Speech

Legislative Council

Cycling Strategy for South Australia

May 21st, 2014

The Hon. M.C. PARNELL: I move:

That this council—

1. Notes—

(a) the Velo-city Global 2014 Cycling Conference will be held in Adelaide from 27 to 30 May 2014;

(b) the expiration of the cycling strategy for South Australia in 2010 and the failure of the government to develop a new cycling strategy over the last four years; and

(c) the 2013-14 state budget allocated over $1 billion to the Department of Planning, Transport and Infrastructure but less than one half of 1 per cent of that amount to cycling.

2. Congratulates all those responsible for bringing the Velo-city Global 2014 Cycling Conference to Adelaide, including the European Cyclists' Federation, Bike SA, the Adelaide City Council and, in particular, the advocacy of Adelaide Lord Mayor, Stephen Yarwood.

3. Calls on the government to—

(a) re-establish a cycling strategy for South Australia in consultation and partnership with the cycling community; and

(b) at least double the allocation of funds to cycling infrastructure in the next state budget to at least 1 per cent of the Department of Planning, Transport and Infrastructure's allocation.


This motion is timely because a number of events have coincided in recent times to put the issue of cycling in South Australia onto the public agenda. These events include the attendance in Adelaide next week of hundreds of international delegates to the Velo-city 2014 International Cycling Conference. This cycling conference is the premier global event for cycle planners and cycle advocates and people who take cycling seriously as a form of transport. We are very glad to have this conference in South Australia; it is a real feather in the cap of our state.

The motion refers to the organisations that have got behind it including the European Cycling Federation, our own Bike SA, and the Adelaide City Council, and I have made in the motion particular reference to the advocacy of Adelaide Lord Mayor Stephen Yarwood. Mr Yarwood, His Worship the Mayor, has had a bit of flack of recent times for his advocacy for cycling. That leads me to the second of the events that have put cycling on the map and that is the opening of the Frome Street Bikeway.

Listeners to talkback radio and people who pay attention to the blogosphere would have seen the Lord Mayor getting a pretty tough time, but cyclists came out in force at the opening last week. Estimates varied, in fact varied wildly. The lowest estimate I saw was 150 people; other estimates were as high as 3,000. In my view—I was there—there were certainly more than 1,000 people who attended the opening of that bikeway. So, these are two events that have come together and put cycling on the map.

I want to refer a bit later on in my remarks to Frome Street and to some of the reactions to that facility, but before I begin I want to just point out to members that after I put this on the agenda for parliament two weeks ago I put out a call to the cycling community to tell me—or more accurately tell the parliament—what it is that they felt about cycling in South Australia, what the priorities should be, and how could we make our state a better place for cycling. It will probably be of no surprise to members that I was inundated with comments. Maybe it was the carrot of being mentioned in Hansard, because I did say that I would try to refer to as many of these comments as I could, but, as a consequence, there were over 60 submissions. I will not refer to every one of them, but I will refer to many of them, and so this contribution on cycling will take some time, but I make no apologies for that.

What I will say to those who took the trouble to write to me with their thoughts about cycling is that, if I do not refer to you today in parliament, I will certainly be packaging up these submissions into a report which I will be presenting to the Minister for Transport and the department of transport. The only other thing I would say before I get into the substance of my address is that it has surprised me somewhat that the government has been quite silent on the issue of cycling over the last little while. Certainly, when international conferences come to Adelaide it is the practice of usually the Premier to make a grand announcement. Now, the conference officially does not start until next week so maybe we will wait to see what happens, but the announcement, of course, cyclists are all waiting for is that we will have a new cycling strategy for South Australia—the last one expired four years ago—and we will have a significant increase in the budget for cycling facilities.

When I put this on the agenda, I did receive some communication from the RAA and a delegation came to visit me, which was a most worthwhile exercise because I think members of the motoring community and their lobbying organisations do understand that we need to share the road. I think many of them also understand that the more people out riding bikes, the fewer cars on the road, the less congestion and the greater the capacity for road users who cannot use bikes—delivery vans, for example, people living with disabilities, the elderly. There is more space on the road for motor vehicles if more people ride bikes. I appreciate the feedback I received from the RAA and I look forward to working with them. The motoring lobby need not be the enemy of cycling; we need to share the roads.

The submissions that I received came from a number of places. Many of them were emails or comments directly to me. Comments were made on my website and on my Facebook page, and there was also a deal of feedback on the Adelaide Cyclists online forum as well, so I will mix and match some of those different submissions.

