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Your views: on dead-end bikeway, COVID crowds, doctors' unpaid overtime and ethics

Reader contributions

Today, readers comment on the rejected east-west bikeway, public health rules, a potential class action by doctors and the behaviour of public servants compared with political party staff.

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Commenting on the story: City council to lose $3m bikeway funding after rejecting latest plan

Adelaide is the capital of a state that hosts one of the world’s greatest cycling festivals.

Despite years and years of talking and concepts, we still don’t have a safe east–west biking corridor. Now we hear that $3 million in funding will go back from whence it came because deadlines cannot be extended forever. 

It is nearly impossible to measure the opportunity cost of there being no clear way forward (not only for cyclists). So what is going on?

Years ago, I was part of a forum for the erstwhile Lord Mayor, Martin Haese, and cycling infrastructure and policy champions from Sydney, Fiona Campbell and Mark Ames. This decision will be more than a little perplexing for them, especially when we see how successful the north-south bikeway has become. And recent shifts to a cycling culture in their city.

Any of the elected members who rejected the most recent opportunity care to elucidate? – Matthew Wright-Simon

A very disappointing and regressive decision by council. I am unable to see that loss of street parking on two streets is a significant issue when there are so many vertical acres devoted to parking.

How many businesses in that area depend on grab-a-park, drop-in passing trade?  This will be even more frustrating if the government’s announcements about improvements in public transport come to fruition. Every incentive to leave the car home helps. – Anne Williams

Sensible choice at this point. I am a regular cyclist but could not support this plan.

With a daily trip and stop along the route, the council failed to address the unique needs of the route, namely safety and practicalities of large numbers of people, including children needing to cross the pathway through peak times. 

A completely different scenario to Frome Street and evidenced in the lazy proposal. – Adrian Pepicelli

The owner of my building has just refurbished our end of trip facilities (new bike storage and showers). Now I need a safe route to get to Gawler Place. Pirie Street can be dangerous and Grenfell Street has buses. – Tracy Adams

Lawyer Greg Griffin illustrates the terminal conflict of interest that besets the ACC when, in regard to the east-west bikeway, he posits a figure for lost revenue from forsaking 179 on-street car park spaces as (up to) $780,000.

Who wants to give away $780,000 (per year)? It’s a hard argument to counter.

But what he doesn’t mention is the cost of maintaining that revenue stream. There are real costs attached to monitoring, prosecuting, cleaning and maintaining on-street parking that he has forgotten to calibrate. And they are significant. And he seems to have forgotten to deduct them, even though they are directly incurred in generating that revenue.

Then there are the costs associated with congestion, the interminable frustration of everyone trying to get into the city at the same time (in a car). A 15-minute journey that takes 45. He forgets that every commuting cyclist is one less car, and duly forgets to credit the account.

Yet the biggest expense incurred, what is known as the ’Opportunity Cost’, (the cost of not doing something better with the asset) is not mentioned at all.

Cyclists are well known for patronising cafes and bakeries, but less well known as being (for example) high-spending shoppers, lawyers, executives and CEOs, such as they are. What is the opportunity cost of not providing a safe commuting environment for them (as well as us more ordinary folk)?

What is the opportunity cost of injury or fatality from inadequate cycling infrastructure? I doubt that there would be a lot left from that (optimistic) $780,000, but ACC went with the knee-jerk reaction. Paul Anderson.

Listening to the debate in the council, Councillor Hyde in particular, but other Liberal Team members as well, often referred to the lack of safety for school children with a bikeway. This ‘lack of safety’ was a major reason put forward to reject a bikeway.

The 153-page agenda (23 March) includes a comprehensive bikeway Consultation Report. Notes from consultation with ‘Route Stakeholders’ are on pages 34-39. Of the eight route stakeholders, three can be identified as schools because they refer frequently to school children. All three favour an east-west bikeway.

In each case, the school stakeholders have some concern about student safety. Stakeholder one reported, for example: ‘While the users of the site are typically older children and are able to deal with traffic, there remains some concern about cyclists hitting pedestrians. Solutions: discussed raising the kerbs and mini zebra crossings’.

In each case, school stakeholders favour an east-west bikeway. They have ‘some concern’ about students crossing a bikeway, but a solution can readily be provided (presumably very similar to the solution outside the Majestic Rooftop Garden Hotel along the Frome Street bikeway).

The ‘concern’ is not consistent with the display of confected anxiety about an ‘unsafe’ bikeway, displayed by Councillor Hyde and colleagues. The qualified concern reported from some schools appears way out of proportion with the argument and the tone that the Liberal Team ran.

