ACT Chief Minister and Minister for Roads and Active Travel talk about the benefits of investing in Active Travel (cycling and walking)

10 Jul 20 | By pp-admin | Advocacy, Pedal Power

On Wednesday 8 July the Chief Minister, Andrew Barr, Minister for Roads and Active Travel, Chris Steel, and Health Minister, Rachel Stephen-Smith, held a media conference to announce the next round of the ACT fast track infrastructure program. during the conference, they also talked about the benefits of investing in Active Travel (cycling and walking).

This is a transcript of Andrew Barr and Chris Steel’s speeches.

Chief Minister

“Good morning everyone, it’s good to be here in O’Connor with Chris Steel, the Minister for Transport and City Services, and Rachel Stephen-Smith, the Minister for Health. Of course Rachel and I are local members here in Kurrajong.

It’s terrific to see this further announcement today of fast-tracked infrastructure works right across Canberra. What’s been important during the pandemic has been both our dual health and economic response. Part of the economic response has been fast-tracking suburban infrastructure projects. This has been important to not only keep activity going – keeping people in work – but it’s delivering a lasting legacy for this community from this period of quite challenging economic and public health circumstances.

The benefit of this investment, and bringing forward this investment, is that investment in active travel infrastructure makes Canberra a better city to live in. We’re seeing through the pandemic that people do want to get out of their homes and exercise, and that they are looking at alternate means of transportation – whether that’s to work, for recreation activities, or simply to be able to get around their neighbourhood in an easier way. These projects (and they’re right across the city) are a sensible investment of ACT Government resources – for jobs, for healthier communities.

And that’s why we’ve fast-tracked so many projects and why we’re announcing a new round of projects today. Minister Steel will outline the detail of those, but they are across the city and they support a range of investments in different suburbs, in different regions, that support active travel, support better neighbourhoods and support a more active community. And this is one of the lasting legacies out of this experience, that we’ve been able to fast-track so much work during this time, and that is a really important legacy.

I suspect that we are going to be in this pandemic and living with this virus for an extended period of time, so this approach that we are adopting of fast-tracking small suburban projects that are shovel-ready, ‘screwdriver-ready’, able to create employment and get better outcomes for local communities, will be a consistent feature of the ACT Government’s approach in the months and years ahead.

Today’s announcement builds on an already extensive program, and people will have seen these projects emerging all around the city, so it’s exciting to be able to do more, it’s important to do more, for the jobs they create, for the public health benefits, and that they leave this long-term legacy.

It’s important in working with organisations like Pedal Power that we’ve been able to target exactly where the new infrastructure investments are made at a suburban level to address some of the missing links in our city’s cycling and footpath network. So it’s been really important to engage with both peak bodies and local communities in rolling out this program. It’s been incredibly successful to date and we look forward to building on it. And I would like Minister Steel to outline some of the new projects that we’re announcing today. Chris!”


Minister Steel

“The ACT Government strongly supports active travel as a key way to improve the city as a better place to live for people. We know that it’s really important for public health, and we shouldn’t lose sight of the fact that during this public health emergency, active travel is a really important way to create a healthier community. That’s why the ACT Government has been building over 50 new paths throughout Canberra, addressing missing links in the cycle path network.

We’re also today announcing further enhancements to our cycle path network, with better maintenance to make sure that we’re fixing the existing paths that we have around Canberra, building some new missing links including Stage 2 of the Heysen Street link as well as a new path in Kaleen from Baldwin Drive to Tyrell [Circuit], and we’ll be investing in new Bike & Ride facilities in two places in Canberra.

In addition to that, I’m very pleased to announce today that we’re expanding the Slower Streets program. We’ve seen huge numbers of people in our community out and about in the neighbourhood, walking and cycling during the pandemic, and that means that there are more people using and sharing our roads. We want to make sure that motorists are particularly aware that there are more people out and about. So there are now seven suburbs that are joining the existing suburbs as part of that program to really encourage motorists to look out for road users including cyclists and pedestrians in the neighbourhood that are out and about.

So this is part of the Government’s work in terms of encouraging active travel. We want to harness the opportunity that we’ve seen during this period to encourage more people to cycle and walk in our neighbourhoods, and we hope that these improvements through the extension of the program will be able to deliver that in the longer term.

  1. Will you do some kind of publicity about where the new paths are and that sort of thing, so people know that they are available?

Minister All of the paths that we’ve delivered – the 50 and new ones that we’ll be delivering beyond that – are on the ACT Government’s Fast Track website for people to see, broken down region-by-region, and as we continue to announce new paths we’ll keep placing them on that website.

The ACT Government has also proposed a range of additional active travel projects to the Federal Government as part of the program that they’ve announced with just under $8 million for the ACT Government and other local governments around Australia, to build on the program of work.

We’ve seen over 1,000 jobs created with the Fast Track program across all the work we’ve been doing in active travel, updating ACT community facilities and maintenance in our schools, and we hope that this will create a further stream of work over the next 6-12 months.”