Light Rail 2A consultation welcomed, but improvements needed to active travel infrastructure

28 Mar 23 | By pp-admin | Media release

Pedal Power ACT has today welcomed the release of the Works Approval Public Consultation documents for Light Rail Stage 2A by the National Capital Authority. While we welcome progress on this extremely important project, we have pointed out some serious issues with the active travel component that must be addressed before construction begins.

“We are happy to see from the consultation documents released that the Government is building protected cycle lanes around most of the Western side of London Cct and that they are building protected intersections on the corner of London Cct and Northbourne Ave and the corner of London Cct and Commonwealth Drive,” says Pedal Power Executive Director Simon Copland. “These protected intersections are the first of their kind in Canberra and will provide an important template for future developments across the city.”

“However, we are extremely disappointed that the protected cycle lane stops between University Avenue and Edinburgh Avenue going southwards, and between Edinburgh Avenue and West Row going northwards. In both instances cyclists will end up riding either on the road or the pedestrian footpath, neither of which are safe outcomes. This will create ‘missing links’ that will stop people from cycling.”

As the peak cycling body in Canberra, Pedal Power ACT regularly campaigns to make Canberra and its region more bike-friendly, to encourage more Canberrans to ride. Ensuring path connectivity is an important part of this work. Finding paths that suddenly disappear, forcing cyclists either on foot paths or on the road is a common frustration for Canberrans and a key reason why many opt for modes of transport other than bikes, usually cars, increasing congestion and pollution.

“Building an excellent segregated bike path with a missing section almost negates the benefit of having the path in the first place” continues Simon Copland. “The Government has informed us that they cannot build a segregated path in this section due to a lack of space. We reject this. Lack of space is often quoted as a reason for missing paths or missing sections, but examples of other cities both overseas and in Australia prove this issue can often be overcome. Besides, forcing cyclists on the road with no separation from cars in narrow areas makes for a very dangerous situation”.

“Pedal Power also encourages the Government to extend the protected cycle lane to run from the London Cct and Northbourne Avenue intersection down Northbourne Avenue, around Vernon Circle and to the Commonwealth Bridge. This would be an extremely valuable piece of cycling infrastructure that would increase connections to the lake. Not having this will create further missing links in our system. Given the existing disruptions to roads in the area due to the Light Rail work, this would be the ideal time to build this infrastructure.”

“Light rail is an important city-building project that will help create a fully integrated transport system in Canberra,” Copland concluded. “We look forward to light rail stage 2A being built and for the next stage to be built to Woden. However, we call on the Government to make the most of this opportunity by ensuring the cycling infrastructure is of world-leading standard.”