Brumby launches bikes into mainstream
24 March 2009. Commuting to work in Melbourne is
set for major change now that bike infrastructure will have equal
status in the planning and building of Victoria’s transport network.
The era of discrimination, where bike riders were lucky to get a few left-overs when roads were built, has officially ended with the government’s announcement of the Victorian Cycling Strategy. (2.2 MB download)
“This is a history-making document,” Bicycle Victoria CEO Harry Barber said. “For the first time in Australia bike riding has been formally recognized as part of the core transport system.”
Mr Barber was commenting on the release of Premier Brumby’s $115M blueprint for future bike infrastructure investment.
The release of the transport strategy follows 13 months of frank discussion between Bicycle Victoria and the state government. See background below.
“The government’s announcement means that the needs of bike commuters are front and centre wherever and whenever the transport system is designed, budgeted and constructed,” Mr Barber said.
“Riding to work is already expanding at a rapid clip, but it will really surge once the developments announced today are completed an attracting new riders.
Transport network for bike commuters
The Strategy commits to a defined budget for a transport network for
bike commuters. This is independent of investment in bike facilities
for recreation riding and local journeys.
More significantly, it commits VicRoads to put bikes into major transport projects in most cases as a matter of course.
There is a challenge here for Roads Minister Pallas and his VicRoads management team. See exclusive preview of Ride On article.
Other countries rely on bike riding for a quarter or a third of their city transport trips, some are now aiming for half. Sydney City has set a 10 per cent target and is backing it up with a $70M investment.
Victoria is now in a position to set ambitious targets for bike commuter growth, setting the scene for major economic gains from more efficient transport investment and lower congestion. This new strategy could generate a doubling of bike commuters in Melbourne.
Switching commuters to bikes has been shown to provide massive benefits to tax payers, improving the capacity and longevity of road and public transport infrastructure, and slashing health costs as people get fit from riding.
Mr Barber said that steady growth and the general acceptance of bike riding by people in Victoria had laid the foundations for the historic plan.
All government departments and agencies
“The government says in the plan that all government departments and
agencies will be required to collaborate in the development of bike
“There is enormous potential here to develop unused land alongside railway lines and pipe easements.
“The connection of bikes with public transport, especially rail has begun, and is endorsed and extended in the strategy. It makes sense to feed the public transport system by bike.
“It is reassuring to see commitments to reduce conflict and risk. Risk on the road is a major worry for people not yet riding and they need to see change on that front.
Mr Barber said the Premier should be congratulated for the bold thinking behind the strategy.
“The Premier puts a high value on sound economics and while this strategy will excite bike enthusiasts, it should also please people who have no interest in bike riding but want wise spending on public resources, increased physical activity rates and lower health costs, and a lesser burden for lowering carbon outputs.”
From Bicycle Victoria