Thursday, January 10, 2008

NRMA misses point on Cycling investment

Welcome back to the New Year and what better way to start than the NRMA taking the opportunity to attack government spending on cycling infrastructure. I'm not sure where they have been for the past few years but cycling numbers are growing all over Australia and the western world as people look to alternative modes of transport. Cycling numbers are growing steadily here in Sydney as well. Council's research has shown that the biggest obstacle to more people cycling recreation or to commute is lack of safer cycling infrastructure such as separated cycling lanes. When first elected to the city Council I campaigned for separate 'European' style cycling lanes for William and Oxford Streets. The outcome was the unacceptable compromise of cycling in bus lanes on Oxford or in imaginative painted lanes that disappear on William. The Council has now finally changed its approach and is investing in proper infrastructure to support current and future growth in cycling. What the NRMA forgets is that it is not us or them - the users of the roads are all tax payers and all various users at different times. I'm a cyclist but also own a car, walk to work and catch public transport.

SMH report below:

Money wasted on cyclists: NRMA

Car is still king . . . a cyclist cuts a lonely figure on the path shared with pedestrians on Epping Road yesterday.Photo: Ben Rushton
Alexandra SmithJanuary 10, 2008
TAXPAYERS are pouring millions of dollars into lining motorways with cycleways that are barely used - and are building a new bicycle lane the NRMA says will effectively cost $300,000 for every cyclist that uses it.
Despite pleas from Sydney's Lord Mayor, Clover Moore, for bicycles to reclaim the streets, the motoring organisation says residents are sticking to four wheels.
In a submission to the Roads and Traffic Authority it accuses the Government of wasting millions on cyclists at the expense of motorists, who are forced to battle worsening congestion as lanes are removed from busy roads.
The cycling lane on the M2 attracted just 130 cyclists a day. The Iemma Government is building a cycleway alongside choked Epping Road, despite as few as 25 cyclists using that corridor each day.
At $7.6 million for the Epping Road cycleway, the NRMA says that would amount to spending $300,000 per cyclist on a lane that is unlikely to attract many more riders, based on the experiences of the M2 motorway.
The NRMA wants the Epping Road cycleway to be scrapped to allow lanes to be widened for trucks and cars.
The Westlink M7 cycleway added $60 million to the cost of that project, a legacy of the former roads minister Carl Scully.
The Government has paid $25 million to Connector Motorways, which owns the Lane Cove Tunnel, to delay narrowing Epping Road from three lanes to one in each direction, leaving room for a bus lane and cycleway. The intention of narrowing the road is to funnel motorists into the tunnel.
The M2 dedicated a breakdown lane to cyclists when it opened 10 years ago but only 130 cyclists a day used it.
Cr Moore has accused the Government of being anti-bicycle and pro-car, and has flagged a plan for a cheap bicycle rental system in the city.
But the president of the NRMA, Alan Evans, questioned the value of cycling lanes, and said Sydney motorists would suffer when the Epping Road-Lane Cove Tunnel roadworks were completed.
"When you have high traffic volumes of more than 35,000 vehicles per day, this is not a sensible use of resources," Mr Evans said. "Cyclists appear to be the only winners on Epping Road, at the expense of thousands of motorists."
A spokesman for the RTA said the cycleway would attract many more cyclists than those now using Epping Road. He said the NRMA's figure was not a true reflection of how popular the new cycleway would be once completed.
"If you give cyclists a dedicated facility instead of riding in normal traffic, they will use it," the spokesman said.
The acting Opposition Leader, Andrew Stoner, said the traffic gridlock on Epping Road was a sign of things to come.
"Current traffic on Epping Road is bumper-to-bumper and most people haven't even returned from their holidays," he said. "Morris Iemma and [the Minister for Roads] Eric Roozendaal spent $25 million of taxpayers' money to delay the road changes until after the state and federal elections and now motorists know why."
Bicycles stay home
- M2: 130 cyclists a day
- Westlink M7: 40 km cycleway, cost $60 million
- Epping Road: $7.6 million, 25 cyclists using the road each day

1 comment:

Shayne Mallard said...

plenty of reaction and good debate in today's SMH including an op ed by Clover Moore's office and a ferw letetrs including mine!