Submission to the Draft 2022-2032 Cycling Strategy for South Australia

by | Mar 26, 2022 | Activism, Babes on Bikes, Motherhood, Public Policy

Thank you for the opportunity to provide feedback on this critical Strategy for South Australia. I am glad to see a focus on public policy that supports active transport in Adelaide and beyond.

I have written about my own experience of cycling with my children in Adelaide in a blog called, Babes on Bikes. The content of this will be reproduced in this submission. Additionally, I contributed to the INDaily article, ‘Why aren’t more women cycling in the city?”. My response reflects my experience riding with my children in the inner rim suburbs of Adelaide and in the city. It also draws on the evidence base available regarding how to improve women’s participation in cycling, particularly the work of Adelaide’s own Dr Jennifer Bonham.

Additionally, I have received feedback from women, mothers and families through my campaign Bakes on Bikes (BoB). Actions for this campaign have included a Protest Parade in November 2021 and a petition to local elected representatives in the 5000+. These actions were undertaken in partnership with Bike Adelaide and Australian Parents for Climate Action.

I have also recently prepared a submission to my local Council, City of West Torrens, in response to their draft Local Area Traffic Management Plan (LATM) for the suburbs of Ashford, Keswick, Kurralta Park, Marleston and parts of Plympton, Netley and North Plympton.

Critical feedback in my submission highlighted that the West Torrens LATM lacks a focus on active transport. West Torrens remains the only inner rim Council without reduced speed limits in urban streets. Additionally, their Plan proposes minimal improvements to cycling infrastructure. I am campaigning for a direct, separated cycling link between Westside Bikeway (along Barwell Avenue, across South Road, along Everard Avenue and then linking) to Anzac Highway and the Parklands Trail. I believe this action would transform active transport options for the Inner Southwest.

I was frustrated that instead of enhancing cycling options in the Plan, the City of West Torrens initially approached the Department for Infrastructure and Transport (DIT) to request timed bike lanes on Everard Avenue. Thankfully this request was not supported by DIT.

This example from the City of West Torrens demonstrates a need for the SA Cycling Strategy to set out requirements for local government that compel more significant consideration of cycling infrastructure. Additionally, the state government needs to provide increased funding contributions for cycling infrastructure in our suburbs through the State Bicycle Fund.

Related to this, I have seen suggestions for introducing a Walking and Cycling Commissioner. I see that this would elevate active transport and provide increased accountability for all levels of government. In my time in public service, I saw the SA Integrated Design Commission spearhead improvements to design outcomes in SA. I believe a similar focus is needed to enhance outcomes for active transport in SA. I understand that South Australia currently spends less than any other state in the country on cycling infrastructure. This needs to change.

Feedback 

In terms of what is set out in the Draft 2022-2032 Cycling Strategy for South Australia, this is my feedback:

Gender:

Currently, the Strategy doesn’t adequately acknowledge the gender disparity between cyclists. Men ride twice as much as women. We need a strategy that acknowledges the gender disparity in cycling participation and puts in place actions to overcome them. Adding a gender lens and focus on women and families will highlight the impact of a lack of fit for purpose infrastructure through links to available data, including statistics from the National Walking and Cycling Participation Survey and the Super Tuesday Bike Count.

The Plan must acknowledge key barriers for mothers such as:

– Greater domestic and carer responsibilities

– Issues and conditions of travelling with children

– Physical impacts of pregnancy, birth and postpartum

– Increased risk of physical, verbal and sexual assault

Tracey’s description is a case in point – where, after being knocked off her bicycle when she was seven months pregnant, the motorist jumped out of his car and shouted abuse at her for the damage to his car”. – Bicycling through the life course: the start-stop-start experiences of women cycling, Dr Jennifer Bonham

Diversity and Inclusion:

As well as gender, a range of groups would benefit from equitable access to cycling infrastructure.

These include areas and individuals who have low-socioeconomic status, people with mobility limitations, including those with disability, and people from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds.  

Research has highlighted the value of cycling for people with disability as an accessible form of exercise and transportation. Cycling has been cited as being crucial to good mental health, especially for those who had acquired disabilities in adulthood and could no longer access their usual forms of mobility and exercise. Cycling also had broader mental health and well-being impacts in terms of feelings of freedom, joy, and independence, which are crucial to good mental health and help overcome barriers to participation that may be found in other forms of mobility and exercise options.

