House debates

Thursday, 3 December 2020


Higgins Electorate: Cycling Infrastructure

12:09 pm

Photo of Katie AllenKatie Allen (Higgins, Liberal Party) Share this | | Hansard source

Investment in cycling infrastructure and other modes of active transport has clear environmental and health benefits for the community. As an avid cyclist, I love getting out into my community on weekends for a ride with my family or, on my way to work, heading down to the office on my two wheels. I'm acutely aware of the need to invest in this space to we ensure that we're reducing road congestion in our built-up cities, protecting our environment and promoting healthy lifestyles. It is clear that regular outdoor activity improves community cohesion and mental health. Everyone who's got on a bike and gone down a big hill knows that! We know that cycling-friendly neighbourhoods can facilitate social interactions between neighbours, fostering social capital and even improving a sense of safety.

Constituents in my electorate of Higgins share my passion for cycling and regularly advocate for the need to invest more in cycling infrastructure to meet the demands of our growing population. Just last week it was great to jump on my bike and go for a ride around Higgins with the team from the Stonnington and Port Phillip bicycle groups. Following our ride they told me how we can improve and increase safe active transport routes, with potential for dedicated lanes in and around the major hubs in our community. They also highlighted the absence of safe places to ride within and surrounding the Higgins community. I know that. I've got four kids and I'm always a bit nervous about sending them down main roads because of the dooring that can happen when cars open doors or just because it is a heavily congested environment.

Opening up good bike lanes is incredibly important in getting kids active and helping families move around the electorate, so now more than ever it's important to invest in safe infrastructure. In this light, I was pleased to tell the group about an election commitment made by the Morrison government to provide $400,000 to the City of Stonnington for the Yarra bike trail project. This important project will upgrade a section of path along Alexandra Avenue along the Yarra. It will widen the path and install a barrier fence between the road and the path, providing protection and separation between cyclists and the adjacent traffic. Thanks to Alex Scott from the Stonnington Bicycle User Group and Julie Clutterbuck from Port Phillip for organising this ride and for the excellent feedback as fellow cyclists.

Around the country many of our urban transport systems are struggling to cope with increasing numbers of trips, particularly during peak periods. Importantly, a shift to more walking or riding, particularly for short journeys, can add capacity to our roads. We saw this so effectively during the COVID lockdown. We saw that people who were moving about on foot or on bikes meant that our roads were quieter and safer and that there was less pollution in our inner-city area as well. It was an opportunity to understand what it could look like if we were to move to more active forms of transport. Certainly cycling infrastructure is a very fast and effective way to create more jobs. As we all know, investment in jobs and infrastructure has never been more critical. It generates more employment than any other type of transport spending, creating six jobs for every $1 million invested. Importantly, cycling infrastructure can be delivered quickly.

Bicycle Network, Australia's biggest bike-riding organisation, has identified 750 kilometres of shovel-ready projects across Australia. These projects would take less than a year to complete and inject considerable economic and environmental benefits to communities right across Australia and of course in Higgins. I worked on a recent tool known as the IMAP Bicycle Network Model, which shows the cumulative benefits of a connected and protected bicycle network. That's been organised by the inner-city councils within Melbourne. The model provides a platform for the network to be planned in an integrated way and can estimate future usage for new infrastructure proposals in the Greater Melbourne area. The data has identified the areas in my electorate that are important, including Chapel Street, Orrong Road and Williams Road in Prahran, and Melbourne Road, Commercial Road, Waverley Road and Glenferrie Road. I concur that these are important areas that we need to work on to provide safety for bikers.

The prospective introduction or expansion of infrastructure would be incredibly welcomed by Higgins. Whether you wish to go for a leisurely weekend ride with the family or an environmentally friendly and efficient commute to work or whether you want to just get out and get active, the provision of the enhanced local cycling infrastructure will be a key to improving our way of life and bringing joy to so many people across so many communities. I look forward to continuing to champion the need for further cycling infrastructure across our local community. I am very pleased that the Morrison government is committed to helping our communities. I am very proud of the infrastructure that is already committed, which will start early in January now that we are out of our COVID lockdown. There are a lot of new projects that are going to get off the ground and are going be very important for the people of Higgins.

Question agreed to.

Federation Chamber adjourned at 12:14