At these elections there are two tickets with an outstanding track record of supporting and achieving outcomes for bikes. These are The Greens and Team Sally Capp. Here we present what we know about the candidates in relation to getting more people riding bikes.
Cr Leppert (Greens) has worked tirelessly during his eight years on council for better outcomes for bikes and is the outstanding councillor candidate. The outcome of his hard work and advocacy put Melbourne in a position to move quickly during the pandemic, based on the plans and policies established in years previously.
Sally Capp took office as Lord Mayor in a by-election in 2018, and has used her leadership position to change the council’s direction on bicycles. In her first week in office she was photographed by the Herald Sun riding to a meeting in the CBD, a statement more powerful than any words. This year during the pandemic she announced 40km of protected bike lanes to be built in the current financial year. Her only misstep has been an election promise of free parking on weekends to encourage visitation to the City. This puts at risk the street activation needed to locate dining and socialising outdoors, which is key to saving our hospitality businesses during the pandemic, also key to traffic calming the little streets and laneways. We predict free parking will be 100% occupied by workers, who arrive earlier than the diners and it will actually decrease parking available to visitors.
Most councillor debate occurs behind closed doors and most motions are passed unanimously. This makes it hard to assess sitting councillors on their voting record. A rare exception was Agenda Item 7.1 on Future Melbourne Committee 6th August 2013 when Cr Foster moved, and Cr Jackie Watts seconded a motion to defer any further works on the Princes Bridge/St Kilda Rd Bike Lanes (meeting minutes can be viewed at http://www.melbourne.vic.gov.au/about-council/committees-meetings/meeting-archive/meetingagendaitemattachments/621/aug13%20fmc1%20confirmed%20minutes.pdf). This came after extensive consultation with stakeholders and the community, permission from VicRoads to remove two car-traffic lanes on the bridge, and only a few days before the work was due to be carried out. The key request in this motion was “an assessment of community concerns relating to congestion and public safety and any proposed remedy by management to address such matters.” (our emphasis). The motion was lost and the inbound bike lane went ahead, with Yarra Trams holding up the outbound lane owing to their plans to widen the outbound tram platform – the outbound bike lane on Princes Bridge later went ahead when Metro Tunnel closed a lane in Flinders St and Yarra Trams widened their platform.
Cr Watts was kind enough to provide a response:
“Rest assured my pro-cycling stance has not shifted. I have consistently voted in favour alf[sic] all pro cycling Motions.
The Motion you cite was not opposing cycling – but reflecting community anxiety expressed to me. “
Published policies do not mention bikes but encouraging driving to the free tram boundary; subsidise parking; retain car parking on planned open space adjacent to Vic Market (current plans underway will provide more parking than the current car park). https://jackiewatts.com.au/morgan-watts-policies/
We searched candidate statements for mention of bicycles and found these candidates in support:
Animal Justice Party “more… cycling routes…”
Innovate Melbourne – Startup The City “we like to ride our bikes…”
In support of cars and parking we found:
Back to Business “… Council’s war on cars”
Team Arron Wood Quoted in The Age Oct 15, 2019 “… warned against excessive investment in bike lanes. “We’ve got to be mindful and realistic about some of these modal shifts and just how much they can deliver,” he said.”
Bring Back Melbourne “… on-street parking credit”