Monday, July 17, 2017

Shepparton has spent the past year or so debating possible directions for the central business district’s future.

A reliance on cars has been assumed as a reality the city needs to stomach during most of these discussions, rather than a behaviour that may not be a mode of transport most compatible with future goals of the city.

Sure, like most regional cities, it is likely Shepparton will remain heavily dependent on cars for a while yet, in the absence of a comprehensive public transport network and adequate cycling infrastructure.

And while travelling across Greater Shepparton exclusively by bicycle may seem a way off yet, steps to boosting the viability of commuting from the city’s outskirts to places of business, education or leisure, should be thoroughly encouraged.

Shepparton’s climate, topography and size suggest it is ideal to better use bicycles as a legitimate mode of transport and cycling as a valuable activity for commuting.

But it may also prove an intuitive solution to several of the city’s other concerns.

It could provide an answer to a previously well documented lack of physical activity, take pressure off Shepparton’s roads and off the council’s parking network.

As such, Bruce Echberg’s suggestion for a key north/south cycling arterial is not just a aimed at those who already ride a bike, but something that could actively encourage others to do the same, for much broader benefits.

As recently identified, there’s still a way to go before a regular bicycle commute is taken seriously by most Sheppartonians.

A lack of safety, accessibility and infrastructure for everyday cycling transport were this year flagged as key barriers.

This is before factoring in the environmental positives, the reduced public health costs associated with cycling and reduced costs associated with running cars.

Exactly how realistic this specific idea will be remains to be seen.
Behavioural shifts will also likely be needed for the city to fully benefit from such ideas.

Nevertheless, such an arterial is a suggestion we would like to see taken seriously, alongside serious discussion about improving the viability of cycling across the city.

This editorial is from today’s Shepparton News - “Change our transport idea.”

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