Title Main Committee
National Bike Path Program
Database House Hansard
Date 16-11-2009
Source House of Reps
Parl No. 42
Electorate Cowper
Main Committee/Federation Chamber
Page 11821
Party NATS
Status Final
Speaker Hartsuyker, Luke, MP
Stage National Bike Path Program
Context Private Members' Business
System Id chamber/hansardr/2009-11-16/0291

Main Committee - PRIVATE MEMBERS’ BUSINESS - National Bike Path Program

Mr HARTSUYKER (7:16 PM) —I too would like to commend the member for Oxley for putting forward this motion. As he rightly pointed out, cycling is a sport that people can enjoy regardless of their age. I did not realise that the member for Oxley was such a fount of knowledge on cycling with his endless run of facts that he was able to provide us with. I certainly commend those facts.

On the North Coast we have a great environment and the opportunity to enjoy that environment by cycling is something that should not be missed. I think that further investment in cycling infrastructure can only help to make this sport grow. Where you have a very competitive tourism market I think that there are huge opportunities for communities to improve their appeal to tourists and visitors by offering better quality cycling infrastructure. Whilst there is cycling infrastructure around, all too often when you get to the really busy bits, the cycleway disappears and merges onto the main busy road. Quite often you will have a good cycle path for 50 per cent of the distance but then you have dangerous traffic conditions for the remaining 50 per cent. I think it is important that we become a lot more proactive in ensuring that our cycle paths conform to a cycling strategy, if you like, and when you get to those difficult areas of high traffic, the cycleway and the safety that it provides should be preserved. I think that is a very important point.

The health aspects of cycling cannot be overestimated. We have heard from previous speakers about the importance of cycling in relation to combating obesity and in relation to combating diabetes. I guess one of the really great things about cycling is that you can get fit without really noticing it—especially on downhill runs. The opportunity to actually enjoy your exercise without it becoming a grind is something that has a lot of appeal to people—especially when the whole family can participate, you can have a great day out with the family, and you can all be getting fit and enjoying cycling.

I have a vision for the east coast: with an ever-growing population, we should have an east coast cycle path to enable people to cycle safely from Victoria right the way up into Queensland. I think it would be a huge tourist mecca. I think it is something that would draw people from around the world. Australia has so many wonderful coastal vistas to be enjoyed; if we were able to connect much of the existing cycle infrastructure, fill in the gaps over time—and it would be a long-term process—and provide the ability for people to start in Victoria and ride way up into North Queensland, I think it would become one of the great cycling trips of the world. I think it would be an attraction for many international tourists as well as an attraction that can be enjoyed by locals. Just as many people travel the world to enjoy great rail journeys, I think that an east coast cycle path would be a massive point of difference between Australia and many other countries.

There are also the environmental aspects of cycling. For every kilometre that someone cycles instead of using a car, there is a benefit in reducing CO2 emissions. There is a lot of debate going on in this House in relation to the pros and cons of an ETS, but one thing is certain: if you ride your bike rather than taking the car, you are going to improve the environment by reduced consumption of resources and by reduced CO2 emissions.

I commend the motion. I think it is appropriate that we redouble our efforts to invest in cycle infrastructure. I certainly welcome the government’s investment in cycling infrastructure; it is something that we should be looking to continue into the long term. It would be particularly beneficial on the North Coast, where we have a thriving tourism industry that is always looking for new attractions. A cycle path that is currently under construction and which is getting longer and longer each year means that tourists visiting the area have an incentive to come back year after year to see the progress of the project. It is creating jobs in the construction phase and through tourism as thousands upon thousands of people enjoy the benefits of that cycle path.

I commend the member for Oxley, the member for Gippsland and the member for Parramatta for their contributions to the debate. I think it is a very worthwhile debate. I think that cycling is a sport that we should be supporting. We certainly should be attempting to make cycling as safe as it can be. Mixing bicycles with cars is always risky for the cyclist and I think that the more opportunity there is for the separation of bicycles from cars the safer the sport will become and the more attractive it will be to people of all ages.