VINCENT council will hold off rubber-stamping a WA government bike plan until it does its own community consultation.
That will see it risk missing out on funding by blowing past an “incredibly unusual” deadline.
The WA Department of Transport wanted all councils to endorse the new “Long Term Cycle Network” plan by July 16 in order to qualify for future cycle route funding (Voice, June 13, 2020).
Vincent staff have known about the plan for nearly two years, but only received the final draft on May 21, and only recently informed councillors who were fuming about the late notice.
“There was no engagement with elected members and no engagement with advisory group members,” deputy mayor Susan Gontaszewski said at the June 16 council meeting. It “could have been brought to the attention of elected members… we would have been able to recognise that this is something our community would want to have meaningful input into”.
Cr Joanne Fotakis said: “To say I was disappointed is an understatement. I was quite angry going through this.”
She said the council had been a leader in the fields of both bike lanes and consulting, and they had a switched-on cycling community which could’ve helped with the plan.
Mayor Emma Cole said the DoT’s deadline for funding was “incredibly unusual” and she wanted to carry out meaningful consultation before getting back to the department.
The council ultimately endorsed an alternative motion by Cr Josh Topelberg to “support in principle” the plan, but only subject to further consultation, and subject to the unpopular route through Hyde Park being removed.
Proper endorsement is expected to take place around August.
Instead of reporting back to the DoT, the council endorsed Cr Topelberg’s motion to go
“straight to the top” and explain the decision to transport minister Rita Saffioti.
Stirling council endorsed the LTCN on June 9 without community consultation, even though council staff didn’t like the Walcott Street route. Their report said: “Given the timeframes imposed by the DoT, it has not been possible to advertise the draft LTCN to the public at this stage,” but they could do some consultation post-endorsement.
Bayswater council votes on the LTCN at its June 23 meeting. It hasn’t done community consultation, but did send staff out on e-bikes to ride the routes before giving feedback to the DoT.
Carey slams lane
PERTH state MP John Carey says the WA Department of Transport’s plan to put a cycle lane through Hyde Park is “just idiotic”.
“Certainly as the state member for Perth I won’t be supporting that,” he said, but stopped short of blasting the DoT for its overall handling of the draft cycle network.
He said: “I understand the intention was you want a direct route, because cyclists use direct routes” but given Hyde Park’s popularity with walkers “having a full bike lane going through would cause enormous conflict between pedestrians and cyclists”.
Been there before
IN 1913 another contentious route was planned through Hyde Park, with a roadway to run North South.
Locals were furious. A letter to the editor in The West Australian on June 26, 1913 said “the ‘improvements in Hyde Park are simply samples of huge bungling”. Many feared horses and carts roaring through a children’s play area.
One North Perth councilman dismissed those concerns saying if children did not get knocked down on the roadway outside the park, then they could keep clear of traffic in the park too.
Preparatory works saw the large single lake split in half, giving us the two lakes there today, but the roadway was called off following months of community protest.