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.
A few mentions of cycleways by Clover Moore yesterday in the Legislative Assembly (my italicised emphasis).
In the Budget Estimates...
Ms CLOVER MOORE (Sydney) [5.43 p.m.]: The first budget of the O'Farrell Government presents mixed results for the Sydney electorate and the wider New South Wales community. Of particular interest to my electorate is how this budget will help reduce inner-city transport congestion, which currently costs the New South Wales economy $4.8 billion and is expected to cost $8 billion by 2020 if business continues as usual. Congestion impacts on quality of life by reducing time spent with loved ones, as well as through pollution and greenhouse gas emissions. The budget includes welcome funding to expand light rail services through to Circular Quay via Barangaroo and to Dulwich Hill from Lilyfield. Light rail is the solution to the gridlock in the city as it moves high volumes of people. The capacity of one light rail carriage is equivalent to three fully laden buses or 50 cars. Light rail systems operate in over 400 cities worldwide, with more being added each year.
I have long advocated for a light rail link to connect the Barangaroo development to Central and the city centre. Recently, the City of Sydney committed $180 million to upgrade George Street to accommodate light rail in the city centre. The City of Sydney is keen to work with the State Government as it develops routes for its light rail network and with Randwick City Council on an extension to the sporting stadia in Moore Park and beyond. Clearly, a light rail route to Green Square is needed urgently as the major urban renewal area is developing and ultimately will provide for 40,000 residents and 22,000 jobs. I have urged successive governments to provide a city light rail network for around two decades and I congratulate the Minister on getting this significant project started.
A regional cycleway network would assist the increasing number of cyclists using the City of Sydney's separated network. A cost-benefit analysis for such a network spanning 15 council areas shows that just $179 million would create a 284-kilometre network covering 164 suburbs and servicing a population of 1.2 million people. By 2016 cycling will increase by 66 per cent and the network will generate $4 benefit for every $1 spent while, interestingly, motorways generate only $2. Other councils do not have the same resources for such a project and, given the benefits of alleviating congestion, reducing carbon emissions and providing a healthy transport option, it is important that State and Federal governments contribute to this project.
and in her Private Member's Statement regarding Global Warming:
Ms CLOVER MOORE: Today I wish to speak about a matter that is very important to my constituents and that is the urgent need to take action to address global warming. The Federal Government Climate Commission's review of climate change science recently concluded that climate change is real. It is occurring at a rapid rate and that two degrees is the maximum temperature increase before our planet risks tipping into catastrophic climate change. We are in the critical decade, with the decisions we make from now until 2020 determining the severity of climate change our children and grandchildren will experience. The cost of doing nothing to reduce environmental impacts far outweighs the cost of action. Confusion and misinformation have surrounded the Federal Government's carbon pricing policy, with vested interests, scaremongering, political ambition and outright miscommunication clouding the debate. But carbon pricing is just one of a range of activities that Australia needs to play its part in addressing global warming. An emissions trading scheme is the most cost-effective way to help meet carbon reduction targets, giving polluters an incentive to pursue the lowest-cost abatement opportunities.
Australia is not the first country to place a price on carbon. Indeed, New South Wales introduced Australia's first mandatory emissions trading scheme in 2003. China announced plans for an emissions trading scheme to be rolled out in six provinces by 2013 and for a national scheme by 2015. Many other countries, including India, have also made such a commitment. While the Chicken Littles rush around claiming the sky will fall, the facts are that revenue from the carbon price will flow into emission reduction projects, clean energy, job reallocation and industry and household compensation.
Carbon pricing provides an extraordinary opportunity to foster innovation, to create new jobs and develop a more intelligent economy, one that does not rely on digging up and shipping out our finite resources. In the United States it is estimated that $1 billion spent on a coal-fired power station creates 870 jobs. The number is lower for nuclear power stations because the plant is so expensive. By contrast, $1 billion invested in solar energy creates 1,900 jobs—870 compared with 1,900. Wind power would create 3,300 jobs from that expenditure and energy-efficiency projects would create 7,000 jobs—870 compared with 7,000 jobs.
A recent New South Wales Treasury assessment, which I believe the State Government hoped would demonstrate economic catastrophe from a carbon price, showed that Sydney would have more jobs and stronger growth at the end of the decade under an emissions trading scheme. Sustainable Sydney 2030 is the City of Sydney's plan to reduce our greenhouse emissions by 70 per cent based on 2006 levels. This will be achieved partly through a trigeneration network producing low-carbon, locally provided electricity—initially powered by natural gas before transitioning to renewable gas from waste. Trigeneration is almost three times as efficient as coal-fired power stations, making it cheaper, and it exists in many cities, including New York, which has been powered by cogeneration for over a century. We are working to provide lower carbon transport alternatives through car share, support for electric vehicles and establishing a cycling network. Despite only ten kilometres of our 200 kilometre bicycle network being built, average cycling numbers have increased by 60 per cent over the last year.
