Unfortunately there is a grave danger that the concrete truck has already been ordered.
What promised to be a collaborative community consultation is steadily proving to be just another PR job (more cleverly executed than other recent examples), where participants are led to believe that community input can actually make a difference. Whereas is seems that the reality is that the plans are virtually already decided, and there is very little (if any) scope to include walking and cycling infrastructure that will make a substantial difference to the community.
WATAG has representatives on the NEL Community Technical Discussion Group – Walking & Cycling (CTDG) together with Boroondara Bug, Institute of Traffic Engineers, adjacent Councils, and other concerned community groups in the area.
At a recent CTDG meeting, a majority of community representatives spoke to the need to do more for Active Transport. But NEL representatives made it very clear that “this is a ROAD Project” and that the only requirement in relation to Active Transport was “not to make things worse”.
It seems that changing any of the design requirements to ensure that Active Transport will get the same kind of first class result that motorists can expect, is totally wishful thinking. Two community representatives left the meeting early out of frustration.
One member subsequently wrote to Duncan Elliott, Chief Executive Officer, North East Link Authority expressing grave concerns about the consultation process. The CEO’s reply said inter alia that the project “must reflect the network planning and policy directions of our client – in this case Transport for Victoria.” So its worth looking at what Transport for Victoria thinks is important.
The Transport for Victoria website says:
- “The Victorian Government is increasing the role of cycling and walking as a form of transport by making it easier and safer for people to ride and walk where they need to go”
- “Riding a bike or walking are easy, environmentally-friendly and low-cost forms of transport – great for short trips or as part of your journey to work, education and other destinations.”
- “Walking already makes up a significant number of the trips taken across Victoria. For example, two thirds of all trips in the city of Melbourne are on foot.”
- “The Victorian Government wants to get even more people walking to help meet our growing transport needs, particularly around neighbourhoods.”
- “Riding a bike is great for recreation, fitness or the daily commute. It also reduces congestion on our roads.”
- “We want to get even more people on bikes by providing commuters with a safe, comfortable and connected cycling network, encouraging more local trips, and fostering a more inclusive cycling culture.”
Apparently all the above fine words only apply when implementing them doesn’t get in the way of a major road project for cars and trucks – particularly if its the biggest infrastructure spend of its type in Victoria.
What’s to be done?
WATAG member David Morrison met with Craig Richards, CEO Bicycle Network representing all the CTDG members to brief BN on the issues and subsequently sent him the following presentation.
Or click here to download it.
An online BN article recently highlighted: Riders duck shoved on Swan Street
“The massive Swan Street Bridge widening project has inexplicably failed to fix the sub-standard underpasses at the Yarra River.
The inadequacy of the underpasses on both sides of the river have been long recognised as hazardous, subject-to-flooding pinch-points on one of the nation’s busiest bike routes.
Now, as the bridge widening nears completion, the underpasses are being re-instated at the same sub-standard width. And clearances appear even worse than before.
There was no design, engineering or hydrology impediment to fixing this problem…”
Click here for the full article.
CTDG members have requested BN to actively campaign to ensure that this kind of failure to meet the needs of the Active Transport community must not be allowed to be repeated.
Letters have been written to the Victorian Minister for Transport and Minister for Planning.
With a State Election looming, many MP’s are keen to show they are listening to the community.
So if you think this is an issue that needs to be addressed, please write to all the parties involved, and tell them, and tell the world too via the letters to the paper.