Cycling in Sydney Australia
I work kind of close to the area, so might try and keep this thread updated. Admin/others - Please let me know if you think this kind of update would be better served elesewhere on the forum, or if there is already thread that might be better to use.
Yesterday there was discussion in the NSW Legislative Council regarding the enabling legislation for the new integrated transport body. Link to full Hansard transcript here:
Below though is a relevant extract from the Greens contribution, particulalry noteworthy is the acknowledgement of cyclists by (roads) Minister Duncan Gay. A welcome start!
Although The Greens examined the bill in a very rushed manner, this morning I was pleased to be informed that a section within the policy and regulation division of Transport for NSW will deal with active transport delivery, along with bus and light rail. During those conversations this morning I was assured that specific positions, that do not exist within the Roads and Traffic Authority, will be created including the position of senior active transport officer and others. The specific identification of active travel as unique and important was severely lacking at the Roads and Traffic Authority. It is good to see that is addressed by the bill.
However, as the new statutory corporation Roads and Maritime Services will subsume the service delivery responsibilities of the Roads and Traffic Authority and as planning staff move across to Transport for New South Wales, I wonder if the Ministers, the Hon. Duncan Gay and the Hon. Gladys Berejiklian—with their new stated focus on the customer—include within that term cyclists and pedestrians. I am concerned that the language around customer service and the shift to customer service, while important, potentially takes away from users of transport who do not pay a fee. They do not pay a fee to use roads in the form of registration fees for their vehicles, and they are not paying fees per se for buses and trains, apart from fares.
The Hon. DUNCAN GAY: But they are customers.
The Hon. CATE FAEHRMANN: I acknowledge the interjection of the Hon. Duncan Gay and point out that cyclists and pedestrians provide a benefit to the community by reducing health costs and traffic congestion. It is good to note that cyclists will be considered important customers, as are other transport users. I have been informed that the vision for the new integrated transport operating model is focusing on the customer. The Greens believe that further measures to ensure that cyclists are considered as legitimate customers are warranted. The Minister has now assured us that that is the case.
As far as we have been made aware, the planning and programs and the transport project divisions do not have specific active travel positions. I would appreciate the Minister specifically addressing whether those two divisions will cater for active transport. It is one thing to have active travel incorporated in customer service, but another very important thing for Transport for NSW to incorporate planning and implementation of active transport in everything it does, instead of just leaving it to the end of the line. As Transport for NSW begins work on a new transport plan, I am concerned that the relatively small active travel section will be continually sidelined within policy and regulation, which was the case with the Roads and Traffic Authority.
An excellent example of why further measures will be required to address this bias—and an example of how important the prioritisation of active travel is—comes in the form of the proposed Inner Sydney Regional Bicycle Network plan that is being developed by the Council of the City of Sydney and fifteen other councils. Independent research shows that the network could deliver at least $506 million, or $3.88 for every dollar spent, in net economic benefits over 30 years from reduced traffic congestion caused by 4.3 million car trips a year. This is an incredible benefit, especially when considering the relatively tiny investment of $179 million that will be required. Why has the Government not adopted this proposal? Why have many Sydneysiders never heard of it? Why has no submission been made to Infrastructure Australia in relation to the proposal?
When considering that motorways often return dismal cost benefit, it is incredible that this State is seriously considering multitudes of massive multibillion-dollar motorway proposals but not a tiny investment in a regional bicycle network. The independent research commissioned by the Council of the City of Sydney forecasts a 66 per cent increase in bike trips by 2016, and a 71 per cent increase by 2026 if the 284-kilometre network—which would span 164 suburbs and serve a population of 1.2 million people—is built. We have received no explanation of how the anti-bicycle and anti-pedestrian culture within the Roads and Traffic Authority will be addressed when staff and leaders from that organisation move to the new planning authority. Although that possibly may be addressed over time, without specific regulatory and organisational measures and firm leadership from our ministers, it is unlikely to be addressed anytime soon.
