Cycling is fun, more are getting into it – we buy more bikes than cars – and it’s healthy….enter the Commonwealth Government with a draft National Cycling Strategy 2005 to 2010! BUT….. the Cycling Promotion Alliance points out that the document states “This is not a strategy of the Australian Government”. It appears to be backing away from the role required to lead all three spheres of Government in a new direction so Australia can follow Europe and take advantage of our obvious potential.
Over recent years federal and state governments have invested in travel behaviour change programs but their effectiveness, without a national commitment to making cycling more accessible and safe, is limited eg You can travel on trains in Europe with your bike – not so here. The Alliance believes the draft lacks:
(1) National leadership & commitment;
(2) Setting of measurable benchmarks;
(3) Ongoing review & reporting mechanism;
(4) Financial resources for the implementation of action plans;
(5) Intergovernmental committee to develop & monitor an implementation & funding plan;
(6) The appointment of a high level expert advisory committee.
AROUND THE WORLD RAIL TRAILS ARE PUBLIC PATHS, often historic/wildlife conservation areas, created from abandoned railways for walking, cycling and horseriding. Wineries, B & Bs and other tourism attractions add to the overall picture. Many small groups spend long hours hunting down grants to develop a Rail Trail in the hope of an economic boost to their region as well as providing a healthy recreational pursuit for locals.
Peter McMahon,from Maffra,Victoria, given the go-ahead by former Federal Tourism Minister Joe Hockey, has devised a Sydney-Melbourne Coastal Cycleway linking rail trails and road cycle tracks – a wonderful experience for some time in the future when and if funds are found to set it all up. Peter says some people think he’s a nutter – but realistically speaking he is chasing an economic opportunity for struggling towns making the most of their assets – in this case some stunning country well-suited to cycling, as seen with the success of East Gippsland’s Wilderness Bikeride www.wildernessbikeride.com.au.
The current Editor of the rail Trails Australia Newsletter, Michael Oxer, who now lives in East Gippsland, thinks a get-together of eastern Victorian and southern NSW rail trail groups and other interested parties could be worthwile. Collaborative action could broaden the appeal of the many kilometres of trails in this SE eastern corner of Oz that could be linked by creative communities and/or businesses providing support.
A broad grassroots project to build cycle tourism could strengthen funding chances of the smaller groups – such as the Gippsland Plains Rail Trail Committee who, as President Helen Hoppner says, never seem to attract grants.
A NEW ENTRANT ON THE CYCLE TOURISM SCENE is the not-for-profit Australian Centre of Excellence in Cycle Tourism. Interim board member Rosemaire Seidel says it aims to prove cycling is a boost to regional economies, then promote it and grow it’.It will be able to advise government on the economic, social and environmental benefits of investments having an effect on cycle tourism. Bicycle SA will project manage the establishment of the Centre.
Michael Oxer: email@example.com
Peter McMahon: firstname.lastname@example.org
Rosemarie Speidel: Program Director Cycling Promotion Fund
Ph: 03 9755 3557; email@example.com
Peter Solly: Executive Director of Bicycle SA Ph: 08 8232 2644