Let's start with the issue of who exactly is cycling in Adelaide. I think probably a better way of phrasing that question is who isn't cycling in Adelaide. We know that it is men, women, old people, children. We know from the Cycling Promotion Fund statistics that come out every year that bicycles have outsold cars in Australia for 14 years in a row. There are more bicycles than cars out there, but they are not on the roads. They are in sheds and they are gathering dust, largely because people do not feel safe on the roads. So that is the challenge before us.

The issue of promoting or encouraging cycling is not to do with a lack of bicycles because there are more than enough bicycles to go around: it is a question of making the environment safe for cyclists to be able to use their bikes. We know from bicycle counts of people coming into the Adelaide CBD that the increase in cycling in 2011 was 17 per cent on the year before, in 2012 an 8 per cent increase, and the number of cyclists coming into the city of Adelaide at the last count in 2013 was 5,529. I thank Peter Lumb for forwarding those statistics. I received an email from Edward Stratton-Smith who says:

Every weekday morning there are parents across the metropolitan area using their cars to drop their children off at school. Some, but by no means all, then use their car to travel to work. We know it is not all of them because we all notice the significant difference to traffic during the school holidays. Some figures suggest that traffic volumes drop by anything up to a third. Outside schools the situation is generally the same. The space is clogged with cars. We take some steps to alleviate it by having children in fluoro vests stand with their teachers holding stop signs. Outside many schools the congestion is ridiculous. Some parents we know have little choice because of the distance they live away from their children's school. They are in the minority though. Most children easily live a bikeable distance from their schools. That is particularly so with our primary schools that are zoned and cover relatively small geographic areas.

Edward Stratton-Smith was not the only person to draw attention to the fact that very few children now ride their bikes compared to when you and I were primary school children, Mr President. He goes on:

Some people will never get on a bicycle. That is fine. Nobody will force them. However, a large chunk of the population falls into the 'interested but concerned' category. They would ride if they felt safer on the roadways—if cars were slower and less frequent, and if there were more quiet streets with few cars and paths without any cars at all. That is what we need.

Terry Grealy wrote to me about some of our newest cycling residents—I will not say 'citizens' but 'residents'—in South Australia. Terry writes:

At Thebarton Senior College, over the past 12 months our Bike Club has sold approximately 70 refurbished bikes to refugee-background students.

I say residents rather than citizens because we know many of these people are still living an uncertain existence, many on bridging visas and the like. Terry goes on:

This cheap and reliable transport makes a substantial difference to their lives. They use the bikes to get to school, for shopping and errands and to visit friends. They are on low incomes and the saving in bus fares is very significant to the students. More students would be encouraged to ride if there was a network of safe, clearly sign-posted cycle routes throughout the metropolitan area. Secondly, the safety of all cyclists could be enhanced immediately by a law demanding that motorists keep at least a metre from cyclists.

There is a reference there to a bill that I introduced in the last parliament on behalf of the Amy Gillett Foundation requiring exactly that standard to be met, the 'metre matters' campaign. I received a note from Jillinda Thomson who said:

I love riding my bike but do find it difficult and dangerous that the sides of the road are often uneven, rocky and strewn with dangerous items like glass. I have discovered the Greenway from Outer Harbor to the city and ride on it regularly and wonder why it is not better known of and better utilised. In the meantime I enjoy it that it is not crowded…

In relation to the cycling strategy for South Australia which, as I said, applied from 2006 to 2010 and then expired and has not been replaced, it surprises me that there has not been more fuss made of it. Maybe it is because many in the cycling community feel they are on the drip feed. A number of cyclists said that 18 months ago they were called to a meeting at the transport department where the cycling strategy was discussed but it does not appear to have advanced at all. I think it is unacceptable that such an important mode of transport which had its own dedicated strategy should be allowed to languish. The importance of the strategy is that, unless you know what you are trying to achieve, it is hard to put in place programs to achieve it, and it is even harder to allocate the necessary budgetary funds. Kenneth Abraham wrote to me:

Yes, we need a cycling strategy and we need it fast. For too long we have been looking towards the US and the UK to compare our initiatives, overlooking that those countries are still decades behind leading countries like the Netherlands, Denmark and other countries who are rapidly following suit.

When I asked the cycling community to write to me, many people wrote very long lists of suggestions and, whilst I do not intend to go through all of them, there are a number that I think are worth putting on the public record. For example, Peter Davis wrote to me saying:

…I only started cycling about five years ago but have always been very passionate about being fit and healthy. Here is a list of things that I think need doing to improve cycling amenities around Adelaide suburbs and encourage more people to start or return to cycling.