Considering that construction of 480 kilometres of cycleway network could be achieved for the same cost as 1.5 kilometres of urban freeway, the current balance of funding is not producing value for money or creating a safe, affordable and sustainable transport network. Active transport solutions to Sydney's transportation crisis are affordable and will be of significant benefit to both commuters and our climate. I very much hope that Transport for NSW will focus on active transport programs that we have not seen in this State for some time. Although many local councils are doing very good things, such as investing in cycling infrastructure, they do not have sufficient funding to do as much as needs to be done. A whole-of-government commitment should be made to ensuring that adequate investment in cycling infrastructure.
This amending bill has new objectives of environmental sustainability, which is a very good thing, and social inclusion, which was missing from the original Act. I congratulate the Government for including these two very important elements of transport planning in the objectives of Transport for NSW. The definition of environmental sustainability in schedule 1, item  new section 2B (g) to the bill states:
"Environmental sustainability" is a very broad term. I advise the Government in relation to future bills to refer to the original definition of "ecological sustainability", which is recognised in statute and common law and is a much more applicable term than is environmental sustainability. However, the inclusion of "environmental sustainability" in the new bill will assist in directing the new authority to ensure that services and selection of service delivery modes by their very nature will be more environmentally sustainable and more environmentally friendly. Because roads and parking take up one-third of urban space whereas a suburban train effectively can keep 800 cars off our roads and remove a line of traffic that is five kilometres long and 10 bicycles can be parked in one car space, it will be very important for Transport for NSW to ensure that public and active transport fits the definition of "environmental sustainability".
I understand that the Government has modelled some of this legislation on Transport for London, but we should acknowledge that Transport for London does not have an Act underpinning it. While Transport for London has very good policy objectives—one being to reduce carbon pollution by 60 per cent from 1990 by 2025—encouraging public and active transport modes is a key plank for achieving that reductions. One would hope with respect to reduction of greenhouse gas emissions over the next few years in New South Wales that Transport for New South Wales will develop similar objectives internally, if they are not in the bill, or that the Department of Transport has appropriate strategies and policies.
I am disappointed that we have not heard anything from the Government about greenhouse gas targets. The name of the Department of Environment, Climate Change and Water has been changed to the Department of Environment and Heritage. "Climate Change" has been removed from the title. Transport obviously is one of the leading contributors to greenhouse gas emissions. The Government could play a leadership role in ensuring that Transport for NSW mirrors some of the fine objectives of Transport for London in reducing congestion rather than planning for roads, cars and other infrastructure. It should be a critical objective of Transport for NSW to formulate a plan for ambitious greenhouse gas reduction targets that includes targets for vehicular kilometres travelled [VKTs]. I am aware they are in the State Plan, but are expressed as less than ideal ambitions. The Greens would like to see plans that set targets for greenhouse gas reduction and vehicular kilometres travelled.
Nothing is going to happen to 'Active Transport' (ie. Cycleways, SUP and Footpaths) until the Transport Plan is released sometime next year, at the least.
My guess it will be around the time of next year's budget (September?)
Yesterday's developments included further debate in the Legislative Council on the definitions of customer in the Transport Legislation Amendment Bill so as to formally include cyclists, pedestrians and other stakeholders in the definitions (Greens pushing this). Link to Hansard here:
In the Legislative Assembly Graham Annesley made a Private Member's Statement about 2 successful competition cyclists:
Anything keeping cyclists on the agenda in either House is most welcome!
I have been away and have not gone through the Hansard yet, however the NSW State Plan 2021 has been released. The relevant chapter on transport is here:
Brief mention on transport cycling on page 20
But the document is only 18 pages long!
Oh wait ... those are goals.
That goal that has been around for years.
"• More than double the mode share of bicycle trips made in the Greater Sydney region, at a local and district level, by 2016"
Based on the 2006 figures, which from memory was around 0.8% (?)
