Archive for the ‘Community Services’ Category

Death by a thousand cuts

July 4, 2013

I reproduce here, with permission a letter from long time Mosman resident Damien Stapleton to Mayor Abelson on the topic of he Mosman Rider . It represents my views exactly. It appears that if a service is not useful to the present Council’s very well heeled backers then it is to be scrapped, no matter how vital it is the vulnerable young and elderly. Not immediately of course, given contractural obligations, so it has to be death by a thousand cuts. One can only surmise that the reason they rejected signing up to an attractive five year contract was they wanted to get rid of the service when the current contract expires in two years.

Mayor Abelson in his July occasional letter claims it was a controversial matter in the community with passionate supporters for and against. What he omitted to say was that the against side was made up of his and Cr Bendall’s supporters who loved to hate the previous Council. It appears that this Council is out to white ant and then knock over anything and everything the previous Council set up. What Mayor Abelson also failed to mention was that those in favour of he Rider were users of the service -either because they relied on it, or they shared the previous council’s view that substituting the Rider for a car trip was more fun, more social and good for the environment.

Serving Mosman, Mayor Abelson’s political party, campaigned on a platform of bringing in a new era of a Council that listened to the community. At least he now acknowledges that the community is not of one mind. Does he now accept I wonder that the previous Council did listen to the community , but not to those with the loudest voices, as he has opted to do. Will his thinking evolve to the point of recognising that given there is a diversity of views in the community, Council needs to be not just guided by opinion, but by values.

Here is Damien’s letter

It is most disappointing that Mosman Municipal Council has reduced its very successful initiative, The Mosman Rider community bus service, during winter months.

I regularly use the service and have signed the citizens’ petition presen tly before Council, which protests that reduction. Having not owned an automobile for 24 years and leading the extremely active life I do, I am totally reliant on and aware of the Public Transport options in this area including The Rider, as I pursue my many daily activities.

I have resided in Mosman for 41 years and we are greatly advantaged here by a very good Public Transport system which puts us in contact with linking train, ferry, bus and even air services, to all points of the compass. The Rider is now an integral part of the local Public Transport grid.

It is an invaluable asset to the area servicing many parts of the Municipality hitherto not serviced by any Public Transport eg providing transport for school students from Pearl and Quaker’s Hat Bays, transporting the less mobile to shopping, health care, and entertainment commitments and lessening cars on the road thus contributing to the environment. It is also a beneficial tourist attraction. The Rider service does not compete with, duplicate or militate against any Government Transport in the area. Government bus services are not threatened by the service.

The buses are air conditioned, clean and comfortable and drivers are extremely courteous and jovial and very cooperative and helpful, particularly to elderly passengers and those with young children. It is particularly convenient that passengers may hail the bus in spaces where it is legal to do so and are not limited to conventional bus stops.

The Mosman Rider was the quid pro quo resulting from the decision of Council some years ago to install Parking Meters at Balmoral Beach. It was to be and is funded from revenue from those meters and from infringements arising where

Parking provisions are not complied-with. It functions therefore at no cost to Mosman Ratepayers whose obligation to pay for parking vehicles does not exist, is minimal or results from poor time management. I am reliably informed that such revenue from this source now exceeds $2 million and the present Rider service costs $275,000 and that most of that revenue is derived from motorists who live outside Mosman.

The installation of the meters became necessary to control abuses of free-of-charge parking at the beach including inter alia: long- lunchers parking all afternoon and being too intoxicated to drive so leaving cars overnight for collection the next day, teachers and students from the local private girls’ school parking all day and yachties’ parking their trailer and car for days as they cruise the blue, hogging two parking spaces with no regard for the inconvenience they caused.

These abuses and their ilk had to be remedied and I must point out that one in particular of your fellow Councillors based his expensive presidential and humiliatingly unsuccessful 2012 campaign for control of Mosman Council, on Council’s Parking Meter initiative at Balmoral. It is interesting however that Council now seeks to massively increase revenue from meters at Balmoral Beach by increasing parking charges and expanding the meter culture to Spit Junction while installing a Parking Infringement Review Panel whose only function can be seen to be the overturn of parking fines with the effect of reducing the authority of Council Rangers and being left exposed to claims of cronyism where the infringements of mates are able to be overturned.

