ACT Election 2016: the bike-riding vote

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Riding in Canberra

Pedal Power ACT members have achieved a big win this election season, with recognition from candidates that they need to produce detailed and effective policies for the bike-riding vote in Canberra.

ACT Labour and the ACT Greens announced policies at the Forum and in the days following that demonstrate the strength of the ACT cycling community. We await official announcements on cycling policy from the Canberra Liberals.

The Pedal Power ACT community wants Canberra to be the healthiest and most progressive city in Australia: The Cycling Capital. We need a government that will make this happen.

Cycling is more than just transport. Cycling encompasses transport, tourism, recreation and lifestyle, with economic, health and social benefits.  So how do the major parties stack up when it comes to cycling?

Labor

Makes decent election promises on cycling policy, but fails to follow through.

Promises

  • $4.7m to build the ‘Belco Bikeway, a purpose-built bike path connecting the town centre with local education institutions to separate cyclists from traffic and make the Belconnen region more cyclist-friendly
  • A commitment to work with local cycling advocacy groups and Visit Canberra to promote Canberra as a cycling tourism destination
  • A promise to install more bike racks in Braddon
  • A commitment to clear budgeting for cycling

Our appraisal

  • The concept of the “Belco Bikeway” is good, detail is lacking, consultation is required. The plan needs appropriate integration with the University of Canberra and CIT campuses, and fails to connect to the major population areas of Belconnen.
  • Cyclo-tourism is a must-do for any incoming ACT government. It makes political and economic sense and is supported. There is a large amount of research in comparable regional contexts that can be drawn upon to develop a coherent strategy.
  • Braddon bike racks: is this really an election promise? It is a municipal duty to provide them.
  • Clarity of the commitment to cycling in the budget process will be welcomed.

Is Labor setting the standard or simply doing the bare minimum required on cycling? The integration of cycling-related infrastructure around the proposed light rail is encouraging, but they need to show stronger leadership and action to make Canberra the Cycling Capital.

Greens

Excellent cycling policies, but lacks the influence to make them happen.

Promises

Our appraisal

  • $60 million is a major investment that is sorely needed to bring Canberra into the 21st century as the Cycling Capital. It dwarfs Labor’s $4.7m for one project.
  • $20 million to improve infrastructure around schools shows a commitment to our future in addressing concerning statistics in this area. Cycling training for all children should be added.
  • A bicycle hub provides a central place for end-or-trip facilities in the town centres and could help attract more people to ride to work.
  • A bike share scheme is common practice in leading cities and Canberra needs one.
  • The commitment to a well-resourced Active Travel Office, appropriate design standards for cycling and walking, adoption of the World Health Organisation’s assessment criteria for allocation of funds and the pursuit of shared experience across cities in cycling infrastructure are all warmly welcomed.

The Greens initiated the Vulnerable Road User Inquiry (VRUI), which has resulted in a number of excellent outcomes for the cycling community. As a minor party and holding a cabinet ministry, they have exerted influence and shown leadership.

The Greens have listened to the cycling community, and have shown strong but practical commitment to infrastructure and processes. Policy commitments regarding cyclo-tourism, and the sporting and recreational sector are lacking. Their commitments go beyond the other parties. It shows an understanding of the issues and a capacity to lead in this area.

Overall, a strong policy platform that addresses the needs of the city. The Greens would need to join a coalition to implement it.

Liberals

More official detail required.*

Promises

  • Segregated paths on every road
  • Join up the network of on-road and off-road paths
  • Bring world-class cycling events to the ACT, and a recognition of economic benefit for ACT
  • Commitment to Vision Zero road safety aims and using new technology to achieve them, along with more education for drivers and bike riders sharing the roads
  • Dedicated cycle lane in the middle of Northbourne Avenue

Our appraisal

  • Segregation of bike riders from vehicular traffic is a given for safer cycling in urbanised areas. More detail required on how this would be funded and implemented.
  • Joining up the network of cycle paths is a welcome promise, but more detail required on how this would be funded and implemented.
  • Bringing world-class events to the ACT is another welcome promise, but again: more detail required.
  • The announcement of a promised dedicated path in the middle of Northbourne Avenue comes without any level of consultation and is fraught with issues to overcome if it is to work for the cycling community.

The Liberal party in opposition are across the issues that involve cycling, and recognise the role major events play to increase tourism and bring economic benefit to the ACT.

Yet we have struggled to determine whether the words of Alistair Coe at the Election Forum – identified here as ‘Promises’– are policy commitments by the Liberal Party or simply his ideas.

There is no commitment of funds and there is no capacity to review these promises.

Canberra Liberals are yet to release policy statements regarding cycling, but have made policy commitments that will increase motor vehicle use. We need better leadership and more action to make Canberra the Cycling Capital.

* After this review was released, the Canberra Liberals made an official announcement about their policies relating to cycling in the ACT. We applaud their responsiveness to the cycling community, and look forward to them putting dollar figures against their cycling promises if they are elected to government in 2016.

Read the Canberra Liberals cycling policies here.

Authorised by J. Armstrong. 

 

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