The most recent National Cycling Strategy Implementation Report has shown that there is more work to be done to increase cycling participation throughout Australia, particularly in regards to teenagers and school children.
The ACT appeared to fare well in this year’s report, with the ACT Government recognising a need to promote cycling through investment in infrastructure, cycling programs and community awareness.
It is disappointing that this recognition is not backed up by funding beyond attaching cycling infrastructure to major road initiatives in the ACT.
Pedal Power ACT welcomes the publication of the report for 2015, which provides an annual update on work that has progressed on cycling-related policy and programs in Australia.
There were many positive developments around Australia in infrastructure, promotion, integrated transport plans, and use of best practice in design of networks and facilities.
Unfortunately, the report also indicates a serious lack of progress in getting more people cycling, particularly young people.
The National Cycling Strategy aims to double cycling participation between 2011 and 2016. In fact, the Report concedes that “cycling participation has not increased or decreased significantly since 2011”, with a “large drop in female participation in the teenage years”. A study by the Active Healthy Kids Australia attributed the decline in cycling among school children to a number of factors, including parental concerns about dangers posed by traffic.
Why has participation fallen? Perception of safety risk is a major obstacle, particularly among women and parents of school-age children. The overall number of road fatalities has trended downwards over the past decade, yet vulnerable road users are more at risk.
Concerns about safety can be addressed by providing safe and convenient cycling networks and facilities, including well-designed and maintained neighbourhood cycle paths and separated cycleways in busy high-speed road corridors. This is recognised in the ACT Government's own reports, but is not matched by a funding commitment.
The Report includes a table comparing investment in cycling by State and Territories (excluding expenditure by local councils). The ACT figure per head of population appears much higher than the other States. A number of factors are at play, but the major flaw in the comparison is that the ACT Government is both a State-level and local government. It is not valid to compare the ACT to the States without including local government expenditure.
The ACT committed $14m to cycling and walking capital works in the 2016-17 budget. This represents:
- 20% less than the budget of 2015-16;
- no funds for West Belconnen, Belconnen Town Centre and Molonglo to the City cycleway despite hundreds of thousands of dollars spent last year on planning for much needed improvements in these areas;
- limited funds for cycling in the Woden, Tuggeranong and Kingston centres which continue to be spent on planning consultants instead of works on the ground;
- a maintenance vote for shared paths which is the lowest in five years - Pedal Power ACT estimates that a four-fold increase in annual maintenance funds is required to arrest the deteriorated condition of the shared path network; and
- a contrast with last year's expenditure on the Sullivans Creek path and Bowen Park on the Lake, ie no major works are planned to improve the well-used routes linking suburbs with town centres.
Increasing cycling participation in Canberra will take more than approach seen in this budget. Key priorities that Pedal Power has identified and which remain unaddressed are:
- strong leadership and commitment from the highest levels of government to kick-start cycling reform;
- construction of coordinated and connected cycling infrastructure to and through town and group centres;
- adequate maintenance to extend the useful life of existing footpath and cycling assets;
- separated on road cycling facilities to separate bicycles from fast heavy traffic; and
- off-road paths that separate people who are cycling from those who are walking.
Pedal Power ACT welcomes our member’s contributions to this ongoing discussion. Our Advocacy Team has provided a detailed response to the report.
You can have your say by filling out our 2016 Pre-Election Survey, and attending the Pedal Power ACT 2016 Election Forum on 27 September.
Read the NCT Implementation Report 2015