Here is Yarra Council candidate responses to Yarra Bicycle User Group Questionnaire for the local council election on Saturday 22 October.
Dear City of Yarra candidates, standing for Melba, Langridge and Nicholls wards,
You are being contacted to ascertain your stance on cycling and related sustainable transport issues in the City of Yarra, which proudly has the highest level of cycling in any municipality in Victoria.
A council committed to promoting cycling, walking and greater accessibility for all residents can make a huge difference to their personal transport options in the light of rapidly changing economic and environmental factors.
(1). If elected to City of Yarra, will you seek to support the Yarra Bicycle Strategy Refresh and work with other councils, local government associations and state government departments to enhance sustainable transport and cycling options within and connecting to the City of Yarra?
(2). More people than ever are taking up riding for transport and road use patterns are rapidly changing. What are your ideas to improve sustainable transport and cycling options in the City of Yarra?
(3). Given that the state government’s rates cap could affect council budgets, would you support an increase in the City of Yarra’s annual bicycle infrastructure expenditure?
(4). A safe road environment is a strong issue for many bicycle riders. What ideas do you have to improve the shared road environment for all users?
Do you see any omissions or corrections for our questionnaire? Please send us a email & we’ll tidy it up.
Where to vote
Early polling: 9am-5pm on weekdays at Florence Peel Centre, 126 Moor Street, Fitzroy, until election day, situated close to Fitzroy Library.
Saturday 22 October: Use the interactive VEC map to find a polling booth close to you in Yarra
Online Postal Vote Application for Yarra City Council 2016 – must be submitted by 12pm, 20 October
Our previous questionnaires
- YarraBUG 2008 Questionnaire to City of Yarra Candidates
- YarraBUG Questionnaire to 2004 Yarra Council Candidates
Other Bicycle User Group questionnaires
- Melbourne BUG: City of Melbourne Elections + Petition: Ordinary people doing ordinary things on bikes in Melbourne
- Moreland BUG: Moreland Council Elections 2016
- Moonee Valley BUG: Part 1 Moonee Valley Council Elections – 2016 | Part 2 Moonee Valley Council Elections – 2016
Langridge Ward (3 vacancies)
Shafii Midleh – Unknown – no response as of yet
Judy Ryan – Independent Candidate – no response as of yet
Stephen Jolly – refer to The Socialist response below
Nyadan Gai – refer to The Socialist response below
Danae Bosler – Australian Labour Party
From Danae: In answer to your questions,
1) I support the Bike Refresh Strategy, and will work particularly with state government for a better, broader “whole of Melbourne” plan for cycling transport.
2) While I’m a bike rider, I am also a keen walker and have taken to foot more these days – walking home from work and also frequently walking between transport points, so cycling of course needs to be part of a bigger transport plan that connects different transport options for people. My key interest is for safe roads, for all – including walkers – which requires well marked crossings, pedestrian crossings, tram stops, bike paths etc.
3) I support an increase in budget as needed. I’ll also work with the state government for funding support.
4) As mentioned above, safety is the most critical component of bike riding to me. Studies show best solution for safety is more riders on our streets, helping to induce better and safer behaviour from drivers, so infrastructure that makes our roads more useful and safer is a top priority!
Amanda Stone – Greens – also refer to the Greens response below
From Amanda: (1). Yes the Greens will support The Yarra Bicycle Strategy Refresh but think it needs to go further. We want to develop a new Bicycle Strategy which will integrate bicycle infrastructure into land use planning to create liveable streets. This needs to be done through existing planning mechanisms such as LATMs (Local Area Traffic Management Schemes) and placemaking initiatives in local streets.
- Greater separation between cyclists and other road users – complete the Wellington St separated bike lane
- More bicycle parking across the municipality, especially for cargo bikes
- Better bike parking at institutions such as hospitals, schools, universities, workplaces and of course train stations
- Inclusion of higher bike parking rates and end of trip facilities in new commercial developments
- Safer cycling routes to schools, bike education in schools, better parking at schools
- Bike repair stations in key locations
(3). Expenditure on bike infrastructure in Yarra has been declining over the past council term and needs to be dramatically increased if we are to return to our position as leader in provision of bike infrastructure to support one of the highest cycling populations in Melbourne.
