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As part of our vision to double the number of people cycling by the year 2020 we have identified five priorities that need to be addressed by State and local governments, employers and the entire cycling community. These five priorities will be the focus of our campaigning and advocacy work in 2014 and beyond.
Priority One: A comprehensive network of well-connected and safe cycle routes
It is estimated that less than two per cent of all trips made in Perth each day are done by bicycle, compared to over 80% undertaken by car. Even though Western Australians have a reasonably high rate of bicycle ownership, it appears that the majority of cycle trips are being made for recreation, not commuting. Higher levels of commuter cycling do occur in the inner areas of Perth, where more high quality off-street cycling facilities exist, and where more people live closer to their place of work (see A Background to Cycling in Perth 2013).
So why don’t more people choose cycling? While there has been a steady and pronounced increase in public transport use, as infrastructure and services have been improved, the potential for major increases in cycling has not yet been realised due to a lack of safe cycling facilities. The experiences observed in other cities around the world shows that an increased level of cycling is highly dependent on the existence of a connected network of safe bicycle routes.
What Other Cities Have Done
Berlin created a major turnaround on its declining bicycle use from 1970. The success has been credited to a range of policies, but by far the most important has been the provision of a network of off-street bicycle paths.
In Portland, Oregon (USA) cycling has increased more than four times from 1996 to 2008, substantiating research findings that more people will cycle if they are provided with safe facilities separate from motor vehicles. Portland also plans to form a denser bikeway network to achieve a system that offer riders an array of route choices.
To achieve a comprehensive network of well-connected and safe cycle routes in Western Australia, the following needs to occur:
- All gaps in the Principal Bicycle Network filled by completing the principal off-street paths along major corridors as outlined in the Western Australian Bicycle Network Plan 2012 to 2021 (WABN)
- Safe links created from the principal paths into the major employment and activity centres
- An increase in on-street bicycle lanes on lower speed, lower volume roads
- Bicycle paths separated from traffic on higher speed and higher volume roads, along with treatments at intersections that increase safety for cyclists
- Increased use of low speed, low volume local streets as connecting links in the network
- Lobbying and assistance from all levels of government to improve cycling infrastructure
- A network of safe, attractive bicycle routes developed on a regional basis to continue to develop the Regional Bicycle Network
Status: Perth’s Principal Shared Path Bicycle Network uncompleted and not connected
Need: Substantial level of funding from State Government in the short to medium term to continue to develop and connect the bicycle network.
Priority Two: Create safer streets by lowering the speed limit on local residential roads
In Western Australia, nearly half of all car trips made are less than five kilometres. Interestingly, a five kilometre journey can be accomplished on a bicycle within a comfortable 15-20 minutes. At present, most of these relatively short trips continue to be made by car, because the vast majority of potential cyclists perceive cycling to be dangerous when riding in close proximity to cars and vehicles
We believe we can make our roads safer for all road users by reducing the speed limits in local suburban roads. According to an overview of recent studies (see A Background to Cycling in Perth 2013), at a collision speed of 20km/h, nearly all pedestrians survive a crash with a passenger car.
And, it is interesting to note that communities that have high levels of active transport and are perceived to be walkable and cycle friendly, have higher levels of social capital (see A Background to Cycling in Perth 2013). In these communities, people are more likely to know their neighbours, support local businesses, and have more social interaction.
What Other Cities Have Done
Berlin has 3,800km of traffic-calmed neighbourhoods. Local street speed limits are 30km/h.
Lowering the speed limit on local residential streets will help:
- Achieve a dramatic reduction in the chance of a fatality if a vehicle hits a pedestrian or a cyclist
- Encourage cyclists and pedestrians onto those streets that will never have the traffic volume to warrant separate bike paths
- Reduce the need to separated bike lanes and paths on many local streets
- Dissuade motorists from using local roads as “rat runs”
- Improve overall traffic flow and serviceability
Most importantly, lowering the speed limit is a low cost strategy that can be rapidly implemented.
Status: Current local road speed limit in Western Australia is 50km/h
Need: State and local governments to commit to lowering speed limits on local residential streets - high priority.
Priority Three: Policies to provide adequate end-of-trip facilities in both new and existing buildings
Buildings that have secure bike parking and showers for cycle commuters will encourage more people to choose active transport over car transport, as will better secure storage facilities at train and bus stations encourage more people to combine cycling with public transport.
Bicycling Western Australia currently works with employers to highlight the benefits of active transport and cycling and how quality end-of trip facilities can be a major drive of change in workplace health.
Adequate end-of-trip facilities should also be available in all local community buildings such as libraries, shopping centres, and recreation centres, and in residential complexes to encourage bike riding for local trips and recreation.
Current planning laws already exist to ensure new commercial and residential buildings have provide bike parking for workers and visitors, showers, and storage facilities. However, existing buildings undergoing a change of use, conversion, renovation or refurbishment are not covered by these requirements. Planning requirements should be updated to require the installation and provision of en-of-trip facilities in these cases.
