Port Phillip support for Ride2Work Day events

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By Rev. Mfufu Zambezi-Raskladushkin

 

Port Phillip Council, as a part of an annual Ride2Work Day program organised a wide variety of activities on (and prior to) the 14th of October 2015. These included distribution of fruit boxes, prizes, promotional materials, breakfast hosting’s etc. The objective was to encourage employees/workplace coordinators primarily along St Kilda Road transport corridor – one of the busiest bicycle thoroughfares in greater Melbourne to join the ‘New’ Brave World of Push/Electric transportation alternatives.

“This fun, free event is a great way of encouraging employees to start riding to work – and celebrating those who already bike ride,” Mayor Amanda Stevens said.

Bicycle Network Australia (BNA) coordinates this annual event, running promotional campaign, engaging sponsors and organising associated activities.

According to BNA, the main objective of the day is “to normalise the idea of riding to work and encourage more Australians to ride to work on a regular basis.”

The day celebrates the benefits of riding to work and brings together the communities that support it.

Benefits of bike riding for individuals and community in general are well known and will not be reiterated in this short article.

However, what is equally crucial is that as an advocacy group, BNA have a very important task, and that is to provide policymakers with verifiable evidence of strength of BNA’s membership. And, accordingly and complementary, influence theirs (policymakers) decisions re planning of support infrastructure, allocation of finite public transportation resources, legal framework outlines, implementation of road safety initiatives etc. Apart from physical traffic flow composition counting, there is another alternative mechanism: registration.

To this effect BNA asked participants to register for Ride2Work (prize involved) to demonstrate support to the course. Last year, there were 55,000 registrants and 61% of new riders who registered in 2014 reported that they’re still riding to work – once weekly or more often.

Fifty per cent of all commute in Copenhagen (population circa 0.5M) is on bicycles. This traffic is supported by a 454 km web of separated lanes and cycle-super-highways. By 2020 Paris Mairie is committed to bring bike traffic volume to 15% of a total, doubling dedicated routes to 1400 km (Plan Velo). These measures will be complemented with facilities installations and upgrades (cycle racks, shelters etc.).

Melbourne can also position itself as a ‘yellow jersey’ rider of this green transportation movement. According to Melbourne City Council, the number of morning peak commuters entering the city by bike almost doubling from 9% in 2008, to 17% this year. The aim is 25%. All trips on bikes are projected to exceed 7% in the nearest future.

Dutch (as well as Danes, of course) have (145 years+) historical and cultural predisposition towards bikes, fostered from young age. Urban plans and population densities of Euro cities facilitate usage of “hop-on-hop-off” “Stadsfiets” (City Bikes) complete with fenders and racks. In the mornings cyclists of all ages move through traffic lights in coordinated “waves”, exceeding average speed of motor vehicles. Mutual respect of motorists and cyclists is in genes with resulting peaceful on-road co-existence guaranteed.

We cannot wait this long to change our behavioural patterns. Fossil fuels emissions destroy ecosystems now on local and global scales, and motor vehicles are the major contributors. Cities will choke further on traffic congestion and smog. Obesity levels skyrocket and resulting chronic illnesses will further greatly inflate healthcare budgets.

From only/just recreational – to commuting for our own and Planet’s sake.

Two days ago I bought a new fast frame commuter bike for half price. Not because I had to make any supporting material argument for this article but because I am a true believer.

If this reporting piece will encourage just one person to go ahead then mission accomplished.

 

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