Bike paths and the climate emergency: Taking it up a gear

Our guest in The Sustainable Hour on 31 January 2018 is Barton Van Laar from Bike Safe who shares his knowledge and views on Geelong Council’s public consultation about the establishment of two new $5 million bike paths through the city.

We also talk with Luke Taylor, director of the month-long, national Sustainable Living Festival which starts in February under the tag line ‘Reversing climate change’.

We play George Gershwin’s song ‘Summertime’ in a Climate Guardians re-write sung by Harriet Ripley, and the new rap song ‘Bike Power’ by The Solar Buskers. More info below.

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Content of this hour

Links, excerpts and more information about what we talked about in this Sustainable Hour


Barton Van Laar

11-minute radio interview with Barton Van Laar from Bike Safe

Separated bike paths for active transport

Geelong is growing and so is the need to make the city more sustainable and liveable. Separated bike paths contribute to creating modern, liveable cities.

If you’d like to see Geelong transform into a green city with separated bike paths for pollution-free, fat-burning active transport between home and work, school and shops – then now is the right time to tell your Councillors and city planners. The public hearing closes on Friday 16 February 2018.

Barton van Laar: on the role of bike paths in a modern society

“Council is becoming more strategic and is thinking ahead. Why should we be a poor cousin to any other city? We are the second largest city in Victoria, and why can’t we have cyclists going through the city, going to work, to the schools, to the shops? I think it is the future for Geelong because we can’t build enough car parks. We can’t keep creating transport mechanisms just solely based on cars or trucks driving through places. You need to slow things down. You need to green the space. It’s called active transport, and that is what makes all the difference, I think, in a modern society.”
~ Barton Van Laar, Bike Safe, in The Sustainable Hour on 31 January 2018


New bike paths in Geelong?

The current debate is about a $4.7 million investment for separated bike paths running through town to the Barwon river and beyond through Belmont. The two cycling routes will connect:
• Central Geelong to Waurn Ponds, via Belmont
• Central Geelong to Herne Hill, via Geelong West.

What do you think about cycling and the plan to build two new separated bike paths in Geelong? Let Council know – have your say before 16 February 2018:

» Submit the survey to Council

» Supporting documents



Song: ‘Bike Power’

The Solar Buskers – three Geelong kids aged 9, 10 and 12 – speak up for the bike paths, because, as they mention in the introduction, the bike paths “can’t speak up for themselves”:

‘Bike Power’ – Diss Tracks for Bike Tracks

Matt: “In just our state, 10 die a year
From people on bikes getting hit, you hear?
Maybe the lack of bike paths has a connection
We’re not going soft
You deserve a correction!
Let me tell you something:
My bike runs on fat and saves me money!
Your car runs on money and makes you fat!”

Eva: “Just stand up, don’t be a coward!
This is our opportunity
to support our community
We’re standing in unity
We trying to make a greater Geelong.
If you agree sing along!”

» Download song (MP3)

» Read the lyrics (PDF)

Alex in ABC Q&A in December 2017





‘Hands off our street’

“Imagine if a team of scientists devised a drug which massively reduced people’s chances of developing cancer or heart disease, cutting their overall likelihood of dying early by 40 per cent. This would be front page news worldwide, a Nobel prize as good as in the post. That drug is already here: it’s called cycling to work.”

Report after report, study after study has been published with findings that those communities that have many cyclists and less cars on the roads are better off. First of all because of the health benefits of cycling. To make that happen in Geelong too, however, we first of all need to roll out some protected bike lanes.

That was the intention in Swanston Street some years ago, where Council wanted to roll out a so-called “Copenhagen lane” from the river to the bay, but the project was interrupted and never finished because of protests from local residents.

Will the same thing happen this time around, now that two new cycling routes have been proposed to be constructed from central Geelong to Herne Hill and Waurn Ponds?

