Tuesday, 17 February 2009

A comprehensive Newcastle Cycling Strategy and Action Plan

Here is the motion that I have submitted to Council for consideration on 17 February 2009.

That Newcastle City Council:

1 Develop, as a key strategic priority, a comprehensive Newcastle Cycling Strategy and Action Plan, with a five year Action Plan, aimed at improving cycle use, infrastructure, services, awareness and cycling safety in the Newcastle Local Government Area.

The Newcastle Cycling Strategy and Action Plan should include (but not necessarily be limited to) consideration of:

• Ambitious but achievable targets for increasing bicycle use in Newcastle, for both commuter and recreational cycling,

• A review of the 1996 Newcastle Lake Macquarie Bike Plan,

• A costed program of prioritised cycling projects and a staged implementation program (and associated funding strategy) for improving our public cycling infrastructure and facilities (e.g., the cycleway network, road crossings, bicycle storage and parking),

• A review of factors affecting bicycle safety, including

a. the provision of “green paint” at key intersections in accordance with the Australian Standards,

b. the adequacy of current painted road bike lanes (known colloquially as “car door death lanes”,

c. the placement of bollards and road grills,

d. the provision of signage and signals and relevant recommendations for improving safety,

• A program for incorporating in relevant council planning instruments requirements for appropriate facilities for cyclists in new developments in the Newcastle Local Government Area,

• Opportunities to give greater priority to cycling in the city's traffic management, including the provision of cycle-only road lanes in the CBD at identified times,

• Opportunities to work cooperatively with other councils, government departments and community organisations to achieve the strategy’s objectives,

• Opportunities to integrate cycling with other sustainable transport modes,

• A program for council to advocate on behalf of the Newcastle community for relevant changes in state and federal government support for cycling, including a submission from council to the current review of the NSW Bike Plan,

• A review of how decisions affecting cycling are handled within Council’s organisational structure, and relevant recommendations to improve these, and to increase the seniority of cycling within our organisational structure,

• A staff development program to improve the awareness and skills of relevant council staff in relation to cycling,

• Other ideas suggested by the community, Councillors and council officers to improve cycling in the city during the development of the strategy.

2 That, to help develop and implement this strategy, council establish a Newcastle Cycling Committee (including relevant senior council officers, local area health service representatives and community representatives), and that council initiate a comprehensive community consultation process for initiating and developing the strategy.

3 That the General Manager provide a report to council outlining an appropriate time frame for developing this strategy, and the associated implications for council’s current and forthcoming budgets.

There is concern in the community that Newcastle Council has not given cycling the appropriate priority.

Newcastle needs an overall strategy to outline the infrastructure needed to ensure a safer and more comfortable cycling environment and the social initiatives that will encourage more people to cycle.

Residents have lots of great ideas on how to improve our cycleways and make then safer.

The Federal Government has indicated that they would provide funding for cycleways.

But the great ideas from the community needs to part of a bigger strategic plan on how they are all connected. The community does not want ad hoc, isolated cycleways.

And the Federal Government is unlikely to fund isolated cycleways, they will need to be seen as part of a bigger picture.

The City of Sydney has already adopted targets, such as increasing the number of bicycle trips made in the City of Sydney, as a percentage of total trips, from less than 2% in 2006 to 5% by 2011, and to 10% by 2016.

The topography of Newcastle is more conducive for cycling – surely we can do better than Sydney.

With a Newcastle Cycling Strategy and Action Plan developed and agreed to by the community, and with joint funding from local, state and federal governments, Newcastle could have a great cycling network, an enhanced healthy lifestyle for our residents and be a national destination for cycling tourists.

See my earlier post about what is possible.

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