June is usually budget time in the ACT. The 2020-21 ACT Budget has been postponed. Canberra.bike looks at the last years budget and what the coming budget could hold. In general, the investment in active travel infrastructure in the ACT is not well documented.
“Following discussion and agreement at the National Cabinet today, and further unanimous support from the State and Territory Board of Treasurers, Governments around Australia are delaying their annual budgets until later in the financial year. Consistent with this national approach, the 2020/21 ACT Budget will be postponed.”Andrew Barr, ACT Government, press release 20/3/2020, accessed 17/6/2020
Active travel capital investment since 2018
The active travel capital investments in the ACT for 2019 budget over four years (2018-2022) was $32 million ($8 million per annum). Breaking it down it looks like this: improvements to Belconnen Town Centre $10.4 million, Woden Town Centre $4.8 million, Tuggeranong $4.0 million, Flemington Road bike path $2.2 million, and Heysen Street Link $1.2 million. A further $1.2 million was invested in maps and signage and $2.5 million for work improvements around schools. Additionally, path maintenance funding over four years (2018-2022) totalled $17.9 million.
Update 6 February 2021 Belconnen Bikeway
The construction along Emu Bank is completed. However, the construction of the section promised at the 2016 ACT Election along Benjamin Way has not yet begun.
Republic of Ireland
After talking recently about the investment in cycle networks in Paris, it was good news to find the Republic of Ireland has followed.
“A former bike shop owner has secured a substantial financial settlement for active travel in the Republic of Ireland. For the next five years, cycling and walking schemes—including protected cycling networks and expanded sidewalks—will receive €360 million annually.
The settlement was secured by Eamon Ryan, leader of Ireland’s Green Party, a former co-owner of the Belfield Bike Shop in Dublin, and founding chairman of the city’s cycling advocacy campaign.
20% of Ireland’s transport budget will go to walking and cycling while two-thirds of the rest will go to public transit.”Ireland’s Green Party Leader, A Former Bike Shop Owner, Secures ‘Astonishing’ Boost For Walking And Cycling, Carlton Reid, Forbes, 15 June 2020, accessed 17 June 2020.
ACT transport budget
In the last ACT Budget, $271 million was spent on transport. Using the 20% rule from the Republic of Ireland that would mean the active travel capital investments in the ACT should be $54.2 million per annum. From the last budget, we know the planned active travel capital investments is $8 million per annum. The 20% target would mean a 6 fold increase over the previous ACT Budget.
The Pedal Power ACT budget submission
Pedal Power ACT is the leading cycling organisation in the ACT outside of sports cycling. Every year it makes a submission to the ACT Budget. Last year was no exception. Their budget consultation for the 2020-21 Budget closed on 30 October 2019. Pedal Power ACT has been doing this thing for a while so that their recommendations can be seen as a good reference.
Pedal Power ACT recommended the ACT Government should invest in active travel and related programs. In particular, it recommended increasing, over four years, maintenance to $53 million (previous ACT budget $17.9 million) and capital works of $110 million (previous ACT budget $32 million).
Notice that using the “20% of transport” rule would mean the active travel capital investments in the ACT should be $54.2 million per annum or $216.8 million over four years. In other words, Pedal Power ACT’s recommendation is about half of what the Republic of Ireland is planning.
COVID-19 has interrupted the budget cycle in 2020. We will eventually get one, and it will be much anticipated as it is also an election year.