Many of us have some idea of how Copenhagen differs from typical Australian cities. It is not unique in Europe but it is the most famous example of a city which is densely populated yet highly liveable, which affords easy movement of residents without sacrificing its attractive heritage fabric, and which has enormously reduced the resources used for transport.
Fewer people know that Copenhagen got that way by deliberate choices made by its leaders and its people. In the 1950s Copenhagen was a city like any other, on the verge of being given over to the road engineering departments to expensively reshape the city for the single goal of working better as a road network. Fortunately something unusual happened – they decided that that approach would not give the best long-term outcome for the people or the city. Instead of mega-roads they chose to keep transport alternatives alive, and to foster them. Sometimes this involved major works and difficult choices, but more often it was just a matter of continually taking small and sure steps in an unwavering direction. Copenhagen is not the way it is because it is in Europe, nor because people there have an irrational fear of cars, but because they made that choice and they had leaders with the courage to stay true to the decision.
Bicycle Tasmania has a vision of all Tasmanian cities and towns evolving deliberating and wisely so that in decades to come they have world class levels of functionality and amenity. They would be pleasant places to live, and have healthier residents. Sustaining urban transport would not draw the community into desperately competing with the world’s billions for the last remaining energy and material resources. Neither would clashing transport systems put residents at serious risk of injury when walking or riding.
To get to this future we need to look at where we are now. We need to think about the direction we have to take, and specifically describe the first few steps. That is exactly what we do in this report. The community must then encourage and support its representatives to hold true to this direction, as there will always be opponents and conflict with short-term political and financial objectives.
The hundreds of members of Bicycle Tasmania believe there should be no unnecessary barriers to anyone riding a bicycle anywhere – for recreation, sport or transport. They have funded the development and publication of this report, and will be closely watching to see that it is well read and well used by all who make decisions on their behalf.
President, Bicycle Tasmania (2012)