A Sydney plan to focus the city around three distinct centres – the Western Parkland City, the Central River City and the Eastern Harbour City – offers great potential for bike riding.
As mentioned in several places throughout the Draft Greater Sydney Region Plan 2017, cycling delivers on many of the objectives of this 40-year vision commissioned by the NSW government to deal with the demands of rapid population growth.
Central to the plan, which has been prepared by the Greater Sydney Commission, is the concept that the people of Sydney should live within 30 minutes of their jobs, education and health facilities, services and great places.
Of course, this where bike riding has a lot to offer, which the Plan recognises, stating on page one, “Walking and cycling will become increasingly important in daily travel arrangements with well-designed and safe paths in popular thoroughfares improving the sustainability of the region and the wellbeing of residents.”
Bicycle Network provided a submission to the Commission in March 2017, arguing for the Sydney Plan to take a 30-minute-city approach and for bike riding to be utilised to the maximum. Specifically we argued that optimal productivity comes from a city where "active transport, public transport and motorised vehicles to gradually achieve a 30% / 30% / 40% split in weekday commuter rates across both genders and all age groups by 2056."
With such a mobility focus to the Plan, it is encouraging that it has been developed in tandem with an updated Future Transport Strategy by the NSW Department of Transport.
The challenge will be to deliver the transport infrastructure to achieve the vision of the Sydney Plan.
“We commend the Greater Sydney Commission on the plan and the NSW government for adopting it,” says Craig Richards, Bicycle Network Chief Executive Officer.
“At the implementation stage we look forward to seeing separated bike lanes and similar quality bike infrastructure established in networks, because that is what we know works to get people on their bikes and ride.”
The Sydney Plan envisions a Green Grid of cycling routes that builds on the established network: “The Greater Sydney Green Grid will be delivered incrementally over decades, as opportunities and connections are refined and funded.”
As the population of Greater Sydney grows to 8 million over the next 40 years, and with almost half of that population residing west of Parramatta, the Plan identifies in this transformation of Sydney the opportunities to:
- create more liveable neighbourhoods and well connected and resilient communities,
- leverage unprecedented infrastructure investment and provide the right transport connections across the city and within neighbourhoods,
- uses quality design to create great places, walkable communities and shared spaces.
All of which sound like great wins for people who like to ride bikes.
The result of such development, the Sydney Plan suggests, is multi-faceted. “Well-planned neighbourhoods can improve the health of people, which is particularly important given the rising incidence of people with chronic lifestyle related diseases such as type 2 diabetes and childhood obesity. Mixed-use neighbourhoods with homes and schools close to centres and public transport improve the opportunities for people to walk and cycle to local shops and services. This has many flow-on benefits including increasing patronage of local businesses and transport, more successful centres and reduced traffic congestion.”
The draft plans were launched by Greater Sydney Commissioner Lucy Turnbull and the NSW Transport Minister Andrew Constance.
"Never before has planning and transport come together to actually map out a 40-year vision to make sure we grow properly in the future," Minister Constance told the Sydney Morning Herald.
Mrs Turnbull described the commission's report as a "landmark" blueprint designed to dovetail with "a once-in-a-century period of Sydney's infrastructure boom", as Sydney expanded from its current population of 4.6 million to 6 million in 20 years, to 8 million in 2056 with most of the growth taking place in the west.
Currently, only 39 per cent of Sydney's population can access jobs and services from their homes within 30 minutes. The government said the twin strategies would enable 70 per cent of people to access a "30-minute city" by 2056.
As a draft plan, everyone is invited to react and give feedback. The Future Transport 2056 Strategy is open for feedback until 3 December 2017.
Likewise, submissions of feedback can be made on the Draft Greater Sydney Region Plan 2017.