Before the last City Council Election the BUG sent candidates this letter to get to know more about them and their views on cycling. Colleen Doyle is the only successful candidate to have responded. Below is here comments and those of the unsuccessful candidates.
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Colleen Doyle (division 9)
I have had an interest in an integrated transport network and system for many years. Townsville is a fast growing community with a relatively young population. We have a transport system which is in need of enhancement on a number of levels. Transport and health are linked not only in a physical sense, through the obvious benefits derived from exercise but also in terms of mental wellbeing. People need to have the capacity to stay socially and physically connected.
I would like to see that BUG along with other stakeholders have input into planning for our current and future transport requirements, and see that a Transport Advisory Committee would be beneficial to seek and achieve the best possible outcomes for the Community. It is through effective community consultation that the best options are identified.
I believe that for those members of the community who are able to cycle as a means of transport should be provided with safe opportunities to do so, I also believe that cycling is an economical and valid alternative to motorised vehicles, again for those residents for which this is an option.
I am most welcoming of further discussion.
- Do you ride a bike?
- Joanne Keune (division 4): Yes – i always own a bike. No matter where i am on the planet I have a bicycle.I have two bikes in San Francisco at my friend Sam’s house. At times i have ridden every day to university, or work other times only recreational. I rode from San Francisco to Los Angeles ( like Townsville to Cairns) raising money for Aids in 1996, and still like long mountain bike rides. Oh and I also had the joy of riding in many many critical mass events in San Francisco when thousands of bikes took to the streets and overtook the traffic my first was in 1994 and my most recent in 2015.
- Jane Arlett (mayoral candidate): Yes I am a keen bike rider, as is all of my family and extended family. We regularly ride around the Ross River, out to Pallarenda and up to the Ross Dam. My partner and son are keen mountain bike riders (& members & sponsors of Hot Rock). My partner participates in rides such as the Townsville to Cairns ride, the Black Dog, the Bowen – Collinsville Roller Coaster, the Conquer Cancer Rides in Brisbane and Melbourne, the Hot Rock event and the Paluma Push.
- Veirn Veitch (divison 3): Not any more but rode regularly until my mid 40’s. My younger daughter is in the top 20 in her age group (30-35) in triathlons in the world so very conscious of push bikes. I am also a motor cyclist and aware of the poor awareness of car drivers.
- Guy Reece (division 4): I had to buy a bike to deliver my flyers to the semi rural areas (twice) over the last few months. Generally i don’t cycle, its too dangerous, if you get hit by a vehicle there are few options for an inured cyclist to pursue. I’ve been knocked off my bike twice by a vehicle – its not a good feeling. An old flatmate of mine had his life ruined after being hit by a car eg near death / now receiving a disability pension.
- What do you think of the cycling conditions in Townsville?
- Joanne Keune: Very dangerous. I would not ride on the roads in Townsville also poor driver education. No linking of different sections of bikeways.
- Jane Arlett: Townsville has a large cycling community and I have many friends and colleagues who ride in groups and over longer distances. The roads throughout Townsville are improving as newer roads are built. Older roads have very limited or no shoulder and can be unsafe at times. Townsville motorists are becoming more educated on the new laws and the majority of riders and motorists show respect for each other. I understand motorists can be frustrated by seeing cyclists in car lanes as they don’t always understand that a cyclist is often avoiding hazards such as car doors, signs, potholes, drain covers, cats eyes and debris present in the bikes lanes. Mountain biking is a fast growing sport and provides an excellent tourism income stream for places such as Atherton Tablelands and Cairns. Townsville has some fantastic mountain biking tracks and Paluma Range and Mount Stuart are two of the most picturesque and toughest hills to climb around. Townsville and the surrounding area (including Magnetic Island) should be looking to this area as an opportunity for tourism.
- Veirn Veitch: We have a wide network of shared pathways which are excellent for non-competitive recreational riders (except for the Goat’s Heads) and some of our roads are improving but there are a lot of areas where better and safer infrastructure is needed to separate push bikes from cars.
- Guy Reece: What do you think of the cycling conditions in Townsville? It depends where and when you might cycle, someone contacted me asking me if i would get the asphalt repaired properly by the bridge by Riverway, there has been ground work and the crew responsible for the repair didn’t bother rolling the fill of the excavation flat – hence he hits a bump. What most road users don’t know is that any kind of bump is felt by road cyclists. As a broad statement I’d say cycling conditions would range from fair to dangerous.