I supported and still do, the installation of Parking Meters at Balmoral and its resulting bus initiative and they are an inextricable package. I support any reasonable revenue-raising initiative of any public body including Local Government.

In its decision to reduce the Rider service, Mosman Council is in severe breach of its covenant with its citizens who have been grossly betrayed by Council in this matter. In other words the case is made that the service should in fact not be reduced but increased and Council would still have change.

Our adjoining Councils Willoughby and Manly, operate multiple free-of-charge bus services at Ratepayers’ cost.

Mosman is a wealthy small Council in the most affluent demographic in the Commonwealth of Australia. Its liabilities are minor in proportion to larger Councils with great social problems. To argue that because a service provided at no cost to its ratepayers does not bring a financial return; is a cost to them, is absolute nonsense and an insult to the community intelligence. Using such logic the argument is made that Council services which are totally Ratepayer-funded such as Balmoral Beach, our parks, public toilets, The Art Gallery, Senior’s Centre and Meals on Wheels to name but few, should all henceforth be closed,

The only deficiencies I see in the Rider service are those I suggest should be remedied as I suggest below.

Accordingly I call upon Council to immediately:

• reverse its decision to reduce the Mosman Rider service,
• increase the Mosman Rider service to a half-hourly service
• commencing from Balmoral Beach 0700-1800
• every day and
• embark on an advertising and promotional campaign to make the entire community aware of the service, how it affects their individual neighbourhoods, how best for them to use it, the benefits available to them and the community from using it.


The Mosman Rider is under threat!

April 5, 2013

Picture1At the last Council meeting of 2012, Councillor Bendall was successful in getting the numbers for a resolution instigating a thoroughgoing review of the Council’s free bus service, the Mosman Rider. The Mosman Rider was an initiative of the previous Council and Mayor Abelson and Cr Bendall have made many public statements questioning the value of the service, so this motion comes as no surprise. Supporters of the service see it as the beginning of the end. Cost benefit analyses are a convenient way of justifying ideologically driven decisions. Any desired result can be achieved, depending on how the dollar figure for benefits is calculated. The fundamental problem is that while the costs are very clear and carried by Council, the benefits are distributed across multiple stakeholders over a long period of time and are very difficult to measure.

It is of course absolutely reasonable for the new Council to review whether the Mosman Rider is achieving its objectives in the most cost effective manner. It is also reasonable to ask whether the objectives themselves are worthy, have the support of the community and represent a better option than lower rates or spending on something else.

As one of the councillors who invested a lot of time and passion in getting the service established I am clearly going to be just as biased in favour of the Mosman Rider as Cr’s Abelson and Bendall are against it. This is the response that I would give to in response to Cr Bendall’s request for a review of the service. [The actual report prepared by Council staff is on the agenda for the April meeting. Council staff have done an excellent job comprehensively addressing each of the points in Councillor Bendall’s resolution with extensive data to back up their claims].

What are the objectives of the service

The primary objective has always been to provide a basic minimum level of mobility for Mosman residents who for whatever reason are mobility impaired. Specifically to provide a means of getting from home to the shops, to transport nodes and to foreshore recreation areas for those without a driving licence who and live in parts of Mosman not well served by public transport.

A secondary objective has been to encourage all Mosman residents to use public transport for local trips, since every car left in the garage means less pressure on parking, less congestion, less air pollution, less accidents and less greenhouse gas emissions.

