Thursday 15 May 2014

Why we need Frome Street - A speech to remember

Earlier this week, Adelaide City Councillor Councillor Anne Moran brought forward a motion for the newly constructed garden beds in the parking lane of Frome Street to be taken out, in order to allow for the parking lane to become a driving lane during peak hour. 

Bike SA, as well as many other voices spoke out against the move. One of the members of the public who spoke at alongside us at council meeting was David Burton from Dash Architects. 

Mr Burton's speech to the Adelaide City Council was powerful, moving and relevant to anyone that cares about the future of Adelaide. With his permission, we've decided to provide a copy below.

Lord Mayor, Councillors, Thank you for the opportunity to address this meeting on the motion before you later tonight.

I am David Burton, Convenor of the Adelaide 2050 group, comprising myself, Jason Schulz, Director of DASH Architects, and  Mario Dreosti, Director of Brown Falconer Architects. I am also before you tonight in collaboration with Phil Harris, 2014 Australian Institute of Architects Gold Medalist, James Hayter, Director of Oxigen Urban Designers and Professor at the University of Adelaide Department of Architecture and Landscape Architecture, and on behalf of Andrew Penn, Brendan Harslet co President of the Design Institute of Australia, and with the support of Richard Hoskin Australian Institute of Architects, and Tim Horton, Chair of the Committee for Adelaide and former Integrated Design Commissioner.

We collectively implore you not to support this Motion on notice brought to you by Councillor Moran.

The Frome Road Bike-lane is a good, thoughtfully designed and well integrated step in this city's urban development and maturity.

We are more than a little concerned about the negativity and superficiality of the debate about this particular piece of infrastructure, and the lack of understanding of the benefits and the more far reaching effect on the makeup of the city as a better place to live and work when there are more safe transport choices. The bike lane debate has been, with respect, hijacked by political opportunism, lack of vision, and misrepresentation and in fact ignorance of sound urban planning principles

The motion you have before you shifts unwarranted priority back to the private motor vehicle at the expense of safe alternate choices. It is a slippery slope back to the policies of the 1950's and 60's and a stumbling block to the germinating renewal that has been evident in the CBD led by place making and an emphasis on a traffic calmed environment.

For the city is an environment, and like any environment, planned or organically evolved, it  can be viewed like a complex ecosystem. Eco Systems that are mono-dimensional wither and die, or at the very least are not effective and bland. This is about providing choice. A mature city has a complex series of transit choices - bikes, pedestrians, cars and public transport. All need to be accommodated and conceived together and EQUALLY.

Adelaide has over 41000 public off street car parks in the CBD...more than 4 times that of Perth and double that of Brisbane - cities with almost double our population...more than 20% of traffic in the CBD is just passing through and not stopping, we have ONE tram, ONE train station, and starting today, ONE segregated bike lane - this is not indicative of a balanced transit choice or a healthy needs more work and more balance.

To all concerned that the design of the bike lane will cause congestion, we can tell you that all evidence says that inviting more cars into a CBD via reducing opportunities for other safe options...will almost certainly breed MORE congestion. Frome Road is one of several routes through the city ideal for this type of infrastructure. It is not a North South vehicle corridor, it stops at Carrington street. It provides a safe cross town link to new and existing bikeways north and south including the linear Park bikeway, and the Mike Turtur bikeway...but then you already know this because it is in your agenda and the Administration has forcefully and sensibly argued for the retention of the bikeway in its current format.

The current arrangement allows adequate width, good separation and green landscaping. By reinstating two lanes of traffic at peak periods, when commuter cyclists are likely to be using a bike lane, you are simply putting people in harms way, when there is little need, and a perfectly good solution already constructed.

The level of this debate is getting tiresome as it is rooted in a them vs. us mentality and not on what is a sustainable future and the best outcome for ALL . No one is asking EVERYONE to ride their bike into town. But for those that can, and have the opportunity, why not encourage them with a safe option? Are we that myopic that we can't understand that if we provide a SAFE and attractive opportunity, some people WHO ARE CURRENTLY NOT CYCLING  will take it up? - BY CHOICE.   It should be about creating an environment in the city that people WANT to visit either to shop, work or live. Calming traffic, providing green refuges, and safe transport OPTIONS will do this.  Inviting ONLY cars and compromising other initiatives will not do this.

This isn't an argument about a bike lane. It is about choice. It's about how far behind the rest of the country we choose to fall if we ignore the lessons of others.

This motion before you is not about compromise or sensible planning, but it is about capitulation in the face of modest untested resistance. What concerns us most is that even in the face of sound urban planning principles, we are cultivating a society with an unwillingness to try. Please do not support this motion to change what we haven't even tried!

Note to readers: Anne Moran's motion was passed, however the Bikeway now has six months grace after which there will be an independent study/review conducted. What does this mean to Adelaide's cycling community? We've got to use it or lose it! 


  1. I use it each time I'm in town [2-3 times a week]. Since Adelaide is marketing itself as a university city, this type of cycling infrastructure needs to be extended like that in European university cities and in other cities like Melbourne and Montreal.

  2. Melbourne's plan for a network of high quality, separated bike routes to bring riders into and around the central city grid