Merry Christmas and have a safe, relaxing break…I plan to.

Thanks for reading along and commenting on Freo issues throughout the year. Unless something dramatic happens this will be the last blog post until the New Year. I plan to try and switch off from Council matters for a little while and just enjoy the Fremantle lifestyle. So have a good break and here are a few of my favourite pix over the last few weeks

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Renew Fremantle – first shop open

Empty shops in Point and Adelaide Streets in the centre of Freo are being brought back to life with local artists taking up these spaces rent free as part of a project being supported by the City of Fremantle. The first of these opened this week and it looks great so pop down for some unique Christmas gifts

This project builds on the Renew Newcastle model

http://renewnewcastle.org/ 

Renew Newcastle has been established to find short and medium term uses for buildings in Newcastle’s CBD that are currently vacant, disused, or awaiting redevelopment.

Renew Newcastle aims to find artists, cultural projects and community groups to use and maintain these buildings until they become commercially viable or are redeveloped. Renew Newcastle is not set up to manage long term uses, own properties or permanently develop sites but to generate activity in buildings until that future long term activity happens.

Renew Newcastle has been set up to clean up these buildings and get the city active and used again.

Bike Share for Fremantle – Michael Rubbo video

Film maker Mike Rubbo has put together this very interesting video on which he looks at cycling in Fremantle, bike share and helmet issue. It was a real pleasure to be interviewed for this and while parts of this are no doubt going to be controversial I think this is a key debate that we need to have in Australia and hopefully it will be one that looks at the evidence and health issues in a holistic manner. The video also got international attention at:

http://www.copenhagenize.com/2010/12/free-freemantle.html 

Enjoy. Brad

Alcohol fuelled anti-social behaviour in Fremantle

  Last night Chanel 7 News ran a story on alcohol fuelled anti-social behaviour in Fremantle. The basis of the story was not a particular incident but rather a Fremantle magistrate complaining about what he saw as the increasing number of incidents involving normally decent young men getting drunk and behaving violently. (a low quality version of the story is here)

While this is a concern that I share I think we have to resist the hype that it is getting dramatically worse. The statistics actually suggest a slight improvement over the last 12months.

The City of Fremantle has also put together a Community Safety Working Group that is working on addressing this issue the through better lighting, improved CCTV, and working closely with venues and police to ensure Fremantle is a safe and fun place for everyone.

Cycling Santa on the loose

 

There were sightings over the weekend of Santa Claus on a tinseled up bike through the streets of Fremantle. When spotted he was very popular with the kids possibly due to his impressive white beard but more likely due to the large bowl of free lollies he had in his basket. The rumour is that it was Fremantle City Councilor Bill Massie in disguise but he disappeared in a blur of red before this could be confirmed. Merry Christmas to you all.

Velo-City: Perth – Cycling in Western Australia

A great new book about cycling in WA has come out this week by Debra Mayrhofer. It is a very interesting look at cycling and its subcultures in the West with lots stories from many differnt people. I wrote a short piece for it too which I have pasted below. The book is avaialable at Dymocks and I have also donated a copy to the Freo library

The global resurgence of the bicycle

In my travels through major western cities around the globe over the past few years it is hard not to get a strong sense that the tide is turning and bicycles are making a major and timely comeback. Cycling was pushed to the margins in the late 20th century by the dominance of the automobile but now a combination of higher fuel prices, climate change concerns and the need to create more healthy and liveable cities means that people are turning back to cycling once again as a primary way travelling around their cities.  As result this also means we are seeing major changes to infrastructure in our cities to make cycling safer and more appealing to more people.

I’ve just returned this evening from a day-long ride around and through New York City. Despite New York’s legendarily chaotic traffic, cycling was an extremely pleasurable way to see New York. This was in large part because of the ambitious “road diet” that NYC has been over the last few years in which lanes of traffic of major avenues and small streets alike have been handed over for public space and bike lanes. Instead of being forced off the road by yellow taxis, New York cyclists now get a dedicated lane all to themselves. Road diets, cycling lanes and other infrastructure improvements has made cycling in NYC much safer, more relaxing and no doubt quicker in peak hour than driving your car. As a result bikes are everywhere in NYC.

