Bike share landed in Sydney in July last year and can be seen across the CBD and Inner City suburbs. They have sparked much debate on both sides but let hear what the experts are saying.
Research conducted by the public health department at The University of Sydney has found high levels of support for public bike sharing and more cycle paths to be constructed in Sydney.
A cross-sectional survey was conducted across 846 participants aged between 18 and 55 in surrounding suburbs of Sydney. This survey invited participants to give their opinion on a range of transport policies, ranging from motor vehicle use, public transport, and those that impact active health, such as bicycling and walking.
Results from this survey were significantly positive towards bicycle friendly policies. 82% of respondents supported the implementation of more bicycle paths separated from motor vehicles, while 72% favoured a public bike share program. You can read more here. This is reflective of the overall support among respondents for active travel policies and Bicycle NSW couldn’t be happier (Rissel et al, 2018 p.4). NSW Residents are seeking alternative ways of moving around their cities and bike riding is being counted as a viable options. However there are still factors that hinder many from jumping on a bike.
The lack of bicycle friendly facilities was highlighted in results from Operation Pedro this week – a NSW Police crackdown on cyclist activity. 69 cyclists were fined for riding on the footpath, which is a 102% increase from last year (Sydney Morning Herald, 2018). This is no surprise, considering just 0.6% of the roads budget in NSW is dedicated to active transport modes such as cycling, well short of the 20% recommended by the United Nations (Sydney Morning Herald, 2018). The lack of cycling infrastructure often leads to riders taking the safer option of riding on the footpath, rather than battling heavy traffic.
Two thousand bike riders cross over the Sydney Harbour Bridge daily, can you imagine the added strain on the public transport system or the roads if their cyclists decided not to ride? Cycling should be encouraged and supported by the government as a alternative and more positive way of changing out transport policies and attitudes.
Current infrastructure projects aren’t helping cycling find safe routes. The ongoing development of the light rail has and will continue to increase the number of trucks in the CBD, as well as causing traffic congestion in connecting streets. Instead of battling against these trucks in the CBD, these 2000 cyclists might start using the train instead, causing more chaos on the rail network. Alternatively, the NSW Government could legalise footpath riding, creating a way for cyclists to be off the busy and sometime dangerous rods. Obviously, with the legalisation of such a law there would need to be a mass education campaign please read more here.
We will continually call on the government to ensure cyclists are considered in the planning of infrastructure and transport policies. The evidence is there – Infrastructure Australia have urged the NSW and Turnball Government to create a 300km cycle path which connects the surrounding suburbs of Sydney (Sydney Morning Herald, 2018). As supported by Professor Chris Rissel, investment in bicycle paths and public transport makes sense from a health and congestion viewpoint (The University of Sydney, 2018).
The people of NSW are continually asking for enhanced cycling facilities, it is time for the Government to take notice. It’s time for them to start spending 20% of the Roads budget on cycling infrastructure as a way forward.