16 September 2019

Canberrans urged to ditch their cars once a week to help fight climate change

| Lachlan Roberts
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Ditch cars

Mr Rattenbury said the Canberra community needs to start re-thinking transport and be willing to leave the car at home. Photo: File.

Canberrans are being encouraged to ditch their cars one day a week and jump on public transport or a bike as the ACT Government aims to reach its zero net emissions target by 2045.

Chief Minister Andrew Barr and Minister for Climate Change and Sustainability Shane Rattenbury launched the ACT Climate Change Strategy 2019-2025 today, outlining the Government’s plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 50-60 per cent by 2025.

As part of the strategy, the Government said it will provide “incentives” for Canberrans to consider active travel or public transport to move around our city, with transport accounting for more than 60 per cent of emissions.

The strategy recommends the Government implements car-free days, car-free areas, shared zones and traffic-calmed streets as soon as 2021, as well as options for a reward scheme for locals who increase their use of public transport.

The strategy said car-free days have been implemented in hundreds of cities around the world, noting Paris makes its central areas car-free on the first Sunday of every month.

“Government will work toward holding car-free days at least once per year,” the strategy said. “These could be held to coincide with on-street activities such as markets and festivals.”

The strategy also said the ACT Government should consider reforming car registrations fees based on how often and far the car is driven to “incentivise efficient road use”.

Mr Rattenbury said the Canberra community needs to start re-thinking transport and be willing to leave the car at home and walk or ride a bike, e-bike or use public transport for their daily commutes. He said if one Canberran decided to leave their car at home and walk or cycle once per week, emissions would be reduced by around 400 kilograms each year.

“I think we have an imperative to make these changes because we have to do that for the community,” Mr Rattenbury said. “If we don’t and the impacts of climate change are unmitigated, then people’s lives will change for the worse whether they like it or not.”

“We need to ‘Copenhagenise’ Canberra” – Mr Rattenbury. File Photo.

Mr Rattenbury admitted that the strategy requires Canberrans to make behavioural changes and said there is a “need to ‘Copenhagenise’ Canberra”.

“We want to work with our community to start early and to make the transition as easy as possible,” he said.

“We need to make it better for walking and cycling in this city. That means the Government needs to invest in the infrastructure to make it easier for people but we also need to show them what is possible.”

Mr Rattenbury said reducing emissions from transport is a high priority for the Government and presents one of the biggest challenges in meeting the 2025 target, and achieving net-zero emissions in the longer term.

“Responding to this challenge will require fundamental changes in how we plan and deliver transport networks and how we choose to travel,” Mr Rattenbury said. “It is not possible for the Government to achieve the ACT’s emission reduction targets alone.

“The Government will play its part in supporting and encouraging individual choices and technologies that reduce transport emissions, but will also seek the participation of the community in rising to this challenge.”

The Chief Minister said the next few ACT Budgets will help fight climate change by funding new projects and infrastructure.

“It won’t all happen at once and we are stepping through a process here,” Mr Barr said. “There are parts of Canberra that are arguably quite Copenhagen-like already but there is more work that can be done.

“I think there is an appetite in the broader Canberra community for this sort of partnership approach. There is certainly a lot of distress at a national level, so rightly there is a focus on state, territory and local governments to show some leadership and to work with their local communities.

“That is what we are doing.”

Conservation Council ACT executive director Helen Oakey said the ACT Government’s “bold ideas” for rethinking transport will trigger a fundamental rethink on efficient use of roads.

“Reducing emissions from transport will require specific targets, community engagement and investment over a long period of time to ensure that active travel and public transport options are efficient and reliable, as well as safe and enjoyable for people,” Ms Oakey said.

“While electric vehicles will definitely have a role in our transport future, this transition to zero emissions transport is a wonderful opportunity to reduce the number of private vehicles on our roads, something that will be important as the population grows and our city becomes denser,” she said.

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Capital Retro7:27 pm 22 Sep 19

Indeed there were more buses then Peter Mackay and young people in particular used to use them because they couldn’t afford to own a motor car. That has changed with used (and even small new) cars becoming very cheap. Combined with the fact Canberra was correctly designed for cars as the primary mode of personal transport and there is usually somewhere to park them at home and destination means more cars will be acquired so public transport use will drop off even further. The government’s and town planners response to this is to convert car parks into apartments and fantasise how trams and bicycles will attract people away from cars. This is what happens when car-hating idealists have control.