- Do you think cycling plays an important role in infrastructure in the future of Townsville?
- Joann Keune: Yes – critical – and there seem to be many different ideas on what is best. bikes on walk ways ? or bike lanes on the road ?
- Jane Arlett: Cycling promotes health and fitness, a sense of community and is great for the environment. I believe for the health promotion of our society and the safety of cyclists, cycling lanes should be including in future infrastructure planning.
- Veirn Veitch: Yes as do better paths for pedestrians
- Guy Reece: I think it does, its a cheap way to get around providing exercise, ideally without being killed.
- What is your plan to improve cycling in Townsville?
- Joanne Keune: I am standing right now as a candidate in the Upper Ross, Division 4. Since opening an office in the heart of the electorate next to the Upper Ross Hotel, at Woolies shopping complex, i have had hundreds of people walk into my office and talk about their issues. I would say I have had a 50/50 response to bikes on the road or walkway. My experience is the bikeway should be a fully designed part of the expansion of Riverway Drive. What is the BUG view ?
- Jane Arlett: I will always want to consult with planning and cycling groups as to what the local needs are. I will also look at best practice modeling – what cities are doing it well? What works, what doesn’t work and what can we implement here? Canberra and Perth have some great cycling initiatives that we should be looking at for our city.
- Veirn Veitch: Council has recently adopted a recommendation to significantly increase funding for footpaths (this includes shared pathways). We also need to complete the connection in the missing gap from Bowen Road to the city and the extension of the Mundy Creek bikeway to the Castle Hill PCYC which will proved connection from THe Strand and Pallarenda through to Garbutt. This can then link on a road with wide verges (Ingham Road) most of the way to the Northern Beaches. In addition, we need to have an intense project to significantly reduce Goat’s Head Burr plants from road and footpath verges to encourage more people onto the shared pathways. Physical separation of push bikes and cars is always the safest option.
- Guy Reece: Not being an expert – ask the people who do use their bicycle to get around – too many things are built or done without asking the end users advice. My own ideas are opening up Ross River Dam to cyclists without needing insurance – at the moment the “rockwheelers” have to pay insurance and do some “induction” to go bike riding !! The last 2 Km of Ross River Dam now closed to cyclists will be re opened – i’ve seen them go to the very end and then disappear into the bush – good for them – enjoy yourselves. The council is hell bent on closing things off for cyclists to visit. Creating tracks for cyclists to use to ride around the local area to explore the mountains and hills and places of interest. From the vantage point of the wooden stairs that they destroyed on Ross River Dam i have always imagined these kinds of things where a cyclist could undertake an early morning ride across the face of the mountains on an elevated track (crazy idea – you have dousing shower that you can ride under and get hit with water !! at a few places along the ride). Create somewhere for cyclists to visit and journey to and you will develop a place that cyclists around the country will visit. A cycle ride can be a very spiritual thing given the right conditions – not fighting heavy traffic and potholes. Cycling can be a very solitary sport with the rider caught within his own thoughts.
- Have you supported cycling in the past?
- Joanne Keune: Bought and spent a lot of money on bikes.
- Jane Arlett: I have been a supporter of many community and charity rides as an individual donor as well as a business sponsor. I am aware of the She Spoke Ladies riding group who will do the Townsville to Cairns ride for Childhood Cancer, a group of women with over 300 members. It has been great to see this group grow and develop rapidly, encouraging many women to participate in this great activity. I actively support my staff to ride to work.
- Veirn Veitch: Yes and when younger regularly rode to work
- Guy Reece: Not really, I stopped cycling because it was too dangerous, when i see them now I give them a wide berth. If the conditions were right i would cycle.
- Surveys show that lack of workplace facilities are a major barrier to riding to work. How would you encourage local businesses to improve their end-of-ride facilities?
- Joanne Keune: Easy Lockable safe storage area for bikes. Employer must have shower and change facilities. There should be some form of bonus for all employees who ride to work ? Grant by employer to leave 15 mins. early ? tax rebate ? rates reduction for employer paying rates – which employer gives back to employees in some way ?
