Bike-friendly routes are a thing of the future.

Have you heard of one day in five?

The idea, conceived in Bendigo, is to walk, bike or take public transport, instead of driving, one day in five.

Like many cities around the world, Bendigo is facing increased traffic pressure from a growing population.

Given that building more roads has never – anywhere – provided more than temporary respite, the City of Greater Bendigo, like many others around the world, looked to alternatives.

The council’s planners calculated in 2015 that we could keep traffic congestion in check without building new roads if enough of us shifted away from the car one day in five – even with a growing population.

Incidental activity would also address the obesity crisis threatening to overwhelm our health system.

Various organisations are working towards this significant shift.

Infrastructure to drive it includes: the McIvor Road underpass, which creates an almost continuous traffic-free path from Spring Gully to Epsom; new traffic and pedestrian lights at Tannery Lane in Strathfieldsaye; retrofitting footpaths; a 40 kilometre per hour speed limit throughout central Bendigo; plans for the Ironbark Gully Trail; and a feasibility study for a traffic-free route through the town centre.

These are the sorts of physical changes that will make walking and cycling around Bendigo safer, practical and enjoyable.

Then there’s the question of culture.

Community group Bike Bendigo fosters everyday cycling through advocacy and numerous activities, including regular community rides and the October-long Bike Palooza.

The group is going to host the Australian Walking and Cycling Conference, October 29–30, following a October 26 bike tourism conference.

Keynote speakers Melissa and Chris Bruntlett from Modacity in Vancouver, Canada will discuss their Dutch blueprint for building a cycling city.

This, they stress, is not simply copying and pasting the Dutch model onto Canadian – or Australian – cities. However, a key factor is to see cycling as transport, rather than sport (in other words, design for everyone, not just the fast and brave).

Other presenters – from cities across Australia, Canada and New Zealand – include policymakers and practitioners, consultants and community organisations, researchers and regular citizens. Infrastructure, behaviour change, thermal comfort mapping, e-bikes and driverless cars are among the presentation topics.

Conference pricing encourages attendance by community members and change agents as well as well as professionals. Register at www.walkingandcycling.com.au

Are we at one in five yet? Probably not even close, but we’re on the way – and ready to learn from cities who are.