Traders in High Street in Belmont started pushing back already in December, launching a petition and placing posters in shop windows saying ‘Hands off our street‘. The Geelong Advertiser was quick to mark its position with the headline, ‘Fears Geelong bike route plan will impact on Belmont traders’.

» Geelong Advertiser, Shane Fowles – 22 December 2017:
Fears Geelong bike route plan will impact on Belmont traders

A Facebook post about an article in Geelong Advertiser on 15 January got 180 (predominantly bikepath-critical) comments:

“City Council continues to mess this city up, with the constant ideology of narrowing our roads for the minority,” wrote a resident in a letter to Geelong Advertiser published on 23 January.

And the protesting traders have Andrew Katos, Federal Member for South Barwon, on their side.

Geelong Indy’s Luke Voogt decided to look for a different perspective on the issue and instead interviewed Barton Van Laar from Bike Safe:

» Geelong Indy – 26 January 2018:
Geelong bike plans ‘good for business’




Barton van Laar: on bike path in business street

“Research has shown that cyclists spend more than motorists, because they are more loyal to the shops.”
~ Barton Van Laar, Bike Safe


“Bicycle-friendly changes are good business” – studies from Melbourne

“The assertion that installing cycling infrastructure in inner Melbourne will hurt the local economy defies the evidence from a plethora of case studies” (…) “In one Melbourne case study, half-a-dozen bikes occupying the same space as a parked car generated, on average, nearly four times as much retail spending.”
~ Jerome N Rachele, Research Fellow in Social Epidemiology, Institute for Health and Ageing, Australian Catholic University


“Bike paths better for shopping” – study from Manhattan

Manhattan traders experienced 49 per cent sales increase because of new separated bike paths.

When protected bike lanes were introduced in Manhattan there was an increase in retail sales of 49 per cent, according to this study.

Anything in this study from New York which could potentially be of interests for bike-path sceptical High Street traders in Belmont? The study investigates some of the economic benefit cyclists bring to a city, including to shop owners.

Here’s the thing: In 2017, the City of Greater Geelong​ Council defined the long-term goal that within the next 30 years we will see 50 per cent of journeys to work in Geelong made by public transport, walking or cycling.

For the cycling part, the question then is: How do we normalise cycling in Geelong?

As the current Geelong road infrastructure looks, everyone knows it is dangerous to move around on a bicycle. Only very few are braving it and prepared to put their lives at risk by jumping up on that sadle.

The answer is very simple: Protected bike lanes.

But as we begin to roll them out, and we find that some traders and politicians aren’t welcoming these protected bike lanes, then what?

Will Council just give up the vision before it even started working on it?


“As countries are becoming ever more car orientated, their citizens are feeling the effects at their waist-lines, wallets and watches. The sedentary lifestyle that commonly comes with a heavy reliance on powered vehicles is costing individuals, companies and countries huge amounts of time and money. Everything for wasted hours in traffic jams to ever increasing medical expenses due obesity rates can be positively influenced by more people riding their bikes!”
~ Urban Growth, 21 April 2013


The climate perspective on bike paths

Bicycle Users Geelong wrote in a comment on 1 September 2016:
“We often talk about all the aspects of riding around Geelong… But we rarely touch on climate change – this big fat hairy gorilla will be the biggest challenge we face as a residents of planet Earth over the next 25 years…

Of course everyone knows bike transport is zero emissions and encouraging it is worthwhile for about a million reasons and very positive for today’s society.

What is not considered is what governments will impose on people when they decide it’s time to take on the big hairy beast… Will it mean carbon taxes, big fat fuel taxes, emissions taxes, banning diesel cars, taxes on car purchases, car free days, tax exemptions for riders or complete car free cities… These issues are being considered now in cities across the world. We have to be part of it.

Geelong can be forward looking or reactive. We can be innovators or we can be content with business as usual. Is the rapid change of society going to be steady or will it feel like falling off a cliff.

