Tuesday, December 11


IT seems that the work of the Australian Motorcycle Council and others might be finally making some inroads.

On December 4, Australian Federal Infrastructure Minister, Anthony Albanese, released the State of Australian Cities 2012 report in Melbourne, and in doing so had this to say about motorcycles and scooters:
"...the role of that often-forgotten transport mode, motorcycles and scooters."

"However in the Australian policy context, they tend only to be mentioned in discussions about safety," Albanese said.

"This can obscure the fact that they are an important and growing component of the urban transport mix at a time when congestion drags like an anchor on our time and productivity."

As I can attest from my recent trip to Italy, many of the world's cities are thronged with motorbikes and scooters as people take advantage of this low-cost, low-energy and space-efficient form of transport.

The State of Australian Cities Report annually reviews the state of Australia's 18 largest urban areas. This year it concluded that Australia's 700,000 motorcyclists and scooter riders produce lower emissions than car drivers, take up less space on congested roads and reduce pressure on city parking areas.

The report states: "The major advantage of motorcycles and scooters in the urban transport system is that they are very space efficient at a time when congestion is now a critical problem in cities' and that 'depending on the attitude to filtering or lane splitting, they take up much less space than other vehicles in slow-moving or stationary traffic and up to five can park in a single car space."

Australian Motorcycle Council chairman Shaun Lennard was delighted with the report.

"This is a massive shift in approach. Just last year, the National Transport Commission released a report 'Smart Transport for a Growing Nation' which failed to mention the growing popularity of motorcycling. Actually, it failed to mention motorcylces altogether."

According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, there were 511,966 motorcycles in Australia in 2007. This has grown by a staggering 38 per cent to 709,288 in 2012, indicating that many Australians have drawn the same conclusion as the report.

Some Australian cities are following their European counterparts in encouraging their use. In Melbourne, motorcycles and scooters can park free on the wide footpaths particularly in Elizabeth Street, the traditional home of the retail trade in the city. However, that has not come without a fight. Some years ago the Council wanted to kick them out...

In Australia's capital city, Canberra, motorcycles and scooters can also park free in designated spaces that are plentiful throughout the city.

In New Zealand, the Auckland Council seems to be living up to the name 'Stupid City' with virtually no provision for motorcycle and scooter parking, but spending millions on bicycle lanes that almost nobody uses...