Is it possible to recognise climate change as a global emergency and order a newly built bike lane demolished at one and the same council meeting? Well. Geelong Council managed to do just that on 25 February 2020.
The late evening debate in the chamber split the 11 councillors in two specific groups, just like it did five months ago, when a motion to declare a climate emergency was discussed and then turned down – at that time influenced by a tiny but loud minority who had been contacting councillors in that powerful Group of Six, which de facto runs the city.
Geelong is now set to lose an important part of its new so-called ‘Green Spine’ in its central business district. Shortly after the first etape of the infrastructure project was completed in Malop Street, including two new safe bike lanes, six out of eleven councillors at City Hall decided to spend $2 million on demolishing one of the two bike lanes and turn it into car parking space.
The decision-making process, which was labelled as ‘impulsive’ and misjudged by the councillors who objected to the decision, resembles exactly how it has been possible that the ambitious bike lane plans for Swanston Street and High Street ended up being watered down and in some road stretches were cancelled completely.
With this move, Geelong has once again consolidated its reputation as a city with lousy and dangerous infrastructure for cyclists and e-scooters. As you will hear if you listen to the audio excerpt below or see the live-streamed video from the meeting at Geelong City Hall, it didn’t happen without strong objections from five of Geelong Council’s eleven councillors.
In an attempt to politely reject Councillor Eddy Kontelj‘s notice of motion and its suggestion to remove one of the two newly established bikelanes in Malop Street, Geelong Concillor Jim Mason proposed an amendment to the motion, which would keep the best of Kontelj’s suggestions and ideas for improvements, but which removed the order to demolish one of the bikelanes.
One hour audio excerpt of the three hour council meeting
The audio recording is an excerpt of the almost one hour long debate in the chamber on 25 February 2020. In the second part of the audio excerpt from the Council Meeting, we hear councillor’s comments to the Sustainability Framework, which included a climate emergency declaration. The full three-hour video recording of the meeting can be found here.
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Malop street action – Emergency meetup
Wednesday 4 March 2020 at 6pm
Novotel, 10-14 Eastern Beach Road, Geelong
A meetup of riders and people concerned about the Council’s decision to scrap the bicycle lane on the Malop street green spine. This meeting is for anyone wanting to have input into activities or events in protest of the council decision. Everyone welcome.
Hosted by Bicycle Users Geelong
Facebook event page: www.facebook.com/events/212457099806065
Council’s climate emergency declaration was discussed in The Sustainable Hour no 302:
→ Bay 93.0 FM – 25 February 2020:
Council votes on climate emergency