2011-03-30 Meeting minutes

Combined BUGs Meeting, Wednesday 30th March 2011

Venue: Carringbush Hotel, Abbottsford

Attendance and Apologies

Present: John Parker, Glennys Jones, David Leong, Peter Campbell (Chair), Julia Blunden (minutes), Ken Morrison (Boroondara); Darren McClelland (Moonee Valley); Ferdi Saliba (Brimbank); Gordon Macmillan (Whitehorse), Maurie Abbott (Banyule), Rachel Mackay, Helen Millicer (Glen Eira), Paul McKay (Moreland), Paul Shub (Melbourne), Harry Barber (Bicycle Victoria)

Apologies: Frank Kinnersley (Moonee Valley), Graeme Stone (Boroondara), David Pawley (McBUG – Monash Community BUG), Graeme Oke (BrimBUG), Eric Ball (Manningham)

Minutes of previous meeting, 27th October 2010

These were circulated prior to the meeting.

BUG Presentations

Spokespeople for each of the BUGs represented gave short presentations on their various activities and concerns. While the BUGs varied widely in focus, size and experience there were a number of common themes. All appear to recognize the need to work as closely as they can with their local councils, whether with councilors or council staff, or preferably both. A Bicycle Advisory Committee is seen as a useful forum where this can happen. Bike strategies are seen as important tools for focusing both council and public attention on what needs to be done, and for pursuing increased funding for cycling infrastructure. No BUG appeared to have run out of ideas for improvements needed in their areas!

Harry Barber’s Presentation

Harry began by pointing out that Bicycle Victoria (BV) is currently engaged in developing a working relationship with the new State Government. There has been a change to the BV constitution such that ‘Health’ is now being highlighted as the guiding principle and the determinant of future priorities. The focus will be on getting people of all ages and both sexes riding, and separating riders from motor traffic may be the key to this. BV is adopting an evidence based approach, and is looking for initiatives that produce a high return for effort, whether this be in Victoria or interstate. BV is keen to develop partnerships at the local, state and national levels. Rather than working with individual councils BV looks to support councils generally with tools such as Bikescope, Bixie, Ride to Work and Ride to School Days.

These presentations led naturally to discussion of the first and second items of New Business

1. Improving Relations Between BV and BUGS

Issues raised included

    • Ride On content no longer includes discussion of infrastructure issues. Harry pointed out that the readers generally have said they don’t want this. A suggestion was put forward that ride routes could be included that showcase infrastructure improvements. Harry agreed to pass on this suggestion to the Ride On team.

    • Another suggestion was that new BV members be informed about BUGs, whether locality or workplace based, in their local area. Harry indicated that the BLINK facility on the BV web site can probably be developed to do this. The point was made by a BUG member that a regular list of BUGs and clubs in Ride On would reach more people.

    • The past practice of emailing members about current campaigns was mentioned and it was pointed out that this still happens via BV’s electronic newsletter In the Loop.

    • The question of BUG input into developments such as the revision of the PBN was raised. Harry pointed out that VicRoads was running this and even BV was not initially included in consultation. The best option for BUG input was via councils, but while some encouraged this others didn’t.

    • Harry was asked how he saw the exchange of ideas between BV and BUGs continuing. Harry said that those present at the Combined BUGs meeting were clearly those most interested in such exchanges and that he planned to attend two meetings a year with us, and would probably bring Scott Whiffin, Manager of the Facilities Development Team, with him. An agreed agenda is needed for these meetings but all topics would be up for discussion. Harry added that Bikescope is a great tool for bringing BV and BUGs together and for understanding issues in local government areas.

    • A suggestion was made that BUG representatives could be offered discount rates at the Bike Futures Conference as a way of educating BUGs. Harry expressed some reservations about this idea as the conference is intended primarily for the sharing of information amongst local governments.

    • Harry volunteered the information that BV is currently working on a template for bike strategies for use by local councils, and undertook to circulate this to BUGs for feedback.

2. BUG Communication with the Victorian Bicycle Advisory Committee

Harry B indicated that BV is willing to raise issues at the VBAC if they’ve been agreed to at a Combined BUGs meeting, eg the issue of naming and signage of off-road trails, though we could probably raise them ourselves. However he pointed out that the VBAC no longer advises the Minister but rather VicRoads. We could raise the issue of the PBN consultation at the VBAC but this is unlikely to achieve much.

At this point we returned to the agenda

Matters Arising

1 Naming and Signage of Off-road Trails

Julia B responded to the letter from the then Minister Pallas but received no reply. Since the State election the original letter has been re-sent to the new Minister, but no reply has been received as yet.

Harry B commented that BUGs probably need to focus their efforts on councils and must be prepared for progress to be slow. The suggestion was made that BV could select one or more trails and approach the relevant councils offering to do signage and mapping of the trails at a price. A pilot project is needed, possibly Moreland. The point was made that once installed signage also needs to be maintained and this task would probably fall to councils.

New Business (continued)

3. Development of a System to Provide Timely Warning of Flooding and Other Disruptions to Bike Paths

This issue has become more pressing given the recent extreme flooding on many of our off-road trails.

Mention was made of a phone app used to provide bush fire warnings. Perhaps Melbourne Water could use something similar to provide flood warnings? Perhaps Radio stations could be interested in broadcasting warnings? Perhaps the VBAC could be approached about this? No decision was reached on which of these options to pursue.

It was pointed out that the signs erected along the Merri Creek Path after a drowning there have no depth measures and provide little useful information. Harry suggested that a VicRoads Cycle Note is needed on the best type of signage in these situations.

Helen M foreshadowed an agenda item on the impacts of climate change on cycle infrastructure for our next meeting. She offered to provide some links to relevant information we can read before the meeting.

3. Bluestone Policy

In some areas, eg Boroondara, up to three rows of bluestones are installed alongside roads, usually in the name of ‘heritage’. This significantly reduces the usable road space, especially affecting cyclists, and can also be a problem for those crossing roads whether with prams, walking frames or wheelchairs. A policy is needed whereby bluestones are limited to one row and are not installed across pram ramps.

Harry B pointed out that BV is developing ‘Good design guides’ pages on its web site, and said that the use of bluestones will be included there.

4. Tools for Auditing Council Expenditure on Promoting Cycling other than Bixie

Some councils claim that Bixie understates their expenditure on support for cycling. Harry B pointed out that it is just one measure of what councils spend. The point was also made that councils tend to count shared paths as cycling expenditure even though they are also used by pedestrians, thus overstating their cycling expenditure. Perhaps an accountant’s perspective is needed on this debate?

VicRoads is currently using a GIS to record all paths, using Nearmap, supplemented by some on-ground checking. However while length of paths is one measure, width and standard of construction are also important.

BUGs can play a useful role by keeping records of all infrastructure improvements in their areas.

Other Business

Lighting on the Gantry under Monash Freeway between Glenferrie Rd and the Yarra

The difficulty of establishing the responsibility for maintenance of this lighting was raised. Boroondara BUG members have tried various avenues including VicRoads. Transurban reluctantly did the job last year, but now, with the end of daylight savings approaching, more globes need replacing. Harry B suggested a BUG submission to the Minister for Transport, and undertook to raise the matter at the VBAC.

Next Meeting

Wednesday 21st September 2011