- Jane Arlett: There are workplaces that have great end of ride facilities. My own business Townsville Podiatry Centre has staff shower facilities, a bike storage area and fully promotes staff riding to work. Willows Shopping Centre also has good facilities. These types of initiatives are part of a broader picture of leading a healthier way of living. Townsville has a high level of overweight & obese residents and encouraging individuals to be more active and businesses to support this would be important to me. Education and promotion of such initiatives would be part of my plan for a healthier city. Encouraging a general better way to live with a broad range of get fit, get involved initiatives would promote a healthier happier city.
- Veirn Veitch: New buildings are already required to have some push bike secure storage and change rooms. There should also be some sort of incentive to retrofit older buildings. Council has already done this to our buildings.
- Guy Reece: Its going to be hard – private business will more or less do what they like, at one place i worked the boss would force the apprentice to leave his bike out in the rain even though there was an entire warehouse to use.
- What do you think of the Townsville Bicycle User Group?
- Joanne Keune: Fantastic ! The more people riding bikes – the healthier our society ! I support the group in anyway I can.
- Jane Arlett: Townsville BUG is “campaigning for safer, more direct and connected routes, encouraging more people to cycle more often”. I think this is a great objective!
- Veirn Veitch: They have been active in lobbying for better push-bike facilities and safety for many years. I personally know some of the committee.
- Guy Reece: I don’t really know very much about them, I used to cycle a lot but don’t because of motorised traffic. If i were to cycle again i’d most likely use a completely separated cycle way – they have them near major roads in Britain. I’d use cycle ways that journeyed across scenic places if they existed and were purely for bike riders.
- Will you support calls for a dedicated Cycling Officer within city Council to assess the entire transport network, gathering statistics of time of travel and plan for safe, direct and connected cycleways?
- Joanne Keune: yes definitely, but surely this already exists by now ? What is the history of bikeways and existing plans to date in Townsville?
- Jane Arlett: The safety of cyclists and pedestrians is very important. I am happy to look at how we can best achieve this. We certainly need Council to collect statistics on cycling, have safe cycling plans, connected cycleways as well as assessing current bike lanes to ensure they are kept debris free and safe for all Townsville residents. Cyclists are not just those crazy people who go out at 4am in their lycra. They are our kids who ride to school, people who commute to work and university and general bike riders who cycle for fun & fitness.
- Veirn Veitch: I think this needs to be a shared job as although it needs some initial priority, I doubt there is enough ongoing work to justify a full time position. There are a number of council engineers who regularly ride push bikes including to commute and have children who use bikes for school transport. We need to ensure efficient use of funding and I would not like to see on-ground works reduced to employ someone with a restricted focus when it can be combined with other facilities such as Parks and footpaths design ro in combination with better road design.
- Guy Reece: Why not ? In theory its the community that decides how the council functions not the other way around. My only proviso is this person is not a desk jockey whose mentality has been moulded into the vegetative state of a government official and apart from using a bike they must actually be approved by a few cycling club – they must be expected to actually ride these places to get an understanding of the conditions.
Free input responses:
William Hankin (mayoral candidate):
I’m William Hankin, the Independent Mayoral Candidate for Townsville.
Hi to Eddie, Rebecca, Leonie and Robert along with all at Townsville Bicycle User Group. I’m sorry to all, no I have not rode a bike in many years now.
I do agree for some one in and around Tsv, cycling would be pretty dangerous.
I do think that cycling, within and around Townsville does play an important role in infrastructure. Due to the fact that I myself would never try to brave the city traffic, within and around Tsv. I agree with you all about the following questions, yes a dedicated cycling officer within city council to assess the transport network would be needed. If I was elected Tsv City Mayor, I would have to have a meeting with your group, as I have no knowledge as to what you all experience out there first hand.
I thank you all for inviting me to address my opinion as to your questions, and if I am elected Mayor, I will look forward to meeting with you all to address all of your issues, perhaps to if you have a spare bike, I maybe able to go for a ride for some first hand knowledge, as to how to be of not just some help, but great help for your group. Again thanks to you all. From Bill Hankin.
I look forward to working with you to ensure that the new Riverway drive has the best bike lane possible. I hear many different resident views on it. ?? I hope I can work with you on the promotion of your most important bike transport focus. Sincerely, Joanne