A new Friends of Active Transport in NSW Parliament, incorporating Liberal, Labor and Greens Members, will help remove the politics from planning and policymaking for active transport in the State, according to Bicycle NSW.
The cycling advocacy group’s CEO, Peter McLean, said the Friends, launched at a gathering at Parliament House late last month, represented the strongest sign of support for active transport among the parties represented in the group.
“It puts us on a very positive path forward in terms of investment and longer-term strategies for active transport.
In particular, that allows councils to have more direction and forward planning on infrastructure issues,” Peter said.
“It means that despite what future elections might hold, we know there’s going to be an ongoing positive course for active transport in NSW and that’s a great thing for all stakeholders, including bike users and local government.
“Active transport was a fairly divided issue politically only a few years ago and was extremely divisive 10 years ago.”
Liberal Upper House Member Shayne Mallard will chair the group, which also comprises the State’s first Minister for Active Transport, Rob Stokes, Labor’s Shadow Spokesperson for Transport, Jo Haylen, and Australian Green Upper House Member Cate Faehrmann.
Luminous orange e-scooters parked in the Parliament House forecourt were a signal of positive developments inside for active transport.
Peter said Bicycle NSW representatives had already started discussions with the Friends, raising a number of priorities.
“One of the fundamental points is releasing a principal bike network plan for the State, purely because that gives local governments a lot more direction with what they are planning,” he said.
“Bicycle NSW’s position is the plan might not be perfect but it’s better to have an imperfect plan now, rather than a perfect plan never, which seems to have been the case in the past.
“There will always be opportunity to adjust the plan later and if people come up with better ideas then, by all means, make adjustments. But let’s have a plan in place that gives us far more direction than what we currently have in place.
“We’re also talking to government about an active transport schools program and a lot of things in the education space.”
Rob Stokes said: “The creation of the Friends of Active Transport is a great sign that support for active transport transcends party lines.
“The Friends of Active Transport will be fantastic advocates for Government as we roll out infrastructure and policies that will help the 8.2 million pedestrians in NSW feel safe and confident enough to walk, push a pram, use a wheelchair or cycle in their communities.”
Jo Haylen said she believed the group members would “find much common ground and interest in the needs of cyclists and in cycling infrastructure”.
“I hope we can have fruitful conversations around cyclist safety and around the ways we can encourage more women, in particular, to cycle safely,” she remarked.
“There is a growing movement towards active transport in the community and I hope this group can provide a voice and a forum for discussion in the NSW Parliament.”
Cate Faehrmann said the group would “help to foster a relationship between the active transport industry and members of parliament”.
“The inaugural meeting of the group showed there is cross-party agreement that Sydney needs an active transport revolution,” she added.
“There are so many different groups with incredible ideas for how to make active transport more accessible. The Friends group will help to bring those ideas to Parliament and see us change laws for the better.”