A flurry of government and opposition announcements this week indicates the race is on to provide more parking at train stations.
They do mean parking, don’t they? Or do they mean car parking.
Surely not. It has long been government policy in Victoria to reduce car use for commuting as it is causing congesting, polluting the air, and, is a major contributor to the sedentary diseases clogging up hospitals.
The aim, at least officially, is to get people walking, biking and using the bus or tram to get to the station.
This is how most of the world’s modern cities do it – prioritising public amenity, economic efficiency and health.
So are we looking forward or backward?
The good news is that the state government continues to expand bike parking at railway stations.
All of the new stations that are coming as part of the levels crossing removals have bike parking. And PTV continues the gradual roll-out of Parkiteer cages around the state. And VicTrack has installed Parkiteer pads for future cages at many of the station parking upgrades.
And Transport for Victoria is trialling new parking rail designs that could provide better casual parking at stations that are waiting for Parkiteer parking.
Enquiries to Bicycle Network from members of the public who want to be on Parkiteer waiting lists continues to tick along, so demand is growing.
But there is an elephant in the room: routes to railway stations for bike riders are often rubbish, or non-existent.
Many people tell us they would happily take a bike a couple of kilometres to the railway station if there was a way to safely get there.
Recent experience has shown that state and local governments lack the ticker required to improve the bike infrastructure needed to make active transport a realistic choice in the suburbs.
Getting good bike routes to local stations, schools, shopping centres and the like is actually straightforward: some traffic calming, intersection improvements, a bike lane here and there, some rearrangement of car parking, reduced traffic speed.
Of course such change is always opposed by the locals before hand, only to be supported afterwards. Leaders with ticker can do the before hand bit, but we don’t have any of them. So communities don’t get the benefits of change and politicians are on the nose in the community.
This week the Premier, as well as announcing unspecified improvements to bike parking at stations, said he would spend $60m on 2000 car parking spaces at four suburban stations.
That’s $30,000 a car space. Ludicrous!
And opposition leader Matthew Guy has pledged 150 new car spaces at a cost of more than $26,600 a space. Also ludicrous.
Mr Andrews said the extra car parking he is building at huge expense at Belgrave station would ‘unclog’ local streets. What about doing something that will unclog hospitals, like getting people to ride to the station?