Analysis: ACT cycling investment just 1%

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It is hard to imagine how much money we spend on roads. Here is a comparison of the investment in road improvement (duplications and widening) with other forms of transport. As cyclists, we are interested in bike paths but the light rail is included, too.

Approximately $1 billion has been committed to road duplications and widening in and around Canberra. $336 million for light rail but only $18 million to bicycle infrastructure. The EU would recommend $330 million for bicycle infrastructure in the ACT, based on their recommendation to invest 20% of the transport budget in bike infrastructure. In this week’s $4.9 billion announcement, Andrew Barr unfortunately did not even mention cycling. In other Australian cities, the sums spent on roads is even bigger: “The Australian and NSW Governments are investing $4.1 billion” in the Western Sydney Infrastructure Plan.


The relative investment in road improvements ($986 million), light rail ($336 million) and cycling ($17.9 million) between 2020-2024. In the EU the goal for cycling is 20% of the transport budget.

Road widening and duplications

Investment in bike infrastructure

Light rail Stage 2A – total $336 million

“The government will spend $24 million in 2020-21 on extending light rail and set aside $312 million over the next three years for design and construction.”

Infrastructure boost to lead jobs push in economic revival plan, The RiotACT, 27 August 2020

Factors considered 

Public information

The investments are taken from publicly available information. Most of it comes from ACT Government announcements through The RiotACT. Ministers regularly announce new projects and their investments, particularly in an election year. 

ACT budget is dated

This may seem strange but the last ACT Budget is pre-COVID-19 and hopeless out of date. The coming 2020-21 ACT Budget will not be released until October 2020. We live in uncertain times. The ACT budget funds the long-awaited cycling projects. 

Time frame

All the projects have to be started or finished between 2020 and 2024. This is the coming ACT parliamentary period. 

Canberra as a region

Canberra is a regional centre, not a bubble. If you live in Queanbeyan, Yass or Bungendore and need a hospital, you go to Canberra and not Sydney. We provide jobs and services for a large area of NSW from Goulbourne to Cooma, Yass to Bungendore. The ACT Government considers this in their planning and we can only hope the Federal Government considers this in their funding. 


Taking the regional approach it does not matter if the funding is federal, state or territory. The aspirational EU target of 20% does not draw boundaries where we are cycling. We still need infrastructure. This also solves the problem of split funding between the Federal and ACT Government.

Variations over the project lifetime

It is normal for project costs projections to vary over the project lifetime. Ultimately we do not know what a project will cost until it is finished. The costing estimates in the early phase of planning are likely to be less accurate than in a later phase. 

Information sources

Fast Track strategic bike paths

  • $3.5 million for 3.5km – stand 27 August 2020

source: Fast Track on

ACT for 2019 budget information

“The active travel capital investments in the ACT for the 2019 budget over four years (2018-2022) was $32 million ($8 million per annum).”

Pedal Power budget submission 2020-2021

Breaking it down it looks like this: improvements to

Source: Pedal Power budget submission 2020-2021

Light rail

“The government will spend $24 million in 2020-21 on extending light rail and set aside $312 million over the next three years for design and construction. Stage 2A will take light rail to Civic West and terminate at Commonwealth Park. The more complex 2B, that will cross Lake Burley Griffin and go through the Parliamentary Zone to Woden, will require multiple approvals.”

Infrastructure boost to lead jobs push in economic revival plan, The RiotACT, 27 August 2020

Athllon Drive and John Gorton Drive

“$130 million has been set aside for the duplication of Athllon Drive and $170 million for the last portion of John Gorton Drive, including a bridge crossing the Molonglo River. There have been calls to fast track the project because of the fast-growing population in the Molonglo Valley.”

Infrastructure boost to lead jobs push in economic revival plan, The RiotACT, 27 August 2020

Belconnen Bikeway

“A re-elected Labor government would spend $4.7 million to build a dedicated 3m to 4m-wide bikeway connecting the Belconnen town centre, the University of Canberra, Radford College and the Canberra Institute of Technology’s Bruce campus.”

Labor proposes $4.7m UC-CIT-town centre bikeway for Belconnen, The RiotACT, 28 September 2016

Monaro Highway

“Work on the planned Monaro Highway upgrade will start sooner than expected with both the Federal and ACT governments bringing forward funding for the project.

The already announced, jointly funded $200 million project includes widening works and targeted safety upgrades to bust congestion along the corridor.”

Feds’ infrastructure boost fast-tracks Monaro Highway upgrade, The RiotACT, 26 November 2019

Athlon Drive

“It will take another five years before there will be four lanes along the length of Athllon Drive from Woden to Tuggeranong but the result will mean faster and safer journeys for both bus travellers and private motorists, says Transport Minister Chris Steel.

The two-part project, expected to cost up to $75 million, will include new bus stops so residents in north-east Kambah and Wanniassa can catch the main R4 and R5 buses using the route, and priority signalling that should shave at least two minutes off the trip into and out of the city.”

Government releases plans to complete Athllon Drive duplication, The RiotACT, 19 August 2020

Gundaroo Drive

“The 2.5-kilometre duplication of Gundaroo Drive between Gungahlin Drive and the Barton Highway is complete, two years after it started construction.

The $30 million project also includes new off-road paths for cyclists and pedestrians, LED street lights, new bus shelters and sound barriers to reduce traffic noise for nearby residents.”

Gundaroo Drive duplication complete removes one more bottleneck, The RiotACT, 25 June 2020

William Hovell Drive

“The ACT Government has released a tender to duplicate 4.5 kilometres of William Hovell Drive to improve commute times as new suburbs are developed in the Molonglo Valley and West Belconnen.”

Government to duplicate 4.5 kilometres of William Hovell Drive, The RiotACT. 19 September 2019

Majura Parkway $288 / 10 km = $28.8 /km – baseline

Gundaroo Drive duplication 

Final design – stage 3. Plans available but no project costs. 


“Construction of a new protected pedestrian and cycleway in the Woden Town Centre is expected to commence in coming months after the release of a tender for the project.

The design work was completed last year for the project, which will include a 2.5 km on-road cycleway that will separate cyclists from pedestrians and vehicles.”

Protected pedestrian and cycle path on way for Woden, The RiotACT,15 April 2020

Barton Highway

“The Barton Highway is a critical link connecting communities on the Southern Tablelands in NSW and the ACT. This upgrade will significantly improve safety as well as journey reliability, ease congestion and boost freight productivity,” he said.

The Australian and NSW governments have each committed $50 million each to the project over the next four years, while an additional $100 million is set aside for the upgrade under the federal Roads of Strategic Importance initiative from the 2018-19 Budget.

Tender for first stage Barton Highway duplication released, The RiotACT, 30 October 2019

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