A very modest goal which would be easy to meet without really doing anything.
Hansard Legislative Assembly Thurs 15 Sep 2011 - Glendale to Speers Point Cycleway Extension:
Debate resumed from 9 September 2011.
Dr ANDREW McDONALD (Macquarie Fields) [10.06 a.m.]: As the shadow Minister for Health and a member of Bicycle New South Wales I am pleased to contribute to debate on this most important motion. The reduction in the incidence of bicycle riding since the 1950s has been disastrous for public health. One of the consequences of that reduction is that more than 50 per cent of people in New South Wales are now overweight or obese, with 63 per cent of men and 50 per cent of women having a body mass index of greater than 25. The Australian Diabetes, Obesity and Lifestyle study, known as AusDiab, showed that the most weight gained is by people between the ages of 25 and 34, and that is approximately one kilogram a year, or only 20 grams a week. At an approximate body mass index of 26.8, the rate of adverse health measures begins to increase. With obesity, which is defined as a body mass index of 30, the risk to health in the long term is considerable. At every age children now consume 15 per cent to 25 per cent more calories than they did in 1985, and much of that is from discretionary foods such as snacks or sugared soft drinks. A great problem is the increase in fast food consumption. On today's salary rates one must work for 14 minutes to earn enough to buy one Big Mac.
In the Archives of Internal Medicine Vol 160 No. 11, June 12, 2000, a study involving 30,000 people showed a 40 per cent decreased risk of mortality for those who cycled to work, and on that statistic alone this cycleway is so important. It will give people the opportunity to cycle to work or, alternatively, to the nearest public transport interchange. The health benefits of physical activity include increased life expectancy, physical fitness, increased energy, and improved mental health. There is also a proven correlation with obesity, physical activity and the reduction of cancer risk. The risk of cancer is reduced by approximately 20 per cent if obesity is reduced and physical activity is increased.
The promotion of lifestyle physical activity such as regular walking and cycling is more effective than structured exercise programs such as boot camps or gyms. Thirty minutes per day of moderate to vigorous activity will give a health benefit, and those thirty minutes of exercise can be accumulated in three 10-minute periods of exercise such as would be attained on a cycleway.
We know from the 2005 Australian Diabetes, Obesity and Lifestyle Study that this year another 100,000 people will develop diabetes, 200,000 people will become obese, 400,000 people will develop hypertension and another 470,000 people will develop early onset renal disease. The enormous increase in demand for renal dialysis is driven by the obesity epidemic in older Australians. The cost of that epidemic is staggering. The direct cost to the health system is $2 billion with a further $3.6 billion in lost productivity due to obesity, 40 per cent of which is carried by Federal, State or local governments.
While there is no simple answer to this problem, all of us need to lose a little weight and to be more active. Even a two-kilogram weight loss results in a 10 per cent reduction in medication use in men and 7 per cent in women. Permanent lifestyle change is the only solution, and that is why this cycleway is vital. Another advantage of the cycleway is that it engages populations who do not traditionally cycle, such as women, adolescent girls and older adults. In countries with high rates of active travel such as The Netherlands, these population groups achieve high levels of physical activity resulting in significant health benefits. As I said, the public health literature is clear that habitual activity is far better than structured exercise.
Another advantage of this cycleway relates to the perceived danger of riding on the road, which is a major disincentive to cycling. Walking and cycling carries a five to ten times higher risk of injury per kilometre travelled than the risks associated with driving a car. However, the increased risk of injury while cycling is offset by substantial health improvements by a factor of 20. Cycleways are a good way of engaging young people in cycling, facilitating commuting and encouraging people who have not ridden a bike for years to ride. This is a wonderful initiative and I commend it to the House.
