Connecting Cyclists with Government for Safer Cycling and Improved Infrastructure in the Blue Mountains area

Blue Mountains Cycling Safety Forum

As cycling in the Blue Mountains becomes ever more popular the need for improved cycling infrastructure is ever more pressing. Cycling has environmental, health and economic and social benefits and its participation should be supported by government at all levels through improving and developing the built and bush environments and promoting its participation.

 

Government has finite resources that must be allocated in the public interest – that is for the community as a whole. As cycling is an environmentally sustainable mode of transport, reduces the need for short distance motor trips (thereby reducing carbon emissions) and through physical fitness, may reduce public health costs, it can be convincingly argued that cycling is beneficial for the community as a whole. The cycling community can play a positive role in informing government about how best to achieve good public interest outcomes by pointing out where resources are needed to efficiently, effectively and economically advance the environmental, health, economic and social benefits of cycling in the Blue Mountains and surrounding regions. 

 

This approach is aligned with Transport for NSW principles to guide delivery of Sydney’s Cycling Future[1]

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Email us at: bmcsf@bigpond.com

David Tritton, Faulconbridge
Understanding the different responsibilities of government for road and trail infrastructure in the Blue Mountains

 

The Blue Mountains has a lot to offer on and off road cyclists for recreation, transport and tourism and all three levels of government have various responsibilities for the infrastructure, which supports those activities.

 

The Blue Mountains City Council (BMCC) for instance, is responsible for the local road network and for maintaining trails and tracks and other infrastructure on public land and also council managed Crown land. 

The NSW Government is responsible for the main road network, which includes the Great Western Highway, and also through, the Office of Environment and Heritage, the National Parks and Nature Reserves that are regulated under the National Parks and Wildlife Act 1974. The Department of Industry’s – Crown Lands division administers Crown lands not managed by the BMCC or other land managers appointed under the Crown Land Management Act 2016. Water NSW manages the water catchment areas. The Rural Fire Service is an important NSW government agency with broad powers and responsibilities under the Rural Fire Service Act to require the establishment of fire trails on public land, set standards for building of fire trails and also how they are maintained. The Forestry Corporation manages the trails and controls access to the Newnes State Forest.

The Federal Government is major source of funding for upgrades to the Great Western Highway and are also an important source of funding for projects managed by the BMCC.

 

Cycling Safe and increasing participation in Cycling

 

Feeling unsafe, for example because of traffic speed or volumes or a lack of separated cycle paths is a major deterrent, especially for women, to cycle more often[2].

 

Generally, the higher the speed or volume of motor vehicles on a roadway, the less comfortable it is for cyclists. As traffic levels increase on higher speed roadways, they should be matched with a focus on improving the environment for cyclists. Improvements to shoulder widths or separate cycle paths can make the road environment safer for cyclists and therefore encourage increased participation in the activity.

 

International best practice stresses the importance of separating cyclists from high-speed traffic[3]. On roads with high traffic volumes and speeds of 80km, a separate bike path for cyclists is universally the recommended solution.

 

RMS recommend the separation of cyclists from motor traffic with separate bike paths (rather than requiring cyclists to use road shoulders) when traffic volumes exceed 5,000 per day and the regulated road speed is 80km or higher[4]  

Other measures which can encourage cycling as a mode of local transport and recreational enjoyment include[5]:

 

  • Pavement and pothole repair

  • Street cleaning

  • Completion of a Blue Mountains bikeway network

  • Cycling infrastructure (such as parking facilities stations and in shopping precincts and other destinations)

  • Off road access to Crown and other government managed land, reasonably well maintained fire trails and the establishment of single track.

Supporting Government achieve its milestones

In 2015 the Blue Mountains City Council set a target to increase cycling participation by doubling the number of bicycle trips made in the City of the Blue Mountains, as a percentage of total trips, by 2020 and reducing the number of bicycle crashes and casualties [6]. RMS is also committed to increasing the growth in cycling as a share of for all transport trips in greater Sydney and regional NSW. We support government in this objective and can assist it meet these targets and more[7]

 

To be effective, however, the cycling community must organise so it can better connect to government to achieve the outcomes of safer cycling and improved infrastructure in the Blue Mountains area and increased participation.  

 

[1] Blue Mountains City Council, Blue Mountains Bike Plan 2020.

[2] ‘Sydney's Cycling gender divide:  where are the women', SMH 27 May 2016), Transport for NSW, Sydney’s Cycling Future, 2013; Blue Mountains City Council, Blue Mountains Bike Plan 2020, p10.

[3] Austroads, 2012, at p6.

[4] RMS, NSW Bicycle Guidelines, 2005, p13

[5] Blue Mountains City Council, Blue Mountains Bike Plan 2020.

[6] Ibid, p18.

[7] http://www.rms.nsw.gov.au/roads/bicycles/benefits.html

To be effective, however, the cycling community must organise so it can better connect to government to achieve the outcomes of safer cycling and improved infrastructure in the Blue Mountains area and increased participation.