- Lower speed limits in local roads (30kph) and 24 hour 40kph in major streets
- Continued separation of cyclists and other road users
- Challenge the concept of roads as spaces for cars only, through environmental design, shared spaces, planting of vegetation, non-linear roads, paint etc
- Improve Linear Park as a key bike route by prioritizing bikes and pedestrians at all crossings along its length.
Matoc Achol – Greens – refer to the Greens response below
Lindy Mills – Australian Labour Party – no response as of yet
Robert Salter – Greens refer to the Greens response below
Hai Tran – Independant Candidate – no response as of yet
Mel Gregson – refer to The Socialist response below
Melba Ward (3 vacancies)
Stephanie Putker – refer to The Socialist response below
Herschel Landes – Independant Candidate
From Herschel: (1). Yes
(2). Long term it is about shaping spaces on road ways that give pedestrians and cyclists priority on crowded 19th century road ways that serve as arterial traffic networks. It is noted that VicRoads are seeking to route traffic around Richmond which would open the door to assisting in this goal. ( image below. ). Encouraging off street parking stations to free up space in roadways for safe cycling paths and wider footpaths for example. Creating more n/s links from the residential hinterlands to the activity centres.
(3). Cash strapped Yarra Council has $22M in the bank and $38 in current liabilities at the end of the last Financial years. Interest bearing debt is to rise to $45.5M this year after the completing of the Nth Fitzroy Community Hub. Nearly 74c in every rateable dollar is expended as employee benefits not withstanding there is $70 M in non rateable income to pay for operational services and materials. This year Council is expected to have a $5M excess from its activities.
The rate cap has exposed a deep flaw in Yarra Council’s business model- it is simply too expensive to run. Hence money for Bike infrastructure ($1M / km ) will been to come from budget savings and possible reduction of its $1.6B assets. This will mean leadership and patience and scrapping opportunities where ever possible.
(4). My big idea is a north south separated share bike lane that will run along the middle of a tree lined road that will link East Richmond and Burnley to the new High school, providing a safe option for students rather than more cars and more congestion. Hopefully this will help promote a generation shift in bike culture for Richmond. Estimated cost $1.5M
James Searle – Greens – also refer to the Greens response below
From James: Thanks for the email, very happy to respond.
(1). Yes, but it should go further – the current Yarra Bicycle Strategy dates back nearly 10 years. We should create a new Bicycle Strategy in consultation with the community and integrate cycling and active transport into planning processes.
(2). More bike parking, more separated bicycle lanes, safer cycling routes in general, bike repair stations and extension of the Melbourne bike share scheme.
(3). Yarra’s expenditure on bike infrastructure needs to increase if Yarra is going to continue to lead the way on cycling.
(4). More separated bike lanes, lower speed limits, smart design for shared paths.
Mi-Lin Chen Yi Mei – Unknown – no response as of yet
Aman Gaur – Australian Labour Party – no response as of yet
Toby Dite – refer to The Socialist response below
Kathryn Drake – Independent Candidate – no response as of yet
Dan Johnson – Independent Candidate
From Dan: Thank you for reaching out, cycling is an issue close to my heart as I use a bicycle as my primary mode of transport, so one of my main standing issues in this council is to promote the viability of cycling. Please see my responses below:
1. Yes most definitely, after reviewing the Yarra Bicycle Strategy Refresh I think it contains some brilliant ideas, which I’d be very keen on seeing adopted around Yarra, particularly e-bike charging stations. I’d actually be very interested in exploring the possibility of solar charging stations.