The Big Apple is not alone. Paris has, in addition to its extensive Velib bike share scheme (20,000 rental bikes available at approximately 1,400 stations located around the city!), also has put in place over 370 km of cycling lanes that has transformed the city into a cyclist paradise. Many roads are two ways for bikes but only one-way for cars. Following Paris’s huge investment, London has recently introduced a similar system with about 6000 blue and grey bikes and a new investment in bike lanes and racks.

It seems bikes are the new black no matter colour they are. This revolution in which cycling is being given a new found focus is happening throughout Europe and North America. I haven’t even mentioned the progress we’ve seen in recent years in Barcelona. Lyon, Copenhagen and Montreal along with many others I haven’t space to list. What is clear, however, is that we are seeing a global resurgence in the popularity of cycling and it is a resurgence that is rapidly expanding and gathering pace as the infrastructure to assist it also gets put into place.

Australia is also starting to catch up with this sustainable global trend. Melbourne has recently got up and running the first bike-share scheme in Australia. This is appropriate because it is without a doubt the city with the best cycling infrastructure in the country with over 100km of bike lanes and a great bike culture. Sydney and Brisbane are also looking at cycling with a renewed interest.

In my home town of Fremantle, the City Council recently improved a tenfold increase in funding for bike infrastructure including implementing a new bike plan that will include a huge increase in the number of bike lanes as well as end of trip facilities such as lockers and secure bike storage for workers in Fremantle.  This is in addition to the Council funding a free bike hire scheme until we can persuade the state to help us fund a fully fledged bike-share scheme. Fremantle is blessed by already having a great bike culture and being a compact City. With the addition of some good bike infrastructure I have no doubt that we can more double the number of cyclists in the City.

As the Mayor of Fremantle, when elected I decided to auction off my mayoral car-parking bay and donate the money to charity not because I wanted to make a huge personal sacrifice but because I really would rather ride to work than drive and having the best parking bay in Fremantle (which can be short of parking) empty every day was absurd.

For me riding is a great start to the day in which you engage a little with the elements before parking right at the door to your office. For me it is quicker than driving. But nor only is it pleasurable but it means your transport “burns fat not oil”, produces no CO2, has no fuel bills, and doesn’t add to traffic congestion. Cycling really is an idea whose time has come – once again. This time I strongly believe it is here to stay.

East End amendment passes planning committee

This week the Planning Services Committee considered the East End Scheme Amendment and passed the officers recommendation to approve it.

It is quite possibly one of the most significant items that this Council will consider. In fact the future of Fremantle as a vibrant regional centre will be greatly influenced by this decision.

The officer’s recommendation tonight was a bold and ambitious one but one that I believe gets the right balance between development and amenity outcomes in this run down area.

This issue that has been one of the most hotly debated issues over the last couple of years in Fremantle and this was one of the key issues in the Council election last year.

I was also impressed with the comments that came out of  the community consulatation days and the 65 public submissions. Most were supprtive but many of the good ideas influenced the final outcome as well.

For example, the heights have been brought down in the section of Queen Victoria to 4 stories and top stories setback on the northern section of Quarry St in response to community concerns.

Many people wanted good design and strong environmental outcomes. The final recommendation therefore has a carrot of an extra story when the development meets a number of strict criteria:

i) Exceptional design quality and distinctive architecture befitting its location

ii) At least 6 star Green Star sustainable building design (highest level)

iii) Provide a high quality landscaped and publicly accessible pedestrian environment at ground level, including where appropriate:-  the area of the required setbacks in Queen Victoria Street and James Street being transferred at no cost to Council for the purposes of a road widening-  east-west mid-block pedestrian links between Queen Victoria Street and Beach Street

iv) Accommodate westward views along the Burt Street alignment and enhance views in each direction along James Street.

If this gets passed at Council on the 15th then I hope we will see it signed off by government in the new year and assuming the GFC fades then new developments over the next couple of years