He goes through a comprehensive geographical list which starts at Taperoo, Lady Gowrie Drive and goes through the Sturt River bike track, the Onkaparinga track, Pedler Creek, right down to creating a bike lane on Mount Lofty Summit Road up to Mount Lofty because we know that that is a very popular, especially weekend, pursuit.

Peter Davis also points out, as do a number of other correspondents, that the signs placed by roadwork contractors advising of lane closures or reduced speed limits are often placed right in the middle of the bike lane where they cause maximum disruption to cyclists. He says:

Every year I meet cyclists who come to Adelaide for the [Tour Down Under] and they comment on the fantastic way we can ride in either direction from Adelaide to get to the beaches or the Adelaide Hills, as well as North or South, but they expect, because we are the [Tour Down Under] city, that we would have much better cycling infrastructure. But in fact we are the 'poor cousin' when it comes to cycling infrastructure.

He goes on:

I am retired and I have been riding for about five years, but none of my friends will ride their bikes nowadays because it's too dangerous. They have bikes just gathering dust in the shed. I ride with about 40 or 50 others in different groups and myself and none of them will ride on Brighton Road and Portrush Road even with white lines painted on the road—it will still be far too dangerous.

Ian Smith wrote to me saying:

Reject the Austroads guidelines and adopt a combination of the Irish National Cycle Manual and the Copenhagenize Design Manual. Many more of my friends and students at our school would cycle if crossings at major roads were sustainably safe for pedestrians and cyclists and that the cycling 'infrastructure' along roads was at least to Austroads standards. The SA government is a signatory to Austroads, however they totally disregard what is contained in the pages. This is probably because it is so wordy and is nowhere like the simplicity of the Irish Cycling Manual.

Fiona Paterson de Heer wrote to me with 14 detailed ideas, many of which involved putting the emphasis back on the re-education of motorists, including learner and probationary drivers. She also raises the longstanding issue of whether buses and trams can be equipped to carry bicycles and makes the practical suggestion that a safe bike lane from Marion Railway Station to Flinders University would be a good initiative.

She also points out that, with the frequency of theft of bicycles and bicycle parts and the incidence of vandalism of bikes, we need many more safe and secure bike-parking stations. I would add that, having seen some of the new stations on the Seaford extension, I can see that they have more secure cages, which I think is a great initiative. Fiona Paterson de Heer goes on:

The issue of licences for cyclists is a distraction. Most cyclists are already licensed car drivers. By cycling they are adding neither to pollution, congestion, nor wear and tear on the roads.

Simon Lownsborough wrote to me with a comprehensive list of the good, the bad and the ugly about cycling and cycling infrastructure and he starts by saying:

Thank you for the opportunity for feedback. I would be seen by others as a MAMIL—

which, for those who do not know, stands for middle-aged men in lycra—

That is, I renewed my interest in bicycles in my 50s. I ride road and wear lycra. I have been riding now for around five years. I ride around 250 kilometres plus per week with 170 kilometres of that my weekday commutes. Along the way I have accumulated broken ribs and fingers, lost skin, and become fitter and happier than my 30-year-old self.

In his list of the good things about cycling he mentions the following:

Despite all the stories we hear of accidents, near misses and threatening behaviour, most cycling is quite safe. To put this in context, I ride one hour each day and around four hours on the weekend. That adds up to in excess of 8,000 kilometres per year. I interact with and get passed by numerous motor vehicles. The vast majority are careful or at least pass safely enough. A lot are quite courteous, letting me in if I need to change lanes.

Cycling brings people together. If a cyclist needs assistance, another rider will stop. We nod to each other as we pass. We'll strike up conversations with complete strangers as we grind up a hill. We share and are aware of our surroundings. I do most of my local shopping by bike—it just makes sense. I have locked the bike and entered the store while others are still trying to find a car park, and I am home quicker, plus I have given someone else easier access to a park purely because I did not use one.

My commute is 18 kilometres long. Work colleagues ask me 'How long does it take you to get to work?' When I say 25 to 30 minutes their reactions are priceless, and I'm just an old hack—I'm not really fast, so it seems that a lot of people don't understand what can be achieved on a bike.