Cycling Infrastructure:

First and foremost, the Strategy needs to prioritise fit for purpose infrastructure. Our cycling network needs to provide safe, integrated, and direct routes to where we need to go. Women and families need separated bike paths that provide safe routes to work, school, childcare and other essential destinations like shopping and leisure.

Painted bike paths are not safe cycling routes. They are unsafe, and we should not be putting individual cyclists in a situation where there is a high likelihood of harm. Anecdotally, I have never seen anyone use the painted bike lanes on South Road and given the conditions of that road, that is unsurprising. I want the Strategy to include data on the usage for these across Adelaide now.

Adelaide families are time poor. The choice to cycle should result in time gained through direct routes and the integration of the commute and exercise. Related to this is the need to link with public transport options. Many BoB participants gave feedback on their desire to transition from bus or train to cycling paths. Currently, SA doesn’t provide for this.  

Education:

We need to re-focus attention from educating or building confidence in individuals to building adequate infrastructure. While bicycle education courses in school and confidence-building courses for women are nice, they don’t overcome the structural barriers to participation. Our evidence base tells us infrastructure, family safety, and environment are stronger determinants of whether children will cycle or not. Trial and support for school initiatives that develop social norms, community activation, and open streets for active travel are more effective strategies for behaviour change.

Speed:

Speed limits need to be lower when it is impossible to separate vehicles and cyclists. Our local neighbourhoods should be prioritising people, pedestrians, and cyclists first. This Plan should include a proposal for 40 km/h zones (or less) for areas that are direct bike routes. Local and global campaigns call for neighbourhood speeds be 30 km/h to ensure safety. The 30 Please campaign has seen the UN endorse mandated 20mph or 30km/h speed limits wherever cyclists or pedestrians mix with motor vehicles with exceptions only where strong evidence exists that higher speeds are safe. In Australia, the campaign research and policy advice states, “Austroads has updated their guidance in April 2020. In their Guide to Traffic Management Part 4: Network Management strategies, it now says “In a vehicle-pedestrian collision, the probability of survival for the pedestrian decreases dramatically at impact speeds above about 30 km/h.”. This needs to be reflected in the Strategy.

Green Infrastructure: 

The addition of cycling infrastructure should not come at the cost of existing green infrastructure. Cycling corridors need to be cool and inviting, and green infrastructure can help achieve this. A false dichotomy should not be created in public discourse about cycling infrastructure and greening. Investment in cycling does not have to come at the cost of neighbourhood amenity. The government should champion the case for investment in cycling infrastructure across a range of projects.  

Partnerships, Funding and Leadership:

The example highlighted above regarding the City of West Torrens LATM demonstrates a need for the SA Cycling Strategy to set out requirements for local government that compel greater consideration of cycling infrastructure. State government needs to provide increased funding contributions for cycling infrastructure in our suburbs through the State Bicycle Fund. Additionally, the introduction of a Walking and Cycling Commissioner could provide leadership and direction that will help keep cycling at the top of the agenda for key strategic projects across SA, including the North-South Corridor. These should all include consideration of how active transport is being promoted and encouraged. It should not be the job of individual citizens to have to mobilise and fight for the inclusion of good active transport options for every unique project proposed by each level of government or private providers in the case of housing development or large scale residential and commercial developments.

Implementation Plan and Evaluation Framework:

How will infrastructure upgrades be prioritised and what are the timeframes for completion? We are still waiting for key infrastructure projects such as the Mike Turtur Bikeway many years later. I want my children to be able to safely cycle to school by the time they reach high school, in six years, is that a realistic goal? How is data such as the RAA’s Risky Rides survey being used to inform prioritisation of upgrades?   

There are no evaluation measures proposed – there is no evaluation framework included in the draft strategy. The Strategy needs to include targets and measures to ensure progress. For example, the Strategy should have a target of equal participation for women by 2032.

Tools for measuring progress already exist and could be better supported by government resources and funding, e.g., Super Tuesday Count and National Walking and Cycling Participation Survey.

Get involved

Read the draft 2022-2032 Cycling Strategy for South Australia. Share your feedback by 31 March 2022.

I will send my submission on the due date, let me know if you have any feedback you would like to see included.

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