IS CYCLING AN INEXPENSIVE SOLUTION TO PERTH’S TRANSPORT NEEDS?

I’m going to be on ABC720 this afternoon around 3.45pm with Russell Wolf on the question: IS CYCLING AN INEXPENSIVE SOLUTION TO PERTH’S TRANSPORT NEEDS?

An article I put together on the topic is on the C2030 website (which by the way is really worth a look if you are interested in planning better cities) :
http://c2030.landcorp.com.au/topic/256

Fremantle Mayor Brad Pettitt talks bikes, cycleways and relaxed helmet rules.
Cycling has up to now been the neglected tool in the chest of solutions for Perth’s transport problems.Far greater investment in bike lanes and liberalising our helmets laws could see Perth become a more sustainable and less congested city.Perth is undergoing unprecedented population growth. Around a 1000 people are moving into WA each week putting increasing pressure on our already straining transport network. So, what are our options to keep us moving efficiently around our rapidly growing city and deal with traffic congestion that is expected to cost Australia’s capital cities over $20 billion annually by 2020?Perth could of course take the Los Angeles approach and keep building more and bigger highways and freeways but these are extraordinarily expensive. The recently announced Gateway WA airport roads package alone is expected to cost more than $1 billion.

History also shows that that building more roads simply attracts more cars to fill them – holding off congestion only momentarily.

Perth instead needs to be making alternatives to the private car the focus – to both limit congestion and tackle sustainability concerns.

Without a doubt, WA will need a major investment in public transport especially extending train lines and rolling out light rail. But rail is also expensive. For example, light rail costs between $20 and $50 million per kilometre and as a result is likely take many decades to be rolled out to a wide range of suburbs.

Looking to more affordable options, cycling is perhaps the cost-effective response to traffic congestion.

Cycling rates in WA are some of the lowest in the world with the number of people commuting by bicycle falling from 1.8% in 2000 to 1.2% in 2009. By contrast in many western European countries have 10-30% commuting on bikes.

In Copenhagen the bicycle, with a modal share of 36%, is the most used form of transport for trips to work.

A great thing about cycling is not only is it a healthy and sustainable form of transport but it is also supported by cost effective infrastructure.

Dedicated cycle ways and on-road bike lanes (which are essential to make cycling safer and more appealing to a wider range of riders) are a fraction of the cost of road and rail per kilometre.

But perhaps the most effective way of getting more people on bikes is to relax the mandatory requirements for adults to wear helmets on cycle paths and low-speed roads.

Manfred Neun, the president of the European Cyclists Federation, believes the number of cyclists in WA would treble if helmets were not compulsory.

While this leads to the obvious safety question, the evidence across many countries is that an increase the number of cyclists actually makes cycling safer.

As the number of cyclists doubles, the risk per kilometre falls by 34%.

Cycling has up to now been the neglected tool in the chest of solutions for Perth’s transport problems. Far greater investment in bike lanes and liberalising our helmets laws could see us become the Copenhagen of the South yet.

On your bikes!

About Mayor of Fremantle Brad Pettitt's blog
City of Fremantle Mayor

One Response to IS CYCLING AN INEXPENSIVE SOLUTION TO PERTH’S TRANSPORT NEEDS?

  1. janinemarshall says:

    Nice one, I will be sure to tune in 🙂

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