PtBUG: Active Travel Mission Statement.

November 2018.  Draft 1.3

Please Note (Nov 2018): This mission statement remains under development… 

Port Adelaide Bicycle User Group.

The PortBUG ‘Active Travel Mission Statement’.

“The world’s transport system wastes lives, health, and money – and is choking the planet. There is a world transport crisis. Three thousand people are killed every day in road-traffic accidents, air pollution from vehicles is bathing our cities in a chemical soup and deaths from respiratory diseases exceed deaths in traffic accidents. Citizens need to take control.”

Cities around the world are facing a major crisis: poor air quality, physical inactivity and road traffic injuries. This is causing a dramatic increase in health problems according to UITP’s new Policy Brief, ‘Unlocking the health benefits of mobility’. Fortunately, there is a solution at hand: active transport.”…

 Transport systems in communities affect our health and safety and that of the environment. The car oriented design inherent in transportation systems and perceived lack of choice by individuals has seen increasing reliance on the car, associated traffic congestion, less walking of short distances and increased sedentary behaviour as we spend more time driving… Ideally the places where people work and live should support walking and other forms of active transport as part of getting to and from the work place…, shopping, entertainment and for recreation…”

1.  What is ‘Active Travel’?  From Wikipedia: ‘Active mobility, active travel, active transport or active transportation, is a form of transport of people and sometimes goods, that only uses the physical activity of the human being for the locomotion.

The most frequently cited forms of active travel are walking, cycling and use of public transport (the latter because access to buses, trams and trains usually requires walking and cycling).

2.  Why Active Travel?  Around the world communities are now demanding that governments prioritize Active Travel in transport policy and investment to better ensure the health, safety and prosperity of their citizens!

3.  Clarifying the PortBUG’s Role: It’s important to understand that PortBUG does not claim to represent ‘cyclists’ (or other ‘active travellers’) as a discrete group within the community. We’re not a club! What we do seek to represent is the value and idea of cycling and the value and idea of Active Travel for everyone. To this extent we simply seek to represent the interests of our whole PA/E community! In promoting investment in new facilities and provisions for safer bicycle use we’ve found that it’s the idea that counts. And we believe that Active Travel is an idea whose time has come!

4.  Adelaide’s Car Dependency:  Of the world’s 4,500 cities Adelaide stands at about #361 in terms of geographic ‘footprint’ – our city’s physical size and urban area. So despite our relatively small population (about 1.2M) Adelaide’s transport systems have to cope with enormous challenges simply because of the distances that both people and freight need to travel each day. As a consequence our population has become highly reliant on private car use – we have become a ‘car dependent society’!

5.  Car Dependency – Good or Bad?  This car dependency would of course be fine if:

  • everyone had a car or could afford one (they don’t and they can’t)
  • there was plenty of road space (there never will be)
  • cars were safe for all road users (they are not)
  • cars kept us healthy (they don’t)
  • car dependency was a generator of wealth (it isn’t – it’s a net cost to the community)
  • cars were clean (cars pollute and create 24% of Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions)
  • cars ran on renewable or benign fuels (they use non-renewable fossil fuels, emitting a wide range of noxious pollutants)
  • cars were free or cheap to run (they are not)
  • cars encouraged us to ‘live locally’ (they don’t – they induce ‘travel demand’ and urban expansion).

So our car dependency is a problem! What can we do about it?

6.  The Solution – Provide Real Options for Active Transport Use?  Research from around the world tells us that the challenges of car-dependency can only be addressed by systematically ensuring that public policy and investment:

  • provide viable alternative transport choices and options that are less reliant on private car use (referred to as ‘active travel options’)
  • effectively reduce ‘travel demand’– the need to travel long distances for work, shopping, study, recreation or access to services (often referred to as ‘localisation’).

4.  Why the Bicycle?

  • bicycle use is about 4-5 times more efficient than walking – you can travel about 4-5 times as far and much more rapidly and efficiently than you can on foot!
  • the bicycle is the ‘equity vehicle’– just about anyone has the option of owning and using a bike!
  • bicycles are more popular than cars – in Australia bicycles outsell (and often outlast) cars.
  • bicycles are clean & green and safe to own and use
  • bikes don’t pollute, don’t kill & maim pedestrians & are child-friendly.
  • bicycles are cheap, readily available & easy to fix.
  • bikes are people-friendly, generate physical well-being & foster resilience, a cheerful outlook, good manners and a high sense of social responsibility!
  • bikes can go just about anywhere
  • bikes are fun!
  • a bike-friendly community is more likely to be healthy, strong & a good place to live
  • effective bicycle policy & investment in bicycle infrastructure must be an essential component (indeed a key ‘bottom-line outcome’) of any modern urban transport strategy!

5.  Action is Needed Now! Provision of alternative transport choices primarily requires a balanced approach to:

  • transport policy
  • transport planning & development
  • transport investment.

5.1.          Policy & ‘People Mobility’!  Our transport system needs to focus on people mobility per se (when, where, how far and by what means people need to travel) and what provisions may be required, rather than simply assume or predetermine choice of transport mode. We need to stop interpreting rates of car use as ‘demand’ and instead understand them as a result or an ‘outcome’ of past transport planning! We need to effectively manage and shapetransport mode choices rather than simply accept the continued growth and domination of motor vehicle use!

This requires a ‘fine-grained’ approach to transport planning that:

  • recognises the very considerable impacts that specific transport modes and modal choices have on economic, social, health and environmental outcomes
  • considers the needs of all transport system users on an equal basis
  • designs for and manages the effective integrationof transport modes
  • effectively manages safety issuesacross transport modes, particularly for more vulnerable transport users
  • acknowledges the significant accumulating benefitsavailable from Active Travel choices and allocates investment accordingly.

5.2.          Planning:  Currently many hundreds of DPTI employees devote their working days to planning the strategies required to maintain and improve motor vehicle use in S.A. Only about 5 DPTI employees are allocated for planning and improving conditions for bicycle use and other forms of Active Transport. This is one major imbalance that needs to be corrected!

South Australia must also have an ongoing Active Transport/Bicycle Strategy or Plan that establishes Active Travel as an essential key component of the State’s Transport System! South Australians deserve to have a vision for where their transport system is headed – a vision framed in terms of economic, social, health and environmental outcomes. We need to better understand the purpose of our transport system and be assured that transport planning and investment outcomes will be sustainable, affordable, equitable and effective!

Business ‘buy in’…  Roles & opportunities…  leadership & vision… drivers…  needs… concrete actions required… obligations… responsibilities…

5.3.          Investment:        While nearly $700M is spend annually on maintaining SA’s motor vehicle transport system, the State Bicycle Fund (which mainly supports Council bike-related projects) receives only about $2.1M p.a. Given bicycle use accounts for some 2% of daily travel one would expect the annual ‘bike budget’ to be more like $14M p.a as a minimum! Given the enormous disparities in existing bike infrastructure relative to that provided for motor vehicles, it can easily be argued that the annual investment allocated to support bicycle use should be considerably more (to redress the current situation and enable the rapid provision of new Greenways and Bikeways and new bike parking facilities)!

6. PortBUG Recommends:  

6.1.  That annual Active Transport investment in South Australia be at least 5% of the State’s Transport Budget!

6.2.  The every South Australian Council be required to have a regularly reviewed bicycle, walking &/or Active Transport policy and associated Development Plan/Strategy.

6.3.  That SA’s State Government establish an Active Transport Reference Group to support and guide policy and investment into the future. 

The Port Adelaide Bicycle User Group.

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