New Belconnen Bikeway expected late 2020

Belconnen Arts Centre Photo David Burke CC BY-NC-ND 2.0, ACT, Australai

There has been an update on the ACT Government website for the new Belconnen Bikeway, which is now expected to be completed in late 2020. This is good news as the ACT Government does not update its websites for active travel projects all that often. As part of the COVID-19 Fast-track program, the ACT Government is now providing more information about cycling infrastructure projects. Check out the website for more information or visit the original project page.

Belconnen Bikeway, AC Government, accessed 3 June 2020
Belconnen Bikeway, AC Government, accessed 3 June 2020

It is worth mentioning though that the cycling infrastructure projects tend to run late in the ACT. Announcements like these tend to be adjusted once they run over the expected completion date. The planned date should be seen as an expression of good intent. Progress is a good thing.

Example of the Coombs peninsula

There are cases though where the delay can be quite significant. Take the example of the bike paths around the Coombs peninsula. Coombs lies in the Molonglo Valley on a tight river bend. It looks a bit like a peninsula as it sticks out into nowhere, and is often called that. The Coombs Stage 2 path works were announced back in January 2020 by the Suburban Land Agency. This agency is an ACT government agency for estate developments, and the Molonglo Valley is a big one. Coombs has been finished for years but the bike paths were never completed around the edges of the suburb. In the ACT, cycling infrastructure often comes last after a long wait.

construction, cycleway, ACT Government, ACT, Australia, Coombs
No way out, construction works, Coombs

Reduction in scope

A bigger issue is reducing the scope. When we first hear of projects they can sound quite grand. After the initial first planning phase, they seem a little less ambitious. The detailed planning phase brings the realisation closer but it may not be how you imagined it. One cannot be ungrateful because it is progress. However, lack of funding for part of the project is a problem, as it is then uncertain about when it will be built. In the ACT where cycling infrastructure delays are the norm, funding issues are potentially fatal.

ACT Labor 2016 Election Belconnen Bikeway
ACT Labor 2016 Election Belconnen Bikeway

Benjamin Way to Aranda

The new Belconnen Bikeway in such an example of a project stalling due to no funding. The concept of the new Belconnen Bikeway is a bike path along Emu Bank – between Florey and the CIT – but also a separate bike path along Benjamin Way to connect Emu Bank with Aranda. The Benjamin Way path has currently no funding, even though the planning has been complete. Surely, if there is a project for ACT Governments Fast-track, this would be one of them.

sign and safety
sign and safety Photo by Travis Saylor on Pexels.com

Dealing with setbacks

What to do about slipping completion dates and reducing scope? A request to fix it might work but brings with it more delays.

An example of this is the Sullivans Creek bike path. It was widened and resurfaced a few years ago and is much better than what it was and one of the best bike paths in Canberra. Unfortunately, the ACT Government did not fix all of it. Part of the path is still far too narrow and they have now been requested as part of the Fast-track program to go back and have another go. We will get there eventually. 

Blocks. Photo Valentina Powers Flickr.com (CC BY 2.0)
Blocks. Photo Valentina Powers Flickr.com (CC BY 2.0)

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