Bike Blackspot iPhone App Launched!

Cyclists in Canada Bay are well aware of several blackspots in local cycling infrastructure, for example, the corner of Lyons Rd West and Bayview Rd. The Greens’ new Bike Blackspot iPhone App can send a message to the NSW Government telling them that this corner in Canada Bay is a hazardous spot for cyclists and it needs to be fixed.

The Bike Blackspot iPhone App (sydney.bikeblackspot.org) allows cyclists to build a map of where improvements are needed. This tool can be used to lobby the government and show them where funding needs to be targeted and because it is interactive; cyclists can also use it to share information about great places to cycle in Canada Bay.

With several active cyclists, the Canada Bay Greens are working hard to ensure that Canada Bay to becomes a safe and cycling friendly area for people of all ages.

The app in the brainchild of Greens Senator Scott Ludlam and at the official NSW launch (photo above) Scott and NSW Greens MP Cate Faehrmann urged cyclists in Sydney to use the Greens’ new Bike Blackspot iPhone App to log the good, the bad and the ugly of bicycle infrastructure and send a message to the Transport Minister, campaigners and their fellow cyclists.

“Cyclists can use their phones to record danger zones, obstacles and maintenance issues on the spot and upload a photo.  They can also nominate a spot that needs better infrastructure and praise good areas where cycling really works,” said Ms Faehrmann.

“Users of the App will also be sending a direct message to Transport Minister Gladys Berejiklian that we need better support for cycling. “So far the NSW Government has failed to adopt the absolutely vital Inner Sydney Regional Bicycle Network project, which would cover around 14 local government areas, has a cost benefit of $3.88 for every dollar spent and could be built for a fraction of the cost of new motorways and roads.

The app has so far been launched in Melbourne, Perth, Adelaide and Geraldton with great response. Senator Ludlam has been calling for federal funding for cycling infrastructure for two years, but this has so far been rejected by government.

“Bike riders across Australia are fed up with being endangered, ignored and neglected by Governments and are now making the case for urgently needed funding,” Senator Ludlam said.

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Why living in Canada Bay can be bad for your health

A 2010 study by the Health Effects Institute (HEI) in the USA entitled “Traffic-Related Air Pollution: A Critical Review of the Literature on Emissions, Exposure, and Health Effects” found children living within 500 metres of a major road or freeway are at greater risk of developing asthma, while adults face an increased likelihood of lung and heart-related illnesses. The study revealed that traffic pollution was likely to exacerbate asthma in children, trigger new asthma cases across all ages, impair lung function in adults and could cause cardiovascular illness and death.

This study was the largest international study on vehicle air pollution and health and looked at 700 worldwide health-pollution studies, and found that there was a clear health risk for those living near arterial roads or highways.

Canada Bay local government area contains several major roads in or passing through it: M4, Parramatta Rd, Concord Rd, Patterson Ave, Gipps St, Lyons Rd, Great North Rd, Victoria Rd, Homebush Bay Dr. Almost all suburbs and therefore thousands of people in Canada Bay live within 500 metres of one of the above named roads. The accompanying image shows the areas most at risk; if you live within the area bounded by the thick brown then your family is at risk.

Reports like those from the HEI show that vehicle air pollution impacts on our health and provides further evidence to support actions to reduce our reliance on motor vehicles. Although air quality in NSW is sometimes considered good by world standards, at ground-level ozone and particle pollution has shown no significant improvement since the 1990s because of factors such as the rising population and more cars on the road.

Over the past two decades Sydney’s population has increased by 21 per cent and the number of cars has increased by 4 per cent, with car trips up 58 per cent. In 2005, the Bureau of Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Economics found that the cost of vehicle air pollution on life and illness was $2.7 billion.

Facilitating the reduction of the number of cars on our roads MUST be a priority. The old political parties are not interested in reducing people’s reliance on cars; their only promise is to build more roads to attract more vehicles. The Greens work toward ensuring that other transport modes are given more attention so that the people of Canada Bay have a real choice when it comes to their mobility. The Greens believe in a sustainable society and this includes sustainable transport that does not put people at risk. The choice is yours.

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You don’t loosen your belt to cure obesity

A new motorway may provide some short-term relief to congestion, but within a short time the extra road capacity generates more traffic than there was before. In the long term motorways just allow congestion to grow further: they don’t reduce it. The continuing debate on the M4 east and spending billions of dollars on a grandiose system of road tunnels under Sydney fails to acknowledge this situation. This, and the evidence below, is just some of the reasons that the Canada Bay Greens do not see the M4 East as a solution to the problems of traffic congestion in Canada Bay. (We also don’t think the pollution from the portals & vent stacks would be appreciated by those who live near the tunnel, but that’s another issue). Precious government dollars should be invested in mass public transit and making active transport (walking and cycling) safer.

A 2011 analysis conducted at the University of Technology Sydney found that as the M5 southern motorway was constructed in stages between 1992 and 2001, traffic levels in the corridor jumped with each successive stage of construction. Prior to 1992, traffic levels in the area had increased by 1000 to 2000 daily trips each year, roughly reflecting population growth; but in the year the first stage of the M5 opened; traffic grew by 11,200 daily trips, an increase of 15% in regional traffic levels. With the opening of the M5 East tunnel in 2001, traffic into General Holmes Drive jumped by 46,000 trips a day; some 26,000 of these trips were diverted from other roads, but the remaining 20,000 represent entirely new travel. The sad part is that this scene had already played out on the M4 some years before.

The combined road traffic on the Great Western Highway and M4 at Prospect had been growing at a rate between four and three per cent, or by around 3,000 to 2,000 vehicles per day on average per year, prior to the May 1992 opening of the Mays Hill to Prospect section. In the year after opening, road traffic grew by 24 per cent, leaving around 17,000 vehicles on average per day above previous growth trends. 20 years later these growth rates have resulted in the catastrophic congestion we see today. Similar situations can be found in Melbourne, Brisbane and overseas.

It should come as no surprise then that building more motorways on the basis that they will “relieve congestion” is a lie. If not, then please show us the example where this has worked. All we want is for a working example of a city that has built its way out of congestion simply by building more roads.

In the heyday of freeway building in the 1950s, the well-known architect and urbanist Lewis Mumford warned that trying to cure traffic congestion with more road capacity was like trying to cure obesity by loosening your belt. The result of too much belt-loosening can be seen throughout our major cities. With each new road we have imported more of this problem; we should avoid making it any worse.

“Congestion, it turns out, is an inevitable consequence when the private sector produces an unlimited number of vehicles and expects the public sector to spend limited resources to build an unlimited amount of space for them to run on.” – Gordon Price, Transport Planner and former City Councillor, Vancouver.

References:

Public Transport Users Association of Victoria (www.ptua.org.au)

Institute for Sustainable Futures, University of Technology Sydney. (www.isf.uts.edu.au)

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