06 Nov, 2014

City of Adelaide’s media policy during the caretaker period

City of Adelaide’s media policy during the caretaker period is to respond to media enquiries in a factual manner with existing facts to hand that relate to Council’s existing policy position prior to caretaker.

The alternatives of providing “no comment to every media enquiry during caretaker” or attempting to “cherry pick” which media issue the administration responds to is not appropriate as they do not uphold either the principles of transparency or administrative neutrality during the caretaker period.

We have received some enquiries from Council candidates as to why we provided information on the Frome Street Bikeway to the media during caretaker. Our policy during caretaker is to respond with the facts and simple statements on Council’s existing policy position, which is what we have done in this case. Caretaker regulations do not allow Council to change its policy position during this time.

The administration did not seek to actively promote the issue and were simply responding to media enquiries.

Two media outlets (The Advertiser and Indaily) asked for an update on the use of the Frome Street Bikeway and information on the evaluation process, and we provided them with the facts. This is consistent with media requirements during caretaker, which is to respond factually to questions we are asked by the media by providing data and/ or statements which support the resolved Council policy position prior to caretaker. The claims that Council’s administration proactively released a report are incorrect; there has been no report issued on the Frome St Bikeway.

The CEO has informed the candidates who raised this issue that if they wish to make a formal complaint then he will have that complaint investigated by an independent external party. The candidate who initially raised the issue has accepted the explanation of media policy provided to them and has indicated that they do not wish to pursue the matter further.

Below is the information that was provided to the media about the Frome Street Bikeway.

The Frome Bikeway opened on Wednesday 14 May 2014 and has been in use by cyclists for five months over winter, generally a time when fewer people ride bikes. However, early observations of the use of the bikeway are encouraging.

A survey undertaken in October 2014 indicates that up to 1000 cyclists are using the bikeway daily. This is a 50% increase from prior to the bikeway being installed. Further increases are anticipated as we head into the warmer season, noting that the full potential of the bikeway will not be realised until it is completed and forms part of a broader, interconnected network.

We have observed more females cycling, which is reflective of females feeling safer to cycle to the city now.

During the AM and PM weekday peaks, cyclists currently represent about 16% of the total traffic on Frome Street which is encouraging considering the current AM/PM peak across the city is approximately 2-3%. It demonstrates that the desire to offer alternative modes of transport is working.

A tender for an independent evaluation of the project was released last week, with the successful consultant to commence later this year.

The independent evaluation of the Frome Street Bikeway will include a comprehensive review of the bikeway – including data collection and analysis – with the results guiding and providing evidence for any future changes to the street.

The outcomes of the independent evaluation will inform the designs for the future stages of the bikeway, as well as future State Government projects such as the O-Bahn City access and tram projects.