Thursday 7 April 2011
Hansard of the Legislative Council
POTENTIAL OF CYCLING IN TASMANIA
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.
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.
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
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
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.