On his list of the bad things about cycling he mentions:

Every few months someone will take offence at my existence on the road and swerve towards me or threaten me in some way. Around once a fortnight I will have a car not see me or pass too close or overtake, then turn or pull over unsafely. Nearly every day cars will try to overtake me on the approaches to pinch points, such as road narrows or roundabouts, because they don't want to be slowed by a bicycle. They then have to brake heavily to negotiate the roundabout. If they judged the situation well they would realise that I am actually quicker than them through the pinch points at such roundabouts.

He goes on with some comments on bad cyclists and bad drivers and then gets to the ugly. He talk about ugly cyclists and ugly drivers. I want to be very comprehensive with this contribution, so I will read what he says about ugly cyclists:

As with any other segment of society, there are some bad apples, littering as they go instead of pocketing their used gel wrappers and CO2 canisters, urinating behind trees, ignoring road rules, leaving the scene of an accident, etc. These are the ones the public notice, and we are all affected. As an example, access to potable water at Norton Summit has recently been taken away because of bad behaviour by some cyclists. This has a very real effect on all riders in the Hills, and more seriously there are repeated calls for registration and other backward initiatives.

In relation to ugly drivers he talks about a situation that he encountered outside a nursing home at Semaphore, but I will leave members to read the full report to the minister to hear that story. Also on the ugly list he talks about ugly authority:

I was deliberately hit at a roundabout once. I was injured, but when I spoke to police they were just not interested, despite the driver being in the wrong and despite me having the driver's numberplate.

The last of his ugly list is ugly public opinion, stating:

Forget the helmet debate, please, please don't ever consider licensing riders—what a furphy! The Netherlands got rid of that in the 1950s. It is at best a smokescreen, at worst unmanageable and a huge blow to the healthy and clean alternatives for people in cities—sensationalist hack journalism just to stir the pot. Of course we need freedom of speech—it just makes me sad when these people have so little respect.

Under the heading of 'Education' and then 'Legislation', he makes some valuable comments about improvements. I would add at this point that, in my 20 or 30 years of cycle advocacy, we often refer to the 'four Es' of cycling: engineering, enforcement, encouragement and education. Really, whilst the style of campaigning changes, the truth of those four elements is still with us. Under 'Legislation' he says:

We do need rules, we need fair rules, that acknowledge the difference between bicycles and motor vehicles. We could do worse than look at what Denmark do and tailor their experience and legislature to our culture and conditions.

I received a submission from Patrick Dupont, who many people will know works around here:

I am a daily cyclist, including commuting 30 kilometres to work a couple of times a week, and, while pleased with some of the recent improvements to cycling infrastructure, I consider that we are still a very long way off best practice. I am also particularly concerned with the poor standard of public debate on cycling issues of late (often characterised by very aggressive anti-cyclist comments in the mass media and on social media) which I believe translates significantly to additional and unnecessary risk to people who choose to ride their bikes on the roads.

He points out, as many of us know, that the Queensland parliament recently reported, following an inquiry into cycling, and many of their recommendations, I think, would apply equally to South Australia as they do to Queensland. Peter Lumb wrote to me and said:

I'm pleased you are encouraging the state government to go through the process of developing a new cycling strategy for South Australia. Like you I think it is timely.

He points out that there is academic research recently which shows that while we all assume that car use is increasing, there are some trends to show that car use is in decline. He refers to a paper written by Newman and Kenworthy, entitled, 'Peak car use: Understanding the demise of automobile dependence', which shows that there has actually been a decline in car use in a range of countries, including Australia, since 2006. I have not read that report but I look forward to it because Peter Lumb makes the point that we should not be putting more money at modes of transport in decline. Peter Lumb also draws the connection between cycling and walking because much of the policy motivation that applies to cycling is equally relevant to walking. He says:

It is common for conditions for pedestrians in urban forms to improve when cycling infrastructure is built and vice versa. Shared paths are currently the norm.

And that maybe rather than considering just a cycling strategy for South Australia it should be a plan for cycling and walking. He also draws attention to the increase in use of electric cycles and points out that there are now a range of cycles appropriate for people living with a disability. He says:

A strategy should include anticipating future interest and demand and understand the needs of e-bike users and a greater diversity of bikes which can be used by people with disabilities (like those manufactured in the Netherlands by www.vanraam.com). Such bikes are popular in Europe but have not arrived here yet.

I did notice, looking at the agenda for the Velo-city conference, that Peter Lumb, I think, is giving a paper on cycle use by people living with disabilities. We had a good contribution from Alex Martin. He was looking for alternatives to some of the busy and dangerous roads, such as South Road. He makes the point that the marked bicycle lanes need to make sense. He points out that in some places, such as Unley Road approaching South Terrace:

…left-turn lanes are positioned on the right side of bicycle lanes, which means that these two lanes of traffic are being steered into each other at the point where they enter the intersection. It's designed to cause collisions and it's worse than having no lanes marked at all.

