Cycle network doomed to fail

North Perth resident Andrew Main’s been campaigning for years to get the streets a bit more human-friendly. Photo by David Bell

A LOCAL active transport advocate warns the WA government’s long-term cycle network will pit riders against cars on busy roads.

Andrew Main, who’s spent years dealing with councils and government departments advocating for safer streets for humans on foot and on bikes, says the plan won’t hit its aim to increase the number of people riding.

He says it puts many routes on distributor roads with high volumes of traffic, and bike riders won’t like it due to “conflicts with vehicle drivers, and the noise and air pollution from vehicles”. 

“The aim of the LTCN should also be to minimise conflict between drivers and riders, because when you introduce conflict between these two user groups, bike riders will generally lose out,” he says.

Cheaply

Mr Main says other countries like the UK and places in Europe have had a lot of success getting people riding through lower traffic neighbourhood streets, making them safer by encouraging only local traffic. It can be done pretty cheaply by closing off a road with a pocket park or just some hefty planter boxes (the latter having the advantage of being cheap and movable). 

Along with making it safer for bike riders and walkers it cuts down on rat running. Barcelona’s in the midst of closing two thirds of its roads to through traffic in this way. 

Mr Main says “this approach is far less expensive and quicker to implement”.

Each suburban council has been asked to endorse the LTCN, and only routes outlined in the path will be eligible for funding for the next year.

The routes in the LTCN are only “aspirational” and just mark where matched state funding might be available – they’d still have to go through the usual approval process before any paint gets sprayed or lanes go in.

Mr Main’s submitted his thoughts to Vincent council, though only a couple of his earlier suggestions made it into the amended plan endorsed by the council last week (such as removing the unpopular route through Hyde Park). 

At the August 18 meeting Cr Joanne Fotakis moved that the council request the WA government chip in more funding for bike lanes, upping the WA Bicycle Network grants from 50 per cent of the cost to 75 per cent given how councils have been especially hammered by Covid-19. Her motion said councils having to pay 50 per cent for a state network that’d be used by many people just passing through, rather than residents, “places a disproportionate and unfair level of burden on ratepayers to fund the network”.

They unanimously voted to write to the WA Local Government Association and see if it would lobby on behalf of councils to get a bigger state government spend. 

Perth council commissioners also endorsed their patch of the LTCN this week, without complaint. WA’s transport department proposed two routes cutting north/south through Langley Park, but those were downgraded to “indicative only and subject to change,” depending on what’s in an upcoming Perth Waterfront Master Plan.

By DAVID BELL

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