Thursday 7 April 2011
Hansard of the Legislative Council

Mr FINCH (Rosevears) - Madam President, I saw you looking at the clock so I am going to get on my bike this morning, which is something that is being heeded by more and more Tasmanians. There is certainly renewed interest in all forms of cycling whether it is competition, whether it is leisure, whether it is transport. I predict that what we are seeing now is just really the beginning of this renewed interest. I think there are many factors at work here. Just checking with the member for Apsley, I think we are up around $1.69 or $1.70 for premium fuel. Also parking is increasingly very costly -
Ms Rattray - If you can actually find a parking space.
Mr FINCH - That is right. There is an increasing interest in cycling as a sport and, of course, the health benefits of cycling are becoming more and more recognised. There is also the technology. Bikes are becoming more technically sophisticated, they are lighter, more efficient, more comfortable -
Dr Goodwin - That is debatable.
Members laughing.
Mr FINCH - With some notable exceptions, but they have the carbon fibre frames. I went to the member for Nelson's home yesterday and felt a couple of his bikes. They are just so light - quite unbelievable.
Mr Hall - He doesn't ride them, though.
Members laughing.
Mr FINCH - That is beside the point but if he did, he would find they have more efficient gears, they even have ones that can be changed electronically now, and of course electric power assistance for cyclists who have difficulty getting up hills.
Ms Forrest - I had a Malvern Star. I had a good old Malvern Star when I was a child - no gears, nothing.
Mr FINCH - I had an old British Humber - oh sorry, on my bike.
There was a recent cycling charity event in Launceston that demonstrates the enthusiasm for cycling. It is the New Horizons Annual Western Tiers Cycle Challenge. On 27 March it attracted 550 riders aged from 13 to 72. I think you were the one who mucked up the average figures there by being that particular person - no, I am only joking.
Mr Hall - How rude.
Mr FINCH - No, you do not look a day over 71. As you would know, the 550 riders paid $35 a head. We raised $20 000 on the morning and the main benefactor is the New Horizons Club, which provides sport and recreational activities for people with disabilities. I have spoken about the organisation before and that is really worthy.
Money also goes to charities supported by the Rotary Club of Youngtown and other Rotary clubs as well, the Asthma Foundation and also disaster boxes. Commuting cycling is also increasing in Launceston, Madam President. Despite its hilly terrain the Launceston City Council has marked many bike lanes on Launceston streets and their use is growing.
In my electorate there has been a campaign for a cycling and walking track - you might have heard me talk about the trail often enough between Beaconsfield and Beauty Point - and I can tell you it is progressing really well at the moment. Before long it will be completed and I hope to see the day when there will be a cycling trail the whole length of my electorate from near my home in West Launceston through to the mouth of the Tamar.
Leisure cycling groups are very active in Launceston, at weekends particularly. As you would probably know, they provide very good business for coffee shops, some of which are now putting cycling racks outside.
Another important aspect of leisure cycling happens off-road. The Launceston Mountain Bike Club has received a grant to develop mountain bike trails in the Trevallyn Reserve in my electorate and also at the Kate Reed Reserve on Launceston's' south-west boundary using trail networks through an initiative by Sport and Recreation. It is called Tasmania's Trails and Bikeways Grant Program.
This partnership will be achieved with the Parks and Wildlife Service and they are going to implement what they call the Track Strategy Program in both of these areas - in Rosevears and the Kate Reed Reserve or in the Trevallyn Reserve.
The track strategy aims to rationalise track systems ensuring that tracks are environmentally sustainable and that activities are consistent with reserve management objectives. The multi-use track network will be developed minimising conflict between the different users.
There is also a proposal - if I can just have the attention of the member for Apsley - for a disused railway line in your electorate using the rail trail between Legerwood and Tonganah, which is just west of Scottsdale, and also there is a new cycling event called the Pro-X, which was launched in Launceston in December.
Ms Rattray - We were just waiting on some funds from the State Government that were promised at the time of the Gunns announcement to progress that.
Mr FINCH - Thank you. We will do a bit of urging with the State Government in just a moment but I just wanted to talk about the Pro-X. It is based on a foundation of professional team training camps to attract keen amateurs to join professional riders and enjoy a professional experience for a week.
When she launched the event, the Minister for Tourism, Michelle O'Byrne, said, 'Cycling is on a steep growing curve. Over the past four years 23 000 visitors a year have participated in cycling or mountain bike activities while in Tasmania'.
Madam President, about 2 500 each year choose bicycles as their main mode of transport while visiting Tasmania so it is all happening on two wheels in Tasmania.
Dr Goodwin - So will you be in the Pollie Pedal next year?
Mr FINCH - It sounds like it, doesn't it?
Dr Goodwin - Yes. You'd better be.
Mr FINCH - I think I might get into competition cycling because that seems to be the most glamorous aspect of bike riding and probably has the most economic potential for Tasmania. Just imagine the Tasmanian equivalent of the Tour de France here in Tasmania and its tourism potential. We have the roads and we have the varied terrain. Would we not look spectacular if it could be televised?
Tasmanian cyclists, as ever, are looking even further afield to national competitions. A few months ago a group of the State's best young riders aged between 17 and 20 years - the member for Western Tiers just missed out on that - got together to form a team to help the young riders' tactical development and to tackle all the national road series races. Last December more than 80 entrants competed in the Stan Siejka Launceston Cycling Classic in both the open and under-17 sections and there was over $10 000 in prize money.
We have seen this really strong development of cycling in all its forms in Tasmania so it has great potential for the State. I am suggesting, along with the member for Apsley, that we push it with all our vigour and keep reminding the State Government of its potential and its benefits.