Bendigo: Ban prompts action

24 January, 2008 – 9:57 am

Bendigo Advertiser: Ban prompts action

Central Victorian bike activists plan to take the success of a rethink on train bike bans further and advocate for greater integration between rail and bike use. Up to fifty cyclists – many of them catching the morning service from Castlemaine with cardboard replica bikes – gathered at Bendigo Station yesterday to voice their protest at a State Government ban of bikes on peak-hour trains.

This week Minister Lynne Kosky ordered a review of the ban and will not impose the restrictions until it is complete.

Rally organiser Jill Gibson said this was an opportunity for the government to completely reverse ban and look at new and better ways of integrating bicycles into the public transport system.

‘‘This is a chance to make it that much better and as a link in the chain, so to speak, of an integrated system,’’ she said.

The volunteer for Sustainability Victoria said like the need to address climate change, the community had led the way on the bike issue, particularly in central Victoria, where there were fewer public transport options and people grasped the value of the need for alternatives.

‘‘In Castlemaine we have a community that has really jelled, and issues like this bring the community together,’’ Ms Gibson said.

‘‘People have moved here for deliberate life choices and are very conscious of those choices.’’

She said the bike train option allowed many people to do without the expense of a second car. City of Greater Bendigo councillor Keith Reynard, who led the council move against the ban, said it was also vital to have public transport systems that support bicycle travel because of the rise in commuter travel and its potential to contribute to tourism.

‘‘We want to promote cycling where people come up and ride around central Victoria, and the public transport integration in this is all part of the journey,’’ he said.

Cr Reynard said bikes also posed an alternative solution to the ongoing problem of car parking for rail commuters, where the 120 space site filled early and overflowed into surrounding streets.

‘‘I understand it won’t suit everybody, but the more we can utilise alternatives like bike travel, the less pressure there is on limited spaces,’’ he said.

‘‘As fuel prices go up I think we are going to see more and more of this (bicycle use).’’ Bendigo Bicycle Users Group president Keith Longridge said the review provided an opportunity for the government to encourage more cycle commuting.

‘‘I think the first reaction of Bendigo cyclist to this ban is they were being marginalised,’’ Mr Longridge said.

‘‘We want the government to act in an encouraging, rather than a discouraging, role and see bikes as a key to the efficiency of the whole system.’’

He said infrastructure details such as better bicycle storage stations (Bendigo Station presently has 12 lockers) were part of the next step to solving wider transport problems.

‘‘We’ve got to get out of this 1950s and 60s thinking of just building a freeway and filling it with cars.’’

V/Line area service manager Andrew Berry said the rally had been orderly and provided no difficulty, but he said the company would be making a submission to the Minister on the difficulty large numbers of bikes created for passenger access.

He said V/Line’s major concern was with safety and the possibility of multiple bicycles overflowing from storage areas and impeding people’s ability to get on and off trains.

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