Incentives, such as rebates, could be offered to building owners to encourage retro fitting facilitates to existing building not undergoing change of use or renovation
What Other Cities Have Done
Berlin has implemented a bike-and-ride policy which creates 22,600 bike parking bays at stations.
Portland’s PBP for 2030 has a priority to implement measures to increase bicycle parking. It also proposes to increase funding for bicycle facilities.
To ensure adequate end-of-trip facilities are available for cyclists, this priority requires all commercial, residential, government, and public community buildings to have cycle parking and change facilities for at least 20% of their employees.
Status: Planning laws are in place for new buildings, but does not cover change of use. There is currently no requirement to retro fit end-of-trip facilities in existing buildings
Need: State government to retro fit government buildings – high priority - Local governments to adjust planning requirements to include change of use; provide more approvals for buildings including end-of-trip facilities; create incentives for existing buildings to retro fit end-of-trip facilities; retro fit community buildings – high priority - Corporates and shopping centres (commercial and residential buildings) to be incentivised to retro fit end-of-trip facilities – high priority.
Priority Four: Funding and resources to promote the benefits of increased cycling
Cycling should be a mainstream part of Western Australian life because of our climate, geography, and preference for clean living. For whatever reason, the vast majority of West Australians do not cycle for recreation or active transport reasons. Our challenge is to make cycling a major part of everyday travel.
There are many real benefits to a population which cycles - some of which have been covered in other parts of this document. Other benefits include:
Improved health – Australia has one of the highest levels of obesity. There is a link between obesity and major illness. Countries with high levels of cycling have lower levels of obesity, and with a major reduction in the number of people with chronic disease, overall healthcare costs reduce.
Less use of fossil fuels – Reduced use of the car for transport has a proportional reduction in the use of fossil fuels. Less fossil fuels usage means improved air quality and a lower carbon economy.
Less cost to all levels of government – Bike paths are less expensive to build and maintain than roads. Road maintenance costs will reduce as car use diminishes.
Equal opportunity – Addressing the transport needs of the whole community will ensure those who can’t drive a car – children, elderly, medical conditions or vision impaired, or unlicensed – can reach their destinations. Bicycle riding is a significant part of independent mobility.
What Other Cities Have Done
Copenhagen has high levels of cycling and has found that every kilometre cycled in the city effectively gives US25c in health and road maintenance savings (see Benefits From Increased Cycling 2013)
A bike sharing program in Barcelona has resulted in an annual reduction in carbon dioxide emissions (estimated at 9062 metric tonnes) (see Benefits From Increased Cycling 2013).
With more people cycling, the demand for better cycling infrastructure throughout Western Australia will increase, which in turn will get the attention of the relevant decision-makers. This priority requires Western Australia’s cycling organisations to:
- Use the media to raise the profile of recreational and commuter cycling in the community
- Advertise the benefits of cycling such as health and fitness, and link this with a mode of transport that is low cost and efficient
- Organise regular large scale cycling participation events (targeting roadies, recreational and novice riders) that are supported by all levels of government
- Promote open communication between the numerous cycling organisations and cross-promotion
- Educate cyclists and motorists – both cyclists and motorists have responsibilities as road users. Many people use both modes – often in the same day.
Priority Five: Funding and resources to promote and encourage evidence-based behaviour change programs
Behaviour change programs work to encourage more people to cycle for health, environmental, financial, and social reasons. They provide information and resources to workplaces and schools to understand and change bike commuter ehaviours and campaign for better riding facilities to councils, local, state and Federal.
The programs aim to demonstrate easy ways to choose active transport for whole journeys or in combination with public transport, and to ensure safe environments around schools as well as bike friendly workplaces.
The Ride2Work program is a nationally run, year round program that actively encourages thousands of Australians thinking of commuting by bicycle to give it a try, and gain the benefits of incorporating exercise into their working day. The program includes Ride2Work Day, promoting bike friendly workplaces, and identifying workplace ambassadors and coordinators to champion the cause.
A riding to school program is required which aims to increase the number of students walking and riding. The program encourages healthy lifestyles by increasing students' physical activity levels. It includes surveys, the national Ride2School Day, resources to gain better facilities, incentives, and assistance to school coordinators.
The Travelsmart program was initiated by the WA Department of Transport to help people to make small changes in their travel choices. Travelsmart is now a national program which aims to encourage individual householders to use cars less and to choose alternatives such as walking, cycling, and public transport. It also works with local community organisations and institutions to influence the travel behaviour of their staff and customers.
Road Safety and Road User behaviour programs are vital to ensure all road users share the roads and understand their rights and responsibilities. Currently, no funding is provided by the Office of Road Safety or other government agencies that specifically target the bike riders and the interaction with other road users.
Status: There is little coordination between the current various behaviour change programs. No funding is provided for road safety initiatives targeting bicycle riding and the interaction with motorised vehicles.
Need: Funding and resources to continue, coordinate and expand these behaviour-based programs – high priority.