Inner city pressure

MOTORISTS: The council wants to encourage more people to walk, cycle and take public transport.

MOTORISTS: The council wants to encourage more people to walk, cycle and take public transport.

TRYING to live, travel and keep fit in Bendigo provides a number of daily challenges.

The City of Greater Bendigo hopes to address these challenges, and it wants the community to play its part.

The council will host a public forum on Sunday as it forms its Integrated Transport Land Use Strategy.

Council manager of strategy Trevor Budge said the plan needed to focus on making walking, cycling and public transport more appealing options.

"We recently did a survey of 550 kids at White Hills Primary School to see how many children ride their bikes to school," he said.

"We found that 10 per cent currently do, but 86 per cent want to. Thirty per cent of cars on the road in peak periods are also carrying children.

"Clearly what we need to do is to create opportunities that encourage children to ride their bikes to school."

The forum would include two guest speakers who are experts in urban design and creating sustainable cities.

There will also be free children's entertainment during the two-hour session.

Mr Budge said a small suburban rail system was also something the council should work towards.

"People usually see the train as just an option to take people from Bendigo and Melbourne," he said.

"You can get from Kangaroo Flat to the Bendigo city in just three and a half minutes. That's far faster than anyone could by car.

"As well as the station at Epsom, we think there should be stations at Huntly, Maiden Gully and Marong to help foster this idea."

Removing road freight from known bottleneck hot spots and promoting the city's bus network were other priorities.

"I don't think there is great awareness that people can use their Myki cards on local buses," Mr Budge said.

"1.36 million people catch the buses in Bendigo every year.

"We want to further increase that by making services more frequent and having services earlier in the morning and later at night."

The free forum will run from 11am to 1pm this Sunday at The Capital.

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