One of Australia’s leading motoring organisations, the Royal Automobile Club of Victoria (RACV) has urged the state’s government to prioritise cycling infrastructure as a means of reducing traffic jams and crowded public transport in and around Melbourne.
The organisation, which nowadays sells insurance and provides car loans as well as motoring assistance services, has outlined 10 proposed routes to Victoria’s government that it says would benefit from segregated cycling infrastructure, reports The Age.
The RACV says that the routes would enable people to travel quickly and safely by bike from the suburbs to the city centre, connecting homes with places of work and study.
The routes, which are listed in the newspaper’s article, are all on major commuting routes into the city, which is home to almost 5 million people in its greater Metropolitan area – one fifth of Australia’s population.
Stuart Outhred, senior planner at RACV, said: "Investing in cycling in these corridors will deliver immense benefits for commuters seeking a safer, cheaper and more active way to get around, and reduce the growth in congestion on roads and public transport.
"We know from previous research that 28 per cent of Victorians who don’t currently ride are open to cycling more but many people are discouraged because they are intimidated by cars and trucks, lack confidence or don’t think riding is convenient.
"This inspired us to develop a realistic, safe and expedient bicycle network to not just get more Melburnians on their bikes but to encourage the government to fund bicycle infrastructure.”
Prior to the state’s Labor administration being re-elected last November, it pledged to spend A$27 million (£15 million) on making the city’s busiest commuter cycling route, St Kilda Road, safer for people on bikes.
In a press release, it said: “More than 300,000 people travel on St Kilda Road each day, making it our busiest tram and cycle route, as well as one of the most dangerous for cyclists and pedestrians.
"There were 196 crashes involving a pedestrian or cyclist on St Kilda Road between 2000 and 2015, and it also has the highest number of car-doorings reported anywhere in the state.
“Only Labor will invest $27 million to make St Kilda Road safer for all users with new cycle lanes that physically separate drivers and cyclists.
“The new lanes will be a combination of Copenhagen-style bike lanes that run along the kerb with a physical barrier separating cyclists from both parked cars and the road, and a central safety zone that provides a separated lane for cyclists in the middle of the road while the outer lanes are reserved for vehicles.”
The RACV insists that more needs to be spent in order to get more people cycling for their commute, but in response to its call for increased cycling infrastructure the state government insisted it was treating infrastructure for cyclists as a priority.
A spokesperson said: ‘‘Between investing over $100 million on projects, releasing the Victorian Cycling Strategy and putting cycling infrastructure across nearly every major project we’re building, we’re working hard to deliver for riders,’’ the spokesperson said.
‘‘We will continue to evaluate and develop further improvements by working with riders and the wider community on the upgrades they need.’’
The RACV’s appeal comes on a day when traffic data firm INRIX released its annual survey of motor vehicle congestion around the world, which highlighted among other things that in major UK cities, the bicycle is the quickest way to get around and that the most congested routes aren’t the ones with segregated cycling infrastructure.
Simon has been news editor at road.cc since 2009, reporting on 10 editions and counting of pro cycling’s biggest races such as the Tour de France, stories on issues including infrastructure and campaigning, and interviewing some of the biggest names in cycling. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, his background has proved invaluable in reporting on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, and the bike industry. He splits his time between London and Cambridge, and loves taking his miniature schnauzer Elodie on adventures in the basket of her Elephant Bike.