Mr GARRY EDWARDS (Swansea) [10.03 a.m.]: I commend the member for Wallsend for moving this motion and I fully support the Glendale to Speers Point cycleway. I am a councillor on the Lake Macquarie City Council, which is fully in favour of shared cycleways and walkways. We realise the importance of linking these facilities and separating them from the main traffic arteries. Like the member for Wallsend, I fully support Mr Hocking in this endeavour.
A couple of months ago I was honoured to be the official starter at an annual event that I am not sure the member for Wallsend knows about. I refer to the Loop the Lake cycle event, which is organised by local Rotarians and which circumnavigates Lake Macquarie, starting and finishing at Speers Point. Over the years our local Rotary has raised several hundred thousand dollars for various charities. Earlier this year we were fortunate to able to open a facility in Lake Macquarie known as the Fernleigh Track, which runs along the old railway line from Newcastle to Belmont. I call Belmont home; it is a great part of the world between Lake Macquarie and the Pacific Ocean. I think most members are aware that it is home to the wonderful Belmont 16 Footers sailing club, which does amazing work for community groups and charities in our area.
The track project was a joint venture between Newcastle City Council and Lake Macquarie City Council. My friend and colleague Tim Owen is the member for that area, and another friend and colleague Greg Piper is the local member and also the Mayor of Lake Macquarie. Greg played a large part in this project. The Federal Government contributed some funding for the project as a result of the efforts of the Federal member for Shortland, Jill Hall. The State Government also provided funding over a number of years. The track is finally open and if members were to go to the area, particularly on a Saturday or a Sunday, they would see many families availing themselves of this wonderful facility.
I note some of the comments made by the member for Macquarie Fields about the benefits of providing facilities such as cycleways. Projects such as this are part and parcel of the Healthy Lifestyles Program. The more that people walk and cycle on these paths the healthier they will be. They also provide a venue that can be used by the entire family. We know that if people are healthier, there will be less pressure on our hospitals and general practitioners. These projects are great for the entire community. Lake Macquarie City Council is working closely with the Roads and Traffic Authority. I discovered yesterday that it has had a name change; I am not sure of its new name. I will have a chat with the Minister for Transport to update my information about the new department. Whatever it is called, I am sure it will be a wonderful organisation. I again commend the member for Wallsend for moving this motion. The cycleway is a wonderful initiative and it has my full support.
Ms SONIA HORNERY (Wallsend) [10.17 a.m.], in reply: I thank the members who have made contributions to debate on the motion this week and last week and who are interested not only in cycleways in the Hunter but also in good health generally. I thank the members representing the electorates of for Charlestown, Lake Macquarie, Macquarie Fields and Swansea. I thank the member for Charlestown for his comments about the positive future of the New South Wales Bike Plan. We all look forward to more funding being made available for the construction of bicycle routes and shared pathways in New South Wales. The member for Lake Macquarie referred to the very productive meeting involving councillors from Newcastle City Council and Lake Macquarie City Council. It was my goal to get them together to talk about regional cycleway links and it is terrific that that meeting occurred.
I also thank the bike riding member for Macquarie Fields, who is a doctor and very interested in good health. He said that this motion is a good one, and I agree. He told the House about the disastrous health impacts of the reduction in cycling in our community. An extremely thorough survey undertaken by the Australian Bicycle Council found that New South Wales has the lowest rate of cycling in the country. That is sad news and we must do something about it. In his role as shadow Minister for Health, the member for Macquarie Fields emphasises the importance of good health and the impact of incidental exercise in the prevention of disease. The member for Swansea reiterated his full support for shared cycleways in the Hunter, and that is terrific. He also told the House about the successful Loop the Lake event. I thank Lake Macquarie Rotary for organising that fantastic event.
I thank my friend Ray Milliss, a former engineer in the Hunter and a cyclist, who said that the cycleway extension—which was the missing link—is a great idea and that it will benefit that growing area. Ken Scott has been a vigilante with regard to promoting the Wallsend to Glendale shared pathway/cycleway along with my predecessor John Mills, who secured the $750,000 funding for the project. Ken said that he would love to see a shared cycleway/walkway from Glendale to Speers Point. He reminded me that we should always call them shared pathways. He probably says that because he is a walker, but it is true nonetheless.