At the time the service was introduced, there was a third objective – that of keeping access to the beach free. In the same way that the London congestion tax was used to subsidise public transport, revenue from parking meters paid for the Mosman Rider. Non-residents could park for free anywhere along the route and thus access the beach for nothing,

Are these legitimate aims

They are aims being very strongly promoted at all levels of government, in Australia and across the world. It is not hard to see why. Very few of us are getting the required 30 minutes of exercise we need a day to stay healthy. All the research shows that incidental exercise, the sort that we get when we use public transport rather than door to door transport in our own car, is the best way of sustaining the required level of physical activity and if the population is healthy the public purse outlays on health are much reduced. The Heart Foundation has published much on the topic. The NSW government through the Premiers Council on Active Living is urging local government to provide incentives and remove barriers to active travel. At the federal level the Department of Infrastructure has just released a discussion paper: ‘Walking, Riding and Access to Public Transport’ and the American Public Health Association is continuously building on the already overwhelming evidence that providing people with an alternative to driving pays
for itself many times over in reduced health care costs, reduced congestion and reduced need for parking infrastructure.

Other areas of government stress the economic value of providing services that allow people to remain independent and living in their own homes as they age. Others again stress the importance of reducing social isolation and ensuring that the elderly can get to medical appointments. Having the independence to meet up with friends where and when you want is highly valued by youth.

I would assume that the current Council agrees with these objectives, but are less convinced about how effectively the current service is achieving them. So let’s look at that.

To what extent is the service achieving its stated objectives

You only need to go for a ride on the Mosman Rider to observe that a lot of elderly people who one suspects are beyond driving use the service. Surveying this demographic of the clientele would show the extent to which having the service was a factor in keeping them independent,

It is also clear that a lot of young people use the service to meet up with each other or go to the beach. Many families with young children use the service to go to the shops, beach or Zoo. Children love it.

There are many regulars: travelling on the bus is quite a social experience, aided by the very friendly drivers. It is not just young people who use the bus for meeting friends for a coffee

So can it be said that each person who uses the bus represents mobility being provided to someone who would otherwise be mobility deprived or a trip that would otherwise be made by car? Certainly some of the passengers do and thus they provide evidence that the service is achieving its objectives. Some do not. For example they may use the bus when otherwise they would have walked or used the services provided by Sydney Buses.

So the question we must now explore is can the benefit of the service be expanded by attracting more passengers who, had it not been for the service, would have used their car or not made the trip at all.

How big is the pool of potential passengers?

The current route of the Mosman Rider was designed so that a large proportion of the population of Mosman is less than a ten minute walk away from the route. What limits its use is that either people don’t know about it, or the service frequency is too low (once per hour) or the journey time is too long (one hour for a complete circuit of Mosman). It is these two latter factors that make the service uncompetitive with driving yourself, even taking into account the hassle of finding a parking spot. Another factor maybe the presumed unreliability – we all know the bus gets delayed in traffic so often it is running well behind its timetable, and who wants to wait at the stop with a suspicion that the bus has already passed through? In fact reliability is not a problem for those in the know, as the mobile phone bus locator system largely overcomes that problem.

Clearly a higher frequency service with a shorter journey time would increase the pool of potential passengers, but it would also cost a lot more to run. Two buses would be needed to provide a half hour service on two different half hour loops.

I believe there is still considerable scope for increasing passenger numbers with the existing service. Mosman has a growing number of both children and retired people. Both groups are under less time pressure than their working counterparts and once you rule out time as an issue there is a lot of attraction in being chauffeured, enjoying the social experience, being dropped at the door, being able to drink and not having to find a parking spot. The Mosman Rider and Sydney Buses services taken in conjunction actually allow you to get from anywhere to anywhere in Mosman and back again with not too much waiting time, particularly, if the mobile phone location services are used and you start your trip only when the bus is due.

Passenger numbers have risen steadily since the service was first introduced. People typically learn about the service from friends. Once they have experienced how convenient it is, it enters their mindset and they become repeat customers. Even without any further promotion passenger numbers and hence the community benefit will grow over time as the message spreads by word of mouth. The benefit to cost ratio will consequently grow. By promoting the service the benefits would grow even faster. A short video of current clients saying how they use the service and why they like it along with details of the route and timing, screened at the Hayden Orpheum would reach the right demographic. It could be also be screened at Council and at Bridgepoint and in local schools.

Other ways to promote the service would be to letterbox drop houses adjacent to the route with timing information for their locality – when the bus passes through their area and how long it takes to get to each key destination. New residents should be taken on a guided tour of Mosman on the Rider once they have been on it and seen how it works it won’t be such a leap of faith to use it for a real trip.

