BikeWest’s motivation to advocate for high quality cycling infrastructure is because we know this creates a better future for us and our children and society as a whole. We see quieter, calmer communities where young people are able to move about safely on their bicycles with increased amenity, reduced pollution and better quality of life. These sorts of investments help our children be healthy and active. Australia has now reached the staggering statistic that 1 in 3 young people do not know how to ride a bicycle . Through the systemic approach of trying to protect our children, we have removed our children from the danger rather than the far more reasonable approach of removing the danger.
The analytical framework used by BikeWest draws upon the latest evidence and the theme of the Safe System which involves separating incompatible masses and speeds. This approach is taken to ensure any collisions are tolerable for humans with the acceptance that people make mistakes and that people should not have to pay for such mistakes with their lives or serious injury. This approach is diametrically opposed to the Vehicular Cycling approach that road authorities and councils in Australia implicitly adopt where safety is wholly the responsibility of the individual.
In addition to the Safe System approach, the analysis draws upon the work of Pucher and Buehler in their seminal paper, Making Cycling Irresistible. This paper includes 7 key policies and measures: extensive system of separate cycling facilities, intersection modification and priority traffic signals, traffic calming, bike parking, coordination with public transport, traffic education and training and changes to traffic laws.
The analysis is further informed by community considerations, especially concerning parking, what type of bicycle infrastructure is acceptable to different types of people and the notion of opportunity cost of infrastructure options and the benefit cost ratios of such investments.
BikeWest is broadly supportive of the Wyndham Pedestrian and Cycle Strategy, however, we are concerned about the details of certain Action Numbers.
An audit of pedestrian and cycle networks to identify missing links is a vital starting point. However, it is not only the amount of infrastructure but the quality of the infrastructure that is important. More painted lines on roads will not get more people leaving their cars at home and jumping on their bicycles. This is related to the density of the network. This is a prerequisite to develop comprehensive and coherent networks. This is a must. Without proper planning the development of cycle infrastructure will be ad hoc and result in a poor outcome with no coherence.
The proposed use of the Movement and Place Framework to assess activity intensive areas is problematic. While elements of the Movement and Place Framework are useful, the language used indicates a lack of understanding of the needs of cycling infrastructure. According to the Safe System Approach, cycling infrastructure should attempt to minimise the interactions between different modes, not simply improve them. The Movement and Place Framework also discusses Level of Stress as a form of assessment of cycling infrastructure. This is an antiquated approach. According to Austroads Research Report: Best Practice in Road Safety Infrastructure Programs 2 , where speeds of motor vehicles are above 30km/h cyclists must always be separated from motor vehicle traffic due to the incompatibility of speeds and masses.
BikeWest supports the preparation of an implementation plan in order to methodically plan improvements. This must include works that are not specifically identified as cycling infrastructure such as Local Area Traffic Management Plans and road re-sheeting.
Review of all internal documents should be encouraged, however, the current standards suggested by VicRoads are inconsistent with world’s best practice or even Queensland’s Department of Main Roads, including the latest Austroads publication regarding Best Practice in Road Safety Infrastructure Programs. Unfortunately this has led councils in Victoria to install substandard infrastructure as they follow VicRoads guidelines. Every effort should be made to utilise the most up to date guidance including that provided by the National Association of City Transport Officials (NACTO) in the USA. NACTO provide extensive documents on the most up to date practices.
BikeWest is also supportive of innovative approaches are required to incorporate cycling infrastructure into the City of Wyndham. Traditional approaches to road design in Australia often limit the ability to install high quality infrastructure due to the conservative approach undertaken by most traffic engineers who prioritises high speed vehicular flow. It is vital that professionals from other disciplines are involved as well as extensive community engagement along the lines adopted by Complete Streets with their Place Score Approach. This innovative approach often highlights the discrepancy between what council perceives as priorities for its residents to what residents actually desire. An excellent case study is the City of Coffs Harbour.
The amenity of cycling infrastructure ranges from attractive to intimidating and can encourage or discourage cycling along a route. Landscaping and surroundings can make a cycling route very attractive through an area that might have otherwise been avoided, while high fences, lack of casual surveillance and no lighting at night can result in actual and perceived loss of personal security.
Education is key as identified by Pucher and Buehler and included in the City of Sydney Cycle Strategy. At a minimum every child in the Wyndham LGA should undertake bicycle riding lessons as currently 1 in 3 young people in Australia do not know how to ride a bicycle. The Wyndham Pedestrian and Cycle Strategy should include elements to actively support people new to cycling and those who are wary of getting back on their bikes. Data published by Active Healthy Kids Australia shows the significant decline in the percentage of children who use active transport to and/ or from school since 1970 across a number of countries.
The importance of getting children to cycle to school cannot be overstated. The Australian Health Policy Collaboration produced a report in 2018 titled Active Travel: Pathways to a Health Future. This report established
- over 70% of children and 91.5% of young people do not meet physical activity recommendations.
- Declining rates of physical activity are contributing to accelerating rates of childhood
- overweight and obesity. Over one-quarter of Australian children are overweight or obese.
- 9.7% of school children have been measured as vulnerable in their physical health and wellbeing domain in the Australian Early development Census, a three yearly survey of children entering their first year of school.
- Regular physical activity is recognised as improving academic performance.
A more comprehensive approach to a bicycle strategy compared to the Wyndham Pedestrian and Cycle Strategy are the recent strategies published by the City of Sydney and the City of Melbourne. These strategies adopt Safe System principles as well as include many more of Pucher and Buehler’s policies and measure with a strong evidence base.
BikeWest submission in full: http://bikewest.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/10/BikeWest-Submission-Wyndham-Bicycle-Strategy-2020119.pdf