Eurobodalla is in prime position to celebrate World Carfree Day today according to Eurobodalla Labor for Council with the shire’s extensive network of footpaths and shared pathways, and seven key bushwalking trails such as Banksia Walk at Burrewarra Point, Lake Brou to Potato Point, Gulaga Walk and the planned Headlands Walking Trail and Observation Point upgrade.

Councillor candidate Jack Egan of Rosedale said World Carfree Day is an annual celebration of public life free from the noise, stress and pollution of cars.

“This is a fantastic chance to discuss the importance of exercise with your children as well as the impact of cars on the environment,” Mr Egan said. “Motor vehicles emit carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases, which are major causes of global warming.

“World Carfree Day encourages everyone to give up their cars for a day and consider alternative ways of travelling, for example walking and cycling to school/work more often, notwithstanding many of us are in a COVID-lockdown situation at the moment.

“We know that longer distance walking and cycling is a big attraction overseas. There’s a strong case for making more of our own beautiful forests and hinterland accessible through low environmental impact, nature-based, car-free opportunities.

“Our tourism industry could especially benefit from attracting visitors more evenly throughout the year and not just for beach activities over summer,” he said.

Eurobodalla Shire Council (ESC) residents predominantly drive their cars and trucks to work with very few using bicycles or e-scooters according to the 2016 Census. At least 40% of the shire’s residents own one car (6033), 35% own two vehicles (5349) and almost 15% of the residents own three or more vehicles (2208), mainly trades, agricultural and transport businesses.

“Eurobodalla has some lovely bike and walking paths already, but there are opportunities for more,” Mr Egan said. “There are also opportunities to connect existing paths to each other and to town centres.

“One example is connecting Broulee to Moruya: it’s pretty flat and only 14 km – a perfect distance for active transport by e-bike, push-bike or even walking for the more energetic. Residents and visitors at both ends would enjoy recreation and commuting along this route.

“There’s already a reasonable unsealed track along the back of Bengello Beach from Broulee to North Head. Some engineering would be involved in separating cars from cyclists and pedestrians along parts of North Head Drive between the airport and Moruya, but there are NSW government grants for worthy projects such as this,” he said.

In line with its strong commitment to community consultation, Labor’s mayoral candidate, David Grace said a new ESC should explore more ways to support the walking and cycling communities.

“If elected to lead the shire, Eurobodalla Labor for Council will consult the community about progressing a Broulee-Moruya active transport link and similar projects,” Mr Grace said. “Where it makes sense and where there is community support, we would seek grants to fund the engineering works involved.

“The Labor team believes opportunities for car-free recreation exist and lobbying the NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service, Forest Corporation and Local Land Services to extend walking trails through national parks, state forests and rural areas would be a priority.

“For example, connecting Gulaga National Park with a walking/cycling path between Narooma and Tilba, both of which are on the daily Premier Motor Service’s Eden-Sydney bus route would connect iconic destinations for the more active local and visiting bush walkers,” he added.

Eurobodalla Labor for Council believes a stronger focus on a shire strategy promoting alternative transport options would deliver a variety of benefits for residents including: decreasing reliance on motor vehicles; reducing demand for parking facilities; reducing greenhouse gas emissions; and improved health outcomes.

“Many ESC residents – particularly the shire’s ageing population – value walking and cycling as a popular and regular method of low impact exercise as well as a way to get out and about to engage with friends and family within the community,” Mr Grace said.

“Walking and cycling are increasingly popular and many holiday makers now expect and look for opportunities to cycle and walk when choosing their holiday destination,” he added.