The NCS 2011-2016 is the third in a series of Strategies which began in 1999. It is managed by the Australian Bicycle Council (ABC), a Commonwealth agency reporting to Austroads within the Infrastructure & Regional Development portfolio. There are no plans to develop a future strategy for cycling in Australia.
The current NCS covers the 6-year period ending this year. The latest Implementation Report (released on 6 Sept 2016) deals with progress made during 2015. Much of the information in the Report would have been provided by State and Territory governments in their role as ABC members.
The third National Cycling Participation Survey (NCPS) was carried out in 2015, with the results indicating that cycling participation has not increased or decreased significantly over the life of the current NCS. These results do not meet the target set in the NCS to double cycling participation over the life of the Strategy.
These notes focus on ACT issues identified in the Implementation Report 2015.
Progress in the ACT
The Report notes the following improvements on cycling in Canberra:
- the Active Streets program as part of the Ride or Walk to School initiative
- establishment of the Active Travel Office with the ACT Government
- allowing cycling across pedestrian crossings
- investigating relaxed helmet laws in low-speed environments
- introduction of minimum passing distance laws
- updating of bicycle parking guidance
- the National Cycling Summit in Canberra
- improved end of trip facilities at transport interchanges
- release of the Active Travel Framework
- continued infrastructure planning: publication of Building an Integrated Transport Network: Active Travel
- an ACT Government bicycle fleet to encourage employees to cycle to nearby meetings.
Not mentioned is the redevelopment of the ACT’s Municipal Infrastructure Standard 05 – Active travel.
The ACT cycling budget
The Report (p.10) indicates that per head of population, the ACT greatly outspent other Australian jurisdictions in 2015. However, this impression is misleading for several reasons:
- there is considerable confusion in the Report – it shows an ACT cycling budget of $19.3m for 2014-15, but our records show that the funding was under $5m in that financial year. In 2015-16 the Government officially allocated $23m to walking and cycling, but we found only $5.6m of new money for active travel initiatives
- the higher funding in the 2015-16 budget included significant amounts that were already committed, were previously identified elsewhere, or were not for priority cycling projects (eg the Majura Parkway on-road lane and separated path)
- the Report claims that the ACT cycling budget for 2014-15 was about 9 times higher than the average of its budgets for the previous 4 years, but (even if it were correct) this level of spending has not been maintained
- some amounts were for additional consultants reports and planning studies on projects which have not subsequently been funded for construction (eg the Molonglo to City cycleway and urgently needed improvements in the Town Centres)
- the ACT has both state-level and local government roles, but the table excludes local government spending in other jurisdictions
- Canberra’s population density is lower than in other Australian cities
Issues not dealt with in the Report
The Report does not deal with some issues that will be crucial in achieving genuine progress towards a cycling culture in which Canberra is recognised as the standout Australasian city, specifically the need for:
- a clear statement of vision, commitment and support from the top (ie the next Chief Minister);
- an adequate, settled funding program over the life of the next Assembly that recognises the contribution of cycling to the ACT economy and society
- a safe, quick, convenient, connected off-road network that all Canberrans could feel comfortable using every day
- full integration of cycling and public transport
- active promotion of a cycling culture in which bicycles are accepted as the natural way to get to school, shops and work.
Pedal Power ACT again calls on the next ACT Government to adequately resource path maintenance and separated cycling infrastructure.
For more on this issue, you can find Pedal Power ACT’s responses to recent ACT budgets below.