Legislative Council


October 18th, 2017

On the 18th of October 2017, Mark moved and spoke to the following motion -

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

That this council—

1. Notes that Ride2Work Day is celebrated on Wednesday 18 October this year and congratulates all those who took part and acknowledges the positive effects on the environment and public health of increasing the use of bicycles for transport; and

2. Calls on the government to better integrate cycling with public transport by establishing bicycle park-and-ride facilities to increase the use of both cycling and public transport in Adelaide and to further Carbon Neutral Adelaide objectives.

This motion is in two parts and I am hoping the first part will not be contentious at all because it is pretty much a statement of fact. Basically, the motion notes that today is Ride2Work Day; that is a fact. It also congratulates those people who took part and notes the obvious points: that riding a bike is good for the environment and it is good for public health.

The second part of the motion may be more contentious and my experience in this place over many years is that whenever we call on the government to do something, one of the government backbenchers is instructed to move an amendment to say: replace 'calls on' with 'congratulates for', or words to that effect—it is how it goes. Nevertheless, my intention this evening is to put cycling on the parliamentary agenda.

Ride2Work Day is held every year and I am always pleased that many members of parliament, some of the staff of this place who ride their bikes, participate. I know for a fact that very few, if any, of them are attracted by the free breakfast on offer. Most of them ride because that is what they do. It is good for their health and it is good for the environment.

There were several hundred people in Hindmarsh Square this morning enjoying Ride2Work Day. I acknowledge that Mr Chris Picton, Minister for Road Safety in another place, resplendent in a suit, was there representing the Premier. Megan Hender, councillor for the City of Adelaide, was there, and I was invited to speak as well. It is becoming an institution. I did have a slight panic attack when I arrived at Victoria Square to find no-one there, only to read the memo more carefully—it was Hindmarsh Square.

I would like to acknowledge the work of the Adelaide city council, which put on the breakfast, and in particular Nick Nash, their strategy and projects officer. I also acknowledge the bicycle advocacy groups that were there: the Bicycle Institute of South Australia, the very first group that I joined when I arrived in 1989, and Fay Patterson their chairperson; and also Bicycle SA under the stewardship of Christian Haag.

The second part of the motion, however, refers to bicycle parking and its connection with public transport. It reads:

That this council…

2. Calls on the government to better integrate cycling with public transport by establishing bicycle park’n’ride facilities to increase the use of both cycling and public transport in Adelaide and to further Carbon Neutral Adelaide objectives.

What inspired me to put this on the record was a substantial piece of work that was conducted by a volunteer, non-profit group that call themselves the Cycle Park n Ride Working Group. For the benefit of members, I will put on the record the members of the group. They have done a power of work: Wendy Bell, Jennifer Bonham, Peter Croft, Harinder Pal Singh Gill, Hilary Hamnett, Peter Lumb, Greg Martin, Marjon Martin, Heather Nimmo and Scott Simms.

This group went to every single railway station, every tram stop and all of the stops on the O-Bahn bus route, and they investigated both the presence or not of bicycle parking facilities and, secondly and most importantly, the scope that exists for installing such facilities.

The reason this is an important project is pretty clear. We know that the more people who use public transport, the less congestion we have on our roads, the less pressure there is on car parking and overall less pollution of the environment.

Most people will accept that, if we can encourage people onto public transport, that is a good thing. Not everyone lives, like I happen to do, three minutes' walk from a railway station. Many people might live five or 10 minutes' bicycle ride from a railway station. It makes eminent sense to include park-and-ride facilities at railway stations. It increases the catchment. People might be prepared to walk, for example, 800 metres to a station. They might be prepared to ride up to two or three kilometres. It vastly increases the catchment of that station. It is a very worthwhile thing to do.

But what the working group found when they did their study was that there was no cycle parking facility or infrastructure of any kind—not even a single bicycle rack—at 73 tram and train stops and stations across the network. In other words, 62 per cent, nearly two-thirds, had absolutely nothing to cater for bicycles—zilch. On the other hand, there have been thousands of free car park-and-ride spaces installed at various places around Adelaide. So, it is not as if the government does not understand the importance of allowing people to get to the station so they can then get a train or a tram to work, they just have not done it in relation to bicycles

But the beauty of what this working group have come up with is to remind us how cheap it is to put facilities in for bicycles. It is dirt cheap. In fact their analysis shows that even if you were to put in gold standard, best quality facilities at all of the stops and stations, it would be $5 million, maybe $5½ million. What does that get you—100 metres of freeway? It is dirt cheap compared to the facilities that are provided elsewhere.

The impact, I think, would be considerable. As to the nature of the facilities, these will vary according to location. In some places, a simple fixed bicycle rack that you can lock your bike to is all that is needed. In other places, cages are a good idea. It is two-stage security; in other words, you need a pass or a key to get into the cage and another pass or key to unlock your bike. It makes sense. They have put some of them down on the new Seaford extension. I have been told they have not necessarily been done as well as they could have, but I think the thought was there, even if the implementation was not perfect. We could do much more of that in the suburbs of Adelaide.

The group point out that they have had some success so far. There are six stations on the Outer Harbor line that are soon going to have bicycle racks installed. That is something that is going to be done by the Charles Sturt council and funded by DPTI.

The survey also revealed that not just did nearly two-thirds of tram stops and train stations have nothing; even where there were facilities, there was no systematic installation. The Australian standards were often ignored, perhaps not even understood that they existed, and the number of spots that had been provided was minuscule compared to cars.

I will put the numbers on the record: there was infrastructure to park 402 bicycles and 9,305 cars. You have to remember that providing car parks is a very expensive exercise. Even if we are just talking about a patch of bitumen, it is an expensive piece of infrastructure. It is a large area and it is devoted exclusively to parking cars for a short period of the day.

I congratulate those organisations that have done the research and come up with these results. I will just mention one other particular bugbear of mine, and that is the way that Adelaide Metro approach bicycle parking at the Adelaide Railway Station. I have been talking mostly about stops and stations out in the suburbs, but I am old enough now to remember when the Adelaide Railway Station had a dedicated room for the parking of bicycles, a special space with racks and things in there. They moved it to a few different locations over the years, then they took it away altogether, and cyclists had to lock their bikes to the wrought iron gates at the northern end of the concourse outside the station, luckily close to the Transit Police area, so you would have to be a fairly bold or brazen thief, although I did see someone with an angle grinder once, but I think they had gone and seen the police first as they had obviously lost the key to their lock.

But, now, we have a situation where bicycle parking is very limited in volume; it's behind the barriers at the railway station, and they have these ridiculous signs saying that, if you leave your bike for more than 24 hours, they could take it away. What they do not seem to appreciate is that, when it comes to Adelaide Railway Station, there are people who might want to get the train to the city and then have a bicycle waiting for them that they can then ride to their office, for example, as I did, near South Terrace. I had an old bike; all it did was go from North Terrace to South Terrace, then back to North Terrace at the end of the day—shuttled backwards and forwards, left at the railway station. Was it left for more than 24 hours? Yes: it's called the weekend, or maybe it was on holidays, but it was not inconveniencing anyone and it took up very little space.

So, I would urge Adelaide Metro to rethink its attitude to bicycles and public transport. It is a win/win, it's very inexpensive, and I urge the government to take this report seriously and start spending the very small amount of money required to really beef up park-and-ride for bicycles in Adelaide.

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