The Age reports on new cycling spending transport plan

It’s really good to hear cycling is now being formally recognised as part of the transport plan by the Victorian government, especially in Melbourne. It’s even better to hear the Premier recognise that regular commuting cyclists (existing and potential) not only get people healthier and happier, but also that every cyclist is one less car in congested traffic or one less passenger on the struggling public transport network.

Every commuting cyclist out there should feel proud that they probably do more to “keep Melbourne moving” (to borrow a slogan) than any new freeway could. Cyclists minimise congestion or public transport crush, maximise the carrying capacity of roads, maximise the availability of parking for those who need to use it (loading, couriers, the elderly or disabled), reduce the burden on the health care system from sedentary or stress related illness, reduce the family/workplace losses from early death or illness, and reduce use of polluting fossil fuels. All while having fun on wheels!

Accessed 24/03/2009 from The Age website / Peddling priority, Clay Lucas, March 24, 2009

When the road builders start riding their bikes to work instead of driving, it’s clear something different is happening. That was confirmed yesterday with the launch of the Victorian Cycling Strategy, a $115 million Brumby Government plan to get more people cycling.

A Melbourne City Council report issued in October showed that bikes as a percentage of vehicles in the CBD between 7am and 10am had risen from just 4 per cent in 2006 to 9 per cent last year.

In suburbs such as Northcote, Brunswick and Fitzroy, up to 13 per cent of adults now ride to work.

“(Cycling) is good for your personal health. It will get your blood pressure down, it will get your cholesterol down. It also takes pressure off the public transport system and our road system,” [Premier John Brumby said at yesterday’s launch of the bike plan that the new strategy aimed to boost cycling all over the state].

“Cycling is now an essential part of the transport plan,” the Premier said. “That is a big shift from where we were a decade ago, where really what funds were available to cycling were just an add-on.” Now [Premier Brumby’s government] has boosted spending levels [each year on cycling] to $18 million a year.

The reaction from Bicycle Victoria to yesterday’s plan was little short of euphoric. “This is a history-making document,” said Bicycle Victoria chief executive Harry Barber. “For the first time in Australia, bike riding has been formally recognised as part of the core transport system.” The era of “discrimination” — where bike riders were lucky to get a few left-overs when roads were built — had officially ended, Barber said.

Yesterday the Premier said Victoria needed the plan to achieve success in helping more people to start getting fit, and cycling was a great way. “We are losing more people from the non-communicable diseases than we are from the communicable diseases for the first time in our history. These are all the lifestyle diseases. The best way to counter a lifestyle disease is to keep fit and to keep healthier. And you can do it walking, you can do it running, or you can do it cycling. Every one of those people who is cycling into work in the morning could be someone who is using a car, could be someone using public transport,” he said.

See the full article for more about the plan.

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