Bicycle Network: Metro Routes
Western Australian Bicycle Network Plan
Troy Buswell, Minister for Transport, has released the first comprehensive review of Western Australian cycling facilities in 16 years prioritising the completion of the Principal Shared Path (PSP) network within 15 kilometres of the CBD, as well as new short-trip initiatives and end of trip facilities. Our first impressions are that this a solid plan that others could do well to consider in future.
Solid Plan released in Western Australia
22 March 2012 The plan states that the priority is to expand upon the already high quality Principal Shared Paths (PSPs) Network, mainly along rail and freeway corridors. These are high quality well designed paths, which many other states can only dream of, will benefit from the closure of missing gaps.
The challenge will inevitably come as these routes approach the Perth CBD. PSPs will be difficult to achieve unless brave decisions are made in space allocation. Bicycle Network met with the City of Perth and The WA Department of transport last year when we were asked to advise on the best steps forward in closing the inner Perth network gaps. We spoke about the consideration of short term, easy gets such as on road lanes and signal phases to advantage riders at the most critical parts of the journey. This will require more scrutiny from the City of Perth and Bicycle Network and Bicycling Western Australia will aim to work closely to find solutions to this central challenge for the network.
The plan also includes a ‘Connecting Schools’ initiative including a behaviour change program and a pilot review of a number of schools to assess path and infrastructure improvements including end of trip facilities such as parking.
Perth’s existing bike sheds at rail and bus hubs is enjoying growing demand and was the inspiration back in 2006 for Bicycle Network’s highly successful Parkiteer concept. Five stations will be part of a pilot program to improve routes into these hubs.
Now that WA has a plan what is really needed is the funding to make it a reality. The WABN Plan proposes a doubling of funding for metropolitan and regional bicycle network grants to local government, up from $1million a year to $2million for metropolitan and from $750,000 a year to $2million for regional areas. This increase is to be commended by Troy Buswell, a strongly supportive Minister, but will it be enough?
Bicycle Network and Bicycling Western Australia believes that $15M per year is a realistic amount given the task ahead. With cycling representing the best transport buy in town to quickly help alleviate congestion the numbers definitely stack up. There are some big ticket, expensive items in the plan which need doing and will deliver strong outcomes.
The graph (right) illustrates that bike funding has suffered a decline over recent times. Despite the welcome doubling of this plan's funding boost, the graph clearly illustrates that due to increased costs this doubling will merely deliver a status quo for the bike network program.
A more ‘balanced diet’ approach of network solutions may be needed to achieve the overall desired outcomes. The roads agency MainRoads could make a major contribution by adopting the Mainstreaming philosophy already in place in Victoria and Queensland. Major road and rail projects in WA have included some bike infrastructure however there are a myriad of on road opportunities ripe for the picking across Perth today. Congestion relief can be the winner with little or no impact to other modes to help solve the congestion and parking pressures that Perth currently suffers.
Bicycle Network also believes there is an easy opportunity for the WA and local government to adopt a more robust and updated look at the planning regulations relating to the inclusion of end of trip facilities in planning applications for workplaces and residential developments. The market is, in many instances, already exceeding the current guidelines in place as the market dictates that customers want more bike parking and showers.
The Plan outlines a feasibility study for a high quality facility which provides parking for 500 bikes, showers, locker facilities and possibly other services which would operate on a fee-for-service basis. The facility would be centrally located to ensure maximum usage. Many cities have been interested in a similar scheme however the Bicycle Network suggests a cautious approach should be applied as many others such as Brisbane and Melbourne have seen a very low return on investment with some going out of business. This would appear to be due to the champions of these schemes not doing their homework and either over-investing in high end facilities or ,more importantly, poor location choice. Regular surveys of commuters shows us that if the facility is over a block away from the rider's destination they will not use such a facility. With the right evidence-based approach Perth could well show the rest of Australia how to make this work.
Section 6, objective four suggests, "information, training and guidance for transport professionals".
The Bicycle Network is delivering the RAC Bike Futures Seminar in Perth on Thursday 29 - 30 March.