Tuesday 2 December 2014

How to best improve cycling infrastructure through voting and political involvement

Summary: In modern democracies, the conventional way of achieving political change (laws, policy, public projects/initiatives) is through maximising the vote of the parties or candidates most sympathetic to your views. And also by influencing the policies and promises of these parties and candidates, and holding them accountable for commitments if elected. Most people are familiar with the many conventional ways of engaging in mainstream, conventional politics and so I won’t discuss them here. Instead, I’ll concentrate only on highlighting specific issues and opportunities in Melbourne that are not well known but may be worth

Related Posts:
> See the politics and transport futures category of this blog.
> See the cycling infrastructure category of this blog.

1. Web apps like Vote Compass are becoming more popular guides as to who to vote for. Thus it’s important to get one’s issues into their surveys and ensure the questions are well-designed
Australia’s publicly-funded media broadcaster – the ABC – now promotes usage of Vote Compass in all State and Federal elections. However, these tools work by selecting a limited number of topical questions relating to policy differences in the forthcoming election. Once those questions are set and the survey opens there is no opportunity to get other questions added or the wording of questions changed. Hence, it’s important to try and get relevant issues onto the shortlist of questions and provide input into the most meaningful and accurate wording of them.

ABC News - Victoria Election 2014 - Vote Compass

2. For web apps designed to guide voting intentions, it’s critical that the correct assessment of political parties’ policies is done
It’s great to have your issue included in a voting guidance app but if the simplified assessment of political parties and candidates is incorrect this is worse than if there was no guidance at all. The recent Victorian State election is a great case in point whereby the Liberal and National Coalition (L/NP) was given the highest rating for the question:
How much should Victoria spend on bike lanes and cycling projects?

This rating is driven purely by a single LNP promise to spend $70 million on new cycling infrastructure connected to its $8 billion, car-centric East-West tunnel and motorway project. Of course, there would be $0 of this $70 million actually delivered unless the LNP's anti-cycling, wasteful, counterproductive car project proceeded first. See: Why you should campaign and vote to kill bad infrastructure projects

Virtually all cycling advocates and organisations agreed that the East-West Link project was terrible for cycling in Victoria and only those with vested financial interests in keeping both sides of politics on-side (Bicycle Network) were even prepared to countenance taking this cynical, dishonest, last-minute promise seriously. Community-based cycling organisations were not fooled:
We don't seem to care about people getting around anymore, we just seem to care about cars. So Liberals are promising a new bike way or two, let's get this straight - this is a buy off to win back the Cyclist Vote. It is not guaranteed, but is instead an optional extra. The new bikeways are uncosted, they are window dressing and in the West they offer nothing new while removing for many years what is there already. In the East we get to spill into major roads that the cars will not use anymore (like Hoddle St), I mean how stupid can you be? Hoddle St will never reduce in traffic.
Cycle: The east west link - bikeways announced
Australian Cyclists Party: East-West Link
> Bicycle Network: East West Link Stage One
> Nofibs: East West Link dominates #vicvotes transport forum reports

It’s inexcusable for Vote Compass’ political “scientists” to get this wrong as the Victorian LNP has a reliable track record of significantly reducing funding for cycling infrastructure and prioritising cars over cycling, walking and public transport.

> The Age: Baillieu slashes construction of cycling projects

Indeed Vote Compass' actual survey results show that LNP voters are considerably less supportive of cycling infrastructure:

Further Info:
ABC News
Victoria Election 2014 - Vote Compass
> Victoria Election 2014

Vote Compass