Bicycle Tasmania Local Government Election Survey 2011 clears the way for more bike lanes

Political Support for more bicycle facilities will make bike riding a more attractive and accessible transport option for many Tasmanians

MEDIA RELEASE

Bicycle Tasmania Election Survey reveals overwhelming support for bicycle facilities

•       Over 90% of candidates support new cycle ways
•       Sandy Bay Rd Bike Lanes could get a majority vote
•       Local government could create significant health savings

Sick Tasmanian’s would receive treatment sooner and hospital waiting lists could disappear if people bearing the burden of chronic disease maintained regular physical activity through bike riding for everyday transport say advocates from Bicycle Tasmania.

Their claims are backed up by the World Health Organisation, which lists ‘Transport’ as a key social determinant of health and bike riding for transport as a public health panacea. (Ref 1).

A good start would be that the results of Bicycle Tasmania’s 2011 Local Government Election Survey’s be reflected in the decisions of successful candidates in the coming years. The bicycle facilities survey, which was completed by 50 of the 69 candidates standing for election in Hobart, Glenorchy, Clarence, Kingborough and Brighton, found overwhelming support for new and improved bicycle facilities.

Bicycle Tasmania Facilities Development Manager and Registered Nurse, Liam Correy said:

“Physical activity has a unique and profound protective effect on the human body so that the development or spread of disease is more often than not, prevented or delayed”.

“Local government has an integral role in progressing bicycle infrastructure projects to a stage where they can attract state and federal government funding”.

“The health benefits of regular physical activity through bike riding are extremely easy to obtain once it becomes a daily habit”.

“Governments have done a great job at making accessible and convenient facilities for cars. Equal amenity for bike riding is the next step in a successful transport system”.

“Population wide increases in bike riding for everyday transport will see serious reductions in chronic disease amongst Tasmanians ensuring that less people will need hospitalisation for their ills and more people will lead healthier lives”.

Strong candidate support for bicycle facilities stands out in parallel with the results of a survey of 1200 people by the Southern Tasmanian Council’s Authority which found that 74% of people surveyed rated more cycle ways for bikes separated from roadways as important or very important. 53.5% believed their should be more recreational cycle tracks and 42.8% indicated support for more designated bike lanes on roads in urban areas.

“These positive commitments to the development of high quality bicycle facilities are a wake up call to councillors and aldermen who have not indicated support in the past”.

“We have major bicycle infrastructure projects such as Sandy Bay Rd, the Battery Point Foreshore and Clarence St that are progressing slower than they should towards construction due to resistance from a minority of decision makers”. Mr Correy said.

•       Fifty candidates out of sixty-nine completed the survey in Hobart, Clarence, Glenorchy, Kingborough and Brighton.
•       Forty nine out of fifty candidates answered yes when asked whether more Tasmanians should be encouraged to ride their bicycles.
•       Forty eight out of fifty candidates answered yes when asked if local government should invest in bicycle facilities.
•       Forty nine out of fifty candidates answered yes when asked whether they supported council improving and extending the off road cycling and walking path network in their municipality.
•       Forty five out of fifty candidates answered yes when asked whether they supported the installation of well designed bike lanes on roads in their municipality.
•       Forty seven out of fifty candidates answered yes when asked whether they would support the continuing development of well connected bicycle facilities between schools, major workplaces, shopping centres, health centres and residences.

The willingness of candidates to transfer their ‘in principle’ support of bike riding facilities to actual projects on roads in their municipality was telling, with several candidates not providing a response to the questions.

Eleven out of sixteen Hobart Candidates supported the assessment, planning and construction of the proposed Sandy Bay Cycleway for its full length between Marieville Esplanade and Taroona.

The results can be found at www.biketas.org.au.

Ref 1. Social determinants of health: the solid facts. 2nd edition / edited by Richard Wilkinson and Michael Marmot.

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