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.
Unfortunately, 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?
When 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’.
Today, 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.
These 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.