Making it easier to cycle in Canberra
We want to make Canberra the cycling capital of Australia.
While Canberra has an active cycling community, there is a massive amount of work that needs to be done to improve our cycling environment and to shift our city toward a healthy and sustainable future where cycling is a viable transport option for people of all ages and abilities.
To do this we need leadership and financial commitment from the ACT government to building and maintaining cycling infrastructure in our city. This must be based on an understanding of the economic, environmental, health and other social benefits that investment in cycling can deliver to the broader community.
We need to encourage more women to cycle and provide opportunities for young people to learn to ride. To increase participation rates across the whole of the city, we must focus on the outer suburbs. where cycling rates are lower. We must support efforts to make cycling more inclusive and accessible to people of all backgrounds and abilities.
To achieve our mission of getting more Canberrans cycling more often we must encourage cycling in all its forms – as a recreational activity, a competitive sport, and as a safe and convenient way of getting around our city.
With four people killed while cycling on Canberra and regional roads since 2017, cycle safety is a major advocacy issue. Cycle safety affects all of us – it is a deep concern for those of us who ride, and a barrier for those who don’t. Research from around the world shows that making cycling safer is the key to improving cycling participation rates.
To improve cycle safety in Canberra we have called for:
- a cycling safety audit of all rural roads and highways in the ACT and region
- a mass education campaign to educate drivers about passing laws
- signage about passing laws, particularly on rural roads
After many years of advocacy, we now have minimum distance passing laws in place in the ACT, and we have seen driver behaviour improve. We need to get the message out that we all share the road together – drivers must be on the lookout for people on bikes at all times and give them the space they need.
And we have taken action ourselves – Pedal Power ACT is now working in partnership with ACT Policing to deliver an innovative community education campaign to assist drivers to understand safe passing distances, with the assistance of an ACT Road Safety Grant. LINK TO BLOG
With a growing population, road congestion is an increasing problem in Canberra. We are lucky not to have the congestion of cities like Sydney or Melbourne – yet. The traditional approach to reducing congestion is to build bigger roads, but city planners now understand that in the long term, adding more lanes simply leads to more traffic. Progressive cities around the world are proving that building good quality cycle infrastructure is a key driver to getting more people riding. If you build safer paths that keep people on bikes away from cars, more people will cycle.
The civic cycle loop is Canberra’s only truly separated cycleway, and the announcement in 2019 that the ACT Government will be constructing separated paths at Belconnen and Woden is a big win for cycle advocacy. We need a network of separated cycleways across the city to provide a safe and direct way for people to travel on bike.
Unfortunately, our community path network is rapidly ageing and in need of urgent attention. Many of our paths are cracked, crumbling and hazardous, and in some cases have become so degraded that the only option has been to rebuild them completely – a costly option that could be avoided through proper investment in ongoing maintenance.
A connected path network
Anyone who cycles in Canberra will have experienced the frustration of riding on a path that comes to a dead end or being stuck in dangerous traffic when a bike lane disappears. For cycling to appeal to more than just hardened riders, we need to make it as easy as possible for people of all ages and abilities to get from A to B, with a planned and connected path network that is well signed and easy to navigate. This means filling in the missing links in the network, particularly to town centres.
Separating people walking and cycling
In most places we can share our paths safely and harmoniously by following the road rules and exercising common sense and courtesy. However, with so many of us out enjoying our beautiful bush capital, paths can become congested in key areas, particularly around the lakes. So that different users can share these locations safely, we would like to see a trial separation of cycling and walking along sections of lake paths, in particular around Lake Burley Griffin.
We know Canberra is a great place to ride a bike, and we’d like to spread the word. With our temperate climate, open roads, extensive path networks, and off-road facilities like Stromlo Forest Park and Majura Pines, we are well placed to develop Canberra as a cycle destination and tap into a growing and lucrative domestic and international cycle tourism market. After many years of advocacy by Pedal Power, the ACT Government released its cycle tourism strategy in 2019. We hope that the upcoming budget will see further investment in implementing the strategy and investment promoting and developing our cycle facilities.