By Colin MacGillivray

Mitchell Shire Council will explore options to promote cycling across the region after endorsing an action plan to guide cycling-oriented infrastructure spending during the next five years.

Council unanimously voted at its December meeting to endorse the plan, which was developed in conjunction with cycling stakeholders through a Cycling Consultative Forum, CCF.

While officers only recommended council note the action plan and allocate funding for a shire-wide integrated transport strategy in a future budget, Cr Rhonda Sanderson suggested council take more immediate action.

Cr Sanderson moved an alternative motion that council endorse the plan, advocate to state and federal governments for funding to support walking and cycling opportunities, and review the CCF terms of reference to establish an ongoing cycling committee.

She said it was important to take immediate steps to improve cycling support in the region rather than waiting for an integrated transport strategy.

“I don’t think [we should be] waiting for an integrated transport strategy, which might be in five years’ time, then followed up by a walking and cycling strategy, which would be another two years – so it would be seven years until there was a plan,” she said.

“We know Mitchell has got some challenges as far as health and wellbeing. We’ve got high levels of obesity and overweightness in our community – 62 per cent, I think.

“Cycling is great exercise, it’s great recreation, it’s great for kids and families, so I think it would be excellent to have an ongoing committee.”

Kilmore’s Wheel House Bikes owner Sam Cummins said he was keen to see more investment in cycling infrastructure across the region.

While he said the inclusion of cycling infrastructure in fast-developing regions in southern Mitchell Shire like Beveridge was encouraging, there was still a lack of options for people living further north.

“You see people riding their bikes on the Northern Highway because there’s nowhere else to ride,” he said.

“People shouldn’t have to travel to other areas just to be able to ride their bike safely.”

Cr Nathan Clark said the success of Wheel House Bikes showed why council needed to do more to support cycling.

“You can go in there on a Saturday morning and see the community’s passion for biking, and it’s great to see it happening at such a young age as well,” he said.

“The future of exercise in Mitchell is definitely cycling.”

Cr Rob Eldridge said he was in favour of an ongoing cycling liaison committee.

“One of the things that points towards the need for an ongoing committee is the fact that when we look at who is a single point of accountability for cycling and active transport through the staff, there is none,” he said.

“The engineers did a great job on this [report], but it was an engineering outcome, and it didn’t touch on the recreational, strategic and non-physical aspects of what’s needed to implement a cycling strategy across Mitchell.

“I think it’s a great initiative … but I think it’s a beginning only.”

1 COMMENT

  1. What % of the community ride bike that’s the key issue on spending funds where I live I have not seen one adult on a bike, only small children on the footpath

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