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University to evaluate new city bicycle lanes

17 Jul 2012

The impact of Sydney's growing bicycle paths on bicycle traffic, the environment, the economy and the health of city residents is to be assessed by the University of Sydney over the next four years.

Under its 'Sustainable Sydney 2030' blueprint for a more environmentally friendly city Sydney City Council is to expand the city's largely disconnected and patchy network of bicycle lanes into an interconnected 200 kilometres system over the next 20 years.

The research into the benefit of cycle lanes is to be undertaken by a team of experts drawn from the University of Sydney School of Public Health (Professor Chris Rissel), the Business School's Institute of Transport and Logistic Studies (Associate Professor Stephen Greaves), the South Western Sydney Area Health Service (Dr Li Ming Wen), and The University of Canberra (Professor Anthony G Capon).

"It's impossible to assess" the benefit of Sydney's bicycle lanes by simply counting the number of people using them," said the Institute's Associate Professor Stephen Greaves. "There are also environmental, public health and economic benefits that must be measured and that's what we will be doing through this research." 

Associate Professor Greaves believes that the lanes enhance the quality of city life, but Council policies designed to reduce the number of vehicles in and around the CBD have been criticised by the State Government and sections of the media.

"Our research has the support of a broad range of stakeholders who are looking for real insights into the impact of new cycling infrastructure," said Associate Professor Greaves who describes himself as a "keen" cyclist.

The research is being funded by an Australian Research Council grant of over $500,000 with a strong team of partners including the Heart Foundation of Australia, NSW Roads and Maritime Services, the NSW Ministry of Health, the City of Sydney Council and the Premier's Council for Active Living.

"This issue impacts on many aspects of city life and demanded the involvement of a highly skilled, multi-disciplinary team," Associate Professor Greaves concluded.