Brad Lay wrote to me and pointed out that the online 'Cycle instead' journey planner, whilst a great initiative, is problematic because it often produces routes that include main roads and roads that are of poor quality and dangerous for cycling. So, I think we need to make sure that if we are going to be giving people online trip planners that it is made very clear what the status of roads is, whether they are busy roads, arterial roads or quiet back streets, because it is not always obvious by just looking at a map.

Peter Smith says the state transport plan should contain an integrated cycling strategy for the whole of metropolitan Adelaide. He points out that there is currently a capital city bicycle infrastructure group, comprising the Adelaide City Council and the Department of Planning, Transport and Infrastructure, which coordinates cycling infrastructure investment in the inner city and that the inner rim councils had been invited to join but that this could easily be expanded to all metropolitan councils in order to put in place a decent bicycle strategy. Mark Roberts says that he lives in Seacliff and the last two jobs have been on the other side of the city. He states:

I cycle regularly to work and find that quite often I am in bike lanes that are against the flow of traffic. I think bike lanes should be open at least during the entirety of daylight hours, preferably 24 hours (darkness is the time a lot of cyclists are most vulnerable due to ineffective lights). Not everyone rides to work/school from 6am to 8am and 3pm to 6pm. I am certainly outside of this schedule.

I received a lengthy submission from Heather Wardle who is, I think, probably a regular correspondent to many members of parliament; an absolute terrier when it comes to bicycle and road safety issues and someone who has put in thousands of hours of advocacy work on behalf of Adelaide cyclists, for which I thank her. In her submission she gives a long list of infrastructure issues that need fixing, especially those in the Prospect and Adelaide City Council area.

Again, I will put all her submission in my report; however, as I mentioned before, she does point out that the Queensland Inquiry into Cycling Issues has a range of recommendations, many of which are appropriate for South Australia as well. These include recommendations for minimum overtaking distances. In fact, one issue that the Queensland parliament did balk at, but which many cyclists have called for, was that of strict liability legislation, which I will come to shortly. Edward Stratton-Smith says:

That investing in high-quality cycling infrastructure increases the number of people using a bicycle as transport for some trips is beyond doubt. Even within countries such as the Netherlands the modal share in different cities is strongly correlated with the quality of the infrastructure. That an increase in bicycle use for everyday journeys and a reduction in car use brings benefits to a city is equally beyond doubt. One only needs to consider the expense of building and maintaining a road network not to mention the cost to the household budget of running a car (or two as is often the case). Any reduction in either of those costs can surely only be a good thing.

Edward points out that:

Since 2006, the city of Seville in Spain has increased the number of cycling journeys daily from under 5,000 to about 72,000 per day; that is from a modal share of less than 0.5 per cent to around 7 per cent. It has achieved that primarily by building a 120 kilometre Dutch-style network of well-connected bicycle tracks…The infrastructure in Seville is quite far short of the standard Dutch cycling infrastructure but nevertheless, even in its short lifespan of six years, it has paid handsome dividends.

He then goes on to say:

Any new cycling strategy must have clear goals about the type of network that will be built and the time frame. We cannot of course catch up with the Dutch and the Danes within the five year life of a cycling strategy (well actually we could if we wanted to) but we can make clear how far we wish to have progressed when the strategy is next updated.

Alexander Stretton wrote to me saying:

I wholeheartedly support the re-establishment of a cycling strategy for South Australia. Having recently spent time in cities here and abroad (Melbourne, New York, etc.) I believe South Australia is falling behind in terms of forward thinking, logical road design that eases pressure on congestion and promotes the safe, healthy and economically beneficial alternative form of transport—the bicycle. An updated plan, drawing on design nationally and internationally, in consultation with relevant bodies is of high importance…Thus, an increase of spending on cycling infrastructure is vital for South Australia to not only to catch up to the rest of the world, but also to share in the myriad of positive outcomes that increased cycling brings to a town, a city and a state. These positives are well documented and spread much further than reducing congestion on our roads.

In the motion I refer to the fact that the budget for cycling is currently less than one half of 1 per cent of the relevant agency's budget, and my call in the motion is for that to be at least doubled. A number of correspondents thought I was not being ambitious enough. Peter Lumb wrote saying:

Like some others I would encourage you to argue for a higher than 1 per cent proportion of the state infrastructure spend going to cycling. I would support 4 per cent as reasonable, but I'd like to see higher allocations talked up in an effort to begin a shift in thinking about funding cycling infrastructure.

