15 Jan 2010
Jackie Fristacky’s excellent day on wheels
Cycling in Australia
This is the story of the day I spent following ( on a bike) a very inspiring politician around the streets of Yarra city, which is part of Melbourne.
Jackie has been part of a push which has seen Yarra city climb to the highest rate of bike commuting of anywhere in Australia.
Jackie Fristacky’s story might look like just another movie on YouTube. But actually it’s a very special tool for change, at least potentially.
What you can do, if you like it, is to find out who is sympathetic to bikes as transport on your own local council, and then send that person this video.
If you get a response, follow it up. See if they’d like to be in contact with Jackie Fristacky and Yarra council to find out more.
We can grow bike use together in ways like this. It’s fun.
Just like it’s fun riding a bike as transport, so much fun it should be illegal.
These are not my councillors, not yours either, but they do look receptive, don’t they?
You might be surprised to find your timing is spot on when it comes to your council and bikes. The world is changing and the only way to know, is to pay a visit.
So, here’s the secret weapon, the Fristacky file.
Let me know how you go with Jackie’s story.
People might want to know more as to why Yarra city council is doing so well. Jackie Fristacky has sent myself and David Hembrow, some more detail.
She says; There are a range of reasons why Yarra has a high cycling mode share.
1, Location close to key destinations such as CBD (1-2kms away to 5kms away at the extreme), employment and local activity centres;
2. Yarra being 19 sq kms, and only a few kms. from CBD, so distances all easily cyclable;
3 Relatively flat terrain;
4. Hoddle grid street pattern (rectangular blocks) makes cycling easy;
5. High youth population, including students, given proximity to many tertiary educational institutions (University of Melbourne, RMIT, Australian Catholic University, and city campuses of Monash University, Vitoria University and others);
6 Demographic is diverse with high proportion of professionals (higher incomes), and students and public housing (low incomes); both demographics cycle;
7. cycling as an egalitarian and independent mode, suits the Yarra demographic;
8. Traffic Congestion is common. So it is far more effective to cycle – being faster and door to door;
9. 20% of households do not have a car, compared with Melbourne average of 10%;
10. 73,000 residents; and 8,700 businesses in Yarra, employing some 60,000 people. Yarra is the largest source of employment outside the CBD.
11. Some large businesses, like the CUB, have large secure bike cages for staff. Many employers are starting to encourage their staff to cycle to work with good parking and other facilities.
Under the State planning scheme, these have become mandatory for larger new developments, but this is effecting existing businesses too.
At meetings with planners, we take every opportunity to point out that more bikes are sold than cars, especially in Yarra, so where are residents/workers going to put their bikes?
We say that if they don’t want them in corridors and on balconies where they can cause trip hazards and WorkCare claims, then they need to plan better storage places;
13. Yarra inherited a good cycle path to the CBD (Canning Street) but this has been supplemented by bike paths on virtually all roads in Yarra due to policy change directing this;
13. Role models of Mayor and councillors on bikes, and senior staff including Directors on bikes;
14. PR with press features on cycling and facilities;
15. Many local workers like to attend a bar or the like after work and having a car hampers them with restricted parking
Cr Jackie M Fristacky
Councillor for Nicholls Ward, City of Yarra
Phone: 0412 597 794
And here’s a companion story, another busy professional who, not only uses a bike on the job but, like Jackie, has interesting ideas about how bikes can make our lives better.
This is Ian Charlton, The Doctor on a Bike. Seeing patients, Ian prefers to prescribe a bike than a pill.
Indeed, Ian believes that if we were to increase our exercise through cycling and walking, we could get off those lifestyle pills so many us now take.
He’s got me off. A year ago I was taking six pills. Now, I take one.
P.S The three men in suits are actually Montreal council people riding the new Bixi bikes around that city. Montreal is a case of city council making a huge difference in the cycling culture of a city.