People often ask us questions about how to get more bike infrastructure in their area. Unfortunately, it’s not a straightforward answer.
Providing Feedback When Asked
One of the most important things you can do is support any plans by the council or government to build infrastructure in your area. They regularly call for community feedback on how to improve areas for residents, visitors and people passing through.
The Department of Planning, Industry and Environment is currently doing that for George Kendall Reserve in Ermington. On the south side of the park runs a section of the Parramatta Valley cycleway linking Parramatta to Sydney Olympic Park. There are all kinds of comments from asking for cafes and accessible toilets to more park parking and bike tracks for children.
If Councils or the State Government asks for feedback, this is prime time to start asking for what you want whether it’s:
- A shared path
- A cycleway
- More bike parking
- A bike track for children
- Mountain bike trails
- Skills track
It’s worth sharing your request with all your bike riding friends, and encouraging them to add their comments and support.
Positive feedback when they are building more
If a Council is doing the right thing, they want to hear about it too! A simple positive comment on their social media post about it is a great start. Or you can even write a letter to your local mayor and councillors thanking them for the work they are doing for bike riding.
Advocating for more
Councils will rarely invest in infrastructure if there is no identified community need. Bike rider engagement can help add infrastructure projects to Council’s priorities.
To start this process, first talk with the council, the government department or MP to promote the benefits of bike riding. Bicycle NSW has a number of articles that list the benefits including:
- How bike riding can play a part to increase children’s activity levels.
- Encouraging people to cycle for transport
- Air pollution by cars and how changing to bike riding can tackle this
- The benefits of ebikes to new riders and mature aged
- Mental health benefits of bike riding
- Better health for adults when riding
Some local MPs, councillors or the council itself will not initially meet or work with Bicycle NSW, as we do not live within that council area. This is where we rely on our Members to advocate at a local level.
Secondly, explain how bike riding can solve a problem for the council or government. If they have been working to reduce congestion, or increase active travel to school, show them how bike riding can help.
Thirdly, find your allies. If there are other local bike riders wanting more infrastructure, or a local BUG you’re not a member of, why not work with them to promote the ideas together. If there are local parent groups that want safe places for their kids to ride, work with them. If the local school wants safer bike routes to their school, work with them.
Often when plans are designed or built they do not meet the safety standards required by law, or meet good design guidelines and principles.
Austroads, Roads and Maritime Services and NSW Transport have a range of design principles for good bicycle infrastructure. We have developed a comprehensive guide to help review bike plans that draws on all the current legal requirements along with current principles and guidelines to help keep bike riders safe.
Our guide include resources designed to explain how infrastructure for bike riding should be built, and how construction that impacts bike riding should be managed, to meet current guidelines.
“Advocating for more bike infrastructure can take time. If you are passionate about having more in your area, support the initiatives that already exist or find your allies and work together to promote more,” said Bicycle NSW Communications Manager, Kim Lavender.
“If you hit technical challenges, or it’s time to share or review plans, Bicycle NSW is able to help, share opportunities to comment and relevant resources,” said Kim.
Bicycle NSW will continue to advocate on a state level to make things better for bike riders. Please keep us up to date as to how you are going in your area by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
Safety On Spokes
This article is a part of our 2 month Safety on Spokes Campaign where we cover a range of topics to make a better environment for bike riders in NSW.