What are we doing?
The transport group is working on providing the Byron Shire region with sustainable choices for the community’s transport needs. The aim is to transform the Byron Shire region to zero emissions within the transport sector over a ten year period, which means transitioning away from fossil fuel based transportation. The role of the Transport Working Group will be to assess the solutions that are suitable for the region, and to engage with the community in order to help find different solutions for individuals.
The Transport working group is currently working on developing a baseline for transport emissions within the Shire. We are also assessing current initiatives and situations related to transport usage within the region.
This includes a survey which will be conducted early 2016, looking at types of transport usage, patterns and barriers to change.
We will then be assessing solutions to reach zero emissions within the transport sector. The options will be assessed according to what is feasible in the region. A strategic plan, or blueprint, will be produced in early 2016 outlining proposed solutions.
The strategic plan will include implementation strategies, and will address barriers such as funding for infrastructure. The plan will need to include education programs in order for successful uptake within the Shire.
The plan will be adaptive, and it will be opened for wide community consultation and engagement.
Transport is perhaps one of the hardest sectors in which to work on zero emissions. Currently sustainable transport options are very limited in the region. Public transport is restricted to a couple of services a day per route. However, there is an extensive bus service for school children. The nature of the roads and the lack bicycle infrastructure means that regional bike transportation is also limited.
The main transportation mode in the Shire is, by far, cars. The Australian Bureau of statistics for the Byron Shire region shows that in 2013, there were over 24,300 cars owned by residents. This equates to 0.94 cars per person over the age of 15 (of driving age) – basically 1 car per person.
There is also a major influx of visitors travelling to and from the Shire, which will need to be taken into account when considering transport plans for the Shire.
Current transport initiatives in the Shire include reducing single person car usage through the Northern Rivers Carpooling network, and encouraging the use of electric cars through a newly installed fast charging station for electric vehicles. There are also many emerging bike businesses aiming to expand the range of bikes, such as electric bicycles and fat bicycles, as well as plans for a bicycle hire system.
Future of transportation?
The solutions to transition to zero emissions in the transport sector exist. It is a matter of working out what will work for Shire residents, and what the barriers are that need to be addressed.
Potential solutions could include:
- Expanding bike infrastructure, particularly cycle pathways
- Developing a bike hire system
- Expansion of electric bikes and trikes
- Developing the disused railway system as a regional link, which has huge potential
- Electric cars
- Electric motor scooters
- Electric charging stations
- Car sharing and enhancement of carpooling
- Major improvement of the public transport system, including increased number of services and better routes
- Electric buses
- Freight transport – liquid air with a diarman engine
- Light rail
A cost benefit analysis of all solutions will be done, including economic viability, adaptability and potential social uptake.