Bathurst Bike Plan 2011
The provisional bike and access plan has been released for public comment.
At first glance and after some study, I am very pleased with what I see.
I admit to feeling aprehensive about what would be in the plan and had tried hard to get certain key issues to be considered by the planners in formulating their blueprint for how we get around in this city over the coming twenty years and in fact how liveable this city could become.
Praise should be given to Nick Murphy the chief architect of the plan and the chief strategic planner or the BRC, Janet Bingham who worked closely with Nick from the beginning.
I think they consulted widely for a range of views and as a result have formulated a document which this city could be very proud of should it be accepted by council.
Some of the key points recommended in the plan is that Bathurst should aim at becoming a cycle friendly city and will need appropriate infrustructure for moving about the city by foot and bicycle as an alternative to the car.
Schools should be linked by appropriately signed cycleways so that parents will feel confident that their children can ride to school safely. This will be backed with appropriate education programs for cyclists and motorists so that mutual respect can be achieved. Schools too must play their part and invest in appropriate cycle parking for the students who ride to school.
Businesses too are encouraged to join in by also constructing appropriate cycle parking facilities for their employees.
A suprise to me and many of my fellow cyclists, was that there are already a considerable number of roads within the main part of Bathurst which are designated as on-road cycle ways. However they are unmarked as such and hence and useless to both cyclists and motorists if neither knows they are there.
At present it is estimated that only 0.8% of cyclists are riding their bikes to work. Yet we know that bike sales are going through the roof both in Bathurst and Australia as a whole. It is only a matter of time when more people start opting to ride to work because it is easy, is healthy, is community minded and helps make this city more vibrant.
The recreational cyclist has not been forgotten and a network of new cycleways are on the drawing boards which will complete loops and link with existing cycleways so that many of the more scenic routes will be on offer to local riders and to visitors to this cycle friendly city.
Once established as a cycle friendly city, cycle tourism will indeed be boosted and adventurist cyclists may visit the many wineries, distilleries, food outlets in the outer districts and connect with the rich history in this district.
Cycle and walkway plans have also been prepared for each of the villages in our region so opportunities abound.
OK - so nothing is perfect, where can the plan be strengthened.
To my reading the main points are:
- The plan should be reviewed every two years so that the public can be informed that the program is working or not, whichever is the case.
- All on road cycleways should be clearly marked on road.
- Appropriate signs for routes to key destinations like schools, university, hospitals, RTA, sporting fields, aquatic centre and so on.
- It should be a priority for traffic separated on road cycleways to all the schools with no parking or motorised traffic at all.
- To finance these and other more expensive infrastructure projects, recreational cycleways should be constructed in less expensive materials such as gravel which is sometimes more appropriate for this type of cycling.
- Bathurst Regional Council should be seen as a civic leader in this by installing an iconic bicycle rack outside the civic centre and begin a policy of encouraging both staff and councillors to ride to work and to use cycles in their work where practicable.
- The plan could be strengthened in its acknowledgement of both a rapidly growing population and a strong likelihood of increasing scarcity of petrol and increasing cost of fuel.
- World wide it is increasingly seen that healthy vibrant cities have a pro-active policy of people walking and cycling while at the same time reducing the vehicular traffic by various measures.
- An appropriate pre-amble to the document which clearly states the vision of what such a plan when implemented will achieve for this city. Spelling out what it actually means to be cycle friendly.
- Businesses as well as being encouraged to provide cycle parking for their employees and their clients, but also to adopt pro-cycle policies for their staff so they will have further reason to leave the car at home and travel by bike.
Now have your say
Write to the council and let them know what you think of the plan and what you see as being important in it and what could be imroved in the final document which will go to council for a vote in May this year.
Chris Marshall's submission is very thorough and thoughtful and you can download it here.
You only have until the 21st of March to make your submission.