While city and state authorities in Adelaide have pushed for years for the CBD to be as free of cars as possible, the city council has now voted for a month-long campaign to get cars back into the city centre in an effort to boost business.
In a decision that surprised many people, a majority of council members agreed on Tuesday night to an initiative that will create a ‘Driver’s Month’ in either October or November.
Part of the campaign will include incentives and prizes to encourage Adelaide residents to drive into town.
Authorities usually encourage bikes and public transport
Local authorities have long sought to reduce the number of vehicles entering the central business district and instead have encouraged the use of bike lanes and public transport.
However, with many office workers now choosing to work from home and people nervous of using public transport in the age of COVID-19, the influx of people has reduced considerably and local businesses have felt the affect.
The proposal was put forward by Councillor Jessy Khera, who said fewer shoppers and diners coming into the CBD was hurting small businesses and there was a desperate need to introduce measures to help them.
Not an anti-bike or anti-bus strategy, says councillor
“This is about a specific effort to encourage those people back into the city where they will support our businesses,” he said during the meeting.
“This is not something that is anti-bike [and] it is not anti-bus. It sits alongside all those other modes of transport, but it is recognising that the absolute lifeblood of people patronising our city is via automobiles.”
The motion was agreed to by a majority of councillors. However, a second proposal by Khera to allow cars to drive in designated bus lanes was defeated.
Many speak out against the planned campaign
But everyone is happy with the idea and several have spoken out strongly.
“The red carpet being laid out for gas-guzzling motor vehicles, what an absolute joke,” said Councillor and former Greens Senator, Robert Simms.
“This might be the most stupid decision in the city council’s history,” wrote David Washington, Editor of local news website InDaily.
“The Adelaide City Council’s decision … to declare ‘driver’s month’ is counter-productive, runs against all the evidence and will damage the city’s reputation.”