It’s quite easy to fall into the trap of thinking every council is rubbish and we in the media do give them their fair share of kickings, but it’s also important to give them recognition when they get something right.
The awkwardly-named “active travel plan” is actually a really good idea and while there’s clearly a way to go before the various components are shovel-ready, it’s an important step forward.
On Saturday we talked about the importance of getting ready for the future and encouraging people to use alternative modes of transport is critical. You only need to look at heavily-congested cities like Sydney and Melbourne to see the danger of letting population run away while authorities struggle to keep up.
The ballooning cost of Sydney’s infamous WestConnex included about $1.5 billion that was spent by NSW taxpayers on buying hundreds perfectly good homes that could be knocked down to build a motorway. That’s roughly two stadiums’ worth that could have been saved if earlier governments – local and state – had bothered to look to the future.
You may well say that Wagga is a far cry from Sydney’s traffic levels and that’s true, but populations will continue to grow in the coming years and unless we want to continue to shoehorn more people onto our roads we need to be prepared.
Bikes are not only far cheaper than cars to buy, use and maintain, they’re also a lot smaller and therefore easier to store. With the price of power-assisted bikes coming down as well, even those who live out at Forest Hill, Lloyd or Gobbagombalin would be able to ride to work easily.
Imagine if half the people who park around the CBD at the moment rode their bikes to work instead. There’d be no need for parking stations or even parking rangers if there was an abundance of spaces available. The city would become more attractive to visitors if they could easily get in and out.
There will be the need to provide facilities for staff to change or shower, because no-one likes to deal with smelly people, but hopefully this is something businesses and landlords will see as a worthwhile investment.
So yes, Wagga is still a long way from needing serious traffic solutions, but better that we nip it in the bud than try to retroactively solve an obvious problem.
Hopefully those final design elements come together soon, for the good of us all.