Bicycle Network: Better Transport
Mainstreaming describes commitments by governments or government agencies to provide bicycle facilities when major projects or transport investments are being made.
Mainstreaming to continue in Victoria under Baillieu Government
July 2011 Roads Minister Terry Mulder has confirmed to us in writing that the Baillieu Government supports Mainstreaming for bikes as part of all major road and rail projects.
This is already being evidenced on projects such as Regional Rail Link, Peninsula Link, Dingley Bypass and Springvale Rail/Road grade separation.
We are seeking a similar result on projetcs such as the Mitcham and Rooks Rd road/rail project, the Ballarat Western Link Road, Tram Route 96 project amongst others.
Mainstreaming in Queensland
The Queensland approach called ‘positive provision’ is on pages 29 ff of the attached strategy including the following:
The Queensland Government introduced a policy on cycling on state-controlled roads in 2004, requiring implementation of cycle network facilities as part of road projects.
Other road upgrades and maintenance also incorporate cycling facilities on principal cycle networks. For example, to date, road re-seals, shoulder widening and shifting linemarking have resulted in additional new cycling facilities across Queensland on the state-controlled road network.
The Queensland Government has extended the Cycling Infrastructure Policy to apply to all relevant transport infrastructure projects, whether roads, rail or bus assets. To ensure the best value for the community, wherever the Queensland Government delivers transport infrastructure along a corridor included in a Principal Cycle Network Plan or local government cycle network plan (to which a Queensland Government agency is signatory), positive provision will be made for cycling to ensure routes are constructed as part of works.
For transport infrastructure projects, positive provision means bicycle lanes, bicycle paths or shared paths. The policy recognises that facilities are needed to cater for the full range of new and experienced cyclists. Exactly what facilities and connections are needed is determined in the project planning phase.
Where cycling provision is off-road and/or at public transport stations and stops, positive provision also includes facilities such as direction signage, lighting, and mid-trip and end-of-trip facilities, including bicycle parking. Where demand is identified, provision for pedestrian access should also be included, especially to public transport.
Outside of the principal cycle networks, cycle-friendly provision will be made to deliver safe operating space for bicycles. As with all transport construction and maintenance projects, planning and investment in cycling will be subject to consultation, safety considerations, competing priorities, obtaining value for money, and realising benefits.
Provision of cycling facilities via the Cycling Infrastructure Policy complements dedicated funding programs which retrofit cycling facilities, where no other transport projects are planned. Over the life of this strategy, the two approaches will result in a transport network that is accessible and attractive for cyclists.
Mainstreaming in Victoria
The Victorian Bicycle Strategy states that ‘Cycling is a legitimate transport mode to be supported and grown,’ and specifies that ‘Cycling access should be considered as part of all urban design, land use planning, transport planning and the planning and delivery of major projects’.
This direction in the Strategy has been detailed in this document.
The process is known informally as ‘mainstreaming’
The Victorian State Government’s criteria for mainstreaming are:
Criterion 1: All transport projects led by the Department of Transport must assess cycling opportunities in project scoping and design
Criterion 2: Assessment of cycling must be performed during concept design and be incorporated into the business case, where appropriate
Criterion 3: Assessment of cycling must be based around three areas: current cycling use or facility, trip attraction and cycling network plan
Criterion 4: Key internal stakeholders must be informed of the assessment results
Criterion 5: If the assessment shows that bike riding infrastructure is required, the needs of cyclists, impacts on development, infrastructure costs and consideration of ‘best practice’ standards and guidelines must be considered in the design process
Government locks in bike priority
14 October 2010. The State Government yesterday announced new guidelines which guarantee that bikes are not overlooked in the planning and development of roads and other transport facilities.
The new system, which will apply to nearly all transport projects, on road or otherwise, should deliver millions of dollars worth of additional infrastructure across the State.
The move gives teeth to the Premier John Brumby's previous undertaking to make bikes an automatic part of mainstream transport development.
That commitment struggled to gain traction within the State's massive road building and transport bureaucracies. (See story below- 'Government cracks whip over bike priority')
The new mandatory guidelines, announced by Ports and Roads Minister, Tim Pallas, steer transport projects through a process which enforces a thorough consideration of bike facilities at every opportunity. It makes the perfunctory dismissal of bikes within transport projects extremely difficult.
“These guidelines will ensure the needs of cyclists will always be considered as part of the design and construction of projects, such as Peninsula Link and Regional Rail Link.
“Over time, trails along major roads and rail lines can be used to provide arterial commuting routes linking bicycle networks and connecting communities.”
Mr Pallas said between 2001 and 2006 the proportion of trips to work in the CBD by bicycle and walking rose from four to nearly eight per cent. Recent figures from the City of Melbourne indicate the level is now much higher.
“This is great news because there are tremendous benefits to be gained from cycling. This mode of transport is better for the environment, better for our health, better for our hip pocket and helps to reduce traffic congestion,” he said.
Mr Pallas said the Brumby Labor Government would soon begin design and construction work on new bike paths across metropolitan Melbourne.
“Work will soon get underway on the bike path alongside the South Morang rail extension to connect the new station with the existing bicycle network, a new shared path is part of the Peninsula Link project and we’ll also build new bike lanes on both sides of Buckley Street between Geelong Road and Albert Street in Footscray,” he said
“Regional Rail Link will be the catalyst for the planning and development of an extensive shared path network alongside the rail corridor, from west of Werribee to Deer Park, which will be progressively delivered over time as suburban development takes place.
