offer some insight into the policymaking process?
Also, everyone should watch this film, "The Cycle of Reform": https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nGsM-XIuGwo
*Out with it: Are you now, or have you ever been, a member of the Labor or Lieberal Party?
I think we need to communicate at all levels, each of which have different objectives. For example;
- Improving the community environment
- Reducing traffic congestion
- Reducing the cost of health care
Our problem as we know is that we are in catch22, because there aren't many of us we don't get much improvements and without the improvements we don't grow
For me I think improving the environment, ie. making nice safe people spaces and destinations is an objective over and above cycling in itself.
While parking is sacrosanct (still, sigh) when it comes to losing it for cycleways, removing cars from a space to make that space useful seems a lot more yesable to all parties I would think.
Pretty much the only thing that drives the NSW political agenda is the notion of what is required to win votes 'out west'.
I'm not even sure what 'out west' really means, or even if these voters are important, but generally we are told that those 'out west' need:
- more roads
- cheaper cars / fuel
- a halt to high density housing development
- less money spent on inner-city elites, and more spent in the regions (on roads, mainly).
They do not, apparently, need to be able to cycle anywhere. Cycling investment is characterised as being 'for inner city elites', and therefore should not be supported. And I don't just mean ignored - I mean it is actively discouraged.
Don't believe me? Look how Melinda Pavey has assiduously removed all references to being a cyclist in her social media feed. Look how Clover Moore continues to be marginalised and ostracised. Look how Pedro is claimed as a 'success' when hundreds of fines are issued for not having a bell.
There will be no positive cycling policies from either of the major parties in the foreseeable future.
"There will be no positive cycling policies from either of the major parties in the foreseeable future."
A few years ago I met with my ALP state MP about a punishment pass and the lack of police action throughout the state in general on cycling safety. Her attitude was a case of lip service, but she also said that there are just as many in the ALP who hate cyclists as there are in the liarbrels. I got the impression she couldn't give a rat's, and commonsense arguments would not budge her on MHL! "If it saves 1 life it's worthwhile!" "Yes, but by removing it, it will increase cycling and save many more than 1 life because of the added health benefits!" "Nope, MHL stays."
I wonder given realities and the Constitution at what level, federal, State or Local Government should the focus be?
The only thing that will influence either major party is money. Lots of money. If we could get Trek, Giant et al to donate to political parties we could get some traction for people on bicycles but I suspect we would not get the kind of changes utility.commuter riders are chasing.
It also struck me this morning looking at Strava that a lot of kilometers are being clocked up on trainers (Zwift) which might account for less roadies on the roads.
The reduction in people cycling is likely to lead to a reduction in the political clout - add to that the poor showing of ACP. Probably just wait 50 years and then try pushing for bicycles again.
Yours really not jaded,
I work for an advocacy organisation (not in cycling); my day job is about influencing decisions/funding commitments and building political will in the (federal) government of the day - and on some issues that have historically been 'difficult', 'Cinderella' ones - rather than attempting to shape parties' internal policy.
With that caveat, my insights - which probably still hold (and yes, this brief outline makes it all sound easy, when it's long-haul stuff):
*And since you ask: no, and no. :-)
This is the approach that has been undertaken by BNSW and BV since the dawn of time. A few years ago I had the opportunity to present to the BNSW board, and some of the members were scathing about the advocacy work done by the BUGs - they felt it was too confrontational and direct. What was needed was softly softly relationship building, I was told.
The result of that is that BNSW and BV do get government support - some funding, invites to 'round tables' and also support for large rides such as Spring Cycle. But they have achieved exactly zero positive policy outcomes for cyclists. I'm not sure if this is because they are too worried about losing the support for rides to actually press any advocacy positions, or it it is just a symptom of the anti-cycling agenda of successive governments.
Certainly in terms of media exposure, it seems to me that other cycling organisations (which are persona-non-gratia in government circles, to be sure) are much more active than BNSW / BV in pressing for action on cycling issues.
I don't believe I said anything about 'softly softly'. In my work - which, as I mentioned, is not on traditionally 'popular' issues - we build trust and credibility in order to then have a little relationship capital, if you like, to spend on being able to tell people 'what we really think'.
You can only be a critical friend, and be seriously listened to in this way, if you are already in the door and sitting down with people. Those outside the door - who are more 'confrontational and direct' - still play a vital advocacy role, but a necessarily different one.
In terms of the funding, we take no government money because - as far as I can see - it is impossible to speak truth to power while being underwritten by it. Where you source your funds from instead is of course a separate difficulty in itself!
Sorry Dr, I wasn't criticising your approach or successes. I understand the need to engage with the political process, and am glad you have successes..
Rather I was pointing out that the approach taken by BV and BNSW has not yielded a single net positive outcome for cyclists from an advocacy perspective in the last 25 years, other than government support for occasional leisure rides. Maybe that's because they are not engaging effectively, or maybe it's just the political reality in Australia right now.
Would the outcomes for cyclists be even worse without the efforts of BNSW / BV? They would I'm sure claim yes, but it's honestly hard to see how it could be much worse, given the vitriol unloaded on cyclists by politicians and the media over the past 20 years.
I think the issue with BNSW and BV is the "what they really think" part. Those organisations' real thoughts remain supportive of, and embedded within, the current auto-domination of our streets. Whatever good relations they develop with the powerful are wasted.
Listen to Jon Leighton (President of the Board of BNSW) speak - if I was prone to believing in conspiracy theories I'd conclude he was a stooge for the RMS and the roads lobby. His family's company is involved in building toll roads after all (not sure if he has any direct involvement in that company, but still).
Yes, I agree with that - some of the policy positions held by BV / BNSW are, by international standards, bizarre. Supporting helmet legislation and campaigning for higher fines for cyclists (we will get respect!) spring to mind.
I wonder how much it is that having those policies is a prerequisite to get invited to meetings with government? Is is a Faustian pact, that they get to 'engage' with the government, and get to run their rides, and in return they promote the governments anti-cycling agenda?