Cycling matters to Canberrans.
A 2022 survey, conducted by Cycling and Walking Australia and New Zealand (CWANZ), reveals that almost 100,000 Canberrans (or 23.3%) ride at least once a week. This is almost a third higher than the national weekly cycling participation average of 18%.
More than two thirds (67%) of ACT households report having at least one working bicycle.
We asked each candidate for the upcoming Federal election how cycling fits with their vision for Canberra:
Cycling for transport offers Canberrans significant benefits to health, environment, congestion, and budget. How would you seek to boost cycling participation rates in Canberra?
Responses are found below (in alphabetical order by first name).
Alicia Payne, Member for Canberra, and
Senator Katy Gallagher
Australian Labor Party
Canberra already has the highest cycling participation rate in Australia so it makes sense to support riders in the ACT. This rate can be further boosted through improved cycling infrastructure – which will make the ACT more accessible for Canberrans and for the visitors who come to the capital to enjoy our natural and cultural attractions. Labor will do this by working with the ACT Government to include a provision for active transport, where possible, wherever the Commonwealth is building new infrastructure.
Andrew Leigh, Member for Fenner
Australian Labor Party
As co-chair of Parliamentary Friends of Cycling, it is a particular pleasure to respond to ACT Pedal Power’s inquiry about Labor’s cycling policies.
Labor has a proud record when it comes to cycling and active transport. The last Labor Government oversaw record investment in cycling and bike paths, as well as funding the Australian Bicycle Council to develop the 2011-2016 National Cycling Strategy, in consultation with Australia’s Transport Ministers and other interest groups. As you may be aware, this strategy saw a number of improvements nationwide, which included the introduction of pedal-assist bicycles, consistency in design guidance for bicycle infrastructure, the publication of national metrics and reporting on cycling participation, safety, integrated planning and government investment in cycling.
Labor also has a plan to boost cycling participation rates in Canberra and around Australia. An Albanese Labor Government will look to build on that record with new investments and measures to improve the safety and uptake of modes of active transport.
We will look to fund active transport and cycling upgrades in tune with other infrastructure projects. This would include cycling paths alongside road upgrades, train lines or any other major projects. At the same time, Labor will fund specific cycling projects on a case-by-case basis.
We would also re-establish a Cities and Suburbs Unit within Infrastructure Australia. The new Cities and Suburbs Unit will recommend to Government the creation of a new National Urban Policy framework, informed by expert evidence, industry expertise and community input.
It will produce an annual State of the Cities report, a report card on the progress and performance of our cities, helping to identify the specific initiatives of local councils and state planning authorities which are working effectively to create more productive, sustainable and liveable urban communities.
Labor will make these investments because we understand the one of the major limiting factor for Australians to hop on a bike is risk – both real and perceived.
According to research by the National Heart Foundation and the Cycling Promotion Fund, a key reason Australians cite for not cycling is concern for their safety when they ride on roads.
Further research by the Bureau of Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Economics has found that 80 per cent of cyclists would ride more frequently if there were more bike paths.
As well as cutting congestions and improving the health of Australians, cycling can be a money spinner for towns and regions across Australia. Victoria’s High Country, Derby in Tasmania, Wollongong and Ballarat are all towns and regions which are increasingly reaping the benefits of cycling investment and tourism. As co-chair of Parliamentary Friends of Cycling, we recently hosted a forum at Parliament House on rail trails, and the huge benefit they can bring for local communities. I’m especially excited about the proposed Monaro Rail Trail, as is my colleague Kristy McBain MP.
Here in Canberra, we have an active and vibrant community of cyclists. As you mentioned, the number of people who cycle weekly is almost a third higher than the national average.
Cycling is a key part of life of in Canberra for many of us, and we need to seize the opportunity to rebuild our cities, our economy, and our country for the better.
Labor intends to seize that opportunity. Only Labor can be trusted to deliver the active transport policy Australia needs.
I’ve appreciated the chance to work with Pedal Power, WeRide, the Amy Gillett Foundation and other cycling groups, and will continue to engage closely if we are successful in forming government.
James Savoulidis, Senate candidate for ACT
United Australia Party
I would help to boost cycling participation by leading by example and being a positive role model for the cycling community. Though I do not cycle as a means of transport I do cycle for recreation and exercise. In January I weighed in at my heaviest of 112kg, by adding some cycling to my weekly activities I am now down to 103kg and still dropping. I am hoping to be under 100kg by election day!
Joy Angel, Senate candidate for the ACT, and
John Haydon, Senate candidate for the ACT
Sustainable Australia Party
Sustainable Australia Party’s transport policy in summary is to prioritise the most ecologically sustainable and congestion-free public and private transport systems. Of our eight policy methods, the third is to “Build better and safer bicycle networks”. See https://www.sustainableaustralia.org.au/transport/
Sustainable Australia Party strongly supports active and sustainable transport.
Much of the expenditure and most of the legal issues that relate to cycling in the ACT fall to the ACT Government rather than the Australian Government. With that in mind, the following should help to explain our approach to cycling in the ACT.
The Canberra path network needs maintenance
We support a comprehensive condition assessment of the entire ACT path network, and a rolling program of proactive maintenance. Many of our ACT members regularly use the cycle paths and are only too aware of the poor state of many paths.
Separate cycling corridors needed
Travelling from the City to Woden by the existing circuitous cycle paths takes twice as long as riding on road down Adelaide Avenue. For commuters and other regular users this leaves the current on-road route as the only practicable option. It is however a stressful and dangerous option. A separated cycling corridor would attract many more people to commuting by bike, especially more women, and resolve the issue of detritus in the ‘cycling lane’ along a major road, a constant problem.