Link to full Hansard:
Critical Mass question from Question Time 24/11/2011:
The Hon. SCOT MacDONALD: My question is directed to the Minister for Roads and Ports. Will the Minister update the House on the traffic impacts that the critical mass cycle protest are expected to have on traffic tomorrow evening?
The Hon. DUNCAN GAY: Towards the end of a busy working week—a week where traffic congestion has been made worse by inclement weather—a group of protesters calling themselves cyclists—but who are, quite frankly, anarchists—have decided to hold a protest by riding their push bikes across the Harbour Bridge during peak hour traffic. The cyclists call this event the Critical Mass Harbour Bridge Ride—"critical" being the operative word. The event will be critical to Sydney motorists wanting to get home to their loved ones at a reasonable hour after a long week at work. It will be critical to the tens of thousands of bus commuters wanting to travel across the bridge. It will place critical pressures not only on our city roads but also on our train and ferry networks. The New South Wales Government is not critical of the public's right to protest. We are not critical of people's love of cycling. Nor are we saying that cycling is not a viable mode of transport. However, this event is nothing less than an act of pure bastardry—an act of anarchy.
Hordes of critical mass protesters will spill out of Hyde Park before invading central business district streets at approximately 6 o'clock on Friday night—the height of peak hour traffic. They will cause significant traffic disruptions on Market Street, George Street, Park Street, Elizabeth Street and Macquarie Street in the process of clogging city roads. The protesters will then ride their bikes onto the Cahill Expressway and across all four northbound lanes of the Harbour Bridge. Their arrogance is staggering, along with that of The Greens, who support this anarchy. This is the type of action that their North Korean masters like. The protesters will finally exit onto the Pacific Highway and then proceed along Blue Street and Miller Street before finishing at North Sydney Oval. Their actions remind me of a famous quote:
I doubt whether the police, who will be doing their best to reduce congestion during the protest by escorting these fools, will be able to prevent major traffic delays.
I doubt that hardworking bus, ferry and rail workers will be able to ease the growing frustrations of motorists and commuters brought about by the actions of these fanatics. I have asked the Director General of Transport for NSW to investigate whether there is anything we can do to prevent this kind of action in the future. I encourage people to utilise public transport tomorrow afternoon and allow extra time for travel, and on behalf of the critical mass protesters I apologise to commuters and motorists for any disruptions that their actions may cause tomorrow. Ironically, this financial year the New South Wales Government is providing more than $31 million in funding towards cycling programs, and a significant proportion of this funding will be allocated to Sydney streets.
Link to full Hansard:
I wonder if anyone will ask Duncy Baby about the North Koreans mastering The Greens.
How are they going to spend $31M without the integrated transport plan, after they have said they won't spend any money on cycling till they have it.
And what the bloody hell are cycling programs? I bet they aren't infrastructure but advertising to tell cyclists to watch out for ped's and how dangerous other vehicles on the road are. How come Gay is the complete opposite of his name ...
All you need to do to make it stop, Duncan, is to build a convenient, safe and high-quality network for cycling - something which would barely put a dent in the bloated state road budget. No "Critical Mass" protests in the Netherlands, Dunc!
(though it must be said that I'm sharply ambivalent to Critical Mass)
I'm sharply ambivalent
Is that as opposed to "actively apathetic", BF?
Actually it is - I'm not apathetic but instead have strong, conflicted feelings both ways.
I support the reasons and the rationale behind it 100%, but without some powerful message that connects to people who don't already cycle (or who don't already sympathise with riders), shutting down the Bridge strikes me as counterproductive and antagonising.
The movement that led to the cycling renaissance in the Netherlands was focused on children's safety - a message that galvanised society beyond the cycling tribes and forced politicians to listen. Right now the politicians are getting a free ride in the press by making out they're going in to bat for the poor inconvenienced motorists - and I suspect most in Sydney will cheer them on. Maybe better messaging is needed? Though the lack of hierarchy or formal organisation would make that difficult.
We have a children's safety aspect here. Put them in a large car is the message. And make them wear a helmet when they cycle, skateboard, run etc...
Now how can that be turned around here?
This article covers this subject:-
The article itself is maybe not so constructive but the comments are worth reading. Seems like a polarising issue. I fail to see why Raphael Grzebieta appears to be so biased. The studies he lends his name to are trotted out as proof positive in support of MHLs but he sounds more like an industry spokesman.
Raphael was quite well countered by other commenters.
He makes his living from 'danger'. It is a bit like the medical industry, which naturally prefers people to continue to spend money on treatment and tests than for them to get well.
I wonder what 31million in terms of % compared to the amounts on motorways and such. and how does that compare with the vision to increase cycling to X% ?