New year, new problems for our transport network. With lockdowns and travel restrictions now lifted, but the latest variant still lingering, our post-lockdown transport system is faced with the challenge of balancing competing objectives such as transmission risks, congestion and stimulating the economy.
And all roads lead to car chaos.
While nervous people are hesitant to return to public transport, more inclined to get out and about after lockdown, and the private motor vehicle seems the preferred option of more people than ever.
An Infrastructure Victoria report from this time last year modelled all of these scenarios back when we thought lockdown was ending then. But now that strict lockdowns really do seem to be a thing of the past, their predictions are pertinent.
The report predicted public transport numbers would decrease by 50% and car travel would increase by up to 15% once everything starts to open up, with most trips less than five kilometers long.
The scene was set for a complete catastrophe on our roads, which already struggled to keep up with demand pre-COVID.
For example, average road speeds during the morning peak was expected to fall by up to 30% across inner-Melbourne suburbs. Carmageddon approaches…
But wait; bikes!
Riding your bicycle is the logical solution to all these problems.
It’s an individual, outdoor mode of transport that naturally promotes physical distancing – minimising transmission risks. It boosts physical and mental wellbeing – the opposite of a traffic jam. And it decreases congestion on our roads and calms traffic. Not to mention boosting the economy and reducing carbon emissions.
Infrastructure Victoria realised this in their 2021 report, and recommended local governments create more comfortable places to ride and offer incentives to choose active transport.
And to be fair, City of Melbourne and the Victorian state government were quick to promise 40km and 100kms of new and upgraded bike lanes, respectively. About half of these have been delivered.
So, they have built (or are at least building) it – will we come?
The silver lining of this pandemic is that there has never been a better time to jump on your bike. Millions of Melburnians rekindled their love for bike riding through the darkest days of lockdown – but now the sun is shining, the green paint is flowing, and the path is clear to pedal to a better normal.
We know it’s a little late in the year for New Year’s resolutions, but if there was ever a resolution worth promoting as we peek out of the pandemic and start heading back to the office, it’s riding your bike.
You can find support for achieving your bike riding goals at: bicyclenetwork.com.au/tips-resources/