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Motion: Inquiry into Active and Public Transport

18 May 2022

The Hon. R.A. SIMMS:

The motion that I am moving today is to establish a select committee of this council to inquire into and report on public and active transport in South Australia. What I am proposing is for this committee to have a fairly broad remit; that is, look at the availability and quality of public transport, including looking at infrastructure and services in the cities but also in regional areas, the impact of fares and frequency, and the efficacy and impacts of on-demand public transport services.

I am also proposing that this committee look at the role of government in enabling and encouraging active transport, including measures that enable more participation, the effect on community health and wellbeing, the effect on climate change mitigation, and measures to improve safety for pedestrians and cyclists. I am also proposing that the committee look at the use of e-scooters and potential opportunities for their expansion or further regulation.

This is a timely committee because we have seen a change of government, and it is an opportunity therefore to put on the new government's radar, and indeed on the radar of this parliament, active transport. 'Why is that important?' you might ask. We are in the middle of a climate change crisis, and we know that one of the major contributors to carbon emissions here in South Australia is road vehicles—motor vehicles. They are a significant cause of carbon emissions. If we are going to reduce those emissions, we need to look at what we can do to encourage active transport; that is, the use of bicycles but also pedestrianisation.

There are also some really important benefits that flow in terms of community health and wellbeing. We know that, if you walk and if you cycle, there are lots of important health benefits that flow. Really, these transport options are good for people and they are good for our environment, and we need to look at what we can do to incentivise and enable those alternatives to car travel.

We have had in South Australia, I think it is fair to say, a fairly unhealthy battle between cars and bicycles. Often we see this conflict between the two, between cyclists and between motorists. That is not helpful. It is not advancing good policy here in our state. Members might recall that in the last parliament I introduced a private member's bill to establish an active transport commissioner, who would encourage walking and cycling and advocate good policy based on a model that was implemented quite successfully by the government in the United Kingdom. These are the sorts of ideas that this committee might well consider as a way of encouraging more active transport, getting people to look at public transport and what some of the barriers might be to them using it.

The other point that I want to draw members' attention to is also the inclusion of e-scooters. I do think e-scooters have been a very positive addition to our transport offerings here in South Australia, but there are some challenges there as well. Obviously from the perspective of the Greens, people using e-scooters is a welcome development because it reduces, again, carbon emissions. It reduces congestion on our roads and it provides opportunities for people to move around quickly.

However, there have also been challenges. One of the issues that is regularly raised with me, for instance, is the role of e-scooters on footpaths and what that means for pedestrian safety. There are also some significant regulations placed on these scooters at the moment: for instance, people cannot purchase them for private use, and can only use them through a ride-hiring arrangement. I am hoping this committee, if it is established, will address all these issues and come up with some really good ideas that could form the basis for further work here in this parliament. With that, I conclude my remarks.