Progressing more sustainable transport is one way of future proofing Geelong today for tomorrow’s world.”
~ Bicycle Users Geelong


The benefits of cycling

The Sustainable Hour’s co-host Mik Aidt, who lived most of his living in cycling-country (Denmark), has written numerous and lengthy blogpost on the topic, compiling the research, evidence and opinions. For instance:

» 10 July 2017: Bike safety first

» 23 September 2016: Safe cycle paths make a happier city

» 23 January 2016: In a Danish cyclist’s perspective: What is wrong in Geelong

» 13 May 2015: Forum about active transport and walkability in Geelong

» 5 August 2013: Speaking of sustainability: Geelong Cycling Forum

» 7 June 2013: Call for more cyclists in the street

» 24 April 2013: The real value of cycling


» See more on this list of cycling-related blogposts:
www.climatesafety.info/tag/cycling

» See also: www.bikesafe.com.au/p/economic-benefits-of-cycling.html

If you live in Geelong, you have a say in this discussion, and right now Council needs to hear your voice.
Submit your opinion on cycling and bike paths to them before Friday 16 February 2018. And spread the word to your friends and colleagues about it, asking: How would you like Geelong’s road infrastructure to look?
Get involved!



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Luke Taylor


10 minute radio interview with Luke Taylor, director of the Sustainable Living Festival

Sustainable Living Festival

Councils leading climate emergency

WHEN: Saturday 10 February 2018 at 12:00pm to 1:00pm
WHERE: Off the Grid, Birrarung Marr, Melbourne (near Fed Sq and the river)
COST: Free

Frustrated at the failure of State and Federal governments to respond effectively to the climate emergency? Campaigners led by CACE (Community Action in the Climate Emergency), RSTI and the Climate Emergency Declaration campaign have succeeded in getting Darebin Council to adopt a council-wide climate emergency plan. Other councils, councillors and community groups are now pushing this campaign nationally, first to councils, then to the states and then to the national government.

» www.slf.org.au



Don’t mention the emergency? How to talk about the climate crisis

WHEN: Saturday 10 February 2018 at 11:00am to 12:00pm
WHERE: Off the Grid, Birrarung Marr, Melbourne (near Fed Sq and the river)
COST: Free

As the earth heats up and tipping points pass, is it OK to make people afraid by talking honestly about the dangers we face? Or is the truth too much to face? As greedy billionaires plunder nature, exploit the vulnerable and hide their wealth in tax havens, is it OK to make people angry? What does realistic hope look like in the ‘age of consequences’? This session includes discussion of how best to convey the climate emergency message and examples of the effective use of strong language.

Organised by Darebin Climate Action Network

» www.slf.org.au



If you are attending the festival in Melbourne on 11 February, you might also be interested in:

Taking the climate crunch to court

WHEN: Sunday 11 February 2018 at 12:00pm to 1:00pm
WHERE: Off the Grid, Birrarung Marr, Melbourne (near Fed Sq and the river)
COST: Free

Can and should Australians sue the government for failing us on climate change?

» www.slf.org.au



Can we reverse global warming?

WHEN: Sunday 11 February 2018 at 12:00pm to 1:00pm
WHERE: Off the Grid, Birrarung Marr, Melbourne (near Fed Sq and the river)
COST: Free

The Festival Great Debate. Featuring Paul Hawken

Exploring the vital role carbon ‘drawdown’ could play in helping reach a below zero emission world. What will Australia’s role look like in mounting this historic social, political and technical mobilisation to cool the planet fast?

