What sort of city do we want Adelaide to be and how do we get there?
Adelaide needs a bicycle culture; Adelaide needs infrastructure that will encourage a bicycle culture. Unfortunately some infrastructure planers will only base infrastructure on past trends and current usage patterns. There is little or no crystal ball gazing, or designing to create a future, not just in terms of infrastructure, but more importantly, the culture that infrastructure would create.
Let us have a little thought exercise of a few moments and think about what Adelaide could look like with large-scale bicycle parking at every transport interchange and a ubiquitous free bike scheme working throughout the CBD.
The worker or visitor to the city would ride to their local train or bus interchange, swipe their smart access card (which is also their ticket onto the system) to use a large, secure bicycle parking cage where they use their own lock to safely store their bicycle. They would then travel to the city on a modern electric train, where they would either walk or tram to their eventual destination, or (again with a swipe of their card), hire one of the 1000 odd free bikes that are located all over Adelaide. If they need to take their bicycle on the train then, not only would this be allowed, there would also be a dedicated space, to safely store and secure their bike so that it would not inconvenience other travelers.
Such a system would be comparatively cheap to build and run, especially if integrated into the current redevelopment of public transport infrastructure and the future development of a more convenient ticketing system. It would be integrated with the public transport system as a whole and designed for maximum utility and functional convenience.
Such a system would generate an immediate increase in bicycle use bringing all the inherent benefits that cycling offers to the community. Our city would be quieter without the continued background noise of 1000’s of engines passing through it everyday. There would be less air pollution, people would be happier and quite soon the entire community would become far healthier.
Adelaide could truly start to spread its wings as a unique city with an attractive and accessible transport system-encouraging resiliency and sustainability through forward thinking and innovative planning that does not simply accept that the way things are is the way they ought to be. It would embrace a culture of change and community development focused on the use of the bicycle for everyday transport.
In such a culture, carrying a helmet, or having a fashionable shoulder bag to stow it in, will be the sign of a sustainable commuter, one who is ready to jump on a bike at a moment’s notice and not even think twice about it.
Originally published inthe BISA newsletter 'Pedal Update' November 2009