The Liberal Team showed no concern for the cyclist car crashes in the city. As the RAA notes, 11% of all South Australia’s cyclist crashes occur in the CBD, and since 2015 there have been 57 pedestrian injuries in the CBD. There was no show of concern about the probability of car crash injury of cyclists and pedestrians generally.

There was no suggestion that the City of Adelaide in the absence of bikeways should do as all other Australian state capitals have done – even where there are bikeways – and reduce city speed limits from a general 50km/h and adopt a 40km/h limit. These CBD crashes and speeds are evidence-based genuine concerns. Peter Lumb

Adelaide City Council finally killed off the proposed east-west bikeway and lost the millions on offer from the State Government, the first time in history such money had been returned.

Over the years, Team Adelaide’s various manifestations have obfuscated, manipulated and obstructed the progress of a single, protected east-west bikeway which might get more kids and inexperienced cyclists riding into the city.

The experts on the council staff (who must have incredible patience) went through multiple iterations of bikeway routes and finally a consultation as directed by Team Adelaide – apparently with the council under threat of being sued by lawyers and a few businesses on Flinders Street.

The final compromise scheme attracted broad support from the public but it became clear Tuesday night that Team Adelaide never had any intention of getting the route built, and the money will now be returned to the state.

Team Adelaide have trashed the reputation of the city council and have now done the same for Adelaide itself. We shouldn’t tolerate the council touting its green credentials any longer, when it cannot build a simple bikeway to keep commuters safe.

Adelaide CBD is hostile to cycling and the council seems to wear this badge with pride, and certainly not with any sense of responsibility for cycling safety. The council no longer has an active transport policy and has delayed publication of the City Access Strategy by a year now, apparently because it didn’t like the report’s contents and didn’t want them made public.

So, welcome to Adelaide: bitumen wasteland, heat island, city of the car, and the biggest car park in Australia. Although Team Adelaide is responsible for this, it must call into question the leadership of Lord Mayor Verschoor who campaigned for bike safety when she entered the council. – Ben Smith

Commenting on the story: Capacity at pubs, clubs, restaurants to increase – against health advice

This is a joke. Attending the Fringe, in an outdoor venue we had to sit one in every two seats. Later, going to an eatery in Rundle St, people were packed in – probably five to ten for every two square metres.

No one in cafes/restaurants has been following the guidelines, and yes, we have avoided an outbreak. But now, interesting our decision follows on from NSW government lifting their restrictions. Thanks for your medical advice, but no thanks! – Peter Bean

Commenting on the story: SA doctors consider class action for ‘wage theft’

This has been going on since the 1970s, and has continued unabated at all levels of medical staff, not just junior staff.  

The halcyon days of Honorary Specialists providing free services to public hospitals set the tone for the then Hospitals Department, and the ethos has been carried forward to this day.

In particular, it affects doctors working at all levels in public hospitals, and that includes those in country areas where staff shortages can be more acute. It is such a problem that those affected have almost given up hope of fair treatment, and allowed the bullying process that drives this ‘cost saving’ venture to grow amongst administrators of departments in all specialties.

Those in charge use their position of power to hire and fire to keep the lid on their cost centres so they progress up the administrative ladder. Never mind the damage they cause to the patients and morale of the staff trying to care for them. – John Taylor

Commenting on the story: State public service given stern reminder about ethics, behaviour

It is not the public service (whether federal or state) that has brought Federal Parliament and the political parties into disgrace. It is the party workers.

Similarly, at this stage, as far as we know, the problems engulfing the federal Liberal Party are not relevant to the SA public service. 

The majority of political party workers are contracted to individual members of Parliament, and apparently not to the political party. Although, obviously, there would be some who would work for the party, and a lot more during election time.

I don’t know how these contracts are written or what they say, but clearly there are no regulations around them that protect young people or manage people’s behaviour. I would guess that McDonalds or Hungry Jacks franchises would have better and clearer contracts than those written for political party staff workers.

We need a complete overhaul of these contracts to bring them into line with Commonwealth and state public service employment contracts and including Commonwealth and state public service policies and procedures. – David Mulhallen 

Whilst I believe that public servants do maintain a high degree of ethics, I need to also ask where are we at with the public servant enterprise agreement which expired in July 2020.  

Does this not also come under a ethical responsibility to state government employee to be transparent and responsive? – Brenton Borgman

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