WHEN: Friday 9 February 2018 at 6:30 to 9:30pm
WHERE: The Dome, Birrarung Marr, Melbourne (near Fed Sq and the river)
COST: $25

» www.slf.org.au


» Pushing The Envelope

» Drawdown Under

» Paul Hawken

» Bob Brown

» Grassroots Revolution

Festival Big Weekend 9-11 February in Melbourne

See www.slf.org.au for full program details



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Summertime

Performed by Harriet Ripley



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 ADDITIONALLY: 

In other news

From our notes of this week: news stories and events we didn’t have time to mention but which we think you should know about


“Hottest year on record: 2017.
Hottest five years: the last five years.
Hottest twenty years: the last twenty years.
When you look at where approx 93% of all the extra heat is going – the oceans – it becomes even more crystal clear just how quickly and alarmingly our planet is being heated by our activities. Air temperatures get most of the attention (because they have the most obvious and immediate impact on us), but we live on a blue planet, where 99% of the living space is underwater. If we want to consider *global* warming, then we ought to pay most attention to what is happening beneath the waves.
There is no mystery about the cause: all the world’s major scientific organisations are in agreement. It is primarily being driven by the increase in carbon dioxide in the atmosphere trapping more of the sun’s energy close to the planet’s surface (plus the rise of a few other gases that have a similar effect).
To stop this, we need to:

1. Keep fossil carbon like coal, oil and gas buried (the more the better).
2. Preserve forests (esp old growth, which contains more carbon).
3. Reduce ruminant agriculture, which emits methane (another form of carbon working together with carbon dioxide) and do a better job looking after soil (which can emit nitrous oxide as another warming gas).”
~ Byron Smith



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In 70 days, Cape Town runs out of water

» Nature magazine – 26 January 2018:
As Cape Town Water Crisis Deepens, Scientists Prepare for “Day Zero”
“Researchers make plans to modify studies and prioritize public health as city reservoirs run dry”



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2017 was a massive year for sustainability

“It started in January when research quantified that sustainable business models could open economic opportunities worth up to US$12 trillion and increase employment by up to 380 million jobs by 2030.  

In April, Project Drawdown told us the 100 powerful solutions we already have for shifting to an economy that consumes greenhouse gases. They also quantified the business case – savings of $74 trillion in costs avoided over the current industrial status quo. 2017 was also a year when we started noticing real business action.

• Google’s parent company launched startups in renewable energy and smart cities (2 of the Drawdown top 100 solutions).

• Apple joined The Circular Economy, while Dell and General Motors announced a coalition for an Ocean Plastics Supply Chain.

• In Australia, a Twitter exchange between Elon Musk and Mike Cannon-Brookes turned into the world’s largest battery installation, while in South Australia, entrepreneurs set out to power a steelworks with renewable energy.”

Excerpt of newsletter from MOSS – Models of Success and Sustainability



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“It’s important for local government to lead the way with environmental initiatives. This is a great project for the City to reduce emissions as we work towards becoming a Zero Carbon Council. The benefits from installing these solar panels across City buildings will also extend to the community with significant annual savings.”
~ Bruce Harwood, Mayor, City of Greater Geelong


Getting the figures straight

Renewable energy is now the cheapest kind of new power generation that can be built today. And the latest stats from GetUp’s Renewable Energy Index prove that while coal is failing, renewables are racing ahead.

• The renewable industry is already providing work to 21,000 people.

• Rooftop solar installations reached record numbers in 2017. Households are set to save $2 billion from the solar panels installed in 2017.

• Record renewables investment means there’s now enough large-scale projects in the pipeline to meet Australia’s existing Renewable Energy Target.

» Source: www.getup.org.au

• According to GetUp, Australia added about 1.078 gigawatts of new rooftop solar capacity in 2017, smashing the previous 2012 record. However, Green Energy Markets stated that data shows a total 1.340 gigawatts of solar PV was installed and operational by the end of December 2017.

• In 2018 the industry is on track to commission 2.6 times this level of solar PV with more than 3.500 gigawatts expected to be installed.

