When radio hosts bite back against the bike...

Here in London we've been very lucky.  Despite some initial suggestions of impending doom from certain corners of the press, the installation and construction of our bike share scheme and the Cycle Superhighways has been reasonably unremarked upon by the wider non-cycling media.  The following film will show how different that could have been...

Lord Mayor of Sydney Australia, Clover Moore, has been re-elected to her position for the past 8 years and was MP for the Sydney area for 24 years - a pretty impressive political track record.  She's an independent politician with strong green leanings operating in a two party system.  I was aware of her attempts to pacify some of Sydney's busiest roads and to introduce cycling infrastructure (something that barely existed at all when I lived in Sydney four years ago), and the impressive speed at which change was taking place, but I was not aware of some of the stories behind the change.  Sydney is by no means a cycling nirvana but it would seem that the City Council has been pretty gutsy in getting out there and building separated cycle ways, striping bike lanes and making connecting to the various harbour bridges by bike easier.

The following film, "Sydney 2030; A city with two voices" details the explosive reaction of Sydney shock jock and long time radio fixture Alan Jones to Clover Moore's bike lane schemes, and the implication of the Sydney 2030 plan which intends to introduce a light rail and pedestrianisation scheme on one of the busiest roads in Sydney (the city's equivalent of Regent Street in London), as well as a number of other projects such as local waste incineration and energy production schemes.

I came across this film at The Crystal in East London - which I wrote about earlier this week - it was a contribution to the CityStories film project funded by Siemens, whereby young film makers from around the globe produced short movies about sustainability issues under the tutorship of Academy Award winning film director Davis Guggenheim (Best Documentary Feature, "An Inconvenient Truth").

Alan Jones rumbled on to his listeners and railed against cyclists to anyone who would listen.  Local cyclists reported a rise in road rage from drivers around the same time and directly cited Jones as a source for the increased tension experienced on the roads.  Anti and pro-bike lane protests clashed on the streets whilst the perception of bike lanes as being an incomer's gentrifying stick with which to beat the hard working folk of Sydney became prevalent in the conservative Sydney media.  The construction of the reasonably innocuous cycleways even led to the City of Sydney being threatened with a lawsuit by irate business owners convinced that the bike lanes would be their downfall.

It just goes to show, for all we complain about the quality of the design and planning decisions made in London when it comes to cycling, things could have been an awful lot worse!

For more information on the City of Sydney Cycle Ways see here.

To check out the great promotional videos the City of Sydney are using to encourage cycling see my previous blog post here.

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Anonymous said...

If road rage attacks went up as a direct result of this 'jock' then shouldn't he be prosecuted under inciting violence laws?

ibikelondon said...

Believe it or not @Anonymous Alan Jones has gone from bad to worse recently and has far more pressing matters to worry about(!!): http://www.canberratimes.com.au/opinion/ad-lands-brutal-wakeup-20121012-27ics.html

Paul M said...

How do Sydney promote cycling in the face of the dangerising effect of a compulsory helmet law which, presumably, was determined at a state/federal level rather than by the City? I did note from your previous post that by no means all of the cyclists shown were wearing lids - the woodcut in particular showed the romance of free-flowing hair.

I have never been there but my sister has lived in Sydney for about the last 15 years, and from her accounts it sounds like a rather distended city - her commute to work is quite a considerable distance and the urban sprawl of the city is now at almost LA proportions. This has presumably come about because of the influence of the motor car, just as is the case for LA.

I've also heard that Australia has an obesity problem on muchthe same scale as ours.

I was reading in the cycle strategy for the borough where I grew up, that while its eastern half was highly amenable to cycle infrastructure (and is indeed a deal better than most places I have been in the UK, including anywhere in London) the western half comprises predominantly modern housing estates (built since about 1980) which have explicitly been built for drivers, ie all strung out so that distances from front door to shop door etc are beyond what most ordinary latent cyclists would be willing to undertake, which is a shame because the area is as flat as the Netherlands and enjoys a dry coastal climate. Photos of my sister's house suggest to me that Sydney has gone the same way.