“In addition, as part of the Plenty Road upgrade, we’ll create 2.4 kilometres of new and upgraded bike lanes between Gordons Road and Riverdale Boulevard at South Morang to connect with the existing Plenty Road bicycle lanes.”
Mr Pallas said the Government was committed to reducing people’s dependence on cars and promoting cycling as a sustainable and legitimate transport choice.
The significance of this new process should not be underestimated. In the bad old days bike infrastructure was seen as an optional extraâ€”something which was built if there was spare money laying around. The key cultural switch is that the Government has recognised that because of the benefits bikes can bring to the community, facilities have to be automatically considered for every transport project.
These new guidelines provide a strong framework to ensure that the policy commitments are faced up to and that plans and budgets account for bikes from the beginning of every project as a matte of course.
The guidelines (see here) set down five principle criteria:
All transport projects led by the Department of Transport must assess cycling opportunities in project scoping and design
Assessment of cycling must be performed during concept design and be incorporated into the business case, where appropriate
Assessment of cycling must be based around three areas: current cycling use or facility, trip attraction and cycling network plan
Key internal stakeholders must be informed of the assessment results
If the assessment shows that cycling infrastructure is required, the needs of cyclists, impacts on development, infrastructure costs and consideration of ‘best practice’ standards and guidelines must be considered in the design process
Government cracks whip over bike priority
21 July 2010. Victoria's two top transport bureaucrats have forcefully reminded the State's transport planners and road builders that bike facilities must be a priority for investment.
In a rare, joint letter to staff, the Secretary of the Department of Transport, Jim Betts, and the CEO of VicRoads, Gary Liddle have urged their employees to take seriously the Government's commitment to mainstreaming the development of bike infrastructure, prominently announced in the Victorian Cycling Strategy last year.
The strategy made much of the decision to give bike infrastructure equal status in the planning and building of Victoria’s transport network. This was expected to greatly accelerate the provision of bike facilities.
Now, more than a year on, concerns have emerged that the traditional engineering cultures of the transport and roads agencies have been resisting and undermining the Government's policy.
Senior policy makers have become particularly alarmed at the reluctance of sections of VicRoads, the huge road building agency, to change its ways.
Bicycle Network has obtained a copy of the letter authored by the two top managers.
Reading the riot act
In reading the riot act to their staff they point out that cycling is an important and growing part of Victoria's transport solution.
"Ten years ago cycling had a very small presence in Victoriaâ€”today it is a viable transport option with very low emissions that also helps to ease congestion on our road and public transport networks, not to mention the health benefits," they say
"To continue to support cycling, developing bicycle facilities within transport projects is a priority action for the transport portfolio. This policy direction is identified as a priority in the Victorian Cycling Strategy.
"For those developing projects across the portfolio, this direction means taking the time to ask, early in the scoping of a project, whether bicycle facilities need to be included as part of the project. If they are needed, then how should they be designed?"
The letter states that so far the government had funded bicycle lanes and paths on or adjacent to arterial roads, local area bicycle facilities, incorporated cycling facilities into major road projects, provided secure bicycle parking at more than 40 railway stations and now included bicycle parking as a standard design element of all new train stations.
"But we need to continue to think about how best to address the needs of cyclists into the future," they emphasised. "A portfolio-wide approach gives us the opportunity to prepare more specific guidelines on the inclusion of bike facilities in a range of transport projects."
Get it right for cyclists
"This is a great opportunity for us to get it right for cyclistsâ€”to provide high quality facilities on a strategic bicycle network, and deliver them not only through bicycle infrastructure programs, but also as part of other projects when the opportunity arises and there are significant cost efficiencies in doing so."
In a sign that they are serious the pair signalled that the Departmental Leadership Team would soon be considering new integrated guidelines for considering the needs of cyclists in transport projects.
"Once approved, the guidelines will be broadly distributed across the transport portfolio for use by those planning, designing and delivering projects.
"It's about thinking bike from the outset. It's easy to do when we're all on the same page," they concluded.
Bicycle Network is heartened by the letter. Last year's government policy announcements were a breakthrough. However changing institutional cultures is never easy and sometimes ruthless measures are needed. This letter gives clear and fair warning that business as usual will not be tolerated.
Anniversary of the launch of the Victorian Transport Plan
8 Dec 2009 Twelve months after the launch of the VTP there is scant evidence that the Minister's mainstreaming commitment (see his letter below and the Victorian Cycling Strategy) has been implemented by the agencies such as VicRoads. We have written to ask for a formal reporting mechanism that would enable such projects to be identified and recognised.
• A retrospective review of the 2008 – 2009 investment program to identify which projects would have had a bicycle component under the mainstreaming guidelines.
• A listing of projects VicRoads and the Department have planned for 2009 – 2010 identifying those with a bicycle component.
• A ‘work-in-progress’ list of projects that are coming up in 2010 – 2011 that are likely to have a bicycle component and those that seem unlikely.
• A regular meeting with Bicycle Network, the Department and VicRoads at which the triage decisions are discussed and the process of decision making developed.
This would give assurance that there is a method in place, that a rationale has been established and that the Minister's commitment will be implemented.