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State Government: TAS

Bike Q&A for Tassie L-platers

23 April 2015. In a move of national consequence Tasmania is to introduce bike-specific questions into its Learner Driver test, so that people going for a driver’s licence will study some of the basic rules  regarding the rights of bike riders on the road.

Five new questions are being developed that specifically relate to some of the key road rules and driving practices, although the exact questions are yet to be revealed.

And the questions will not be compulsory in every test. It is possible that from the bank of 105 questions, that any one test will not include one of the five cycling questions in the 35 question test.

However, most candidates practice the on-line practice test obsessively prior to their formal test. This means that new drivers are highly likely encounter the cycling questions several times during practice.

Some key risk-related rules that could be covered in the questions include giving way when turning at intersections, giving way to riders in bike lanes and on footpaths, safe passing by leaving at least a metre space, and the rule that gives riders the right to ride two abreast as long as they are no more than 1.5M apart.

This work is part of the package of measure to come out of the Cycling Safety Steering Committee, which Bicycle Network is a member of along with RACT, Tasmania Police, Cycling Tasmania, Amy Gillett Foundation and Department of State Growth.

This initiative will be complemented by more general road safety education messages that aim to remind both young drivers and those with decades of driving experience that everyone needs to watch out for bikes and riders need to adhere to the rules.

There have been moves across Australia to get bike rule questions in the the license test, as they are part of the test in many international jurisdictions.

Australian authorities have thus far been reluctant: they say the license test should be focused on the major issues of concern linked to new drivers.

Positive Provisioning Policy for Cycling

2 April 2015. In great cycling cities bikes are automatically taken into consideration when roads are planned and made, and—this may surprise you—Tasmania has just such a policy.

You might not have heard of State Government Positive Provisioning Policy for Cycling, but it’s quite important in setting out a vision for mainstreaming the construction of bike friendly roads.

The 2013 document should be paving the way, so to speak, for quality bike facilities on State roads in Tasmania.

But policy is one thing; practice is another thing entirely.

In essence, the Positive Provision Policy (PPP) guides State Government decision-making in relation to investment in cycling infrastructure (including bike storage and other end of trip facilities) on State-owned roads.

This includes new works and upgrades as well as retrofitting infrastructure.

There are some lovely statements in the PPP, such as ‘it is arguably cheaper to make provision at the time of infrastructure/engineering works than in retrofitting.’

The Policy covers quite a lot of ground in terms of advocating for a healthier, more equitable and safer Tasmania.

The full report is recommended browsing. It’s only nine pages of content and you can check to see whether your usual rides are on the three Principle Urban Cycling Network maps. Those Networks are a priority for infrastructure development.  

The difficult part is that the PPP requires a significant change in practice. For example, signals at intersections are rarely bike or pedestrian friendly, as the Evans Street example amply shows.

Another recent example of where the PPP was invoked, with some success, was in changing some road maintenance on the Channel Highway from a bike unfriendly 14mm aggregrate down to a more reasonable (but not optimal) 10mm.

Traditionally, road engineers would be focused on choices for good road drainage and preventing motor vehicles aquaplaning. The inclusion of the needs of the thin tyred folk means a new calibration and balance must be achieved.

Shaping the Tassie Budget

28 January 2015. Tasmanian Government has a great opportunity to get a proper bike investment program rolling in the State as it begins to shape its budget.

Having good strategies and policies for bikes are one thing, but to be effective the plans have to be recognised, prioritised and funded during the annual budget process.

Bicycle Network is submitting a group of suggested priority bike programs in order to encourage and shape a strong bike budget initiate by the government, with the emphasis on tourism.

If the policy objectives and the funding are right, Tasmania can become national leader attracting travellers keen on sampling the islands attractions by bike. This will also capture the economic, health, and social benefits of riding a bike.

The submission seeks the restoration of the Trails and Bikeways Program program with funding of over $5 million a year, to revitalize council trails and pathways programs that get more people walking and cycling.

The program, run through Sport and Recreation before it was discontinued, has assisted  the development of infrastructure by local government that will contribute to making Tasmania a leader in encouraging more people to ride more often.

Bicycle Network also argues that there should be separate funding for a series of major projects, including the North-East Rail Trail, the North-West Coastal pathway,  and the Derwent Valley rail trail – all with the potential to be one of the nation’s great cycling experiences.

The submission commends the Government for its initiatives in helping to lower the risk for vulnerable road users—a benefit to all riders, visitors and  series of initiatives.

Among the suggested budget programs:

  • Invest in facilities that make Tasmanian trails, roads and businesses more attractive to locals and tourists.
  • Boost regional economies through tourism and related businesses.
  • Implement new long-term urban transport strategies before Tasmania confronts the same problems larger Australians cities now experience. All tourists start out from a major urban centre so they benefit also.
  • Encourage Tasmanians to adopt cycling and walking commuter and leisure habits that will improve their fitness and health.
  • Foster generational change in road user behaviour to ensure that cycling and walking are fully accepted when sharing the road.
  • Develop bicycle and walking infrastructure from the outset as an automatic part of all government initiatives rather than having to expensively retro-fit facilities at a later date.now to encourage these changes rather than being forced by change to retro-fit.

Download a copy of Bicycle Network's Tasmanian 2015-16 Budget Submission here.

$15M plan for Tasmania

24 January 2012. Tasmanian riders have proposed a major expansion of the state's bike network in a funding submission to the the State Government.

The initiative by Bicycle Tasmania is aimed at tripling the number of people on bikes across the island state.

A total of 52 bike projects have been prioritised for development by 2020 at a cost $2.74 million next financial year, $5.7 million in 2013-14 and $6.3 million in 2014-15.

Projects include a 7-kilometre cycleway connecting Launceston's CBD to its northern suburbs, an 85-kilometre trail between Launceston and the North East, and a 15-kilometre pathway between Orford and Buckland on the East Coast.

Bicycle Tasmania's Project manager Liam Correy said the plan took a year to finalise. He said the plan would use about one per cent of the State's $151M road budget and create long-term savings.

"The beauty of creating bike facilities is the budget savings it creates," Mr Correy said. "There are massive returns and benefits from the money you put in."

The Bicycle Tasmania Creating Healthy Connections Campaign is the key to unlocking the potential of bicycle riding in Tasmania, according to Bicycle Tasmania.

The projects within serve as a starting point for governments and community. Existing, local and regional bicycle network plans have been assessed and an examination of other missing links and possible projects has been undertaken.

The proposed projects will benefit the bicycle riders of today and tomorrow of all experiences and ability, while catering for transport, recreation and tourism.

"The development of these connections will require planning and consultation with communities, stakeholders, land managers and infrastructure owners.