Election promises ignoring bicycle potential

It’s just over two weeks to go until the Tasmanian election and none of the political parties have committed to the spending needed to get more people riding.

During the recent Leader’s Debate in Burnie both the Labor and Liberal leaders were asked whether they would commit to including cycleways on all future roads.

Labor leader Rebecca White said she couldn’t make that commitment but did support wider road shoulders and greater investment in tracks and trails.

Liberal leader Will Hodgman said it is difficult to retrofit cycle paths, but it is ideal when building new roads. He mentioned the party’s cycling strategy for tourists and locals to ensure they can safely cycle.

Neither leader seemed to be strongly supportive of getting more people riding even though it would be small price to pay to reduce traffic congestion and improve health outcomes.

A recent Canadian study found that for every personal dollar spent on walking, riding, bus riding and driving, society pays 1 cent, 8 cents, $1.50 and $9.20 respectively.

And that doesn’t take into account the benefits to the health budget of reducing preventable illnesses cause by inactivity and being overweight.

While health dominates the coverage of the election campaign it seems to be solely focused on acute health problems like hospital beds and ambulances.

Tasmania does need a good hospital system, especially as we rate poorly on many health indicators.

But what has been missing to date is discussion of a preventative health approach that would reduce the number of people needing acute care.

The Liberals have cited the target of reducing Tasmania’s rate of obesity to below the national average by 2025 but have not said how they will achieve that.

They have promised a small amount of funding for southern Tasmanian cycling lanes and sealing the shoulders of some northern roads, which will go some way to improving cycling conditions but is not enough if they are serious about getting more people active.

Tasmanian Labor also has preventative health goals such as reducing smoking rates and increasing immunization, but their only activity goals are around subsidies for children who want to join sporting clubs.

This is a worthwhile goal but funding our Ride2School program would get more children being active every day. Two-thirds of Australian children do not get their recommended daily 60 minutes of moderate physical activity.

Neither party has yet announced a comprehensive plan for getting more adults active despite 60 per cent of Australian adults not getting the recommended daily 30 minutes of moderate physical activity.

There is still time for new policy announcements that address the widespread problem of inactivity. Bicycle Network will keep an eye on the parties’ policy announcements to let you know what is being promised for bike riders. 

For regular updates - check out our VoteBike 2018 election website and join the campaign.

There have not yet been any bicycle-specific initiatives announced by the Greens, Jacquie Lambie Network or Shooters, Fishers and Farmers party..

Authorised by Alison Hetherington, 210 Collins Street, Hobart

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