How many of our MLAs bus/cycle/tram every day to work? Transparency please!

If I wanted to live in Copenhagen I’d move there and I would suggest that others do just that if that is what they want.

Population growth is unsustainable. It’s the credit card approach to short-term economic growth.

Car-free days are only a possibility for those with other options and will increase the cost of living for the rest. The government may as well reintroduce the ban on shop openings on Sundays, i.e. take us back to the 1960s dead Sundays in Canberra when there was nothing to do but hang out in pool parlours (if you weren’t in church or watching test cricket on tv).

Make it odds and evens by number plate. Not compulsory but something to think about and aim for. Traffic cameras could be used for a random free raffle. Weekly prize of $1000.00 provided by a private or corporate sponsor who would get a hell of a lot of publicity and good will. A little bit of effort could make a big difference.

ChrisinTurner4:42 pm 19 Sep 19

I just received a letter from Minister Steel saying they will not provide traffic signal priority for buses because it might disrupt car travel. Cars carry an average of 1.1 people and buses can carry 100 people. They are obviously not serious about Public Transport.

Is this for real? There were more people in my neighbourhood commuting by bus every day before the recent network change.

Veronica Sain, in response to your claims about Canberra public transport: 1) “It is geared to the young and able bodied.” You did not provide any evidence to support this claim so it goes unsupported. 2) “Buses are inaccessible to people with disabilities. “This claim is simply wrong. Buses are much more accessible to people with disabilities than cars. Most Canberra buses have ramp access operated by the driver for wheelchair passengers. Can’t do that in your average sedan. 3) “Stops are far apart.” In most areas they are not. In some areas they are. however they are certainly no further apart than stops in Brisbane, Sydney, Adelaide or Melbourne. 4) “added danger due to Canberra’s drug crime problem” Canberra doesn’t have a ‘drug problem’ any more than any other city in Australia. In any case, you’re just as likely to suffer a head-on collision with a driver on drugs when you are driving, 5) Your claim about shorter times using a car applies in most other cities in Australia. However you forgot to mention that time spent driving a car, no matter how short, is time that you must concentrate on driving and the road. If you’re travelling by public transport you can watch a DVD, send emails, do your tax, catch up with friends etc. So it’s a false equivalence to equate car driving and public transport in the terms you have used.

This strategy doesn’t apply to Sydney, Melbourne or “most other cities”, so why bring them up?

Because the criticisms that were being made about the Canberra situation were criticisms that were general rather than specific to Canberra.

Some modest suggestions for improving the public transport system in Canberra. Having lived in Brisbane and regularly used their bus system, I would recommend that the ACT sub contract out the running of the bus system to Brisbane City Council. They have managed to make it highly effective with a lot of little busways to get around traffic hotspots, something that Canberra has not quite managed to do as well.

I am also aware of the study of a few years ago where Deanes bus lines over the border in Queanbeyan managed a ratio of 1.3 workers per bus compared to 4 workers per bus in the ACT. Not directly comparable as they did not do the multiple shifts of bus services comparable to the ACT.

Another anecdote I have is from a former employee of the ACT bus system is that he said every bus had its own mechanic, in the workshop of course. Possibly another example of gross over staffing.

The ACT Shire Council is obviously not up to speed in being able to run an effective public transport system.

” I would recommend that the ACT sub contract out the running of the bus system to Brisbane City Council”

Nice idea of contracting out, but that would need to break the stranglehold of the unions on the buses, so no hope.

“Another anecdote I have is from a former employee of the ACT bus system is that he said every bus had its own mechanic, in the workshop of course. Possibly another example of gross over staffing.”

Adding to this, I’ve heard anecdotes about bus drivers being able to pick a ‘favourite bus’ to drive, and favourite routes etc. The lack of flexibility and massive cost imposts from the system are largely hidden from view but substantial.

You get the government you deserve.
Why do you keep on voting in an ACT Labor Government?
Is it because in Canberra you all vote like mindless sheep?
Barr. Barr. Barr.

rationalobserver4:17 pm 17 Sep 19

In order to lead by example, I propose we have a motor vehicle free month for all ACT politicians, during which time they are expected to fulfil their normal duties relying entirely on active transport or walking. That includes commuting, official openings, photographic opportunities, interstate junkets, the works. The benefit to us all from that experience will be a more rational approach to transport policy development and an appreciation that not everyone has an official car of their choice (complete with untimed parking right outside the office) supplied.

