Transport is an essential part of life, we use it everyday and many of us don't realise that we all use multiple modalities, walking, private vehicle, taxi or uber, buses, cycling, e-transport, ferries and in the future trackless trams. No matter which modalities you frequently use, your journey should be safe, comfortable and efficient.
No one likes being stuck in traffic
No one likes not being able to find a car park
No one likes walking on uneven, overgrown footpaths
No one likes negotiating intersections without roll curbs with a pram, wheelchair or mobility device
No one likes suffering a close pass on their bike
No one likes bike lanes to no where
No one likes standing in the hot sun or rain waiting for a bus
These are just some of the reasons transport can be stressful and have a meaningful effect on our happiness. Thats why Council should invest in proper transport infrastructure to support the movement of people both around the municipality and in and out of the city.
Driving around Hobart as a paramedic for the last 7 years, I am acutely aware of the worsening traffic issues affecting mobility in and around Hobart city. It effects the productivity of small business, frustrates all users and hampers emergency vehicles. Did you know that Hobart has the worst change in travel time percentage during peak hour of any capital city in Australia? There are a number of things council can do to address the ever worsening situation
1. Engage a traffic management consulting firm - properly investigate ways to improve traffic flow in and around the city. With solutions focused on both right now and in 20 years. Allow consultants to consider all possible solutions and make recommendations based on cost, efficiency and productivity gains.
2. Review traffic light cycles - Have you ever sat in traffic and wondered why you get every red light? This simply shouldn't happen, it is evidence of a lack of cohesive strategy to move vehicles around the city. If you follow a straight line or major route, once you are on the green cycle it should remain that way until you turn off onto a different route. This audit should also look at increasing the use of turn arrows.
3. Audit traffic control infrastructure - Many traffic lights have broken traffic sensors, checking the function of all traffic lights in Hobart LGA is a solution for today. As traffic increases, sensors can become problematic, and sometimes are better replaced with lights on a sequence.
4. Identify choke point intersections - There are numerous choke points in the city that predictably cause traffic woes day in, day out. These should be identified, reviewed and re-designed to optimise vehicle movement. A great example is the domain highway, Brooker highway intersection.
Cycling & e-transport
Cycling and e-transport, such as e-scooters, e-skateboards and e-bikes all form an important mix in the transport solutions for Hobart. As technology improves and prices come down, many people will choose the convenience of an e-transport device to move around, particularly in the city precinct and the suburbs immediately adjacent to the city. Hobart City Council needs to develop a 5 year cycling and active transport plan as a priority. It should have shovel ready projects, prioritised in order of importance, so that when State of Federal grant money is available, Hobart City Council can be first cab off the rank applying. We know that there are two key to components to encouraging people out of their cars and onto personal mobility devices.
1. Build a cohesive & connected network of bike lanes & cycle paths - this is the most important part of the equation. Some cyclists are happy mixing with traffic, many are not. Building a cohesive network of protected bike lanes and bike paths, taking into account topography and traffic flow, is key to moving people out of cars and improving the transport efficiency for all users.
2. Separate users by speed - Speed differential is at the heart of all conflicts between different transport modalities. Whether its between pedestrians and e-scooters, or cars and cyclists, speed differential is a key difference between the users. Car drivers don't mind sitting behind a cyclist who is doing the speed limit, but heading up hill when the cyclist is working as hard as they can to achieve a speed of 15km/h is extremely frustrating for a driver who wants to go 50km/h, and even more frustrating for the cyclist who may be the target for road rage - they feel they are doing their best! So infrastructure needs to support the mingling of users that share speed in common, e-scooters and bikes can safely mix and sort them selves out, high density pedestrian corridors should never be in the same zone as a formal bike lane like is found in Salamanca, and uphill and flat corridors used by high volumes of cyclists should have a separate cycling lane or path.
Building appropriate transport infrastructure will help solve many of the issues raised in the e-scooter trial, while serving all users.
If you walk to work from one of the inner suburbs, you know there are a large number of people who use this modality to get exercise and feel the sun on their face before a the long day in the office ahead. But people don't just walk to work, they walk to get coffee, they walk to school, they walk for exercise, they walk the dog, they take their toddler on a scooter ride or the baby in a pram. Our footpaths and walking infrastructure is used by everyone and I think they need some upgrades!