Another potential benefit of the service would be to map out ‘a day in Mosman’ for international tourists staying in the city. It would involve a ferry ride to Taronga Zoo (with or without a Zoo visit), the 238 to Balmoral Beach for lunch, the Mosman Rider for a tour around Balmoral Heights and Beauty Point, a visit to the Art Gallery followed by a stroll down the shopping strip, then a 230 to Mosman Wharf and home on the ferry. Many other itineraries could be invented. The Mosman Rider passes no less than 20 places to have a coffee.

Could the cost of the service be reduced without compromising its quality?

The benefit to cost ratio can be increased by either increasing benefits or lowering costs. In this section I examine various options for reducing the cost while maintaining the same level of service ie an hourly service from most parts of Mosman to the Mosman shopping strip and a half hourly service from the shopping strip to the beach.

Let’s start with the route. The route was painstakingly worked out to meet the following criteria. It needed to be within easy reach of the majority of the Mosman population, it needed to pass close to all of Mosman’s key destinations, it should complement and add value to Sydney Buses services, it should be impacted minimally by congestion, it needed to pass the same spot at the same time each hour, it needed to get people quickly to the beach and shops, but if they stayed on the bus, deliver them to any of Mosman’s key destinations. The route chosen needed to be negotiable by the bus and have plenty of safe places to pick up and drop off passengers.

The route finally arrived at was a figure of eight loop crossing over at Balmoral. By using loops rather than a star pattern duplication of Sydney Buses services is minimised.

An argument has been made that the original mobility objectives could be achieved by expanding community transport – for example providing for the eligible elderly a fixed number of taxi vouchers. Or more ambitiously replacing the Mosman Rider with a computer based bus despatching system that would respond to calls from potential passengers, optimising its route to pick up each passenger and deliver them to their destination. Leaving aside the loss of independence (having to ask for help rather than simply using a service) and the unpredictability of your arrival time with such a service, the major disadvantage is that such services are not scalable, costs rise in proportion to passengers. For the Mosman Rider, benefits increase with passenger numbers, while costs are held constant. There is thus no financial impediment to promoting the service, and consequently reducing greenhouse gas emissions, reducing demand on parking, reducing congestion

The Mosman Rider, now that it is established and growing in popularity has so much potential. It could become very Mosman to do the social and environmental right thing and get around Mosman by a combination of walking cycling, Mosman Rider and Sydney Buses – excepting of course when the weather was bad, or you had lots to carry, or you were short of time. The State government in its Transport Master Plan has argued that Sydney bus services should be restricted to trunk routes with feeder buses providing for micro mobility. Mosman and Manly will be well placed to negotiate a deal with the State government when this happens, having developed experience in running their own services

Another way of reducing the costs would be to charge for the service. This would add to operational costs and also be a disincentive. It would also be unfair as the chief beneficiaries are not the passengers but the community. They benefit from having one less car on the road. In the long term, when the service is fully established with two buses providing a 30 minute service it would be appropriate to charge a fare, provided that at that time the OPAL card is in use across all transport in Sydney, including the Mosman Rider. In the short term sponsorship, or on bus advertising could be considered.

Wouldn’t it be better to scrap the service and lower rates?

This is a matter for political judgement by the councillors. Every Council service could be scrapped and the rates dropped ever lower. The Mosman Rider first, then perhaps the Library, then the sporting venues. Where do you draw the line? I think that the Mosman community is quite comfortable with the mix of services they get in return for their rates, and are generous enough to accept that they are paying for some services that they personally don’t use but are vital for others.. As the population ages, more people live here and fuel prices increase support for the Mosman Rider will grow ever more stronger. Scrapping or even significantly changing the service now would be to squander a four year build-up of passenger good will and three years of fine tuning to optimise the service. It would put a lot of cars back on the road and make a lot of people seriously question whether they could continue independent living. It would make a lot of children who get so excited about riding the ‘Whale Bus’, very sad. It would make me sad too, seeing a great initiative by one Council destroyed by the next. But I guess that is how politics is played these days.

