Most of the roads in NSW are controlled by Councils, but plans to accelerate development, whilst reducing their budgets, and pushing greater responsibility for road safety onto them, are bad news for bike riders.
Many NSW Councils have lots of roads to maintain, demands to increase active transport infrastructure, and modest budgets to deliver. When developments over $10 million in value are introduced into communities, Councils depend on up-front developer contributions to help improve roads and build facilities to account for the additional demands imposed. New blocks of flats with hundreds, or thousands of extra people increase demand for school places, services, transport and active transport provision.
Fast tracking Development
Proposed new changes would allow developments to be ‘fast tracked’, and payment of any contribution delayed till completion and paid to the State Government, not Councils. In order to cope with the added demands for infrastructure and services, Councils would then be expected to increase the rates paid by existing residents.
Bike riders also face a ‘double whammy’. Just as development increases demand for infrastructure, and Council budgets to provide it are wiped out, the National Government has proposed shifting responsibility for road safety to Councils. Bicycle NSW pointed out, in its submission to the Draft National Strategy, that whilst 75% of the National Road Network is controlled by Councils, they have modest budgets and State Governments set laws, policy and enforcement of Road Safety.
“If this change goes ahead, bike riders will be faced with greater demand for road-space as more developments go ahead, at the same time as Council budgets to improve infrastructure are cut,” said Bicycle NSW General Manager of Public Affairs, Bastien Wallace.
“The promise to ‘slash red tape’ for approval processes, may also see less opportunity for community members and Councils to have plans modified to reduce the negative impact of developments,” said Bastien.
Bicycle NSW encourages members to reach out to your Council, ask what they are doing to have these proposed measures changed to protect your community, and support their efforts.