- Active transport
Ms JO HAYLEN (Summer Hill) (19:09): Inner west residents are passionate about cycling and walking, not just because we love our bikes but because we know active transport is a critical piece of the puzzle in busting congestion, improving public health, strengthening communities and reducing carbon emissions. When people think of active transport they think of so-called MAMLs, middle aged men in lycra. But active transport is also about families walking to and from school. It is about commuters who want real choice when it comes to their journeys to work. It is about designing welcoming and accessible spaces that promote healthy living and it is about rethinking the ways we reduce congestion, lift productivity and improve our environment.
It is far from a fringe issue. In fact, MAMLs have been onto something all this time. Sydney is an outdoor city with sparkling beaches and boundless skies, but when visitors arrive they often remark that Sydney is a city designed for cars. Sitting at around 5.6 per cent, Sydney's share of active transport is low compared to other global cities. Comparably, London is over 20 per cent, Berlin is 43 per cent and Barcelona is 47 per cent. A 2017 study from Bicycle NSW reports that only 12.5 per cent of Sydneysiders ride a bike at least once a month and that only 26 per cent of those cyclists are women.
Walking rates are also low. The Greater Sydney Commission reports that only 18 per cent of all trips taken across Sydney are walking trips. When we dig deeper into the data the real story emerges. In the eastern Sydney district, which has some of our more affluent suburbs, 32 per cent of all trips were walking trips. In the Western Sydney district the figure is 10 per cent. That means nine times out of 10 Western Sydney residents are getting into their car to get to work, school or to the shops compared to six out of 10 in the east. And why wouldn't they? In Western Sydney we have not invested in the infrastructure to make cycling or walking possible, including footpaths, street trees, shaded paths and separated cycleways. At the same time, we are failing to ensure that new greenfield developments are connected walkable suburbs. This is a clear equity issue and we have to do more to give Western Sydney residents, and indeed all residents across Greater Sydney, access to all transport options.3
There is so much we can do to make Sydney a more active city. 4
We can start by doing what other global cities do and use pedestrian council sensors to more accurately measure the number of pedestrians on our streets.
We accurately count the number of cars on our roads, but still rely on half-yearly manual counts to determine the number of people who walk in our city. That lack of data contributes to under-investment in the footpaths, lighting, street trees, and phasing of traffic lights, all of which we need to make walking safe and desirable. We can invest in infrastructure to make cycling safe, including separated bike lanes, fine-grain connections and major projects like the GreenWay, eastern suburbs cycleway and Newcastle cycling strategy. Importantly, we must improve safety around our schools. Many parents and carers tell me they would love for their kids to walk to school but think it is too dangerous. A recent study shows two-thirds of kids are driven to school rather than walking or riding a bike.
We can re-vision our road network to better balance movement and place, expanding the ways we use our road and transport corridors to improve liveability and reduce congestion. We can consider mode-shift targets away from cars to public and active transport. It is not because we do not like cars but because as our city grows to nine million people by 2056 our roads will just not be unable to support movement across the city. Better active transport and supporting great public transport is crucial to ensuring our city keeps working. We can invest in rail trails and supercharge tourism in regional communities. We can improve walking trails in our precious national parks and in Sydney we can deliver a Bondi to Manly walk. Labor knows just how important active transport is for our cities, suburbs and regions, as well as for our economy, environment and health.6
We will champion active transport and I look forward to continuing to work with residents, cyclists, pedestrians and all stakeholders to put active transport firmly on the agenda.