The nanny state and the public good

March 29, 2012

I predict that the term ‘nanny state’ will be much bandied about in the run up to this year’s council election. It will be used by those arguing that council should restrict its activities to roads rates and rubbish. From this ideological perspective, all of the following are absolute no-nos: education programs to encourage energy efficiency or healthy lifestyles, the use of pricing as a means to manage demand, regulations that impinge on the freedom of residents to make their own choices (even when those choices may negatively affect others), the provision of services that address social isolation or the needs of disadvantaged groups and any expenditure on the arts or cultural activities.

For those in this camp, before council takes on any new initiative a cost benefit analysis should be undertaken, with the proviso that the only benefits that count are those that result in revenue although if pushed money that would otherwise have had to be spent may be included. Benefits that are hard to measure and that accrue to the community as a whole, no matter how self-evident, are ruled out of the equation.

At the root of this thinking is the concept of Adam Smith’s invisible hand – the notion that if we all relentlessly pursue what is best for us individually then miraculously we also create the ideal society at the same time.

I had a chat this week with a constituent, let’s call him Don, who is very much of this persuasion. He was asking me what exactly was the ‘public good’ that I was claiming it was my duty as a councillor to advance? In Don’s mind the public good was just what a bunch of ill-informed politicians and bureaucrats thought was desirable. Why, he asked, should their views have any greater weight than his own views or those of his mates – after all he had considerable expertise in his field and had a much richer real-world experience of life that most politicians or bureaucrats could ever hope to achieve. (more…)

Mackie Lane Community Garden Opens

February 26, 2012

Yesterday was the official opening of Mosman’s first community garden. The Mackie lane site was packed with people enjoying the gardens with their lush crops of vegetables and colourful companion plants. Since it was established just three months ago the garden has become a community social centre for the Hale Rd to Cowles Rd neigbourhood. Every Sunday afternoon, when work is done there is, in effect, a street party. So what is the big attraction? As I discovered chatting with people at the opening, it is much more than ‘it gives people without gardens an opportunity to grow stuff’. The big reward for participtaing is the sharing of knowledge and the impressive rate of progress with so many shoulders to the wheel. The garden has attracted ‘experts’ who have well established vegestable gardens in the own home, children with a passion for gardening, families keen to learn the art and lots of locals who are happy to pitch in with bed construction, compost management, planting, pest control, watering and harvesting to simply be part of such a fine neighbourly entreprise.

As Mayor Anne Connan said as she cut the chocolate cabbage to open the garden, the fact that the garden exists at all show just what is possible when individuals, council and community minded business enterprises are prepared to take the time to work through all the bureaucratic obstacles in order to achieve the vision rather than saying it is all just too hard. Ausgrid was initially unwilling to lease the land to a community group, but were prepared to lease it to council who could sub-lease it to the community group. Council then did what it could to help with in kind asssitance – fencing, connecting water and provding and transporting materials from Kimbriki. It is a great tribute to Mosman Community Gardeners who through several years and many a set back persisted with imagination and zeal to achieve their goal – pulling in along the way Bunnings, the Honeysuckle Nursery, Mosman Daily and Midas.

The ultimate aim of MCG is to have a community garden within walking distance of every home in Mosman. It is going need a lot more creative collaboration fo this to happen given that most of the public space in Mosman is crown land. Although Mosman and other councils have requested that the NSW Government soften its policy which currently forbids community gardens on crown land (and they are considering the request) a decison is not expected anytime soon, so in the meantime the only possible sites are council owned land or land made available by private owners (as the NPWS has done on Middle Head). It is to be hoped that seeing what an asset a well run community garden can be to the local neighbourhood, the kind of opposition that killed off the Rosherville proposal will not be so much in evidence in the future.

For Tom Sherlock’s photos of the opening, click here

From eGov to WeGov

December 15, 2011

Dom Lopez has had a powerful and sustained influence on Mosman Council over the last 40 years. Now a new Dom has emerged who is representative of new thinking about how local government should operate. The new Dom is Dominic Campbell. He is based in the UK and not yet 30. He runs a consultancy called FutureGov.

