After 10 years (approx) in bicycle advocacy, I am convinced of just a few things …
1. People who say “it can’t happen here because [insert short-sighted reason]” are often well-meaning, but wrong. Brisbane can become a great place to ride a bike, if we (by which I mean citizens influencing the State Government and City Council) make decisions over the next few years which prioritise walking and cycling over other modes of transport.
2. That reliance on “the market” and private developers and infrastructure built by PPPs (public-private partnerships) leads to a business-as-usual outcome, which repeats the car-biased transport and land-use planning mistakes of the past 50 years.
3. That “density done right” is a massive factor towards building a better city to ride and walk around. Land use planning and transport planning are so intertwined that we must never again do one without the other.
My friend Greg Vann makes the point (which I absolutely agree with) that everyone is seeking amenity, and that the concept of what urban amenity is, is changing. And that’s a good thing.
Greg says that good planning leads to a better city to live in, and I think nobody disputes that. But it requires long-term thinking by political leaders, and making decisions which lead to changes in our urban landscape. And change can be tricky.
The best thing a city can do is elect a planner as Mayor. Which happened in Adelaide (Stephen Yarwood), and they were starting to get some great changes that will lead to Adelaide being a better place to walk and ride, and therefore a better place to live. Awesome!
So the voters, who don’t like change, have voted Mr Yarwood out. How depressing.
The solution? Well as far as I can see, it is to have as many people as possible who are interested in building walkable and rideable cities keep on being engaged in public debate and discussion. And maybe planners encouraging other planners to stand for office.
It can totally happen here. Let’s make it happen here.