The Labour-Green government can start making savings next
month if it invests appropriately in bicycle facilities such as bike lanes and
cycleways when it hands down the 2012-2013 state budget in April.
Decades of inaction in providing for cyclists when building and improving the
road network has led to spiraling claims by bicycle riders through MAIB,
costing over $80 million since 1990 according to the Menzies Research Centre
analysis reported this week (‘$80m bicycle prang payouts’, Mercury, 23/4).
Tasmania has fallen so far behind all other Australian states in providing a
low risk and easy to use bicycle networks that the state may be held liable for
cyclist crashes and face claims from insurance companies for failure provide
equitable amenity for all road users, says peak bicycle rider membership
organisation, Bicycle Tasmania.
The equivalent to the RACT for bike riders, Bicycle Tasmania says its members
are increasingly concerned that the state budget for new bicycle facilities is
now $0 despite the increasing number of riders. The organisation offers
personal accident and third party insurance to members but says this only
offers slight peace of mind for most who are forced to share the road with cars
and trucks without adequate infrastructure.
Bicycle Tasmania Facilities Development Officer Emma Pharo said ‘the Tasmanian
Government needed to acknowledge the 19% of Tasmanians who ride a bike each
week and start funding real projects on the principle urban bicycle networks in
Launceston, Hobart, Devonport and Burnie’.
‘If the Labour-Green government wants to make savings this budget then it must
look no further than to allocate capital to where there will be strong return.
Through work done by Transport and Main Roads in Queensland there is now an
accepted estimate that every 1000 new bike riders are worth $15 Million over 30
years. Every $1 Million that is spent on cycleways will equate to $20 Million
in health savings alone to the community’ she said.
In its submission ‘Creating Healthy Connections’ to the community budget
consultation in January, Bicycle Tasmania detailed 428 km of cycleway project
opportunities but fears that Tasmania’s bike riding potential will be ignored
due to ignorance of senior government officials about the funding required to
support greater participation in bike riding.
‘It has been made clear to the State Government that an allocation of $15
Million over the next three years is the minimum investment required to support
more Tasmanians riding more often’ said Ms Pharo.
‘With bicycle facility projects such as Sandy Bay Rd, nearing a ‘shovel ready’
stage, the State Government must reward local councils for their planning and
consultation work by providing an annual allocation towards capital works on
the principle bicycle network’.
Media enquiries: Emma Pharo – 0447 341 105