A few weeks ago he was out in Sydney and presented his ideas at a workshop hosted by ACELG. Dominic’s basic thesis is that we are only in the first phase of a transformation that local government is undergoing as a result of web and social media technology. When a new technology emerges, it first gets used to make our current way of doing things more efficient. But there is always a second phase when we cotton on to the fact that the new technology opens up the possibility of a radically different approach. Digital technology initially caused vinyl LP’s to be replaced by CD’s. But then along came iTunes.. According to Dominic, eGov, where we simply do on line what we used to do with paper is the CD equivalent. He has given the name WeGov to the iTunes equivalent.

It is impossible to predict how WeGov will evolve, but there are some interesting precursors where government and the community work together in a relationship of trust rather than control where both sides have permission to experiment. An example would be the transformation of a traditional meals on wheels service to one where people who like to cook in a particular ethnic genre are matched with people of that ethnicity who cannot cook for themselves. (Project Casserole Reigate and Banstead Council in the UK). WeGov is all about new ways to design services, new ways to involve citizens, better use of resources and of course, saving money.

Have a look at the Social Innovation Market Place website for more detail. WeGov has the potential to bring radical improvement to our cities. The word cloud that goes with it includes the words open, relaxed, collaborative, transparent, engaging, authentic, fun, personalised, human, honest and sharing.

SHOROC was well represented at the workshop with Pittwater GM Mark Ferguson, Mosman Community Development Director Di Lawrence and Community Services Manager Niki Atmore and myself attending. You can view thw full presentation here

How does Mosman compare with other councils?

October 26, 2011

Each year the Department of Local Government publishes statistics that allow councils in NSW to be compared. The date for 2009/2010 has just been published.

How does Mosman fare? In particular on what measures is Mosman a ‘stand-out’ well away from the average?

With only 8 sq km we are one of the smallest in area. Only Hunters Hill at 5.7 sq km is smaller. We are also small in terms of population. Mosman has 28,000 residents, close to Lane Cove with 32,000 and Manly with 40,000 but much bigger than Hunters Hill with 14,000. On the other hand Blacktown has 300,000 and most of our neighbours are much bigger – Warringah (144,000), Pittwater (59,000), North Sydney (63,000) and Willoughby (69,000).

We sit mid range in terms of population density at 3300 per sq km. Much lower than Waverley (7425) and North Sydney (6087) and just a little it more dense than Lane Cove and Manly.

Some of the other standouts are not so intuitive. Mosman experienced one of the lowest population increases of any municipality in Sydney between 2008/9 and 2009/10 at 0.59% . Most of our near neighbours grew by more than 1% and Auburn by 3.7%. The percentage of our residents from a NESB background was also one of the smallest in Sydney at 14% , bigger than Manly’s 12.5% about the same as Leichardt. All of our near neighbours have significantly higher percentages. Willoughby for example is 30% and Kuring-gai 21%. Highest in Sydney is Auburn coming in at 49%.

It is hard to make meaningful comparisons of measures such as average rating per residence. Mosman’s is $1079 about the same as Manly, Hunters Hill, Kurng-gai and Leichardt but much bigger that municipalities with a big commercial centre like North Sydney ($453) and Willoughby ($755).

Different councils have a different ratios of income source between rates and charges. Mosman for example derives three times as much income from rates than it does from charges which is about average. Outliers at either end of the spectrum are North Sydney with a 1.95 multiplier and Hunters Hill with 8.6.

There are also different spends per capita on various forms of service. Willoughby spends $68 per person annually on environment and health compared with $7 in Hunters Hill and $41 in Mosman. Spending on recreation and leisure is highest in Lane Cove at $143 per person. This compares with $33 in Hunters Hill and $90 in Mosman, slightly lower than Manly ($105) and North Sydney($118). Spending on community services is highest in Waverley at $166 which compared with Mosman’s $75 and Hunters Hill’s $32. The number of residents in each municipality served by each FTE staff member varies for comparable councils from 121 in Waverley to 257 in Warringah with Mosman near the average at 168.

