Response to Mick Gentleman’s Statement of Planning Intent for Canberra

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Pedal Power ACT provided the following feedback to Minister Gentleman's Ministerial Statement of Planning Intent for Canberra.

I refer to your media release of 25 February 2015 inviting community input to your Ministerial Statement of Planning Intent for Canberra.

Pedal Power ACT appreciates this opportunity to have a say on what we see as important for Canberra’s future and how we would like to see city planning progress in the coming years.

Pedal Power ACT supports the following planning principles in relation to cycling and walking (active travel):

  • Cycling should be recognised and promoted as the most efficient form of urban transport (bar none) over distances of up to five kilometres. This specific radius from major urban activity centres (i.e. town and group centres in the Canberra context) should be regarded as the planning yardstick for intensive development of safe, attractive cycling facilities across the ACT.
  • A formal planning hierarchy of walking first, cycling second, public transport third and driving private vehicles last should be adopted throughout the ACT, in particular within five kilometres of town and group centres. This will start to redress the planning concepts of the past in which the priority was for convenience of motor vehicle traffic, with all its hidden costs. 
  • It should be mandatory for all urban estate and other significant planning and development projects (without exception) to include provision of relevant active travel facilities (e.g. access, pathways, bicycle parking and end-of-trip facilities)from first principles at the outset, in a way which integrates them seamlessly with wider ACT active travel plans. This will mitigate the need for households to own multiple motor vehicles, and will avoid costly remediation and retrofitting. Where a cycling route is disrupted by urban development, an equivalent replacement facility must be provided; any temporary traffic measures must meet the required standard and be fit for purpose. Property developers should be required to contribute substantially to the cost of all active travel facilities relating to the project. 
  • Cycling should be recognised as an essential component of ACT transport solutions, whether for travel to work, shops, recreational venues or other public or private facilities. The Government should continue to advocate for the legitimate role of cycling in the transport system. 
  • Cycling infrastructure should be safe, attractive, quick, convenient and maintained to the same standard as roads. It should offer a choice of facility appropriate to the needs and abilities of different riders. In order to encourage participation in active travel by people of both genders from primary school age to senior citizens, the primary focus in the future should be on establishing a high-quality network of continuous family-friendly cycle ways that are physically separated from interaction with parked and moving vehicles in areas of moderate or higher traffic flow at speeds greater than 40 km/h. 
  • The 40 km/h speed limit applied in town centres and school zones should be used more extensively (in conjunction with other traffic calming measures) to facilitate active travel to and within other areas where people walking and riding may be at risk from motor vehicles. A planning consideration should be that where off-road facilities are not provided, people could perceive traffic speeds higher than40 km/h as a significant deterrent to active travel. 
  • The next generation of trunk cycle ways should reflect complete separation from vehicles in the arterial road corridor, with grade-separated crossings of high-speed arterials where appropriate. 
  • In suitable streets within town and group centres and similar precincts, the potential for shared space concepts should be considered, with appropriate nonlinear design features and traffic speeds no higher than 20 km/h. 
  • In areas of high active travel density, cycling and walking facilities should be separated from each other to minimise conflict between users and provide a low stress travel environment for all. 
  • Appropriate parts of the city (such as the inner north and the Bruce precinct) should be designated as priority Active Travel Zones, where dense networks of quality cycle and walking routes should be quickly implemented to encourage active travel. Candidates for this approach will be areas from the Territory Plan that are NOT low-density residential (RZ1) or industrial. The Zones would therefore include all medium and high density residential areas, all commercial shopping and office areas, and all public institutions such as schools, colleges and universities. 
  • Active travel should be fully integrated with public transport, as these two modalities support each other. This means carriage of bikes on all public transport vehicles (with the sole exception of certain ACTION minibuses); bike parking and storage at transport stops as appropriate; and priority for upgrading of active travel access pathways within a five kilometre radius of public transport arteries, thereby extending public transport catchment areas and patronage. 
  • Mixed land use principles should be used to maximise employment, retail and recreational opportunities within a five kilometre radius of residential areas, to harness all the potential benefits of active travel. 
  • Vehicle parking should be flexibly priced for the purpose of managing demand. Freeling-stay parking should be removed from areas of moderate or higher demand. 
  • Data collection should be improved to achieve better active travel planning outcomes. Examples include accident rates and locations, bicycle and foot traffic volumes and participation rates, and desire lines. 
  • Active travel planning, delivery and promotion should be coordinated by an active travel unit identified within the ACT Government for this purpose. This unit should manage active travel goals and budgets, drive progress to meeting them, advocate for active travel within the community and manage liaison with stakeholders. Its director would be at senior level and have access to Ministers. 
  • The quality and effectiveness of active travel facilities should be assessed not only against Australian standards, but also against international best practice. 
  • Future ACT transport planning should be undertaken with the aim of making Canberra the first Australian city to be included in the copenhagenize.com index of the world’s top 20 bicycle-friendly cities. 

Pedal Power ACT is also drawing members’ attention to the opportunity to contribute ideas on this issue through the Time to Talk website. We would like the opportunity to meet with you to discuss active travel planning issues and your new portfolio responsibilities.

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