“2017 was a breakout year for the Australian Clean Energy sector. Total investment in clean energy in Australia in 2017 rose to a record $9 billion.”
~ Leonard Quong, Senior Analyst with Bloomberg New Energy Finance in Sydney


Percentages

According to the government, renewable electricity generation reached 16 per cent of total electricity generation in Australia in 2016. The majority of renewables growth was from hydro, but strong growth also occurred in solar and wind.
• Hydro accounted for 7 per cent of total generation in calendar year 2016
• Wind accounted for 5 per cent
• Solar accounted for 3 per cent and almost all of this was small-scale PV

Overall, in 2015–2016, oil was Australia’s largest primary energy source, at 37 per cent, followed by coal at 32 per cent, natural gas at 25 per cent and renewables at 6 per cent. Source: www.energy.gov.au

According to the Clean Energy Council, renewable energy provided 17.3 per cent of Australia’s electricity in 2016, which was the most of any year this century. Approximately 17,500 gigawatthours of renewable energy was generated in 2016.

Global outlook

In comparison, around 53 gigawatt of solar capacity was installed in China in 2017 alone – roughly equivalent to the total installed capacity of Australia’s entire electricity grid.

After this “mammoth year” in terms of solar PV installations, China has now reached a total of 130 gigawatt of solar. By 2020, China is expected to reach 250 gigawatt of solar capacity. The Chinese companies collectively are expected to have produced 121 gigawatthours of annual battery production capacity by 2020, dwarfing Tesla’s annual 35 gigawatthours of production capacity, once it gets started later this year.

In Denmark, 2017 set a new record for wind energy production. With a production of 14,700 gigawatthours, the country’s wind turbines covered a record breaking 43.6 per cent of the total electricity consumption in 2017.

The International Energy Agency has calculated that the global power capacity came to total of 6,700 gigawatt in 2016. Coal is still the dominant fuel, accounting for just over 4,000 gigawatt capacity – and still rising.




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petitions-banner560px

Petition: Provide us with 24-hour clean energy

Sign this GetUp petition to show state and federal governments we want 100% clean energy. “We call on State and Federal Governments to:
• Commit to 100% renewable power by 2030

• Stop big energy companies from ripping off everyday Australians, and

• Plan for the orderly closure of coal-burning power stations with a just transition for communities and workers.
”

» www.getup.org.au/campaigns/renewable-energy


Petition: Call on Matthew Guy to get serious about Victoria’s climate laws

The Victorian opposition has gone on the record stating the “coal is the answer” to securing electricity supplies. Opposition leader Matthew Guy has told The Ararat Advertiser he wants more polluting coal power. Yet burning coal means more climate change impacts for Victorians.

» www.actonclimate.org.au/uphold_vic_climate_laws

The Liberal party’s claim that coal is the answer to rising power prices is wrong. The failure of the Loy Yang B power plant on 18 January 2018 cost Victoria $168 million over just a few hours. These ancient “pollution factories” – the coal and gas stations – have had 25 major breakdowns this summer.

Petitioning Prime Minister Turnbull: It’s time to #RestoreTheRET!

Take action to ramp up renewable energy ambition. Sign the petition now to #RestoreTheRET so Australia keeps building the renewable energy revolution.  

» www.melbournefoe.org.au/restore_the_ret

» Sign more petitions




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outback-fantastic-clouds560

Acknowledgement

We at The Sustainable Hour would like to pay our respect to the traditional custodians of the land on which we are broadcasting, the Wathaurong People, and pay our respect to their elders, past, present and future.

The traditional owners lived in harmony with the environment and with the climate for hundreds of generations. It is not clear – yet – that as European settlers we have demonstrated that we can live in harmony for hundreds of generations, but it is clear that we can learn from the indigenous, traditional owners of this land.

When we talk about the future, it means extending our respect to those children not yet born, the generations of the future – remembering the old saying that…



The decisions currently being made around Australia to ignore climate change are being made by those who won’t be around by the time the worst effects hit home. How utterly disgusting, disrespectful and unfair is that?




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“Participation – that’s what’s gonna save the human race.”
Pete Seeger, American singer