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State Government: NSW

Sydney tops congestion ladder

9 April 2014. Sydney, the metropolis that has yet to recognise the congestion busting benefits of bike commuting, is forcing its drivers to spend fours days a year stuck in traffic.

Data from GPS devices shows that Sydney is the most congested city in Australia and New Zealand with 35% congestion.

GPS firm TomTom have published the TomTom Traffic Index which provides information about congestion levels in urban areas across the world.

The data highlights that for every 30 minute commute, an extra 24 minutes will be spent in gridlock.

A study released in March by the Grattan Institute also found that "Sydney was grinding to a halt," with the city's traffic gridlock only becoming exponentially worse as the number of people commuting to work continued to rise. 

In February Premier Mike Baird pledged $300 million to ‘untangle Sydney’s roads’. But this is not the answer that Sydney and New South Wales needs.

Evidence has shown that building more road space cannot outpace congestion.

The fact that 34% of all trips are via a motor vehicle (when many of them could be walked or ridden) demonstrates the transport system in New South Wales is underperforming and costing the economy billions of dollars.

According to Infrastructure NSW, Sydney’s congestion costs are currently $5 billion per year and are forecast to increase to around $8 billion per year by 2020.

Like congestion, inactivity costs are also in the billions.There are now 3.6 million people in New South Wales not getting the minimum amount of exercise needed to achieve a health benefit. 

One of the most cost effective measures to reduce both the congestion and health burdens is to provide a transport system that allows people to travel actively for trips of 5km or less. 

Getting a proportion of commuters to ride a bike or walk each day will reduce congestion on our roads and relieve crowding on public transport, freeing up space for drivers keen to make the switch.

NSW Premier in tangle over roads

25 February 2015. Premier of NSW, Mike Baird has started 2015 election talk with a $300 million promise to ‘untangle’ Sydney’s roads, a task no amount of money is ever going to achieve.

The notion that gridlock and congestion can be solved by building more roads for more cars has been completely discredited in recent years as major road building projects in Australian cities have simply worsened congestion or moved it from one location to another.

Premier Baird seems not to have got the memo.

Mr Baird said if the government was re-elected, it would target so-called "pinch points" on 32 notoriously congested roads. They include Pennant Hills Road, Cumberland Highway, Parramatta Road, Old Windsor Road, The Kingsway, Campbelltown Road, and the Pacific Highway from North Sydney to Pymble.

Pinch points occur naturally on roads and are usually called intersections—the places where people going in one direction have to stop and give way to the people traveling in the other direction.

The large investment in roads was raised last November when the government’s Rebuilding NSW State Infrastructure Strategy 2014 was released.

The document proposes some of the costliest road projects in Australia, while completely ignoring the most cost-effective road projects- bicycle infrastructure.

The premier is aware that congestion costs Sydney $5 billion each year and will grow to $8 billion by 2020.

"Sydney's busiest roads can be gridlocked at any time of the day, any day of the week, costing our economy billions every year," he said. "If we don't continue to act congestion will cripple our city."

But the premiers answer to the solution is outdated. Evidence has shown that building more road space cannot outpace congestion.

New South Wales needs to start listening to other states in Australia.

Lord Mayor of Melbourne Robert Doyle says "no great city in the world is trying to bring more cars into the centre. While there will always be a role for cars, limited road space meant alternatives such as walking and cycling had to be encouraged."

Bikes high and dry on Northern Beaches

28 November 2014. A major project to improve transport connectivity on Sydney’s Northern Beaches is missing a great opportunity to make bike travel in easy option for people in the bustling region.

As part of building the new Northern Beaches Hospital at Frenchs Forest, the NSW Government is upgrading the road network to assist in the increased number of trips when the hospital opens in 2018.

However Stage 1 of works for the Northern Beaches Hospital Road Connectivity and Network Enhancements Project has fallen short of providing a connected walking and cycling network.

The suite of works is a great opportunity to provide cycling infrastructure and increase active travel and bike rider numbers in metropolitan Sydney.  

As well as the hospital, there are already large trip generators in high schools and shopping centres that would also benefit from active transport infrastructure improvements.

Some cycling infrastructure has been included however current plans show a disconnected patchwork of routes that will not work for bike riders.

A key action in the NSW Bike Plan states ‘provide shared pedestrian and cycle off-road facilities in all appropriate locations as part of State Road projects in the Greater Metropolitan Region’. 

Bicycle Network believes the Connectivity and Network Enhancements Project fit this criterion and that a connected network of off-road bicycle facilities should be provided as part of the works.

Bicycle Network’s submission highlights how a  connected network would include off-road bicycle paths along Warringah Road French Forest Road, Forest Way, Wakehurst Parkway and Allambie Road.

Bicycle Network will undertake further discussions with the NSW government and Warrinagh Council as the project progresses.

Bike parking essential for apartments

6 November 2014. Bicycle Network is insisting that NSW planning regulations boost the requirement for bike parking in apartment developments.

Current proposals by the NSW government fail to fully recognise the huge shift away from car use by apartment dwellers, as they shift to bikes and public transport.

The NSW Government is proposing changes to the Government policy that promotes better apartment design across the state.

But the changes don’t guarantee adequate bike parking, they only say it should be considered. And that means it will often be ignored.

In its submission to the draft changes to the State Environmental Planning Policy No 65 – Design Quality of Residential Flat Development (SEPP 65), Bicycle Network outlined that the objectives of further improving apartment design and affordability will not be met unless mandatory requirements bicycle parking are established.

Travel data indicates that a growing number of apartment residents are taking advantage of walking or cycling to their destination in New South Wales and the lack of secure bicycle parking for residents is known to act as a barrier to riding.

Bicycle parking also needs to be planned from the design phase because it is difficult and costly to retro-fit after building occupancy.

THE SEPP 65 must include minimum bike parking requirements so that an appropriate level of bicycle parking is designed into every development and redevelopment from the outset.

Bicycle Network recommends that bicycle parking is at a minimum rate of one per apartment for secure residential parking. Bicycle Network supports the proposed reduction in car parking for apartments close to public transport, however minimum requirements for bicycle parking must increase to a rate of two per apartment when a reduction of car parking has occurred.

With the inclusions recommended in Bicycle Networks submission, the SEPP 65 will assist in improving apartment design and affordability as well as assisting in making bike riding easier for everyone.