EMRC Regional Cycle Master Plan

After receiving  a tepid response by the EMRC to our comments I  realised that I did not post the BTA response the the Eastern Metropolitan Regional Council Cycle Master Plan.

To: Theresa.Garvey@emrc.org.au

Feedback on the EMRC Regional Cycle Masterplan

Hi, Theresa and Dane,

Thank you for facilitating the process that has led to the master plan we are commenting on.

It is a very useful document that could serve as a template for other regional cycle plans, and can positively influence more localised planning for vulnerable road users.

The comments below should not be taken to devalue the report, but hopefully they will add constructively to what is already a valuable document.

Perth Bike Network

The report looks at the cycling routes in the region under the influence of the EMRC. It logically is basing much of the observations on the Perth Bike Network (PBN), and supporting documents from BikeWest. The report (p.37) suggests that the PBN “connects major trip attractors such as schools, offices, shops, community facilities, parks and public transport”. Unfortunately, this is often not the case. Instead, the PBN is currently used to connect suburbs. A local example: where NE14 traverses Bassendean, it misses every school, every train station and every shopping area, sometimes by as little as two streets. The statement that the routes are designed to be used without special maps is also disputable. Maintenance of power poles, and undergrounding of power, has resulted in many of the signage disappearing or pointing in the wrong direction, and again I could easily provide examples from Bassendean. The Bicycle Transport Alliance has asked some of their members to go to an area that they are not familiar with, and follow specific PBN routes using only the available street signs. All got lost, often more than once.

There is currently a dialogue with the Department of Transport about the re-alignment of the PBN network, aligning it to schools, train stations and shops. This will potentially enable some people to avoid the very short local car trips. Troy Buswell and Joe Armenti are in favour of this concept. The key cycling strategy KS9 should be enhanced to include shops, schools and train stations. (p. 74).

There is also a dialogue with the Road Safety Council to legislate 30 kmh speeds on these local routes. (Pp 23, 37). It would be useful if the ARRB and the EMRC were represented at the OLA cycle forums organised by the RAC (Contact Marianne Carey at the RAC), where these and other cycling relevant issues are currently under discussion. The next forum is planned for the 27th of August.

Audit and realignment of the PBN network might have to happen before the local connectivity is planned. It is my understanding that the last audit of the PBN network was carried out in 1996? (p. 83). The improvement of LOCAL connectivity is missing from the key cycling strategies and projects (pp. 70, 79). However, the schematic of the linking of local facilities into sub-regional networks is excellent, and would benefit from a real example (eg Bassendean?).

Along highways, cycling facilities should be physically separated. A painted white line is insufficient protection, and means the facility cannot be used by novice or young cyclists (p. 75)

Gap missed: Guildford to Olive farm following the river (p.64). From Olive Farm onwards there is a path along the river nearly all the way to the erstwhile Ascot Inn.

The provision of toilets at major stopping places would be a useful (p 32)

It is important to understand that spending on the bicycle infrastructure in WA has been substantially reduced over the last ten years. http://btawa.org.au/wp-content/uploads/2011/05/OLA-1-Craig-Wooldridge-Dept-of-Transport1.ppt

Safe Speeds

The safe speed to mix cycle traffic and car traffic is 30 kmh, as shown by a large body of research, and as is implemented all over Europe.(p. 26). The severity of accidents between cars and vulnerable road users is directly dependent to the vehicle’s speed, and background research undertaken by MUARC shows that 30kmh is the correct speed in environments where vulnerable road users and cars have to mix13. At that speed vulnerable road users have a much better chance to escape permanent injury, demonstrated in London where the introduction of 20 mph (32 kmh) zones has resulted in a casualty reduction of 41.9% – “the percentage reduction was greatest in younger children and greater for the category of killed or seriously injured casualties than for minor injuries”(Grundy, 2009) available via: http://btawa.org.au/campaigns/traffic-speed/20-mph-strongly-reduces-accidents/)

More here: http://btawa.org.au/wp-content/uploads/2011/01/Towards-Zero-Strategy-on-a-bicycle-background-report.pdf

Measured improvements

The report does not contain inspirational aims, for instance measurable improvement in the number of people riding to work, or to school, shops and train stations (pp 23, 19). If substantial investment in cycling infrastructure and education is sought, measureable benefits should be shown. In this context it would be useful to understand the lobbying strategy designed to engage the State Government and its agencies in this significant large regional plan.

Local Bike Plans

It is my understanding that BikeWest is more and more reluctant to fund bike plans. Local Bike plans of EMRC members might be more consistent in philosophy, representation, structure, priorities and execution if they are all done under guidance of the EMRC and their consultants. Where they already exist the EMRC might review them for consistency with the aims of the regional plan. The improved connectivity in the Ashfield region might be required at an earlier stage.

Feedback from Government Agencies

Has the Public Transport Authority been invited to provide feedback (Jim Krynen)? The Department of Planning (Steve Beyer) should be able to provide updates in regards to planned rapid bus service, eg on Lord Street to Ellenbrook, this would be the time to provide safe cycling access to Ellenbrook (currently a cycling desert….). The airport Gateway project is making allowance for cycle paths along some of the existing and new highways. It might be worthwhile to contact them for details.

End of trip facilities

End of trip facilities should become part of the local planning and building approval process. This can be initiated quickly at little cost.

Classification of users of cycling infrastructure

When we look at types of cyclists, speed would be a useful addition that helps in determining suitable grouping.(p 27). I believe the City of Stirling (Jon Offer) has looked at that recently.

Suggestion to make the report more readable:

–          What is the data source for the chart at page 74

–          Reference cited on page 62 is missing from the reference list (Ker et al. (2009b))

–          The terms PER (Perth Eastern Region) and EMRC (Eastern Metropolitan Regional Council) are both used in the report as a geographic descriptor?

–          Consistent use of typeface and point size would make the report more readable.(eg. Pp. 6, 26, 27,51,53,55, etc).

–          For ease of use, it would be better if the maps where represented on a tool such as Google Maps. This would allow convenient on-line access and scaling. The current maps are not easy to read and understand. Where the appendices are normal printed material, it would be better if they form part of the one printed document (eg appendix F and G)

–          The report would benefit from a list of abbreviations used

–          Source should be: Australian Bureau of Statistics (p.4)

–          Amongst benefits it might also be worthwhile to mention mental benefits (p.3), for instance:  European Health ministers suggest that the obesity epidemic is caused by physical inactivity (along with unhealthy diet). They see the obesity epidemic “one of the most serious challenges to public health in Europe” (Jacobsen, et al., 2009).  School Children that are aerobically fit and have a healthy Body Mass Index (BMI) do better in reading and mathematics (Castelli, Hillmann, Buck, & Erwin, 2007).  Based on a meta-analysis of 37 studies dealing with depression and exercise, Craft concluded that “exercise is a behavioural intervention that has shown great promise in alleviating symptoms of depression (Craft & Perna, 2004) Full references at http://btawa.org.au/wp-content/uploads/2011/01/Towards-Zero-Strategy-on-a-bicycle-background-report.pdf

–          Not sure what last sentence in 3rd last paragraph (starting Coath and Morosi) means. (p. 28)

–          Change to “These maps”? (middle p. 33)

–          Change Bibbi Munda Trail to Munda Biddi Trail (p. 34) (In the map)

–          Insert the word “cycling” before “distances” to clarify the sentence (p.3)

4.8.2011 H.Benz

About Heinrich

Promoting everyday cycling