He points out, as I have in the media—and, in fact, to anyone who asks me— that it is particularly important for the state not to drop the ball, given that the current federal Liberal Coalition government has made it clear that its attention will be given to roads, and that it is not going to fund public transport. They have effectively been silent in relation to cycling, but not many people are holding their breath. Shane MacLaren wrote and said:

As a commuting and recreational cyclist I fully support the initiative to increase funding to cycling. It is very important to divert a significant amount of money (but a small percentage of road funding) into bike lanes and cycling promotion. There are huge health benefits as well as improved amenity of our city in this area.

Andrew Bischoff wrote to say:

I have been riding (nearly every day) for over 30 years, witnessing all types of changes and safety improvements for cyclists in Adelaide. I have ridden every main road and climbed every hill in our beautiful city but my biggest triumph and fondest memory is the day my wife and I rode into town with our two daughters to enjoy milkshakes in a cafe on Rundle Street.

This freedom (and health benefits) that I shared with my family has only been possible because of my knowledge and experience riding in traffic day in and day out. Many of the families at my children's schools will never enjoy a family ride because of their fear of the road, a fear that could ultimately lead to an unhealthy lifestyle.

The Mike Turtur Bikeway has opened the door to hundreds of cyclists, the Monday to Friday peak hour is now filled with commuters and walkers, and the weekend is parent time with all ages following close behind.

The new Frome Road segregated path will hopefully dust off many, many more bikes.

Any budget spent is worth it for a parent to know that riding into town will be a safe and healthy journey for themselves and their children.

I will just mention that the Mike Turtur Bikeway happens to be part of my route into town and it is not uncommon these days at the major intersections, while cyclists are waiting for the lights, for there to be upwards of 20 bikes gathered at each intersection. Alice Jones wrote to me saying:

Having recently relocated to Adelaide from the UK, I can view Adelaide's cycling provision with a more global outlook…and I have to say that the cycling infrastructure is woefully poor in comparison with European cities. In addition the attitude of motorists towards cyclists is shocking. There have been many times when I have felt endangered by impatient and aggressive drivers. I wholeheartedly support these proposals, and feel that increasing the funding and provision for cyclists on SA's roads will not only improve the conditions and safety for cyclists, but will also help motorists to realise that we have a legitimate place on the state's roads!

Probably one of the main topics that people raise, and it is a point on which cyclists are not unified (and I do not think that we could expect them to be), is the question of whether cycling facilities should primarily be on our roads or whether they should be segregated facilities either off-road or segregated physically from motorised traffic on the roads. Matt Weeks, for example, wrote to say:

Hi Mark, I've ridden for 30 years almost daily. The number one piece of advice I would put forward to government is: separate cyclists from motor vehicles. Think of a concept like 'bike freeways' and that will get you closer to what we need.

Shane Sody wrote to me—and people might recall Shane worked in this building for many years—and stated:

I would like an end to the practice of bicycle lanes just disappearing or ending at random places (typically where a road narrows) with no thought or even a signed suggestion to cyclists on where they should go from that point.

A typical (but by no means unusual) example is The Parade, Kensington, heading westbound, about 250 metres east of Portrush Road. One motorised vehicle lane and one bicycle lane, becomes two motorised vehicle lanes, and cyclists are assumed to disappear at that point.

Richard Boswell stated:

Cycling is not an inherently dangerous activity. It is only dangerous when performed in close proximity to motor vehicles. Recent studies by Australian universities have shown that in collisions between motor vehicles and bicycles, the driver of the motor vehicle is at fault in approximately 80% of cases. The most certain way to avoid the chance of collisions between motor vehicles and bicycles is to physically separate motor vehicles and bicycles on the transport network. The way to achieve this is by investing in safe, separated cycling infrastructure.

The fear of collisions with motor vehicles is the greatest inhibitor of the uptake of cycling as a mode of transport. More people would travel by bike if they felt safe doing so away from the danger of motorised traffic. More bicycles on the roads means fewer cars on the road.

But if you are going to separate bikes and cars do it properly.

Roger Foster wrote to me, and I will acknowledge that Roger is a fellow player of the diatonic button accordion which makes him an all-round good bloke. He said:

I enjoy bike riding as a form of transport and I rode for a year every weekday to the city and back to Warradale. I started using the old railway easement bikeway which runs parallel to Anzac Highway but found that my time was much better on Anzac Highway itself and hence have always used that, which brings me to my point, being that the distinction should be made between bikeways for leisure and those for transport purposes. Generally one is not a substitute for the other. We need both.

