In last Friday’s budget estimates hearing on proposed expenditure for Roads, Maritime and Freight (Minister Melinda Pavey’s department), The Hon. Cate Faehrmann MP asked questions on safety, infrastructure funding, the Sydney Harbour Bridge Ramp and positive provisioning for people who ride bikes.
Cate raised Cadel Evans’ comment in 2016 that Sydney's roads are unsafe and he does not recommend cyclists ride on them. Minister Pavey responded cited changes to raise the age of footpath riding to 16 and to introduce safe distances for vehicles passing cyclists.
When Cate asked Minister Pavey how enforcement of safe passing was going, the Minister said:
“Enforcement is a matter for police, but..[we] know that there are concerns in the community. We need to be both good motorists and good cyclists.”
It’s unclear how rider behaviour will improve safe passing, but the data shows enforcement is low.
Deputy Secretary Ms Gardiner-Barnes claimed cycling crashes had dropped by 23 per cent in the past five years, but she neglected to mention that cyclist fatalities had increased. This is in spite of NSW having the lowest cycling rates, which have declined further since 2015. Bicycle NSW looks forward to the implementation of Minister Pavey’s strategic plan to make roads safer, and to working with Councils to ensure that some of the $690 million for traffic blackspot funding is spent to improve rider safety.
Minister Pavey deferred answering Cate’s question about plans to address Council and community concerns over New South Head Road, a key east-west connection in Sydney where three cyclists have died. Bicycle NSW hopes her decision to take the question on notice will provide a better answer than Alex Greenwich MP received when he asked a similar question last November.
Cate Faehrmann MP clarified that the State Government funding promised for cycling and walking infrastructure was $30 million per year for 4 years, whilst the total roads budget was $16.4 billion. However it was difficult to establish how much had been spent and what had been delivered.
Ms Claire Gardiner-Barnes could provide a figure of $2.74 million for three projects to make cycling safer including on Nelson Bay Road, cycling safety signs on William Street and Riley Street in Woolloomooloo, and Elizabeth Street and Park Street. Additionally commenting that over 450 cycling projects had been allocated in the past two financial years. Minister Pavey said “major developments” had received funding in her own electorate but took these questions on notice and Bicycle NSW looks forward to the answers.
The Sydney Harbour Bridge Ramp
In response to Cate’s questions on the Sydney Harbour Bridge Cycling Ramp, Minister Pavey said the previous design “…did not meet the needs of the local community—it impacted too much on the park and it did not properly recognise the heritage values of the bridge...” but she would not draw on a timeline for delivery. Bicycle NSW is encouraged by Minister Pavey’s statement that the Government is working with the bicycle fraternity across Sydney in a ‘genuine partnership’ to solve the problem.
“We want to see this project completed as soon as possible and Bicycle NSW looks forward to working with government to see this infrastructure delivered”, said General Manager of Public Affairs, Bastien Wallace
Bicycle NSW has been working on getting this ramp built for a long time. We are currently petitioning the government, click here to sign.
The good news for people who ride bikes is that Mr Kanofski seemed to commit to ‘positive provisioning’ for active transport whenever new roads are built or upgrades take place, saying it was the government’s policy that: “…all roads projects have an element of active transport in them…”
Bicycle NSW appreciates Cate Faehrmann MP’s questions on issues related to bike riding in NSW. Fixing these issues can help reduce congestion and health bills across our state and we look forward to updating you with the minister’s answers in 21 days.