Living in each different municipality would be the only authentic way to make comparisons on the value for money that residents get for their rates and charges. The comparative figures put out by DLG do show that what Mosman collects and spends is comparable with our neighbours. There is certainly no evidence that small councils are inefficient.

At present Mosman has more politicians per resident than any of our neighbouring councils apart from Hunters Hill. The proposal to reduce to 6 councillors plus the mayor will still leave us over represeted coampared to North Sydney, Willoughby, Warringah and Pittwater but slighly deprived when compared with Manly and Lane Cove. The reduction will save Council $44,000 a year in direct costs. Much greater savings will accrue from the 20% reduction in staff time needed to service the reduced number of counciloors

Mosman Sporting Fields at Capacity

May 9, 2011

Membership of Mosman’s sporting clubs is growing at more than 10% a year. This is good news from the perspective of community health and particularly women’s participation in sports previously dominated by males. The challenge is finding sporting fields to accommodate the demand across all sports, all levels and both seasons. It is not surprising, given its prime foreshore location close to the city, that Mosman has one of the lowest hectares of sporting fields per 1000 population of any municipality of Sydney. The average is 1.44. Mosman is 0.3 – the 3rd lowest after City of Sydney (0.16) and Leichhardt (0.19). (more…)

It can happen!

November 3, 2010

One of the satisfactions I get from travel, is going to distant lands and finding actually in place and working well something that I would like to see in Mosman. This is especially the case when I have contemplating fighting for some of these things on Council but have been told by all and sundry that it could never work and even if it could there would be insurmountable political barriers.

I have collected a set of captioned photos to illustrate.

Churches that are leading the way in renewable energy; street lights that are extinguished between 1 and 5 am; a locality with no garages or on-street parking; traffic undergrounded to create a magnificent boulevard for bikes and pedestrians (now there is an idea for Spit Junction); bus shelters that don’t impede bicycles sharing the verge with pedestrians; big-box shopping centres seamlessly integrated into heritage towns (food for thought here when considering how Spit Junction might be developed); Naked streets where heavy trucks and small children “negotiate” shared space; senior citizens preferring to go shopping on a bike (with walking stick attached): young mums preferring to use the bike to take themselves and two toddlers to the shops; cycling infrastructure so good that kids can ride to school; new footpaths that are wider than the old to make life easier for pedestrians, despite the increased cost; electronic bollards to restrict access while allowing buses and resident through; demand management being used to control congestion; what happens when hedge heights are unregulated; bikes on buses; stealing traffic lanes to make cycleways; volunteer drivers for community buses; reclaiming the streets for people; alternative ways of achieving medium density; elegant bridges.

My suggestion for the Mosman Rider Route

October 16, 2009

Picture1The above route would ensure a reliable 30 minute service. It complements rather than competes with the STA routes. It passes all the key local journey destinations in Mosman – schools, shops, walks, cafes, churches, walks, sports grounds and iconic attractions. It provides a seven day service for the elderly living at the bottom of hills, but is also has a high enough frequency and a short enough journey time to make the Mosman Rider a viable alternative to using the car given the hassles of parking

Northern Nursery School

August 19, 2009

bg_left_1Today, Anne Connon and I visited the Northern Nursery School in Wyong Rd. The school has been in existence for 75 years and in my opinion is one of Mosman’s treasures. The school is in an idyllic setting under grand old melaleuca trees with view glimpses up Middle Harbour. NNS has a very defined focus of providing a pre-school program for 3 to 6 year olds. The hours and terms are the same as for schools and children attend either a two day or three day program a week. By not attempting to be a day care centre (the children have to bring their own lunch) the school is able to concentrate on providing the best possible educational program to prepare pre-schoolers for school and life. Anne and I were very impressed by the atmosphere in the school – a friendly calm environment rich in stimulii and loaded with opportunities for fun activities. The school is run by a management committee of dedicated parents on a not-for profit basis with a team of full time staff headed by Paula West. The site is owned by Mosman Council and leased to NNS for a peppercorn rent in recognition of the service provided to the community. This allows the school to keep fees affordable and take on a number of special needs children. Competition for places is intense. (more…)