I echo those points: if you are trying to get from point A to point B a recreational meandering path that gives way at every cross street is no substitute for a more direct route. Angela Osborn says:

I want to be able to ride my bike to uni (Magill), but the lack of bike lanes on busy roads makes me fear that it's unsafe.

Richard Bentley says:

As a regular cyclist in Adelaide for 10 years and now Alice Springs there is one common issue I note. If cyclists ride legally on the road but at half the speed of cars/trucks one day someone will get hit. However, while ideally speeds could be reduced or separation provided by designated lanes, this will not happen in every situation immediately. I was in Adelaide recently and noticed that nothing has changed on Main North Road as you approach Fitzroy Terrace in 15 years. I understand why because there is no space to accommodate both vehicles and bicycles so we must take our chances.

Patrick Dupont writes saying that he rides 30 kilometres to work in Adelaide on separated paths and main roads from Christies Beach. He says:

I am a competent cyclist and used to riding in traffic. I mostly love my commute but I still get scared riding along Marion Road when motorists drive too close to me. This generally happens when I am approaching big intersections where the bike lanes disappear and motorists seem to think this gives them permission to squeeze me out. My bike doesn't disappear when I get close to an intersection so why does the bike lane? I would much prefer to ride on separated/protected bike lanes the whole way but they just don't exist and I don't want to stop riding. I hope Frome St is just the beginning and we will see many more protected bike lanes popping up. If that happens, one day I'll be able to ride the whole way to work in safety without being harassed and squeezed out by motor vehicles.

Jody Moate wrote to me saying that she has one of those bikes that is gathering dust in the shed. She says, 'My husband loves riding, the kids do too,' but she feels that it is unsafe and that is what holds her back. She says:

The more pathways available away from traffic makes me feel much better about getting back on my bike and saving it from the dark depths of our shed.

I mentioned earlier that Frome Street cropped up in a number of these submissions because, clearly, it has been in the news of late. Of the number of people who wrote to me, whilst a couple of people had some suggestions about how the design might be tweaked, universally people thought that dedicated infrastructure was good for cycling. Heather McCulloch was one, Will Matthews was another, and Anthony Cheshire was a third, but I will not go through their submissions in detail.

A number of people commented on the coastal bikeway. I understand that there are a number of issues around that, but the main issue that is raised is that it is not yet complete. There are a few spots where the route still has to be selected to make sure that it does not harm the coastal environment, but a long-distance, recreational path such as that is something that was welcomed by many cyclists.

Similarly, many people who wrote to me called for more dedicated suburban bikeways, not just those in the CBD. Suggestions were made for car-free Sundays in the city, and I notice that a number of cities around the world have adopted that. Jeremy Ryder wrote to me saying:

Mark, as a frequent cyclist around the CBD and into the surrounding suburbs, I fully support increased bicycle infrastructure and an increase in the budget allocated to improving cycling infrastructure. I think the new bicycle path along Frome Rd is a great start. But I also think cheaper measures are also effective, such a the green bike lane down Waymouth and Pirie streets. It would be good to see these paths put on the other side in between the parked cars and footpaths to afford cyclists protection from cars. We have to contend with doors, but this is the case as it is anyway.

Nick Edwards suggests that one of the main issues that is obvious when he is out riding is that bike infrastructure is rarely designed by cyclists. I know for a fact that the cycling community was actively engaged in the design of the Frome Street bikeway, which is probably a big part of the reason it has been so successful. Anyone who rides would know that the kerbside lane is also often the spot where the service hold covers are—the gas, the sewerage, water supplies. Bike lanes designed by cyclists are invariably free of those impediments. David Southern and Nick Crush also wrote talking about segregated bikeways. Robert Kortchak wrote to me saying:

I have been an active user of bicycle transport as my main mode of transport for over twenty years, to improve my own health and wellbeing, and to contribute to general societal environmental wellbeing. Unfortunately in that time I have been hospitalised twice as a result of traffic accidents that would have been avoided by better cycling infrastructure and a more generally positive attitude to cycling in the broader community.

Charles Baird draws attention to the need for an education campaign for both cyclists and motorists and then, as other people also added, enforcement by the police.

Jim Cooper said that as an urgent priority the minimum overtaking distance from bicycles should be mandated and he agrees with one metre for roads with speed limits up to 60 km/h and 1½ metres in streets with speed limits greater than that, but a number of other people thought that they were both too small and that two metres was more appropriate.

