Sydney Cycle Strategy: Building a Bicycle Friendly City

Part 1 in a 3-part series by Nina Vucetic – Director of Sydney-based Electric Bikes firm Reef Bikes.

Many developing cities are implementing policies to increase the appeal of cycling and reduce the dependence on cars for transportation. Sydney is one such city, and is actively developing a strategy to increase the use of alternative, sustainable modes of eco-friendly transportation.

It is shocking that in certain parts of Australia the transport sector is responsible for approximately 25% of greenhouse gas emissions. The Sustainable Sydney Strategy 2030 aims to address these environmental issues through a number of avenues, one of which is the City of Sydney Cycle Strategy and Action Plan 2007-2017. It is part of the City’s commitment to achieving a sustainable future by making riding a bike an attractive and efficient choice of transport.

The desire to live in a city that recognises sustainability, health issues and is easy to get around is a common one. To achieve this standard in Sydney we need to reduce traffic and pollution levels and give Sydney-siders more transport options.

The City of Sydney is one of the most pro-active councils in respect to cycling, with a comprehensive bike plan. The Cycle Strategy and Action Plan presents a committment to building a safe, convenient and sustainable 200-kilometre bike network (which will include 55 kilometers of separated cycle ways) by 2016.

‘The NSW Government encourages people to take up cycling,’ said NSW Roads Minister David Borger. ‘It is a sustainable means of transport, it is part of an active lifestyle, and it helps keep cars off the road.’

According to an independent research study, 84% per cent of Sydney residents consider a good bike cycle path network to be important, with the research also revealing that 75% of Sydney residents approve the building of a new and comprehensive bike network.

The Cycle Strategy and Action Plan’s suggested bicycle network has the potential to take 300,000 car trips a day off inner Sydney roads and relieve overcrowded public transport routes into the city. It has been allocated AU$76 million funding over the next four years. Whilst this seems like a large investment in tough times, it could actually make economic sense for the city. Independent research has found that for every dollar we spend on cycling, we generate economic benefits of nearly four dollars.

Traffic congestion already costs Sydney business and the community AU$3.5 billion a year – and with a forecast 23 per cent growth in traffic over the next 15 years, that figure will rise to AU$7.8 billion a year. It seems that now is a good time for Sydney to begin implementing its cycle strategy.

Image courtesy of Newtown grafitti on flickr

  • http://dave.kinkead.com.au Dave Kinkead

    Its ashame that the city isn’t fighting for the simplest, cheapest way to encourage more cycling – ending the state’s disastrous mandatory helmet laws. In one foul swoop, this law managed to reduce cycling levels by over 30%.