What a stunning contrast in attitude to bike riders is on display in NSW at the moment.
We have a state premier proposing a de-facto bike rider licensing scheme one day, and a federal opposition senior leader calling for more bike friendly policies for the state the next.
Federal member for the inner-Sydney electorate of Grayndler and Labor Spokesperson for Cities, Anthony Albanese, writes in the Sydney Morning Herald of the economic imperative of reducing traffic congestion and bike riding’s specific role in achieving this.
“ …smart governments should be doing everything they can to identify impediments to greater use of bicycles and sweep them away in the interests of economic efficiency…” Anthony Albanese MP, Sydney Morning Herald.
Anthony Albanese is a strong advocate for urban renewal through transport diversity. He was the federal Minister for Infrastructure and Transport from 2007 to 2013, and is currently Shadow Minister of Infrastructure and Transport and Shadow Minister of Cities.
Mr Albanese is channeling the latest thinking from around the world that is seeing governments and city administrations bending over backwards to be friendly to bike riders, and getting as many of them as possible on the streets.
NSW Premier Mike Baird has clearly not got the memo that says bike-busy streets will be a key competitive advantage in the race for international prosperity. This is odd because his national counterpart, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, has the memo, and has in fact appointed a Minister for Cities and the Build Environment to press the agenda.
If Malcolm Turnbull wanted to talk to Duncan Gay about cities he’d have to time travel
So where does the compulsory carriage of government-issued ID fit this picture. It doesn’t. Premier Baird has a Roads Minister, Duncan Gay, that has always hankered for a licensing scheme for bike riders. When he couldn’t swing that, his advisors came up with the ruse of making the carriage of official identification a condition of being permitted to ride a bike. They avoid calling it a licence, but it’s the same thing. Or worse. It carries all the hallmarks of a smackdown—a calculated attempt to arrest the growth in bike riding
Gay is a behemoth of the NSW parliament—a Nationals MLC since 1988 and Leader of the Government in the Legislative Council. Documents obtained under FOI from his department by Bicycle Network reveal attitudes towards transport that haven’t been seen in the wild for 50 years. If Mr Turnbull wanted to talk to Gay about cities he’d have to time travel.
Ride On has previously investigated the growing interest in the role of bicycles in the successful traffic future of our urban areas. You can read extended interviews with spokespeople of the current Turnbull Liberal Government, the Labor Opposition and The Greens.
Ride On content is editorially independent, but is supported financially by members of Bicycle Network. If you enjoy our articles and want to support the future publication of high-quality content, please consider helping out by becoming a member.