Launceston Council has adopted a transport strategy and responses to climate change that commit to active transport, but it’s fallen at the first hurdle in implementing the strategies with the concept plan for the next stage of the City Heart project not making any mention of cycling.
This next stage of City Heart on Paterson and St John streets was the opportunity to show how safer, separated cycling infrastructure could be built as part of a wider traffic calming and street beautification project.
The Transport Strategy is a comprehensive view of what’s required to improve transport choices in Launceston into the coming years but it’s one thing to develop a strategy, and quite another to implement it.
If you’re going to go to the effort of widening footpaths, planting trees or redirecting traffic then building All Ages and Abilities (AAA) cycling infrastructure should become just another element in the bigger project.
AAA cycling infrastructure is generally separated from traffic, with potential connections on very low speed, low traffic volume streets. It should be the sort of cycling route you’d be happy for your 8-year-old son or 80-year-old grandmother to ride on.
While we have these sort of routes along the levees and around the waterfront, we don’t have many connecting to where people want to go for work, school, shops, services or recreation.
That’s where on-street separated/protected cycleways come in. This is where road space is better shared among all road users so there is a safe corridor for people riding, scooting or skating that is separated from traffic and people walking. These on-street cycleways can then connect to longer off-street paths to create transport corridors for riding.
The Transport Strategy found that most commutes in Launceston are less than 10 km and that 1 in 5 people live in the same suburb they work in. These trips could be taken by bicycle, electric bicycle, electric scooter, and some walking, but people need to feel they have safe and comfortable places to ride and walk.
Hold off until AAA routes sorted
The Tamar Bicycle Users Group has identified both St John and Paterson streets as preferred cycling routes into and through the city centre, as well as several other streets.
Paterson Street in particular is an essential cycling link because of its connection through to the West Tamar. Ideally, we should have a AAA cycling route stretching from Legana to Launceston, through the city, connecting to the university in Inveresk and other routes that start/end in the city centre. To do this, we need to allocate space for a separated cycleway along Paterson Street when the street is reorganised to make way for the bus centre.
Paterson Street is also ideal for a AAA route as there are two off-street car parks within three blocks of each other, so it’s easier to remove some on-street parking to make more space for people.
The section of St John Street which the concept plan covers may not have to have cycling infrastructure if Charles Street becomes a AAA route, but that decision is yet to be made.
Until decisions are made as to where the AAA cycling routes in Launceston will go, we should be holding off on making major decisions about what St John and Paterson streets will look like.
City Heart’s mission statement clearly outlines the goal of creating safer cycling infrastructure that is used by more people in the city centre so we should be seeing AAA cycling infrastructure in plans coming forward for St John and Paterson streets:
“The Launceston City Heart project will redefine central Launceston to facilitate its adjustment to a modern regional retail, cultural and business hub for the Greater Launceston region. Through redevelopment and public investment in infrastructure, events and business capability, the project will attract further investment, provide overall improvement to the public spaces and streetscapes, improved connectivity and permeability throughout the heart of the City and will provide safer, more accessible pedestrian and bicycle modes throughout the City”.
Let Council know you support bikes
The council is asking for comments on the City Heart plans for St John and Paterson streets before 10 September. The Your Say Launceston web page has all the information you need on the plans and it provides a quick survey to fill out and an interactive map you can make your comments on.City HEart Survey