MEDIA RELEASE 1 August 2013
On Tuesday (30 July) Federal Minister for Infrastructure and Transport the Hon Anthony Albanese MP released two reports: State of Australian Cities Report and Walking, Riding and Access to Public Transport: supporting active travel in Australian communities. Following the reports, ACT Minister for Environment and Sustainable Development Simon Corbell MLA boasted about Canberra’s relative success in encouraging walking and cycling compared to other Australian cities. At Pedal Power ACT we would question his self-congratulation.
Pedal Power Executive Officer John Armstrong said, “Minister Corbell has been quick to proclaim how active travel levels in Canberra rank favourably against other Australian cities. He fails to mention that this Government has failed to meet its own targets in this area.
“The ACT Government’s own target (in the Transport for Canberra strategy) is that 11% of Canberrans would travel to work by bike or on foot by 2011. The result was 7.6% – only two-thirds of the target. For cycling the result was worse; 2.8% instead of 5%, barely halfway there.
“Canberra has some existing infrastructure, such as the network of shared paths and an active, motivated population that give us a head start on other Australian cities. We should be setting benchmarks based on cities in Europe and America such as Amsterdam, Portland, Copenhagen and London that have resourced substantial active transport strategies and are now seeing the results.
“We would like the Government to maintain and build on existing infrastructure to offer safe, attractive options that encourage active transport for all. The ACT Budget demonstrates that there is no sign that it is going to happen.
“The Government’s 2016 active transport target of 12.5% will remain a fantasy, unless it makes a major commitment of money, time and energy over the next two years. The results could be major savings to the ACT taxpayer.
“The federal report identifies the economic benefits of cycling to be $1.43 per kilometre. Encouraging an extra 1,000 Canberrans onto their bikes to ride 60km a week would reap economic benefits of over $4 million dollars a year. If the Government had reached its own target (5% cycling by 2011) it would be reaping a benefit of over $10 million a year.
“The overseas results didn’t happen by accident. Overarching joined-up strategies were given serious funding. What we need now is government to coordinate health, planning and infrastructure building and maintenance, and then fund a range of measures to help the Government meet the active transport targets it has set itself.
“It will require real investment and political will to make it happen,” Armstrong concluded.