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Bicycle NSW attended the launch of the 2022 Sustainable Cities Index hosted by the Committee for Sydney.

Global consultancy Arcadis has been assembling the index since 2015. It ranks 100 global cities on 51 metrics across 3 categories - people, planet and profit.

3 Australian cities were on the list.  All have slipped since the last assessment in 2018. Melbourne ranked 60th and Brisbane 64th.  Sydney came in at 33rd, pushed up by its high scores for ‘people’.  It was a wake-up call to learn how our key urban centres are languishing compared with peer cities. They have been trading on their natural beauty and blue skies for too long. People now demand more.

The top 10 cities are mostly in northern Europe, with Oslo leading the charge. All demonstrate what can be achieved by carefully balancing people, planet and profit. These cities are set to continue attracting global talent and investment. 

Chasing top scores for ‘profit’ does not make a city sustainable or prosperous. Rob Stokes, the NSW Minister for Cities, Infrastructure and Active Transport, pointed out how successful cities recognise that the economy is best considered a servant and not a master.  The economy should serve the people.  Re-investment in social infrastructure and urban amenity is essential for an equitable society and a high quality of life.

Another call to double down on cycleway investment!

Oslo took out top place in the rankings, fuelled by a huge focus in recent years to reclaim space from cars and prioritise access on foot and bicycle.  Quality of life, noise levels, air quality and urban amenity have all improved but so has safety - Oslo has reached the remarkable milestone of zero pedestrian and cyclist deaths.
(Source: Getty Images)

The Arcadis results emphasise that environmental performance really holds Sydney back.  There is an urgent need to decarbonise the grid, ensure that development supports resilience to natural disasters, improve housing affordability and ensure that sustainable transport is an option for all. The lack of bike infrastructure was noted by everyone on the panel!

Good urban planning is so crucial to ensure that Sydney climbs back up the rankings.  Lots of good stuff is happening.  Urban plans and strategies now focus on developing the blue and green grids. Bicycle NSW was very excited by Transport for NSW’s recent commitment to deliver the Strategic Cycleway Corridors. And yesterday, Minister Stokes announced that existing harbour foreshore paths will be linked, extended and upgraded to create an iconic 91km walking and cycling trail from the Opera House to Parramatta.

The conclusion of the researchers is that sustainability = prosperity. Without a very strong focus on sustainability, cities will be left behind.

The full report is here

Please help us push local and State governments to invest in amazing active transport networks for Sydney and all our regional towns and cities. As the Arcadis index shows, sustainable mobility is crucial to future prosperity! Support our advocacy campaigns by joining the Bicycle NSW family 


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