Ballarat Bicycle Users Group slams council strategy

The Ballarat Bicycle Users Group chairman has slammed the draft Ballarat Bicycle Strategy 2014-2019 as falling “far short” of needs.

The Ballarat City Council last night voted to place the strategy, which includes at least $660,000 for top-priority bicycle projects in Ballarat over the next five years, on public exhibition.

Up to 41 specific actions are identified, with a total cost of $3,901,000.

But addressing the meeting, bicycle users advocate John Barnes said it was “lamentable” the strategy had fallen so far short.

Mr Barnes said many of the projects were not well thought-out, the featured map was “indecipherable” and the document didn’t consider transport at all.

The strategy also relied on research heavily geared towards sports cyclists, as it drew from a study that received only 171 responses, mostly from men in the 35-41 year-old age bracket. 

“The data is skewed towards the male, hairy chested, full bike gear out on their racing bikes,” Mr Barnes said. “What about our school kids?”

He said, given that the council allocated only $230,000 on bikes annually, it was concerning the strategy did not include a program of year-by-year expenditure.

City infrastructure general manager Eric Braslis said that as part of the exhibition process the council could contact schools seeking feedback

Moving the recommendation to receive the draft strategy and place it on public exhibition, councillor John Philips said it was not the end of the game, but the start of the process.

“This is calling for people to put submissions in,” he said.

But speaking against it, councillor Vicki Coltman said she had a problem with the strategy as it was written.

She said there was a risk of “unrealistic expectations”, given it identified nearly $4 million in projects.

The strategy says hundreds of cyclists commute through Wendouree Parade and the surrounding Lake Wendouree precinct.

It provides a list of recommended projects, ranging from the completion of current tracks and trails and making the CBD safer for cyclists through to providing extra hardware such as bike racks, showers and change rooms.

rachel.afflick@fairfaxmedia.com.au

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