Strict liability legislation was raised by a number of people. Ross Goble was one and he also pointed out a case that many members might have seen where the police appeared not to take very much interest in a dangerous car-dooring incident that was captured by the cyclist on his camera attached to his helmet and featured prominently on one of the commercial news and current affairs stations. Even though it could be described as a hit-and-run accident, the police did nothing more than write a letter to the driver.

The idea of strict liability legislation was raised by Matthew Hender, describing it as 'presumed liability for motorists'. That is an initiative that has been introduced overseas. He says:

A car hits a cyclist and it's their fault. They have crumple zones, cyclists don't, and cars are really hard. Cars should be responsible for the safety of other less well protected people rather than trying to get there first, which they will do anyway.

A number of people thought that the road rules needed to be changed; Kenneth Abraham for one. Others talked about the ability for cyclists to be able to treat stop signs as give way signs; slow down in other words, but not have to unclip from the pedals. David Latty wrote about many of the same issues—better education, dedicated lanes on Anzac Highway, and a range of other initiatives.

Now, I am getting towards the end, Mr President, you will be pleased to know, but I will say that no-one else puts cycling on the agenda of this place and it amazed me that with this international conference coming next week we have heard nothing from the government about it, so whilst it might seem to some a bit tedious to be putting forward all these thoughts, here are people who in good faith have written to a member of parliament and sought to have their comments incorporated into the record.

One issue that I do not propose to go into because it is one on which cyclists never agree, and I think is a distraction from the real issue of cycle safety, is the issue of helmets. A number of people I think have very good reasons for thinking that the compulsory bike helmet laws are a disincentive to cycling; other people hold different views, but I do not propose to agitate that debate now. If members are interested I am happy to put another motion on the Notice Paper calling for a debate on helmets.

Similarly, driver and motorist education is something that just about everyone raised because everyone who has ever ridden a bike knows that your safety on the road depends on the attitude of fellow road users and in particular motorists, but I will refer to just two or three more submissions, and one that I think is important is from Angus Kingston. Angus, as some people might know, is the founder of Adelaide Cyclists which is a very popular online website where all things related to cycling are discussed, and last time I looked there were about 3,000 contributors to that website. Angus Kingston writes:

Adelaide is a great city for cycling; it really is. On the sports side of the coin it is voted in the top 10 training locations in the world. That is up there on a par with Majorca. It is because of the variety it offers so close to the CBD. As a place to ride for transport it is also good. The Linear Park and other greenways are good, but things could be better. Most of the problems come down to the attitude of car users to cyclists—aggressive, uneducated, impatient. I am sure you will hear this many times over, but the one area I think really needs addressing is driver distraction which is the euphemism for texting, tweeting, taking phone calls, and general use of smart phones while driving. Over the last five years since I started www.AdelaideCyclists.com I've seen the number of riders increasing and also the level of aggression and numbers of small and major accidents, many caused by driver error and possibly from distraction. Also it's worth noting the correlation that smart phones were not so universal five years ago, Facebook wasn't so widely used…and Twitter's burst of popularity hadn't happened. These distractions are seen by cyclists all the time and I would like to see campaigns to raise awareness and increase police targeting of drivers (and cyclists if that may be the case).

A couple of submissions relate to pollution, and I will not go through those but we all know that if you are riding a bicycle you are not polluting the environment with particulates or with greenhouse gases, and similarly it goes without saying that the health benefits of regular exercise, including cycling, are one of the main reasons why this form of activity and transport needs to be encouraged.

As I said, I have only touched the tip of the iceberg of these people who were desperate to have their views recorded in the Hansard record of this parliament. Many of them feel they have not been listened to. Cyclists are numerous, as I have said, there are more bikes than cars in Adelaide and I am glad to have been able to put some of their thoughts on the record. The remainder I will package up and send to the transport minister and the transport department. I am happy to make copies available to any members of parliament who want them.

I look forward to the Velo-city conference coming here next week. I hope to participate in a number of the sessions. I would like to acknowledge again the advocacy of Lord Mayor Stephen Yarwood, who, in many ways, is one of the key people responsible for bringing that conference here. He has taken a bit of a hiding in some of the media outlets, as I have mentioned, but I think he is doing a fine job in promoting choice in transport, as he puts it. It is not about forcing people to ride bikes but we know people will ride bikes if the environment is made safer. I commend the motion.

For more information see The Full Report is available here.

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