Ryan Community: Cycling in Ryan

in Speeches

We all know that the best compliments are those that come from third parties and independent minds.

That is why I was so pleased to read the latest issue of Ride magazine and its article about cycling in Brisbane.

As somebody who worked over a number of years with the support of the then Lord Mayor Campbell Newman to build and extend Brisbane's bikeway network as chairman of public and active transport in Brisbane City Council, Ride's comments were music to my ears. As Ride says:

Brisbane has not mucked about with its cycleway network, and this particular stretch sandwiched between Coronation Drive and the river is the jewel in its crown. It is wide, scenic and a postcard-perfect display of the co-existence between cyclists and other users that most cities only dream about.

Working closely with Bicycle Queensland, I was delighted to play a role in extending and upgrading that network and these projects were continued by Councillor Julian Simmonds. The Brisbane City Council under Lord Mayor Graham Quirk has also committed to increase bikeway funding to a record $120 million over four years. This funding will help make cyclists and pedestrians feel safer by fixing dangerous black spots and funding a greater police presence on the city's bike paths.

The Better Bikeways 4 Brisbane program is fully costed and is in addition to the $5.8 million allocated in the council's budget for general bikeway maintenance and repair over the next three years. I am also pleased that this funding will go towards a commuter network targeting the city's top eight employment areas which includes the Toowong/Indooroopilly hub in my electorate of Ryan. It will be money well spent and money that recognises the ever-growing cycling community; a community that directly and favourably impacts on our environment. Brisbane City Council's record on green issues is outstanding with practical approaches generating real environmental results; results that should be encouraged, not penalised as they are under the Gillard government's carbon tax.

The article in Ride also goes on to discuss iconic rides, two of which take place in whole or in part in my electorate of Ryan—the river ride and Mount Coot-tha. Both are examples of rides that coexist well with other bikeway and road users. However, Mount Coot-tha remains quite dangerous and both cyclists and motorists need to stay alert.

It is important that cycling generates its own economic benefits separate to environmental spin-offs. In Ryan it can be seen in coffee shops and restaurants, bike shops and cycling coaching. There are places like the amazing Hundred Acre Bar in St Lucia, which is a fine establishment well run by Hans and Jens, that is happy to support cycling. There is also the Summit Restaurant on Mount Coot-tha and more recently the charming corner store coffee shop in Sylvan Road which enables many cyclists to coexist with mothers and fathers dropping off their children at Toowong State School. It can be seen in the plethora of bike shops in Ryan ranging from Kenmore Cycles to 99Bikes in Auchenflower and so many more. And it can be seen in coaching businesses like those of Adam Gill of Cycling Science and Marcel Bengston of MB Cycles who regularly have their squads doing a morning workout.

Cycling has enormous community benefits but it is important to acknowledge that, apart from environmental and economic benefits, cycling contributes significantly to community health simply through fitness. Indeed, in our ageing community where governments must consider the healthcare costs of the baby boomers, it is significant to note how many cyclists over 50 have taken up this sport—often well over. In fact, a new word to describe this trend is now used in everyday language—MAMIL—middle-aged men in lycra. I am told it is not unusual to come across remarkably fit 70-year-olds leaving their much younger cycling companions gasping in their wake. They are lucky if they can 'get on the wheel' of the old bloke up front just to get a tow.

I congratulate Ride for the article and also for producing a remarkably informative magazine. I look forward to their coverage of this year's Tour de France and of the London Olympics, both events that will showcase remarkable Australian cyclists. From Cadel Evans to Green Edge cycling is a sport on the move in Australia and on the world scene. It is a sport that encourages friendship and a great community spirit. With cycling we are all winners, even those who do not ride.