The separated Majura bike path which we recognize owes its existence to Pedal Power lobbying demonstrates what can be achieved. We need to acknowledge also that cycling is about to undergo an electric revolution, as has already occurred in Germany, and this will mean more demand for wide, direct, fast cycle routes.
Some paths such as a cycling corridor from Woden to the City should be designed with bicycles alone in mind. There needs to be a rapid separated cycling corridor linking each town centre and business hub. If the light rail is extended to Woden, it should be done with associated cycling infrastructure, although a rapid separated cycling corridor is needed now, not in many years.
Legislative targets to increase cycle commuting
Sustainable Australia Party will support legislating specific targets to increase cycle commuting. Cycling benefits the whole community by reducing per capita environmental impacts, including greenhouse gas emissions, and boosting the health of participants. There are many overseas examples of how it should be done (Holland, Denmark) and we should learn from their example. End of trip facilities such as showers and secure bicycle parking are very important and need to be mandated.
Promotion and incentivization of commuting by bike
We will support the promotion and incentivisation of commuting by bike. If elected Sustainable Australia Party would, in addition to pushing for the infrastructure initiatives raised elsewhere in this response, seek greater Government expenditure on the promotion and incentivisation of commuting by bike. If cycling to work is made safe, rapid and convenient then ACT workers will be drawn to try it and choose it over other transport modalities. End of trip facilities are very important and need to be mandated. Electric bicycles will be very important in increasing cycle commuting and can potentially be subsidised by the Australian government on an Australia-wide basis.
ACT country roads and cycle tourism
We will support a program of works for ACT country roads, based on an assessment of risk, to improve rider safety. This makes a great deal of sense especially given the desirable intention of making Canberra an attractive destination for cycle tourism.
Kathryn Savery, Candidate for Bean
Thank you for your email asking for my vision for cycling in Canberra. I admire the work undertaken by Pedal Power.
Cycling for transport and leisure offers Canberrans significant health, environment, congestion and budget. To boost participation rates in Canberra, I think there are some improvements that could be made to infrastructure.
I believe cycling is a big part of the Canberra outdoor lifestyle. Canberra has some of the best cycle paths in Australia and as a teenager I rode my bike to school and most places I wanted to go before I had my car licence. As an adult however and with family responsibilities, I only have ridden bikes for leisure purposes rather than transport and this was in other cities such as Sydney and Melbourne on dedicated bike paths.
I live in Weston Creek and work in Phillip and currently drive to work. I am not confident to ride a bike to work due to some health issues but also due to lack of confidence and being concerned about lighting and safety issues in the evenings when riding home. I am also a fair weather rider and would find it difficult to ride a bike in extreme weather or rain.
I think we need to expand our bike paths so more places are accessible without having to ride on roads with cars and additional lighting needs to be installed on these paths. As well, we need end of ride facilities as it is not ideal to arrive at work or school hot and sweaty. E-bikes can assist with less effort for longer rides but they are not affordable for everyone. Loan schemes to be extended for lower income families would be great but we also need parking for facilities with greater security as I know many people who won’t ride their bikes as transport due to the fear of having their bike stolen and not be able to afford a replacement.
I think education for people to encourage them to replace some of their transport with bikes is a great way to increase participation. Courses such as those run by Pedal Power are great and expanding these with more options for different age groups and backgrounds would be helpful including having mentors.
Canberra is a great place to cycle and I think we can make it even better whether that is for transport or leisure.
Therese Faulkner, Senate candidate for ACT
Many thanks for your enquiry. As a cycling enthusiast myself with four bikes in constant use in the household, I am very pleased to respond!
The Australian Progressives (and our ACT Branch, the Canberra Progressives) envisage a future where communities are using more active transport such as walking, cycling, etc. We agree that cycling provides significant benefits in terms of health of individuals and communities, as well as economic benefits. Our policy platform in the ACT includes:
Increase Active Transport
Develop a comprehensive cycling & active transport infrastructure plan.
Incentivise electric bike use as an alternative to motor vehicles.
Develop more recreational cycling and walking trails across the ACT.
We would welcome further ideas on how to improve cycling participation rates, and happy to consider these for inclusion in our policies. We’d also be happy to meet with you at some time to discuss.
Sean Conway, Candidate for Bean
United Australia Party
There is no doubt that cycling will improve your health and is a great way to get around town. After observing how e-scooters have improved the connectedness of the CBD to places like Reid, Braddon and down to our Parliament house, I would love to see an equally popular adoption for bicycles.
To support this clean & green mode of transport bicycle transit needs to be more accessible and enabling of other modes of transport. Where bike storage is inadequate the city needs to establish secure bike cages and incentivise business to establish facilities for staff.
I will ensure that bike pathways are contiguous and accessible throughout the city. Ease of use will improve both user experience and take up of facilities.
Tim Hollo, Candidate for Canberra
I am a passionate cycle commuter and can often be seen riding around town. One of the things I can promise is to lead by example as a local member, riding my bike to parliament and to community engagements. More usefully, I am committed to pushing a dramatic increase in federal funding for active transport, shifting away from constantly funding more space for cars into building a proper network of well-designed, well-maintained, separated cycle paths across the city. I recently held a community meeting to discuss ways in which government can support cycling and other forms of active travel, and would run more of those if elected, to find out exactly what the community wants and help make it happen.