1. Roll curbs on every intersection - I am constantly shocked by the lack of roll curbs in Hobart. While able bodied folk may not even notice a crossing has a square curb, as soon as you have a pram, a child on a scooter or bike, find yourself wheelchair bound or require the use of a mobility scooter in old age you do. Our city and suburbs should be accessible for all, no on should be forced onto the road because of a lack of roll curbs.
2. Wider and smoother footpaths - In high density areas, footpaths need to accommodate many people simultaneously. Council needs to review how street furniture and poorly placed signs and sandwich boards create pinch points for pedestrians.
3. Increase pedestrian crossings (Wombat crossings) - I am constantly shocked by the lack of safe crossing spaces in suburban Hobart, particularly around schools. I believe every school should have a safe crossing. Council should consider increasing the use of "wombat" or raised pedestrian crossings around schools. Council should also consider and study the most frequented walking routes to and from schools and put in place a program to build a series of safe crossings for children and families to get to and from school on foot. Ensuring safe passage of young families will help to encourage more families to leave the car at home for school drop off/pick up.
4. Improve city pedestrian safety - Unfortunately, there have been a number of pedestrian deaths in greater Hobart in the last 5 years. In more than one case, the driver simply didn't see the pedestrian step off the curb, even though they were crossing on a green "walking man". Programming traffic lights to have a delayed green or installing a red turn arrow allows pedestrians to be in the middle of the roadway, and in clear vision of drivers before they move off. The program to roll these out should be expanded and fast tracked to enhance the safety of all pedestrians in the city centre.
Buses are important in the transport mix, they are efficient and cater to most abilities. They are often used by active transport commuters when the whether is inclement. I believe a significant impediment to more people utilising buses is the exceptionally poor bus stop infrastructure. We can increase patronage by working with Metro to:
1. Increasing the number of bus shelters - Tasmania has inclement, unpredictable weather, from sleet to 80km/h wind gusts, rain to beating sunshine. Most suburban bus stops have no supporting infrastructure, not even a seat to rest your legs. I believe bus stops should provide a safe, comfortable and sheltered place to wait for your bus. Shelters should be sensitive to the area and architecturally designed.
2. Implementing in lane bus stops - In high density suburban areas, where parking is at a premium, in lane bus stops increase parking spaces by three spaces for every stop. It further allows for proper shelters to be built on a flat, currently unused area.
3. Reviewing the Elizabeth street bus mall - Elizabeth street bus mall is rudimentary, it is ugly and poorly designed. I believe Elizabeth street bus mall presents an opportunity to provide great public space, better than a wide expanse of paved road. Council should engage architects to design a proper bus transport hub,
Electric Vehicle strategy
Like it or not, electric vehicles are coming. They may not be taken up by the masses this year or next, but by the mid 2030s they will have overtaken internal combustion engine vehicles, even in Tasmania. As a city, Hobart needs to plan for the changeover. Electric vehicles also improve the amenity of the city as they are quiet and emission free. I believe Council needs a comprehensive electric vehicle strategy that not only addresses complexes issues but encourages people to make the transition to an EV sooner rather than later. It should consider:
1. Charging infrastructure needs - Many of Hobart's heritage suburbs and precincts have no off street parking for their residents. As we move toward an electric future, we need to identify ways for residents without off street parking to charge their EV in close proximity to their residence.
2. Incentivising EV use through parking - Many cities around the world encourage people to take up electric vehicles through parking incentives. Offering free charging in premium locations will provide a significant incentive to make the transition. It has the benefit that the free period can be wound back as EV take up accelerates. It also means infrastructure will be in place ahead of time and ready to go when it is truly needed.
I believe an efficient public transport system that uses mass transport modalities is essential to Hobart's future. Hobart has experienced considerable population growth in the last 10 years and there is no reason to believe this will slow. Planning for our future should start now. Thats why I will work with state and federal governments to:
1. Expand the use of ferries on The River Derwent - Committing to an infrastructure program that connects the Eastern, Northern and Southern communities with the city, using an efficient, modern fast ferry service.
2. Prioritised use of the northern suburbs rail corridor - Hobart has the amazing asset of an existing rail corridor that connects large swathes of the population to the north, as far as Brighton, to the city. This corridor has sat idle for too long. I believe we need to get on and build something today. Personally I believe trackless trams look promising. However, I am open to working with state and federal governments, as well as neighbouring councils to identify the best technology and get it built.