The Greens candidates for Lismore were joined by cycling enthusiasts and a competing candidate in a ‘Cycle the Lismore CBD’ event yesterday to keep cycleways on the Lismore City Council (LCC) agenda.
Current LCC Greens councillor Vanessa Ekins told Echonetdaily, ‘LCC adopted a $4 million bike strategy within the last four years but we are only funding it at $100,000 a year. This means it will take forty years for us to actually implement it and get it on the ground.’
Currently, the Roads and Maritime Service (RMS) will meet local councils half way if footpaths are extended for cyclists.
‘Footpaths are actually an unsafe way of riding a bike. Council may follow this path because of matched funding, but I’d rather see painted lines on the road as a visual reminder to people that we need to share the road.’
Many citizens find cycling unsafe because of space availability on the roads and the culture of ‘driver supreme’. Additionally, families refuse to allow their children to ride to school for the same reasons.
‘My children wanted to ride their bikes to school and we looked at the way they were going and it was too dangerous. The only way they can ride is if we put our bikes in the car, drive to the park then ride around there. That is why I started over eight years ago to lobby council for cycleways’, Cr Ekins said.
LCC has prioritised ‘recreational’ pathways to be upgraded over the next few years. Cr Simon Clough of Our Sustainable Future (OSF), who joined the Greens in their ride, advocates for cycleways in the Lismore shire too.
Cr Ekins added, ‘Cr Clough and I have both argued strongly that we should be prioritising commuter footpaths before recreational footpaths. We already have Wade Park!’
Adam Guise, also on the Greens ticket, spoke about the initiative from a party perspective.
‘The Greens want to move towards a low-carbon economy and encourage healthy communities. Our cycleway initiatives coincide with building footpaths to encourage walking. We want to change from a private car culture to a public transport culture.
‘There is all this talk about roads, roads, roads. There is all this expense needed to create and maintain roads whereas cycling is cost effective and causes less pressure on infrastructure. Reducing the number of cars on the roads also decreases wear and tear on the roads.
‘Council have flagged the idea of building a new bypass road between Ballina and Lismore, which will be a huge cost that will have huge costs associated with maintaining it. It will only encourage more road use. That money would be better spent on footpaths, safer cycling options and public transport.
‘Recreational cycling is also good for tourism.’
When asked how the ride was received, Cr Ekins replied, ‘It was so much fun, we received lots of toots and smiles’.