The future is bike

Ever the provocateur, Steven Burgess posed the question on the future of Hobart this way: Why would you encourage further development on the Eastern Shore and at Kingborough when the Tasman Bridge and the Southern outlet are already reaching capacity? And why continue development as far out as Sorell when the pipe – the causeways across Pittwater – is overflowing?

Steven, one of Australia’s leading transport planners, was addressing Bicycle Network’s successful Bike Futures conference in Hobart last Thursday.

His presentation was exquisitely timed, coming, as it did, in the midst of the Hobart City Council’s development of a new transport strategy for 2018–30.

He certainly had the right audience: key personnel from the Hobart City Council, city aldermen Bill Harvey and Philip Cocker (both of whom are on the council’s bike committee), a strong presence from the Department of State Growth, representatives from consulting engineering firms, the University of Tasmania and, of course, bike advocates and activists.

More than 60 people registered for the conference – the second in Tasmania in the past six months – and more than 50 attended.

Steven touched on the congestion issue in Hobart, the planning and design of sub-divisions, and the need to start planning for people, not machines.

He believes Hobart can be a wonderful, livable city but there needed to be major changes in emphasis to make our streets more people-focused.

And that it needed a regional approach involving all southern councils and the state government.

Alistair McDonald from Melbourne’s Yarra Council addressed the conference on the great strides the council has made in providing bike infrastructure.

Stuart Baird and Sarah Bendeich from the Hobart City gave a comprehensive insight into the progress the council has made in creating a more people-friendly city.

And Devonport City infrastructure manager, Randell Stott, showed how the footpath can be a great asset with good design.

Bike Futures was the high point of Bike Week in Tasmania, which kicked off with the Women on Wheels ride on Hobart’s Eastern Shore on Sunday, 2 March.

In the North, the active Tamar Bike Users Group held a forum on Thursday evening at the Launceston Town Hall.

It was addressed by Professor Paul Salmon from the University of the Sunshine Coast who has conducted 15 years of research into the interactions between cyclists and other road users as well as the impact of road design on road user behaviour and safety.