He is the type of person, being a retired university lecturer and geographer, who would be particularly interested in this project.
The notion of a cycleway from Glendale to Speers Point upon the completion of the Wallsend to Glendale cycleway on the historic tramway corridor, which should happen soon, is a logical step. I flag this issue now, early in the Government's term, so that funding can be provided in the next budget for a Glendale to Speers Point cycleway. I would support Government members to obtain funding for this project and would be happy for a share funding arrangement to be implemented. I also urge Lake Macquarie and Newcastle city councils, particularly Lake Macquarie because it is in its patch, to start working on this project and apply for funding for planning. This project would be supported by all Hunter residents, particularly cyclists. Cyclists in the Hunter are pleased that this motion is before the House. They love the idea of more cycleways in the area, particularly off-road cycleways as they are much safer.
I am pleased that debate on this motion has been completed today. The Government could not postpone the motion because it was an adjourned debate. I gave notice of the motion at the beginning of May and it was appropriate for the motion to be before the House in September. I urge the Government in future to make sure that notices of motions are dealt with in order in which they are given. That is the most ethical way to do it. The hardworking members who gave notice of their motions in May, early after the election of the Government in March, should have their motions dealt with in order.
Question—That the motion be agreed to—put and resolved in the affirmative.
Motion agreed to.
Full day Hansard:
And in the Legislative Council, a brief mention of a SP in the Erskine Park Link Road development:
The Hon. JOHN AJAKA: My question is addressed to the Minister for Roads and Ports. Will the Minister update the House on roads funding for Erskine Park Link Road in western Sydney as part of the 2011-2012 State budget?
The Hon. DUNCAN GAY: It is good news.
I will talk about the Hon. Steve Whan in a moment. I am pleased to report on the progress of the Erskine Park Link Road project which has the potential to unlock hundreds of hectares of new employment lands within the western Sydney employment area. Unsurprisingly, it took this Government to deliver this vital project for western Sydney. The Government understands that as a key growth area this investment is essential to improve the road network for thousands of motorists who travel through the area every day. The Premier took on the job as Minister for Western Sydney as he is determined to ensure the welfare of western Sydney residents.
Putting aside for a moment all the talk by Opposition members about protecting workers and generating new jobs, they spent 16 years in office implementing schemes that failed to achieve much of anything. It is no wonder that in March Liberal candidates were overwhelmingly elected across western Sydney. As I have previously reported to the House, the contract to build the $55 million Erskine Park Link Road has been awarded to NACE Civil Engineering Pty Ltd. I am happy to inform the House that as part of the 2011-2012 State budget $16 million was allocated to commence construction. The project, which is a 3.1 kilometre four-lane divided road between Lenore Lane, Penrith and Old Wallgrove Road, Blacktown, includes an 80-metre long dual bridge across Ropes Creek, three intersections, major earthwork and drainage and road surfacing work.
I will tell members on this side of the House about the Erskine Park link road because members opposite are obviously still not interested in western Sydney. The project will provide a vital link between the western Sydney employment area and the M7 and M4 motorways. It will reinforce the western Sydney employment area as a significant employment hub, reduce industrial traffic on the existing Erskine Park Road and adjoining local roads, improve traffic flow in western Sydney with direct connection to and from the M7 motorway, provide a new shared and properly planned cycle-pedestrian path, and reduce transport costs for industry located in the western Sydney employment area. It will also connect Lenore Lane and Old Wallgrove Road with a 3.1-kilometre, four-lane divided road. Construction work on the link will commence in late October this year and is expected to be completed in 2013. The project is crucial for the development of this area of Sydney and will provide a major boost for jobs and infrastructure in western Sydney. If members opposite had been quiet, they would have heard something.