Bikes can sooth Sydney transport woes

The crushing growth in public transport use in Sydney could lead the NSW government to re-think its current tokenistic approach to bike commuting.

Recent figures show that demand for train travel is booming, rising 20 percent in just one year on some lines.

This level of growth is good for Sydney — growth in the use of efficient public transport is hugely beneficial economically and socially.

But if your train network is already stuffed to capacity, and demand is rocketing along, where will the new passengers go?

Bikes can help solve this problem.

Take Melbourne. Not long ago its public transport system underwent a massive spurt in demand, and trains would arrive at middle and inner suburban stations so full that no-one could board.

Because Melbourne already had a basic network of bike routes into the city, many would-be PT passengers switched over to pedal power.

Now it is estimated that somewhere between 15 and 20 per cent of all traffic into the CBD each morning is by bike.

Many thousands of people who would otherwise be trying to cram into trains are now happily riding their bikes to work, and getting healthy at the same time.

And to rub salt into Sydney’s wounds, Melbourne’s big road and train projects—even the tunnels--are also building bike infrastructure as part of their contracts—for them it’s the natural thing to do.

Sydney can do this, surely.

Trains can move a lot of people, but the infrastructure takes decades to plan, finance and build.

Sydney has some very expensive PT expansion in the pipeline that will greatly increase the capacity of the network, and, eventually, alleviate the crush.

But it is years away from delivering the goods.

Bike infrastructure on the other hand, can be provided quickly, and at a time fraction of the pain that the big, billion-dollar road and rail projects are costing the taxpayer.

Both are needed: this is not an either/or debate.

The task of transport is to connect people to jobs and education. Bikes can do that efficiently, cheaply and quickly, particularly in denser areas of the metropolis.

Come on Gladys, you know this is true: get on with it.