Queensland Gets Moving: How We’re Planning for Active Transport
Changing gears: how we’re planning for active transport
How we move, and how efficiently we can do it, is key to ensuring productivity and quality of life. As we carefully plan for the future of Queensland’s cities, towns and communities, we're ensuring people living within them have access a range of liveability benefits including infrastructure promoting active transport: getting where you want to go through physically active ways of travelling.
It's clear that more Queenslanders than ever before are thinking about the environmental and health benefits of active transport to get from A to B.
A 2021 study found that the proportion of Queensland residents who rode a bicycle in a typical week increased from 13.5% in 2019 to 19.2% in 2021
One of those Queenslanders is Brisbane mum of two, personal trainer and teacher Renee Dikeni. As a person with an active lifestyle and frustrated with the limits of car travel, Renee made the decision in late 2019 to go without using a car for an entire year.
“I was working full-time as a teacher and driving an hour each way to and from work,” says Renee. “I’d stop at the same set of traffic lights every day and watch the cyclists roll by. I decided I wanted to find a way to ride everywhere!”
Renee primarily used a bike to transport herself and her young family around, not setting foot in a car or taxi for an entire year, and continuing her active lifestyle of running, cycling, hiking and hitting the gym.
Renee’s year-long challenge soon became her new normal. Along with the health benefits, Renee soon saved enough on petrol to buy and pay off a new eBike.
Today she is joined on the roads by her two sons, now 10 and 12, who she says she has coached from a young age to ride safely.
Renee is one of the many people across Queensland who use active transport infrastructure daily.
What is active transport?
Active transport relates to physical activity undertaken as a means of transport.
Examples of active transport include:
- P2P Bike Share
- City Bike and eScooter Share
Planning for and encouraging active transport is a key component of the Queensland Government’s 2022 State Infrastructure Strategy, which focuses on creating liveable communities and creating convenient and attractive transport options across the state.
Did you know: living within close proximity (400-800m) of a mix of destinations is associated with higher levels of active transport (walking and cycling) across all age groups? .
Being able to cycle, walk or run to where you want to go by yourself or supported through passenger transport is not only good for you, but good for our economy. In fact, economic modelling has shown that for every $1 invested in cycling infrastructure, $5 is returned to our state through a range of benefits including community health, traffic decongestion and savings in car user costs.
The need to plan ahead for active transport
Shifting the transport methodology of a city or state cannot happen overnight, as has been seen in the world’s most bike friendly cities such as Copenhagen, Amsterdam and Utrecht, where proactive planning has supported the development of bike-friendly infrastructure.
Likewise, an area’s walkability can be measured using factors such as land use, proximity to services required for daily living and population density, all of which require significant forward planning.
Thankfully, the need for an integrated approach to active transport planning is something Queensland has recognised. The State Infrastructure Strategy sets out the need to carefully plan new communities with integrated active and public transport networks including:
- Safe and connected cycle paths and footpaths
- Walkable neighbourhoods
- Integrated public transport, walking, cycling and other networks that are accessible for people of all ages and abilities
- Appropriate end of trip facilities
These features are integral considerations when planning new regional areas such as Caboolture West, as well as major infrastructure projects such as Cross River Rail, the SEQ City Deal and supporting public movement during the Brisbane 2032 Olympic and Paralympic Games where no spectator or workforce car access will be permitted to the Brisbane 2032 venue zones.
Moreover, the Queensland government is investing $268.8 million for active transport infrastructure over the next four years, including a $200,000 master planned cycle link connecting Brisbane to the border.
But it’s not just infrastructure planning where active transport needs are considered. The Queensland Government introduced assessment benchmarks for new residential subdivisions relating to connectivity, block lengths, footpaths, parks and open spaces and street trees in a bid to create more active and healthy communities across Queensland.
Did you know: if everyone cycled as much as the Dutch, global carbon emissions would drop by nearly 700 million tonnes per year? .
How active transport needs are changing buyer behaviour
When searching for a new house to purchase in 2021, Renee’s main priority was clear.
“We intentionally looked to buy in areas close to bikeways,” she explains. “It took a while for the agent to understand we didn’t necessarily want to live in places with no nearby places to ride!”
“We ended up buying a townhouse 200m from the local high school and near to connecting bike paths so the kids could ride to school and I could ride to work.”
Renee’s experience as a cyclist has made her very aware of how city and community planning can affect active transport.
“On a larger level, the best thing planners can do is think about how suburbs can be different, and identify how corridors and routes connects them,” she says.
“On a smaller level, outside of placing physical barriers between cyclists and cars, it can be thinking about how things like hedges and street signs can obstruct the views of people on bikes.”
When it comes to people considering active transport as a viable way to get around, Renee says go for it!
“Start on some weekend rides where time isn’t an issue,” she suggests. “You’ll be surprised at how quickly you can get places once you know all the ways to go.”
“The days I get to ride are all good days. Even if it’s just cycling to the gym, I just turn up happy. The endorphins are pumping.”
Today, Renee is now working part-time at her kids’ local school while pursuing her passion as a Personal Trainer and supporting NDIS clients to experience the benefits of being active.
“The more I get the chance to talk about the benefits of active transport, more people will become aware of it,” Renee says. “In turn, they’ll become advocates as well. You might say it’s a positive cycle!”
Last updated: 19 Oct 2022