Investment in safe, direct, connected cycling and walking infrastructure will provide choice to Canberrans who want to avoid crowded public transport, yet are averse to private cars that bring roads to a standstill and pollute our air.
Canberra is at a crossroads. As Covid-19 restrictions ease, the majority of Canberrans will return to schools and workplaces.
Before the pandemic, 17,000 people a day used public transport during peak hour, but there will naturally be hesitancy to get on board a crowded bus or tram as our city adjusts to ‘Covid-normal’.
Genuine investment in active travel will allow Canberrans to take a different path.
Pedal Power CEO Ian Ross said the Territory’s 2021-22 Budget is a step in the right direction for a more active Canberra, delivering $77 million in active travel projects over four years.
“Pedal Power has long called for real investment in cycling infrastructure. It makes economic sense, it makes community sense, it makes environmental sense,” he said. “Ahead of last year’s ACT election, the Greens acknowledged $20 million per year was needed to boost our active travel participation rates. The investment announced by the Government in the 2021-22 Budget is within a stone’s throw of that goal,” he said.
For many years, Pedal Power has campaigned for better path maintenance, and the Budget promises to deliver this to some degree. “Our path network is crumbling. Anyone who walks or rides in Canberra knows that the majority of our paths are in poor condition. Increased funding for maintenance will help, although it will take more than an additional million dollars a year to address the backlog from years of neglect,” Mr Ross said.
New paths across the city are a welcome inclusion in the budget. “Striking while the iron is hot will let us translate Canberra’s recreational cycling boom into an active travel revolution. Canberrans have shown they love their bicycles, and with investment in our path network, we may start to see a shift from cars to bikes,” he said.
Many car trips Canberrans make could be achieved on a bike, with the right infrastructure. “Thirty-eight per cent of ACT car commutes are under 10km, 5% are under 2.5km. This is an achievable target, particularly with e-bikes.
“The 2021-22 Budget is a step towards achieving this goal,” he said.
Pedal Power welcomes the announcement of some key cycling infrastructure across Canberra:
- Funding for design of the Garden City Cycle Route takes us a step closer to a faster, safer commute for residents in the eastern suburbs of the inner north, who currently have to run the gauntlet of the on-road Northbourne Avenue cycle lane if they want to travel directly to the city.
- Those living in Tuggeranong will be able to move safely between the two major north-south access routes of Drakeford Drive and Athllon Drive via the new shared path on Sulwood Drive.
- The William Hovell Drive duplication will connect West Belconnen and Molonglo Valley residents, with a 7km off-road cycle path linking to the city included in the project.
- Coombs residents will be able to access the city path network, via a new path and a bridge over Weston Creek.
- A study into better access for active travel into the Gungahlin Town Centre will mean, if constructed, bike riders don’t have to park their bikes remotely and walk the final part of their trip to the shops.
- Stromlo Forest Park access improvements – $2.8 m over four years to build a carpark and reseal Dave McInnes Road. (It is expected that any revenue from future paid parking will go towards bike facility enhancements into the future, noting that this budget initiative does not introduce paid parking at Stromlo Forest Park).