Karen Piscopo4:06 pm 17 Sep 19

I will leave my car at home once a week if the Chief Minister does the same. If I am expected to use our inadequate public transport or ride a bike, then he can too. No excuses!

Ahh, here we go, another ACT Labour cash grab being announced.

“The strategy also said the ACT Government should consider reforming car registrations fees based on how often and far the car is driven to “incentivise efficient road use”.”

So, raise rego again to try and cover the cost of the rats stupid schemes. If he likes Copenhagen so much, he should move there so we don’t have to put up with his crackpot nonsense.

is that like stockholm syndrome?
>use more public transport
for that we would need a better working system, eg by getting rid of our $billion tram and returning the bus service to the old routes/times stops.

I have been cycling to work for 20 years – and will continue to do so – but even I’m sick of Rattenbury and Barr constantly telling everyone how they should live. It’s always about cracking down on the evil motor car.

I look forward to getting around Canberra by canal boat, looking at all the old architecture of 4 storey 16th century buildings.

Capital Retro11:22 am 17 Sep 19

Rising sea levels aren’t go to affect Canberra, are they?

If curbing Australia’s emissions really is important then one logical step would be to stop all immigration. Don’t target any group just stop all immigration.

Last month the ABC ran an article where they quoted figures from the ABS stating that our population was growing by around 400,000 people per year with 61.4% of that being from migration.

Stopping nearly a quarter of a million people moving here each year would certainly help our emissions.

So many whingers in these comments!

To the people who say “ I pay to drive” well you haven’t been paying enough and the cost of driving is going to go up a lot in the next few years. So though you may not give a damn about pollution, you might care to save some money eventually.

Capital Retro7:52 am 17 Sep 19

Says the bike-riding man who pays nothing.

Says the bike rider who is likely on a carbon fibre bike while wearing petrochemical based lycra

rationalobserver10:42 am 17 Sep 19

Of course the cost of driving a car will go up. The infrastructure cost is being spread over a smaller percentage of the total user base as every other niche (whacky) form of transport gets subsidies or free energy to artificially inflate their popularity, which then gets used to “prove” the government agenda was right. It’s a self licking ice cream.

How about Canberra MLAs stop flying overseas on junkets? Much carbon cost there?

rationalobserver4:07 pm 17 Sep 19

Some are more equal than others…

What about parents with several children to transport to childcare and school.

They are also asking us to stop using gas. I tried to convert my ducted gas heating to electricity about 6 years ago, and am still searching for a company that can replace the gas heater with electric without needing me to rip up and replace all the ducting. Apparently at that time, air heated by electricity needed larger ducts than air heated by gas. It’s a mystery why. Anyone out there doing this yet?

No… Just no. Some of us need to drive and some of us also don’t want to be crammed in to stinking sardine cans. Having a car is not a crime. Rego is already more expensive here than anywhere else in Australia. When will this madness stop?

According to Google maps it takes me 18 minutes to drive to work.

Using public transport to get to work at the time I start (7am) means I have to leave around 11pm the night before.

I live in Molonglo and work in one of Canberra’s town centres.

So no thanks.

Providing a cost-effective and convenient alternative to private petrol and diesel cars is essential not just for emissions reduction but for congestion and reducing social inequality attributable to transport-induced disadvantage (private cars are expensive and not available to all, but current approaches to public transport are much less convenient, particularly for people in outer areas).
The ACT government should seek to align public and private interests, and whilst they seek the moral high ground with “active transport”, and promoting public transport, they fail to provide effective alternatives to the private car for the vast majority of people and travel requirements.
They’d have some credibility if the ACT Gov slashed its own car fleet, removed all ACT-Gov-only car parking and government ministers, staffers and ACT public servants instead caught public transport to conduct their official business.
In the very short term, better public transport should be a high priority. In the short and medium term (2 – 4 years), the ACT Government should be investigating and planning for the introduction of shared fleets of autonomous electric vehicles. Every major auto-manufacturer is a potential partner, and Canberra with its excellent road infrastructure and low density is an ideal location: http://canberraautonomouscars.info/

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