QUESTION: Safe walking and cycling during the COVID-19 pandemic

In Question Time, Mark asked the Minister for Trade and Investment, representing the Minister for Transport, Infrastructure and Local Government, how the Government will respond to an open letter calling on state governments to enable safe walking and cycling during the COVID-19 pandemic and into the future.

The Hon. M.C. PARNELL: Last week, doctors, nurses, public health and transport researchers, health promotion organisations and industry groups wrote an open letter calling on state governments to enable safe walking and cycling during the COVID-19 pandemic and into the future.

A letter with 100 signatories called for infrastructure to enable safer walking and cycling. This letter was supported by key organisations including the Heart Foundation, the Public Health Association of Australia, the Australasian College for Emergency Medicine, the Australasian College of Road Safety, the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons Trauma Committee, and the Committee for Adelaide. I note that the signatories were part of a press release that went out last week, and I will just read two paragraphs:

Australian Health and Transport experts have today called on decision makers to enact urgent measures to support safe walking and cycling and social distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Australian Government has recognised the importance of remaining physically active during the COVID-19 pandemic, and has listed exercise as one of four essential activities. As a result, many Australians have been getting active across the country by walking and cycling, but many areas lack sufficient space required to maintain critical physical separation.

Across the world we are seeing many examples where jurisdictions are rapidly rolling out infrastructure that enables social distancing when cycling and walking. Many jurisdictions are reallocating road space to walkers and cyclists using low-cost methods. They are slowing speeds in neighbourhoods, they are closing off streets for play, and they are prioritising funds for these projects.

My questions to the Minister for Transport are:

1. How will the Government respond to this letter?

2. How will it respond to the urgent need for connected and safe networks of walking and cycling infrastructure in South Australia?

The Hon. D.W. RIDGWAY (Minister for Trade and Investment): I thank the honourable member for his question and his very longstanding interest in especially cycling but walking as well. I will refer that question to my colleague the Hon. Stephan Knoll in another place and bring back a reply.

Response received on June 6, 2020:

The Hon. D.W. RIDGWAY (Minister for Trade and Investment): The Minister for Transport, Infrastructure and Local Government has advised:

The Minister for Transport, Infrastructure and Local Government wrote to Mr Stephen Hodge, Director, National Advocacy of We Ride Australia on 18 May 2020.

The South Australian Government supports cycling for its economic, environmental and social benefits. Over time, it is endeavouring to provide a comprehensive network of bicycle routes consisting of paths, backstreets and arterial on-road bicycle lanes. These will provide for a diverse range of people that choose to cycle, whether for transport or recreation.

I am advised that the Department of Planning, Transport and Infrastructure (DPTI) takes an integrated multi-modal approach to transport and land use planning, which considers the state's key challenges and objectives, and balances the needs of all road users within the funding available.

DPTI works to make cycling and walking safer and to optimise travel times, where appropriate, by providing:

  • low traffic, low speed environments for cycling and walking
  • safe and convenient road crossings
  • smooth pavement and sealed shoulders
  • space specifically for cyclists, including continuous designated and dedicated road space or paths; and
  • priority for cyclists.

All major road projects take cycling and walking components into consideration. New and improved cycling and walking infrastructure is being built around the state each year to help support active travel and enable people of all ages and abilities to be active in the community.

Through the Capital City Committee, DPTI is working with the City of Adelaide and contractors to develop a 20-year strategy that will inform future transport projects in and around the Adelaide CBD. The strategy's objectives include:

  • Deliver safe and community-centric outcomes to move in and around the city.
  • Address growing network congestion and infrastructure investment to increase efficiency and maximise asset use.
  • Improving network access and connections to/from and within the city.
  • Delivering a fully integrated network approach for active travel, public and passenger transport, and personal vehicle users.
  • Supporting city and business growth in one of the world's most liveable cities.

In encouraging more people to ride bikes and be active, DPTI:

  • Administers the State Bicycle Fund. South Australian local councils can apply to DPTI for funding on a dollar-for-dollar basis for the development and implementation of suitable cycling initiatives. These may include the development of local area strategic bicycle plans and cycling networks, constructing on-road cycling lanes or off-road cycling paths, bicycle parking and the promotion or cycling and cycling facilities.
  • Promotes Cycle Instead, which works as an interactive journey planner for bike trips. It shows the Bikedirect network across metropolitan Adelaide so riders can quickly choose the most direct and comfortable route for their journey using secondary roads, bike lanes, shared paths, greenways and bicycle boulevards.
  • Promotes South Australia's network of cycling trails which cater to all levels and abilities.
  • Delivers the Way2Goprogram, working in partnership with local councils and primary school communities across the state to improve the safety of children and families as they walk, ride and scoot for school journeys.