This month will see the start of community consultation about the state’s recovery from COVID-19 restrictions and we’d like to see better support for more people to ride up there with other major infrastructure ideas.
The government is calling for “new ideas, new ways of doing things, new ways of working” as we plan to recover from the impacts of COVID-19 on the economy and society.
While Bicycle Network has made an initial submission and will be making a follow-up submission, the voices of everyday bike riders will be important.
You can make a submission or contribution in a way that suits you:
Email: Email your ideas now to secretariat.PESRAC@treasury.tas.gov.au
Online well-being survey: This will be available through the website in mid-October
Attend a workshop: These are being held across the state, from mid October to mid December
The process is being run through the Premier’s Economic and Social Recovery Council (PESRAC) and if you make a written submission be aware that it will be published on the PESRAC website unless you ask for it to be confidential.
Bicycle Network made an initial submission when PESRAC was first set up, highlighting what other countries were doing to make it easier to ride and walk as they opened up from COVID-19 lockdowns. These temporary bike lanes and wider footpaths were important in many cities as people avoided public transport and to ensure social distancing of 1.5 metres.
Sydney has responded in a similar way, rolling out temporary separated lanes, and Melbourne and Brisbane are fast-tracking already planned separated networks.
While Tasmanian cities have not provided temporary cycleways/footpaths, in other cities that have some are already planning to make them permanent to improve the capacity of streets to move more people, increase footfall for businesses and make streets more attractive for people to visit.
More people riding better for economy, people’s lives
We need government to see that cycling is a viable means of transport for the majority of the population, but it needs to be built to an “all abilities” standard so people aged 8 to 80 can ride it.
- Public health
Physical inactivity is causing heart disease, diabetes and some cancers but our towns, suburbs and cities are too often designed to encourage people to sit in cars rather than walk and ride. By walking and riding for most trips under 10 km we can incorporate moderate activity into daily routines so they are more likely to be maintained. By helping people to get the activity they need to stay healthy, we reduce the pressure on our public hospitals by removing some cases of preventable diseases.
- Transport costs
It’s expensive to own a car but many Tasmanians are forced into it because they can’t see any alternative. If all abilities cycleways were built in towns and cities and leading to schools, shopping strips and major employers, then more people would have the option of riding for transport and saving money.
- Public transport integration
Tasmania has some of the worst integration of cycling with public transport, especially as we don’t have trains or light rail. In Canberra, people can load bikes onto buses and light rail to help them extend their journey or serve as safety net if something happens to their bike. This opens the opportunities for more people to travel further and save money.
- Traffic congestion
Traffic congestion costs businesses money from freight being held up, staff stuck in traffic, or deliveries being delayed. By providing more carrots to regular commuters to ride it frees up the roads to people who need to drive for work or because of physical disability and more efficient ways of moving people, like buses.
- Encouraging people to ride
E-bikes have been shown in other cities to get people out of cars and cargo e-bikes to reduce delivery van traffic. Many other governments have introduced incentives to help people buy e-bikes, from direct subsidies to interest-free loans and salary sacrificing.
- Government infrastructure funding
State and federal government funding is directed at road construction and public transport with some ad hoc investment in paths and cycling on roads, but most walking and cycling infrastructure is left to cash-strapped local councils. There needs to be a standing state government funding commitment to building all abilities cycling infrastructure, like there is for roads and public transport. The UN recommends that 20% of transport budgets should go to “active transport”.
- No roadmap for riding
The UK has recognized the benefits for its economy and society of more people riding and introduced design requirements to get the infrastructure needed. We don’t have anything like this in Tasmania, with state and local governments coming up with their own designs based on broad guidance from the national AustRoads body. The Tasmanian Government should introduce a cycling design guide to standardize and improve cycleways to “all abilities” ratings.
The consultation phase is due to finish in December and the PESRAC will deliver its final report to the Premier before March 2021.
PESRAC released an Interim Report in July 2020 based on the initial submissions and meetings with some stakeholders. It concentrated on immediate recovery efforts but this report will have a longer view, presenting practical ideas that can be implemented in the next 2–5 years to help Tasmanians build their future.