The case for spending more money on bike-riding in Canberra

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Pedal Power ACT has recommended to the Chief Minister Andrew Barr that his government invest $128 million to make Canberra a better place to ride a bike. 

The business case for investing in cycling is simple and compelling. Every trip moved from car to bike has a net benefit for the ACT government and community.

The Government asked Pedal Power ACT how to better meet the needs of Canberrans and make Canberra even more liveable with the 2018-19 ACT Budget.

We asked the bike-riding community in Canberra where you thought money should be spent to make riding better in the ACT, and have used the results to inform our answer.

The October 2017 survey of our members and the Canberran cycling community drew over 500 responses.

Canberrans overwhelmingly suggested the Budget needs to include a significant expansion in active travel investment, particularly:

  • addressing missing cycling links in the community path network;
  • more separated cycling paths; and
  • better maintenance of the existing community path network.

With over 7500 members, Pedal Power ACT represents the interests of people who already ride bicycles and those who would like to. As well as organising bike rides and events, we work with the ACT Government on all bicycle-riding matters related to their active travel program.

We encourage the community to be active and provides opportunities for everyone in the ACT to do so through programs like Active RidesNew Horizons and Cycling Without Age.

Pedal Power ACT recommends that the Government allocate $128 million over the next four years for bike riding infrastructure and related investments.

We note that funding for active travel infrastructure and maintenance has fallen significantly over the last three years, from around $18 million in 2015-16, $14 million in 2016-17; to around $10 million in 2017-18.

This decline has led to:

  • the continued deterioration of the path network;
  • compromises in active travel infrastructure standards to make limited funding go further;
  • the failure to take expensive planning work to the construction phase; and
  • the winding back of the scope of some projects to fit the funding available.

We are also concerned that the current reduction in the level of funding is not consistent with the Government’s own commitment through the Labor/Greens Parliamentary Agreement to provide an ‘additional’ $30 million over four years for active travel related measures. The 2017-18 Budget failed to address this commitment.

Pedal Power ACT and our members believe that to successfully transform the way Canberrans move as part of the active travel program, Government infrastructure initiatives over the next four years should deliver:

  • better path maintenance (including a one-off special capital injection) – $38 million;
  • improvements to the off road cycle path network – $51.3 million;
  • cycling projects related to urban renewal – $32 million;
  • pilot projects for separating bike riders from pedestrians – $2 million;
  • expanded Active Streets for Schools – $2 million; and
  • the Belconnen bikeway and the town centre improvements for Gunghalin, Tuggeranong and Kambah as provided for in last year’s Budget.

Active travel development measures Pedal Power ACT asks to be implemented over the next four years are:

  • a Cycle Tourism Fund to adequately finance the Government’s forthcoming Cycle Tourism Strategy and to develop cycle tourism in the ACT;
  • make active travel more socially inclusive through Government and community projects that:
    – develop skills and confidence
    – encourage behaviour change, including safer riding and driving
    – increase active travel participation among women, children, youth and people who are socio-economically disadvantaged – $2.5 million; and
  • active consideration of a bike share scheme for Canberra.

Canberra is now well-placed to build on our bike-riding heritage and reap the economic and social benefits of a healthier, more productive city.

Civic leaders around the world are strongly supporting cycling because it makes economic sense; it is the quickest, easiest, cheapest and most popular remedy for a range of urban problems.

You can see further detail on Pedal Power ACT’s 2018-19 budget submission by downloading the document here.

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