Fast Track is too slow

Watch for bikes, Give way. Stromlo Leisure Centre, Stromlo Forest Park, Molonglo Valley

A month after the Chief Minister and Minister Steel recommitted their support for active travel, this is where we stand with Fast Track. At the current rate, it will take 166 years to double the length of off-road paths suitable for cycling. The investment in Fast Track is welcome but is too little, too late.

After decades of neglect, there is good reason to make up for lost ground. Many of the older paths in the older suburbs need maintenance and many new paths need to be built for cycling. Much of the Fast Track investment is directed at projects that have no benefit to cycling. Only a very small part of the $35million will be spent on cycle paths. Cyclists are left out in the rain!

Few compliant paths

The ACT Government has currently committed to 14.4km of new paths funded through Fast Track. Only 3.5km of those are compliant with the ACT Governments own standards (MIS05) for active travel. Canberra.bike describes these as of strategic importance, as they increase the likelihood that people will take up cycling. Non-compliant investment is orange and the strategic investment green in the following charts.

ACT Government Fast Track: The few new paths are largely non-compliant (orange). Data: ACT Government Fast Track website, accessed 8 August 2020.

Strategic cycling investment

Taking stock on community paths” provided a summary of the community paths in the ACT before COVID-19 (2019) and the portion of those that are suitable for cycling.

  • Total path network length: 3,106km.
  • Most common width: 1.2m and a total length of 1,667km.
  • Next most common width: 2.5m and a total length of 479km.
  • The portion of the path network that has the 2.5m minimum width suitable for cycling: 19% or 581km.

The 581km of suitable paths is shown as the grey area below. The green box shows the new length of paths that will be added to the network as a result of the Fast Track investment. At the current rate, IT WILL TAKE 166 YEARS TO DOUBLE THE LENGTH OF OFF-ROAD PATHS SUITABLE FOR CYCLING! The new paths have a total length of just 3.5km.

Have a look at the below area comparison, with grey being existing infrastructure pre-COVID-19. The lonely green “comparative by area” cube reflects the Fast Track investment.

Visualised area comparison of new investment versus existing investment. Fast Track investment in cycling paths that CONFORM to ACT active travel standards. Data: ACT Government Fast Track website, accessed 8 August 2020.

Community paths for pedestrians

The Fast Track investment on paths is mostly for paths that are non-compliant with the ACT Government’s own active travel standards for “retrofit”. The standard (MIS05) specifies a minimum path width in new estates, such as Whitlam in the Molonglo Valley, that are built on a greenfield. In older suburbs, the standard permits narrower paths of just 2.5m. New community paths should NOT be narrower than this. Unfortunately, much 10.9km of the 14.4km of new Fast Track paths are too narrow (76%). The ACT Government will have to go back and widen or rebuild these paths at some stage.

Flickr, Priorities changed ahead, (CC BY-SA 2.0)

From a change management point of view it is essential that the paths are wide enough for all target groups to use. Make them too narrow and you trigger resistance and conflict. As a consequence this will make a positive change to active travel even more challenging. Canberra.bike already noticed pedestrians complaining about cyclists on “their” paths. This is a trend to be nipped in the butt quickly. The paths are there for everybody. The paths are there for everybody.

The 2,525km of community paths narrower than 2.5m is shown as the grey area below. The orange box shows the new length of non-compliant paths that will be added to the network as a result of the Fast Track investment. The new non-compliant paths have a total length of just 10.9km.

Visualised area comparison of new investment versus existing. Fast Track investment in cycling paths that DO NOT conform to ACT active travel standards. Data: ACT Government Fast Track website, accessed 8 August 2020.

Fast Track project list

The ACT Government website listed (8 August 2020) 50 community path projects being built as part of Fast Track. The path designs for the vast majority are non-compliant. Those that are compliant with the ACT Governments own standards (MIS05) for active travel are of strategic importance, as they increase the likelihood that people will cycle.

The strategic projects are listed at the top of the table and the non-compliant below. Paths lengths of less than 50m are listed as 0.0km. A 10m section of 3m path can be most beneficial in joining two parts of the cycling network. Joining gaps is highly beneficial.

TownSurfacewidth (m)length (km)importance
Tuiggeranongasphalt2.50.8strategic
Wodenasphalt2.50.8strategic
Wodenasphalt2.50.7strategic
Gungahlinasphalt2.50.5strategic
Gungahlinconcrete2.50.3strategic
Central Canberraasphalt2.50.2strategic
Central Canberraconcrete3.50.1strategic
Belconnenconcrete2.50.1strategic
Central Canberraasphalt2.50.0strategic
Central Canberraasphalt3.00.0strategic
Belconnenconcrete1.51.5non compliant
Central Canberraconcrete1.50.8non compliant
Central Canberraconcrete1.50.6non compliant
Tuiggeranongconcrete1.50.5non compliant
Belconnenasphalt2.00.5non compliant
Gungahlinconcrete1.50.5non compliant
Wodenasphalt2.00.5non compliant
Wodenconcrete1.50.4non compliant
Gungahlinconcrete1.50.4non compliant
Central Canberraconcrete1.50.4non compliant
Central Canberraconcrete1.50.4non compliant
Central Canberraconcrete1.50.3non compliant
Wodenconcrete1.50.3non compliant
Central Canberraconcrete2.00.3non compliant
Belconnenconcrete1.50.3non compliant
Central Canberraconcrete2.00.3non compliant
Central Canberraasphalt2.00.3non compliant
Wodenconcrete1.50.3non compliant
Belconnenconcrete2.00.3non compliant
Central Canberraconcrete2.00.3non compliant
Central Canberraconcrete1.50.2non compliant
Central Canberraconcrete2.00.2non compliant
Central Canberraconcrete1.50.2non compliant
Wodenconcrete1.50.2non compliant
Tuiggeranongconcrete2.00.2non compliant
Central Canberraconcrete1.50.1non compliant
Central Canberraconcrete1.50.1non compliant
Wodenconcrete1.50.1non compliant
Central Canberraconcrete2.00.1non compliant
Wodenconcrete2.00.1non compliant
Central Canberraconcrete2.00.1non compliant
Wodenconcrete2.00.1non compliant
Central Canberraconcrete1.50.1non compliant
Belconnenconcrete1.50.0non compliant
Wodenconcrete2.00.0non compliant
Central Canberraconcrete1.50.0non compliant
Gungahlinconcrete1.50.0non compliant
Gungahlinconcrete2.00.0non compliant
Central Canberraconcrete1.50.0non compliant
Wodenconcrete1.50.0non compliant
All projects14.5km50 projects
Fast Track paths list . Data: ACT Government Fast Track website, accessed 8 August 2020.

Bike gate on bike path, Uriarra Road, Stromlo Forest, Molonglo Valley
Bike gate on bike path, Uriarra Road, Stromlo Forest, Molonglo Valley

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