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State Government: TAS

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 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.

Distracted driving up for attention

14 December 2014. Tasmania’s Minister for Infrastructure and Police, Rene Hidding, has signalled that distracted and inattentive drivers will be a focus of efforts to reduce risks to bike riders in the State.

"I have consistently expressed serious concern to my Department and at Road Safety Advisory Council level of the apparent distraction of motor vehicle  drivers such that many express the view "I just didn’t see them!" after a crash involving a bike rider,” Mr Hidding told Bicycle Network Tasmania.

"You should expect more  focus in this area from all levels of the road safety effort,” he said.

Driver distraction an inattention is now thought to be  factor in more than 40 per cent of collisions in Australia.

Following a recent meeting with Minister Hidding, Bicycle Network Tasmania staff Emma Pharo and Garry Bailey have followed up key issues with the Minister’s Office.

Issues on the table include the importance of good cycling infrastructure in attracting cycle tourists to Tasmania, the considerable potential to grow this market, the need to restore the trails and cycleways funding program to councils, and the standard of road maintenance, particularly on road verges and on popular bike riding routes.

Mr Hidding has publicly expressed his strong desire to see a behavioural change on Tasmanian roads to protect vulnerable road users such as cyclists and that policy position was reinforced at the meeting.

Since Mr Hidding become Minister in March this year the Government has:

  • Launched "It's a two-way street" brochure and radio campaign.

  • Designed and is rolling out new "cyclist warning" signage in higher-use areas around Tasmania.

  • Launched the new "Share-the-Road" public education campaign.

  • Included cycling-related questions in the novice driver testing

  • Promoted road rules that currently relate specifically to cyclists.

  • Begun work on a new advertising campaign that will focus specifically on safe passing distances.

  • Started reviewing the November 2013 Queensland Parliament Report on A New Direction for Cycling to inform possible additional initiatives for Tasmania. That report contains 68 recommendations. The Government is also waiting on the results of the Queensland trial of the one-metre rule for vehicles passing cyclists.

NW Coast sees tourism potential

17 November 2014. Tasmania could equal some of the top cycle tourism destinations in the world if it developed its attractions and services and marketed them cleverly, a Cycle Tourism Forum in Ulverstone was told last week.

About 80 people turned out last Thursday to hear a great line up of people who shared their bike tourism adventures and their observations about what Tasmanian communities could do to emulate the success of the highly popular international destinations.

The the big message was that Tasmania could be doing it as well as anywhere on earth.

Locals John and Prue Lake certainly brought that message home after travelling through five European countries in two months and covering 3000 kms.

They said Tasmania had all the ingredients: good climate, magnificent scenery, good roads, the Bass Strait ferries for easy access, towns and villages close together.

Allan Johnston, who followed the Tour de France, made two key observations: in France no one is aggravated by cyclists and it was fantastic what the French had done with old railway formations.

Allan had a great punchline to end his series of slides on his Tour experience – a panoramic view of rolling countryside and distant mountains with the caption: How Good is This.

No it wasn’t France, it was Gunns Plains in the hinterland of Tasmania’s North-West Coast and a favourite destination for local and tourists.

Garry Bailey, Bicycle Network’s Government and External Relations Coordinator for the North and North-West, told the forum that the State needed a bicycle tourism strategy that addressed the quality of roads, consistent signage, touring guides and maps delivered in print and on mobile devices, an awareness by tourism operators of cyclists’ needs.

Tasmanians also had to embrace the fact that tourism was everyone’s business and that a poor visitor experience – be it poor roads, poor behaviour by other road and trail users (be they walkers, cyclists or vehicle drivers) – would hold the state back.

The Network has already urged the State Government, at a meeting with Premier and Tourism Minister Will Hodgman,  to adopt such a strategy See below), and there are councils already addressing the issue.

The City of Launceston, in its Strategic Tourism Plan, wants the city to be a base for cycling, walking and touring.

Making that happen will of course benefit every cyclist – local and visitor.

The forum was organised by the energetic chairman of the North-West Coast advocacy group Safer Roads for Cyclists, Keith Price, the Central Coast Council, with Chris Fletcher (an inveterate mountain biker) organizing the space and the audio-visuals and extolling the top-class mountain bike terrain nearby  and the North-West Recreational Cyclists Group, and Bicycle Network pitching in as well.

Above: Keith Price riding our own beautiful north west coastal path. Thanks Daryl Connelly for the photo of some of the attendees at the event.

Tassie eyes bike tourism

23 October 2014. The potential for Tasmania to become a hotspot for bicycle tourism has caught the eye of the Tasmanian Government.

The concept was canvassed with Premier Will Hodgman during a meeting this week with Bicycle Network’s local representatives Emma Pharo and Garry Bailey, and Cycle South’s Mary McParland.

The meeting also briefed the Premier, a cyclist himself, on the merger of Bicycle Bicycle Tasmania and Bicycle Network, and the issues the Network will raise with the islands’ government, state and local.

A key issue is debate about the future of the Derwent Valley rail line, which has not carried commercial traffic for eight years. The question is: should it be restored as a working heritage rail line linking New Norfolk in the Derwent Valley and the Mt Field National Park, or should it become a bike trail, stimulating tourism and related businesses.

Bicycle Network suggested to the Premier that the state should have a cycling tourism policy as Victoria does, and that to deliver a top-notch visitor experience, the quality of roads, bike infrastructure and road user behaviour would need to be examined.

Major bicycle events are a Bicycle Network forte and would fit neatly into a tourism strategy for Tasmania.

Another issue raised with the Premier by Cycle South was the ongoing funding of council bicycle infrastructure in the South of the state, and the need for a consistent supply of funding and evidence-based decisions on how best  to allocate that money. 

The Premier is keen to continue the conversation, as is Infrastructure Minister, Rene Hidding. 

$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.