2. I believe with safer roads and an increase of bicycle parking locations, we’ll see more people taking up cycling as a means of transport in and around Yarra. But there also needs to be a concerted focus to advertise the benefits of both cycling and sustainable transport, like public transport, to the unconverted. Yes this sounds like an obvious answer, but I feel too often we turn to avid cyclists for their thoughts and opinions. These are the people that will cycle rain, hail or shine, regardless, meaning their needs are probably different to others. So to open a conversation with those that currently don’t commute on bikes could be very insightful.
3. I understand there is a lot of belief that rate caps will negatively effect Council budgets, from reviewing the most recent Yarra Council budget update it appears the outgoing council has found some good efficiencies that negate this rate cap. That said, I would of course support an increase in Yarra’s cycling infrastructure if I believed it would encourage more people to take up this healthy commuting option, and increase their safety on the roads.
4. This is a tricky issue, I believe first and foremost there needs to be greater education to drivers about cyclist patterns on our roads. There is no perfect solution to this, especially given the great tram network within Melbourne prevents some of the more innovative European options.
One effective solution could be the introduction of separated bike lanes with low lying curbs (see image below from Adelaide as an example), this would incur a cost, but a worthwhile one for the long term growth of this sustainable transport.
Thanks for your time and the opportunity to provide these answers.
Michael Zarif – Independent Candidate – no response as of yet
Phillip Vlahogiannis – Independent Candidate – no response as of yet
Daniel Nguyen – Unknown – no response as of yet
Tony Reck – Greens – refer to the Greens response below
Nicholls Ward (3 vacancies)
Bridgid O’Brien – refer to The Socialist response below
Roberto Colanzi – Australian Labour Party – no response as of yet
Jackie Fristacky – Independent Candidate
From Jackie: 1. Supported and was involved in drafting of the Yarra Bicycle Strategy Refresh, was the crucial vote for this to be passed, and have a track record of working with other councils, local government associations and state government departments/agencies to enhance sustainable transport and cycling options and will actively continue to do so
2. Continue policy which I moved in 2003, for a bike path on every road in Yarra where possible. This to include: more “Bicycles excepted’ signage for turn bans and one way streets; more bike parking on kerbs, kerb extensions and bike pods, new developments, bike charging points in new developments or re-developments, improved road surfaces for cycling, integration of cycle paths and facilities in all road re-sheeting, LATMS, place making initiatives etc.
3. Yes – a little goes a long way
4. From 2003, I initiated extensions of speed reductions to 40km/h through my ward (Nicholls) which spread to all other local roads in Yarra. Need to achieve 40km/h for St Georges Road Activity Centre. Improved markings cycle paths eg Bridge Road and other arterials not properly marked, improved bike path markings generally including updating those faded since 2003 initiatives. More sharrows and green paint at local intersections. Advocate to VicRoads for green paint at arterial intersections, which are the source of many accidents and near misses. More traffic light left turn head start for bicycles .
Luke Creasey – Australian Labour Party
From Luke: Thanks for your email. See my answers below and let me know if you require any more information.
1. Yes – agree and support.
2. I support bicycle infrastructure as a sustainable transport option and want to increase the safety of this transport option. As a teacher, I also believe it is important that appropriate bike rack infrastructure is available around schools. To support local business, shopping strips benefit from bike racks to translate bike traffic into foot traffic.
3. In theory I could support increased spending on bicycle infrastructure, but such spending must be based on evidence-based practice in infrastructure and demonstrably improve safety.
4. ‘Dooring’ is a significant risk in shared road ways with parked cars in parts of Yarra. I would support infrastructure spending to reduce risk in these areas.
Troy Parsons – Australian Cyclists Party
From Troy: (1) Absolutely. It is disappointing to see the previous fixed-term bicycle strategy turn into an open-ended wish-list. Having worked with the BAC, I’m cognisant that a lot of the problem lies with the State government’s lack of commitment, both politically and financially – which is why I had run as a state candidate prior. I would continue to seek out any means to achieve funding from the State government.
