Best Practice Bike Planning

When bike planning is done properly it can:

  • identify the community’s need for safe & convenient Active Transport facilities at every level (local, inter-suburban, city-wide, regional etc)
  • connect this community need with Government policy, planning & budget processes
  • enlist the community support that Government’s need to pursue innovation
  • establish performance targets & accountability processes for Government.

Planning 2Unfortunately, lack of attention to Active Transport infrastructure in Australia goes back many years & runs deep. The first task for bike planning then is to identify & address the social, economic & investment imbalances & inequities inherent in our motorised, oil-dependent transport systems.

What makes a good transport planning process?

Cycling_in_Melbourne_1895When it comes to transport planning in general, we have for decades endured a ‘predict & provide’ approach that simply extrapolates trends in growing transport mode use (usually the private car) & attempts to put in place infrastructure (mainly roads) to cater for supposed public & industry demand many years ahead.

In the ‘predict & provide’ process there is:

  • no questioning of the wisdom of increased car dependence
  • no acknowledgement of the social, economic and environmental costs of car use to the community
  • little recognition of the lasting value of Active Transport & the bicycle!

But it hasn’t always been so and doesn’t need to be our future! Renowned Australian environmentalist & planner, Peter Newman of Curtin Uni has written about the history of Australian transport planning in his article in The Conversation, ‘Wide Open Road’. 

4-reversed-bike-lane-picToday, with growing acknowledgement of the negative impacts of motorised transport – climate change, road injuries, pollution, social costs & transport inequity – ‘Predict & provide’ is increasingly seen as unwise, particularly:

  • in its acceptance of ‘inevitable’ growth in  demand for motorised transport
  • as an inherently unsustainable model of planning – economically, environmentally & socially
  • in its disregard for comprehensive community engagement with planning processes.

The world of transport planning is undergoing transformation towards a ‘new realism’, discussed by Jeff Kenworthy in his essay The Eco-City: Ten Key Transport and Planning Dimensions for Sustainable City Development, Kenworthy cites several key characteristics of sustainable city planning, citing two in particular:

  • planning is a visionary ‘debate & decide’ process, not ‘predict & provide’
  • all decision-making is sustainability-based, democratic, inclusive, empowering & engendering of hope.

Planning 3These processes capture what the PortBUG is about – the recognition that good government, especially where innovation & fundamental change are required, always relies on continuous & ongoing consultation with the community rather than just ‘going to the people’ at election time!

PortBUG sets out to provide a consistent voice for every-day bicycle use in all processes of transport planning.