There is a lot to gain with working more closely with other councils. There is a distinct lack of cohesion with Melbourne’s bike facilities. The implementation of paths, tracks and even way-finding signage is different depending on where you are. The result is an inconsistent and often very confusing network. While the state government should be providing more leadership here, there is also benefits to be had from councils being free to innovate and try new ideas.
(2) The two big challenges that face bicycle projects in the City of Yarra are (a) financial barriers, and (b) political will, particularly where it may involve reduction in parking. Wellington St is an example on both fronts. While projects like Wellington St are important and necessary, I think there are other tactical projects we can take on that are cheaper, and politically more palatable, but can help grow cycling rates. City of Yarra already has two of the most favoured bike routes in Melbourne: Canning Street and Napier Street. I see these as templates to improve other residential streets, both in terms of their amenity to residents, but also to create an offset, connected grid of bicycle-friendly streets. Canning and Napier are free of rat-running thanks to filtered permeability. I can’t imagine many residents saying ‘yes’ to opening the streets up to increased motor vehicle through-traffic. And consequently, they are quiet enough to allow pleasant, easy-does-it, side-by-side cycling, even with curb-side parking. Compare that to Lennox St in Richmond. That has sharrows but does not function as a bicycle route. As the Dutch have demonstrated, painting the street has no effect as long as the street functions as a through-route for motor vehicles. To apply the Canning Street template to residential streets is cheap and politically palatable, as it improves the street for those who live on it.
(3) Yes. The proportion spent on bicycle infrastructure is way out of step with the number of car-free households in Yarra and the proportion of people who use bicycles for transport. Brent Toderian put it best with: “The truth about a city’s aspirations isn’t found in its vision statement. It’s found in its budget.” This council talks a lot about bikes, but has thus far failed to make a serious investment in it.
(4) The central tenet of my campaign is that children should be able to ride to school. Rather than convincing-sounding policies, this is an *outcome* we should be focussed on, for which the policies (and budget) should be adjusted to meet. Once we meet that outcome, our streets have become safe and accessible for all Yarra residents – Grandma doing the shopping, Daddy doing the daycare run, whatever you can imagine. And not just for cycling. Walking, and those faced with physical challenges benefit from safe streets that prioritize the safety of active travel modes first and foremost. I certainly won’t be driving when I’m 85, how do I want my city to treat me then, when I’m walking (or cycling) to the shops?
While this is relevant for all of Yarra, it’s especially pertinent for the new Richmond high school. We have a golden opportunity to get this right. Do we want our kids to be able to get there independently, by their own means by bike, scooter or walking? Or will the SUV drop-off be the only option because no parent feels safe enough to let their kids walk?
Mike McEvoy – refer to the Greens response below
Misha Coleman – refer to the Greens response below
Danielle Wilson – refer to the Greens response below
Chris Dite – refer to The Socialist response below
All of our 7 socialist candidates agree with the following:
2) More investment in sustainable transport infrastructure and connectivity
3) Yes. Millions of dollars are wasted on upper management structures and office upgrades. This money should be redirected toward community infrastructure.
4) We can start with more specialised bike paths and lanes. Shared routes are not always safe for bike user and pedestrians.
Thankyou for the opportunity to comment on Cycling and sustainable transport in Yarra.
The Greens Transport Policy for Yarra can be found at this link and contains a number of initiatives to increase and improve cycling:
As an inner-city urban area, Yarra is subject to the impacts of poorly planned urban sprawl, the resulting car dependence, through-traffic and congestion. We recognise that car dependence is a social justice issue as well as a poor outcome for the environment which sustains us. We will work to increase transport alternatives through prioritising access and infrastructure which supports walking, cycling and using public transport. We will continue our strong advocacy to the state government for increased expenditure on metropolitan cycling routes and public transport, with a focus on the Doncaster Rail.
The Greens support active transport such as walking, cycling, and a safe, fast, frequent and well connected universal system of public transport. We aim to reduce dependence on private car use by enabling Yarra’s residents and visitors to use these alternatives. Read more.